Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Elijah and Moses--Bound Together in Faith

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Elijah the prophet is often misunderstood and unappreciated. It is true that he was a humble man from the mountains of Gilead with no official endorsement. But he was a deep and keen thinker on a level far beyond that of the leadership of Israel. As he saw the horrible effects of the national apostasy, he thought of its cosmic consequences. The great controversy between Christ and Satan was involved. The honor of the very name of the true God was in jeopardy. If God could not save Israel, how could the Messiah save the world? This was a portentous crisis.

We need to understand Elijah better. God has promised to send him again "before the great and terrible day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5, 6). Unless we understand correctly, there is danger that we may follow ancient Israel in their national apostasy from the truth of God.

Elijah shares with one other man in the Old Testament a profound understanding of God's character of love (agape). In Exodus 32 we read of Israel worshipping a golden calf within days of their forming the grand Old Covenant at Sinai. God purposed to be done with them, but Moses changed God's mind in his plea: if You can't forgive and save Israel, "blot [my name] out of Your book which You have written" (vs. 32). Rather than see Israel lost, he says, I choose to relinquish my own eternal salvation. In the exercise of such faith, Moses found a link that bound him to the cross of Christ, for that is what Jesus did in His love for us--the "width, and length, and depth, and height of the love (agape) of Christ ... which passes knowledge" (Eph. 3:18, 19).

Now, in his love for apostate Israel, Elijah finds a link that binds him in faith to Moses. Could this be the reason why heaven sent Moses and Elijah to visit with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration? Only they could encourage Him in His self-sacrifice on His cross, when He died our second death to save us!

We can be sure this kind of love is implicit in whatever message "Elijah" will bring us when he comes back.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 22, 2005.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."   

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: When Satan Attacks You With Discouragement

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you are a member of the human race, you are automatically involved in a war (and of course you are human). That war is often spoken of as the great controversy between Christ and Satan. You are either on Satan's side of the war, or you are on Christ's side. There is no peace between the two. There cannot be.

If you are on Christ's side of the war, then you can be sure that Satan and his evil angels, his servants, will oppose you in one way or another. If you are on Satan's side of the conflict, then you can be sure that the Holy Spirit of God will strive with you because God loves you and does not want you to perish with Satan at the end. So either way, you are in conflict.

You will enjoy your part in the conflict a lot more if you understand the psalms of David. He was in the middle of the war, whether he was fighting Goliath alone as a boy, or fighting Israel's battles. The devil hated David especially because he was anointed of the Lord and was a type of Christ, whose name means the anointed one.

In Psalm 27 David expresses his confidence that the Lord would defend him in every battle he had to fight. He says: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ... Though an army should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident" (vss. 1, 3).

When Satan attacks you with discouragement, take those words as yours. Not only was Christ "the son of David," by faith you also are the son of David. God's promises to him become God's promises to you. Believe them, and rejoice in victory over Satan.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: How to Pronounce That Word "No"!

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Do you know how to pronounce that word, "No!" to temptation? The "grace of God" will teach you! It teaches us to be the boss, the king: and none of the enemy's most alluring temptations can stand up against that word "No!"

And how does "the grace of God" succeed in teaching us backward mortals such a marvelous skill? By providing the dual motivation of (a) an appreciation of how Christ "gave Himself for us," and (b) the delightful anticipation of letting Him "purify for Himself a people" ready to honor Him at His "glorious appearing." It works!

Is choosing hard? When you fall in love with someone, is it hard to "forsake all others" and "cleave" to that loved one? The constraint of the love of Christ makes all the allurements of the world seem as pale as a streetlight glowing in comparison with the pure brilliance of the sun. Also, when we are yoked up with Christ, we find that He bears the weight.

This is what it means to "live by the Spirit" or to "walk in the Spirit." It is a constant choosing to say "No!" to temptation, and "Yes!" to the Holy Spirit. He never forsakes us, night or day, twenty-four hours a day. He is the One called to come and sit down beside us; He is with us constantly. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left," it is His voice that you hear "behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isa. 30:21, NIV).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Gold Tried In the Fire, 1983.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Man Who Confirmed God's Faith in Humanity

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Abraham is very important! If he were to fail in his witness, could it be that the knowledge of God and His plan of salvation might disappear from the world? It makes one tremble to think of it. Jesus and the apostles publicized Abraham as the "father" of all who believe--the world's example of what it means to believe in God. The gospel of justification by faith will live or die with Abraham.

The Bible story of Abraham is no glowing biography that conceals his sins and mistakes. His half-lies to the pharaoh of Egypt about Sarah his wife being his "sister," and again the same failure of faith in his affair with Abimilech, are all told openly. Not a very good beginning for the world's "father" of believing.

Then he demonstrates Old Covenant half-and-half faith in his attempt to help God keep His fantastic promise that he shall be the "the father of many nations" by suggesting to God that he make Eliezer, his trusted servant, his legal heir. God emphatically refuses this lame Old Covenant effort to help Him.  No, God says; "one who will come from your own body shall be your heir" (Gen. 15:2-4).

But Abraham still doesn't get the point. Again he stumbles and staggers in unbelief. "Your own body" means with Sarah his lawfully wedded wife. But Sarah is a bundle of Old Covenant unbelief; she bitterly blames God for her failure to be able to bare a child (16:2). She comes up with the bright idea of adopting her Egyptian servant girl Hagar and constituting Hagar's offspring as hers; again helping God out of His dilemma. If Abraham is to be "the father of all who believe," true faith should have had some discernment to recognize the fallacy of this counterfeit "faith." But he falls headlong into this trap.

He has already been "declared" to the world and to the universe that he is to be the "father of many nations" in faith, and he must live up to that divinely given reputation. If he fails utterly and completely in the end, God Himself will be disgraced.

Think a moment; if Abraham had refused, he would have proved God wrong. God has risked His reputation on Abraham, and the plan of salvation, too. He has already risked it all on Job, whom Satan declared would surely "curse [God] to [His] face" if He permitted Satan to torture him sufficiently (Job 1:11). But Job has passed the test; now Abraham is a new category of risk. He too must suffer this excruciating test, or the entire story fails.

And Abraham does pass the test; thereby he "saw [Christ's] day, and was glad" (John 8:56). He knew as much as any of us mortals can learn, what it meant for the Father to give His only Son for eternity, for us. Abraham tastes a tiny bit of that self-sacrificing love, and at last confirms God's faith in humanity. We can overcome! God will have a people, 144,000 in number, all "Abrahams" who have overcome as he did (Rev. 3:20; 14:1-5). All will enter the New Jerusalem through one of the gates of Abraham's descendants. Thank the Lord--we can still learn and also overcome.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Paper written November 2006, "The Triumph of Faith."
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: A Fantastic Promise in Joel

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a verse in the Bible that tells such glorious good news that many people hesitate to believe it. It seems to some theologians that it just can't be true: "It shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Joel 2:32). Can this really be true?

We scramble to see if there is something in the context that can discount that good news, some conditions to that promise that can get us out of the clouds back on the solid earth of works/fear-philosophy. But the context is talking about the signs of Christ's soon second coming, "wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire, ... the sun ... turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord" (vs. 31).

Then the fantastic promise. No context discounts it.

Today [Dec. 21, 2005] was my Aunt Ida's birthday. When she was not in the mental hospital, she lived with us; I was just a child of 10 or 12. I couldn't understand. I still don't understand why she was so fearful of everything. There were dark secrets hidden in closets in those days long ago.

I wish I had known enough in my childhood to have read this to her, and assured her that whatever preacher or church had told her bad news, or withheld good news, that this good news in Joel is of a Savior who truly hears and answers that cry from any human soul in distress. Anytime.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 21, 2005.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Can Fear Produce a Lasting Revival?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Fear has become heightened, and it’s true that terrorism, and natural and man-made disasters have become more frequent. Wickedness in high places is more publicized, and morality in general is discredited. The "signs" are unmistakable--"get ready," the end is near! But can fear and egocentric concern produce the revival and reformation that are needed? All through sacred history we read how fear never produced lasting revivals. What does work?

The gospel! It reaches human hearts, and motivates as fear can never do. A wise writer said long ago that when Christ approaches, He walks on a path of velvet lest His footsteps awaken fears when only the message of His love can motivate truly.

We are at present in a little "tarrying time" when each of us is being tested to see how deep and thorough is our heart-appreciation of that much more abounding grace of Christ. Nothing short of that will enable any of us to endure the trials that all of us know will surely come before the end.

In this time of the great cosmic Day of Atonement, God's people must have a clearer understanding of the gospel than any previous generation. This does not mean that God has withheld from previous generations that clearer understanding--He has never withheld it from anyone. The truth is simply that no previous generation was ever able to comprehend it.

You don't withhold from a flower girl at the Wedding the privilege of being a bride; she is just not ready for it. But the time must come when she grows up. Ephesians 4:14-16 tells us that the growing up process is "speaking the truth in love [agape]," turning aside from "every [false] wind of doctrine." The Good News is that the heavenly High Priest is more than ready to "shed abroad in our hearts" that precious gift of agape (Rom. 5:5). And the agape will cast out fear (1 John 4:18).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 7, 1999.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Have We Thought About the Innkeeper in Bethlehem?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Has anyone thought about the poor innkeeper in Bethlehem who said he had “no room” in his inn for Joseph and Mary and the Baby Jesus?

“I couldn’t help it! I didn’t know who Joseph and Mary were or who the expected Baby was!” he may wail. Ah yes, Innkeeper; but you could have given them your room! If you had done so, you would have gone down in history as the most blessed innkeeper ever.

The Innkeeper in fact is "us"; we never know from one day to the next what opportunity may suddenly be ours.

The Lord Jesus teaches us the significance of the most lowly opportunity that may confront us when we least expect something important. He says, “Inasmuch as you did it [anything good or bad] to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40).

The Lord is not trying to compile a list of all the bad things we have done or said in an effort to make a case against our entering His kingdom; He wants to amass a host of good things so that He can say to us individually and sincerely, in the presence of the universe, “Well done, good and faithful servant! … Enter into the joy of your Lord!” (vs. 21).

There is nothing that gives the Lord Jesus more pleasure than saying this to humble people who feel like they don’t deserve any honor in God’s kingdom.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 21, 2008.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Good News for Our "Global Warming" Fears

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The winter solstice occurs tomorrow evening here in California, an event loved by our pagan forebears in Europe, especially in Ireland and England. Now the dark winter days begin ever so slightly to lengthen; yes, there will be a spring! Time to celebrate!

By December 25 the lengthening of the day could be detected even without clocks or watches. Known as the "wild winter solstice," pagans in the Roman Empire frolicked without restraint. The celebration was taken over by the popular Church along with other pagan customs, the sincere idea being to make it easier for pagans to be "converted."

But there's some good news involved here that may encourage us in our "global warming" fears. The precision and never-failing repetition of the winter solstice remind us of the promise that the Lord God made after the Flood of Noah. All these thousands of years He has been faithful; His love for the human race has been revealed "in Christ." He will not permit again any global disaster to repeat what happened in the Flood: "The Lord said in His heart, 'I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, ... nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done'" (Gen. 8:21).

No matter how severe to mankind are the results of "global warming," there will be no more universal disaster. The Flood was permitted because "the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence ... for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth" (Gen. 6:11, 12). It was so bad that the Lord said, "every intent of the thoughts of [man's] heart was only evil continually" (vs. 5).

As terrible as evil is today, Scripture does not repeat that analysis; Noah "became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" and warned the world of the coming Flood (Heb. 11:7), but the Lord tells us in Revelation that there is now a worldwide potential for understanding and receiving the "Loud Cry" of purest gospel truth proclaimed by His repentant last-days' "remnant" church (cf. Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 18:1-4).

The Lord will not gloss over or despise this universal hunger in sincere hearts. "The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all those who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, and You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Psalm 145:14-16). Blessings are coming!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Only Luke Tells the Beautiful Story

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever noticed how many intimate details of the birth of Jesus that Luke tells? Neither Mark nor John say anything about His birth; yet Luke, a Gentile, gives us a clearer picture than even Matthew. Do you suppose in later years he sought out the Virgin Mary and interviewed her as a reporter would? Thank God she told it all to him! Could it be that Luke wants us Gentiles to feel welcomed into God's family?

Luke alone tells the story of the birth of John the Baptist (1:5-25).

And of Gabriel's announcement to Mary (vss. 26-37). Very intimate details.

He alone tells of Mary's ready faith-response, and of that giant sword of Goliath yet to be thrust through her heart (vs. 38; 2:35). Let your heart be pained in sympathy for her!

Luke alone tells of Mary's almost breathless journey up the hills to Elizabeth's home, so she could confide her gigantic secret with her closest friend (1:39-45).

We thank Luke for sharing her exquisite poem of thanksgiving (vss. 46-55), that seems so like the heart-broken Hannah's psalm of gratitude (1 Sam. 2:1-10). Mary shared some special "humiliation" with Hannah that made them kindred spirits (cf. Luke 1:48; Greek, tapeinosis--compare that word in Acts 8:33). Luke discloses a very literate, sensitive, and polished lady of exceptional abilities.

Only Luke provides us a fitting entrée to the thrilling story behind the birth of the world's Savior. A totally selfless man must prepare His way (Luke 1:57-80, John 3:29, 30); only a selfless people can prepare the way of His second coming (Rev. 14:1-5, 14, 15).

Only Luke tells the beautiful story of the shepherds ready to welcome Him (2:1-18). It humbles our pride just to think of it.

Don't let the din of the Season drown out the precious story. Linger over it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 22, 2002.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Your Father Would Love to Hear From You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jesus opened before us an eternity of happiness when He told us that we are to pray to "Our Father which art in heaven," and when we pray, to shut our "closet door" so we will be alone with Him in our prayer (Matt. 6:6-13).

Usually, our favorite time to "shut our closet door" and talk to Him is in the evening, after the day's activities are over and it's time to go to bed. But we read in Psalm 121:3, 4: The Lord will not "let your foot stumble. ... The Guardian of Israel never slumbers, never sleeps" (New English Bible). That means that all night long if you wake up, you can pray to "our Father which art in heaven." His Office is open, His "phone" is never turned off!

He would love to hear from you! Even if the only tale you have to tell Him is of woe, of failure, of sin, of mistakes; your heavenly Father is in the business of hearing such tales. And not only hearing them over and over, but He does something about them: He heals your soul.

Right there at midnight, if that is the time you are awake and suffering from pangs of conscience, He wants to communicate with you. Don't think it's only a one-way "phone conversation" with Him; He is responding to you. He is deepening in your soul a conviction of sin; but not only that.

He also "convicts" of righteousness. Jesus explains that this is true because "I go to My Father, and ye see Me no more" (John 16:10). He convicts you of how His character is different than yours, even though you cannot see Him in the flesh; this is always a ministry of hope.

Then, He convicts "of judgment, because the prince of this world [Satan] is judged," which means Satan is condemned in your life. Cast out (vs. 11). Thank your "Father which art in heaven"! Wait before Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 23, 2008.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sabbath School Lesson 12 | "Back to Egypt" | Pastor Paul Penno

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Hidden Secrets of Every "Shipwreck" Will Be Revealed

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If a ship sinks into the depths of the sea, is it gone forever? Many like to quote Micah 7:19 that says that when we confess our sins, the Lord promises to cast them into the depths of the sea. They ask, "Then why have an investigative judgment?"

But we have a problem here. Back in Micah's day, if a ship sank into the ocean, it was gone forever; but now, no longer. It's great business diving into wrecks on the ocean floor. Even the Titanic has been disturbed in its resting place in the North Atlantic where it has lain since that April night in 1912.

No, casting our sins into the depths of the ocean as an eternal resting place might not be the end of them. When God recreates the earth anew, He will also clean up the oceans. Heaven won't be what we want if the eternal ocean floor is forever littered with wrecks that remind us of this earth's sinful, cruel past, any more than if wrecked cars and burned out buildings will still cover the surface of the earth made new.

Some day the hidden secrets of every "shipwreck" will be revealed. So, sins that are hidden, even from our knowledge, must be revealed. And for those who are ready for Jesus to return, that means that it must all come out in the open beforehand in a judgment before He returns.

But that's not Bad News; it's Good News, ... because the deeper the knowledge of your sins, the deeper your heart appreciation of His grace. And no one can be happy when Jesus returns unless we have learned that lesson!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 27, 1997.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Motivation to Live for the One Who Died for Us

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We read that when Christ was crucified, the two thieves wrestled and fought with the soldiers who nailed them to the bars. In the final judgment when the lost face the second death, will they also fight against the justice of their fate?

We read in Revelation 15:3 that in the end all will confess, "Just and true are Your ways, O King of saints!" All will kneel before Him (Phil. 2:10). The final judgment will include an awakening to the full truth of their guilt before Heaven. Not one will have an excuse to plead. Not one will be able to shake his fist at God and charge Him with injustice, that He did less for them than He did for those who are saved inside the Holy City.

For those who will be saved at last, it will be true that Christ died for them, took their iniquity upon Himself, and died their second death as their Substitute. Did He do less for those who will be lost? Can they charge God with being unfair? Or do the lost pay for their sins themselves, as in the Hindu doctrine of karma, balancing their own books, paying up their debt themselves? They cannot charge God with any semblance of injustice; therefore it must follow, that Christ died the second death of the wicked as surely as He died the second death of the righteous as Hebrews 2:9 says, He "tasted death for every man." "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6).

But the lost will realize at last that they have deliberately despised and thrown away that which God had given them "in Christ." A wise writer has said, "The wicked see what they have forfeited by their life of rebellion. The far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory was despised when offered them; but how desirable it now appears. 'All this,' cries the lost soul, 'I might have had; but I chose to put these things far from me ... I have exchanged peace, happiness, and honor for wretchedness, infamy, and despair.' All see that their exclusion from heaven is just" (The Great Controversy, p. 668).

It will help us all today if we can anticipate that last judgment and also realize that Christ as the Second Adam has died our second death, has paid the full penalty for our sins. Then an appropriate gratitude and praise will fill our hearts, motivating us to live for the One who died for us. This is how we shall discover that Jesus' "yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 11, 2000.

Copyright © 2015 by Robert J. Wieland.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Story of "Pleasant" Turned "Bitter"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Let's pay a visit to Naomi (whose name means "Pleasant"), who repented in sorrow for her husband's Old Covenant unbelief. Elimelech was fortunate to be born an Israelite, which meant he was heir to all the promises God had made to their father Abraham. Best of all, his inheritance was in the most favored spot of all the twelve tribes--Bethlehem, "the House of Bread." Elimelech should have remembered how Abraham's faith was tested during a temporary famine in the "land that [God said] I will show you" (Gen. 12:1). Surely, Abraham's God would not permit Elimelech's family to suffer if they hung on by faith in Bethlehem until the economic recession was over!

But no, Elimelech heard there was prosperity in the heathen land of Moab. Let's provide for our children better than we've had for ourselves, he told Naomi; and the dear, sweet "pleasant" lady went along with his plans. Taking their two young sons, Mahlon and Chilion, they packed up and moved. She probably cheerfully told everybody goodbye; no more hard times for us! They would never give up the message, etc., etc., you know.

Well, Naomi's dear husband died, which was a terrible blow to her faith. But she still had her two fine young Israelite sons. And then the inevitable: growing up in worldly schools, they fell in love with worldly girls, and married Orpah and Ruth, pagan girls. Oh yes, they were good upright girls, but "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel" (Eph. 2:12). The boys had "married out of the truth."

And then they both took sick, and--horror of horrors--they died! Naomi was devastated. All the wealth they had accumulated was now a painful burden to her. She gave herself a new name--Mara, "Bitter." "The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. ... The Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me" (Ruth 1:20, 21).

But the dear Lord is not harsh. "Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord" says another man who repented bitterly for his people's Old Covenant unbelief (Jeremiah, Lam. 3:40). God had simply been forced to leave Elimelech to have what he had chosen--a pagan culture, and Naomi, one with him, had to suffer.

But read the story in the Book of Ruth to the end, and behold the goodness of the Lord. She "came back to the church," and did the Lord ever receive her!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 10, 2003.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Path to Bethlehem Will Lead On to a Cross

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a fascinating Christmas story tucked away, hidden, in the most unlikely place: a book called The Great Controversy. A special angel was appointed to visit the earth to find who was prepared to welcome the long-awaited Messiah. He visits the palaces of kings; the offices of philosophers, teachers, rabbis, the synagogue elders, the leaders of the one true church on earth of that day with headquarters at Jerusalem; even the high priest's palace.

Will the angel find anyone whose humble, contrite heart is longing for the coming of the long-awaited world's Redeemer? If he finds such a person, he will give him the glad news that He is about to be born! But sadly, he finds no one, and is about to return to heaven with the shameful news when he spots a group of lowly shepherds camping in the fields. They love to think and talk about the prophecies. They are not discussing politics, buying presents for each other, worldly possessions, or pleasures; they express their longing for the coming of the world's Redeemer.

The angel cannot contain his exuberance! He tells them the glad news and directs them to "the wretched hovel prepared for cattle" in Bethlehem where they will find the One who "unto you is born this day ... a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

As that angel encircles the earth today, visiting the homes, schools, churches of the people who claim to be God's one true people, does he find anyone talking about the coming of the long-awaited "latter rain" of the Holy Spirit? Does anyone care that it has been delayed more than a century?

Does anyone wonder why? Does anyone long for its return? Or is there a secret fear that if and when the blessing comes, a lot of worldly "fun" will come to an end? Yes, it's true: the path to Bethlehem will lead on to a cross, which anyone who follows Jesus will also bear.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 14, 1998.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Story of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The story of Jesus is the story of the great controversy between God and Satan. The Enemy hounded Him every day of His life on earth as the Son of God incarnate. No human being has ever been so hated, treated so despicably, as was Jesus.

His pain was not only during those few hours when He was nailed to the cross; it began with His boyhood. As a Boy of 12 He surrendered His soul to death on the cross when He said to Mary and Joseph, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). They should have known, but even His mother could not understand Him; and as His mother she had to endure the pain of a sword thrust through her heart as no other mother in history has ever had to endure (cf. vs. 35).

On and on through His 33-1/2 years of sojourn among us, Jesus in His sensitive human nature has had to endure the opposition of human beings inspired by the murderous hatred of Satan. Finally in His last hour of human breath He had to endure what no other human has--the sense of the horrible condemnation of the "curse" of God. "My God, My God," He cries in mortal anguish as death encircles His soul, "why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). He cannot even cry "My Father"! The loving Father has abandoned Him to be humiliated by the world; all are against Him.

When He told His disciples in Gethsemane, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" (26:38), He meant the real thing--not the sweetness of our desired sleep. He was "pouring out His soul unto [the] death" that is, the eternal curse of the Ruler of the universe (cf. Isa. 53:12). Darkness, loneliness forever! Peter says He endured the pangs of hell itself--the second death (Acts 2:27). Here is the "width and length and depth and height" of the "love [agape] ... which passes knowledge." (Eph. 3:18, 19).

Jesus has been forced to wait for 6000 years to find a church, a corporate body of believers, who appreciate His sacrifice in a sense adequate to enable them to "lighten the earth" with the glory of its message. The lukewarmness of His last-days' church (Rev. 3:14-21) is the biggest problem He has had in these millennia.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 3, 2006.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Youth Isolated From the Church--What's Gone Wrong?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why is it that so many youth who sincerely choose to follow Jesus and are baptized later grow cold and isolated from the church? It's easy to blame them, "They didn't hold on, they didn't persevere, they didn't obey, they didn't read the Bible enough, they didn't pray enough," etc. But they were sincere in their initial youthful devotion! And being young they were of impressionable minds.

Somewhere they picked up ideas that germinated and led to spiritual discouragement. All the socials, campouts, and fellowship sports that were intended to bond them emotionally with the church, failed to hold them in their late teens. A ten-day missionary trip to places like Mexico or Honduras encouraged them to think they had done their duty.

Paul's letter to the Galatians gives a hint of what has gone wrong: somewhere they have assimilated Old Covenant ideas into their impressionable minds. And that may not be their fault! In Galatians Paul reduces the gospel to a crystal clear idea: The New Covenant was God's one-sided promise to Abraham and his descendants to give them the entire earth made new for "an everlasting possession" and the righteousness necessary to inherit it "in Christ." The Old Covenant was the promise of the people at Mount Sinai to perform faithful obedience: "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8).

That Old Covenant became the fundamental thesis of Israel's understanding of God's truth, which culminated eventually in the murder of their Messiah. Thus Israel's history demonstrates that the covenant "from Mount Sinai ... gives birth to bondage" (Gal. 4:24). All efforts to fasten Old Covenant "promises" on children and youth are bound to "give birth to bondage" in their spiritual experience. One wise writer says, "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).

God doesn't ask us to promise Him righteousness; He asks us to believe His promises to us.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 5, 2000.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: The Great Controversy Won by Agape

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Of all the books of the Bible, the last one is where the Son of God is featured repeatedly as the divine One crucified, "slain," that the world and the universe might live and not die. He is seen there several times as "a Lamb as though it had been slain," apparently helpless, yet introduced to John as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David" who alone of all the inhabitants of earth and heaven "has prevailed" to take a mysterious book from the hand of the Almighty One who sits on the throne.

John knows that the book contains the destiny of every one in the universe, including ours. The future of eternity is at stake. Sin has threatened to turn heaven itself into hell. And it dwells in human nature.

John is overcome with anguish and cries uncontrollably because as our corporate surrogate he realizes that unless that "book" that seals the destiny of the universe can be opened, the very government of God is doomed. The "Lamb" alone can break its "seven seals" (Rev. 5:1-7).

In other words, unless the crucified One can prevail to open that book, we are all sentenced to die one minute after the world's midnight, like a lost man on Death Row who has failed in all of his appeals for clemency. To the relief of the anguished John acting in our stead, the crucified Lamb "prevails" to "take the book and open its seals."

How? He is the first being in the universe who dies to self, who "pours out His soul unto death," that is, the second death. The love that is agape has won the great controversy between Satan and Christ. That and not His physical might is the reason for everlasting praise to Christ!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 13, 2005.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: How Can You Know If God Is Pleased With You?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How can you know if God is pleased with you? You know He loves you because the Bible says He loves the world, that is, He loves everybody. But is He happy, really pleased with you personally?

We can't evade what Jesus says--in the final judgment He will be forced to tell "many" people who expect Him to congratulate them, "I never knew you!" (Matt. 7:22, 23). He loved those people, yes; but they were never one with Him.

The same picture emerges in the Book of Revelation when He feels forced to tell "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans," "You make Me so sick at My stomach I feel like throwing up!" (3:16; that's what the literal Greek says). The people so addressed have been naive, thinking that all is well with them, feeling "rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (vs. 17). They were so self-deceived they thought Jesus was pleased with them.

If there is anything we want to avoid, it's ending up in that condition. So, what can we do?

(1) Pray David's Psalm 51, realizing that we have no innate goodness of our own. It's only the grace of Christ that has saved us from whatever sins somebody else may be guilty of (that's the reality of corporate guilt). The ones the Lord is pleased with are those of Isaiah 66:2, "On this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word."

(2) The Lord doesn't go around behind your back, hiding reality from you. Have a frank visit with Him and ask Him straight out, "Lord, are You pleased with me?" You know He loves you for He loves everybody; but what you want to know is, "Lord do you know me? Am I "this one" on whom you "look"?

He will receive you and will answer your prayer. In fact, that's the precise business that Jesus is in right now!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 25, 2002.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Why Do We Serve the Lord?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We love to hear the story of David and Goliath, over and over, how he slew that giant with his well-aimed pebble (and the giant's own sword, of course). What was it that motivated young David to do this great deed? (The New English Bible says that young David had "bright eyes," clear vision, 1 Sam. 16:12.)

It's easy to understand: David's motive was not a desire to marry the king's daughter Michal, nor any reward King Saul could give him. He was thinking only of the honor of the Lord: "Who is this pagan Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?" He told Goliath, "I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, ... whom thou hast defied ... that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel" (1 Sam. 17:26; 45, 46).

Why do we serve the Lord, keep holy His true Sabbath, pay our tithe to the church, do missionary work, obey Titus 2:12 (NIV) by saying "No!" to ungodliness and worldly lusts? Is it that we are scared to give in to these lusts? Is it fear? Or has the Lord delivered us from this Old Covenant motivation of self-seeking? Are we now thinking of the honor of Jesus Himself? (It's so painful to Him, to be ashamed of us!)

The New Covenant motivation takes us to the cross of Jesus where we see for ourselves "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height" of the love of Christ (agape), "which passeth knowledge" (Eph. 3:18, 19).

What joy, to forget self and serve the Lord motivated by His love!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 30, 2008.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: David's New Covenant Psalm

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever thought of the 23rd Psalm as a New Covenant psalm? David is not asking for anything, he is not worried about anything; he is simply declaring how wonderful the Lord is to him. There is no bargaining with the Lord, no attempt to make an agreement with Him.

The Lord is his Shepherd; he will never “want” for anything. As a loving Shepherd, the Lord will make him to lie down in green pastures, will lead him beside “still waters,” will heal him, “restore” his soul, and will lead him in “paths of righteousness.” In other words, He will lead him in such a way that when life is over and David looks back, he will see that everything that has happened to him was the best, even though at the time he couldn’t see how.

That’s like the fantastic promises the Lord made to Abraham in Genesis 12:2, 3. (In Galatians 3:15-17 and in Romans 4:13 Paul says that those promises were New Covenant.) Abraham did not bargain with the Lord, strike an agreement with Him, or make a contract. The Lord simply promised Abraham the sky, out and out; no strings attached (read it--it’s astonishing). Abraham’s "part" was his melted-heart response, “I believe.” The lesson is clear; it’s what the Bible has been trying to tell us all along: righteousness comes through believing God’s promises!

David believed that “even though he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, the Lord is with Him.” Even in his last extremity, the Lord “anoints his head with oil and his cup runs over,” and therefore “goodness and mercy will follow him all the days of his life.” Good News for you today!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 22, 2004.

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: God's Better Way--The "New Covenant"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Good people ask the same question the Pharisees asked long ago, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (John 6:28). Israel was obsessed with that idea, and they promised God, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:8). That promise, made at Mount Sinai, was the "Old Covenant," and it bound Israel to legalism through most of their history until finally they crucified their Messiah.

But God has always had a better way--the "New Covenant," which is not the promise of the people, but the one-sided promise of God. It's not a contract or a "bargain" He makes with us. He promises to write His law in our hearts, and our part is to believe His promise. But the Old Covenant/New Covenant tension still exists today, and the inherent legalism in the immensely popular Old Covenant discourages and confuses multitudes, both in and out of the church.

Instead of our concentrating on what we must do, God asks us to look and see what He has done, and is doing. He taught this lesson to the people in the wilderness--"when he [the one bitten by a serpent] looked at the bronze serpent, he lived" (Num. 21:9). Jesus said that "serpent" represented Himself (exactly backward, we would think!), and our continual "perishing" will come to an end if we "look at" Him as a "serpent lifted up" (John 3:14, 15)--a Savior "made to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21).

"Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!" He says (Isa. 45:22). John the Baptist agrees, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Jesus says, "If I am lifted up [for all to see Me] ... I will draw all peoples to Myself" (12:32).

Paul saw his mission to turn people's ears into eyes and "to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery" (Eph. 3:9). John says, "Behold what manner of agape" (1 John 3:1--that's a refreshing sight to see!). Even Pontius Pilate preached one unforgettable sermon: "Behold the Man!" (John 19:5).

Here's Good News: "a great reformatory movement" is coming, for God "will pour on [His people and leaders] ... the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10). Behold that sight and you can never be the same lukewarm person!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 4, 2001.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Believing in the Goodness of the Lord When Everything Seems Impossible

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Modern men and women desperately need to live under the grace of the Lord; prayer must be the breath of our soul. There are dangers around us that people in the psalmist David's days did not have to meet--like cancer, automobile and plane crashes, stock market crashes, and our ever-present fear of terrorism. But David knew something only a few of us know--danger from wild lions.

He says, "My soul is among lions," and he used them as representing cruel people "whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword" (Psalm 57:4). People hated him simply because he was "the anointed of the Lord." However high the honor may have been that he was to take Saul's place as king of Israel, David had to meet opposition constantly. People "prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me," he says (vs. 6). Treacherous people, yet professed Israelites!

David's dwelling "among lions" was a type of Jesus living among cruel enemies; all around Him were those who "hated [Him] without a cause" (Psalm 69:4) simply because He was "the Anointed of the Lord." Those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4) must be prepared to "rejoice to the extent that [we] partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, [we] may also be glad with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:13). We can't be glad when we shall meet Him personally unless we have tasted His "sufferings"!

Anyone who truly follows Christ today will also meet the wrath of Christ's enemy: the reason why our modern "lions" have teeth like "spears and arrows" is because "the love of many [has grown] cold" (Matt. 24:12). It's been a mysterious ferment like that in the days of Elijah when Israel for a century had unconsciously drifted into Baal worship; the love of Christ had almost disappeared among God's chosen people.

David rebuilds his faith in the Lord while he is hiding in "in the cave of Adullam" and "in the Wilderness of En Gedi" (1 Sam. 22:1; 24:1). "My heart is steadfast, O God. ... I will sing and give praise," he says (Psalm 57:7). He believes in the goodness of the Lord when everything seems impossible (cf. Psalm 27:13, 14). Let's do the same.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 15, 2007.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Grab New Covenant Truth the Moment the Lord Sends It Your Way

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You may be one of many who look at the Old and New Covenants as boring--dry-as-dust theology, like memorizing the Book of Leviticus.

If you have learned Old Covenant ideas in school or in church, the idea of "following the Lamb wherever He goes" probably frightens you. Those Old Covenant ideas are subtle, like a virus that burrows "bondage" deep into your soul (Gal. 4:24). They get lodged and as long as you harbor them you find it hard to understand or believe the New Covenant.

Some dear saints may even warn you against too much New Covenant in your thinking. They say it's got to be "balanced" with appropriate Old Covenant caveats. The latter rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit (that will complement Pentecost) will be purely New Covenant; and they'll be afraid of it. It'll go over their heads and they'll sleep right through the glorious Loud Cry that will lighten the earth with glory (Rev. 18:1-4). It will be like the Jews who heard Jesus preach but never knew their Messiah had come; they missed everything.

As in the time of Paul, "devout and prominent women and the chief men" can try to squash any little spark of New Covenant life in your soul (cf. Acts 13:50). New Covenant gospel truth must be grabbed the moment the Lord sends it your way. "I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments," says the Psalmist (119:60; meaning, to treasure God's law as ten New Covenant promises).

New Covenant life is that "more abundant" one that Jesus promised (John 10:10). "You mean you'll never have any troubles?" You'll have troubles, but you'll never be alone in them. "The Lord is my Shepherd, … I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23).

No one on earth ever lived the New Covenant more fully than the Lord Jesus Himself. Was Gethsemane boring? The cross? Strenuously tempted, He held on to believing that His Father wouldn't actually "forsake" Him. Even on His cross when it seemed for certain that He had, Jesus wouldn't give in to the doubts that assailed the dying Son of God. He chose to believe the New Covenant promises right through until He cried His shout of sunlit victory that thrilled Heaven and earth, "It's finished!"

Life apart from Him is boring. What you may think can't be true is true: "In [His] presence is fullness of joy; ... pleasures forevermore" (Psalm 16:11). Yes, even in sharing His cross.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 31, 2004.
Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Dial Daily Bread: Is Christ's Second Coming "Imminent" or "Near"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is the second coming of Christ "imminent," or is it "near"? Is there a difference? "Imminent" is from a Latin word that means there is something menacing hanging over one as a threat. The Bible never uses that word in relation to the coming of Jesus! Rather, His coming is spoken of as "the blessed hope and glorious appearing of ... our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

The popular doctrine that the second coming has been "imminent" ever since the time of the apostles is not biblical, for it tends to weaken or even destroy "the blessed hope" in human hearts. That "hope" is not a selfish one, but an unselfish concern for the suffering in this world, and God's suffering. Must it go on and on? Is there no "hope" for the world itself other than the wars and bloodshed and suffering of the last 2000 plus years?

The books of Daniel and Revelation teach a time-frame of prophecies fulfilled that has brought us to a point in time beyond a vague "imminence" to "even at the doors" nearness. While it is true that we cannot know "the day nor the hour," that does not deny that the fulfillment of time-frame prophecies clearly reveals a "this generation" nearness.

The 1260 years of papal oppression of Daniel 7 and Revelation 12 and 13 have brought us to "the time of the end" (Dan. 11:35, 12:4), a "time" distinct from that of the apostles. The "signs" of Matthew 24:29 and Luke 21:25 have been fulfilled in historical pinpoint accuracy. Only one "sign" remains to meet complete fulfillment, that of Matthew 24:14: "this gospel of the kingdom ... preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come," says Jesus.

The "delay" has confused many youth, and must be faced honestly: Christ Himself has not delayed His coming, but His church has done so. The root problem is understanding what is that "gospel of the kingdom." Directly in respect to understanding "the gospel," Jesus calls on His church in these last days to "be zealous and repent" (Rev. 3:19), especially the leadership, the "angel of the church" (vs. 14).

A "rich and have need of nothing" pride is the root problem. Repentance is the key factor. And here is the Good News: something can be done!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Copyright © 2015 by "Dial Daily Bread."