Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Ultimate "Look" Before Us All

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Decades ago a magazine was launched that was entitled merely "LOOK." It consisted almost entirely of pictures. We humans love to "look" at almost anything of interest, always seeking some new knowledge or excitement.

The ultimate "look" eventually before us all is the sight of the face of God. Every one will most assuredly see Him--not just "the pure in heart," but also those who are impure in heart.

The tragedy is that those who are impure in heart will be forced to look against their will. They are described as crying to the mountains and rocks, "Hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne" (Rev. 6:16). That Face is the one sight they most dread to see. John says, "I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away" (Rev. 20:11), a Face that is brighter than the sun.

Why? Because that Face registers all the love, the agape, that led the Son of God to go to the deepest depths of hell in order to save the sinner; and the sinner has resisted and rejected that love, time and time again, and crucified the Son of God afresh by choosing to remain in alienation and rebellion. And now, at last he must come face to face with the One who has so loved him and blessed him, all this unacknowledged and unappreciated. Now he would give anything to live his mortal life over again. Jesus expressly says that He will not condemn the lost sinner in that day; but the condemnation will come simply by looking in the face of the One who was his Savior.

Could anything be more important than preparing for that moment when we look at that Face? "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," says Jesus, obviously meaning that they will "look and live," and not be afraid, for "perfect agape casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). It does so, beginning today. You can talk with Him--long before you have to see Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 18, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Sin We Don't Know How to "Confess"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There's a precious lesson in the story of good King Hezekiah that the church of today is hungering to understand--the truth of unconscious sin. He was a good "Laodicean," right at home among us, blissfully unaware of the true condition of his heart. Jesus says of Laodicea, You don't know your true condition of heart (Rev. 3:17). Neither did Hezekiah know.

When praying to be healed Hezekiah felt sure that "I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart" (Isa. 38:3), giving himself an A+. He was sincere! But he did not realize that buried deep inside his heart was sin waiting only an opportunity to manifest itself. "Regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart" (2 Chron. 32:31).

During those renewed 15 years, Hezekiah un-did the good done previously. Unconscious sin does not incur guilt, for we don't know how to "confess" it. We don't know it exists. But nonetheless, unconscious sin is lethal. It can crucify Christ afresh. (Jesus prayed for His crucifiers, "They do not know what they do!").

Hezekiah's sincerely unknown sin burst into the open when his pride took over with the Babylonian messengers sent "to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land," to hear the gospel. Instead, he deprived them of what they were hungry for, and regaled them with a display of his riches (denominational pride?). Result: (1) He opened the gate for Babylon's eventual return, leading to ultimate national ruin. (2) During these extra years he sired Manasseh, the most wicked of all kings (who caused rivers of blood to flow in Jerusalem's streets). The eventual national disaster was due to "Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah" (Jer. 15:4).

In this Day of Atonement, all buried, unknown sin must be brought out in the open, recognized, confessed, forsaken, and repented of, through the Holy Spirit's "conviction." That's what is happening today in the "cleansing of the sanctuary." One wise writer says, "Don't resist our Lord in His office work."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 26, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Christ's Last Great Struggle

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks extensively about the end of the world and of His second coming (see, for example, verses 12-15, 24, 29-31). Of all the books of the Bible, He selected one which He urged us to "read" and "understand"--Daniel (vs. 15). Yet seldom do pastors or teachers study that book. People may go to church for years and hear no sermon explaining it.

Daniel's key prophecy says that "unto 2300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (8:14). In Bible prophecy, a day is a year. In the early 19th century Bible-loving Christians awakened as from a centuries-long sleep to realize that those 2300 years would come to their end in 1844, on October 22. The Holy Spirit impressed many with this stupendous conviction; to this day, millions around the world recognize how history and Bible prophecy converge to render that point of time significant in God's plan for salvation.

We are living in the time of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary; in simple language that means we are living in the time when Christ as our great High Priest is preparing a people to be ready for His second coming--a greater work than preparing His people to die and come up in the first resurrection, wonderful as that work has been. It means that His people must live on earth during the cataclysmic last days when they will meet head-on the last temptations of Satan, but will "overcome even as [Christ] overcame." They will honor Him, and share with Him His throne. They will demonstrate His righteousness (Rev. 3:21).

But Revelation also discloses that Christ's last great struggle is with the blindness and lukewarmness of His own people who can't seem to grasp the seriousness of the time in which they live (3:15-19). Urgent as never before, He says, "Watch therefore" (Matt. 24:42).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 20, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus, The Pained "Sibling"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

A "sibling" is a brother or sister, and the Bible tells of many "sibling rivalries," jealousy and even hatred within the family circle, including the pain the boy Jesus endured in His own earthly family (John 7:5; Matt. 13:55, 56). Could "sibling" also refer to a "brother" or "sister" in the church?

Sin got started in heaven itself when Lucifer, the "bright and morning star" angel, became jealous of the Archangel, the Son of God. Was Lucifer's hatred the source of painful "sibling rivalries" the Bible speaks of?

How do we relate to someone who obviously enjoys gifts from God that we don't have, yet we are bound in that "sibling" relationship that makes the contrast painful? It seems to say, "God loves so-and-so more than He loves me!"

"He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast," while another just doesn't--through no fault of their own (Prov. 15:15). "Why does God favor the other instead of me?" "Why does so-and-so enjoy love in marriage, and I have divorce?" "Why does so-and-so revel in health, and I carry sickness-laden genes?"

Be careful before you condemn the apparently short-changed one and tell him or her, "Just be merry!" "Just get well!" "Just be happy in your loneliness!" It wouldn't be kind or loving for an eagle to taunt a chicken, "Just fly!" (Well, that doesn't fit; the chicken is happy not flying!)

The usual counsel from well-meaning people is, "Just pray!" And even that can be like Job's "friends," because the apparently short-changed one has been praying. It's a heavier taunt now to carry: "God answers so-and-so's prayers and not mine!"

Could the answer be--Jesus, the Son of God Himself, the pained Sibling? If yes, then we have some Good News. Revel in your oneness with Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 13, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Is Our Faith Alive and Working?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When He was among us personally, did Jesus praise anybody? In His parables, yes, He represented the Lord as saying "Well done, good and faithful servant" to some people, but do we have a record that He actually said that to any human among His contemporaries?

He said something nice about the poor lady who gave her "two mites" to the offering in the Temple, that she had "put in more than all" because "she ... has put in all the livelihood that she had" (Luke 21:2-4). But He said this behind her back, as it were. He told Peter that he was "blessed" because he boldly confessed his faith that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16, 17). But He seemed very reticent to praise people lest they become vain. That was love!

A notable exception seems to be Mary Magdalene. In her presence, He defended her before Simon and the disciples saying, "She has done a good work for Me," the word in the original meaning "exquisite" (Mark 14:6). He also said, "She has done what she could" (vs. 8). A classic understatement, for it meant that she had done all she could. He had declared that she had "faith," for it had saved her (Luke 7:50); now He added this, that her faith had "worked" to the utmost, being a picture for us of what Paul meant in Galatians 5:6 about "faith working through love." Faith is not genuine unless it does "work." A battery is dead unless it sparks.

The final judgment (that we have all dreaded) is not whether we have a "battery," but whether it's alive. God has given to every one "the measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3, KJV); that's not the last question--but, is that faith alive and working? Cross the poles of a live battery and it will almost knock you down, even though a dead battery looks exactly the same as a live one.

So let's not waste good breath praying, "Lord, give me some faith!" because He already has given it. And it's probably a waste of breath praying Him to charge our "battery" unless we "plug it in." The Lord is a wonderful Savior, but we must cooperate with Him; there is something sensible we must do.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 25, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Enter In, Leaving All Your Pride Behind

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible invites us to "think of God." And when we do, it is not to think of Him as some infinite electronic-like intelligence that pervades the universe, but we are to think of Him as Someone infinitely close and personal--"Our Father which art in heaven ..."

Sometimes we humans have had earthly fathers who left us confused and bewildered at the word "father." But here's what John 3:16 says to us--"God so loved the world [that is, every individual, personal sinner in it] that He gave His only Son for us [which means that He loved us more than He loved Him], who chooses to believe in Him should not go on perishing within himself, but should have eternal life [not an extension of our present worldly and often painful existence], but the kind of life that Jesus has in His resurrection life."

A child cannot "create" his father; but the way the Bible is speaking, the child [that is, us] can formulate a vision of what "father" should mean; that is included in the command to "believe." The Holy Spirit is personally present with every individual to make this a thrilling experience that you share with the Father in private.

Your personal memories of your earthly father may be deficient, but the heavenly Father is not limited by your personal, individual deficiencies; He has a road or route direct to your individual human heart and He invites you to "believe" in Him in His fullness of love (agape).

You may say, "Impossible! I've gone too far." You cannot have gone too far because the Lord Jesus Christ is your Savior waiting to be recognized until you draw your last breath; and if illness has caused weaknesses in your thinking ability, it is not too late for you to "cry to [Him] out of the depths," for there "is forgiveness with [Him] that [He] might be [reverenced]" (see Psalm 130:1-4).

So, here is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, opening the gates of the New Jerusalem so that "all who would might enter, and no one is denied." Thank Him! Humble your heart [you can't respond with a proud heart!], and say "Amen!" and enter in, leaving all your pride behind.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 19, 2009.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Most Highly Honored Religious Symbol in the World

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The cross today is the most highly honored religious symbol in the world. But in the first century A.D. it was the most terrible and dreaded. Runaway slaves especially were sentenced to crucifixion, and violent robbers. The sign of the cross and public crucifixions were considered necessary for the preservation of law and order in society. Robbers were crucified on the main roads, the awful sight intended to instill fear in the hearts of the public. The cruelty and shame were unspeakable.

And yet, ... think of it! When the divine Son of God became one of us incarnate, the people of God of His day (the Jewish believers in the Old Testament in Jerusalem) could think of nothing else to do with Him, except to shout in Pilate's Judgment Hall in Jerusalem ... "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" (Luke 23:21).

We can pat ourselves on the back in smug self-satisfaction, saying, "It wasn't me! I'm not to blame! I wasn't there!"

But "our beloved brother Paul" tells us that "the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). And in 1 John 3:15, the apostle reminds us that "whoever hates his brother is [already] a murderer." In other words, if our carnal mind is "enmity against God," that means that if we had been there that Friday morning as a faithful Jew in Pilate's Hall, we would have joined in the cry, "Crucify Him!"

The murder of the Son of God is the corporate sin of the human race; unknown to "us," indeed; but nonetheless there in those unknown, unrealized, labyrinthine depths of our souls. We have not been "tested" yet; the "test" is stlll future. A wise and inspired author says that the books of heaven record the sins that we would commit if we had the opportunity; that is not bad news, it's simple fact. They also record the good that we would do if we had the opportunity.

The Lord Jesus has been appointed to be our Judge in the final judgment; chosen for the job because He has been one of us and can sympathize with us. Let's be profoundly thankful that we have this, another day, for repentance. The Lord Jesus wants all of us to be saved, says 1 Timothy 2:3, 4. He is on our side; thank Him today that He is your Friend.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 16, 2009.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Every Meal, If We Have Faith, Becomes the Lord's Supper

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does the Bible have anything to say about the food we eat, our diet? Does God care about our eating? Have you ever known someone who has prepared a special gourmet meal for you as a guest, who hovers over you while you eat, hoping against hope that you like what he or she has prepared, and is disappointed if you express no genuine appreciation? Could God be like that?

Of course, we know that the Bible says that God created all the food which we enjoy; it says that He "satisfies your mouth with good things" (Psalm 103:5). Strawberries, for example. You won't starve for want of strawberries! God created them simply because they taste good (a little illustration of His love)!

The Bible also pictures God kneeling down and opening His hand to feed the little chipmunks and squirrels, and deer, and rhinos, yes, and us too: "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 145:15, 16). Can you imagine the heavenly Father getting so intimately involved with every one of us personally, as that? Yes! The Bible says so!

There is one more intimate detail in the Bible about our food: Jesus teaches that the temporal, daily food we eat is ours only because of His great sacrifice in giving Himself for the world. Here it is: "I am the bread of life. ... I am the living bread which came down from heaven, ... and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. ... Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:35, 51-53).

The people didn't understand Him then, and many were so offended by this that they "went back and walked with Him no more" (vs. 66). What did He mean? Just this: He says that the food you eat day by day is "My body which is broken for you" (1 Cor. 11:24). This is something startling! Every meal, if we have faith, becomes a sacrament, the Lord's Supper!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 4, 2001.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Insight Into the Daily Life of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Isaiah (the "Gospel prophet") gives us a precious insight into the daily life of Jesus in His incarnation among us. We read in the Gospels how sometimes Jesus would rise up "a long while before daylight, [and] He went out ... to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (cf. Mark 1:35). Doubtless, it was on such an occasion that the Father gave Him, through the Holy Spirit, the "outline" for that magnificent Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

Jesus speaks of Himself in Isaiah: "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned" (50:4). He didn't need an alarm clock; the Father woke Him through the Holy Spirit.

It was on these occasions that He was called to "go to school" where He learned to be so highly educated that His enemies asked, "How does this Man know letters, having never studied?" (John 7:15). In His incarnation, Jesus truly "took" our fallen human nature; as a Baby He had laid aside the prerogatives of His divinity and had to learn as all babies do; His mind at birth was a white page. His mother Mary taught Him to read the holy Scriptures; thence He took off on His own to study. It was through His own experience that He declared, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matt. 5:6). His own personal hunger and thirst for it were insatiable.

In Isaiah He tells us of His own reaction to being awakened early in the morning to go to school: "I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away" (50:5). One scholar translates Him, "I didn't pull the covers back over My head" (Peterson). Teens aren't noted for readiness to jump up early in the morning, but this One who was serious-minded was humbly responsive. The Lord has thousands of them today in readiness for when they understand the true outpourings of the Holy Spirit. They will be ready to lay self aside and cooperate with Him.

But this does not mean that Jesus deprived His physical body of the rest He needed. He was the picture of vibrant health and energy. The same Lord who awakened Him "morning by morning" also says that He wants us to get adequate rest and sleep: "He gives His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2).

Jesus wasn't trying to carve out a brilliant career for Himself to "rise and shine." He was simply following the leading of His Father (who, incidentally, is our Father, too!). If you can't sleep, get up and pray and study the holy Word; blessed are you if you can find sleep through simple prayer.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 16, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: How Agape Alone Can Meet the Final Test

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Bible prophecy tells us that fear and terror will constitute the final test of "the mark of the beast." So exquisite will be Satan's perfected method of temptation that he will sweep into his ranks all who then remain susceptible to terror imposed by the sinful slavery of fear.

"He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev. 13:16, 17).

Modern society is uprooted from its attachment to the land and agriculture, huddled in vulnerable heavily populated cities, utterly dependent for survival on economic integration, with peoples' minds conditioned by clever mass media presentations that specialize in horror movies and political herding. All this will combine to make death become the most terror-inducing threat that man has ever known.

And we can be sure that the author of "the mark of the beast" will also concoct a terror-inspiring spiritual fear through fiendish counterfeits of a false christ and a false holy spirit. Included in that final test will be his manufactured threat of God's eternal condemnation of all who dare to stand up for truth. If we are still subject to fear, down we will go!

This threat of starvation and of economic and social ostracism will terrify multitudes who have never learned agape by kneeling with Jesus in His Gethsemane.

But there will be a "remnant" who face this terror-inducing threat with holy calmness. They are described first of all as those "whose names have ... been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8). Fellowship with Christ in His capacity as the crucified Lamb is the secret of their fearlessness. They are also identified as "those who keep the commandments of God" (14:12). True keeping of the commandments is the experience of agape, for only "love [agape] is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:10).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: The Good News Is Better Than You Think, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Prayer Jesus Prayed That We Can Pray

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There's a prayer that Jesus prayed that we can pray, and we'll be happier for praying it. It was just before He worked the greatest miracle of His ministry--when He raised the dead Lazarus to life again. He wanted to be sure that the Father would hear Him, for everything depended on this prayer being heard and answered. "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me" (John 11:41, 42). We can know this, too.

No "voice from heaven" came this time to reassure Him; the heavens were as silent as before. He staked His entire ministry on His publicly expressed confidence that the Heavenly Father would honor Him before the people and before the world by granting His request. He poured out His soul in that loud voice when He commanded the dead man inside the tomb: "Lazarus, come forth!" (vs. 43). And you know what happened: Lazarus did.

Whether Jesus in His human nature needed the personal encouragement that an answered prayer could bring Him we do not know; but you and I need the assurance that when we pray, the Father hears us. When He commanded the dead man to "come forth," He spoke as our Representative. "Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. ... Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:23, 24).

He is not making empty promises; obviously He intends that we know what He means when He says to "ask in My name." All egocentric motivation has become outgrown so that we are caught up in His motivation, not ours; we are "in Him." We have "overcome" our childish prayers for a crown and now are concerned that the Lamb receive His reward. We want "the Lamb's wife" to "make herself ready" so that "the marriage of the Lamb" may be no longer delayed century after century (cf. Rev. 19:7, 8). What we now live for is to have a tiny part in crowning Him "King of kings and Lord of lords." Thus our "joy" becomes "full."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 30, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Strange Parable in Luke

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a strange parable in Luke 16:1-13 that has puzzled people for hundreds of years. What do you make of it? Some wise commentators have even suggested that Luke made a mistake in putting it in his gospel--that Jesus could never have said such a thing. And it does appear that Jesus is praising dishonesty! Admittedly, this is a hard nut to crack, but if we succeed, there's a sweet kernel inside.

What's the story? This manager worked for a rich man, and embezzled his money. When he knew he would be fired, he made friends with a lot of his master's debtors by cheating the master all the more, and ingratiating himself with them by slyly reducing their debts to the big boss. Then when he got thrown out on the street, he had some place to go; these people, grateful to him, gladly took him in. So at least he had room and board for the rest of his life.

Now, here's the shocker: the big boss praised the wit and cleverness of the rascal, and Jesus tells us to go and do the same. He says that such clever street-wise people have more sense than God's people! Now, what can this possibly mean?

It's obvious, the "Big Boss" in the story is the Lord Himself. It's not so obvious but equally true, the scalawag steward is us; yes, we have embezzled our Lord's goods. Don't try to argue out of it; we are eternally and infinitely in debt to Him. It's true, we have no righteousness of our own, not even 1 percent. Now comes the sweet kernel in the nut.

We're all going to get fired. Jesus says in verse 9, "when you fail." (The King James and New King James Versions are correct, not when it fails, that is, your money.) And it's not if, perhaps, maybe. It's when we fail, for fail we shall, for in the judgment we won't have an iota of our own righteousness to help us.

So, says Jesus, get busy right now and ingratiate yourself with needy people all around you; use what time or money you have left to make friends for eternity.

Then when you get to the "pearly gates" and you know you don't deserve entrance, some dear soul will step up and say to the Lord, "This person helped me out when I was in distress; he gave me the gospel, that's why I'm here. Please let him in."

That will make you happy!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 23, 1997.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Haunting Phrase in the Book of Revelation

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Seven times that haunting phrase is repeated in the awe-inspiring Book of Revelation: "He who overcomes ... " The idea is one of combat, hand-to-hand wrestling like Jacob's struggle with the Angel (Gen. 32:24, 25); like swimming upstream against a strong current, climbing a mountain, defeating a tenacious foe.

Does that idea of "overcoming" frighten you? Maybe you feel that you don't have the perseverance or basic "strength" to win the battle. Like weary refugees on foot who can't summon the energy to take another step, who drop down and die, the temptation to give up the struggle to "overcome" causes some to drop out of the Christian "race." They give in to their long-established habits and addictions.

Apathy is the last of the vices that we are invited to "overcome" in the famous "seven" struggles of Revelation: "Because you are lukewarm, ... I counsel you, ... be zealous and repent. ... To him who overcomes ... " (3:14-21).

Lukewarm apathy is spiritual weariness, loss of hope, boredom. It is the fundamental characteristic of Christ's true church in the last segment of time. The will seems paralyzed; it's the almost irresistible drowsiness that induces sleep at the very Gethsemane-time when the Master says, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (Matt. 26:41).  Have you ever fought to stay awake when every cell of your being cries out for sleep? We have come to that time in world history, right now!

Here is the "how" of overcoming: look again at that last of the seven promises to the "overcomer." "To him who overcomes, ... as I also overcame," says Jesus. Immerse yourself in the story of Jesus' overcoming, His battle, His victory. Ponder His struggle in the wilderness of temptation (Matt. 4:1-11), His Gethsemane blood-sweating ordeal (Matt. 26:39), the unspeakable battle with self as He hung on His cross (Psalm 22).

Yes, the battle is intense, but the means of victory is simple--"look." You can overcome the stupor of unbelief.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 8, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Hosea's Israel and Our Laodicea--An Identical Problem

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is the Book of Hosea the story of a finally lost love? If the world’s novelists had written it, the answer would probably have been yes. But Jesus Christ is in the business of restoring broken lives! Hosea’s love was not finally lost.

The prophet was reconciled to the Lord, obedient, and at-one. He loved Gomer with the love the Lord had given him for her, in spite of her infidelities. Her lovers had all failed her and she went down into horrible personal ruin. Later, her husband “bought” her in a slave market for a paltry sum (Hosea 3:2); how more deeply crushed could any woman feel who was once loved by an honorable man?

We hope that in some way the grace of the Lord Jesus could manifest justification and repentance to her clearly enough to rebuild a healthy sense of self-respect. No man could enjoy living with any woman with a shattered, unrestored sense of self-worth. The much more abounding grace of Christ teaches and imparts a healthy sense of sober appreciation for one’s own being and the gifts that He has given us with the measure of His grace realized (cf. Rom. 12:3; 2 Cor. 5:15-18).

We also hope that when this poignant drama ended, Hosea and Gomer could walk hand in hand and heart with heart in blessed reconciliation and mutual love, until death did them part. In fact, we know that, because the original love tragedy on which Hosea’s and Gomer’s story is based did end, or rather will end, in glorious restitution of love for the Lord (3:5). And the Lord is too good to His children to permit poor Hosea to end his life broken-hearted, when His, the Lord’s heart, will be restored.

The reason why this book is in the Bible? Hosea was the Lord’s last effort to save Israel from ruin by the Assyrians. They put an end to the kingdom in 723 B.C. after their impenitence was hopeless. Elijah had tried to save them some 150 years earlier; what made the problem most difficult was that under Jeroboam II the kingdom had enjoyed great prosperity and material success.

Just like Laodicea, the people and their spiritual leaders continually said, “We are rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing” (cf. Rev. 3:14-17). Hosea’s Israel and our Laodicea have an identical problem.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 26, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Sin God Cannot Forgive

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is a sin that God cannot forgive--not because He doesn't want to, but because it's impossible to. And the only reason why is because the sinner doesn't want it to be forgiven. He has made the decision to cling to his sin forever. That is why it is called "unpardonable." The Savior cannot force him to let go of it.

Is such a person happy after he has committed it? The common idea may be that no, he is very miserable. But it is more likely that he is remarkably carefree and lighthearted. He could be eternally smiling, even have a sparkling personality. The Holy Spirit is no longer convicting him of sin! Jesus said that His first work with any of us is this: "When He is come, He will convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). The holy nerve of conscience has been severed, and the sinner goes on through life with no voice getting through to reprove him of wrongdoing.

If the result of committing the unpardonable sin were a feeling of destitution, of woe, the sinner might desire reconciliation with God--which is what the Lord wants for him. The True Witness says to "the angel of the church of the Laodiceans," "I wish you were cold or hot" (Rev. 3:15). If the "angel" were "hot," he would be cooperating with the Lord Jesus; if he were "cold," he would be shivering with extreme discomfort and would seek the heat.

The Laodicean "angel" cannot go on forever in a lukewarm state; something somewhere, sometime, will have to change. For the "angel" to remain insensitive, lukewarm, is perilously close to a sin against the Holy Spirit.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Essence of Real Faith

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Satan, the fallen angel whose name was Lucifer, the highest of the created angels, claims that his invention of sin is invincible. Here on planet earth he claims he proves that human beings cannot overcome sin; just look, he says, at Christ's church--after these two millennia since the cross, the church is still "lukewarm" and worldly at heart. And the Bride of Christ still hasn't made herself ready.

The successful conclusion of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan requires that the church as "the body of Christ" "overcome … even as [Christ] overcame" and become a living demonstration of His power to save "to the uttermost."

That "overcoming" is what Christ says is the victory to be won in "the church of the Laodiceans" (cf. Rev. 3:14-21). Laodicea is the same as the "remnant" church of 12:17 and the same as those who "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" in 14:12. Obviously the triumphant Laodicea in the end will be the same as those special "144,000" of 7:1-4 and 14:1-5 (a symbolic number, we hope). They will be a corporate "Mary Magdalene," a mirror reflection of the self-is-crucified character of Jesus. Love (agape) will triumph.

The "Great Controversy" is like a war that ends with hand-to-hand, desperate fighting. The controversy is raging in each of our human hearts; it cannot be won in the corporate church unless it is also won in its individual experiences. Christ won the battle on His cross two millennia in the past; but that victory must now be demonstrated, lived out, proven effective before the world and the universe, in His people. They don't help Him save the world but they demonstrate that He has been successful in doing it (cf. John 4:42; 1 Tim. 4:10).

To this high destiny you and I have been called in these final scenes of the Great Controversy! This requires healthy self-respect "in Christ" (Rom. 12:3), which is the essence of real faith.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 13, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: "O Day of Rest and Gladness"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you learned to welcome, to appreciate, to enjoy, the holy Sabbath day each week? If so, you have also begun to appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ, because His presence is in the holy Sabbath. And that's Good News! To love the Sabbath, not only because it is a day of physical rest from the week's hard work and stress, but because--well, let's look at a beautiful hymn by the poet Christopher Wordsworth that crystallizes the joy of the Sabbath: "O day of rest and gladness, O day of joy and light." Yes, one day in the hectic week of cares, of pure joy!

"O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful most bright." Here we have a metaphor--the Sabbath is like soothing ointment for a wound. "Thou art a port protected from storms that round us rise." Have you ever been in a wild storm at sea with the ship tossing dangerously, and then felt the unutterable joy of gliding into a quiet harbor? "Thou art ... a garden intersected with streams of paradise," and then, "Thou art a cooling fountain in life's dry, dreary sand; [and] from thee, like Pisgah's mountain, we view our promised land."

That's a reference to the lofty top of what is also spoken of in the Bible as Mount Nebo, where the Lord led Moses to view the glories of the Promised Land before he went to sleep in the arms of God. From Mount Pisgah you can see far south to the Dead Sea as far as En-geddi, to the north as far as the snow-covered peak of Mount Hermon, and to the west to encompass what was in Moses' day the land the Lord gave to Israel.

And so, on each holy Sabbath day it is our privilege to catch a glimpse of brighter scenes to come, to feel the thrill deep in our souls of a joyous eternal life "in Christ" our Life-giver.

Don't miss out on this joy; it's free, just for the believing. "Remember" it all through the week!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 29, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Miracle of Unity Is Certain

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible speaks of unity within the church: how Christ prayed for it (John 17:20, 21), how Paul said that Christ's agape will produce it (Eph. 4:13-16), how the very doctrine of God demands it (vss. 2-6). But we have to face reality: churches often have disagreements and divisions, within one denomination and even within one church body.

Even after a literal reading of Genesis 1 and 2, there are powerful voices advocating evolution. There are divisions about ordaining women, about what music to use during church worship services, and on and on. And for many, "the blessed hope" of the soon second coming of Christ is receding into the background, and a materialistic earthly lifestyle is taking its place.

Why does disunion seem to flourish? And how can the church lighten the earth with glory if it is in a divided state? And what can bring the true unity that Christ prayed for?

There is a solution! If God is real and if His Bible is true, it follows that God will bring His people into unity.

What today seems impossible, the Holy Spirit will accomplish. He brought the disunited eleven apostles into unity before the Day of Pentecost. They were "all with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1). That was "the former rain," and the "latter rain" is promised to be even greater. God cannot use force to accomplish it. For Him to burn down churches or strike them with lightning wouldn't solve the root problem.

Ephesians gives us the solution: for those "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" is the message of agape (4:14, 15). Such a message tells what Christ accomplished, the pure biblical truth of justification by faith.

Christ has promised solemnly that if He is lifted up on His cross, that is, if His agape is clearly proclaimed, He "will draw all peoples to [Himself]," and that of course is perfect unity (John 12:32). If the leadership of a church that is being fragmented receives the precious message of Christ's righteousness, the miracle of unity is as certain as day follows night.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 24, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What Did the Apostles Have That We Don't Seem to Have?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does your heart crave the joy that filled the hearts of the early apostles? Yes! We are not satisfied with a dull, unenthusiastic kind of spiritual experience, common as it may be. What did the apostles have that we don't seem to have? They saw the significance of the cross of Christ! They also believed the resurrection of Christ; but the resurrection meant nothing without appreciating what He had accomplished on His cross.

Billions of Christians around the world all glibly profess that "Christ died for our sins." But how and why did He die?

To study for the answer is not an exercise in futility. Paul says, "God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14); and he told the Corinthians that he knew nothing except Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1-3). The light which will yet lighten the earth with its glory will be a revelation of the significance of that love revealed at the cross. Something about the cross will yet stir Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and yes, those billions of lukewarm Christians.

Did Christ die only as an alien millionaire stepping in briefly to pay our legal debt? The word used to describe this view is "vicarious." It's like someone who might offer to spend someone's time in jail or pay his fine--so he could go free instead. This is an exchanged transaction which leaves the human heart cold, or at best, lukewarm.

Or did Christ actually become one of us, the second Adam, and die as us? How closely did He identify with us? This view is a shared experience and lights the soul with unending joy. According to their testimony in the New Testament, this is what clearly fired the apostles' convictions.

If you want that kind of joy, know nothing but Christ and Him crucified; then His resurrection will mean new life for you in Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 13, 1997.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 07, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Has God Been Experimenting?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In my copy of the Holy Bible, 944 pages are called "the Old Testament," and 285 pages are called "the New Testament." The word "testament" is the same as "covenant." So 77 percent of the Holy Bible is called "The Old Covenant" and 23 percent is called "the New Covenant." Why this difference?

Are these two "dispensations" in God's plan of saving the world? Many hold to that view. They understand that the New Covenant began with the crucifixion of the Son of God.

But does it make sense that God has been experimenting, that He tried for 4000 years the Old Covenant method and finally decided that it didn't work, and now He is trying a new method? If so, can we really trust Him that He knows what He's doing?

Instead, the Bible is clear that God has always had only one method of saving people. It's called "the everlasting gospel" or "the everlasting covenant" (Rev. 14:6; Heb. 13:20). God is infinitely wise; He has not been experimenting using the trial-and-error method. Ever since the Garden of Eden He has had only one plan of salvation--"by grace through faith" (Eph. 2:8, 9). Christ is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).

Then why the two covenants? They are not two methods of salvation; they are two understandings of God's people through the ages, two opposite perceptions of God's plan of salvation, not two "dispensations" that He has used as experiments.

The Old Covenant was a "faulty" understanding of His people at Mount Sinai--God was not to blame for it. He tried His best to get them to understand His glorious "New Covenant" as Abraham understood it and was "justified by faith." But no, they were perverse; they themselves chose the Old Covenant idea. It led them to "bondage" and to finally torture and crucify our Savior (cf. Gal. 4:24). A young person can easily understand it (please read Galatians 3 and 4.)

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 12, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Greatest Hurdle of Many Christians

Dear Friend of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible clearly says something that some theologians haven't wanted to believe: "Jesus Christ the righteous ... is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:1, 2). Our dear brother John Calvin couldn't see what it says; he maintained that it meant only that it's just "the elect" in "all the world" who are meant; not everybody (Calvin's Commentaries, 16th century).

This still seems to be the greatest hurdle that many Christians have--understanding who Jesus is. He is "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42); He was sent to "give eternal life" to "all flesh" (17:2), to "give life to the world" (6:33, 51), He died the death which is the punishment for sin for "everyone" (Heb. 2:9), He became the second Adam of the human race, reversing all the "condemnation" that the first Adam brought upon the race (Rom. 5:15-18).

Why couldn't John Calvin see the Good News? What blinded his eyes? He was living in the "wilderness" of the Dark Ages, before the full light of the gospel was to be seen clearly after the 1260 years (Rev. 12:6). He was bound by the unbiblical idea that God's grace is "irresistible," that if God "wills" that a person be saved, that person's perverse "will" cannot "frustrate the grace of God." It means logically that a person is going to be saved even if he disbelieves to the bitter end.

But two great truths are being seen clearly in these last days: (1) the extent of the width and length and depth and height of the love (agape) of Christ that "constrains" an honest-hearted person to serve Christ forever (Eph. 3:18; 2 Cor. 5:14); (2) the terrible unbelief of people who want to "crucify Christ afresh, and put Him to an open shame" and reject the "gift" that He has already given them "in Himself" (Heb. 6:6). They are lost not because of any arbitrary decree on the part of God, but because of their own perverse will, their unfitness for the companionship of heaven. Nobody who "loves darkness rather than light" could be happy in heaven even if he was admitted (see John 3:18-20). So, in the end, God simply gives everybody what he or she has wanted, and has persistently chosen.

What are you choosing day by day, moment by moment? Self or Christ? Think deeply; the judgment is on now; today could register your final choice.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 18, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Fix Your Thoughts on the Story of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The faith of Jesus is the only one under heaven that promises eternal salvation to anyone who will simply look to Him. Here's what He says: "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (Isa. 45:22).

When in the desert after being led out of Egypt, the Israelites murmured against God's care and against His leading, poisonous snakes bit them. The poor people imagined that God had sent those poisonous snakes (Num. 21:5-7). What did He do to save them?

He had Moses make a snake out of bronze and put it on a pole and hold it up; then anybody who would simply look could be saved (Num. 21:8ff). It took a repentant, humble heart for anyone with a murmuring, unbelieving heart to decide to look.

Jesus told the story to Nicodemus on his night visit, and applied the lesson to Himself so we can have it: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:14, 15). He equated "believing" in Himself with their looking.

It's a Bible truth: Hebrews 12:3 urges us to "consider Him ... ." Same idea; harness your thought processes and fix them on the story of Jesus. "Think of Him" says the New English Bible. Unlock the door of your soul and admit the thought of Jesus; ponder Him; meditate on Him; stay quietly in the darkness alone with the Son of God, your eyes closed. That's what Jesus means when He invites us: "Go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place" (Matt. 6:6).

If you can't think of what to say, stay quiet and remain there. If all you can say is, "Father! Father ... !" Just stay there. You desperately need this moment of looking to Him alone.

You are no longer worried about getting to heaven. Instead, you are beginning to remember that time when you will be alone in the personal presence of Jesus. You are tasting a bit of what heaven will be like. Thank Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 1, 2008.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Get God to Smile at Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Are you troubled about your acceptance with God? If you knew that He is pleased with you, that He smiles at you approvingly, would you be happy? It gives such a good feeling inside to know that you are appreciated for what you are.

Now, my question is: do you have the assurance that God feels that way about you? Or are you afraid that He frowns at you?

When you feel that way, everything seems to go wrong. The Psalmist prays to God saying, "We have been consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance" (Psalm 90:7, 8). That is a statement of universal human feelings. So much so that most people simply banish from their minds any thoughts of God at all. They want to avoid Him like you would avoid a bad-tempered neighbor.

How can we get God to smile at us? The pagan says, "Offer Him sacrifices! That will make Him pleased with you." In fact, ancient Israel thought the same way, because Amos tried to straighten them out, telling them in the name of the Lord, "Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them" (5:22). Not far away from the pagans is our hope that all our righteous works will get Him to smile at us.

For God to smile at us with approval is the same as for Him to justify us, for that is its meaning. If your friend smiles at you with approval, it simply means that he or she justifies you.

Now the question is, are we justified in God's sight by our good works, or by grace through faith? We find the beginning of the answer in Matthew 3:17. When Jesus was baptized, the Father said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." That's what we want! When the Father said that, He included you! He accepted the human race, "in Christ."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 27, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Good News to the Last Page

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The last page of the Bible extends the final invitation, "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'" (Rev. 22:17). The Spirit is appealing to people who we may think are hopeless, and the church which is to be the Bride of Christ is to be in perfect sympathy with Him in His concern for them. Many more than we suppose will respond. God's true, honest people are still in the darkness of the world. They will take the place of those who will leave Christ in the last great crisis, who have long professed the gospel but have rejected it in heart because they have resisted the kind of self-crucified devotion to Christ that the cross demands.

Angels and the Holy Spirit still cooperate in holding back the final outburst of strife and plagues symbolized by the loosing of the "four winds" (Rev. 7:1-4). The entire world would be engulfed in ruin unless the Holy Spirit were restraining the evil that is about to burst loose.

But the Holy Spirit is being withdrawn from the world, not because He wants to leave but because mankind is steadily driving Him off. "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts" (Heb. 3:7, 8). The final sin against Him which is unpardonable is that last choice to reject His pleading when He says, "This is the way, walk in it" (Isa. 30:21). If we reject His conviction of sin and the remembrance of truth, then He is grieved and is forced to turn away forever. We are all rapidly coming to a final choice--to go all the way with the Holy Spirit and be sealed for the coming of the Lord, or to make a last choice to reject Him.

Only one thing is truly difficult for us--and that is to believe how good the Good News is. Our constant battle is to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12). Mankind is so held captive to unbelief that nothing can break through those chains except the truth of the cross of Christ and the full reality of the Holy Spirit's constant ministry. He is still the Vicar of the great High Priest who is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary.

His Good News is powerful. Stop resisting Him. Let Him lead you all the way.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Powerful Good News, 1989.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Is Fear an Effective Motivation for Following Jesus?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is fear a valid reason for us to give our heart to Jesus? Well, fear is an important element in the makeup of any human being. You look both ways before you cross a busy street. You remember you must pay the rent. You plan for a "rainy day." And Jesus plainly said, "Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). Noah was "moved with godly fear" when he contemplated the coming Flood, so he "prepared an ark for the saving of his household" (Heb. 11:7). Wise! He didn't want to drown.

But let's ask a second question: Is fear an effective motivation for giving our heart to Jesus? The other side of that same coin is a motivation of hope for reward. And no, fear, and hope of reward fail as effective motivations for being Christians because the result is the "lukewarmness" that Jesus says makes Him sick at His stomach (see Rev. 3:16, 17). A church crowded with lukewarm members is no satisfaction to Jesus.

Let's ask a third question: How does fear relate to love as motivation for following Jesus? John says that "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). That kind is a special love known as agape, which is different from any kind of "love" that we humans inherit through our DNA. It's the kind of love that drove Jesus to die for us on a cross, to die a different kind of death than any human has ever died--the equivalent of "the second death" (see Rev. 2:11; 20:14). Peter says Christ went to "hell" in order to save us (Acts 2:27).

If we "let" that love into our hearts, it will "cast out" our fear. Paul says that God is trying His best to persuade us to "let" that "mind" of Christ "be in you" (Phil. 2:5). That kind of love (agape) is stronger than the healthy fear that comes with us naturally. You may come forward in an altar call motivated by a healthy fear of being lost and a self-centered desire to be saved--a good beginning. But if you stay where you are, you will not grow spiritually.

Christ as our High Priest is preparing a people to be ready for His second coming--and that is not a "works trip," but learning to "comprehend" the dimensions of that agape-love (see Eph. 3:14-21). It stretches our little souls and "enlarges" our "hearts" (Psalm 119:32).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 23, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."