Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Our Planet--"Growing Old Like a Garment"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does it make sense to recognize that our planet is growing old, or as the King James Version translates Isaiah 51:6, "shall wax old like a garment," like an old threadbare suit? The great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 immediately preceded the beginning of the Great Industrial Revolution, which reached a climax in the enormous amounts of fossil fuels that have been burned.

Predictions are that the oceans may rise several inches, inundating large areas of seaport cities and forcing the evacuation of islands. At the same time wild weather patterns are predicted as the consequence of worldwide man-made pollution of the atmosphere, a phenomenon never before known in the history of the planet.

According to the Bible, God did create a perfect world in the beginning, with all the functions of nature exquisitely balanced for the good of mankind. All went well until humanity invited Satan in with his new invention of sin. The result: the earth was "defiled under its inhabitants" (Isa. 24:5). Sin made necessary the great worldwide Flood that Genesis chapters 6-9 describe, when "the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water" (2 Peter 3:6). At that time the vast forests and wildlife were buried, producing the coal and oil that are still being burned as fossil fuel.

The results of the Flood are with us today! And sin is increasing, for Jesus said, "As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24:37). We desperately need a new earth! If your clothes wore out, you'd need new ones! God wants to recreate a new earth, but He can't do it until the problem of sin is solved. It follows that there is a worldwide need for the proclamation of the pure true gospel that is "the power of God to salvation" (Rom. 1:16; that is, salvation from sin, not in sin). Could anything be more important?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 4, 2001-2.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Seal of a New Creature in Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Evolutionists tell us that we are highly developed animals. But animals are not spiritual beings. Christ tells us that "God is Spirit" (John 4:24). Does that mean that He is only a shadow or a cloud, that He is not real? By no means. The only real things are those that are spiritual--all material things can be wiped out in a moment by fire, flood, or nuclear bombs. "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body" (1 Cor. 15:44). Only spiritual things will endure for all eternity.

Since God is Spirit, the rest that He took after creating the heavens and the earth was a spiritual rest. It wasn't that He was physically tired, for "the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary" (Isa. 40:28). Creation was not a physical work; it was spiritual. God spoke, and it was.

Therefore, to keep God's Sabbath, or rest, is to enjoy a spiritual rest. While it is true that we are not to continue our daily physical labor on that holy day, it is also true that without spiritual rest there is no Sabbath-keeping.

If the Sabbath were intended only to provide physical rest, then it would be reasonable for earthly governments to make laws requiring people to keep it. (Some want the government to make such laws, forcing people to keep another day, especially Sunday.) But since the Sabbath is a spiritual rest, no one can be forced to keep it. "Spiritual" pertains to God alone, who is Spirit. Only the Spirit of God can give such rest. And He is not subject to courts of law or parliaments.

God does not use compulsion, and He has authorized no man, church, or government to use it in His place. Compulsion or force in religious matters is evidence that the religion being enforced is a false one. It is an acknowledgement that it has no power to motivate the human heart. Christ says that He will "draw all men" to Him; but He never tries to force them. He is a Good Shepherd; a shepherd never drives his sheep!

The Sabbath is the seal of a new creature in Christ, one who is united with Him by faith. Born a creature of the dust, He is now a newly born member of the heavenly family. The Sabbath is therefore the "seal of God" which is placed upon "the foreheads" of God's servants in these last days (Rev. 7:1-4). It came from Paradise and marks those who are destined to live eternally in Paradise. As they assemble through eternity from Sabbath to Sabbath, they will "sing for joy" because of what their Savior has done for them (Rev. 5:12):

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches
and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing

--Robert J. Wieland

From: The True Sabbath, undated.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: A Strange Story in the Bible That Will Help Children

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The lady's prayers were just not being answered. It's a strange story to be in the Bible: Jesus just walked on as though He hadn't heard her. The Bible plainly says, "He answered her not a word" (Matt. 15:21-28). That doesn't sound natural for Him, does it?

We love miracle stories of answered prayer, and we tell them to our children hoping they will inspire them to believe. But sometimes children's prayers apparently don't get answered; we don't know how many are confused by miracle stories. Youth often end up discouraged and "lukewarm." First, we should never tell a story that we don't know for sure is true. The monks in the Middle Ages told the people "pious tales." Secondly, we should tell the children this story of the lady whose prayer Jesus didn't answer, and why He didn't respond to her. The insight in this story will help them.

He happened to have come to where she lived; she had heard of Him and believed He was the Messiah. So, as He was walking along the road, she came up to Him. Her prayer was simple and utterly sincere: "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed."

He walked on as though He had never heard her! Then she began badgering the disciples; would they please intercede with Him to pay her some attention, like many discouraged people who appeal to the saints for help. They were annoyed; she was a Gentile. They "urged Him, 'Send her away, for she cries out after us.'" They too paid her no attention.

He did respond, in her hearing: "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Gentiles are outside My ministry. Goodbye, please, it seemed He said.

But the lady wouldn't give up. She "came and worshipped Him," and begged, "Lord, help me!" Because she believed He was "the Son of David," she also believed there was another side to Him. Then He said something that must have hurt: "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." I think I would have given up and gone home angry. Me, a dog?! But she had wit as well as faith: "True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table!" She was smart, and she was right.

Jesus all along had wanted to help her. He had staged His attitude as a lesson to His disciples, not to despise Gentiles, or women. Her prayer was answered, her daughter was delivered because she believed in His character of love, and she persisted. A good story!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 11, 2004.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Judgment Day Is Not Afar Off--It's Today!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Isaiah is often said glowingly to be the "Gospel Prophet." Yes, there is blessed Good News in his book, but it starts out in chapter one with the most devastating indictment God has ever pronounced on the corporate body of His true church at the time--the kingdom of Judah. He likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah, "laden with iniquity," morally and spiritually filthy. God throws up His hands in horror at the utter hypocrisy of their Sabbath worship services, which He plainly says He "hates" (1:4-15). He simply refuses to "go to church to meet with them," or words to that effect. He turns the other way.

But then immediately we come face to face with "Gospel": the same sad opening chapter predicts His salvation work for them. He commands the people to take a bath and clean themselves up (a common sense thing to do, 16-17), but He also promises that as the Savior of the world He will transform their wicked Sodom into "the city of righteousness, the faithful city" (25-27). He, not they, will have to wash their scarlet sin "white as snow" (18).

From the very first, Isaiah's idea is that they need a Savior; they cannot save themselves. The prophet presages the Ephesians truth that "by grace you have been saved through faith" (2:8); the entire Book of Isaiah is a grace-filled book. Nobody in Isaiah saves himself. But ... every honest person therein cooperates with the divine Savior. Each sinner takes a bath; the Savior won't hose you down against your will; but the cleansing water flows from His wounded side. It's not that you save yourself 50 percent; you let Him save you 100 percent.

You learn to abhor your filth, you welcome His cleansing. If you are one of the tiny fraction who are "willing" to believe, you get a new mind and a new heart. But if you are like the masses of God's people who He said "refuse and rebel," all the angels in heaven can't save you from the disaster you choose to bring upon yourself (19, 20).

Judgment Day is not afar off; it's today. We would be wise to assume that now is our last chance. Life is that serious.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 30, 2004.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Hands of Love

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Suppose you lose someone in death, someone near and dear to you that you know up to the last breath gave no evidence of believing in the Savior. What does the Bible teach you to believe?

The apostle John has left the door open to let in a ray of hope. First, he says what he has to say, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). That appears to be a tone of finality. The word "life" has to mean eternal life; this present temporal life has been the gift of the much more abounding grace of Christ who saved the world in a legal sense and has made it possible for the Father to send His rain and sunshine on both the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45).

But that's not eternal salvation, necessarily. We know that Christ came to give Himself for us all, that every loaf of bread is stamped with His cross, and that unbelievers eat their daily food as the gift of His grace, although they don't know they are eternally and infinitely in debt to Him for all they have ever had. They have eaten from His hand all their life (Psalm 145:15, 16), but have never understood, that is, "known" it or "believed" it (John distinguishes between the two verbs;1 John 4:16).

But right here is where we must step carefully--we cannot be sure which was the case with our loved one. Only the Lord can "read" the deep recesses of that human heart. The door of encouragement that John leaves open is in 1 John 5:14-16: "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." His will is this: "God our Savior ... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3, 4).

"And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:15)--that is, by faith to believe what we shall see in the resurrection morning; the Lord will wipe all tears from our eyes (Rev. 21:4). "If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death" (1 John 5:16).

As your loved one's Judge, the Lord knows the reason why he has been as he has been (you don't know!); the Savior has loved that person more than you have; your prayers may have enabled Him to do something He could not have done if you had not prayed. Cherish what hope the Holy Spirit gives you; your loved one is in His hands. And they are hands of love.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 1, 2006.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: Joined to Christ by Faith

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Each individual believer in Christ is "meek and lowly in heart" as Jesus was (Matt. 11:28-30). But he will be joined to Christ by faith, which means he will say with Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me" (Gal. 2:20, King James Version).

"The faith of the Son of God" is the faith by which He Himself defeated Satan in His human flesh. That flesh which Jesus "took" is the same that we all have inherited--fallen, sinful; but Jesus "condemned sin in the flesh," the "flesh" in which the Father sent Him (Rom. 8:3). In Christ, self was crucified long before He was nailed to His cross.

Even as a Boy of 12 He demonstrated that He had said "No!" to self, and "Yes!" to His Father (cf. Luke 2:49). Constantly He said, "I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me"; "I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me"; in Gethsemane He cried, "O My Father, … not as I will, but as You will" (this, at the price of sweating blood, John 5:30, 6:38, Matt. 26:39).

One who believes in Jesus truly, will open his heart to receive "the faith of Jesus" and will also "condemn sin" in his own fallen, sinful flesh. It can be done by "the faith of Jesus," and it will be done in those "144,000" who prepare for the second coming of Jesus (cf. Rev. 14:1-6).

The price? A Gethsemane-like struggle suited exactly to "the measure of faith" which God has "dealt to every" one of us (Rom. 12:3, King James Version). Satan's attacks will be terrible; but like the 30-hour bombardment of Baltimore's Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, when the smoke cleared away and "our flag was still there," the seal of God like a flag will still be flying over each one's personal "fort" that has endured Satan's merciless bombardment.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 14, 2005.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, June 08, 2018

Dial Daily Bread: The Friend of Lonely People

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When you study your way through the Gospel of John, pause a moment with the impotent man of Bethesda, healed after 38 years of despair. He was lying beside what we today would call a swimming pool where sick people would gather, because it was the common superstition that people could be healed one by one if each could jump in the water first when it gurgled mysteriously. An angel supposedly came at these intervals, to heal the lucky person who shoved and elbowed his way first into the pool. Crazy, but it was this poor man's only hope. (God would not have put the story in the Bible unless it is good for us to think about this man and put ourselves in his place for a bit.)

He had seen people healed, or at least had heard by gossip that some were. When your only hope is as slender as a spider's web, you hang on. We note that he is friendless. "I have no one to help me!" he wails (John 5:7). Happy, expectant people mill all around him daily, nobody bothers to notice him, everybody is too busy to stop and talk with him. He can't make any friends. On top of his paralysis, he has loneliness to carry. If he had a wife or children or relatives, they have given up on him and live their lives as though he is already buried.

Then the Friend of lonely people stops by to chat. Apparently the paralyzed man is the only one there ready to listen to what He might say. (Could He too have been lonely? The One "despised and rejected of men" is often lonely in big crowds of people.) The two struck up a conversation, and Jesus did what He wants us to do--He put Himself in the man's place. He felt for him, just wanted to relieve his distress, to bless him. We call it compassion.

The man didn't even know how to ask to be healed; but he did respond to the Stranger's question with a lament about loneliness. "Sir, I have no friend ..." He didn't curse his lot in life, or blame others. He responded to Jesus with simple, courteous conversation. Probably some tears in his eyes. That was all he could do: be courteous to this kind Friend. (If you're going to die in the next five minutes, at least you can be courteous and respectful to people!)

It was his salvation! He put himself in the arms of his new-found Friend and Savior. Come now, you do the same.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 8, 2004.
Copyright © 2018 by "Dial Daily Bread."