Monday, January 20, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Two Harvests--Character That Develops in Two Kinds of People

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In Bible imagery, rain is usually a blessing. There is "the latter rain" which comes at just the right time to ripen a thirsty crop for harvest. But think of a farmer worried about his crop in Israel long ago. Early rain was a blessing that made the seed sprout. The barley matured to a certain place in plant growth that seemed to promise a rich harvest this year; but now the growth is stunted. Drought came at just the wrong time. An enormous crop that never matures for harvest is an agricultural disaster. The farmer doesn't have modern irrigation; he is dependent on rain from heaven.

You can imagine the distress in the family, the earnest prayers going up day by day for the Lord to send the long-awaited "latter rain." It must come from Him!

In the Bible, this describes the condition of the Lord's church in the last days. The enormity in the size of acreage that the farmer has planted in barley is not good news unless the crop gets that most precious latter rain at the right time. Diligent labor is effort wasted if it doesn't result in a harvest of mature grain ripe for the sickle.

Jesus teaches that "the harvest is the end of the age" (Matt. 13:39). But there are two harvests--character develops in two kinds of people: those ready to meet the Lord at His return; and those whose rebellion against Him has also matured (Rev. 14:16-20).

A "sickle" is used in both harvests, one by Jesus coming in glory, the other by some other "angel" whose "sharp sickle" reaps a harvest cast into the "great winepress of the wrath of God." There must be two kinds of "latter rain."

Time to be alert! No time to sleep!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 3, 2005.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Does Our Salvation Depend on Maintaining a "Relationship" with Jesus?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

If you're river rafting in violently turbulent water, everything depends on your hanging on. You need a constant "relationship" with the boat.

We're in a turbulent great controversy with Satan. Does our salvation depend on our maintaining a "relationship" with Jesus? Many are the sincere people who get discouraged. They have to make a living; work presses hard on them. They are tired at day's end; morning comes too soon--back to the turbulence of daily life in a godless world. After some days or weeks (or months!) they realize, "I have neglected to maintain that 'relationship!'" Not enough time spent in prayer and Bible study! The precious "relationship" seems broken.

If you are one of those ("alive" rather than among the living dead) don't give up in despair. You need some Good News. The Savior takes the initiative to maintain that relationship or fellowship with you! It was never His idea to get you started or involved in a works program; His role is that of Good Shepherd seeking us, rather than vice versa.

Bible study and prayer arenecessary. But if you can appreciate the love of that Good Shepherd; if you can "comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love [agape] of Christ which passes knowledge" (Eph. 3: 18, 19), you see Him as the One who seeks to maintain that fellowship with you, as the Father did with Jesus (see Isa. 50:4; don't be "rebellious," vs. 5). "As He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17).

If you are too busy to eat breakfast, do you despair and say, "I'm no good! I'll never eat again!"? I think hunger will drive you to eat the first chance you get. So does the Savior's love drive you to respond to His continual seeking. His love, not craven fear, will motivate you to thank Him for not letting go of you (Isa. 41:10, 13). Count yourself among these: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 10, 2001.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: What the Angels of Heaven Are Begging Us to Do

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The angels of heaven are begging the inhabitants of earth to read the book of Revelation (see 1:1-3).

As we come to the end-time, the sounding of "the seventh angel's" trumpet, John the prophet sees "lightnings" and hears "noises ["voices," King James Version], and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail"--the most awful spiritual "storm" in earth's 6000 years (11:15-19).

Next he sees the panoramic history of God's true church through the ages, focusing on their final witness of truth to the world (12:1-17).

Then he sees the monstrous deception of a counterfeit "christ" and its imitation gospel that leads "all who dwell on the earth" to worship this power except those "whose names are ... written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (13:1-8). The world is being catalyzed into two camps.

Next the prophet sees a savage burst of persecuting frenzy wherein multitudes who think themselves following that "Lamb" will repeat the essence of His original unjust crucifixion, on His people (13:11-17).

Then the prophet sees the raising up of a group of "144,000" who share a corporate oneness "in Christ" and bring the world to a final up-or-down vote on identifying the true Christ (14:1-15). It will also involve distinguishing the true Holy Spirit from its extremely clever opposite (18:2, 3). We're just about there. Living now is serious business.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 16, 2005.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Take a New Look at Your Trials; You May Be Missing a Bonanza

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What do you do when you pray and pray and you don't get an answer? Or the answer is a plain No? Did I hear you say that all your prayers get a Yes answer? If so you are a most unusual person. Many people, especially children, are perplexed when they hear stories of some people always getting an immediate Yes answer; they don't seem to get such answers. Well, neither do I.

Even the apostle Paul had to suffer the disappointment of not getting a Yes answer to his prayers. He tells us about it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He had a painful physical problem, and three times he earnestly prayed, Lord, take this away; am I not serving You? And he probably said, like we do so often, "Don't I deserve something?" The Lord said No to his request: "My grace is sufficient for you," and with it you can endure this pain.

The children need to understand that if the Lord says No, it does not mean He doesn't love us; He does. His "No!" can be a greater proof of His love than if He lets us win the lottery.

We can be sure that He will always give us enough from His store of much more abounding grace that will enable us to bear the trial and endure its pain. That grace is often much better than to have the trial taken away from us. Why? Because His wonderful grace is strongest when we are at our weakest: "My strength is made perfect in weakness," He said to Paul (2 Cor. 12:9).

Paul immediately took the hint and capitalized on it: "Therefore most gladly I will rather boast [glory, King James Version] in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." In other words, my trials turn out to be a great bargain!

Take a new look at your trials; you may be missing a bonanza.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 29, 2008.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: If You Ask the Lord to Give You Some "Bread," Can You Believe That He Will?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you ask the Lord to give you some "bread," can you believe that He will? Or will He deceive you and give you a serpent or a stone? You say "that's an easy answer," but for some it may be a difficult leap of faith to believe the Lord actually loves them that much. Jesus says His yoke is "easy" but it may not always be easy to learn to believe! It may take years of listening.

If you know your pantry is empty and you ask Him to give you bread for your starving guest, will He bother even at an uncomfortable hour to get up and give you what you ask for? Well, you know the answer: you can't be a Christian unless you believe that He is kind, merciful, and loves you too much to disappoint you, even at "midnight." You must believe that He keeps His promises.

That parable in Luke 11 does not say that He will give you enough bread to stock your pantry for years to come, or enough to feed "five thousand" as Jesus fed them in His day; it says specifically, "He will rise and give [you] as many as [you] need" (vss. 5-8). He answers your prayer for understanding of Bible truth, but it will not make you suddenly omniscient, nor wise enough to hold thousands spellbound with your wisdom. But He will give you all the "bread" you need. So be humble; you will need more understanding tomorrow. Don't be proud of the little He graciously gives you today. That is precious enough but not good enough.

And He has promised that you will never lose the Bible study you do today, even if you may be tempted to think it has been boring. "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). Many testify that truths they thought they have forgotten pop up even years later. So your continual "hunger and thirst for righteousness" that drives you again and again to the Word keeps that precious memory alive.

Many can give their testimony that when they have asked the Lord to teach them truth, the answer came when they least expected it--a sudden flash of understanding when they needed it the most. His promise is in Matthew 10:19: "It will be given to you in that hour what you should speak."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 3, 2004.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, January 13, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Does Jesus Really Need Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does the Lord Jesus Christ really needus? Is He not the Omnipotent One? So is He not automatically the Victor in His "great controversy" with Satan? Does it really matter to Him if we are loyal or disloyal? And in the long run, won't He win irrespective of our loyalty?

Let's back up to the Great Event on Calvary's cross: When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane we read that "all the disciples forsook Him and fled" (Matt. 26:56). Let us not forget that Jesus, although He was the divine Son of God, had laid aside the prerogatives of His divinity, and He was now the "Son of man." He was living our life, as One of us, feeling as we feel.

The pain of those spikes driven into His ankles and wrist bones was horrible, but it was nothing compared to the pain of His soul when His chosen ones, the Eleven (Judas had already forsaken Him), turned away from Him. In the horror of the moment, could He have been tempted to fear that His mission might ultimately fail? After all, weren't these Eleven a prophecy of the ultimate end of His "great controversy" with Satan?

Wouldn't it have been wonderful if at least one of the Eleven had firmly declared to the Romans, "If you crucify this Man, you crucify me, too!"? But there is no such story in any of the four Gospels; there is no such Hero for any of us to exult in.

Whoever we could be today, the truth is that the Lord Jesus does need us to be loyal to Him. It's too late for Him to have to feel sad that we too have done what the Eleven did long ago. It's time for "144,000" of the weakest and most unworthy of earth's inhabitants to "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4). That's our glorious opportunity!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 15, 2009.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: There Will Be a Last Generation!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus Christ was emphatically clear about the future: this sinful, painful world is not to continue on and on ad infinitum for ages to come. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).

Note: He receives His people to Himself, not vice versa. He has taken the initiative all the way through: a conjugal love has motivated Him. Love is always the desire to be one with the beloved. Jesus is no different!

The story of the second coming of Christ is a love story; there is a Bridegroom involved and a Bride. The drama is played out on planet earth in view of the vast universe of God, as though this planet were the stage. The second coming of Christ is the denouement of history, the one grand event toward which through the ages humanity has moved steadily.

The prophet Daniel describes the Last Generation as "the time of the end" (11:35; 12:4). Jesus told His disciples, speaking of specific events, "Then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14). There will be a Last Generation! Six thousand plus years of history cannot be for nothing!

The apostles had a clear understanding: "This we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep [not everybody is going to pass through death!]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

The joy that Jesus will know will be unbounded, for He has personally, individually loved each one of His saints. The Last Generation will be the reunion. The long delayed wedding of two who have dearly loved each other is an occasion of great joy here on earth; think of a cosmic wedding! Four grand Hallelujah choruses with heaven's symphony orchestras accompanying the massed choirs. "The angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed [happy] are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.' [New Living Translation], ... who have the testimony of Jesus ... for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:7-10).

You are invited; now "make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 28, 2007.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."