Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What Is Baal Worship Today?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The great prophet is here! God promised to send Elijah "before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5, 6). But don't look for a solemn white-haired old man with a beard down to his toes, pronouncing woes upon us.

Jesus said that Elijah had already come in His day, but the disciples had missed him, even though Jesus' day was not the "great and dreadful day of the Lord." "Elijah" is not necessarily or only a physical person; "he" is a message that God sends.

What happened in Jesus' day? The message of John the Baptist fulfilled the promise of God. So, in our last days, there's a message that God is sending just as startling as was Elijah's declaration that no dew nor rain would fall on the land of Israel until he, Elijah, gave permission (cf. 1 Kings 17:1).

John the Baptist's message startled the people in Jesus' day, and God sends a special message that startles the Christian world today--that of three angels in Revelation 14.

The first angel says, The hour of God's judgment is here right now (vss. 6, 7). Not only that God is judging us; He has submitted Himself to judgment--is His administration of the government of the universe upright and fair? He is facing the cosmic rebellion of Lucifer (who became Satan, 12:1-4, 7-9).

The second angel says, Get out of Babylon (14:8), which means confusion. The same message came to Abraham--get out of the great city of "Ur of the Chaldees," out of your father's family; nothing must hold you back from following the Lord (Gen. 11:28; 12:1). That's what Elijah says today (he says it in love).

A great falling away from the truth has happened to the Christian church in general (cf. 2 Thess. 2:3-7). Daniel predicted it (7:7-25); the second angel's message tells the Christian world what to do.

Elijah, standing alone on Mount Carmel before King Ahab and Israel, faced down the prophets of Baal, defeated them and brought the nation to its knees in repentance (1 Kings 18). This massive realignment of human souls worldwide is what "Elijah" is doing today.

"Baal" was the common word for "lord" in Elijah's day; but it was a false christ for that day. Baal worship today? It's the worship of self disguised as the worship of Christ. "The hour of God's judgment" goes deep in penetrating our motives.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 27, 2008.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Saved From Our Stupid Mistakes

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

David has endured these trials for years, and prayed earnestly. But finally the strain proves too great even for his faith. In 1 Samuel 27 he gives in to unbelief: "And David said in his heart, 'Now I shall perish someday by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape to the land of the Philistines; and Saul will despair of me, to seek me anymore in any part of Israel. So I shall escape out of his hand'" (vs. 1).

Sorry, David; that was raw unbelief. The great progenitor of the Messiah has stumbled. His faith was not perfect when he sought refuge among the enemies of God's people.

David made friends with Achish, their king. Then the problem became critical when Achish, determined to conquer Israel, "said to David, 'You assuredly know that you will go out with me to battle, you and your men'" (28:1).

David is now in a terrible predicament. How can he refuse to help Achish who has apparently saved his life? And how can he, anointed to someday be king of Israel, join in a war against his own people? If you have fought against your own people how can you someday become their shepherd?

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 6, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: God's HELP WANTED Sign

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

God has a HELP WANTED sign in His window. Seriously, it's a job opening that He needs desperately to fill. Even though He is omnipotent, He is helpless to fill this vacancy Himself.

The position is that of foot in His body--the lowest job. Specifically, the Bible says that "the Head" (that is, Christ Himself) "cannot say ... to the feet, 'I have no need of you'" (1 Cor. 12:21). The "body" especially needs feet or it cannot go where it should.

This job opening that God has is glimpsed in Ecclesiastes 9: "A great king ... besieged [a little city] ... and built great snares around it." Its case appeared hopeless. But apparently someone prayed: "Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city" (vss. 14, 15). Wonderful!

But did the citizens stage a parade in his honor? "Yet no one remembered that same poor man." Being that "poor wise man" whom no one notices--that's God's job opening, right now.

He has always found it difficult to find qualified applicants, never more so than today. Just as the Vice President has an office very close to the Oval Office in the White House, the successful applicant for this job in God's "office" is close to Christ Himself. The two have something in common: Christ was [in reality, is] "despised and rejected by men" (Isa. 53:3). "The Redeemer of Israel ... [says] to Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors, to the Servant of rulers: ... He has chosen You" (Isa. 49:7). The job carries most unusual perks.

Don't be scared, be humble but honored. Do your duty and be happy--close to Christ.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 21, 2002.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Why Do We Have So Many Troubles?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever wondered why you have so many troubles? (I am assuming you have them; I don't know what to say to people who never have any troubles.) Why do your prayers sometimes get answered with a "No!" when you begged the Lord for a "Yes!"?

The really important people in the world are those who have troubles, whose prayers are sometimes not answered as they want, the people who suffer disappointments and pain, yes, even poor people, even persecuted people. There is something in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 that helps us understand.

Our heavenly Father permits us to have these painful experiences for two main reasons:

(1) So we can learn compassion for others. We live in a world that is full of suffering, where people need sympathy and comfort. The Lord has no way to comfort those people and encourage them unless He can find some people who share His compassion, His feelings for them. So your heavenly Father permits you to feel a need for His comfort and encouragement precisely so you can give comfort and encouragement to someone else! "He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God," says Paul (Good News Bible).

(2) By knowing pain and suffering we discover that we have fellowship with the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Verse 5 says: "We have a share in Christ's many sufferings." That's how you and I get to know Him! As soon as you learn to believe this Good News, your sufferings and your pain are invested with a new meaning: you see that they are not in vain. They enable you to experience fellowship with Christ, and fellowship with God's children who suffer. When you help them, you help Christ.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 6, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Can Satan Fool People Into Thinking He Is Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that Satan can fool people into thinking that he is Christ? If the answer is yes, this would be the most monstrous deception the world has ever seen. Jesus was clear in warning us that in these last days Satan will do that very thing: "False christs ... will arise" (Matt. 24:24). And if anybody lets Satan deceive him, he would be someone greatly to be pitied.

Many say, "I know what Jesus looks like. I can't be fooled." But don't forget that if Satan can make himself look and act and talk like Christ in order to fool people, he can also produce a false "holy spirit." And that's where the problem starts; where the deception becomes the most clever and subtle (and diabolical).

And yes, Revelation 18 does say that in these last days "Babylon the great" will be filled with a counterfeit of God's true Holy Spirit (see vss. 2, 3). It will be everywhere you look. "And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [Satan has them!] also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:14, 15). Can you think of anything more serious?

How can we distinguish between the true and false? When the ancient Jews faced Jesus, they asked the same question, and concluded that their view of God's law settled the issue. So they crucified the Son of God partly because they thought He wasn't keeping the Sabbath correctly.

Jesus said the first evidence we have of the true Holy Spirit working is that He gives a conviction of sin (John 16:7, 8). In contrast, the counterfeit "holy spirit" makes us feel good about ourselves.

The true Holy Spirit gives us a deep, disquieting hunger and thirst (Matt. 5:6). But the counterfeit leaves us satisfied with our spiritual condition. The natural result? An absorption with the pursuit of entertainment and worldly things.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Asking God the Wrong Question

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It's a question that has been asked for many years: Why has the second coming of Christ been so long delayed? He told us clearly that there would be "signs" that when we should "see all these things, know that it is near, at the very doors." For a long time now, "we" have seen the "signs." And then Jesus adds, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled" (Matt. 24:33, 34). The question is, What does "near" mean? What "generation" did He mean?

According to Daniel 11:35 in the context of his prophecies, "we" have been living in "the time of the end" ever since the close of the Dark Ages of persecution (the "wearing out of the saints," 7:25, KJV). It's this age of "increase of knowledge" and worldwide missionary activity.

The Books of Daniel and Hebrews are complementary and make clear that we are living in the cosmic Day of Atonement, the antitypical time when the great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary is performing His final work of preparing a people for the long-awaited second coming.

So, when we ask the question, How soon is "near"? we are really asking, How long will the Day of Atonement last? And when we ask that question, we are really asking a deeper one, "How long will it take the High Priest to cleanse the sanctuary from the sins of His people" (see Dan. 8:14)? And the answer has to be, Not long, if His people will let Him do it. He cannot force them to be reconciled to Him. The cleansing of human hearts must precede the cleansing of the sanctuary, according to Leviticus 16:29, 30. That is as true in this antitypical Day of Atonement as it was in the Levitical typical day of atonement "in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month."

And so our ultimate question must be, How "near" is the time when God's people will permit their great High Priest to do His work in their hearts that He longs to do? According to Hebrews 7:25, "He is able" to do His part "to the uttermost [perfectly]."

So, in the final analysis, we started off asking the wrong question. It's not for us to ask God "how long," but He is asking us, "How long?"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 6, 2000.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Lesson in Grateful Living

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In olden times men relied on their horses. Alexander the Great had a famous horse named Bucephalus, which he trusted. But David's Psalm 33 proclaimed that "no one can rely on his horse to save him, nor for all its power can it be a means of escape" (vs. 17, The Revised English Bible). Bucephalus was not the source of Alexander's military success!

To translate this into modern language, it means that you and I dare not trust the stock market or international economics as our salvation from hunger. Even the best business savvy is "the wisdom of this world [and that] is foolishness with God." "If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. ... 'The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile'" (1 Cor. 3:18-20). This is not to despise sound business wisdom, but the Lord long ago told the prophet Jeremiah the truth that we all need to grasp:

"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord" (Jer. 9:23, 24).

Our loving heavenly Father has not promised us the wealth of this world, but He has promised to care for us if we will remember reality: "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? ... He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, ... who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: ... bread will be given him, his water will be sure" (Isa. 33:14-16).

That may not be fancy, gourmet fare; but someday we shall be profoundly thankful for it. It makes the Lord happy when He can see that we appreciate what He provides for us. If it's whole grain bread and vitamin rich vegetables and fruits, we shall be more healthy. Wesley said that "cleanliness is next to godliness." If he were with us today he might add that eating whole grain foods is "next to healthful living." Happiness is trusting the Lord and appreciating all that He does for us!

There is a lesson in grateful living we want to learn now: "Godliness with contentment is great gain. ... And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim. 6:6-8).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 26, 2008.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: A Miracle Experienced Worldwide

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Reading stories of human heroism is a popular pastime. But contemplating human heroes doesn't change one's heart or transform a sinner into a saint (for example, idolizing sports heroes).

But here's a miracle known and experienced worldwide in any culture or language: reading Bible stories does change the heart; in the process it makes a bad person become a good one. It's proof of biblical inspiration.

Cell phones are a phenomenon: you can be in touch at almost any time with anyone anywhere on the globe. But with the Bible in your hands and in your heart, you're in touch constantly with the noblest and best people of the human race of all time. No, it's not through Spiritualist séances; you don't communicate with dead people--the Bible condemns that as contact with evil angels who fell from heaven with Lucifer, the devil.

What happens instead is that through your reading the Bible with a heart that believes in Christ you experience actual identity--fellowship with those Bible characters of all ages--through the work of the Holy Spirit. You identify with them in their experiences of learning to know God. Not through a movie or TV screen, but through the Holy Spirit you enter into knowing Him. It's beyond the realm of normal fellowship with humans, but through the Bible "he who walks with wise men will be wise" (Prov. 13:20).

By a heavenly osmosis more real than any earthly science, you receive the life of Christ through the Bible. Cherish that hunger and thirst for righteousness; the Lord promises that you shall be filled (Matt. 5:6).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 7, 2005.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Mighty Sovereign of the Universe--Your Father and Friend

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Do you like to think about the myriads of stars and the vast constellations scattered throughout the infinitude of space? Just look up at those stars tonight, and imagine if you can their glory. Then think of this globe on which we live, the astounding complexity of its numerous forms of life, and the billions of human beings on it, each created in the image of the Creator of this vast universe.

No human mind can begin to comprehend this infinitude of creation. Isaac Watts caught a little of the heart-thrilling realization of two truths: Watts has been considering "the thunders of His hand, ... and all His mighty works," the greatness of God's creation, and His lowly condescension to us:

"And will this sovereign King
Of glory condescend,
And will He write His name:
My Father and my Friend?
[You have to pause here, and let your humbled heart marvel.]
I love His name, I love His word;
Join all my powers to praise the Lord!"

Yes, look up at those stars tonight, and then ponder--that mighty Sovereign of that vast universe is your Father! Yes, and your Friend. All because of His Son Jesus, who has fully adopted you into that "Family of God" (see Eph. 3:14, 15), at an infinite cost. He actually died for you, died your second death, suffered hell in your behalf.

Think that one through; how can you possibly go on being selfish? You can't--not if you believe the Good News (see 2 Cor. 5:14, 15).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: July 16, 1998.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The "Conference" on the Mount

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

“The dead in Christ” are all asleep, awaiting the first resurrection at the second coming of Christ” (Rev. 20:6; 1 Thess. 4:14-17; John 5:28, 29). But Moses was granted a special resurrection (Jude 9). He would doubtless have been granted translation without experiencing death as Enoch (Heb. 11:5), but Moses brought shame and disgrace on the Lord by losing his temper at Kadesh (Num. 20:7-13). In anger he struck the rock twice to bring water to the people rather than speak the word as the Lord had commanded him. In so doing he had given the people the impression that he--not the Lord--was providing their water.

But after he was especially resurrected, one would think that Moses would be lonely in heaven, for human companionship, except for Enoch and Elijah who were translated, for all the others who have believed in the Lord are “asleep.” But surely God would give Moses something meaningful to do. And we have a brief glimpse in Matthew 17 of his assigned work; God sent him to minister encouragement to the Savior of the world in the "conference" on the Mount of Transfiguration (vss. 1-3).

Moses had an experience that enabled him to come close to Christ. His heart had been “enlarged” (cf. Psalm 119:32, KJV) in his appreciation of the sacrifice of Christ. He was qualified to minister to Christ. He and Elijah shared this deeper insight so that the two of them were sent on this unique mission. In his love for God’s people (“the congregation in the wilderness,” Acts 7:38) Moses asked for his own name to be blotted out of the book of life if thereby he could save Israel (Ex. 32:32, 33). That is a rare love--it’s agape! It motivated Christ.

The love that Moses knew did not precede the love that moved Christ; Moses learned it from Him, for Christ was first. But what’s important is that he did learn it! He opened his heart; he did not resist it. Moses had a point of intimacy with Christ. He was qualified to attend the conference on the Mount and speak words of encouragement to Jesus. Thank God that he did!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 18, 2006.
Copyright © 2016 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Dial Daily Bread: Learning to Believe Like Abraham Did

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Ask anyone and they'll tell you they'd rather live under the New Covenant than under the Old. But what does that mean? What practical, day-by-day benefit or difference can it be?

The New Covenant impinges on you directly, personally, individually. It's the promises that the Lord God made to Abraham and his children to give them everything: the whole earth for "an everlasting possession," plus the everlasting life to go along with it, plus the righteousness necessary to inhabit the new earth (2 Peter 3:13). And on top of it all, meanwhile, the happiest life possible here and now while you await the coming of Christ and His new earth.

All seven of God's promises to Abraham are yours (Gen. 12:2, 3). And best of them all, the promise to make you to be a blessing to other people as long as you live and wherever you go ("you shall be a blessing, ... and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed"). Yes, that's promised to you.

It's the full spectrum of the 23rd Psalm placed as a gift directly at your feet, as though it was written especially for you. Henceforth you "shall not want." "No good thing will [the Lord] withhold from [you]." Beyond your wildest dreams, "the Lord will give grace and glory" (Psalm 84:11; read the entire psalm, it's blessed good news).

You were born with a natural tendency to dis-believe all this Good News. At best, you were born a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, both of whom spent the greater part of their lives in disbelief of the New Covenant and in submission to the Old Covenant.

Probably you've spent years walking in the shadows of doubt. And now it's the hardest thing you've ever done to believe all those promises wholeheartedly. (That's the only hard thing about being saved eternally--learning to believe like Abraham did.) But thank God you have a new day; you can choose to believe, and pray with the distraught father of Mark 9, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief" (vs. 24). God will never despise that prayer!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 9, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Has God Been Experimenting With a Method of Salvation?

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 the Old Covenant method for 4000 years 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). No, God is infinitely wise; He has not been doing trial-and-error experiments. Ever since the Garden of Eden He has had only one plan of salvation--"by grace through faith" (Eph. 2:8). 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 Mt. 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 finally, to torture and crucify our Savior. Read Galatians 3 and 4; a young person can easily understand.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 5, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: "Present Truth" Backwards From Current Popular Thought

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Over a century ago, in a British magazine, The Present Truth, a thoughtful, almost unknown author wrote something that is still, sadly, "present truth" today. Ellet J. Waggoner had been discussing how God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be the greatest nation on earth (Gen. 12:2, 3), and that the promise had been fulfilled to Israel in the "dominion" of David and his descendants.

But the last to sit on his throne was King Zedekiah who had tragically abandoned the promise to Abraham, had disgraced the name of God before the world by "abominable idolatry," and "broke a solemn oath" in the Lord's holy name before international attention. Ezekiel had said that God will "overturn, overturn, overturn" that "dominion" which had been given to Israel, "and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him," thus pointing to the second coming of Christ (21:19-27, KJV).

Then the author reviewed the "three great revolutions" that had come as a consequence of Israel's tragic apostasy from her high calling--the rise of Babylon as a world empire: Medo-Persia, then Grecia, and lastly, the world dominion of Rome. None of these "dominions" would have been necessary in history had it not been for Israel's terrible failure.

Then came this obscure author's provocative statement: "It is not for us to know the times and the seasons which the Father has put in His own power; but we know that when all the professed church of Christ shall consent to be filled with His Spirit, the whole world will soon hear the Gospel message in the fulness of its power, and the end will come, when the groaning creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glory of the liberty of the children of God" (Rom. 8:21; The Present Truth, Feb. 25, 1897).

Backwards from current popular thought, which has the church begging God to give His consent to give the Holy Spirit; instead it has God begging His church on earth to "consent to be filled with His Spirit." Revolutionary insight! God trying His best to give the gift while the church neglects her "consent" to receive it.

This particular author has long since gone to his rest. Could he have dreamed that over a century later that "consent" would still be pending?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 15, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Gift of the Sabbath

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

No matter who you are or where you are, the Sabbath is a blessing that God does not merely offer you, but gives you. Someone may be sick in the hospital, or a prisoner on Death Row, but no one can be deprived of the holy hours of the true Lord's Day, the Sabbath.

You don't have to be converted, or be a good person, to receive this "gift" of the Sabbath. It's like the "gift" of justification that Romans 5 says five times God has given to the world "in Christ," not just offered us. You may have spent your whole life in disregarding this gift of the Sabbath; if so, you have deprived yourself of blessings you could have enjoyed immensely. The one who disregards the holy Sabbath day is like Esau, the man to whom God gave the inestimable blessing of the birthright but "despised" it and "sold" it for a trifle of worldly pleasure (Gen. 25:34; Heb. 12:16, 17).

When the Sabbath begins at sundown, welcome its holy hours. Kneel and thank its Giver for it. Turn off the voices of the world so you can hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Don't reduplicate Esau in yourself--don't "sell" even a few moments of this holy time for a worldly indulgence of godless amusement. Demonstrate that you cherish and treasure God's gift of the holy Sabbath--how else can you demonstrate that you cherish and treasure the sacrifice of the Son of God which Sabbath-keeping "signifies"? (That's how the Sabbath is a "sign" of sanctification, Ezek. 20:12.)

None of us are the least bit worthy of this gift of the Sabbath. Our hearts are by nature carnal; the holy hours of the seventh day find us contaminated with worldly thoughts and desires. Hence, a sincere, honest, thoughtful prayer that the same "Lord of the Sabbath" who created the gift may hallow our soiled hearts, cleanse us, and grant us in these holy hours to be a student in the "school of Christ" for this one day.

You'll be sorry to see the Sabbath "go" when again the sun goes down and you'll immediately look forward to another Sabbath to come. We live the six days for this personal "heart-to-heart" with our Savior. Which is what it means to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 24, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: "What Is Faith?"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"What is faith?" It's important to know the answer, because only those who have faith won't "perish" at last, says John 3:16. Millions accept the definition, "Faith is believing what you know isn't true." Church members who believe that definition are lukewarm.

A popular definition of faith is: "Faith equals trust. You trust God and that's faith!" But what they don't notice is that "trust" always involves an egocentric motivation. As long as we serve God with a self-centered motivation we are either "under the law" (Rom 6:14) or at best lukewarm. So, many Christians "trust God" like we trust our insurance company, or trust the police, or trust our doctors--always with an egocentric motivation. And lukewarmness is the natural result.

Two New Testament words for "trust" are peitho and elpizo, neither of which is the word for faith (believing). The New Testament word "to believe" is pisteuo, an entirely different idea. Jesus Himself must define "faith" for us: "God so [1] loved the world [with agape] that [2] He gave His only begotten Son, that [3] whoever believes [the verb for faith] in Him [4] should not perish but [5] have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

It's simple and it's clear: genuine faith is a heart-melting appreciation of God's loving and His giving! It includes trust, yes; but it precedes trust. It depends on understanding what it cost God to give His Son, and what it cost Him to sacrifice Himself for us. And that is precisely what Satan doesn't want the world to understand! Thus he has invented the false doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul, which requires that Christ did not truly die on His cross; it short-circuits agape and obscures the cross like clouds enveloping snow-clad Kilimanjaro.

If you can't see agape, then your so-called faith is nothing more than like trusting your bank--no melting of the heart involved. The natural result: Laodicea's lukewarmness--that's what sickens Christ (Rev. 3:16).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 19, 2000.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, May 09, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: What Does It Mean to Become a Follower of Christ?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What does it mean in these last days to become a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ?

• You believe God is, and that He rewards your devotion and hears your prayers; that He is your heavenly Father, that He loves you so much He gave His dearest treasure to become your Savior--His only Son; and that He stays with you forever through the on-going gift of the Holy Spirit.

• You have begun an eternity-filled and growing heart appreciation of the love that led Jesus Christ to die your second death on His cross; that love has begun to "constrain" you to live "henceforth" unto Him and not for "self" (2 Cor. 5: 14, 15).

• Your baptism is a sign to the world that you turn away from its ways and sinful pleasures; you have now taken up your cross to follow Jesus.

• You believe that the One who died for you was resurrected and now lives forever as your personal High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, your Attorney on your side, defending you from the attacks of Satan.

• You have begun to love the Bible as God's personal word to you; and you ask Him to deepen that love and confidence from now on forever.

• You have begun to love God's law, His Ten Commandments as ten promises of victory over temptation Satan may bring against you; you love obedience to the fourth, keeping holy His blessed seventh-day Sabbath as a precious gift from Him.

• The "blessed hope" you cherish is the imminent personal, literal, visible second coming of Jesus and you want to help others also to get ready.

• You thank the Lord for the "gifts" He has given to His "body" on earth, the church--one of which is the gift of prophecy, evidence of His on-going love.

• Since His church is His "body" on earth, you want to remain forever one of its loyal members, supporting it with tithes and offerings returned to the Lord.

• You believe that your physical body is the "temple" the Holy Spirit dwells in; you choose to keep it in health and purity, for it was purchased by the sacrifice of Christ.

• You ask to be baptized by being buried in the water as a declaration to the world that you are now "crucified with Christ" and you are risen with Him to a new life.

• You seek fellowship in that "church" that Revelation singles out as "the remnant" which "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).

• You are happy forever "in Christ" living under His New Covenant of grace.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 10, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: Could We Be Just About There?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The 16th century Protestant Reformation was a glorious movement of emancipation from Dark Ages, papal thinking. The freedom to think biblically had to precede political and social freedom. All during those Dark Ages God had a "remnant" church who preserved her liberty of conscience while having "fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days [prophetic years]" (Rev. 12:6). These were faithful Bible-believing and Bible-preserving saints; they lived secluded in the mountains of southern France and northern Italy, who sent out their young people as missionaries to spread knowledge of the true gospel among the common people. They prepared the way for the grand Reformation of Luther.

Finally, came full deliverance from papal darkness with the end of those 1260 years in 1798 and the near simultaneous discovery in many lands of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation; "the time of the end" had begun. Then in swift succession came the discovery that the world is now living in God's grand antitypical Day of Atonement. The time has come for that fully understood "gospel of the kingdom" that Jesus declared must be "preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, [before] the end will come" (Matt. 24:14). That's exactly where we are now in the progression of God's gift of time.

The understanding of the gospel that the saints had in the 16th century was great for their day; but now comes that paradigm shift that transcends both Calvinism and Arminianism in the recovery of justification by faith. Heaven's glorious goal is the ripening of "grain" for "harvest." "One" must be seated on a white cloud thrusting in His "sickle" to reap the harvest of the earth (Rev. 14:14, 15). That is the second coming of Jesus and the final translation of His people with the closing act of the heavenly drama: the great controversy between Christ and Satan will be at last ended. First, that "grain" must "ripen" for harvest.

Could we be just about there? At last the world is to gather before the cross of Calvary to "comprehend ... what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love [agape] of Christ which passes knowledge" (Eph. 3:17-19). At last the full-fledged gospel is to "lighten the earth with His glory" (Rev. 18:1-4).

The world will be catalyzed into two camps--those who welcome the full "comprehension," and those who reject it. The little girl who was the flower girl at the wedding, caring only for the cake and ice cream, will now grow up "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13) to where she appreciates the Bridegroom for what He is (cf. Rev. 19:7, 8). She will become the "Lamb's wife," who has at last "made herself ready" for the "marriage of the Lamb." Time's nearly up. We're just about there!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 7, 2007.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: The Source of True Happiness

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

You can spot them nearly every time: a special group of people who always seem happy. They were deeply loved in babyhood by father or mother (or both!). It's fairly easy for them to say, "Yes, I believe God loves me!" They go through life having a continual picnic; they don't walk, they "dance" their way through life.

Solomon speaks of them in contrast with those not so endowed: "All the days of the afflicted are evil [wretched, New English Bible], but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast" (Prov. 15:15). The "afflicted" are those who lacked that warm, cuddly love in babyhood or childhood. They may have been orphans, or raised by an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent, or in a home poisoned by infidelity and divorce. It's not their fault that they are not richly endowed, but are "afflicted." Is it fair that the "ticket to heaven" seems to be a "faith" that comes naturally for lucky people? Or, forget heaven for a moment, do "all their days" here have to be "wretched"? Don't jump to a conclusion too soon.

Faith is not easier for some than for others because "God has dealt to each one [the] measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3). There is no such thing as "natural" faith. It must always be learned, received, imported, and exercised in fellowship with Christ.

Let us assume that Jesus' mother gave Him natural cuddly emotional warmth in His babyhood, still He was reared in an unbelieving family with all the liabilities anyone can have known in a hard childhood (compare Matt. 13:53-58; John 7:2-8; Psalm 69:7-11). He says He was "afflicted and ready to die from My youth up" (Psalm 88:15). All the "natural" emotional warmth He may have had from childhood vanished as He hung on the cross; there He had to live entirely by faith based strictly on God's word.

Your preparation to enjoy not only heaven but life here and now may possibly be easier than for those richly endowed emotionally since childhood. Faith is not emotion. True happiness comes only from fellowship with Christ; and where is He to be found? "Preaching Good News to the poor; healing the broken-hearted; proclaiming deliverance to the captives; recovering sight for the blind; setting at liberty those who are oppressed; proclaiming the justification-by-faith 'acceptance' of the Lord" (see Luke 4:18, 19). Join Him, and let Him make you happy.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 27, 1999.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Make the Good News of the Gospel Too Good?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Can we make the Good News of the gospel too good? When Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:30), can we be naïve and take Him too seriously? Do we need some special intelligence not to be misled?

To challenge us further, He tells Saul of Tarsus that it's "hard" to go on being lost (Acts 26:14). And yes, we must "strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able," which implies that it's not "easy" to be saved (Luke 13:24). And He warns anyone who may want to follow Him that he must "take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (9:23). Being crucified on a cross is just about the hardest thing any human can experience!

And yet Jesus seems to tantalize us with that word, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light"! And Paul adds that His grace abounds "much more" than all the sin the devil can invent (Rom. 5:20). If you believe anything in the Bible you must admit that grace is stronger than sin, and surely, you can't be a Christian unless you believe that Christ is stronger than Satan. Can you be intelligent unless you believe that light is stronger than darkness? And finally, you're out in the dark forever unless you believe that love [agape] is stronger than hatred. So what's the truth?

Here's the question: could it be that the Holy Spirit is stronger than our fallen, sinful flesh that is always alluring and tempting us? That's exactly what Paul says in Galatians 5:16-18! First, the Lord has promised in Isaiah 41:13 that He will hold us by our right hand; now--if you will go for a walk with the Holy Spirit and let Him hold your hand you'll find you can't "fulfill the lust of the flesh" or "do the [evil] things" that your sinful nature would prompt you to do (don't read it backwards!).

If you believe John 3:16, self is "crucified with Christ," and "he who has died [with Him] has been freed from sin" (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6, 7). We can't be Christians and be content to go on giving in to sinful impulses!

This is the Day of Atonement; Christ is tired being "the minister of sin" (Gal. 2:17). Living now is serious business.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Something Special Happening in the "Sanctuary"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Going to school is something most people want to get out of as soon as possible. Kids love summer vacation; school discipline is hard, but "commencement" is great--class work is finished. But does God have a "class" where school discipline continues?

In Psalm 25 David prays several times that he may be a student in the Lord's "class": "teach me Your paths," "show me," "lead me," he prays over and over. We probably don't know if he was old or young when he wrote this Psalm, but the inspired picture we get in the Bible is Good News--there is never a graduation out of the Lord's school. You are always a student, a learner, and He never expels you from His "university," but of course you are always free to "quit school" if you wish.

There is always a temptation to "quit" because as our Teacher the Lord exercises discipline, which our carnal hearts don't like. "Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens" (Heb. 12:5, 6).

It's not that He is a severe Schoolmaster, but His tuition appears that way to us, for "no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (vs. 11). In fact, if the discipline or chastening has ceased and you think you have clear sailing, one of two things has happened: either you are indeed ready for translation (way ahead of almost everybody else), or you are in real trouble, for "if you are without chastening, ... then you are illegitimate and not sons" (vs. 8).

The writer of Psalm 73 felt at times that the Lord's discipline was too severe. "I have been ... chastened every morning" (vs. 14), waking up each new day to renewed "grief" and "vexation" (vs. 21). It seemed that the Holy Spirit would never get through "convicting" him of sin (which is His "first grade" tuition, John 16:8). Would he as a student in the "school of Christ" never get out of that "first grade"? Other "students" seemed to be spared that "discipline." Life for them was fun and games. "It was too painful for me--until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end" (Psalm 73:16, 17).

Something special is happening right now in the "sanctuary"--the Day of Atonement. Yes! Better stay in school!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 28, 2000.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, May 02, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Pitch Your Camp in Matthew 7:7-11

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

For many sincere people, the longest drawn-out battle of faith they have is to learn to trust the Lord with complete confidence. Even into old age, Abraham and Sarah both had that battle. Don't be surprised if you have that same battle.

A person may solemnly insist that he believes the Lord loves him, yet be tormented with fear that perhaps he has misunderstood the Lord's promise, or he may fear that his own deep unworthiness will render his heart-felt prayer to be unanswerable, while still believing that "God is love."

The battle is not believing that he loves us, but believing that we qualify for an answer to our prayer, while we still believe He loves us. Maybe we think His love for us is mostly pity--a temptation that must be resisted. You may have someone working for you as a janitor, and you love that person; yet you do not honor him in your home as you do your peers.

Isaiah quotes the Lord directly: "My word is like the snow and the rain that come down from the sky to water the earth. They make the crops grow and provide seed for planting and food to eat. So also will be the word that I speak--it will not fail to do what I plan for it. It will do everything I send it to do" (55:10, 11, Good News Bible).

We don't want to be presumptuous and treat the Lord as a servant. But our confidence in Him must be based on humble reverence permeated with a solid conviction that He loves us and He honors us as the brothers and sisters of His own Son, and in the long run, He does everything that is best for us.

Pitch your camp in Matthew 7:7-11; read those words over and over; lay your life on the line to believe them. It's back again to our infantile cry, "Abba, Father!" (Rom. 8:15).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 10, 2004.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Dial Daily Bread: God's Kingdom Can't Come Until …

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Lord has always blessed us with special people "of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chron. 12:32). The New English Bible says, "skilled in reading the signs of the times."

God forbid that any of us should be so vain as to imagine that we are they when in fact we are "less than the least of all saints." Even the apostle Paul felt that was what he was (Eph. 3:8)!

But what would the present-day "children of Issachar" say that "Israel ought to do"? Clearly: tell the world what is that most precious message that "God commanded" should be proclaimed in "every church" and then given to the world. It's the message of "Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1, 2) that Revelation 18:1-4 says must lighten the earth with glory: "I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory." When he cries, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen," he calls on those whose hearts are honest to "come out of her, My people."

When the honest-hearted hear that call, nothing will be able to stop them from coming out--not family, friends, business. It will be the same call that came to Abraham when he was in Ur.

The Lord's prayer that we are to pray continually is, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). Through that inspired prayer this glorious goal will be our heart-burden continually, for by the much more abounding grace of Jesus, we are reconciled to His Father.

But His "kingdom" can't come until the message of the "kingdom" lightens the earth with glory. He has no other way to lighten the earth with the glory of His message except through His people. When you pray the Lord's prayer, you demonstrate that you have been adopted as His child. No higher honor is possible for anyone!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 27, 2008.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Dial Daily Bread: Join the Happiest Man in 6000 Years of History

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone wrote to tell us that we over-emphasize the Good News in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto Me, ... and I will give you rest. ... Take My yoke ... My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." He said we don't give equal emphasis to what appears to be the opposite in Luke 13:24: "Strive [agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."

The New King James Version mistranslates the parallel passage, "narrow," in Matthew 7:14 as "difficult." But the Greek word thlibo has the essential meaning of "narrow," not difficult. Jesus says you can't carry your baggage of worldly selfishness with you into fellowship with Him. You've got to drop your baggage. "Difficult"? No,--not if you are "yoked" by faith with Him.

Paul makes plain the apparent contradiction. The answer is one-ness with Christ: "I am crucified with Christ," he says (Gal. 2:20). You are never crucified alone (that would be "difficult"!). You sense your corporate fellowship with Him (see 1 Cor. 12:12-27). Read Paul's portrayal of all the "agonizing" sufferings he endured for Christ (2 Cor. 11:23-30). He ends up saying, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory, ... take pleasure" in all these sufferings for Him (12:9, 10). "Difficult? Agonizing?"

Does dropping your baggage bother you as being "difficult"? Paul is Christ's best defender: he says that if you can understand how good is Christ's Good News (in Matthew 11:28-30, for example) you'll consider all this love of self, this love-of-the-world baggage, that has so engrossed you, as being so much "garbage." You'll drop it in a moment when you see the "excellency" of being crucified with Christ (read Phil. 3:7, 8; that word "dung" in the King James Version means literally "what is thrown to the dogs"). Yes, let yourself feel ashamed--it's a healthy experience. Then you can learn to "glory" in Christ's cross.

Is "agonizing" effort "difficult"? Not if you're running a race, says Paul (1 Cor. 9:22-27). Flying up steps two at a time is fun if you're healthy.

Join the happiest man who has ever lived and died in 6000 years of history: the repentant thief who was literally "crucified with Christ" (he had the assurance, "You'll be with Me" forever). As he waited in his physical agony, he rejoiced. "Crucified!"? Am I kidding? No; I'm serious.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 2, 2003.
Copyright © 2016 by "Dial Daily Bread."