Monday, February 29, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Point of "Waiting on the Lord"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What do you do if your desperate prayers seem unanswered? Like calling someone you know is listening, but they never say a word in response. Like you're alone in a vast universe feeling, well, let's say it, "God-forsaken."

It's as Moses said, the "heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron" (Deut. 28:23). Anyone who has never had even a taste of that can only mouth helpful words that sound empty. Those whom God honors do have a taste, for it involves "the fellowship [of Christ's] sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). You can never enjoy "partaking" "when His glory is revealed" unless you have first been a partaker "of Christ's sufferings." This is the reason the Word says for you to "rejoice" (1 Peter 4:12, 13).

But this seems of small comfort just now. Let someone say something whom God especially called to nurture you (he partook intimately of Christ's sufferings). It's David in his Psalms:

"Wait on the Lord; ... wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14). Find some spot where you can "shut your door, [and] pray to your Father who is in the secret place" (Matt. 6:6; that's the Son of David). But the point in "waiting" is not to say words as you pray, for the truth is, you don't know what words to say! "We know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Rom. 8:26). So if you don't know what to say, don't just mouth words that you "know not." That's the point of "waiting on the Lord." Wait, so you can listen.

The Lord will give you some place where you can "shut your door," and such a place may be only the darkness of night (that's a good time to pray when everybody else is asleep). To get up and kneel before the Lord when you want to stay snug in bed won't impress the Lord with your virtue, but it will help assure you that you are serious.

Now wait before Him, silent, eyes closed, alone, just asking Him to convict you of the truth of your situation. Don't hurry; "wait." If you're serious you will "wait." You "will watch to see what He will say to [you]" (Hab. 2:1). His Holy Spirit will convict you of God's response, for Jesus promised, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." That is, by His Holy Spirit (John 14:16-18). Now it's time for you to do something--"believe ... that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). Wait.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 19, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: You Don't Have to Preach--Just Express Love to Someone

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is one prayer that will always be answered with a resounding "Yes!" from the throne of God. It's in Luke 11 where Jesus tells about the man who had an unexpected hungry guest show up at midnight and he had no bread to feed him. He goes to his neighbor, bangs on the door, wakes him, and asks, "Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him."

The point is, he is not saying, "Neighbor, I am hungry this midnight hour; feed me!" Rather, "Give me something I can pass on to someone else who is hungry."

And the dear Lord assures us, "He [God] will rise and give him as many as he needs." And then to underline the assurance, He adds, "Ask, and it will be given to you," that is, to pass on to others (vss. 5-9).

You end up as a pipe through which some drops of the water of life flow to someone else. That's heaven on earth! And of course you may never see the answer to your prayer this side of the new earth, but that's all right. Just praying that prayer is joy enough, and thanking Him in advance. Now you have something to look forward to in heaven beyond your previous selfish desires--looking in the eyes of some now unknown recipient of the blessing you passed on. And you don't have to "preach." Just express love to someone.

You find yourself in a verse in the Bible: "As the scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Me, streams of life-giving water will pour out from his heart'" (John 7:38, Good News Bible). That's good for developing a healthy sense of self-respect (you never forget where the "water" came from!). You discover that you are indeed a true "child of Abraham." One of those seven promises God gave him was, "And you shall be a blessing," not just receive one.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 31, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Shall We Stone "Stephen" Anew?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

I had never thought of it before (now it seems so obvious!)--when in Daniel 9 the angel told the prophet that "seventy weeks are determined [cut off] upon thy people" from the grand total of 2300 years (8:14; 9:24-27), that meant that the Lord was giving Israel 490 annual days of atonement as their last cumulative, corporate probation as a nation, 490 gracious calls from heaven! Talk about patience!

Peter expressed our usual sense of impatience with the shortcomings of other people with his question, "'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, ' ... Up to seventy times seven'" [490!] (Matt. 18:21, 22).

The annual day of atonement in ancient Israel was their call to corporate and national repentance. As it came each year on the tenth day of their seventh month, it was their invitation from heaven to ponder anew their sin of national rebellion against God that must culminate at last in the cruel murder of the Son of God--unless Israel as a nation in the meantime should repent.

Sporadic efforts were made from time to time, but never did the nation corporately grasp their divinely appointed calling. Always, since Mount Sinai, the Old Covenant had dwarfed their understanding. Now the Lord will demonstrate the extent of His forgiveness--"up to seventy times seven" solemn days of atonement passed over while unrepentant, the call unheeded. Then the divinely appointed limit. They stoned Stephen in 34 A.D., exactly 490 years after the beginning of their 2300 year prophecy.

Now we're living in the great antitypical, cosmic, grand Day of Atonement for the world. Thank you, Peter, for helping us with your question. Shall we stone "Stephen" anew?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 7, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Rescued From the Undertow of Sin

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Chemical dependency-addiction is as enslaving as "demon possession" in the Bible. It's useless to tell a victim to just stop and get over it! But what the Bible says is "sin" has a hold on us stronger than any chemical addiction. Both are powers that enslave; sin is the deeper root.

Ephesians says that this slavery is imposed by someone who once was a mighty angel in heaven but is now "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience," "according to the course of this world" (Eph. 2:2). And indeed it is death, for Paul says, "you ... were dead in trespasses and sins" (vs. 1). The Revised English Bible is clear: "We were ruled by our physical desires, and [we] did what instinct and evil imagination suggested. In our natural condition we lay under the condemnation of God like the rest of mankind" ("the children of wrath," KJV, but not necessarily the wrath of God, vs. 3).

Ultimately our problem is alienation from God. We sense loneliness from feeling forsaken by Him. Hopelessness and despair are the preconditions of all addiction to evil. Whatever the slavery, it thrives in the darkness of ignorance of the gospel or downright dis-belief of it. (The former can be healed; the latter may be very serious, for it involves religious people like those who crucified Christ.)

The word "salvation" includes more than a "pipe dream" of bliss after death. To be "saved" is to be rescued (as if you were drowning) from the undertow imposed by sin in all its forms. Paul says "the gospel ... is the power of God to salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Not as magic, so-called Christian miracles, which may be Satan's last-days' deception. The gospel is truth (Gal. 2:5, 14) that must be (1) heard, (2) read, (3) understood, (4) appreciated, and (5) believed.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 3, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Eternal Life Which Flows From the Cross of Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The last two chapters of the Bible have been a continual comfort to God's people who have "had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment," who have "wandered in deserts and in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth" (see Heb. 11:36, 38).

The water flowing out of the throne of God and the Lamb is that which Jesus promised to the woman at the well in Samaria, when He said, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10). Zechariah said, "living waters shall flow from Jerusalem," whose source, Jeremiah said, was "the Lord, the fountain of living waters" (Zech. 14:8; Jer. 17:13). Ezekiel was shown that this river was "water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed," a river bringing healing wherever it flowed (see  47:1-9). This is the eternal life which flows from the cross of Christ. We may taste of it here and now by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The "tree of life" is apparently like the "banyan" tree which can have two trunks. It joins at the top over the river, but grows out of the two banks on either side. Ezekiel saw the tree in vision: "Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine" (47:12). The food that grows out of this sin-cursed earth cannot sustain life for more than a few years. It has no real life in it. But the fruit of this tree provides both healing and eternal life. It will be both delicious and satisfying. And it will be free!

Why are the "leaves" of the tree needed "for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2)? Will people raised to life in the first resurrection need to be healed, or to grow? The Lord says, "To you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves" (Mal. 4:2). Sin brought the curse upon our present world. Floods, droughts, earthquakes, swamps, wildernesses, deserts, deathly sickness, ferocious animals, sorrow, fear, and human tears--this is the curse we know so well. As the "tree" was cast into the cursed waters of Marah making them sweet (Ex. 15:23-25), so the "tree" on which the Lamb of God died for us has taken away the curse.

With the curse taken away, no fear will drive us to hide from God. Adam once ran away from Him in the garden of Eden. Cain mourned bitterly as he cried to God, "I shall be hidden from Your face" (Gen. 4:14). Like a sigh there sounds throughout the Psalms the entreaty, "Do not hide Your face from Your servant" (69:17). Even Christ on the cross forgot the pain of the nail wounds as He sensed the hiding of His Father's face: "Why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46.)

The sweetest benediction in the Bible is the blessing, "The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace" (Num. 6:25, 26). Now, once again, the children of God will look on His face with joy and not be afraid.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: The Gospel in Revelation, 1989.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Learning to Believe Those "Seven Promises"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Surf the Internet, immerse yourself in the great libraries, and you'll never find anything as fascinating as the story of Abraham and his descendants--including the story of his One Descendant, Christ.

The one true but unseen God had called Abraham to abandon his home town and culture and trek the rest of his life in an unknown wilderness, throwing away all he could know as a career. God gave him seven grand but almost unbelievable promises (Gen. 12:1-3), and he was tempted to wonder what would happen if he did believe them. Would he become the most "blessed" man of all history, or would he end up as one suffering delusions of his own importance?

He found it extremely difficult to learn how to believe. None of the social or economic privations he endured caused him such agony of soul as his wrestling with doubt about those promises. Who was he? A fool, or the one through whom "all families of the earth shall be blessed"--the progenitor of the world's Savior?

This little essay invites you to consider who you are: you are Abraham's "descendant." No one will enter the gates of Heaven except as a spiritual "child of Abraham," for he is "the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16). That means you are also heir to those seven promises. And if you are human, you also have the same battle--to learn how to believe them. If you believe, you are a true Christian, "Abraham's seed." You are an heir "according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 26, 2009.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: How to Make the "Chef" Happy

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Could it ever be that something good that God Himself gives can turn into something bad?

The answer is yes, and an example is the manna that God gave the people of Israel in their 40 years of wilderness wandering. From its description in Numbers 11, it was an appetizing and nourishing food. Scholars variously describe it as "cakes fried in good oil," as "food newly baked," or like "wafers made with honey." Perhaps it was like delicious freshly baked bread; evidently it could be prepared in a variety of ways as a well balanced diet, and it was always appetizing. The Psalmist describes it as "angel's food" (78:25). Since God gave it to them, it was undeniably "good."

But the people had to eat it on the very day that it "fell" on the dew each morning. Moses told them, "'This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.' ... 'Let no one leave any of it till morning.' ... But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank" (Ex. 16:15, 19, 20). Something very good became very bad! It  had to be eaten when God gave it.

The manna is a symbol of the spiritual nourishment the Holy Spirit gives us day by day if we are willing to "eat" it. It's Bible truth, "fresh" each morning (Isa. 50:4, 5). The hungry soul finds things "new and old" in God's word that constantly invigorate him (Matt. 13:52). We are told to "bless the Lord"--in other words, make Him happy (Psalm 103:1, for example). How do you make a chef happy? You tell him his meal was super-delicious.

Now, ask the Lord for a second helping; tell Him you're hungry. That will make Him happy! There's nothing He loves more than to feed hungry people and watch them enjoy His cuisine. Eat His "manna" today. Learn to love it. Don't lay it aside until tomorrow!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 4, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Purest Gospel Truth Ever Penned

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord Jesus wants us to "hunger" for a morsel of the "bread of life" and to be thirsty for some "water of life." It's evidence that you're alive. We yearn for a grasp of the issues of truth that will be contested as we enter the final moments of this earth's history.

Today let's invite the apostle Paul himself to contribute to our "Dial Daily Bread" in his own words. He is writing the purest Good News gospel truth ever penned. He lays to rest contentions that have spanned centuries of conflict; he opens gates of truth that lead to the blessed experience that fills this cosmic Day of Atonement with meaning--heart reconciliation, at-one-ment with the Lord. Let's permit Paul's inspired words of Romans 5:15-18 to speak:

"God's act of grace [at the cross] is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many [that is, all], its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to [the same] so many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ.

"And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a [judicial] verdict of acquittal. ...

"It follows, then, that as the result of one misdeed was [judicial] condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act [the cross] is [judicial] acquittal and life for all" (Revised English Bible; all responsible versions agree).

It's purest sunlight, so simple and transparent a child can grasp it.

Read it over and over, word for word; let your mind grasp the truth God has for you in it. It's "most precious." Add it to your repertoire of memory classics like Psalm 23 and the Lord's Prayer. Romans here gives us the "bread of life" we hunger for, the "water" we're famished for that flows from the throne (Rev. 22:1).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 6, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Final Ministry of the Lamb of God

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,

What practical down-to-earth difference does it make in one's daily living what he believes about Christ? Is He ministering as High Priest in the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary (the second), or is He still absorbed in His first apartment work? Where is He?

A Christian writer with keen perception says it means everything. It's either getting ensnared in Satan's clever last-days' counterfeit, or getting involved with Christ's genuine work of preparing a people to receive the seal of God versus the mark of the beast. The latter will become an extremely subtle imitation. The issue will end up either bowing down to the false "christ" in the final test, or bowing before the true Christ.

In other words, those who finally decide to receive the alluring "mark of the beast" are even now day by day preparing. Apparently insignificant "self" choices today build up a massive case ending in a judgment of intense ultimate self-condemnation.

Likewise, those who finally choose to receive what Revelation calls "the seal of God," "let this mind be in [them] which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). They choose this way of thinking now, day by day. They "let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16). They choose moment by moment to let the Holy Spirit hold them by the hand as they "walk in the Spirit" (see Gal. 5:16; Isa. 41:10, 13).

It's simply choosing to surrender one's natural selfish alienation from God in order to "be reconciled" to Him. It all comes through the final ministry of the Lamb of God, your true High Priest.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 25, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Special Privilege for Poor People

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Abraham Lincoln said that God must love the common poor people, He made so many of them. God also loves the rich people, but they need to be reminded that all they have is given them by His grace.

Poor people seem to be especially dear to the heart of God, according to the Bible. They are usually happier, says Jesus: "Blessed [happy] are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3). "The needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever" (Psalm 9:18). "The helpless [poor] commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless" (10:14).

David was once a poor person; he tells us about it: "This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles" (Psalm 34:6). He "delivers the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him" (35:10).

Don't be ashamed to be poor, for there is a special privilege that you enjoy. David says, "I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me" (40:17), and all kinds of blessings He has "provided from [His] goodness for the poor" (68:10). If in addition to being poor, you are "sorrowful," you are being "set ... up on high," and He "hears" you in a special way (69:29, 33). For those who are "poor and needy," He is in a special sense their "help and ... deliverer" (70:5). It seems almost as though God is partial to poor people!

For sure, Jesus knows how to sympathize with them, for when He was on earth, He was poor, all His life. A carpenter accustomed to building houses for other people, He says He "has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). If He had left temporal heirs, they would have gotten nothing except His clothes--and the soldiers got to them first.

If you are poor, lift up your head and rejoice: you have something in common with Jesus. Remember, He hears your prayer, and He will answer.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 15, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Heart That Is With All Disappointed People

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Behold the compassion of the resurrected Jesus! One might think that in the enthusiasm of His newly resurrected life He is eager to be off on His new assignment in the heavenly sanctuary, but His heart is with His disappointed, discouraged ones here. His name is still "Immanuel, which is translated, 'God with us'" (Matt. 1:23).

Two men who believed He was the true Messiah are on their walk to Emmaus that afternoon of the "first day of the week" of the resurrection. Never have they known such crushing heart pain. It goes deeper than any human can fathom, for it is the pain of defeat in the great controversy with Satan; the death of Christ means the ultimate victory for Satan.

These two men feel they must conclude this: they are not mourning the loss of their own personal salvation so much as they mourn the grand defeat of God. The world (yes, the universe) is now to be plunged into hopeless despair! "We were hoping that [Jesus of Nazareth] was going to redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21)--and to them "Israel" was the only hope of the world.

The heart of the resurrected Jesus is with them as they trudge disconsolately toward Emmaus. He now teaches us that His heart is with all disappointed people all over the world, in all time. He joins these two men incognito and gently encourages them with Bible truth: "Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (vs. 27). He is already doing His work as our High Priest! And so He ministers to you today--if you will allow Him to join you in your "walk."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 22, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Promise of Soul-Winning Success

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord has mercy on anyone who has sinned away his life and confesses the truth. The Savior knows what failure feels like--no one has ever been "forsaken of God" as He has on His cross; that experience enabled Him ever after to sympathize with people who at last know they deserve to be forsaken of God, and feel heartbroken.

The Bible is full of "come's," inviting those who know they have sinned:

(1) "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden" (Matt. 11:28). Who? The angst-laden souls convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit.

(2) "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). Note: the invitation is specific: just those who are thirsty. You must feel it.

(3) "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). This "come" will be spoken in the last Judgment Day, but if you come to Him as a sinner today you will revel in anticipating those words at last, for you will know and believe today that the kingdom was prepared for you from that long ago. That's included in justification by faith.

(4) In the wild storm on the lake, Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and begged, "'Lord, ... command me to come to You on the water.' So He said, 'Come'" (Matt. 14:25-29). He was totally unfit to walk on water, yet the Lord did not discourage him from doing what he wanted. He never discourages you in your desire to honor Him and to bless your fellowmen.

(5) "He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, "Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17). How can He make you become a soul-winner? Simon and Andrew have moved aside; the call is now to you. Keep on "following [Him]." "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a serving to seven, and also to eight" (Eccl 11:1, 2). That's a promise of soul-winning success. Be patient, and let it be fulfilled in you.

(6) "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid [hinder] them" (Mark 10:14). We must pray for forgiveness for blocking their way so often! When they see us as humble fellow-sinners, they will respond.

(7) To rich and powerful people (in this context), Jesus says, "'Come, take up the cross, and follow Me.'" We (He means all of us) are to "sell whatever you have and give to the poor'" (10:21). At this juncture on His great, final Day of Atonement, that makes good sense.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 1, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Stay Close to the Cross of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

With One Grand Exception since Eden, every human soul has been born with a heart empty of love (agape). Only Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem was agape in human flesh because He was God in human flesh, and "God is agape" (1 John 4:8). We all need our empty, naturally self-loving hearts to be filled with agape. "The love of God [agape] has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom. 5:5). There is nothing the Holy Spirit likes to do more than "pour" agape into empty human hearts!

In 1 John 4 the righteous are the ones who "know God," and the wicked are the ones who are "not of God" (vss. 6, 8). It's clear: our final exam when we "appear before the judgment seat of Christ" will consist of one question--have you learned to love with agape (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 John 4:7)?

It's interesting that a few years ago on the eve of Valentine's Day, the media reported scientific findings that a broken heart can kill. The usual cause of a broken heart is love betrayed, leaving a person bereft, forsaken, and hopeless. It was His broken heart that killed Jesus on His cross when He cried out, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46).

But being forsaken in human love is not really the problem: it's the awful fear of being forsaken by God also (it's very real!). If you have suffered a disappointment in love, stay close to the cross of Jesus.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 14, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Mystery Unraveled

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A mystery comes unraveled when we compare Hebrews 4 with Exodus 19. The problem has been to find out what God actually said to Israel when they were at Mount Sinai. Scholars have wrestled over this for centuries. Now it comes clear with the help of that New Testament book of Hebrews.

In that confrontation just before God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone, He made a generous proposition to His people. But the King James Version makes it sound like He told them, "If you will get a perfect record in obedience to all My commandments, then I'll bless you." And of course, the people wanted that blessing, so they promised, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do" (Ex. 19:4-8). The bottom line idea that many have had is that the Lord Himself was to blame for starting the Old Covenant with all the misery and ruin it brought on ancient Israel.

But investigation reveals that God had nothing to do with forming the Old Covenant. It was the people's idea, 100 percent. The mysterious word translated "obey" in verse 5 is shamea in the original language, but "obey" isn't its primary meaning. It means, "listen to My voice" (the word "voice" gives it away, so "we" should have seen this centuries ago).

Here's where the New Testament book of Hebrews comes in to help us. We see where and why the Old Covenant was a failure from the beginning: "the gospel was preached ... but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it" (4:2). It was useless hearing, without faith "mixed in"!

This insight makes the Hebrew verb shamea in Exodus 19 come alive: what God proposed to Israel at Sinai was, "If you will listen to My voice and not at the same time brace yourselves against what I am saying, if you will listen with faith 'mixed in' with your listening, I promise you that you will be the most wonderful people on earth, etc., etc."

Thus it is clear that what the Lord wanted to do at Mount Sinai was renew to Israel the same New Covenant He had promised to Abraham, who listened to God's "voice" with faith "mixed in." The legalism problem wasn't God's fault, but Israel's.

And the Good News for us is this: if we are struggling with sin and selfishness (who isn't?), the remedy is to listen to what the Lord says, and at the same time stop resisting what He says. Listen with faith. Listen and believe. Then will come all the obedience we're so concerned about.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 7, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Message That Will "Lighten the Earth With Glory"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible specializes in Good News which is "the power of God to salvation" (Rom. 1:16). There is power in the word itself, as there is in the seed that sprouts. Those who wait for the second coming of Christ will demonstrate that power so fully that their message will "lighten the earth with glory." The message itself, not their personalities nor any goodness in themselves, will call believers to "come out of [Babylon], My people," and honest-hearted people will respond to the "voice" from heaven (see Rev. 18:1-4). Nothing will be able to hold them back from stepping out boldly to honor Christ in the closing work of the gospel.

The message will be proclaimed not just by one or two super-gurus, but by a multitude of voices all over the earth. God can use people trained in literary institutions, provided self is humbled and crucified with Christ so their ministry draws listeners to Jesus and not to themselves, but often self has gotten in the way and marred the picture.

Baal worship has delayed the finishing of God's work in the earth--the worship of self disguised as the worship of Christ. In the last great work as the truth is proclaimed powerfully, God will use humble people who are called from "the plow" as Elisha was called (1 Kings 19:19).

What will bring about this great development? The Bible is clear: the experience of justification by faith, which is the same as the experience of righteousness by faith. The faith itself will "work by love," the love of Christ (Gal. 5:6), not our own love. There will be no self-righteousness in this wonderful work that lightens the earth with glory. When self is laid aside, gets out of the way, the cross of Christ can be uplifted clearly, because self will be "crucified with Him." Then He will "draw all peoples to [Himself]" (John 12:32).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 12, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Storm Is on the Way

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Every rainy winter we here in California see the same heart-breaking pictures: luxurious homes built on shifting foundations sliding down cliffs, even into the Pacific Ocean. (But yes, while they lasted, the owners had glorious views.)

This must have been a common sight in Jesus' day for He draws a lesson from it. He likens those who build a house of religious belief on falsehood to those who build a mansion on a sand dune with an ocean view. They are "foolish," He says (Matt. 7:24-27). Note, He doesn't call them "wicked."

This introduces us to one of the most pathetic and tragic aspects of church life: sincere, devoted people who can't tell the difference between Bible truth and fanaticism. They are not wicked people, they don't rob banks or commit adultery, but they spin wild theories out of Bible texts wrested from common sense contexts. Almost every church, no matter how small, seems to have one (or more) of these extremists who keep promoting their ideas. They mainly misconstrue Daniel and Revelation, but there is a solid-rock, common-sense understanding of those prophecies, and it developed in the Great Second Advent Movement of well over a century ago. The rain and storms of opposition have "beat on that house; and it did not fall."

But every departure from that clear-cut prophetic truth has resulted in a "house built on the sand," and as "the rain descended, [and] the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; ... it fell." It has left the extremists looking "foolish." But fanaticism doesn't mind the acute embarrassment of appearing naked and foolish before the world and before heaven!

To change the metaphor, Revelation 16:15 says, hang on to your clothes; all those nightmares you've ever had about appearing naked in public will be fulfilled unless you study Daniel and Revelation and know for sure what is that bed-rock foundation of truth. Heaven's Weather Service says the storm is on the way.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 9, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 08, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: That Wonderful Word "Rest"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The best Good News you will ever hear comes from the lips of Jesus when He says, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). In the Greek Old Testament used in the days of Christ (LXX), that word "rest" is used continually to describe what one gets in keeping the Sabbath. Why is this true? Because His presence is in the Sabbath. At a time when Moses was afraid to face each new day with its problems, the Lord promised him, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Ex. 33:14).

When we keep the Sabbath holy, when we cherish that precious gift He gave us from the Garden of Eden, as each Sabbath steals upon us with the setting of the sun Friday evening, we enter anew into the presence of Jesus. On that day He meets with us in a special way. Yes, He is with us every day, but He is with us in the program of work. He says, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work" (Ex. 20:9). So, in the market place, the factory, the school, the office, wherever we go about our labor on the "six working days" (Ezek. 46:1), the Lord is with us in a working capacity. He Himself was a carpenter.

So we work with Him side by side these six working days. But on the Sabbath, Jesus lays down His tools, closes His carpenter shop, and goes to the house of God with other people who also "come" in response to His invitation, and we rest "with Him." He teaches us; He comforts us; He encourages us; each new Sabbath day we "learn of Him," for He says, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me" (Matt. 11:29). We learn more and more about who He is, what it cost Him to save us, why He had to die on a cross. And our souls are knit with His soul, we become one with Him, His joy fills our hearts. And then comes verse 30: "My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

The joy of keeping holy the Sabbath day of rest is not merely physical rest (good as that is!), but the rest of soul; a day of heaven on earth. That wonderful word "rest" means rest from self, rest from anxiety. It's what the Bible speaks of as "justification by faith." You won't want to miss this precious gift!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 31, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Can the Bible Be Understood, Just as It Reads?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can the Bible be understood, just as it reads? Can a simple, uneducated person understand the Book of Revelation as he reads it? Or has our heavenly Father, Source of all wisdom, "sealed" that last Book so that we common folk need some university-trained scholars to explain it to us?

These are serious questions, because common sense tells us that scholarship of itself is not evil. But common sense also tells us that there is a vast amount of confusion about Revelation in the so-called scholarly world. You can't read very far into the Bible without meeting up with warnings against it:

"Take heed that no one deceives you," says Jesus, "for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Matt. 24:4, 5). Paul tells of a vast satanic conspiracy to corrupt the teachings of Jesus within the church: "After my departing savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things" (Acts 20:29, 30).

He refers to Daniel's inspired prophecy of a "falling away ... first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. 2:3, 4). That's Daniel's simple "little horn" prophecy of chapters 7 and 8.

Now, what about the common man? Has God remembered him, to save him from being confused and deceived? Suppose, for example, there is a family huddled in the war-torn ruins of their bombed home, reading the Bible by candlelight. They are impressed as they read the Gospels that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the Savior of the world, that the Bible is the authentic Book of God; can they understand Revelation? Can they recognize who "Babylon the great" is (Rev. 14:8; 18:1-4)? Can they have a confident first-hand grasp of saving truth?

That last Book of the Bible says "Yes!" "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, ... the time is near" (1:1-3). Believe that promise as you read Revelation!

--Robert J. Wieland


From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 29, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Does God Judge Nations for Their Apostasy?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Num. 27:16), judge nations for their apostasy? The Bible answer is yes.

Consider Israel, God's own special people. He did not personally chastise them physically, but He was forced to abandon them to the tender mercies of their enemies. For their deep apostasy, the northern kingdom was left to the Assyrians who put an end to it.

The southern kingdom learned no lessons from them, and God was forced to let them fall into the hands of the Babylonians. Due to the apostate deceitfulness of King Zedekiah and his court, the judgment was very severe. Jeremiah had to suffer through it like the rest.

King Nebuchadnezzar, for all his harsh rulings, had an honest heart (he eventually wrote a chapter in the Bible, Daniel 4); but his grandson Belzhazzar apostatized from what uprightness there had been, and Daniel 5 records the "decadence," Mardi Gras feast, that brought God's judgment when the kingdom came to its end by the Medo-Persians. They had some regard at first for justice. Then they had their two centuries of probation, and their apostasy brought the end of their empire to Alexander the Great. On and on it goes.

Does God keep an account of the nations today? The more light a nation has had, the more severe will their judgment finally be. The fall of ancient Babylon remains in the New Testament a metaphor to describe God's coming judgment on the nations today (Rev. 14:8; 18). But let us remember that always in God's dealing with individuals and nations, "in wrath [He remembers] mercy" (Hab. 3:2). He is still the "God [who] is love," the world's heavenly Father (1 John 4:8; Matt. 6:9). Don't doubt the truth: He is love all the way through!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 9, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What Held Jesus on His Cross?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The dear Lord, our Creator and Redeemer, has given each of us a "mind," that is, the mental capacity to think for ourselves, to choose which way we want to go. Sometimes we say, "I have a mind to do so-and-so," that is, we have made a choice.

"Our beloved brother Paul" has told us that our natural "mind" is "enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God; nor indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). That is, the "mind" that we have inherited from our fallen father, Adam. It's not only the seat of our consciousness, but also the choices we have made about what to do with the life that we have. This carnal "mind" will direct our paths toward eternal loss unless we surrender it to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But we don't know how to do that unless we learn from Him. He says, "Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do Your will, O My God, and Your law is within My heart'" (Psalm 40:7, 8). Jesus was the first Man on this earth ever to say that!

He took upon His sinless nature our fallen, sinful nature so that it was as difficult for Him to give His "mind" to the Father as it is for us; He knew that the choice to give His "mind" to the Father was a path that must end on a cross where He, "self" for Him, was to be crucified.

That "self" for Jesus was as difficult for Him to give up, to surrender, as self is for us to surrender; His commitment, "I delight to do Your will" and "Behold, I come," was the choice He made not only in heaven before He came to earth but all through the 33-1/2 years of His life among us. Not the least difficult choice He ever made was His choice to stay on the cross when His enemies were deriding Him and telling Him that if He is indeed the Christ, the Messiah, "prove it!" and come down from the cross.

Once, when I was talking to some children, I asked them, "What was it that held Christ on His cross?" They answered, "The nails." To a child that seemed the logical answer to my question. But I explained to them that all the nails in the world could not have held Jesus on His cross; what held Him there was His love for us.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 8, 2009.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Are You Sure of Your Own Identity?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In His incarnation, the Son of God met and wrestled with the same kind of problems that we have to deal with. He "was in all points tempted like as we are," not the least of which was to be sure of His own identity. Can you resonate with Him in that problem? Doubtless He wrestled with it all His earthly life (even on His cross!), but it was most severe in the weeks following His baptism when He had to make a fateful decision that determined the success or failure of His life mission.

He had just heard the Voice from heaven that said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matt. 3:17). Actually, the message was not new to Him, for He had already read it in Isaiah 42:1 and Psalm 2:7.

But the enemy of our souls came at Him in the wilderness with the insinuating, sneering question: "Who are You? You are nothing! If You were the Son of God, do You think God would leave His 'only begotten Son' out here alone in this forlorn wilderness with wild animals, hungry, uncared for? If You are the Son of God, prove it; put Your convictions to the test. It's only reasonable--command that these stones become loaves of freshly baked, delicious bread. Surely, if You are the Son of God, He doesn't want You to die of starvation!"

Jesus couldn't argue with the devil; it was a fact--He was emaciated, hungry, lonely, apparently forsaken. Everything seemed to be against Him, and in Satan's favor. Jesus must now decide: Shall I trust the Word of God? Or shall I trust My feelings? Who am I?

"It was the word [alone] that declared His connection with heaven," says one wise writer. In that fearful temptation that called forth every ounce of His spiritual energy, the fate of His mission was settled: He would trust the Word of God to resolve the question of His identity. The struggle was so exhausting that He almost died then and there; but He had won the victory.

So must we win--that same Voice that spoke at His baptism speaks to us, for when the Father embraced Jesus, He embraced us too, "in Him" (Eph. 1:6).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 7, 2000.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 01, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Chosen by God

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When you were a child, did God give you a special message? Not like a prophet (Jeremiah was called from the womb of his mother), but some special conviction that you were to be a servant of His in some way? God calls youth even today; young hearts are impressible by the Holy Spirit.

But if Satan knows you have been so called, he will try to harass you to get you to abandon your dreams. When Joseph as a child naively told his dreams to his older brothers and his father (Gen. 37), Satan listened and determined to make life as miserable as possible for Joseph, to break his allegiance to God.

The enemy inspired his older brothers to sell him into slavery in Egypt. On that same day as the teenager sat in chains on his way there, his soul thrilled with a resolve that he would dedicate his life to the God of his fathers. Plenty of tears, yes; but no bitter rebellion, no hateful prayer that God take His Holy Spirit away from him and never come back. Remembering his childhood dreams, he consecrated his entire life to God and by the grace of Christ chose to be cheerful and trustful--come what may.

Whoever you are, young or old, you are also chosen by God to be His special agent in some way. You feel unworthy? Well, God's problem is that He can't find anybody who is worthy. There is somebody somewhere who needs a message of encouragement from Christ, but He has a problem that is detailed in 1 Corinthians 12:21: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" If the Head is Christ, who are the feet? We are! It's humbling to read that the Head needs us!

Joseph re-created the story of Job. When he refused to transgress the holy law of God by yielding to the charm of Potiphar's wife (it was a powerful temptation, or else he wouldn't have run for his life), Satan tortured his soul again by having him thrust into prison.

It's quite possible that you too have the privilege of honoring Christ in some severe trial. The Head needs you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 5, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."