Friday, May 29, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Joy of the Early Apostles

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does your heart crave the joy that filled the hearts of the early apostles?

Yes! We are not satisfied with a dull, unenthusiastic, leaden kind of spiritual experience, common as it may be. What did the apostles have that we don't seem to have?

They saw the significance of the cross of Christ! Yes, they also believed the resurrection of Christ; but the resurrection meant nothing without appreciating what He had accomplished by His cross.

Billions of Christians around the world all glibly profess that "Christ died for our sins." But how and why did He die?

To study for the answer is not an exercise in futility or riding a hobby horse. Paul says, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14); and he told the Corinthians that he knew nothing, save Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1-3). The light which will yet lighten the earth with its glory will be a revelation of the significance of that love revealed at the cross. Something about the cross will yet stir Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, yes those billions of lukewarm Christians.

Did Christ die (1) only as an alien millionaire stepping in briefly to pay our legal debt? The word used to describe this view is "vicarious." It's like someone who might offer to spend someone's time in jail or pay his fine--so he could go free instead. Or (2) did Christ actually become one of us, the second Adam, and die as us? How closely did He identify with us? #(1) is an exchanged transaction; #(2) is a shared experience. #(1) leaves the human heart cold, or at best, lukewarm; #(2) lights the soul with unending joy. According to their testimony in the New Testament, the apostles clearly were fired with #(2).

If you want that kind of joy, know nothing but Christ and Him crucified; then His resurrection will mean new life for you in Him.

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

Dial Daily Bread: The Lord Loves the Froward Soul

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a strange text in Proverbs 22:14, KJV, which seems to say that any man who commits adultery is "abhorred of the Lord." Sounds very serious!

The Revised English Version says, "... is like a deep pit, he whom the Lord has cursed will fall into it." Sounds even more serious!

The Goodspeed Version says, "He with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it."

It does not say that if a man falls into adultery THEN the Lord will "abhor" him or be angry with him; no, the idea is, that the anger and abhorrence of the Lord come BEFORE the man falls into the pit of adultery.

Sounds even more serious still!

Why would the Lord "abhor" or be "angry" with any man?

The key word is "froward." "The froward is abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 3:32).

Those who are recklessly, thoughtlessly, prayerlessly going on in their own way, are the "froward" people whom the Lord cannot help but "abhor."

But remember: being "froward" is not the unpardonable sin; the Holy Spirit can arrest a man (or woman, they too can be "froward"), and convict him/her and bring him/her to repentance. To be froward is to drive your life ahead thoughtlessly without "fearing the Lord" (the word means to reverence Him, but not to be cravenly afraid of Him).

The Lord loves the froward soul; and in response to a heartfelt prayer will give repentance and life-long healing.

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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: A New Birthday

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If we go without physical food for an extended time, our bodies become hungry.

If we go without spiritual food for our souls, our spirit becomes faint with hunger.

The result is spiritual weakness and disease. It's just the law of life.

"But reading the plain Bible is dull and boring!"

It's different than reading any other book, for it is God's word; our natural mind that we all have is "enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).

(a) Therefore, step number one is to choose to lay aside your natural "mind," and to "let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5). He will cooperate with you!

(b) Before you open the Bible, humble your soul and ask the Lord to speak to you in its pages. He will never despise that prayer!

(c) If the 16th century Elizabethan English is a stumblingblock to your understanding, get a modern translation. (But choose it wisely! Unless you are a child, avoid getting a child's Bible; welcome one that stirs your mind and makes you think.)

(d) Serious choices can include the New International Version; and the New English Bible, especially the Revised English Bible.

(e) But don't discard the familiar King James Version; it is an honest and clean translation although its verbiage may be outdated for you.

(f) Please remember, the dear Lord Jesus Christ is a personal Being, one with us in humanity; He will be delighted when you "taste" and see how delicious is the reading of His Holy word. You will join your brother in the faith, the prophet Jeremiah, when he said, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts" (15:16).

(g) That day will be like your new birthday!

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

Dial Daily Bread: When We "Hit Bottom"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a prayer in the Bible ready for us to pray, whenever we "hit bottom":

"Lord, out of the depths I have called to You; hear my cry, Lord; let your ears be attentive to my supplications" (Psalm 130:1, 2).

(a) You may not have "hit bottom" just now; but it is good to get acquainted with this psalm.

(b) Some day, you will "hit bottom"! And to absorb this beautiful message now will be a blessing to you forever.

(c) There is an Enemy of our souls who wants us to "hit bottom" and stay there forever;--but that's the place where we are to call upon the Lord!

(d) The outstanding thing about the character of the Lord that is brought to view here in this psalm is, "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be reverenced" (that's the meaning of "feared," vs. 4).

(e) Our relationship to the dear Lord is always that of a penitent who is thankful for His forgiveness!

(f) Included with that "forgiveness of the Lord" is a deep sense on our part of profound thanks.

(g) That thanksgiving for forgiveness is the essence of joy. Not until the coming of the Lord and the gift of His translation, are we to be forgetful that "there is forgiveness with [Him] that He may be reverenced."

(h) Henceforth, our pathway is one of joy in the Lord. We rejoice forever for His "condemning sin in the flesh": "God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:3, 4).

(i) He invites us to "abide in Him." Included in that blessing is the same victory over the sin that besets us!

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Blessing of Being Hungry

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Today was one of those rare days that were so filled with things to do, meetings to attend, and travel, that I lost the contact I usually have with sources for food.

The result, come evening, I was hungry, very much so.

I thought of Deuteronomy 8:3 where the Lord speaks of permitting ancient Israel to discover what hunger means: "[The Lord] humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger ..."

But not to torture them, but "to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart" (vs. 2).

"He humbled thee and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not ... that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." We can learn:

(a) Being hungry is a blessing once in a while, if we can learn something helpful from the experience.

(b) The experience of being hungry for temporal food can teach us the blessing of being hungry for spiritual food.

(c) The Lord Jesus Himself has forever glorified the experience of going hungry [for a time!]. In the most wonderful sermon ever preached, He said, "Blessed [happy] are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

(d) The meaning is clear: the only ones who will ever be "filled" are those who "hunger and thirst."

(e) Therefore, we conclude that a wonderful prayer for us to learn to pray is, "Lord, make me to feel hungry!"

(f) But that's just backwards from common wisdom; but if the Lord Jesus says that such are the ones who are "blessed," we had better listen and learn.

(g) This raises the problem of fasting and prayer: but time's up. More later!

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

Dial Daily Bread: A Bigger Heart Than We Possess

Everybody's favorite Bible text is John 3:16. Let's look at it again:

(a) "For God so loved ... " That is the Father, ... the "our-Father-which-art-in-heaven" of the Lord's prayer, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(b) "He so loved that He gave what He gave," did not lend. The Father gave Him to us for eternity; emptied heaven of Him. Gave Him to go to hell, for us.

(c) "His only Son." The Son gave Himself to us. Gave Himself to go to hell, for us.

(d) On His cross He embraced our lot--which is to die the second death. That's what He gave Himself to. As He hung on the cross, He could not see through the portals of the tomb before Him.

(e) It was a total sacrifice of Himself. Our finite minds cannot fully grasp the truth, but we are invited to stretch our minds to comprehend it.

(f) That's what it means to "believe." "BEHOLD the Lamb of God." A long, diligent look. Every day.

(g) It means "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus ..." (Philippians 2:5ff.).It's emptying our worldly self-centered mind to receive His mind.

(h) To "believe" means to appreciate the length, and breadth, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge--Ephesians 3:14-19.

(i) That calls for a bigger heart than you and I possess.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Grace Has to be "Imported"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Grace" is something that doesn't exist here on this fallen earth; it has to be imported.

And the only way it can get in is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace is loving bad people, even your enemies.

Such grace is creative in that it "creates" or produces in the person who is loved, a new heart that is responsive to grace.

It is something that we fallen humans just cannot do unless we receive grace from the Lord, and unless we open our hearts to let it stay in.

It's something we don't have to beg an unwilling indifferent Lord to let us have, for He is trying His best to get us to open our naturally unwilling hearts to receive it. "Let this mind be in you," He begs us in Philippians 2:5, "which was also in Christ Jesus." In other words, if we don't resist receiving this grace, He will give it to us!

"Behold the Lamb of God!" says John the Baptist. "Beholding" is simply looking--the natural thing everybody in the world does when something happens, something different than usual. We all crane our necks to get a better view; it's the natural thing to do.

Now, "behold" Jesus, says John the Baptist.

If you think the clouds and the mist are so dense, in your particular circumstances, that you can't "see" Him clearly, remember, He is more desirous that you "behold" than you can be yourself; He loves to drive clouds and darkness and mist away so we can see clearly.

But the desire in our souls must be there like a hunger and thirst that transcends our hunger for breakfast in the morning.

And that's a simple but proper place to start: make a choice to eat not a bite of "breakfast" until you have begun to "feed" upon the "bread of life," which is the word of the Lord.

When I was a teenager, I went through a crisis--I knew I was not truly converted. You know how a teen in the dormitory yearns to get to breakfast in the morning; well, I decided I wouldn't go ... until I at least had a beginning of "eating" some "bread of life."

You may smile at my naiveté; but I meant business with the Lord! I was serious.

And now, even to this day many years later, ... no breakfast until I have knelt on my knees and found some morsel of the "bread of life" first.

And you will know more about the "grace" of the Lord Jesus than the ponderous theology tomes can tell you.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Dial Daily Bread: "The Holy City"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a Christian song that many around the world love: "The Holy CIty."

The last stanza is:

"And once again, the scene was changed; new earth there seemed to be.

I saw the Holy City beside the tideless sea.

The light of God was on its streets, its gates were opened wide,

And all who would could enter, and no one was denied."


But is it true? Can anyone who wants in be admitted?

The apostle John says that "God is love [agape]" (1 John 4:8). Does that mean that the Lord will let anyone who wants in the New Jerusalem to come in?

The very last page of the Bible suggests that it is true: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17).

No one will ever be shut out of the New Jerusalem by a choice of the Lord! The "gates [are] opened wide!"

The Lord will give every one what he/she really wants; the picture of the Lord throwing people screaming and yelling in protest into the Lake of Fire is not Biblical; no one will ever end up there except by his/her own personal choice.

Maybe more on this tomorrow, the Lord willing.

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

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: As Close as the Telephone!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

On the day when Christ was resurrected, two of His disciples (not of the Twelve) were walking along a path that leads from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus.

A Stranger joined them, and in a pleasant, friendly way engaged in their conversation (a beautiful picture of what Jesus is like!).

He inquired why they seemed to be so sad.

They told the Stranger about Jesus, and their hopes that He might prove indeed to be the long-awaited Messiah.

As the Stranger began explaining Isaiah 53 and the other Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, these two were deeply impressed. The cross does not mean that He cannot be the Messiah: it's the proof that He IS!

Their hearts burned within them with excitement! What they had thought meant that Jesus could not be the Messiah turned out to be the strongest evidence that He is!

When they reached their village of Emmaus, the Stranger appeared to say Goodbye and keep on going; but they begged Him, "Abide with us." The record says that they "constrained Him." Maybe with tears! "Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent."

If you beg the Lord earnestly to "abide" with you, He will never turn away from you.

This story also teaches us another happy lesson: He will not leave us alone; He will provide someone to share our faith together!

That "friend" whom the Lord may give you for sharing your faith experience together, may not necessarily be physically near, but could be as close as the telephone.

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

Dial Daily Bread: Is Jesus REALLY Coming Back Soon?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You can't deny that it's a temptation: for over 150 years "we" have been preaching that Jesus is coming "soon," "it's the eleventh hour," "time is almost finished," etc. Now, many are wondering, because they are tempted to doubt: "Is Jesus REALLY coming back again SOON as we humans are forced to understand the word "soon"? And some who have long believed that Jesus promised to return visibly, personally, in the clouds, are beginning to try to redefine "the second coming" so it won't be personal and visible. (That means they are repeating the arguments of "our" opponents of 150+ years ago! While telling us they still believe in the Second Coming!)

If you are tempted to doubt the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, let me suggest one simple observation you can make that can't help but clarify your vision: consider how our modern world is fast becoming like Jesus described the days of Noah before the Flood. Look at Matthew 24:37-39 (these are the simple, direct words of Jesus Himself): "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Genesis 6 describes those "days" as "corrupt, ... and filled with violence" (vs. 11). All the people cared about was sex and pleasure. And Genesis says that "God repented that He had made man."

Think of how we are today living in a time of solemn judgment, and contrast the giddy, pleasure-mad, yes, corrupt spirit that prevails, and you can't help but see that it's as it was in the days of Noah before the Flood. It's time for solemn, serious, sober thinking! Nothing in this world makes sense except the truth as it is in Jesus! God give us grace to believe it!

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

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Free at Last!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The same Creator LORD who created us humans, created the birds.

But He subsidized them in a way peculiar to them--He designed their bones to be hollow, thus lightening the weight that they have to carry in their flight.

(a) This is an illustration of the goodness and the kindness of the Lord as our Creator.

(b) But He expressed His goodness and kindness in another way: He gave the birds complete liberty to fly anywhere they want to fly.

(c) Some birds choose to fly from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern, and back.

(d) Just watch the birds in your local sky flying where they wish; then thank the dear LORD for the freedom He has given you to "fly," or rather to go, wherever you wish.

(e) The LORD gave you your "mind." But since sin entered into our world, our natural mind is a "carnal mind," which is "at enmity against God," for it is "not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).

(f) But because He loves us so, the Lord appeals to us to give Him our "mind."

(g) "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," pleads our brother Paul (Philippians 2:5).

(h) The meaning seems to be, "Let this life-purpose be in you ... " Yes, be consecrated to the Lord who consecrated Himself even to the second death, so He could save you.

(i) But what does it mean to "believe in Jesus"? It means to yield to Him our worldly mind; you do that on your knees before Him.

(j) It means to give to Him your will; to thank Him for the freedom He gave you by creation and by redemption, and then yielding back to Him that same freedom that He gave to you.

(k) Then, at last, you are free!

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

Dial Daily Bread: "Sin Which Is Not Unto Death"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Here's a most precious promise tucked away where you may not expect to find it:

(a) It's in 1 John 5:16:

(b) "If any man [person] see his [her] brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He [the Lord] will give him life for them that sin not unto death."

(c) Very encouraging news!

(d) But there is a proviso involved. There is only one kind of sin that one can ask help for: a "sin which is not unto death."

(e) How can we tell the difference when we pray?

(f) "The sin which is unto death" is obviously the unpardonable sin; John does not give hope that a person committing that sin can be saved at last.

(g) We had better stay on the safe side: accept every person as the purchase of the sacrifice of Christ; do not give up hope for anyone no matter how discouraging the prospect seems!

(h) In an unlikely spot in Scripture we find a message of great encouragement: "Cast thy bread upon the waters ... Give a portion to seven, and also to eight. ... In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening [when you become old] withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good" (Ecclesiastes 11:1, 2, 6). That's a success promise!

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The "Fiery Furnace"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is the story of the "burning fiery furnace" in Daniel 3 pious fiction? Or authentic history?

Historical and archaeological research confirms supportive details: such as brick kilns that were common. Jeremiah 29:22 tells the history of how King Nebuchadnezzar "roasted in the fire" two seditious Jews; another Babylonian king boasted of burning some political enemies--evidence that this method of execution was actually practiced; Herodotus and Pliny tell of ancient kings who built huge statues covered with gold leaf. The deliverance from death by fire had been promised: "When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." Doubtless the three Hebrew youth thrown in the fire had cherished this assurance. The promise "I will be with you" was literally fulfilled (Isa. 43:2). "The Son of God" shared the "furnace" with them, as even the pagan king confessed (Dan. 3:25).

This is the point of Daniel 3: will we believe that the Son of God shares our sufferings for His sake? Will He give divine courage to "stand up" when everybody else bows down? The apostle Peter collapsed when the test came to him (Matt. 26:69-75); in fact, all the eleven disciples ran away.

Many Israelites had been exiled to Babylon when Daniel and his three companions went, but none of them had the courage to obey God's Ten Commandments except these four! Granted, the three who faced the fiery furnace were terrified at the prospect of death by fire; but they sensed that they were called to honor the truth of God before the assembled leaders of an empire. He gave them courage, even if God should choose not to deliver them from death (Dan. 3:16-18; this was a selfless motivation inspired by agape). A similar final test will come to us all in the "mark of the beast" crisis (Rev. 13:11-17).

The Good News: right now worldwide the Holy Spirit is preparing, nerving, strengthening, and training willing people to endure the test. Fellowship with Christ in "fire" is precious, even today as we honor Him in school, in college, at work, at home.

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

Dial Daily Bread: A Personal Testimony

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Today some kind friends took me out for my birthday dinner.

Yes, I must be honest and confess: the total of my years is getting up a bit.

But I wish to testify to the goodness of the Lord who has kept me and blessed me all this long while. No way do I deserve His many goodnesses to me that have pursued me into what many say is "old age."

But perhaps my testimony may encourage some young person somewhere:

(a) I was twelve when my Sunday School teacher in the big church with the huge Gothic windows and the pipe organ one Sunday asked us kids to memorize the Ten Commandments so as to repeat them the next Sunday.

(b) I took her seriously and did it.

(c) I couldn't help but see there in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) that "the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." I glanced at the calendar on the wall and saw that the seventh day is Saturday and not Sunday.

(d) I asked her the following Sunday, "How come?"

(e) She said she had never thought of it before; but "Dr. Campbell, our revered pastor, and all the other churches go to church on Sunday, so it must be all right."

(f) I accepted that for the time being, but the nagging question remained unanswered.

(g) Then someone cleared up the mystery for me: the Roman Catholic Church had changed the day of worship from the seventh to the first day of the week.

(h) Martin Luther had been a hero to me; I remember that at the age of 12 I made my decision: "I must keep the Sabbath!" The Lord must come first.

(i) But I had never heard of a church that observes the seventh day, Saturday, as the day of worship. So I waited and kept alert.

(j) Finally I discovered one. It was a dinky little building on the western side of town; it had no pews, only rude benches to sit on; not even a piano--only an old fashioned wheeze organ that you had to pump.

(k) But I made my decision; I love great Gothic windows and I love pipe organs; and I love popularity; it became a bit difficult dressing up in my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and walking right through the heart of town on Saturday morning so my fellow high school kids could see me ("What's wrong with Robert? He's going to church on Saturday!").

(l) I had some terrific battles over Sabbath-keeping in that high school that I can't take the time to describe here now; but let me testify, the Lord never let me down.

(m) And I praise Him today.

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

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Happy "Bedtime Reading"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There are two books in the Bible that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself especially urges us to give special attention to:

(a) In Matthew 24:15 Jesus is speaking and He says of the Book of Daniel, "Whoso readeth, let him understand."

(b) Jesus went out of His way to single out that one book as worthy of our special attention.

(c) The Book of Revelation is the only Bible book that carries a special blessing for the person who reads it, "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein" (Rev. 1:3).

(d) This is clear evidence that the book can be understood! Jesus is honest with us; He would never say things like that about a book which doesn't make sense to us!

(e) The two books are complementary--the one explains the other.

(f) Even if you and I think that we may have been brought up on reading those two books, let us not let them become "sealed books" to us.

(g) The Great Second Advent Movement began in the 1840's in an understanding of these two books; time has not changed the importance of the two books.

(h) The understanding of these prophecies which the Holy Spirit gave to the "pioneers" is also valid today; in fact, it was the Lord's full intention that all the prophecies should have met their fulfillment in the latter years of the 19th century; Christ wanted to come then ... before the horrors of the two World Wars! The Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of all the nations--no way did He want those horrible events to happen.

(i) Are the Books of Daniel and the Revelation suitable for "bedtime reading"? Yes, but in context; let them speak fully--the message is always encouraging and uplifting.

(j) For example: "They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). Can you think of more happy "bedtime reading"?

(k) And, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him who hears say, Come. And let him who is thirsty, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17).

Yours for some happy "bedtime reading"!

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

Dial Daily Bread: "The Weeping Prophet"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When the Lord gives someone a message for the people through the gift of the "spirit of prophecy," it's a joyous message. And it makes the messenger (the prophet himself) joyous to deliver it.

But there is one outstanding exception:

There was one man whom the gift of the spirit of prophecy brought unmeasured sorrow with tears: that was the prophet Jeremiah.

He is known as "the weeping prophet." He says: "Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth!" (15:10).

It was his misfortune to live in a time of unparalleled apostasy in Jerusalem. The people were in rebellion against the Lord, and since Jeremiah was at-one with the Lord, they were also in rebellion against him.

Yet, in spite of the heart-pain that was his burden to carry all his life, the Lord also managed to give him some delightful joy along the way in order to refresh his spirit and to keep him from perishing. He tells of one experience the Lord let him have: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts" (15:16).

That experience "fed" his soul and kept him from perishing!

Note: the blessing did not come through some epiphany, some special vision that the Lord gave him: it came through his reading the books of the Bible which he had at that time (don't forget, he had the books of Samuel, of Moses, and the psalms of David).

Now you and I have far more than he had at that time; but kneel and personally thank the Father in heaven for the 66 books of the Bible which you have; let His "Word" be the "joy and rejoicing of [your] heart" now and forevermore.

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Marvelous Gift of Grace

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When God the Father was confronted with a world [that is, in Adam] that had sinned and rebelled against Him; did He drop a bomb on them?

(a) No; He did what the unfallen universe thought was unthinkable: He frankly forgave them and granted the sinners a judicial verdict of acquittal.

(b) Now the Father was free to treat sinners as though they had never sinned.

(c) The name for this action is GRACE.

(d) Romans 5 describes what happened:

"God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many, its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the GIFT that came to so many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ" (vs. 15, NEB).

(e) This marvelous gift of grace does not belittle the seriousness of the sin that we have committed; the true dimension of the guilt of our sin is the murder of the Son of God.

(f) What kind of sacrifice can balance that account of our guilt?

(g) Someone holy and innocent must take our place and "pay the price of guilt."

(h) This is a legal or judicial "verdict of acquittal" that Christ accomplished for us and gave us as a GIFT.

(i) The Father so loved us that He gave us His only Son to die our second death.

(j) All He asks from us [read John 3:16, please] is to "believe" what He has done.

(k) And that word "believe" means to express a heart-felt appreciation for what it cost Him to save us.

(l) And that heart-appreciation melts the stony heart, and changes us--that is, converts us.

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

Dial Daily Bread: Crying "Out of the Depths"

ear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We don't need any preacher or Bible student to remind us of the Saviour's love: if we fail a thousand times, He does not give up on us.

The price which Jesus paid on the cross in His sacrifice is great enough to care for us, no matter how far we wander away. This is not to encourage our wandering away; no; when we appreciate the "breadth, and depth, and length, and height" of His love revealed at the cross, we cannot wander away!

It's clearly stated in 2 Corinthians 5:14: "The love [agape] of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge [in other words this is not mere sentimentalism; this is cold logic of the purest kind!] that if One died for all, then were all dead [that means, all would be dead if He had not died for us!]; and that He died for all, so that they which live should not live unto themselves [in other words, it's impossible for the one who appreciates what Christ has already done for him/her to go on living for self]; but unto Him who died for them and rose again" (vss. 14, 15).

"Appreciates"--that's a key word.

That's not just raising your hand in a big meeting saying yes, you "accept Jesus." That means to contemplate, to think about, to let it sink in, what it cost the Son of God to save us.

He had to go to hell, to enter in, to give Himself to hell forever--because His love is so great. That is where He found us!

Psalm 130: "Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. ... There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be reverenced" (vss.1-4).

You never truly appreciate the extent of that "forgiveness" until you find yourself apparently abandoned in those "depths," out of which you finally "cry." I said "apparently;" you are never truly abandoned but you get to where the burden of your guilt and of your fear is so great that you feel like you have been abandoned; so ... it's "out of the depths" that you finally cry.

Think about it; let your heart be "enlarged" to appreciate how deep are those "depths."

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

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Lesson of the "Birds' Bones"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Next time you watch a bird fly, think of the amazing love of its Creator: the Lord made its bones hollow, whereas yours and my bones are solid.

Why did the Creator do this for the birds' bones?

Only one answer:

To make it easier for the poor things to fly!

The Creator (who by the way is our Savior!) was being kind to these winged creatures to make the burdens they have to carry lighter for them to bear.

A good lesson for us:

The same Creator who made the birds' wings hollow has made your "burdens" lighter for you to carry!

Instead of weeping and moaning because your burdens seem so heavy for you to carry, stop a moment; remember the birds and the Lord's kindness to them, and make a choice to believe that the same Creator who made the birds made you, and is caring for you today.

He has made your burdens to be lighter than they would be without His blessing!

Now, humble your soul, kneel, and thank Him for His mercy!

One of the most precious little scraps of "Good News" is to be found in the Lord's seven messages to His seven churches of history. We can take any bit of Good News and apply it to ourselves. For example, here is the Lord's message to Thyatira (Rev. 2:24)--take it to yourself: "I will put upon you none other burden."

If you were a horse or a donkey, the Lord would not overload you; if you were overloaded, He would reduce the weight of your burden you carry or pull.

Now today, that's His message to you: He will put upon you "none other burden" heavier than you can carry!

Make your choice to (1) thank Him for the encouraging news from His word, (2) now BELIEVE that He has already "put none other burden upon you." Ask Him to forgive you for your unbelief in thinking the burden He has laid on you is too heavy for you to carry!

Yes, some will read this little message realizing that they lie on hospital beds facing a heavy trial: be assured, make a choice to believe that the Lord has "put none other burden" on you (that promise is a good one to mark in our Bibles!).

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

Dial Daily Bread: The Lord Lifts You Up

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We can humble our souls before the Lord ever so low; right down to the lowest "estate" (cf. Luke 1:48, regarding the virgin Mary); but the Lord will not leave us there.

In Mary's case, as soon as she had confessed her "low estate," the Lord raised her up ("He [the Lord] hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden") and He will "regard" our "low estate" whoever we are and wherever we are, and will raise us up.

"Before honour is humility" (Proverbs 18:12).

That means that whatever soul, unworthy or not, humbles himself before the Lord, the Lord will go to work to "honor" him/her.

The Lord's job is not to push people down into the dust, to humiliate them, to walk over them--He does not do that kind of work; He does the opposite. His job is to lift people up, to honor them, not push them down.

The Lord lifts you up all your life; our job is to BELIEVE the truth of His character--believe that He is our Friend, that He is on our side, that He will lift us up every day of our lives.

But never will He lift us up only to throw us down again. The Psalmist in his agony felt that the Lord had done that to him: "Because of Thine indignation and Thy wrath ... Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down" (Psalm 102:10).

The text does not indicate that the Lord had actually done that to the Psalmist; but it seemed that way to him.

It may seem that way to you: that the Lord has lifted you up only to throw you down again. And the higher He has lifted us, the greater is the pain when He throws us down!

But look carefully: that is not what the Lord does. He does not seek to wound us, ever; but in our human, mortal state of unbelief and darkness, that is the way it seems to us sometimes.

Read the rest of the Psalm: "the Lord will regard the prayer of the destitute, and NOT despise their prayer"! (vs. 17). "He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; to hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death" (vss.19, 20).

Yes, Good News!

Believe it with all your heart.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: The Story of the Ages

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When God became confronted with a whole world that He had created which rebelled against Him, what did He do?

He astounded the unfallen universe: He frankly forgave everybody with a "judicial verdict of acquittal" (cf. Rom. 5:16, NEB).

He had no right to do this legally unless He Himself had taken on Himself the full burden of paying the penalty for sin--death.

And that must be the real thing--not just sleeping for a weekend; Christ died the world's second death.

That's the long, long tunnel beyond which there is no light; the death that Jesus died the penalty that we all deserved and would have died but for His sacrifice.

That's what Romans 6:23 says is the "wages of sin." Nothing less will suffice.

Long ago the great Moses had said (and all the world has believed Moses for what he said) that "he that is hanged [on a tree] is [automatically] cursed of God" (Deut. 21:22, 23).

Of course, the Jewish leaders at their trial of Jesus before the Roman Governor Pilate, believed that (under Roman law, the Jews had no right to put a man to death; only the Romans could do it). Remembering what the great Moses had said, they screamed before Pilate "Crucify Him!" (John 19:6).

Trusting Moses implicitly, they believed that once they could get Jesus on to that cross, they could slap each other on the back in self-congratulation, "We've done the right thing! There's no way this Man from Nazareth could be the Messiah! So, let's Crucify Him!"

Jesus was right when He screamed in His agony, that the Father had "forsaken" Him; as He hung on that cross He was in hell--the deepest, darkest, most terrible hell there is.

Isaiah says something hard to believe, that it "pleased the Lord to bruise Him" (Isa. 53:10). You can ponder over that the rest of your life and never exhaust its meaning: what father is "pleased" to bruise his son?

Well, it "pleased" the heavenly Father to "bruise Him," because ...

And there's only one thing to say here--

He loved you more than He loved Him.

It's the story of the ages.

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

Dial Daily Bread: In Union with Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The heavenly Father is not looking for ways to punish people; He is not trying to amass an account of debit against anyone!

But it's not merely emotionalism that makes Him to be so gracious to us: there is a solid legal or judicial reason for His kindness to us sinners:

(a) His Son, Jesus Christ, has come down from heaven, surrendered His high position at the throne and has become one of the human race.

(b) He has taken upon Himself the fallen, sinful human nature that Adam has passed on to everyone; therefore judicially the Father is free to treat every person, no matter how sinful, as though he or she has never sinned.

(c) This is what we can experience in "justification by faith."

(d) To be justified is to be cleansed, corrected, made "at one" with Christ.

(e) To be justified is infinitely more than just having your present quality of life extended indefinitely; such "eternal life" would not be a blessing!

(f) To be at one with Christ in character--this is what it means to "receive the atonement."

(g) But the Lord will not force such sublime "eternal life" on anyone; He will give every one of us what we really want above all else.

(h) Therefore He has given us "today" so that we may learn to be happy in union with Christ.

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: Privilege to "Glory" in the Cross

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Our beloved brother Paul" (cf. 2 Peter 3:15) who frequently comes up with those brilliant insights into what it means to follow Jesus, said: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; ... 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).

Of all the apostles, apparently only Paul could come up with this idea.

The cross was the focal point of human opprobrium and disgust; for a self-respecting man to imagine himself crucified naked on a cross--this was impossible.

Yet Paul climbs up on that cross "with Christ" to share the shame and hatred and disgust of the world.

Can you imagine the uphill battle that Christ's disciples had--preaching salvation through that despised symbol of depravity? I don't imagine what today would be equivalent!

If you can imagine the apostles of Jesus fanning out around the world holding evangelistic meetings, inviting the public to come in (as we do, maybe in a tent crusade!), can you imagine them "glorying" in that hated symbol of depravity? Even the great Moses, whom everyone revered, declared that "if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree, ... he that is hanged [on a tree] is accursed of God" (Deut. 21:22, 23).

There was no way the early apostles could get around that pronouncement of Moses! It seemed on the surface that God had foredoomed their "evangelism" to be in vain!

Yet the apostle told the Corinthians, "When I came to you, ... I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2). The apostles lifted the heavy burden the Lord had laid upon them and rejoiced in telling the despised but glorious story! Dear brother Paul said, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14). And "I am crucified with Christ," he declared, for all the world to despise me together with Him (2:20).

Now it's our privilege to "glory" in that cross.

Let's do so!

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

Dial Daily Bread: Guilty for Sins We Haven't Committed?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A very wise writer who understood the gospel of Jesus clearly once made a statement that has raised eyebrows: "The record books of heaven contain a record of the sins that we would have committed if we had had the opportunity."

Someone questions: How can we be held guilty for sins we have not actually committed?

Is that fair?

Jesus taught the same principle when He said in Matthew 5:28: "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."

Our sin is a matter of the heart, not merely of the flesh.

Please note: the Lord Jesus is not saying that the temptation to commit adultery is the same as the sin of adultery. No!

It cannot be that temptation is the same as sin--if that were true that would make Jesus become a terrible sinner, which cannot be truth. No; temptation, no matter how terrible, is sin, if it is resisted and denied. Jesus was tempted "in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).

We cannot say that temptation is the same as sin, for that would make Jesus our Savior into a terrible sinner if He was "tempted in ALL points LIKE as we are."

No one among us has ever been tempted to sin as greatly as Jesus was tempted! That temptation extended to His last moments on His cross: the temptation to come down from the cross and abandon us to our fate was a terrible one: But He said "No!" to it.

Let us remember: the death that Jesus died on His cross was not a peaceful sleep for a weekend; He took upon Himself our "second death" (see Rev. 2:11). The kind of death that Jesus died is a tremendous truth that grips the heart! (We will continue this tomorrow, the Lord willing.)

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

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dial Daily Bread: "Asking to Give"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Let's not denigrate the wonderful promise that the Lord Jesus makes to us in His Luke 11 parable--(and thank you, our beloved Gentile brother who has saved these fascinating stories for us!).

"Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey has come tome, and I have nothing to set before him?

"And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

"I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth" (vss. 5-8).

(a) There is enough "good news" in this parable for many sermons!

(b) The Lord Jesus is presented as in contrast to the unwilling neighbor who must be begged and pleaded to give him a bit of bread to give to someone else!

(c) You don't have to beg the dear Lord to answer this prayer; it's the prayer that He promises ALWAYS to answer with a resounding "Yes!"

(d) "Asking to give" is what the Lord Jesus loves to hear us pray!

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