Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The "Ravens" of the Bible

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We don’t pay much attention to them for they are lowly creatures--ordinary blackbirds, crows. The “ravens” of the Bible.

But the Great Ruler of the universe has noticed them and immortalized them in His holy Book, the Bible, because on one special occasion these humble creatures were obedient to His “commands.”

Elijah had served the Lord faithfully as His prophet when he appeared in King Ahab’s office suddenly and announced that there  “shall be neither dew nor rain these coming years unless I [that is, Elijah] give the word” (1 Kings 17:1, NEB). The Lord told His faithful servant to “leave this place, ... go hiding in the ravine of Kerith east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the stream, and I [the Lord] have commanded the ravens [the humble blackbirds] to feed you there.”

Blackbirds are born thieves; anything they see and want, they simply take and fly off. It’s amazing that the Lord has honored these pilferers by mention in His holy Word, but they obeyed the “command” of the Lord by bringing lonely, exiled Elijah his daily food, “bread and meat morning and evening” (vss. 5, 6).

There’s a lesson for us here: the Lord did not want these birds to bring His prophet scraps of moldy bread and stale crackers; the Lord takes better care of His beloved servants--and here is where we can learn a lesson of the Lord’s loving watch care over us.

It was famine time in Israel; “bread and meat” were not readily available. So where would the ravens, having been “commanded” by the Lord to care for His lonely prophet, go to pilfer some “bread and meat” for him? With the windows being open for the summer-time warmth, where better than from King Ahab’s own royal table on which the greatest chefs of Israel were serving the king his royal cuisine?

Now I don’t know for sure where the crows went to do their pilfering; but I do know that when the Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) it includes the Lord’s care for our daily food; He doesn’t want to feed us moldy bread and stale crackers! Let’s let Elijah remind us of the Lord’s loving care for us, His unworthy servants!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 4, 2009.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The "Elijah" Message--Don't Overlook It

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

God's promise regarding Baal worship is tremendous Good News because it means He "will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5). Israel was in a terrible condition spiritually when the Lord sent him to King Ahab with his terrible news of drought and famine. But there was no other way to arouse the apostate people of God. Elijah was sent to them in love.

We want to be very careful that we know how to recognize "Elijah" when the Lord sends him again. Every one of us without exception should walk in fear and trembling lest we make the same mistake the Jews did in the days of John the Baptist. Their "Elijah" came and went and they had no idea what had happened! Ancient apostate Israel hated the messenger of the Lord when He sent him--Ahab and Jezebel wanted to kill him, and when the leaders of the Jewish church saw the new "Elijah" in John the Baptist they didn't recognize him. They said, "He has a devil" (Matt. 11:18).

Wouldn't it be terrible if, in these last days, we treated our new "Elijah" that way and didn't know what we were doing? Their "Elijah" was a humble man notably not dressed in "soft raiment" as "in kings' houses" (vs. 8). Someone very humble, "despised and rejected of men" as was Jesus, may have "come already, and [we] knew him not, but [do] to him whatever [we] wish" (17:12). Let's study the story of John the Baptist.

God is faithful. Many people today "sigh and cry for all the abominations" they see in the "land" (cf. Ezek. 9:4), but let them not yield to sinful despair and "smite" their "fellowservants" in their frustration (cf. Matt. 24:48, 49). The "Elijah" message is here somewhere. Don't misunderstand and overlook it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 12, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Is "Baal Worship" Currently Among Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The last two verses of the Old Testament give us the wonderful Good News that the Lord will send us "Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5, 6). Elijah's specialty mission had been to confront the apostasy of Baal worship. This fact that Elijah is to return during the last days raises a reasonable question: could it be that the reason for the Lord sending him back is that the ancient worship of Baal is again currently among us?

The merest suggestion that we have a problem with Baal worship creates abhorrence: "Impossible! We may be worldly and backsliding, but we're not that bad!" Then why does the Lord say that we need Elijah to come back? On quiet reflection we begin to realize that something is wrong with our spiritual devotion. Could it be "Baal worship," and what is it? It was prevalent in Elijah's day, but Jeremiah wrote a book (Elijah didn't!) describing what it was. Some points of identity emerge:

1. It was an unconscious apostasy in ancient Israel which crept upon the nation surreptitiously (see Jer. 2:23, 25; 16:10, 11; 11:13, 18, where the people deny its existence).

2. It was combined with the worship of the true Lord and God in His Temple in Jerusalem, so it was difficult for anyone to tell where one began and the other ended. It was all woven together (7:9, 10, 30).

3. The religious leaders at the headquarters of the nation aided and abetted this process of amalgamation (23:11, 13, 15, 26, 27).

4. Elijah and Jeremiah themselves would not have been able to discern the subtle presence of the apostasy had they not been enlightened by the gift of prophecy (1 Kings 17:1, Elijah cited "the Lord God of Israel" as his authority; Jer. 11:18).

Modern Baal worship is serious: it is the worship of self disguised as the worship of Christ. Therefore religious leaders are terribly prone to it, for they are often flattered by the people. May the Lord save us!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Healing for Our Human Depression

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you are not depressed, or have never been depressed, you can shout Hallelujah and thank the dear Lord. It's only by virtue of His sacrifice on your behalf when He suffered depression on His cross, that you are free to sing and rejoice in the bright sunlight of His favor.

If He had not suffered and died in your place on your behalf, you would be in the place of that poor man Jesus told us about--who has been cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30). And you will not despise those who do suffer depression. You will not be hard-hearted toward them, callous, telling them to "snap out of it," "you're foolish," "go help somebody else," etc. The closer you come to Jesus, the more sympathy you will have for others who suffer.

The basic problem for Christian people in depression is the haunting fear that God does not hear their prayers. They pray, and nothing happens; it seems that God does not care. And to believe in God but that He does not care is worse than not believing in God at all! That's why Christian people, especially Christian teenagers, often suffer the most excruciating pain in their depression.

So, once again, we look to that cross where Jesus was uplifted, and where He will draw "all" unto Himself, where we too can learn to "glory" (John 12:32, 33; Gal. 6:14). As He hung on His cross in the darkness, He felt that His Father was despising Him. He said, "My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are you so far from saving Me? ... I cry out by day, but You do not answer" (Psalm 22:1, 2, NIV). The weight of all our sinful guilt was pressing upon His human heart.

But did He give up and yield the battle to Satan? No. Look what He did--read the rest of Psalm 22. He made a choice to believe in the character of His Father as He knew it from His own history. Thus He was able to trust, to believe, despite the total darkness of His soul. In Him, right there, is healing for our human depression.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 21, 1997.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Galatians 4--Believe It and Tell the Devil, "Begone!"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Let me ask: Who do you think you are? (I've asked myself that question!) Jesus had to wrestle with that same question all His life on earth as our Savior. The first inkling that He knew who He was came at the age of 12 when He asked Mary and Joseph in the Temple in Jerusalem, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

The problem surfaces in the temptations in the wilderness after His baptism at the age of 30: "IF You are the Son of God ... !" (Matt. 4:6ff.). Matthew seems to be the one most aware of this problem that Jesus constantly wrestled with. Satan wouldn't let Jesus alone even as He hung on His cross in His last hours: "IF You are the Son of God, come down from the cross"! (Matt. 27:40).

So, if the divine Son of God in our human flesh or nature had to wrestle with this problem in temptation, don't be dismayed if you find yourself wondering who you are! Are you a maid or a ditch-digger in the Father's house, or are you a prince of the realm? Do you have a right to hold your head high, or is Satan correct when he demeans you and seeks to destroy your self-respect?

There is a fascinating parable (or illustration) in Galatians 4:1-7. It tells of a child (the heir) probably running around a huge estate where even the slaves boss him around. But when he grows up he becomes the heir to the estate, their boss!

So, says Paul, as long as we don't know who we are, don't know our true identity, all the devils in hell can torment us and boss us around; but when you are ready to believe that "in Christ" you are adopted as a son or daughter and you are indeed the lord of the estate, your spiritual or psychological servitude is at an end. "Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But ..." we have been redeemed, we have received the adoption as sons and daughters, and God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.

Please read Galatians 4:1-7. Believe it and tell the devil and all his evil angels, "Begone!"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 14, 1997.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: A Clear Definition of New Testament "Faith"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We have been talking about "faith and love" for many decades, but do we really know what they mean? Is our Lord trying to tell us that we don't really understand what love is, and therefore cannot have true faith? Is the "angel" of the Church destitute of "such love as dwelt in the heart of Christ"?

Yes, he is, according to the True Witness. This is very shocking to contemplate. But let us look more deeply into the matter. There are two great contradictory ideas of "love." One has come from Hellenism and is the kind of "love" on which popular Christianity is based. The other is completely different and is the kind of love that can have its source only in the ministry of the true High Priest in His cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary.

Our Lord's charge becomes baffling and incomprehensible to us when we are ignorant of what that love really is. Some will say, "I know I love my family and friends. What else is there?" Self-satisfied hearts will feel no need to be "awakened." But many do feel a great need and will immediately recognize the "gold" when they see it.

In its full context, as a wise writer said, the "gold" is "faith that works by love." Therefore, in order to understand what the Tue Witness means by saying "buy of Me gold tried in the fire," we must first of all examine what "love" is. Only then will we be able to understand what "faith" is.

Christ Himself makes clear what New Testament faith is, and His view is different from that of the popular concept. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him ..." (John 3:16). Note: (1) God's love is the first thing, and until that love is revealed, there can be no "believing." (2) As the result of His "loving" and "giving," the sinner finds it possible to "believe." ("To believe" and "to have faith" is one word in Greek.) Thus, faith is a heart-experience ("heart-work"), and it cannot exist until God's love is understood and appreciated.

Note this fundamental point: the "believing" is not motivated by a fear of perishing or an acquisitive reward of everlasting life. The primary causative clause of Jesus' statement is "for God so loved." The two secondary clauses are "that He gave His only begotten Son" and "that whosoever believeth." The believing is a direct result of the loving. And Christ Himself spoke the words of John 3:16.

Thus there begins to emerge a clear definition of New Testament "faith": Faith is a heart-response to, or a heart-appreciation of, the love of God revealed at the cross. Re-read Romans and Galatians with this John 3:16 definition in mind and you will find Paul reproduced with startling realism. He will come alive for you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Knocking at the Door.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: A Fresh New Revelation of Grace

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

The most precious message of Christ's righteousness exalts the cross of Christ and what He accomplished there for the world. He reversed the judicial "condemnation" that our fallen father Adam brought upon the human race and as the second Adam pronounced upon us instead a judicial "verdict of acquittal " (Rom. 5:15-18). By His sacrifice upon His cross He gave the Father the legal right to treat "every man" in the world as though he has never sinned!

You may have thought about this a thousand times, but each new morning it's a fresh new revelation of grace. The Father demonstrates what "be ye therefore perfect" means by "mak[ing] His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and send[ing] rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt. 5:48, 45). And so, by His much more abounding grace (Rom. 5:20) which He bestows on us "in Christ," He enables us to treat others the same way; and to our amazement, we discover that we begin to win souls! We discover in the most unforeseen places someone who is hungry and thirsty for the bread of life and the water of life that we can now share, and what a joy it is to meet that person.

When you know yourself and confess yourself to be empty, that you are eternally hungry and thirsty, you are prepared to be "filled" (Matt. 5:6), and no one is ever "filled," without at the same time his "cup run[s] over" (Psalm 23:5). Then everybody who comes in contact with you is blessed. You are continually exuding that much more abounding grace; there's no end to it. You've found a new life.

What's happening is that God's New Covenant is playing itself out in you; all the promises He made to Abraham are being kept and fulfilled in you as a child of Abraham. (You know, of course, that not one human soul will enter any of the gates of the New Jerusalem except as a child of Abraham [cf. Rom. 4:1-16], and that is what you are if your heart has just begun to "comprehend … the breadth, and length, and depth, and height [of the] love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God"; Eph. 3:17-19.)

It's real! You are not the water of life but you are a channel through which it can flow.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 6, 2007.

Copyright © 2015 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Prayer of Christ's Heart

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord encourages each of us to pray to Him alone; Jesus gave us permission to address His Father as "our Father which art in heaven." We are to pray in the name of His only begotten Son: "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14). Big promise!

But sometimes it seems that He doesn't hear us or answer us. We beg Him to tell us why. John may help: "This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us" (1 John 5:14). "His will" is love for our souls; it's possible we are asking for something that in the end would harm us, because we don't know better (or it might harm someone else).

Then John explains further: "And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (vs. 15). The "if" is important. Some dear people spend a lifetime trying to understand, but you can "fast forward" your understanding if you will choose to believe that He loves you as an individual, that He does hear you, and that He will grant you whatever is best for you, to be realized when you need it.

But there is something about answered prayer we must not forget: "If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven" (Matt. 18:19). Praying by yourself may not be good enough! You'd be surprised how rare it is to find two individuals (even in a church) who are totally in heart unity. Not that one must be a clone of the other, but the Holy Spirit just has trouble "convicting" two people alike; one seems always to be breaking away from heart unity in some way. If only "two" could fulfill that promise "in Christ," they could turn the world upside down--let alone their church.

The prayer of Christ's heart still is for His disciples "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:21). With His church fragmented, it may seem that even Christ after 2000 years can't get His prayers answered when He prays by Himself! But don't give up your faith: Christ's prayer must be answered, or He must lose the great controversy with Satan! Pray with Him, on His side, that His people may be brought into that true, blessed one-ness "in Him."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 9, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Knowing the Truth About Ourselves

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus tells us that in the Final Day some dear people will stand "before the judgment seat of Christ" expecting Him to praise them for their lives of hard missionary work in serving Him, only to hear Him say sadly, "I never knew you," that is, this is a case of mistaken identity (2 Cor. 5:10; Matt. 7:21-23).

Their whole lives have been a failure while they thought they were riding high on success. Didn't people praise them highly and "all men speak well of" them (Luke 6:26)? But the Father was not the one answering their prayers, and He was not the one "well pleased" with them all this while. Their motivation was self; and human pride; and works.

What a blessing it could be if before they stand before Jesus in final judgment they could pause long enough to pray Psalm 141. David is concerned lest he presume upon the mercy of the Lord: "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips," that is, I fear for myself! (vs. 3). I (that is, self) am my own worst enemy!

David wants someone who truly knows the Lord to rebuke and correct him. That's never fun, is it? "Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him reprove me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it" (vs. 5; the KJV has the idea that his reproof "shall not break my head," that is, injure me).

Knowing the truth about ourselves is "excellent" Christian experience--and the sooner the better. The first work of the true Holy Spirit is to "convict [us] of sin" (John 16:8). Let's welcome Him! Then the truest joy can come.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 19, 2005.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Light That Will Blaze Across the World

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The second coming of Jesus is wonderful good news, but there is other good news that must come first: a light that will blaze across the world. It will penetrate into the homes and the markets of both the poor and the rich. Since God is declared to be "love," He cannot leave anyone out of seeing this light of the angel's message who "comes down from heaven, having great power; and the earth [must be] lightened with his glory" (Rev. 18:1, KJV).

In the Bible, light is always something that comes from heaven. It causes the gospel to shine. This "light" will be a message in which "light" is shining. Therefore it will be truth, for "Your word is a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). That final revelation of light will therefore be the truth of God's word more clearly spread out before the world than ever seen before.

The one spot in world history where the Light of heaven shone most brightly was the cross of Christ, for it was there that a heavenly love (known as agape) was most clearly demonstrated in its " width and length and depth and height," a love "that passes knowledge" (Eph. 3:18, 19).

But how can this ever happen in our modern materialistic, pleasure-loving, godless world? That "light," which will at last shine brightly, will not be a message of terrorism (the terror will come after the light has been rejected, finally); the message will be a "lifting up" of the crucified Savior of the world. God will not scare people into His kingdom like cattle being gathered for the roundup; the world's moment of truth will finally dawn for all mankind. The love revealed at the cross will corral every honest-hearted soul who will sense the "constraint" that is implicit in that love. A totally new motivation will prevail--not fear for one's personal security, but a new concern newly realized--that which a bride can know for the man whom at last she loves (Rev. 19:7, 8).

Forget thinking about the Gospel as a static set of cold doctrines; it is an ever-growing, heart-moving experience of identity with the Son of God.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 18, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Holy Spirit Closes Doors?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you're hungry to learn how the Holy Spirit works among us humble, lowly minded people, look at the story in Acts of how the gospel first went to Europe. After the disputes among the early believers were settled by the Jerusalem council (Acts 15), "day by day, the congregations grew stronger in faith and increased in numbers" (16:5, NEB). Paul and Silas wanted to go and preach the message "in the province of Asia," but "they were prevented by the Holy Spirit from delivering the message" there (vs. 6). Interesting! The Holy Spirit closes doors--we have thought He always opens them!

Next, the frustrated apostles "tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them" (vs. 7). We don't know just how He closed these doors, but we do know what frustration is! Perhaps the Lord permitted travel restrictions to stop them, or persecution, or health problems. Whatever, they saw doors closing all around them. Strange, when Jesus had said, "Go forth to every part of the world, and proclaim the Good News to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).

Maybe you have run into these God-inspired roadblocks, maybe written something you think should be published but you find doors closed, or you want to preach or teach in a church and the pastor and elders don't want you. Paul and Silas didn't give up, they traveled right on through Mysia and went to Troas (Acts 16:8). Troas was getting closer to where the Lord really wanted them to go. They were almost there!

Then came the big break! The Lord gave Paul a vision--I have a whole new continent for you to pioneer, the continent of those to come, the Waldenses, of Wycliffe, Luther, the Wesleys (vss. 9, 10). Paul probably didn't realize it at the time, but this was where Daniel's prophecies were to find fulfillment. The problem of some closed doors always guides you to the right open door!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 20, 2005.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: The Isaiah 6 Experience

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Isaiah 6 describes the young prophet's vision in the Temple of seeing “the Lord ... high and lifted up.” It seems obvious that his vision was not of materialistic “glory”; it was a vision of the character of the Lord, a heart-humbling appreciation of His glorious self-sacrificing love. The cry of “holy, holy, holy” was a revelation of the cross. The young Isaiah was overwhelmed with a humbling sense of his own sinful selfishness in contrast. It became the foundation of his entire lifetime of service.

“Woe is me!” he cries. “I am undone!” A steamroller has flattened me in the dust. I thought I could devote my life to the Lord’s ministry, he says; now I see that “I am a man of unclean lips.” I have wandered into the “temple” of the Lord and I see I don’t belong here; my heart is polluted in contrast with the righteousness of Christ. So prayed Isaiah.

There was another man who had a similar experience. The apostle Peter had spent some three years in the Lord’s special theological seminary and had felt quite qualified for apostolic “ministry.” Then when he had publicly blurted out three times his abject denial of Christ, he felt so crushed, so self-humiliated, so polluted in soul, that he threw himself on the ground and wished he could die. Lord, I’m finished! I can never be an apostle; I’m totally unworthy to be one of the Twelve; do let me die! So prayed Peter.

Sometimes the dear Lord lets us have cause to say, “All day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning” (Psalm 73:14). Then when we feel done in, another word from the Lord comes to mind, “Whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).

Isaiah could never have written his 53rd chapter about the cross of Christ unless he had experienced that self-abasement early on, in chapter 6. Someone somewhere is hungry to hear what happened on the cross of Christ. You talk about winning souls; well, if you can tell the story of the cross you’ll win souls. But you’ll never be able to tell it unless you have had your Isaiah 6 experience, and knelt down beside him there, and knelt down beside Peter, too.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 11, 2004.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: An Invitation From the "Faithful and True Witness"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The apostle John was an old man when he wrote the Fourth Gospel. From his perspective of many years he discerned the outworking of a mysterious principle of enmity against God which had embedded itself in the leadership of the one true church. Until the rejection and crucifixion of Christ, it was the one true church in the world. Jesus had said, “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

But in John’s gospel he details the development of that deep and bitter enmity that progressively possessed the hearts of those “men of God” until they screamed “Crucify Him!” in Pilate’s judgment court that fateful Friday morning.

The aged John is also the author of the Book of Revelation in which he speaks of a true church in the last days of earth’s history, which is distinguished before the world as the “remnant church” which keeps the commandments of God and has the faith of Jesus (12:17; 14:12).

John also reports the Lord Jesus as deeply disturbed about the leadership of that same church because they arrogantly claim to be “rich and increased with goods” when in reality they lead the “seven churches” of history in pitiable ignorance of their true spiritual state: “You ... do not know that you are [the one, Greek] wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:14-21).

The true church leadership two millennia ago led their people to reject the Messiah whom God had sent to them; that Laodicean leadership in the last days can lead the true church again to repeat the sin of the ancient Jews by rejecting the Loud Cry message that God sends them to “lighten the earth with glory.” It’s Revelation 18:1-4 thrown into reverse gear. Instead of “lighten the earth” they can hold the message back for generation after generation while the world degenerates.

There is a blessed solution: “Be zealous, therefore, and repent,” an invitation from the “faithful and true witness” (3:19, 14).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 5, 2007.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: "In the Days of Our Youth"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Decisions that youth make in their mid-teens are often decisive for life (and for eternity!). Jesus was visiting Jerusalem at the age of 12 to watch the Passover. He had questions, but no one could answer them. Finally it dawned on Him--animal blood could never wash away one human sin; someone innocent must become "the Lamb of God." He decided then to be "about My Father's business," which meant He must become the world's "Lamb of God" (Luke 2:49). It means--the age of 12 is very important for anyone.

"In the days of [our] youth" we too can "remember [our] Creator" which means we shall never forget Him even when terrific temptations later assail us (Eccl. 12:1). God Himself, our Creator, created the age of 12 and gave this gift to us. It's when we can think clearly and make rapid decisions for right or wrong because we can feel deeply. God Himself respects the choices we make at the age of 12, yes, and holds us accountable.

Some think that it was about that age when David wrote Psalm 23 and composed music for it (Mozart and Mendelssohn were writing fantastic music at that age). Teenage devotion trained David for that sudden decision to confront Goliath. Perhaps even younger, Jeremiah chose to say "Yes" to God's call to an important prophetic mission.

It was in his teenage years that Esau thought family worship and church were boring and chose to pursue the more exciting pleasures of his day. It wasn't long until he ended up "despising" his family "birthright," and sold it for bread and some lentil stew. He probably didn't consider all that it meant.

Right now, today, let's "remember our Creator."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 17, 2002.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Savior's Kindness to Nebuchadnezzar--And Us

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is the Daniel 4 story of King Nebuchadnezzar's mental illness true, or pious fiction? Many details mark it as authentic history: another powerful king changing his religion is Amenhotep IV of Egypt; the literary formula of Nebuchadnezzar's decree is proper for the 6th century B.C.; there are actual stone inscriptions from Nebuchadnezzar that confirm Daniel's details; the insanity of lycanthropy (thinking one is an animal) is verified historically.

Even today there are examples of human pride leading to mental instability ("those who walk in pride [God] is able to abase," vs. 37). The higher one goes the more dismal is the fall when unconscious inner guilt torments. In his proud building accomplishments the Babylonian king had oppressed myriads of laboring people and he couldn't help realizing it ("break off your ... iniquities by showing mercy to the poor," Daniel urged, vs. 27).

Proud tyrants do have a conscience! Unresolved guilt not only makes the weakest organ of one's body break down (consider the dread skin disease that came upon Simon the Pharisee who knew he had ruined a woman's life, Mark 14:3); guilt can also poison the mind.

But the Daniel 4 story also contains gospel truth that marks it as inspired: the disciplinary punishment that God sent to Nebuchadnezzar was mixed with divine compassion, for the great "tree" that was felled was left to sprout again (vs. 26). The humiliated king was mercifully restored as an encouragement to us that God can heal our mental disorders. His mental disease left him with a measure of reality that finally after 7 years of a slow healing process enabled him to "lift up [his] eyes to heaven" and know that "understanding" was restored to him (vs. 34). Mentality returned when he could get his mind off the "grass" below and see the stars above.

When our vision is fixed on worldly entertainment and prosperity, we are "foolish and ignorant, ... like a beast before You," says Psalm 73:22. Yet still we are "held" by His "right hand" (vs. 23)! The same Savior who was kind to King Nebuchadnezzar is kind to us.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 2, 2000.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Challenge to God's "Remnant Church"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There's a fascinating link between the Book of Revelation and the Gospel of John that is intriguing. The former tells of God's final "Voice from heaven" that will sound in the heart of a vast number around the world to "come out of Babylon." They will respond in that last hour, symbolized as "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues," who hear the Voice because in some way they already "follow the Lamb [the crucified Christ] wherever He goes" (18:4; 7:9; 14:4). They are already responsive to each nuance of divine leading they can sense. They love truth.

The link with John's Gospel is in 10:1-16 where Jesus lets us in on His secret: He has people everywhere who are His hidden "sheep" who "know His voice" and respond whenever He can find a human agent to proclaim the truth so clearly that honest people recognize that "Voice." To borrow Luther's crude phrase, these who proclaim the gospel don't "taste of the dish" (would you serve your guests from a dish that still has the remnants of its former cooking sticking to it?). When our preaching is marred by "self," we repulse rather than attract these "sheep."

The presence of self-love seen in the agent constitutes the "messenger," "a thief and a robber," "climbing up some other way" into Christ's "sheepfold." His true sheep run as fast as they can the other way (they "flee from a stranger"). And possibly the church wonders why they are not winning more souls, and why their efforts to "lighten the earth with glory" seem so stymied.

The picture in the Bible is clear: God has faithful people buried in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, yes, maybe all the "isms" of the world, including atheism, who are not heart-satisfied where they are; they hunger for something they haven't yet found. When truth and that truth-seeker meet, nothing in earth or heaven will keep them apart.

The challenge to God's "remnant church" of these last days is: clear away the confusion that muffles the sound of that "Voice from heaven." What's on God's agenda for His church is thrilling.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 21, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: What the Angel Said Jesus Will Accomplish

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

People are quite willing for Jesus to do the things that the angel Gabriel told Daniel He would do: (1) "finish the transgression," (2) "make an end of sins," (3) "make reconciliation for iniquity," and (4) "bring in everlasting righteousness" (all in Dan. 9:24).

What it seems people don't like is that Daniel was saying that God will have a people on earth who do those things! "Let Jesus do it," they say; "we can't, and it's wrong to think we can. Sinning is so deeply ingrained in us that we will keep on until either we die or see Jesus come in the clouds of heaven. Then He will cleanse us from sin. Meanwhile, you keep on sinning. Nobody's perfect!" To think that the Savior can "make an end of sins" in you, can reconcile you fully from sin, can "finish your slavery to transgression," can demonstrate "righteousness" in you--sounds fanatical!

But that's just what the angel said Jesus will accomplish! The Book of Hebrews tells the same Good News: Jesus is "able to save them to the uttermost [perfectly] that come unto God by Him" (7:25), and "is able to succor them that are tempted" (2:18). No, it does not mean that anybody will accomplish it on his own, nor does it mean that these people will be motivated by a self-centered egoism (that would be fanaticism!).

What it means is as simple as a ray of sunlight: God will be honored by a group of people in the end who respond to temptation as Joseph did in Egypt when one lonely day a beautiful young woman tried to entice him into sin with her. Joseph was indeed susceptible for we read that he ran for dear life (you don't do that unless you are tempted!). The Bible says he had caught the same vision that the angel Gabriel gave to Daniel: "How ... can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9). What was in Joseph's mind was not what his family might say, but how could he "crucify to [himself] the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame"? (Heb. 6:6). Joseph was aware of Reality; self was no longer his main concern.

Christ is the Head, but He has a corporate "body," and as a "body" a sizable, visible people on earth will demonstrate that what Christ accomplished will be appreciated by humanity.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 13, 2001.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Life in the Last Days

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In His love and mercy, Jesus described for His followers what life would be like in the last days, where we live today: "And because lawlessness will abound, the love [agape] of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matt. 24:12, 13).

Thoughtful observers have noted that foul language is accepted and popular in the media. "Baby Boomers" and more recent generations (at least most of them) have never had the privilege of knowing there was something in the world known as agape, the once-sacred "sweet mystery of life." For them, love is a physical attraction. They have a "relationship," not agape love.

Parents and grandparents who know a little about agape are appalled; children and youth are growing up in a world where "the agape of many [has] grown cold," where as one wise writer has often stated it, "The Holy Spirit is being withdrawn." Where formerly God's people looked forward to spending the biblical millennium in heaven, now they apparently face the bleak prospect of spending it on earth with the Holy Spirit withdrawn. Many even lament that they don't find that Spirit in church.

But there is some precious Good News: there are those who will "endure to the end." They will cherish agape in their hearts; they will love the Holy Spirit, not drive Him away. God has never withdrawn His Holy seventh-day Sabbath in which we can realize His presence. The Sabbath is an island of refuge in a stormy sea where we can still experience the calm of heaven and the refreshment that comes in communion with God.

The Holy Spirit may be withdrawn from the wicked world, but He will not withdraw Himself from even one humble soul who welcomes His presence.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 22, 1999.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Let the Lord Defend You in Your Distress

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can an ordinary individual enjoy the blessings of the New Covenant even though the majority in "the body" of the church do not?

To answer this question, the Lord has given us the psalms of David. Over and over David cries to the Lord for deliverance when he is alone in his distress. As an individual in the nation of Israel, he is highly significant because the Messiah is declared to be "the son of David"--not merely in physical descent but because Jesus is spiritually "the son of David." In other words, in His earthly life, in His incarnation, Jesus' mentor was David in his psalms. He lived in those psalms; He saw Himself in them.

We may nod our heads in agreement, but then what about those imprecatory psalms? David prayed that the Lord would punish his enemies, even destroy them; do we have a record that Jesus prayed that His Father would harass and destroy His Sanhedrin enemies who wanted to crucify Him? No; we have the record that He prayed that His Father would forgive them, "for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). Are those bitter psalms not inspired, or do they not apply to "the son of David"? Should we follow David and pray down curses on those who oppose us?

One of God's most precious New Covenant promises He made to Abraham was that "I will curse him who curses you" (Gen. 12:3); David lived under that New Covenant promise. Jesus did, too. His prayer for forgiveness for those who crucified Him was specific--only so long as they "do not know what they do." Behold in the horror of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the fulfillment of that New Covenant "curse" on those who determine to "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6, KJV).

Humble, helpless soul, let the Lord defend you in your distress. Don't try to stop Him; He must fulfill His word, and it is both His "goodness and severity" (Rom. 11:22).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 17, 2008.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: A Beautiful Illustration of Genuine Faith

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a beautiful illustration of genuine faith in the story of the three Hebrews of Daniel 3 who were thrown into the fiery furnace. They told the insanely angry king that the living God whom they served was "able" to deliver them from his power, but it might possibly be that He would be unwilling to do so--they didn't know for sure--but if He were unwilling to deliver them they would serve Him nonetheless, and they would not cast contempt on His holy law by bowing down to his golden image.

In this way these three men demonstrated that their faith in God was the New Covenant kind, not the Old Covenant kind. The Old Covenant kind of "faith" is a counterfeit of the genuine: it's making a "bargain" with God. Old Covenant faith says," Lord, if You will deliver us, then we'll keep Your commandments." Sometimes preachers lead their people into Old Covenant faith when they tell them that if they take the initiative to "pay tithe," then God will bless them financially. New Covenant faith is a choice to pay tithe whether the Lord rewards us or not.

The New Covenant is God's out-and-out promises to His people, and their heart response is to believe and appreciate what He promises. His love, not fear, "constrains" them to loyalty and service (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). The Old Covenant is "bargaining" with God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego rebuke us for that.

In Jeremiah 31:31-34 the Lord promises that the time will come when His people will graduate completely out of the Old into the living faith that is in the New. As God's people face the trials of the last days, their faith will mature into that of a church that has grown up into that "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). It's time for the New Covenant--now.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 16, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Let's Give the New Covenant to the Youth of Today

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

First, we'd like to apologize for being "off the air" for a few days. Our Internet provider has experienced an "outage" which covered a wide area. Hopefully, today the problems have been fixed.

May these little "morsels" of bread be a blessing to you. --The "Dial Daily Bread" Staff


So often we hear parents tell sadly that one or more of their children are no longer in the church. They were raised in the church, went to Sabbath School, even church schools, Christian academies, etc., but now have drifted out into the world. These parents invariably say they are trusting to that promise in Isaiah 49:25, "I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children." Precious promise; but is there something we can do to cooperate with the Lord in this wonderful work of reclaiming lost youth?

The father of the prodigal son was an admirable man, but still his son rebelled. So we are not assured of 100 percent success. Even Jesus lost one of His twelve disciples, and almost lost Peter; the others forsook Him and fled. But there is a reason why we lose so many people, and the problem can be corrected.

It's the same one that ancient Israel had continually: the effects of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant was the promise of the people to do everything just right when they promised in Exodus 19:8, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do."

For generations, we have always assured our children and youth, "Yes, the Lord will bless you; He will do this or that for you, provided you do your part!" Thus the basic idea that gets across to them is that the Lord is like a policeman; He won't bother you if you keep out of trouble. It's up to you to initiate a relationship with the Lord, and to maintain it; and if you don't, then He backs off and leaves you alone. The emphasis is on what you do to save yourself, not on what He has done and is doing to save you. What is the inevitable result? Dependence on self, and that leads to alienation from Christ. And then--wandering away.

Let's hope it's not too late to proclaim the New Covenant to the youth who have drifted away, but in the meantime let's give the New Covenant to the youth of today! They must know that Christ is their Savior 100 percent; nothing but that Good News will reconcile their alienated hearts to Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 16, 1997.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."