Friday, February 27, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Ten Great Truths No. 2

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Ten Great Truths That Make God's Last Days Message Unique

NUMBR TWO: "By His uplifted cross and on-going priestly ministry, Christ is drawing "all men" to Himself to repentance. His gracious love is so strong and persistent that the sinner must resist it in order to be lost."

Why is this true?

Because He has given Himself for "every man," yes, He has given Himself TO every man.

When He died on His cross, He did more than save good people; He died for "the ungodly." "When we were yet without strength, in due time Chris died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). It may be hard to say it, but that includes the worst sinners on earth!

The idea that Christ is running the special "shop" of salvation here, and He stays inside like a shopkeeper until the sinner takes the initiative to come seek Him out, is not what the Bible says! We must mention two reasons for this:

(1) Christ is the Good Shepherd who does not wait for the lost sheep to try to find its way home again; He always goes in search of it: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). The lost sheep may be lost out on the hills on a wild, stormy night; no matter. The Good Shepherd leaves His "ninety and nine" and at the risk of His own life goes out in the wildest storm imaginable through the mountains "until He find it": He goes "after that which is lost, until He find it" (Luke 15:4).

(2) "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

Don't imagine that you can save yourself, or that you have grown up on the right side of the railroad tracks so you are naturally almost saved on your own; if the Lord were to leave us to ourselves, we would be hopelessly lost.

"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Think of a shepherd of sheep; he has had a hard day, he is tired and hungry; his wife has cooked his favorite roast for supper; but as he counts his sheep, he finds that one is not there; it's out somewhere in the mountains.

A wild storm is brewing; she says, "Come and rest and eat your supper, you have 99 sheep, are they not enough for you?"

But he can't rest and eat; one sheep is lost.

So out in the wild storm he goes, maybe looking all night, cold and hungry; he must find that one sheep!

And who is it? You personally, and me personally.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Ten Great Truths No. 1

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

With this issue of Dial Daily Bread we begin a series of "Ten Great Truths That Make God's Last Days Message Unique."

NUMBER ONE: "When the Lord Jesus Christ Gave His Life on His Cross, He did not die in vain: HE TRULY SAVED THE WORLD."

The despised Samaritans were right when they declared of Him that He is "the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42, KJV). But how can that be when the great majority of humans on earth do not thus acknowledge Him?

(a) Many do not know it because they have never been told, clearly; and many refuse to believe it when they are told.

(b) But that does not lessen the truth that by means of His sacrifice, Christ has bought them, thus guaranteeing their salvation if they do not resist and reject Him. The entire world belongs to Him by virtue of His sacrifice of His blood on His cross.

(c) This does not mean that the Father will save people into His eternal kingdom while they resist and reject the Savior whom He has given them; He will never force anyone to be in His eternal kingdom against his/her will. But many who may not know it will come to learn it, for the Book of Revelation says that a fourth great angel will come down from heaven, "having great power, and the earth [is] lightened with his glory" (Rev. 18:1-4).

(d) The Lord Jesus Christ by His sacrifice on His cross not only loves the world with every individual person in it; He has also redeemed and saved each one of us.

(e) He is our Creator; but He is also our Redeemer and Purchaser--by His blood.

(f) No matter who you are, or how befuddled you may have been by the problems of life, you are in no sense an "orphan." Ephesians declares that you have been "adopted" into the family of God, unworthy as you may feel yourself to be: "He hath chosen us in Him ... that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (1:4, 5). You may not feel that you are thus "adopted," but that does not lessen the fact. Your orphan days are over; well, they were over even before you were born but you did not know it.

(g) The realization of this truth, your believing it, will transform you into one of the happiest people on earth.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Dial Daily Bread: True Identity

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How much does God care about you as an individual person? How important are you to Him? The biggest problem that children and youth have today is that they don't know who they are. Oh yes, they know their names that their parents gave them, but they don't know their true identity, they don't sense their own self-respect or self-worth as individuals. So they drift into all sorts of evil. "Here's nuthin' goin' nowhere" is the root cause of most crime and degradation, including teenage promiscuity and pregnancies that later produce a replay of the same tragic consequences, generation after generation.

When you were born as a baby, your mother probably counted everything she could see--you had both eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet, and yes, she probably counted the toes on each one to be sure you were "normal." She paid attention to you; you were important in her eyes. But as you grew older, you began to realize that she could not follow you around all your life, re-counting your fingers and your toes; you were on your own. That's when you began to have problems, unless you had learned somehow to believe that you have a heavenly Father who cares for you infinitely more than your father and your mother ever could.

One thing your mother never counted on you--how many hairs were on your head. Even though she cared for you she never cared that much. But Jesus makes a fantastic statement that must not be brushed off as mere exaggeration: He says in Matt. 10:29, 30 that your heavenly Father has counted all the hairs on your head! And you must not disbelieve it--Jesus says it; it has to be so. The important point is not the actual arithmetical total (it would do you no good to know), but it's Jesus' way of saying what David said in Psalm 139:17, 18, "How precious are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand."

Now, what will you do with this? Believe it, or disbelieve it? Your happiness here and maybe forever, depends on which way you choose.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: If You Are WILLING to See

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Dial Daily Bread" will be "off the air" for a few days due to travel. Thank you for your patience, and we'll be in touch soon. --The "Dial Daily Bread" Staff


Have you ever wondered why so many of the Apostle Paul's letters got into the Bible? He never dreamed he was writing part of what we believe is God's Word! The reason is not that Paul was a naturally good person. On his own before he understood the gospel, he took part in a dastardly murder (Acts 7:58-8:1); and he confesses that he had coveted his neighbor's wife and probably was hooked on the pornography of his day (read Rom 7:7, 8).

How come such a man ends up writing a major part of the New Testament? The answer is not that he was made of better stuff than any of us (Luther wisely says that we are all made of the same dough); no, the difference is simply that Paul SAW something that it seems "we" have not yet seen. And what he SAW motivated him to a life of self-sacrificing devotion to the Son of God that puts him in a special place of inspiration to all of us. In 2 Corinthians 11 he tells us of what he endured for Jesus: beatings more than any other apostle, in jail more often, nearly dying many times, five times getting the Jews' 39 lashes with their leather strap laced with lead, three times "beaten with rods," "once stoned [not with drugs but with literal rocks]," surviving three shipwrecks (each equivalent to an airline crash), clinging to wreckage in the Mediterranean for a whole 24 hours, with endless "weariness and painfulness, ... hunger and thirst, ... in cold and nakedness," and all this with a night and day anxiety on his heart that forced him to write almost endless letters to young Christians to encourage them (vss. 23-28).

Please don't put this man on a pedestal as somebody who must remain forever unique! The Bible insists that in these last days there will be "144,000" who truly duplicate his heart-devotion to the Son of God for they too will "follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Rev. 14:1-5). They will reject Satan's alluring but subtle "mark of the beast" and will choose to receive the opposite, "the seal of God" (7:1-4; 13:15-17; 14:9-12).

And here's some great Good News: Paul prayed to the "Father" of Christ that He would privilege us to SEE what he saw--the four grand dimensions of the AGAPE (love) of Christ, its "breadth, and length, and depth, and height" (Eph. 3:14-21). If you are praying for a new Lexus or a vacation trip to Hawaii, that "Father in heaven" may or not grant your request (depending on what He knows is best for you!); but for sure He will "grant you" to SEE what Paul prayed you might see ... if only you are WILLING to see.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: What Is Christian Faith?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Shelves of books have been written about "faith."

But what is Christian faith?

It is faith in Jesus Christ and it is the faith of Jesus (He lived on earth by faith!).

(a) He Himself appreciated what His death on the cross meant.

(b) It was far more than going to sleep for a weekend.

(c) It was far more than going to sleep for eternity:

(d) It was pure hell forever; it was enduring the wrath of a holy God against sin because sin poisons human life and is death itself.

(e) The Son of God, holy and eternal, entered into the horror of hell itself, motivated only by love for us.

(f) He knew that if He did not endure this hell for us, we would have to endure it ourselves.

(g) He did endure it, for He was "made to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

(h) Our Savior from hell must endure hell for us.

(i)) But how could Christ in one brief week-end, no matter how intense the suffering was, endure the never-ending horror of hell?

(j) Calvary was only the public exhibition of the never-ending, eternal cross of Christ.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Overlooked Morsel of Truth

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a precious morsel of truth often overlooked in Isaiah 61 where we read that "the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good tidings to the meek."

Those good tidings include the blessed truth that God's time for vengeance is much shorter than His time for blessing: vengeance lasts for only a "day," whereas His blessings are immeasurably longer. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me," says Jesus; "because the Lord has anointed Me ... to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, [but only] the day of vengeance of our God" (Isa. 61:1, 2).

The time of God's "vengeance" is only 1/365th of the time of His blessing! Can you imagine such a fraction?

Yes, there is a time when God must take "vengeance," and it is a frightful time for those who are not reconciled to Him; but the character of God is such that His "acceptance" is far greater than His "vengeance."

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy" (Psalm 103:8). "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion" (111:4).

His glorious character is beautifully unveiled in Jesus in His incarnation: did He go around blasting people and cursing them? No, Everywhere He went, He was only a blessing. He tells us all, "That's what My Father is like!"

Finally, when wicked people could not stand His presence on earth and they crucified Him, in the midst of His physical and spiritual anguish He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing" (cf. Luke 23:34).

Let your alienated, worldly human heart be melted by beholding the Lamb of God!

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

To Those Who Are No Longer Young

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Sometimes our little daily morsel is addressed to young people; but this one is addressed to those who are no longer young. (I hope you have computers and access to the Internet so you can get it!). The Bible is especially dear to the aged:

(a) The elderly often have reached that time in life when they feel persona non grata, and they wonder why they're still here.

(b) One of the Lord's promises is: "Listen to Me, ... a load on Me from your birth, upheld by Me from the womb: till you grow old, I am the Lord, and when white hairs come, I shall carry you still; I have made you and I shall uphold you ... to safety" (Isa. 46:3, 4, REV). The KJV says, "carried."

(c) David prays a meaningful prayer: "I find shelter with You; I am a passing guest, as all my forefathers were. ... Let me look cheerful ..." (Psalm 39:12, 13, NEB).

(d) Through Isaiah the Lord promises us: "Even to your old age I am [the Lord]; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you" (Isa. 46:4, KJV).

(e) David felt concerned about his old age coming on him. He knew that he would never again be able to slay Goliath, to jump on his felled body and draw his giant sword from its scabbard and with it slay him; those days were gone, he knew.

(f) So now David prays a prayer for all who have passed beyond the prime of life: "You are my hope, Lord GOD, my trust since my childhood. On you I have leaned from birth; You brought me from my mother's womb. ... Do not cast me off when old age comes or forsake me as my strength fails. ... God, do not stand aloof from me. ... I shall wait in continual hope, I shall praise You again and yet again, ... although I lack the skill to recount them. ... You have taught me from childhood, God ... Now hat I am old and my hair is grey, do not forsake me, my God. ... Restore me to honour, and comfort me again" (Psalm 71:17-21, NEB).

(g) Jesus was murdered at the tender age of 33 so we don't have Him in His incarnation living as an old Man; but we have the examples of others who were Christlike all their lives and honored Him in their old age.

(h) There is Abraham, whose faith was "counted to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6). He is honored in Scripture as the hero of faith, even to the point that he was willing to offer his only son Isaac, trusting that the Lord would raise him from the dead (22:10; Heb. 11:19). No human being, old or young, has ever left a record of such faith that honors the Lord so highly.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Joy of Eternal Happiness

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can the Book of Romans be understood by ordinary people who don't have a doctoral degree?

I say, YES!

I don't have one; and I must confess that I feel like a little child wrestling with Romans, but I believe:

(a) The Lord, the Father of our Lord Jesus, would not inspire the writing of a Book in the Bible that is over my head in understanding. He loves me too much to do that to me!

(b) Reading the Book of Romans may stretch my mental powers of understanding, but that is what the dear Lord wants to do to me.

(c) In fact, I myself in my limited understanding, do not want my mental abilities to atrophy.

(d) Such would be equivalent to death! And I don't want that! You don't either.

(e) One man of God (Luther) declared that "Romans is the clearest Gospel of all"--and in truth that means it is clearer than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in presenting the grand truths of the gospel of salvation from sin, here and now.

(f) You don't need a shelf full of scholastic tomes; open your Bible to Romans, kneel humbly before God, shut off the radio and TV and your cell phone, then:

(g) Read; give your mind to the Lord Jesus and do what Jesus said to do, "shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly" with an answer to your prayer for enlightenment (Matt. 6:6).

(h) You will taste of the joy of eternal happiness.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Dial Daily Bread: Lamentations--Let the Lord Speak to You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a little book tucked away in the Bible with a very sad title—that I am sure many people do not read.

It is called "The Lamentations of Jeremiah."

But it will be good spiritual discipline to read it carefully.

The Jews had sinned grievously against the much more abounding grace of the Lord. Jerusalem had become filled with rebellion against the Lord; now she was to suffer grievous punishment because He had withdrawn Himself from them. It wasn't that the Lord hated them—He still loved them; but there was no way that He could express His love for them except to let them suffer what it meant for Him to withdraw Himself from them.

"Her gates are sunk into the ground. ... The law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the Lord" (2:9). "The children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city. They say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? ... " (2:11, ff.).

This of course is post Babylonian conquest of 586 B.C. In beautiful Hebrew poetry, Jeremiah describes the desolate state of Jerusalem:

The beautiful teenage girls and handsome teenage boys "lie on the ground in the streets" (2:21). The Lord has punished me severely, cries Jerusalem; speaking for Jerusalem, the prophet writes: "[The Lord] hath hedged me about. ... When I cry and shout, He shutteth out my prayer. ... He hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. ... He hath bent His bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow" (3:7-10, 12).

This is terrible for "Jerusalem" to say these things to the Lord! But they did say them in prayer after 586 B.C. when the Lord was forced to let the Babylonians take over.

If you have never read this book because the title is so forbidding, let the Lord speak to you in it.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Totally "At-One" With Him

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Some scholars believe that Philippians 2:5-9 was a hymn that the early Christians sang:

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, counted it not robbery [or inappropriate for Him] to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation [people sometimes do anything in order to preserve their reputation!], and took upon Himself the form of a [slave], and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death [the only man in all of history who has done that!], even the death of the cross."

(a) If you don't resist the Holy Spirit, He will impart to you "the mind of Christ," the greatest joy you can have-to be totally "at-one" with Him.

(b) Jesus was as high as anyone in the universe could be-the Son of God; but He gave up that honor.

(c) When you receive "the mind of Christ," your motive in life will no longer be climbing up to the top.

(d) You will patiently let the Father through His providences, lead you and place you where He wants you to be.

(e) Especially beautiful this will be if your calling in life is to be a minister or preacher of the gospel, a pastor or evangelist; your very voice will have in it "the echoes of the voice of Christ." Your whole soul will glorify Him.

(f) You will be a manifestation of the Lord's promise to send us "Elijah" (see Mal. 4:5, 6): "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."

(g) Don't wait for some old, old man with a long white flowing beard; the grace of the Lord may inspire some teenager to speak the pure true message of Elijah!

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Joy Unspeakable

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

David had sunk into an abyss so deep that there was no place for his feet to stand. It wasn’t that he wanted to die; he wanted to live, but all hope was gone. He wrote: “The Lord ... raised me out of the miry pit, out of the mud and clay; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm footing†(Psalm 40:1, 2, REB).

Let us remember: temptation is not sin itself; to be so tempted did not mean that the Lord had forsaken His servant David; but it meant that David had an experience that comes to many of us and David’s psalm is given us by the Lord to encourage us and to save us from despair when we are tempted as he was.

And this was to become a soul-winning experience for David, for he adds, “On my lips He put a new song. ... Many will look with awe and put their trust in the Lord†(vs. 3).

There is something we must do! Yes, we must “put [our] trust in the Lord†!

(a) To do so involves the experience of repentance, for when the Holy Spirit meets us personally His first work is stated as follows: “And when He [the Holy Spirit] is come, He will reprove [that is, convict] the world of sin ...†(John 16:8).

(b) But He has a second work also: “He will convict the world ... of righteousness.†Why? “Because I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more†(vs. 10)

(c) That means that we can “see†Jesus just as clearly now through the work of the Holy Spirit as the disciples could who saw Him face to face among them.

(d) Remember, repentance is not something that we work up ourselves; it is a gift from the Lord, for Acts 5:31 tells us that “Him hath God exalted with His right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, and to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins†(REB).

(d) Accept the “gift.†Receive it!

(e) It’s not a sad experience; it is intensely joyous, for to be heart- reconciled to the Lord Jesus and the Father is joy unspeakable!

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Dial Daily Bread: What Held Jesus on His Cross?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The dear Lord, our Creator and Redeemer, has given each of us a “mind,†that is, the mental capacity to think for ourselves, to choose which way we want to go. Sometimes we say, “I have a mind to do so-and-so,†that is, we have made a choice.

“Our beloved brother Paul†has told us that our natural “mind†is “enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be†(Rom. 8:7). That is, the “mind†that we have inherited from our fallen father, Adam. It’s not only the seat of our consciousness; it is the choices we have made about what to do with the life that we have.

This carnal “mind†will direct our paths toward eternal loss unless we give it up or surrender it to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But we don’t know how to do that unless we learn from Him; He says, “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart†(Psalm 40:7, 8).

Jesus was the first Man on this earth ever to say that!

He took upon His sinless nature our fallen, sinful nature so that it was as difficult for Him to give His “mind†to the Father as it is for us; He knew that the choice to give His “mind†to the Father was a path that must end on a cross where He, “self†for Him, was to be crucified.

That “self†for Jesus was as difficult for Him to give up, to surrender, as self is for us to surrender; His commitment, “I delight to do Thy will†and “Lo, I come†was the choice He made not only in heaven before He came to earth but all through the 33-1/2 years of His life among us. Not the least difficult choice He ever made was His choice to stay on the cross when His enemies were deriding Him and telling Him that if He is indeed the Christ, the Messiah, so now, “prove it!†and come down from the cross.

I remember I was once talking to some children, and I asked them, “What was it that held Him on His cross?â€

They answered, “The nails.†To a child that seemed the logical answer to my question.

But I explained to them that all the nails in the world could not have held Jesus on His cross; what held Him there was His love for us.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Classroom Is Open

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord has promised to send us” the prophet Elijah, “before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” which means now (see Mal. 4:5, 6).

We will see and hear someone preach in whom there is no “self”-importance, no currying of favor, a man who has humbled his soul before Christ, in whose voice there is the tenderness of the Good Shepherd mingled with the fire of the heaven-inspired voice of Elijah on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18).

Such a “voice” will be the fulfillment of Revelation 18:1-4.

That “voice” will command attention from every honest-hearted person on earth; they may never have heard such a voice before; but they will recognize it immediately.

“Elijah” is somewhere in the world today, for the Lord promised to send him and He does not fail to keep His promises.

Go to “school” to Elijah; join him at the “Brook Cherith,” some place of humility where you can learn from Jesus how to lay self aside.

The classroom is open; but entry depends on our laying self aside first.

How does one do it?

(a) Takes time.

(b) Takes asking; “ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find” (cf Matt. 7:7).

(c) Takes waiting before the Lord (cf Psalm 27). “When You said seek My face, my heart said to you, Your face, Lord, I will seek” (cf. vs. 8).

(d) Takes acting on His word; takes getting up when He calls you, and going when He sends, and study when He impresses your spiritual hunger on you.

I think I can be reverent and say, Get acquainted with your human friend, Elijah.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Dial Daily Bread: Crucified With Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Imagine the intense excitement of the disciples as they tried to contemplate the future with Jesus. Peter had expressed their faith when he declared Jesus to be the Son of God and the Messiah (Matt. 16:16).

“He has promised that we will ‘sit upon thrones and judge Israel!’ they recounted over and over; He will fulfill all the wonderful things that the Messiah is to do,” they exclaimed; “and we will share all this glory!”

True, He had made several veiled allusions to a “cross,” (for example, Matt. 16:21; Luke 9:22, 23). But the horrific events of the crucifixion came as a painful surprise to them all.

The more convinced they were that Peter’s confession of faith in Jesus being the Messiah and the son of God, was true, the more confounded they were by His talk about crucifixion.

“Crucifixion is something cruel reserved for runaway slaves,” they thought; “something unthinkable; this is wholly impossible for our Master!”

But they watched in horror as the unthinkable became cruel reality.

Crucifixion was the most horrible degradation of a human being anyone could invent. Not only was the pain horrific but so was the shame of being strung up naked on a pole; the simple sight declared, “Here is a man rejected and abhorred by God!”

The great Moses was no help in this terrible ordeal for he had declared that for any man to die on a tree proved that he was “accursed of God” (Deut. 21:22, 23). Moses, why did you have to say that?

Doubtless the scribes and Pharisees who put Jesus thus to death danced in joy, “Moses proves that Jesus of Nazareth cannot be the Servant of God!”

The very story is abhorrent; and then His disciples are to fan out throughout the world with the news that they “gloried in Christ crucified”! The message was sheer foolishness to Greeks and a stumblingblock to the orthodox, pious ones in Israel.

You don’t tell the world that you “glory in the cross of Christ” unless you are “crucified with Him.” “I am crucified with Christ,” declares Paul (Gal. 2:20); and the apostle stays there with Him throughout his ministry, until he dies for Him.

Will you join Paul in that consecration?

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Thoughts on the Cross of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

My thoughts today have turned to the cross of Christ, in a special sense.

I have been contemplating what crucifixion meant in the days of the old Roman Empire.

It was the utmost humiliation that could be inflicted on a human being. Dear old Moses didn’t help in that regard, for he had said that “if a man ... be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: ... ( ... he that is hanged is accursed of God)” (Deut. 21:22, 23).

How many innocent people have been crucified in ancient times under the impression that they were “cursed of God”? No one knows.

But that was exactly what the leaders of the true church in the time of Jesus projected onto Him. Those Sanhedrin members, the scribes and Pharisees, couldn’t wait to get Him on that pole, and when He was crucified they probably laughed and congratulated each other, “See, this is proof, even the great Moses said that anyone ‘hanged on a tree is cursed of God.’ Hooray, now we know for sure that this Jesus of Nazareth is ‘cursed of God.’” In the Roman Empire, their victims were subjected to the utmost ridicule and indignity possible—they were invariably crucified naked.

And the disciples had to fan out around the world with the message of “Christ and Him crucified,” a message that to Jews seemed a “stumblingblock” and to the Gentile world, “foolishness.” The apostles therefore had everything against them, everything that is, except the Holy Spirit.

When Paul said to everyone, “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20), he was proclaiming a message that seemed to be utter nonsense.

When the divine Son of God came to this world incarnate, “we” humans could think of nothing better to do to Him!

Paul says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7), and the apostle John says that “enmity” equals murder (1 John 3:15), so the inspired conclusion is that we all have had our share in the crucifixion of the Son of God. We have not finished “confessing our sins” until we confess that one!

But Jesus says that “[we] know not what [we] do,” (cf. Luke 23:34), and therefore He prayed to the Father to forgive us, and He did.

Pray that the Holy Spirit may arrest us with the genuine conviction of guilt in truth!

Because with it comes the inestimable gift of repentance and forgiveness.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: "Slave-Girl" and Righteousness by Faith

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We sing a word of praise for an unnamed Israelite heroine, a teenager (maybe even younger) who had been captured in the vicissitudes of war with Syria and made a slave girl to serve the wife of the great Naaman, a Syrian general of war. We will simply call her “Slave-girl.”

Slave-girl might have given up to bitter thoughts of hatred and revenge for her captors. Israelites were never supposed to be slaves to anybody! They had come out of slavery in Egypt, supposed now to be free forever. The very word “Israelite” had come to mean “Free-person.”

But now things had turned against them, because of the rebellious sins of the people in the kingdom of Judah, and our Slave-girl is a captive.

She could easily have given in to nationalistic pride gone sour, and yielded her heart to hatred-thoughts of her new war masters.

But this girl was an “Israelite-indeed,” in that in her heart she believed that she was “free in the Lord,” no matter what happened to her politically. This indicated on her part some understanding of the Israelite doctrine of righteousness by faith. “Faith” gives you the enjoyment of freedom and every blessing even though just now you have to wait for them.

Her story is in 2 Kings 5:1-14.

Her slave-master was a general in the Syrian army, a man up at the top. But there was one problem: he was a leper.

Our “little maid” was bereft of thoughts of hatred and revenge; instead she knew what we call “the love of Christ” (which should fill every Israelite heart).

Her job was to be a slave-girl to Naaman’s wife, probably a high-class matron having everything a woman’s heart could desire. Someone overheard a conversation and went and told the big boss, the king of Syria, that the girl had said, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy”!

He forthwith wrote a letter to the king of Israel and sent a servant with loads of money and fine clothing, saying, “Please heal my servant, General Naaman.”

The king was distraught and “rent his clothes” in despair.

Elisha, “the man of God ... heard [the news]” and sent word for the king to bring the man to him. The innocent little girl was to become very highly honored! We can’t say that her faith was “childish,” for it was in fact very mature, very real.

Elisha didn’t even get up to go to the door to meet Naaman’s servants, but told them to tell Naaman to go immerse himself and “wash” in the Jordan “seven times” and he would be healed.

Naaman was outraged; wash in the filthy river Jordan? “I have nice clear rivers in Syria—I will wash there!” and he left in a rage, still a leper and headed for being one forever.

His servants had some common sense and reasoned with him, for they were impressed that Israel was indeed God’s people. The great Naaman humbled himself to obey the “Spirit of Prophecy,” and was healed.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Dial Daily Bread: The Greatest Repentance of the Ages

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Here are some questions that perplex many Christian people around the world: what is “the latter rain” of the Holy Spirit? Is that blessing falling today, like showers of rain on thirsty crops? What is the purpose of this blessing that the Bible says God will “pour out” on His people worldwide (Zech. 10:1)? Is it possible that Satan can counterfeit the blessing and send his substitute for the real thing? If so, how can we distinguish between God’s true latter rain and the counterfeit?

There are some simple, clear facts that will at least begin to clear up our perplexity:

(1) The story of the “former rain” (see Joel 2:23) will help explain what is the “latter rain.” It was at Pentecost that God’s true people (those who believed in Christ) received the outpouring of God’s true Holy Spirit. Now, after two millennia, we expect the gift of the Holy Spirit to be given again as the complement of the “former” blessing.

(2) The “former rain” was the light of truth that was given as a gift—it was the perception of the truth that God’s professed people had rejected, murdered, and crucified the Lord of glory. That blessing was not a loud noise so much as it was bright light: Peter proclaimed that those people present there had crucified the Messiah, the Son of God. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:36, 37).

(3) The latter rain will therefore be a gift of the Holy Spirit that will bring the true and ultimate conviction of sin that only He can bring to human hearts: the guilt of the crucifixion of Christ is OUR sin. But that is a truth that we don’t comprehend clearly, as yet. According to Zechariah 12:10-13:1, when God’s people do grasp that reality, there will come the greatest repentance of the ages. It will become the “final” experience of reconciliation with Christ, something known as “the final atonement.”

(4) This will make possible a movement, a second “Pentecost,” a message to be proclaimed worldwide that will “lighten the earth with glory,” and prepare a people for Christ’s return.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: An "Outsider"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Do you feel like you’re an “outsider” among God’s people? Perhaps you have difficulty even understanding what seems like intricate theology, it’s over your head and you get discouraged trying to grasp it. Or (what may be closer to home) you feel outside the social circle that includes the “insiders” at church (or school); you “sit alone.” You know a pain that only “outsiders” can feel so poignantly. Yes, your prayers are laced with lonely tears.

That same precious chapter that encourages the castrated males in ancient Israel to believe they are important people is speaking to you today: “Do not let the son [or daughter] of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak, saying, ‘The Lord has utterly separated me from His people’” (Isa. 56:3). When you feel that you are separated from God’s people, that does not mean that the Lord Himself has separated you from them! What the Lord is saying is, You must believe that He has joined you to His true people and therefore to Him; hold your head high, and come to church (or school) and by faith hold your place in His church (or school). Don’t let Satan SEPARATE YOU from them! You must distinguish between what the Lord says to you and what Satan says to you.

“Also the sons [or daughters] of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant—even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer” (vss. 6, 7). You are fighting “the good fight of faith,” struggling to hold on to your confidence in the Lord when Satan is trying to break your hold, using worldly-minded “lukewarm” church members or schoolmates to freeze you out of their fellowship; your Savior has promised solemnly and faithfully to make you “joyful” in His “house.” You are His servant, even if you have to “sit alone” (Jeremiah says he “sat alone”: “I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, ... I sat alone because of your hand,” 15:17).

Don’t be ashamed of Jesus when you have to “sit alone.” Ask for His grace to keep you sweet and true and Christlike-loving. He will!

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Dial Daily Bread: What Is Jesus Doing Now?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Thoughtful Christians of all churches have one common question: “What is Jesus Christ doing now? He promised to come back; why doesn’t He come?”

Yes, He promised, “As the lightning ... so shall the coming of the Son of man be. ... But of that day and hour knoweth no man. ... As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. ... They ... knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:27-39). The angels promised the disciples, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner” (Acts 1:11). That literal, personal return of Christ has not yet taken place.

The only answer as to why He hasn’t come back yet that can possibly make sense is that His people are not yet ready for Him to come. The harvest is not yet ripe (see Mark 4:26-29). And what special ministry can make a people to be ready? Only the ministry of Christ as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary (see Hebrews 8-10).

There was an earthly high priest in the ancient sanctuary—so there is a divine High Priest in the heavenly; there was an earthly lamb offered in the ancient sanctuary—Christ is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As there was an annual day of atonement in the earthly sanctuary, so there is a cosmic Day of Atonement in the heavenly when the High Priest ministers in the Most Holy Apartment, the second apartment, of the heavenly sanctuary. The specific purpose of that ministry is to prepare a people for the second coming of Jesus.

Daniel understood there is a heavenly sanctuary—all the Israelites who were true to God understood it; it is natural then that when the angel in Daniel 8:14 answered the question “how long ... ?” by saying “unto 2300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed,” it’s natural that Daniel understood it was the heavenly sanctuary.

That great Day of Atonement ministry is the most important activity going on today in the heavenly universe. Keep in tune with it.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Genuine "Elijah" Message

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How can one tell the difference between a genuine “Elijah” message that God sends, and a clever counterfeit? When God fulfills His promise to send “Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mal. 4:5), there will be very certain evidences:

(1) The message will be as unpopular as Elijah’s was in his day. The news of what Elijah said to King Ahab about “no rain” flew throughout the kingdom like word goes on the Web today. Many far and near will condemn it while at the same time the message will “go” far and near.

(2) The message will be uncomfortable to those who love sin and worldliness, because it will be inspired by a Visitor, the Holy Spirit, whose first work is to “convict ... of sin.”

(3) Elijah’s message will proclaim full religious freedom. To those in Israel who wanted to worship Baal, Elijah gave the ultimate in opportunity. Risking his life on Mt. Carmel, he invited the 450 prophets of Baal to do their thing before everybody. Gave them full access to every advantage the media of the day could afford. It was a full, unhindered demonstration of Baal worship. It follows that in these last days, the true Christ will give full liberty to “Baal” to do his thing, publicity, swollen budgets. Let the people have a big dose, so they can get sick of it on their own. There might even be something to that proportion of 450 to 1. When the final showdown comes, as it was on Mt. Carmel, we read that when the storm at last begins to blow, multitudes of what we have thought were true disciples will be like “dry leaves,” like in Jesus’ day when “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66).

(4) “Elijah” will have a positive message, as he had on Mt. Carmel. He didn’t spend his precious time railing against Baal worship, but re-built the broken down altar of the true God, and called on the people to see what happens when His worship is restored.

(5) The fruit of Elijah’s message? A national repentance: “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God” (1 Kings 18:39). As in John the Baptist’s fulfillment of the Elijah message, so the message that comes “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” will “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

It appears that “the third angel’s message in verity” (Rev. 14:1-12) and the “Elijah message” are the same: repentance permeating the “body of Christ.”

Dial Daily Bread: A 144,000 "Davids"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can you conceive of the possibility that God may need someone to defend Him? That He could use a human being for that purpose?

Goliath was an arrogant, blaspheming Philistine giant who not only defied the armies of Israel but also for weeks publicly defied and blasphemed “the God of the whole earth.” Israel and its army were not the primary issue; Goliath was challenging God’s existence and His authority to choose and to bless a nation through whom must come the Messiah, the Saviour of the world. Will God suffer this insult in silence, slinking away as it were, leaving Goliath to win the day?

God cannot strike Goliath with a lightning thunderbolt because He does not want to force a subservient worship based on fear. Goliath may himself be a big bully, but God cannot win the day by being a Bigger Bully. He can roar from heaven with a loud voice and frighten Goliath and the Philistines, but again that is not His way of doing things. Actually, as in the days of Job, God needs a human being to defend Him, because the battle is not “with sword and spear” (1 Sam. 17:45). Someone must speak up to maintain God’s honor.

Enter into the arena the stripling, David, clad only in his shepherd’s garb and armed only with a slingshot and a few pebbles. David was not principally a partisan contestant for national greatness; he had an understanding of God’s character of love and of the sacrifice of Christ for the world. He spoke publicly in defense of the plan of salvation itself. To demonstrate for all time to come how God works in cooperation with man, He blessed David’s skillful aim of a pebble from his sling shot, which caught the giant between his eyes, blinded and stunned him. Picture this lad jumping on the giant’s prostrate belly, wresting from its scabbard his huge sword to use it on him before the giant recovers. A teenager has learned to appreciate the character of God, to trust Him, willing to face eternal death for His honor.

Can you conceive of 144,000 giant “Goliaths” blaspheming God in these last days? And 144,000 “Davids” challenging and conquering them? Get in training today.

Be sure to check your e-mail for "Dial Daily Bread" again tomorrow.