Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Distance Between a Wise Person and a Fool

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is there a halfway mark between being a fool and a wise person, in the words of Solomon? It seems that each of us ends up being one or the other.

The publican’s prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13) is one we love to pray; but is there one in the Bible that says, “God, be merciful to me, a fool!”? Can a “fool” (in Solomon’s and David’s descriptions) ever be really converted?

One king of Israel, Saul, confessed he had “played the fool and erred exceedingly” (1 Sam. 26:21), but we never read that he prayed to the Lord to be merciful to him, a fool. King Saul died with his career in ruins. King David may have felt good through much of his reign, that he had done better than his old enemy, King Saul, and had not “played the fool,” but after his affair with Bathsheba and her lawful husband’s murder, he may have had greater sympathy for Saul. The distance between a wise person and a fool can be a hairline.

Yes, the Lord can have mercy on a fool, even though “The Fool’s Prayer” is in the poetry book and not the Bible (Edward Sill wrote of the king after he had commanded his jester to “pray,” “The room was hushed; in silence rose / The king, and sought his gardens cool, / And walked apart, and murmured low, / ‘Be merciful to me, a fool!’”).

King Solomon hopefully understood that the world’s Savior can save a fool; the Lord Jesus has sympathy for anyone who feels himself worse off than a common sinner. Even though a “fool” appears to have less latitude in asking for mercy, he can cast himself on the Lord for salvation from himself, and know the Lord can save even fools.

Christ is continually inviting lost people: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden” (Matt. 11:28). No human soul’s burden is heavier than that of a repentant fool.

Said Christ’s enemies: “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). He has a special sympathy for the down and out, for those who despise themselves.

He was born in the lowliest place imaginable; from a Child He carried the apparent painful stigma of an illegitimate birth; He chose to die under the stigma of being cast out, despised, forsaken by the King of the universe, His own Father (Matt. 27:46). No fool can fall any more painfully low.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 12, 2007.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: An Apparent Bible Contradiction That Is Good News Truth

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Are there contradictions in the Bible? Some people think so. I don't think there are, but sometimes what appears to be a contradiction opens up a vast field of Good News truth that warms the heart. One such apparent contradiction is found in 2 Timothy 1:10 where "our beloved brother Paul" says something that sounds absurd. He says that "our Savior Jesus Christ ... has abolished death." Past tense, not future tense. At the same time, Paul says, Christ has "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." Also past tense, not future tense.

What can he mean, "Christ has abolished death"? Look at the cemeteries full of people who have died. It is obvious that Paul doesn't mean the first death, which the Bible calls "sleep." Therefore we have to conclude that what Paul is talking about is the real thing, death itself, the second death. But how could Paul say that Christ has abolished the second death when Revelation 2:11 tells of the "second death" coming in the future for those people who are lost, and Revelation 20 tells how it's going to happen--in a lake of fire? "This is the second death," says John (vs. 14).

So, here's our apparent contradiction, a whopper! How can there be a "second death" in the lake of fire if Jesus has "abolished" it? Here's where the reality of the Good News of the gospel shines bright: When "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son," He sent Him to die every man's second death (John 3:16-19). Hebrews 2:9 says, "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death [obviously, the second], ... that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

That is how He abolished the second death. You and I don't have to die that second death! Jesus died it! Only if you resist and reject and choose to disbelieve, only then will it be necessary for you to die that death! Don't you want to tell somebody? What a load that News will lift from someone's discouraged heart!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 23, 1998.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Day When Everything Got Straightened Out

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Life today should be solemnly exciting--more than at any time in 6000 years: this is the cosmic, grand "Day of Atonement." It's the antitype of ancient Israel's one Day of days when the nation was in such heart-stopping excitement that they ate nothing all day. They (and God, too!) were on trial in an awe inspiring Day of Judgment. But now the real thing is going on.

In Israel, it was the one Day of the year when everything got straightened out and all questions were answered. At Day's end, the nation was in heart-oneness with God. In miniature, "the great controversy" between Christ and Satan was finished. Sin and sinners were no more. The entire nation was clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beat throughout. Life and light and gladness flowed from the Lord. To Israel, all things in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy declared that God is love--on that one grand day of the year, the Day of Atonement.

Now the message from our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, is this: "be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). "Atonement" is not obscure Latin, Greek, or Hebrew--it's pure simple Anglo-Saxon, "be at-one-with God." It's time for your doubts to be resolved, those deep feelings that He has not been fair with you. It's time to join that distraught father in Mark 9 who cried with tears when everything seemed against him, "Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). It's time for "Jacob" the Supplanter to wrestle with God and get a new name, "Israel."

But can we shake ourselves by our shoulders and just do it--reconcile ourselves to Him? It means a change of mind, which actually is repentance. But do we have a "self-start button" to press for "repenting ourselves"? Acts 5:31 says it's a "gift" from our "Prince and Savior." A "gift" is not what you work for.

Which reminds us: the Israelites never "cleansed" their own sanctuary: the high priest alone always did it. It wasn't a works-trip for them. Yes, bitter as this pill may be for do-it-yourself legalists: we have to let Him do it for us and in us on this cosmic Day of Atonement. He takes the initiative and we cooperate "through faith." So stop resisting the blessed Holy Spirit. Your High Priest loves you more than you ever dreamed He does. To understand, "behold" and "comprehend" what happened on His cross.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 7, 2003.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sabbath School Lesson 5 | "The Blessings of the Righteous" | Pastor Paul...

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Cherish the Faith of the "Son of David"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever done or said something foolish, even stupid, and you feared it might hurt someone else? And you hesitated to pray because you knew the fault was totally yours? The dear Lord has hidden in His word something that would be a blessing to you in this particular circumstance.

David has been anointed by Samuel with the assurance that God would lead him to become king of Israel. But everything has gone against him. He knows King Saul is "the anointed of the Lord," by God's choice. But Saul has been violently opposing David, forcing him to hide in caves like a runaway criminal.

David has endured these trials for years, and prayed earnestly. But finally the strain proves too great even for his faith. In 1 Samuel 27 he gives in to unbelief: "And David said in his heart, 'Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand'" (vs. 1). Sorry, David; that was raw unbelief. The great progenitor of the Messiah has stumbled. His faith was not perfect when he sought refuge among the enemies of God's people.

David made friends with Achish, their king. Then the problem became critical when Achish, determined to conquer Israel, "said to David, 'You assuredly know that you will go out with me to battle, you and your men'" (28:1). David is now in a terrible predicament. How can he refuse to help Achish who has apparently saved his life? And how can he, anointed to someday be king of Israel, join in a war against his own people? If you have fought against your own people how can you someday become their shepherd?

We don't have any special psalm that expressed David's desperate prayer this time. Psalm 34 is his prayer the first time he fled to Achish. But perhaps he found it difficult to pray this second time, when his mistake of unbelief landed him in the middle of the army attacking Israel, bent on killing "the anointed of the Lord."

But note how the dear Lord saved David out of this impossible trap: "The princes of the Philistines" didn't trust him and protested to Achish, "Make this fellow return, that he may go back to the place which you have appointed for him, and do not let him go down with us to battle" (1 Sam. 29:3, 4). Had not these pagan "princes" delivered him, David could never have become king of Israel!

Yes, the Lord saves His people out of their stupid mistakes even when their faith falters. And don't say that David was more important than you; God's concern is the same for you as it was for David. Cherish the faith of "the Son of David." He "lived" in David's psalms; you do the same.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 7, 2003.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: What Will Elijah's Work Be?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord has promised to "send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Who is the "you"? The entire human race corporately? The entire church corporately?

The answer may be yes. But each of us as individuals can latch on to the promise and ask the Lord to send Elijah to us personally--if we will welcome him. The Lord is serious; He has promised. How would you like to have a personal visit with the man who confronted King Ahab and all Israel? He will tell the truth if you are prepared to hear it. But remember: there is no truth except in love (agape; Eph. 4:15). Elijah is a man of true love. He is not unkind, harsh.

What will Elijah's work be? "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6). It will be "heart work"! Melting human hearts; reconciling alienated hearts; restoring the ministry of love; as hearts forgive one another in love, some tears will come; hearts that have been dead will be quickened (an old fashioned word that means made alive again); communication between estranged hearts will be opened again; forgiveness will be given one to another; cold relationships will become warm. Elijah's coming will be as Ephesians 4:31, 32: "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you."

Elijah will come, that's for sure, because the Lord promised to send him. He will be sent to this generation "if [we] will receive it" (see Matt. 11:14); if not, then he must await a future generation. But for sure the Lord doesn't want to send Elijah if he will have to take refuge again outside of "Israel" at some Brook Cherith or at some widow woman's house in Zarephath (1 Kings 17:9).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 4, 2005.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Old Covenant "Virus"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You are praying for someone, a loved one; your heart is drawn to that person. You find yourself willing to be “accursed from Christ” for the sake of that person (cf. Rom. 9:3). That’s the genuine article that the Bible says is agape.

Moses had that kind of love, for he begged the Lord to remove his name from the Book of Life if He could not save rebellious Israel (Ex. 32:31-33).

The very intensity of your agape praying for your loved one is evidence that the Lord hears your prayers; He will not deceive you! And now you have something in common with the Lord Jesus, for He loves that person more than you have ever loved him or her. Now you two are working together!

Very likely your beloved has somewhere become alienated from “the commonwealth of Israel” (Eph. 2:12) because he or she has been inoculated with the virus of the Old Covenant, possibly in a “Christian” school or church. The Old Covenant “gendereth to bondage” (Gal. 4:24). There are probably millions around the world in various stages of spiritual bondage because of the machinations of Old Covenant thinking.

Do not give in to despair; you may be part of the problem and not realize it, but now that you realize it you have something in common with the Lord Jesus--you are on the way to recovery. If the agape of Christ leads you to experience the love that the apostle Paul or Moses had for Israel, that means that you have begun to sense that the great controversy between Christ and Satan is an issue of greater importance than your own personal salvation. You are “growing up into Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

Now your supreme concern is not for your own salvation, but the salvation of someone else, and the honor, the vindication, the reward that the Lord Jesus deserves for His great sacrifice of dying the world’s second death (Rev. 20:14). This is a “big idea”!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 14, 2007.

Copyright © 2015 by “Dial Daily Bread.”


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Deciding Who We Are

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A wise writer once made this statement: "True Christians will have an experience like that of Christ in the wilderness of temptation, especially those who engage in rescuing souls from the snares of Satan."

What "experience" did Christ have in His Matthew 4 temptation? A terrible ordeal calculated to shake His confidence in God's leading in His life. "IF You are the Son of God ..." was the repeated, insistent doubt flung at Him by the clever, subtle tempter. Several significant factors made up the picture.

The Father had just acknowledged Him openly to be "My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). The principle: whenever one is on a pinnacle of faith one is almost immediately plunged into an abyss of temptation to doubt one's identity "in Christ."

All human appearances supported the contentions of the tempter. Christ was apparently forsaken of God alone in a wilderness with nocompanions except wild beasts (Mark 1:13). His 40 days of fasting had reduced Him physically so that Isaiah 52:14 was fulfilled: "His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." Satan had a point: How can you think you are the beloved Son of God when You have been abandoned and You look wretched? God would surely take better care of You if You were His beloved Son! Be sensible! Confess that Your idea that You are His Son is foolish fanaticism! The ultimate issue was more than mere physical appetite (although that was involved); the ultimate issue at stake was His identity. If Satan could shake Him on that, His ministry and His coming sacrifice would be a failure.

The tempter disguised his identity, too. Satan appeared to be an angel of light fresh from the throne of God with a message of mercy for poor, suffering Jesus: "I have come to help You relieve Your hunger. IF You are the Son of God, be sensible: act like it! Command that these stones become bread. You can do it! Why perish here right at the beginning of Your wonderful ministry?"

Jesus had to decide who He was. So must we decide who we are, "in Christ" by His adoption?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 24, 2000.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Why the Gospel Was So Successful for the Apostles

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Book of Acts tells why was the gospel was so successful at the time of the apostles. A consistent theme seems to emerge: they told the world that they had rejected and crucified the Son of God. This realization resulted in an enormous sense of guilt: what sin or crime could be worse than that?

For example, at Pentecost, Peter said: "God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36). Immediately came the heart-broken cry, "What shall we do?" (vs. 37). Then when Peter and John healed the paralytic, Peter again said, "You denied the Holy One and the Just, ... and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead" (3:14, 15). You couldn't yawn and sit on the fence when you heard a charge like that! Then Peter and John told the rulers and leaders of the nation, "You crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom God raised from the dead" (4:10).

Then when the apostles were again arrested by the police and brought to trial, they boldly charged, "You murdered by hanging on a tree [the] ... Prince and Savior" (5:30, 31). This was extreme confrontation! And the Holy Spirit was given both to those who proclaimed the truth and to those who believed it. Philip won the heart of a high-placed government official by preaching the cross from Isaiah 53 (8:32, 33). A sudden glimpse of the significance of the cross converted Saul of Tarsus (9:5, 6; 26:13-15), and empowered him to proclaim the truth more powerfully than any of the Eleven who had witnessed the actual event.

One exception to apostolic success is Paul's ministry in Athens (Acts 17). Few of his hearers responded positively. But reading through the Acts 17 story of his sermon we find not a mention of the cross! Paul at Athens was much like we are, working for "the higher classes." But from Athens Paul went to Corinth, where he determined "not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:1, 2). A lesson for us?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 23, 2000.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Message of the Cross

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Everybody knows the little song, "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know." But does the Father love us? And did He love us before Jesus died for us? Yes! "God [the Father] so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16).

If He so loved us before Jesus died for us, then was He reconciled to us before Jesus died? Yes! He was already in a state of being reconciled to us, not that any change in Him was at any time necessary. This reconciliation of the Father to us was not accomplished by the sacrifice of Jesus. The correct word to say is that the sacrifice of Jesus demonstrated the fact of His already being reconciled to us (Rom. 5:6-11, 15-21). So let us delete the word "accomplished" by the cross and substitute the right word, "demonstrated."

But what does this actually mean to us? And what does it mean to the souls for whom we pray and to whom we want to witness? It means that the Father has no chip on His shoulder against anyone personally; He loves "all men," even "the world," sinful as it is. It follows therefore that God treats every person as though we were righteous, even though we are not.

God loves the person, but He hates the sin. The sinner (that's everybody) must learn to believe that the Father loves him just as much as the Son loves him, so much that He wants to separate him from sin.

But the problem is that the sinner (everybody) loves sin, so how can we be separated from that which we have been born and bred to love? The answer is the cross--where the Son of God built that bridge across the dark chasm of our alienation from God. He also suffered alienation from His Father when He cried out on His cross, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). No sinner has ever felt such horror of separation from God as did Jesus in that hour!

He was "made to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21). Now the message of the cross says to us, "You be reconciled to God!" (5:20). The Father has proven His reconciliation to us; now let the truth melt our stony hearts.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 8, 1999.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Does Jesus Sympathize With All the Sorrowing People on Earth?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

At the heathen or pagan courts of the kings of ancient Persia, if you appeared sad, you could be put in prison. You were required to keep a frozen smile on your face continually, and jokes and comedy were the way of life. The Bible tells how Nehemiah, serving in the presence of the king, was afraid because he was too honest to try to wipe that frozen smile off his face, because he was broken-hearted for the honor of God involved in the ruin of Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1-3).

God loves honesty, even if it means that a broken heart must express itself. We read in Psalm 34:18, "The Lord is near to them who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." Sounds very strange for these times, doesn't it? We suppose He is very "near" to the smiling, happy people--if you're not singing for joy there must be something wrong with your so-called "relationship with Jesus." Many assume that it's virtually a sin to be broken-hearted. But we are assured in Psalm 51:17 of the Lord's special favor to the broken-hearted: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise."

Was Jesus ever broken-hearted? Not in the sense that He yielded to sinful unbelief, no; but we read that He took upon His happy heart our broken-heartedness. For example, we read that He was "despised and rejected by men" and it hurt Him, for He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isa. 53:3). You can't talk about having "a relationship with Jesus" without relating to that aspect of His character. The closer you come to Him the more you will appreciate that truth. And because He was very sorrowful on His cross, we read that the human race despised Him for it: "We esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted" (vs. 4).

"We" wanted an always-smiling Messiah, not a broken-hearted One. How about His great heart of love today? Does He sympathize with all the sorrowing, pain-ridden people on earth? Yes! He longs to put an end to sin and the sorrow it brings. And the closer we come to Him, the more we will share His concern.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 25, 1998.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: How Has God Kept Busy Since the Creation?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There have been no new worlds or planets created in the universe since God kept that first Sabbath. "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished," says Genesis 2:1.

How has kept God busy since then? The answer: a work of reconciling heaven and earth, because "war broke out in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought" (Rev. 12:7).

The great controversy has involved the universe as well as this fallen planet, for verse 12 says that because of the victory won in this reconciliation, "Rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!" Finally, it will be said: "The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation."* This blessed harmony will be the result of God's work on His cosmic Day of Atonement, which means simply, His Day of Reconciliation, the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, the ending of alienation.

Is your heart reconciled to God? Are you alert to realize that your natural human heart "is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7), except through the atonement of Christ? Do you still wrestle with a lingering sense that somehow you must make yourself good before He can be reconciled to you, and before He can really accept you and respect you? Do you have that nagging feeling that He cannot truly be your Friend until you are worthy? While you are sitting in the pigsty, do you wish you had a Father who would forgive and accept the prodigal?

If so, you need to know about the Day of Atonement. As never before in history the world's attention is directed to the atoning sacrifice of Christ where "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. … We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:19, 20). But you can't "be" unless you first believe He is reconciled to you! So "spend a thoughtful hour" contemplating the cross where that reconciliation was accomplished.

--Robert J. Wieland

* The Great Controversy, p. 678.

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 22, 2003.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: We Can Still Learn to "Discern"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's accepted by millions as a "Christian" idea, but it leaves them confused and spiritually paralyzed, and they don't know why. Maybe you're one of them, wondering why you're so worldly when you really want to be on fire for Jesus. It's associated with the "predestination" idea some have that Christ died only for "the elect," and He predestinated everybody else to be "lost." They reject the "predestination" idea because they know the Bible says Christ died for "all," and He offers salvation to everybody, but they say that the sacrifice of Christ doesn't do anybody any good unless he first believes. In other words, no one realizes any "benefits" from His sacrifice on the cross unless he believes.

Is that really what the Bible teaches? If that idea is true, then your salvation is due to your taking the first step to believe. It depends on your initiative. God's great mechanism of salvation stands idle so far as you're concerned until you press the switch to get it activated for you--it's when you "accept Christ," believe, and keep His commandments, etc. Otherwise, Christ died for you in vain, and you have not realized any of the "benefits" He wants you to have. But is this true?

If it is true, then the lost in the final judgment can shake their fist at God and tell Him, "You didn't do anything for me, all you did was make me an offer; You didn't actually give me anything." But the truth is that the very life they have had while they "enjoy[ed] the passing pleasures of sin" (Heb. 11:25) has been a gift that God has given them by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ. They are already infinitely and eternally in debt to Jesus for all the good times they've ever had, for their food, and yes, for their next breath. They have already realized the "benefits" of the cross of Christ. He "makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:45), blesses their crops, shields them repeatedly from ruin, sends angels to care for them, and they have received all these "benefits" with unthankful hearts.

The Bible teaches a glorious truth in "the Lord's Supper." Jesus said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven, ... and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. ... Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:51-53). Every meal you have ever eaten has been "a sacrament," but those who dis-believe "eat and drink in an unworthy manner, ... not discerning the Lord's body" (1 Cor. 11:27-29).

Thank God it's "today." We can still learn to "discern." Millions of us continue on in daily unbelief, but our next meal gives us, not merely offers, the opportunity to repent and get right with reality--which is Christ. Time to say thanks with total dedication to Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 10, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Are the "Things We Do Not Do" Good or Bad?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We know that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). But do you really believe that Good News? Or deep in your heart do you actually resist the goodness of that News and tend to believe the Bad News of a distorted "works gospel"? Do you unconsciously miss the joy of salvation "in Christ"?

Well, here's a test you can take. In Paul's Letter to the Galatians, chapter 5, verses 16 and 17, he says: "Walk in the [Holy] Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the [Holy] Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

Here's the question: What are those "things that you do not do"? Good things? Or bad things?

The usual answer is, "Good things." People think of Romans 7:15: "What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." But they forget: in Galatians Paul is saying, Go for a walk with the Holy Spirit and let Him hold you by the hand (cf. Isa. 41:10-13; yes, He has promised to hold your hand!), and this is the reason why you "do not do the [evil] things that you wish." Therefore, those "things that you do not do" are not the good things! They are the bad things that your sinful nature is always trying to prompt you to do.

This "test" reveals that the true Gospel is great Good News. "The love [agape] of Christ constrains us" (2 Cor. 5:14). The Lord does not force you, but His agape love motivates you. You discover that now your heart is changed so that what you once loved (that leads to death) you now hate, and what you once couldn't stand, you now love! If you believe John 3:16!

Again, we pray what the distraught father did when he cried out, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). We can never perish while we pray that prayer.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 18, 2007.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Have We Neglected to Receive the Beginning of a Gift Already Given?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Two thousand years have gone by since Paul proclaimed to the Jews that their Messiah had come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Most stubbornly resisted and rejected the message, according to Luke in Acts.

If Paul was anything like we are in nature, he would have expected that the Jews most likely to listen favorably would be the "devout women," the ladies of the congregation who were always helping people with works of mercy. But imagine his surprise and disappointment when he found that among the members of the congregations most bitterly opposed to the Good News about their Messiah having already come were those same "devout and honorable women" (Acts 13:50).

There was no need any longer for those agonizing, all night prayer meetings where the people would cry out to the God of Abraham, "Please fulfill the promise made to our fathers, send us our Messiah!" Prayer for the coming of the Messiah had now become obsolete. Now it was time to thank God for already sending Him! In fact, such prayer now became a form of blasphemy because it expressed the sin of unbelief, the refusal to recognize that God had already performed what He had promised.

Today we may pray earnestly for God to send us the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. Sometimes churches have held all night prayer meetings for that blessed gift. Could it be that, like the ancient Jews, we have neglected to receive the beginning of that same gift already given, and it went over our heads as the truth went over the heads of the ancient Jews?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 14, 2005.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Elijah Message--Preparing a People for the Second Coming of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Many people are deeply interested in "Elijah" being sent to us. They are realizing that "he" will come as a message, just as "Elijah" came to Israel in the message of John the Baptist (Mal. 4:5, 6; Luke 1:13-17).

They see that as John the Baptist prepared God's people of his day for the first coming of Christ, so "Elijah" in these last days will prepare a people for the second coming of Christ (Rev. 14:6-15).

John's message was a clarion call for repentance (Matt. 3:1-8). In these last days, "Elijah's" message is a call to the leadership of Christ's last days' church to "be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev. 3:14, 19; the "angel" of the church of the Laodiceans has to be its leadership). In ancient Israel, Elijah zeroed in on the top, the leader of the nation, King Ahab.

Just as Elijah was "zealous" and called on the king and Israel to "repent" of their Baal worship and return to the true Lord (just as Jesus calls on Laodicea), so the Elijah message today will call on God's people to "examine [themselves] as to whether [they] are in the faith. Prove [themselves]" (2 Cor. 13:5).

That must mean a close re-examination--do we understand what God's holy Word says about justification by faith? Or have we repeated ancient Israel's century-long slide down the slippery slope into Baal worship--that is, counterfeit ideas of popular Christianity that Revelation says are "Babylon"? "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith," says Paul in the Greek; don't be confused and bewildered by Babylon's false version.

That genuine "the faith" will be Elijah's message. He "slays" the uncooperative, unrepentant modern "priests of Baal" (which is the same as the "perishing" of those who disbelieve in John 3:16; the "should not perish" means that those who disbelieve commit their own spiritual suicide).

Elijah proclaims the reconciling, "at-one-ment" message that heals the wounded hearts of those who appreciate Christ's cross.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 29, 2006.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Why Would Jesus Need to Trust Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We think it's a grand achievement when we can learn to have faith in Jesus; we "have passed from death into life." But what about Jesus Himself having faith in human beings? That's backward thinking! We trust Him, but does He trust us? What's trustworthy about us? And why would He need to trust us?

He has everything, a countless number of angels at His beck and call, infinite resources. But the Bible does say that He believes in us and trusts us, in fact, He has to if He is ever to win the great controversy with Satan. Paul asks, "What if some [Israelites] did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?" (Rom 3:3).

When the heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son into the world as a baby, did He not trust human beings to care for Him, especially while He was an infant? Did He not trust the virgin Mary to be a faithful mother to Jesus? Did God not trust friends to care for Jesus during the years that He lived with us on this planet? (Yes, people did crucify Him, but we read of women who prepared food for Him, took care of His laundry, and friends who invited Him to be a Guest in their homes, like Lazarus and Zacchaeus of Jericho.)

And we read of how "the faith of Jesus" comes into focus in the last days: "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). In fact, it is the "faith of Jesus" that saves us, for He is "the author ... of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). When He died on the cross and felt forsaken by His Father, His faith triumphed. For just before He cried out, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit," He chose to believe and to trust that there would be a multitude of human beings around the world who would respond to the truth of His sacrifice, and who would believe and be loyal to Him. "All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord's. ... A posterity [seed] shall serve Him" (Psalm 22:27-30).

He forgot about His own reward. What made Him happy in those last moments was the confidence that He had won the battle, the contest was decided, and we will live forever in God's kingdom now made forever sure. Here was His total emptying of self! When He "tasted death for everyone" (Heb 2:9), it was the real thing; He died our second death. But He was happy in the confidence that He had saved us from it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 31, 1999.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Christ Has Done Something for Every Human Being

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Everyone at some time has dreams, bad dreams, nightmares. But it seems that one always wakes up just before the final tragedy. According to the Bible, since the world began no human being has ever experienced the second death, that is, hell itself, with one Grand Exception--Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second or "last Adam" of the human race.

As the Head of the human race, He "tasted death for every man" (Heb 2:9), not the first death which the Bible calls a "sleep," but the real thing, the utter God-forsakenness which is "the wages of sin" (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 2:11; 20:14). He died your second death; there is no need for you to endure it! Christ has done something for every human being, accomplished it, and given him the benefit.

"The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6). Christ is "the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). Not only is He "the propitiation for our sins," but also "for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). A wise writer has written, "He restored the whole race of men to favor with God. ... No sin can be committed by man for which satisfaction has not been met on Calvary, ... a thorough expiation."

You and I live today because of that "satisfaction." He has lifted the heart-burden of "condemnation" which sinful Adam passed on to us and has pronounced on "all men" that "verdict of acquittal" that Paul describes in Romans 5:15-18 (Revised English Bible). That does not mean that everyone is automatically going to heaven; no, because many "receive ... the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. 6:1), and reject what Christ has already won for them. But "for every man" there is deliverance already achieved for those "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14, 15).

But don't we have to do something? Of course; let your proud, sinful heart be melted; "humble yourselves ... under the mighty hand of God" (1 Peter 5:6); let the "constraint" of that love motivate you to live "henceforth ... unto Him which died for [you]" and not unto yourself (see 2 Cor. 5:14, 15). Say "Thank You!" with your life.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 30, 1998.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: What It Means to "Witness" for Him

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Suppose you didn't choose to seek temptation by walking on Satan's ground, but suddenly it confronts you. It may come to you from a thousand directions. What Jesus described as "looking" worries you and you wonder about that "sin in the heart."

Here is Good News. That was Joseph's problem in Potiphar's house in Egypt. He wasn't looking for temptation, but it came. At the age of 17 or so, Joseph had committed himself totally to the Lord because he understood the New Covenant promises. He was not in fear, desperately trying to hold on to God's hand--God was holding him by the hand, and the Savior kept him from falling into a sudden, alluring temptation. He ran.

You prepare ahead of time as he did by giving yourself to the Savior. Don't worry; He won't forget you. His much more abounding grace will "teach [you] to say No!" and run (see Titus 2:11, 12, NIV).

Joseph alone in pagan Egypt was surrounded by a constant atmosphere like Sodom and Gomorrah. One wise writer tells us that he was as one who saw and heard not. It wasn't fear; he was living under the New Covenant and the Lord had written His ten commandments' "law of liberty" on his heart.

Now praise Him that He has done the same for you. Walk softly, be humble, you "need Him every hour." If Christ has saved you from committing infidelity, you can praise Him throughout eternity, starting now. Thank Him for the mind of Christ. And if you have stumbled and fallen, receive His already-given gift of repentance, as David received the gift (Psalm 51). Don't water it down into pious lukewarmness.

Tell others that He has saved you. That's what it means to "witness" for Him.

As High Priest He is even now sealing His people (Rev. 14:1-5). Don't resist Him in His office work. He has business to do; let Him do it in your heart.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 9, 2003.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Thursday, January 08, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: How Can People Who Are Sad Be So Happy?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's backward from current wisdom, but it's the words of Jesus: "Blessed [happy] are those who mourn" (Matt. 5:4). Why and how can people who are sad be so truly happy?

It's not only the elderly who "mourn." There are also young people who swim upstream against the current and dare to think seriously; they are burdened with the reality of the world. They may not know why they are so serious, but they are unconsciously aware that we are living in the solemn time of earth's history known as the great Day of Atonement, when God Himself is on trial before the universe and its fate is in the balance. Will the leader of the Great Rebellion win the final battle of the "great controversy"? Even teens can see that a mysterious evil is permeating our world.

But that's old news; what's disturbing are its inroads into the "body of Christ," His church. Thoughtful youth are unsettled. They can't help being serious.

There are pastors who declare that raucous, uncontrollable laughter is a sign that one has received the Holy Spirit. Well, here's a different idea: "It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools. For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of a fool" (Eccl. 7:5, 6). God made us so we can laugh; but the reason truly happy people can be so serious is that they are uncomfortably aware that a false and counterfeit "holy spirit" is enveloping the world and seeking to capture the church.

This is the most lethal danger the church has faced since Christ established it. He is concerned; so should we be concerned. Blessed are those who mourn with Him--positively. He is at work; so should we be.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 10, 2006.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: A Gospel Not Mixed With Babylonian "Wine"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The last book of the Bible is clear: the only news God has for anyone at any time is Good News. The final message in Revelation 14 is "the everlasting gospel," which never means Bad News. But God cannot force people to believe His Good News; He "proclaims liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants" (Lev. 25:10). He wants everyone to be free, and everyone is free to believe His Good News, or to believe the author of Bad News, Satan. This freedom is bestowed upon the human race "in Christ," as His gift. But each human being must learn, be taught, His freedom. That teaching of freedom is the "gospel."

But Revelation also makes clear that there is a diabolical opposition to that "everlasting gospel," which is represented as the intoxicating "wine of Babylon" (14:8; 18:2). Thus we see a great conflict going on behind the scenes; it's impossible for Christ to be "revealed" in this last Book of the Bible unless at the same time the deceptions of Christ's enemy, Satan, are also unveiled. And the astonishing "revelation" discloses that his chief means of opposing Christ is through an organization, a message, a philosophy, that is professedly Christian. He has become a grand impostor, "so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God," when it's all a masterful lie (see 2 Thess. 2:3, 4).

Daniel's prophecy is of a "little horn" power that emerged in world history out of the ruins of the ancient pagan Roman Empire, that "speaks pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law" (7:25).

One brief example of this frightful "Christian" deception: the pagan idea of the natural immortality of the soul was imported into the Christian Church; it forces people to believe that those who are lost at last must continue to live forever in conscious torment and agony in an endlessly literal burning hell, and the great conflict between Christ and Satan will never be resolved. Throughout all eternity Satan will still rule his kingdom ("hell") while side by side God rules His kingdom (heaven). This falsehood has been a curse to humanity, has made many people become infidels, and created vast cruelties. Its "author"? Babylon.

The point? Make sure the "gospel" you believe is purely biblical, unmixed with any Babylonian "wine." The "temple of God" where the impostor "sits" and dishes out falsehood could be closer than you think.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 19, 1999.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Gather Warmth From Others' Coldness

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The "shaking" is a Bible doctrine as certain as the other established doctrines. An early mention of it is when the reformer Nehemiah "shook [his] lap and said, 'So God shake out every man ... who does not perform'" his vow of "obedience" (5:13). The reformer wanted to see some "works" that would validate the people's professed faith.

God will "arise to shake terribly the earth" (Isa. 2:19), He "will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the Lord of hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger" (13:13). However this may come as a natural cataclysm we shall wait and see; but the basic idea of a "shaking" among God's people is that the Lord is fed up with the hypocrisy of professed faith that is not validated by appropriate works.

The world itself is tottering in rotting immorality, with the collapse taking place before our eyes of simple, basic decency. Before the "shaking" is complete, everything that can be shaken will be shaken. But there will be some truths that will remain unshaken.

And each of us is a microcosm of the world and the church being "shaken." We watch astonished as some we knew who once professed a firm faith in biblical inspiration now cast doubts on it and spew ideas rooted in mysticism, so desperate are they in trying to endure the spiritual famine that is raging in church after church.

Side by side with the "shaking" that comes on the church will be that famine: "Says the Lord God, ... 'I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. ... In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst'" (Amos 8:11-13).

We are there now. Someone wisely said that the time will come when we must gather warmth from others' coldness; yes! That's where we are now.

The warmth of the genuine Holy Spirit is given to us, through the Word (John 14:16, 17); He will not leave one hungry, thirsty soul to perish. So, tell the Lord that you believe (but please help your unbelief!) to receive into your hungry soul those new covenant promises the Lord made to Abraham (yes, you are Abraham's descendant if you believe the gospel; Gen. 12:2, 3). Then keep on believing what "the Spirit of truth" says, and enjoy your victory.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 14, 2007.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, January 05, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: A Little Chat With David

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Do you ever lie awake at night, unable to sleep? If so, use that time as an opportunity to pray. The Bible says that God "visits us in the night" (Psalm 17:3). Your best Friend! So, have a meeting with Him. "In the night His song shall be with" you (42:8). In the hours of darkness is a good time to "call to remembrance" the history of His many kindnesses to you (see 77:6). As a youth, Jesus says, "I remember Your name in the night, O Lord" (119:55). It's a time of joyous communion, for "even the night shall be light about me. Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; ... Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well" (139:11, 12, 14). "Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still" (4:4).

If you're awake at night and can't sleep, it's also an excellent time to confess your mistakes and selfishness to the Lord. After his sin with Bathsheba, David could not sleep. "Day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; ... I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." Then David goes on to say that this is the way to peace of heart for all of us (32:4-7).

It's always in mercy that the Lord "visits" us at night; He doesn't want to hurt us; He wants only to save us from ourselves. Let the tears of contrition come, if the Holy Spirit touches your heart. On one occasion David said, "Day and night I cry, and tears are my only food" (42:3, Good News Bible). A visit with your Savior at night will turn into joy on the morrow. "His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (30:5).

Empty, thoughtless smiles are superficial "Christian experience," and you are soon floundering in a sea of trouble over your head. But these tears of repentance in your "visits" with the Lord at night become a solid foundation of lasting peace of heart. Then nothing can faze you in any "daytime."

This hors d'oeuvre of spiritual nourishment has been a little chat with David. It's Good News: learn not to waste your nights! "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy" (126:5). You can have a genuine "Christian experience."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 7, 1999.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Is Fear a Valid Motivation for Serving Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does God want us to go through life fearful that we may at last be lost? Is fear a valid motivation for serving Christ?

Some will say, "Yes!" In the Book of Psalms no less than fifty times "the fear of the Lord" is something positive for us to experience. Even Jesus warns us, "Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). No Bible text specifically tells us not to "fear the Lord."

So, with this heavy emphasis on "fearing the Lord," is it His will that we go through life under spiritual terror? Is fear of punishment an adequate motivation for being obedient to God's commandments? Some will say, "Yes, because it has worked for 6000 years." But does that mean that the fear motivation will characterize those who prepare for the second coming of Christ? Will there be a paradigm shift in motivation as we come nearer to the end?

There is a healthy fear that a person will always have. You look both ways before you cross a busy street; you avoid unhealthful things like smoking and alcohol--common sense fear will motivate you to enjoy life longer.

But fear of hell fire will not be the motivation that will constrain God's people to "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4, 5). A new one will supplant the old one, even as the "new covenant" will transcend the old. A clearer understanding of what happened on the cross of Christ will capture every honest heart and "constrain" all who believe "henceforth" (KJV) to live not for self, but for "Him who died for [us] and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).

The biblical "fear of the Lord" is not craven terror but a heart- appreciation for the awesome righteousness of Christ. To "tremble" before Him is not being scared of Him, but being thrilled by a healthy contemplation of what it cost Him to save us.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 25, 2001.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: "The Elijah Message"--God's Promise

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In many hearts around the world there is an interest in "the Elijah message," which is God's promise in the last two verses of the Old Testament. He says, "I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5, 6). That's a clear-cut promise. God's honor depends on its fulfillment.

We turn the page, and we're into the New Testament. There, before we are even introduced to Jesus the Messiah, we meet up with "Elijah" in the vision given to Zacharias. God is in a hurry to fulfill that promise! Zacharias' son John the Baptist is to "go before [the Christ] in the spirit and power of Elijah, 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:13-17). Later Jesus tells His wondering disciples not to wait any longer for the promised "Elijah," for he has already come in the message and ministry of John the Baptist (Matt. 11:7-14).

But conscience arrests us at that point: John the Baptist's day was not "the great and dreadful day of the Lord." That's due now! Any lingering doubt we may have is removed by the realization that the "curse" the Lord alludes to in that last verse of Malachi hovers over us.

Everything comes together: (a) the "Elijah message" is that of the great "other angel" of Revelation 18:1-4; (b) it's the final "everlasting gospel" of 14:6-15; (c) it's the powerful repetition of "the fall of Babylon" of verse 8; (d) it's the "witness" of the Lord Jesus to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans," the last of the seven churches of history (3:14-21); (e) it's the call to "be zealous therefore and repent" (verse 19); (f) and finally, it's the appeal of the Disappointed Lover in the Song of Solomon to His Bride-to-be to consummate the long-delayed "marriage of the Lamb" (19:7, 8). And may we add--"Elijah" reconciles her heart to Him!

It's time for us, the "ten virgins," to stay awake (Matt. 25:1-13), time to "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4, 5), time for a new dimension of closeness to the Son of God.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 3, 2006.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Note on Weekend Seminar: If you are interested in learning more about "The Elijah Message," stay tuned for more details on a weekend  seminar that will be held February 6 and 7 (Friday evening and all day Sabbath) at the Valley Center Seventh-day Adventist Church, Valley Center, California. Pastor Paul Penno will be the primary speaker, and plans are to video the sessions and post them immediately on a website. We will provide more details as they become available.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Time for New Year's Resolutions?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

New Year's Day is traditionally the time for resolutions. "I will do better this year!" And in practice, these New Year's resolutions usually fail before February comes around.

A wise writer has said, "Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. … The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you" (Steps to Christ, p. 47). Such promises and resolutions made to God are the famous Old Covenant, which the children of Israel made at Mt. Sinai when they responded to God's promise by saying, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8).

Sounds good, doesn't it? Some people understand that the Lord enthusiastically approves of their making an Old Covenant promise when He later said, "I have heard the voice of the words of this people ... They are right in all that they have spoken" (Deut. 5:28). But those who take this position don't read far enough. In the next verse the Lord sighs, "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear [reverence] Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them."

Paul says that the Old Covenant "gives birth to bondage" (Gal. 4:24). That "bondage" brings darkness into your soul, even though you try ever so hard to be good.

Your New Year's resolutions will not bring you victory and happiness. The Lord does not ask you to make promises to Him; He asks only that you believe His promises to you. His promise is the New Covenant; and for us to believe His promise is what makes Him happy. And in the end it makes us happy, too.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 2, 1998.

Copyright © 2014 by "Dial Daily Bread."