Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: A Serious Question--What Is Jesus Doing Now?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Do you ever ask the question, What is Jesus Christ doing now? With instant electronic news, millions of people know almost immediately what is happening around the world. Can we be as well informed about what Jesus is doing? Is He looking after our interests? And can we know this for sure?

Hebrews 7:25 says, "He ever lives to make intercession for them." Is Jesus trying to change the Father's mind toward us? No, because the Father loves us as much as He does. Those who come to God through Him enjoy His interceding to protect them from the cruel attacks of Satan, not only physical violence but also his evil spirits of despair and condemnation.

Psalm 121:4 tells us that He "neither slumbers nor sleeps." Heaven's "helpline" is open 24 hours a day.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, will respond to your prayer for help. God even answers the prayers of children, and He sometimes will answer your selfish prayers in order to encourage you in any way possible. But He so much wants to teach you to grow up to appreciate what Jesus is doing as our great High Priest--preparing a people to be ready for His second coming in power and great glory!

The total resources of Heaven, of its vast government, are directed toward instructing and training every human soul who will respond, to get ready. You can read it in 2 Chronicles 16:9: "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."

What's important is this. Instead of you trying to get in contact with Him, He is trying to find a way to get in contact with you! Does your heart respond to Him; is your heart "loyal to Him"? Now that's a serious question!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 24, 1998.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: How Can You Confess Your Sins If You Don't Know What They Are?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A wise writer wrote a stupendous statement: "The books of heaven record the sins that that would have been committed had there been opportunity." This at first sounds like bad news. The Lord must have a lot against us; but no, that's not the meaning of the statement. It is really very good news.

Proverbs 28:13 says that "whoever confesses and forsakes [his sins] will have mercy." Wonderful! That "mercy" is what we all need so much. But how can you "confess" and "forsake" your sins if you don't know what they are?

That's why the Holy Spirit is so full of mercy when He convicts us of our sins; Jesus says that is His first work: "When He [the Comforter, the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit loves us just as much as the Father loves us, just as much as the Son who gave Himself for us, loves us.

What to do is simple: The moment He convicts you of sin "confess" it; don't wait. Tell the Lord, "It's true! I can't deny it!" And then, at that moment forsake the sin. If it is something that is dear to your heart, forsake it; do exactly what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane when He cried out to His Father, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; … not as I will, but as You will" (Matt. 26:39).

The Lord never asks you to do anything difficult on your own, by yourself. You are always invited to do it with Jesus; you are never left on your own, alone! You are joined to the Son of God by a "yoke" that binds the two of you together. He says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30). The greatest, the most joyous adventure, any human can have!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 14, 2008.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: A Little Heavenly Gift of Joy

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We have some sad news to share from faithful readers of these little messages, Rod and Mary Cassidy from northern California. Their only child, daughter Brianna, 19, was killed on December 19 in a tragic auto accident. Following is a link to a local news story on the tragedy, and on Brianna's life. A memorial fund has been set up to help defray funeral costs.



Rod asked that we pass this information on to you, and he wrote: "He who said, 'I am the Resurrection and the Life' is more precious to us today than ever." Please keep the Cassidys in your prayers.

Our thoughts also go to another family in northern California who suffered the loss of a beautiful young daughter and sister, Kimberly Orozco, 20, who passed away May 19 as the result of an auto accident involving a drunk driver.

May the Lord comfort both these families in their grief and loss.


Have you wondered why God permitted you to suffer a keen and painful disappointment? Perhaps an illness, a bereavement, perhaps a love betrayed and lost?

The biggest, most painfully shrieking "Why?" ever screamed was on the cross by the Son of God Himself: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Everything came apart; His life and His mission totally disintegrated; He drank to the full the bitter cup of purest disappointing agony that you have had just a brief taste of; and He drank it to the full so that He could comfort and encourage you now in your experience of pain.

And He permitted you to have this taste of it so that you might share with Him the joy of ministering comfort to someone else who is going through it.

Here is the divine anatomy of comfort: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the all-merciful Father, the God whose consolation never fails us! He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we in turn may be able to comfort others in any trouble of theirs and to share with them the consolation we ourselves receive from God" (2 Cor. 1:3, 4, New English Bible).

To become a pipe through which flows the healing water of life to people who suffer is a little taste of the joy that the Lord Himself knows! We can't fully appreciate what the Son of God went through for us, but this is a little heavenly gift of joy--to become "consolers" who minister the consolation He ministers!

Find somebody (you won't have to look far) who needs a living word of salvation to come from some human lips; and take your place in God's great providence of comfort ministered.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 4, 2008

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Be Careful When You Profess to Love the Same as God Does

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Wouldn't it be great if we could discover (maybe in the ancient sands of Egypt) a true, pure, honest, genuine "gospel" that told us a story about Jesus that we had never heard before? The Lord has seen fit to give us Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John--four authentic ones. We don't want any apocryphal legend to confuse us; but there is a delightful little story totally authentic that doesn't come across in our modern Bibles; it's a vivid little picture of Jesus that gets lost.

It's in John 21:15-17. It's buried out of sight because we have only one word for "love" in our modern languages. But the Greek had more than one word, and here in the original story there are two contrasting words that Jesus and Peter both used. It's like a black and white picture suddenly becoming full color.

Jesus has been resurrected; now for the third time He meets with His disciples. He has especially invited Peter to come along (Mark 16:7), knowing that he is crushed and humiliated for having denied Christ three times. He feels so unworthy that he is ready to abandon all thought of being an apostle and go back to his fishing business (John 21:3). Never again can he preach!

Jesus asks him pointedly, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me with that special kind of love known in Greek as agape, the kind that says 'God is agape'"? (That's the totally selfless kind.)

Peter's answer is empty unless you see what he said: "Lord, You know that my love for you is not agape, but philos." Philos is ordinary human family affection, the kind of love that everybody has by nature. But Jesus isn't done.

A second time He quizzes the disciple in front of all the others who knew he had denied Christ: "Do you love Me with agape?" Again Peter won't dare make such a claim: "My love for You is only philos." In other words, I have begun at last to understand how weak and unworthy I am. Now I can see that my goodness is no better than that of any of my fellow disciples!

But then "the third time" Jesus presses the thorn in deeper: "Simon, son of Jonas, do you even love Me with philos?" Now Peter bursts into tears. Lord, You know the emptiness of my heart. Never thereafter, they tell us, were his eyes dry until he asked not to be crucified as Jesus was, but upside down.

It seems that some scholarship insists that Jesus and Peter conversed in Aramaic which has only one word for love, so all this gets washed down the drain. But if true, then we really do have a problem: someone in translating all this into Greek "added" these details that were never in the original conversation. That would be terrible according to John's own command in Revelation 22:18. We know that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a little town only 6 miles from the Greek city of Sepphoris; of course He knew Greek. And so did John, who told us the story in Greek. The biblical text rings true.

Don't look down on the repentant Peter; put yourself in his place. And be careful when you profess to love the same as God does, and as He is (1 John 4:8). Peter is a good teacher.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 26, 2004.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Subscription Invitation From "Dial Daily Bread"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

This week many of you are beginning to study the new Sabbath School quarterly on "Proverbs: Words of the Wise." For those who are not already receiving "Sabbath School Today" (SST) we would like to invite you to subscribe (SST is free). You will receive weekly essays on the lessons in the context of the "most precious" 1888 message. Some of the essays are prepared from the writings of Robert J. Wieland, author of "Dial Daily Bread."

To begin a new subscription please reply to this e-mail with the words "Subscribe SST" in the body of the e-mail or in the heading. If you are already receiving "Sabbath School Today" THERE IS NO NEED TO RESUBSCRIBE; your subscription will continue.


The "Dial Daily Bread" Staff

Friday, December 26, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Hearts in Tune With Heaven

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,

When Heaven was looking for someone who was prepared to welcome the birth of the long-awaited Messiah, no one among the priests or rulers seemed the least bit interested. So far as they were concerned, if the Messiah should never come, they were content so long as their economy was good and Emperor Caesar Augustus kept the peace.

When Joseph and Mary were in the manger in Bethlehem and Jesus was born, the angel was about to go back to heaven with the shameful news that no human being on earth cared. But that would have been tragic! It is true that human beings are sinful and selfish and alienated from God, but there have always been some whose hearts were in tune with Heaven.

Then the angel found the shepherds camping out in the fields by night, talking together under the starlight about God's promises to send the Messiah and praying, "Lord, send Him! We need Him!" The angel was so happy! He could not contain his pent-up joy and told them that the Savior of the world was born in Bethlehem, and they should go and see Him for themselves. They would be welcome! So they said, "Lets go! We must see this great sight!" and they hurried to the town of Bethlehem and found Jesus, the world's Savior, lying in a donkey's feedbox.

Does anyone today care whether Jesus comes soon, or not for a long time if we are having a good economy and peace and fun? Is anyone anywhere fasting and praying about it? Are there young people who are concerned for the latter rain, the loud cry, and the coming of Jesus?

The Bible evidence is quite clear. The shepherds camping in the fields were young. When they heard what the angels said, they didn't say to each other, "Let's wait a few days and maybe we'll go to town and see about this." No way! They said, "Let's go!" as only youth would say it, and they hurried to town (see Luke 2).

The answer to the question is "Yes!" there are young people today who are as seriously concerned about Jesus' second coming as the shepherds were about His first coming. The Bible promise is that "to those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation" (Heb. 9:28). Yes, there are some. Are you among them?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 24, 1999.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Obedience Possible Only Through the New Covenant

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Probably the most earth-shaking letter ever written in history was dashed off by hand by a man with poor eyesight--God's apostle, Paul. The impassioned epistle was sent to the "Galatians" to correct a fatal error threatening to poison the young church that Christ and His apostles had just raised up. The subtle deception came from the then-headquarters of the church in Jerusalem. The idea was that the gospel of Christ is a revival of Old Covenant "righteousness," supposedly by faith, but in reality by a counterfeit of it. The problem has plagued Christianity ever since.

The principal idea Paul made was that "God ... preached the gospel to Abraham" (Gal. 3:8). Still today a suspect doctrine! The usual concept is that the gospel came later than Abraham--430 years later at Mt. Sinai.

Paul's idea is that Abraham's unusual response to God's New Covenant promises (Gen. 12:2, 3) was genuine faith--the kind that appropriates the much more abounding grace that saves us (Gen. 15:6; Eph. 2:8, 9). Abraham's faith therefore was like turning on a switch that allows the electricity to flow through the house. It's a simple idea: faith doesn't save us, but it opens the circuit so that God's grace is free to flow through us and save us. That idea has created theological explosions all through history.

Abraham's descendants at Sinai were the first of countless generations to brush off the gospel truth. They wanted the Old Covenant as their belief: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8), they promised vainly.

The great Day of Atonement is now--when it's time for God's people to overcome every trace of Old Covenant confusion and recover the pure love for the gospel that Abraham knew when he "believed in the Lord, and He accounted it [his faith] to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6).

True obedience to God's law is possible only through the New Covenant. Thank God He has given you a "hunger and thirst" to understand it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 11, 2004.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: The 23rd Psalm Is 100 Percent Yours

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What the Bible says seems such fantastic good news that it's almost impossible to believe: "The gospel [good news] of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes" (Rom 1:16; that "salvation" is for now as well as for eternity). This means that the 23rd Psalm was written especially for you as if you were the only person on earth.

It also means that the promises God made to Abraham (Gen. 12:2, 3) are made to you, for you are his descendant "in Christ." What did the promises include? Not just the land of Canaan (Israelis and Palestinians fight over that), but "the promise [is] that he should be the heir of the world" (Rom. 4:13). Further, it's to be "an everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:8). And no one can inherit the earth forever unless it is made "new" (2 Peter 3:13); and, still further, only "righteousness dwells" there. That is, all who inherit it are made "righteous." Starting today.

Therefore as surely as day follows night, the 23rd Psalm and the promises to Abraham are the Good News because they include salvation from sin now. Not only forgiveness for sins, but also the gift of a new heart. That includes the original promise made to Adam and Eve in Eden--God Himself will put into your heart an "enmity" against sin (Gen. 3:15), and of course a love for righteousness. All this is included in the New Covenant promises to Abraham.

"But," you say, "I am not worthy of any of this; why should the Lord make any promise of any kind to me, for I am 'less than the least of all saints' (Eph. 3:8)"? The answer is: the promises weren't actually made to you, they were made to Christ, for He alone is "the Seed." The Lord "does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many; but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ" (Gal. 3:16). But that's exactly where you come in: the Father "so loved the world that He gave" Christ to you as a Gift. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).

The moment you stop resisting, stop fighting against the Holy Spirit of God, and you let Him "lead" you, you "receive the Spirit of adoption." Your lonely heart begins to cry, "Father ..." "The Spirit Himself bears witness with your spirit" that you are a child of God "in Christ," and that means you are an "heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ" (see vss. 13-17).

I don't know how you'd feel if you won a jackpot of millions of dollars; but it couldn't begin to compare with the joy you now realize: you are a "joint-heir of God" with Christ. You can recite the 23rd Psalm as 100 percent yours. You will "dwell in the house of the Lord forever"--because you are "in Christ," by adoption in Him and also by your day-by-day choice.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 30, 2004.

Copyright © 2014 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Dial Daily Bread: A Counterfeit Idea of God Held by Millions

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a fascinating story in Daniel 2, telling how the intelligentsia of ancient Babylon were ahead of their time in their counterfeit idea of God. The rock-bottom basis of their false idea is held today by millions.

The King Nebuchadnezzar had understood enough to know that there is somewhere in the universe a true God. He had blindly trusted the religious leaders of his empire, assuming they were in touch with whoever this "God" is. The true God of heaven had given him what we now know was a prophetic dream of tremendous importance. But God also gave the king  temporary amnesia so that events could disillusion him. He correctly decided that if the religious leaders of his empire were indeed in touch with "God," whoever He was, they could learn from Him the details of his prophetic vision and explain it. Good thinking!

But they were stumped. The king was in distress; it seemed that the fate of the world depended on his understanding this strange divine revelation (in a way, it did!). He demanded that they earn their wages by demonstrating their "superior" wisdom. Impossible, they said; no one on earth could do what you want "except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh" (Dan. 2:11).

And there lies the root of all religious falsehood, even some so-called "Christian." The Bible says there are "many false prophets" today (as there were in Babylon). Their fundamental idea? The same as the Chaldeans--it "does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, ... and this is the spirit of the Antichrist" (1 John 4:1-3).

The Babylonians believed there is a "God," but not one who has taken upon Himself our "flesh," "the likeness of sinful flesh," who "took part" of the same fallen "flesh and blood" that all we "children" of the fallen Adam by nature possess. In that same "flesh" that we have, Christ "condemned sin" so that "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled" in all who will simply have "the faith of Jesus" (see Rom. 8:3, 4; Heb. 2:14-17; Rev. 14:12).

Daniel gave the king Good News. Let's believe it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 10, 2000.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: "The Word From the Lord"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In the darkest days of God’s people just before the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of Solomon’s Temple (586 B.C.), poor distraught King Zedekiah fetched Jeremiah the prophet out of his dungeon cell. “Is there any word from the Lord?” he pleaded. “There is,” he was told; up almost to the last moment, the king could have humbled his soul, gone out to the king of Babylon, humbled himself prostrate before him, and though he would not have saved his own life he would have saved the city and Temple and the people.

For King Zedekiah that would have been the conscious equivalent of his dying his second death. Such a move was the only recourse left that agape (the love of Christ) could have taken, had his heart been filled with agape. If King Zedekiah had read and understood Moses, he would have learned that most precious lesson, for Moses had sacrificed himself that way. In Exodus 32 he asks that his name be blotted out of God’s Book of Life so as to save his people Israel (vss. 30-32). King Zedekiah could have gone down in history as a hero. The lack of agape left him a hopeless coward.

The horror of contemporary daily news is reminiscent of those days before the fall of Jerusalem. Everywhere desponding leaders should be asking (in heart) if there is any word from the Lord. “There is,” says the Bible--the fall of Babylon, which is the key to the final outcome of world history.

But the fall of Babylon also requires another complementary development in world history--the proclamation of a message from heaven that must lighten the earth with glory (Rev. 18:1-4). The message will make sense of what “Babylon” is, and why it “falls.”

Also, there must be a people prepared to proclaim the message; they are identified as “the remnant,” the successors to the true church which Christ established on His apostles (12:17). They are distinguished as those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” But no way can that truthfully be said of them unless they understand and believe “the everlasting gospel” of 14:6. It’s the pure, true gospel which makes them “obedient to all the commandments of God.”

Therefore, “the word from the Lord” just now while the world is in turmoil is that the Holy Spirit is revealing to God’s people the essence of that “third angel’s message,” which is “the everlasting gospel,” not everlasting legalism.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 15, 2003.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: "Read" the Word!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus said many things but there is one thing He did not say: "Whoever watches videos or movies, let him understand." What He did say was, "whoever reads [Daniel], let him understand" (Matt. 24:15). Over and over He urged people to "read" the Bible which the Holy Spirit has inspired: "Have you not read ... ?" "Did you never read in the Scriptures ... ?" (Matt. 12:3, 5; 19:4; 21:16, 42; 22:31).

When He was invited to preach on Sabbath, He turned to the Book of Isaiah and read to the people.

A special "blessing" (happiness, life-giving joy) is for anyone who "reads" the inspired words (Rev. 1:3). But a great proportion of those who claim to "love Jesus" don't love His word; they look on the Bible as boring. It has to be acted out as theater; then they think they can grasp it.

But the problem is that inevitably "theater" distorts and misrepresents the message God wants us to "understand." With the best intentions of the actors to "play" Jesus, they produce fiction. We may think the drama helps us visualize the original story, but it's always confusing in some way. And in this time of world history, confusion is the last thing any child of God wants. In fact, we are expressly called to "come out of her [Babylon, confusion], My people, lest [we] share in her sins, and lest [we] receive of her plagues" (Rev. 18:3, 4).

God particularly, expressly, calls us to "read." The reason is that the Holy Spirit speaks in the word, which is the Bible; "I will make My words known to you," He says (Prov. 1:23).

Yes, the promise is real: He will flash on to your mind the true re-creation of the original message or story God put into the text. You don't need some man to "play" Jesus for you in a video or movie (he will in every case distort and "confuse" the representation, because no man on earth is qualified to stand in for Jesus in a movie).

"Read" the word! Stay close to it, exercise your mind on it, bring it into focus, study; deny self. Let the Holy Spirit discipline you. Your salvation may depend on it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 1, 2004.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Why Anoint With Oil?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Sickness is everywhere, and all too often it comes on us while we are too young. Moses said that "the days of our lives are seventy years; and ... by reason of [unusual physical] strength they [may] be eighty years" (Psalm 90:10), but to succumb to cancer or some other fatal malady before those allotted "years" is tragic.

It's in that circumstance that the afflicted person is to "call for the elders of the church ... [to] pray" and to "anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." The idea is that "the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14, 15).

But is there magic in the sacred oil? No, for we are not idolaters. Then why "anoint with oil"? Is it mindless "obedience" to a stipulated rule? A stern, "Do what God says if you want to be healed!"? Or could there be significance here that we are prone to overlook?

The sacred oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. And James assumes that the "elders" will be mature people in the church body, consecrated to the One who died for us, whose "Christian experience" is so advanced that they can "minister" the Holy Spirit to the afflicted person. It's not a mere physical act; there is spiritual enrichment involved here through real "forgiveness" that is more than mere pardon. It's a loosing from sin.

A wise author once said that nine-tenths of the diseases from which people suffer have their origin in the mind. Sometimes a false doctrine such as the endless torture of the lost can so alienate a person's mind from Christ that there is an acute case of heart-felt "enmity against God" (cf. Rom. 8:7). And this can be unconscious--lying beneath the surface. This becomes the pre-condition of fatal sickness.

To anoint such a one with physical oil is meaningless unless "the elders" can minister a message of peace and oneness with Christ--"Be reconciled to God"! (2 Cor. 5:20). And there of course is "the message of Christ's righteousness, the most precious message" of what really happened on His cross, and what especially happens in His High Priestly ministry on this cosmic Day of Atonement.

In such an "anointing" the person who is mentally and spiritually wearied is refreshed, and God's healing physical virtue can flow in (the Greek word translated "sick" in James 5:14 is kamno, which means to be "exhausted"). "Come to [Him], all you who labor and are heavy laden, and [He] will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 16, 2003.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Have We Misunderstood the Gospel?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Galatians 5:16, 17 has spiritual nuclear energy within it. It says that if we have made the choice to walk with the Holy Spirit and let Him hold us by the hand (isn't that what baptism is?), He strives night and day 24/7 against our fallen, sinful "flesh," our sinful nature. Yes--personally, individually. The result? The text says we "cannot do the things that [we] would."

There are two ways we can read that: (1) We cannot do the good things the Holy Spirit prompts us to do. If the mighty power of the Holy Spirit is striving against our "flesh" and we still can't do the good things we'd like to do, that looks like the worst bad news we could imagine. That would mean that sin is stronger than God. In other words, He has lost the great controversy--in principle. That's an Old Covenant way to read Galatians 5:16, 17, popular but questionable.

(2) The other possibility is: if we choose to let the Holy Spirit hold us by the hand we cannot do the evil things that "the flesh" would prompt us to do. Paul goes on to detail "the works of the flesh" that the Holy Spirit saves us from doing: "adultery, idolatry, hatred, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, envy," to name a few (vss. 19-21). A good list of things to be delivered from! But too often we seem to get entangled in them. Why? Have we misunderstood the gospel?

Then the apostle details some of the good things that the Holy Spirit prompts us (and enables us) to do if we "walk" with Him: "Love [agape], joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness," etc. (vss. 22-24). That's the best good news we could imagine; it's New Covenant news.

The traditional way to understand Paul is that we can't do the good things we'd like to do, so Jesus just has to "cover" for our continued sinning, which is nice of Him to do but leaves Him ashamed before the universe for the failure of His gospel to save from sin. In Romans 1:16 Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 17, 2006.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: The Ten Commandments--Dark Prohibitions or Sunlit Promises?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Our beloved brother [the apostle] Paul" (2 Peter 3:15) writes something that seems strange--if you take it as it reads. It's Galatians 5:16, 17 (KJV): "The flesh lusteth [strives] against the [Holy] Spirit, and the [Holy] Spirit against the flesh: and these [two] are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." There are two ways to read that--"the things that ye would" are either good things or bad things; can't be both. What Paul says doesn't seem strange if we take it the popular way--the things you "cannot do" are the good things you'd like to do but can't.

In other words, the popular idea is that it's easy to sin while it's uphill going to resist sin, to do good as we'd like to do. The allure of self and of the "flesh" and of the world is stronger than our desire to go to prayer meeting, for example. The idea long encouraged is that no matter how strongly you want to "overcome," you should settle down to reality: as long as you have a sinful nature inherited all the way from Adam, you'll have to continue sinning until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven and zaps you with a new sinless nature. Then it will be possible and even easy to do what's right. For now, God doesn't expect you not to sin. Jesus will "cover" your sinning with His white robe; the Father won't even see your continued sinning, He'll only see Jesus covering your sinning.

But that's not what Paul actually says! In verse 16 we read, "Walk with the [Holy] Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh," in other words, you won't fall into sin! "The things that ye would" that "ye cannot do," according to what Paul says here, are the sinful things your fallen nature prompts you to do. And yes, this does sound strange! It sounds contrary to all we've learned since childhood. We've always understood it's hard to be good and easy to be bad.

The Ten Commandments read with Old Covenant eyes are stern, dark prohibitions; read with New Covenant eyes they are sunlit promises of victory in overcoming. Which are they? What is the bottom line truth that the Bible teaches? Tomorrow we'll delve a bit deeper.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 16, 2006.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: What It Means to Be “Reconciled to God”

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

The Bible is full of comforting, encouraging assurances of the heavenly Father's unending love. He is the "wonderful Counselor" (Isa. 9:6) who alone understands all the intricate details of our lives since our conception (Psalm 139:7-17).

When the Bible pleads with us, "Be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20), the plea is for us to believe His character of love, that infinite though He is as the Ruler of the universe, He is also the personal, intimate "our Father which art in heaven" whose heart yearns for us as if we were the only person for whom the Savior gave His eternal life.

His close, intimate love goes both ways: (a) forward into our future ("I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," Heb. 13:5); and (b) backward to our very conception in the womb of our mother, according to that psalm.

We can't "do" anything to earn salvation; when the jailer in Philippi asked the apostles what he should "do to be saved" they told him frankly, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16:30, 31). That means again, "be reconciled to God."

We sometimes think that the book of Hebrews is over our heads; but Paul ends chapter 13 with a humble, simple, heart-warming request for us to "pray for him" as though he is as needy as any of us (vs. 18). So we get down on our knees, side by side with "our beloved brother Paul" (2 Peter 3:15), and just like us, he prays for "a good conscience."

As we face our future confident that the Lord will never "forsake us" or let go of our "right hand" (Isa. 41:13), let's trust that He has led us unerringly in our past. Part of our being "reconciled" to Him includes that confidence that His leading in our past has been only faithful love.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 9, 2006.

Copyright © 2014 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Why Do We Pray, "Thy Will Be Done"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why do we always pray, "Thy will be done" when we pray for someone very sick? We give the Lord an excuse not to answer our prayer! Why don't we exercise more confidence and pray for the miracle of healing? "Our will be done!" Isn't that faith?

There was once a very good king on David's throne who did everything right, who became mortally sick. Hezekiah was young, only about 40, when Isaiah told him his sickness would end in death (38:1-3). He prayed for healing with no "Thy will be done."

The Lord granted his demand, adding 15 years (vs. 5). But they became a curse; he sired Manasseh, the worst king ever to sit on David's throne (he led the kingdom to eventual ruin, Jer. 15:4); he allowed pride and vanity to defile his life record; he invited the Babylonians to covet his kingdom's wealth (Isa. 39:1-8).

Hezekiah was healed, but we read that "God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart" (2 Chron. 32:31). He became an example of unknown sin. He would have been wise if he had prayed, "Lord, heal me, if it be Thy will." He could have been the finest king ever to sit on David's throne, but he left a sad record of the horror of self-righteousness. "I have walked before You ... with a loyal heart," he claimed tearfully. Pathetic! Maybe in the past; but he didn't know the truth of what was in his heart. It all came out in the future.

There are some things worse than death. The Lord granted Elisha more miracles in answer to prayer than any other prophet; yet when he became ill the Lord chose to let him die of his illness (2 Kings 13:14). In the judgment day at last, Elisha will be glad he agreed for God's will to be done. "God is love [agape]," all the way through.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 5, 2004.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: A Shared Experience With Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

That last meal that Jesus ate with His disciples ("the Lord's Supper," to many) illustrates the idea of "substitution" that the New Testament teaches (yes, and the Old Testament too), a shared experience with Him.

Jesus did not say to his disciples, I am eating this Bread instead of you, nor did He say, I am drinking from this cup instead of you. He ate with them, He drank with them; they ate and drank with Him. Using the clearest illustration possible of intimate oneness He represented His believers as "drinking My blood, eating My body." "Abide in Me, and I in you," He pleads. I am the Vine, you are branches (John 15:4, 5). "Ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you." In sending the Holy Spirit to dwell with those who believe in Him, Jesus represents Himself as not leaving them orphans, "I will come to you" (14:18). Open your heart, receive His Spirit; you receive Him.

"Take, eat," He says in that last supper; "this is My body which is broken for you." And then in the same way, "He took the cup," and said, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:26-28, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

The idea again is intimate one-ness. Jesus does not want us to think of Him as separate from us, doing everything "instead of us," while we look on in childish wonder, uncomprehending. He did indeed die instead of us, He died our second death so we don't have to die our own second death--that is all true; but it is only part of the truth He obviously wants us to understand and experience. He wants intimate oneness with us where we enter into His feelings and His experience as a branch enters into the life processes of the Vine.

And then coming down to the last days of history just before Christ's return, Revelation introduces us to a oneness with Him even more intimate, even closer to our human understanding. We see how He wants us to sense an even deeper identification with Himself--a Bride's nearness to her Husband. Here is a shared experience with Him, one in which human pride can have no place. When "I am crucified with Christ," all my "glory" is laid in the dust forever.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 10, 2002.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: The House of the Lord--Would You Feel at Home There?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In his Shepherd Psalm David says he will be happy to "dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6). Sounds nice in a poem, but would you find such a life rather boring if it went on and on? No unhealthy food or beverages, no video games or violent movies--no selfishness of any kind. Instead there will be genuine love and gratitude for the gift of eternal salvation. Would you feel at home there?

The Bible represents God's eternal kingdom as a place of complete liberty. No one is forced to be a citizen against his or her will, but no one who could be happy there is kept outside. In fact, there is the constant invitation, "Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17). If anyone should feel that he or she has been unfairly kept out, God will open "the books" wherein are "written" all the secrets of one's life (20:12). The idea is not that one will be surprised to see or hear things he didn't know were there; the final judgment will be simply a final moment of full consciousness.

David himself, who wrote the 23rd Psalm, will be there rejoicing that his terrible sins of adultery and murder were forgiven when he confessed them. He will be grateful that God did not "take [His] Holy Spirit from [him]" but "restored unto him the joy of [His] salvation" (Psalm 51:11, 12). "Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin," he says (32:5).

If you can put yourself in David's place, you can understand how he will never feel that he deserves to "dwell in the house of the Lord forever," but you will sense how he will be forever grateful to a Savior who bore the guilt of his dark crime and "restored" his soul. He will meet his victim, Uriah the Hittite, in the resurrection day, and will beg his forgiveness for murdering him. His most profound meeting will be with the Savior who died his second death.

Eternity will not be long enough for David to express the gratitude that will flood his soul as he dwells in God's "house" forever. Is that same gratitude beginning to blossom in your soul today?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 22, 2000.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 08, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Cooperate With the "Lord of the Harvest"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It was the most awful crime ever committed on planet earth, or in the universe of God. Human beings who had sold themselves to Satan did it--they captured, condemned, tortured, and murdered the divine Son of God, the world's Messiah and Savior. It was hatred gone wild.

And while they were doing it, He was praying for them, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." Simply telling people around the world what happened electrified humanity and separated mankind into two peoples--those who believed with a heart appreciation for His love, and those who steeled their hearts against that love and became the most bitter persecutors of their fellow humans.

The process has been going on ever since, and will culminate in the fulfillment of Revelation 14:14-20 where we read of two "harvests" that will ripen side by side: the good grain gathered when "He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped." Then "another angel came out from the altar, ... and cried with a loud cry, ... 'Gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe,'" the grapes of the "winepress of the wrath of God."

It's a solemn thought that we are poised between verses 13 and 14 of this chapter of prophecy: Now is the hour when those who "die in the Lord" are "blessed ... from now on" (vs. 13) and the coming of the moment of the literal second coming of "the Son of man" (vs. 14).

But oh, the work that is yet to be done! No way will "He who [will] sit" on the cloud "thrust in [His] sickle" until the "harvest ... is ripe." If He were to act prematurely, the harvest would be ruined; He has to wait, poised, His "sickle" ready, but unused. The grain has come to the time when the plants are tall but immature, the growth hindered by drought when the "latter rain" should be falling.

Meanwhile nothing seems to stop the other "harvest" from ripening; the wickedness in the world develops, while the growth of the good grain is stultified.

The clearest evidence of the soon coming of Christ is not the number of professed believers worldwide, but the awakening of serious, honest-hearted people in the church who realize that to indulge further in corporate lukewarmness is in reality a re-crucifixion of that same Son of God. Ripening for the harvest is a choice God's people make for or against cooperation with "the Lord of the harvest."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 11, 2006.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: The Holy Spirit's Ministry in the Last Days

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How are we to receive the Holy Spirit? He of course is the same Person all through the ages, but His ministry in these last days has a different focus. We need to understand the difference.

The Holy Spirit manifested Himself at Pentecost 2000 years ago in the "early rain." But in the end of time He will manifest Himself in the "latter rain." "Rain" of course is rain, the same water whether it comes to sprout the planted seed, or whether it comes to ripen the grain for harvest--the mission is vastly different.

Another way to recognize the difference is to consider the second coming of Christ in contrast with His first. They are not the same; in one He comes to die on a cross for the sins of the world, in the other He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords.

The "early rain" was a gift that marked Christ's ministry in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary; His ministry in the "latter rain" is a gift that comes from Christ's work in the second apartment. When the High Priest enters the second, He closes the door to the first. Either His people "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4) or they open themselves to deception by a counterfeit high priest in a counterfeit first apartment sanctuary (cf. Matt. 24:24).

The "early rain" prepared people to die and come up in the first resurrection. This blessed ministry continued until the end of the 2300 year prophecy of Daniel 8:14. Then came a profound change--the blowing of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15-19). The great High Priest is determined to see the great controversy brought to its climactic end.

This disturbs lukewarm people who would be content for time (and sin) to go on indefinitely, content for Jesus to postpone His second coming for a generation or two more. To face the close of probation and live through the seven last plagues--isn't there an easier way to get to heaven? But the "latter rain" prepares people to go through that Time of Trouble and to stand before Jesus and meet Him personally when He returns (1 Thess. 4:16, 17). They must eventually elect to receive the latter rain, or renounce their faith they have long professed. The time to choose may be near.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 21, 2007.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: How Near Could the Second Coming Be?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How near could the second coming of Christ be? Someone will say (rightly) that it is as near as our finishing preaching the gospel in "all the world."

"The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world, ... and then the end will come" (Matt. 24:14). But who knows how far it really has gone? Jesus told us to be careful how we estimate what's happening: "The kingdom of God does not come with observation" (Luke 17:20). He said it's like hiding "leaven" in flour for breadmaking. The leaven works silently, unobserved (see Luke 13: 20, 21). Even so it will be with the work of God on the earth.

We are capable of wild guesswork. It's not always the work that looks the most successful. No one can know how rapidly the work of God is progressing on earth. Even those who seek to be doing the work are unconscious of the greater part of it. The kingdom of glory will be ushered in at a time when even Christ's most faithful workers will think that much remains to be done. They cannot know what hidden agencies God has at work.

And we may misunderstand what the Lord will reckon as the attainment of His goal. The "144,000" of Revelation 14:4, 5 may be people that none of us recognize as yet. Victories may be won day by day that we know nothing of, because the media (secular or religious) just aren't tuned in to the work of Christ in the Most Holy Apartment.

This should serve to admonish us never to think that the coming of the Lord is far off, since we can see comparatively little being done. Let us be content to work in quietness and obscurity. Although some may think superficially that our work is effective, and even though we ourselves may think it is ineffective, we have the assurance that our "Father ... sees in secret" (Matt. 6:4).

All the warnings that Jesus gave us about His second coming, to "watch ... lest coming suddenly, He find you sleeping," are valid (Mark 13:35, 36). They still are "present truth."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 8, 2004.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: We Still Haven't Caught Up With the Samaritans

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The word "gospel" means "good news." Paul says he is not ashamed of it, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16). We don't want to confuse it with petty arguing!

The Samaritans of the village of Sychar had it straight even before the twelve disciples understood it clearly, for they grasped the truth that Jesus is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42), not just of those who believe. The disciples didn't fully grasp that truth until after the resurrection of Jesus, not until Pentecost. But it's still a truth that's beyond the understanding of many, and therefore their ability to win souls to Christ is curtailed. The return of Jesus is delayed because we still haven't caught up with the Samaritans.

Paul understood, for he said that Christ is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe" (1 Tim. 4:10). Thus the idea that there are two aspects of salvation: one applies to "all men," and the other applies only to those "who believe." After Adam lost out as the head of the human race, Christ took over as the "last" or second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45), and He died for the world, not just for "the elect." He "tasted death for every one," not just for those who are baptized (cf. Heb. 2:9).

The Father has planned for "all men" to be saved eternally (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). He has not "predestined" anyone to be lost, but all to be saved (Eph. 1:3-5). Therefore it was before "the foundation of the world" that He has chosen "all men" to be "in Christ" just as surely as He gave "the birthright" to Esau. That gift was in no sense dependent on any good works that Esau might do; it was his by "right." But he "despised" and "sold" it (Gen. 25:32-34). Now, don't despise and sell what has been given you as your birthright "in Christ."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 5, 2005.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Dial Daily Bread: Is It a Sin to Have Money?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that we could acquire money in a perfectly legitimate way and still be ashamed about it when we meet the Lord at last?

Is it a sin to have money? No, not if God gives it to you. But it is a sin to possess it selfishly, that is, thinking that you deserve it because of your hard work, or luck, or ingenuity. Then is when James' words will come true: your money "will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire" (5:3).

This is not saying that we must sell or give away everything we have so that we can be like Jesus who said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20).It is not necessary for us to literally be like Jesus who had nothing but His clothes when He died, and was even divested of them as He hung naked on His cross. The Lord wants you to have what you need for health and comfort, and He has promised to "provide."

But what's important for us to grasp is the seldom-seen truth that all we deserve is the small amount Jesus had. And we would have only that had He not become our Savior and died for us. It is common sense for us to recognize and confess that everything we "possess" beyond a lonely grave is the direct purchase of His grace.

Then gratitude can find expression in our hearts and on our lips, for appropriate gratitude is not possible for us sinful humans until we can grasp what it cost Christ to save us.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 2, 2002.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."