Saturday, December 30, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Stay Closer to the Lord Than to the Crowd at Times Square

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Everything God has told us in the Bible is plain common sense. God is reasonable, and fair. For example, the United States of America is taking extreme precautions because of possible terrorist threats, and many people are afraid. In such a time of crisis, we want to remember the promises that God has given us in the Bible of His protection in times of danger.

For example there is Psalm 91:5, 7: "You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, ... A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you." Very comforting words! But is it fair for God to protect you miraculously when a "thousand" or "ten thousands" of people all around you perish? Where is the common sense or fairness in Psalm 91?

The context makes the promise plain and fair: "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" (vs. 1). Note that the word "dwells" means that he makes his home there every day. He doesn't run to that "secret place" only when the emergency comes; he has been staying there all along. It means that the Lord will lock the doors and windows when the "terror" comes, to protect him; he will "stay" in that secret place of safety.

God is merciful and gracious, but He is also fair and devoted to common sense. We can't deceive Him. If you wait until a forest fire is bearing down on your house to take out an insurance policy, you're too late. You must "dwell" in the insurance company's policy in order to be safe in the emergency.

It's only fair that God can see some evidence in your life that you really like to "dwell" in His "secret place." It has become your habit to say, "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress.' ... Because you have made the Lord ... your habitation, ... no evil shall befall you" (vss. 2, 9, 10). God is faithful: when terror threatens, "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways" (vs. 11; Jesus made plain to us that "all your ways" means paths of duty and service; Matt. 4:6, 7).

Is this trying to build up an insurance policy? No; it's common sense in God's great economy. It's simply being fair and honest with the Lord. What is "the secret place"? Not a sudden works-trip-Bible-study-prayer exercise; no, it's simply loving and daily choosing to stay closer to the Lord than to the crowds in Times Square or at the Space Needle.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 26, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What's Wrong With the World?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What's wrong with the world?

The Lord Jesus Christ has the answer: "Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matt. 24:12). Is love the problem? Or the lack of it? Could we translate that to mean that people are disobeying the holy law of God? Yes, of course that's true. And do they need to be warned?

But is it wiser to say that people are disregarding the holy law of God because they do not truly know what that "love of God" means? Could it be that instead of needing to be warned, people need to be won?

If we had a meter that could determine the extent of our true obedience, it would register the awareness there is in our soul of the love of Christ; and that would directly correlate with the extent of our obedience to the law of God.

The reason? "He who loves another has fulfilled the law. ... If there is any other commandment, [it is] all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:8-10). That is not teaching we should love self. Luther got that right long ago; now you love others as you have always previously, naturally, loved yourself.

Our "love-meter" is not to measure our love for Christ; it is to measure our appreciation of His love for us. We are not saved by our love for Jesus. We are saved by His love for us.

We will gain an incalculable blessing if we will get on our knees, and, as a wise writer has said, "spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ, especially the closing scenes." Let His love, not yours, wash through your soul. Don't begrudge the time!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 12, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Happiest Mother of All Time

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

What was it that made the virgin Mary to be the happiest mother of all time? (That is, before that huge “sword” pierced her soul.) The happiness that Mary experienced is shared by many mothers, for God made woman to feel happy becoming a mother--we praise Him for that thoughtfulness and kindness!

But aside from that natural happiness that every woman is intended to know in motherhood, the virgin Mary was especially happy! We read of it in Luke 1:45: Mary has just learned that she is to become pregnant with the Messiah, and in her joyous enthusiasm she dashes off to “the hill country” to have a visit with a cousin, an elderly woman named Elizabeth, the priest Zacharia’s wife, who is 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist.

Elizabeth greets her and bestows upon her this supreme benediction: “Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Every mother may share that blessing that comes from believing the Good News that the Lord is communicating to her.

Successful child-training comes from a mother believing the promises of God, but to believe requires a calm, thoughtful heart, free from fretfulness and impatience. Your child may annoy you or exasperate you. Now comes the real crisis: will you believe the Good News that God loves your child more than you do, and if you don’t get in His way, He will give you wisdom to train the child aright? Or will you doubt and disbelieve and allow Satan to put discouraging, fretful words in your mouth that will confuse your child?

Blessed is the mother who immediately reacts to every crisis, every problem, by believing the word of the Lord! A good prayer to pray every day is the one a distraught father once prayed: “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). This dark world needs more mothers who will believe like Mary did, and refuse to speak unbelieving words!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 11, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by “Dial Daily Bread.”


Note: Next week many of you will begin studying the new Sabbath School quarterly on "Stewardship: Motives of the Heart." For those who are not already receiving “Sabbath School Today” (SST) we would like to invite you to subscribe (SST is free). You will receive weekly essays on the lessons, some of which are prepared from the writings of Robert J. Wieland, author of “Dial Daily Bread.”

To begin a new subscription please reply to this e-mail with “Subscribe SST” in the body of the e-mail or in the heading. If you are already receiving “Sabbath School Today” there is no need to resubscribe; your subscription will continue.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Case of Mistaken Identity?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 19, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How to Brighten the Lives of Children Now and Forever

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

I remember as a child the festive excitement from Thanksgiving on through Christmas. Then I remember the letdown feeling that came with December 26--how dreary the future seemed--364 boring days until another Christmas can come again!

It wasn't only that there would be no more presents: we didn't have much in those days anyway. It was the joylessness of no more Christmas songs about the birth of Jesus until late next year, no more telling of the Bethlehem story; we must put the shepherds and the Wise Men away from our focus of attention; the "Star in the East" won't shine again for a year. It was going to be a bleak eleven months. For this child, life revolved around Christmas.

No one in my little circle seemed to know how to tell really what were the "good tidings of great joy" that the angels told the shepherds the night when Jesus was born. The theological definitions were of course in words beyond my childhood grasp--atonement, justification, righteousness by faith, reconciliation; they all were over my head.

But what I would have loved to hear would have been the story told in simple words, how Jesus by His life and death had already given me eternal happiness that would brighten all my 365 days in the year to come. Each day would be a better-than-Christmas "in Christ." I needed to understand the character of the Father and of His Son (there were shadows in the non-Christmas preaching I had heard about the wrath of God and an ever-burning hell). Once my thankfulness for my few Christmas presents wore off, I frankly didn't know what to be thankful for any more. The somber non-Christmas life I was facing from December 26 on was not very bright.

I suspect that there are still other children as bewildered as I was. Even though we can "put away childish things" (1 Cor. 13:11), I pray that the Lord Jesus may teach us through His Holy Spirit how to tell the pure Good News to children in an intelligible way that will brighten their lives now and forever.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 24, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Thank God We Can Receive a "New Mind"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In telling us the story of the birth of Jesus, Luke tells how, when Joseph and Mary (great with Child) came to the inn in Bethlehem, the innkeeper told them there was "no room in the inn." (If the Innkeeper had known, he could have given them his room and gone down in history as the greatest Innkeeper of all time!)

We never know what marvelous opportunity has come to us at any moment each new day; only if we are moment by moment connected with the Holy Spirit by faith can we be prepared.

There is never any "room" for Jesus anywhere in this sinful earth. Jesus was the target of violence more than any other children, for He was hated when He was a Baby. King Herod sent soldiers to kill all the babies in the environs of Bethlehem in his hatred of the one Baby--Jesus (Matt. 2:16-18).

Paul reminds 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). We don't like that word "carnal mind," but we all have it by nature. We inherited it from our fallen father Adam; it is our nature to be at "enmity" with God, and therefore at enmity with the Lord Jesus.

But thank God we can be converted, and we can receive a "new mind," for Paul says, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Paul would never say "Let this or that be," unless it were possible for it to be!

And this "new mind" is not something we have to work for or attain to, for Paul says, "Let" it be; don't stop the Holy Spirit from giving you this "new mind." There is nothing He wants to do greater than that! On your knees, ask Him for it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 23, 2008.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: God's Demonstration of His Love for the Lowly and Humble

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In the Bible story of the birth of Jesus, the Lord has demonstrated His love for the lowly and humble of earth.

It was two lowly shepherds camping out in the fields, watching over their flocks by night, to protect them from lions and other predatory animals, that the angels appeared.

Doubtless the brilliant light and the loud singing of the angels may have frightened the humble creatures--although as soon as I say that I think that the Lord would not want to frighten these creatures with His presence. Lambs are a symbol of Christ, "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29).

And the holy angels did not want to intrude upon the lowly shepherds, for they were discussing the prophecies of the Bible that predicted the coming of the world's Savior. Doubtless some of them wondered, "Wouldn't it be great if that world's Savior should be born now? The prophecies of Daniel (9:24-27) tell us of His coming; and the time has come!"

The angels of the Lord come only when they are welcomed, and these humble shepherds welcomed them through their love of the Bible prophecies!

And the Virgin Mary herself proclaimed her humility in life when she said of herself, "[The Lord] has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant" (Luke 1:48).

The Lord spoke well of the Reality of humility: "Thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him [or her] who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones'" (Isa. 57:15).

There are some crumbs of truth there even for us to enjoy at this late date.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 11, 2008.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Blessed Indebtedness

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In this age it is often considered foolish to pay your bills and keep out of debt, to avoid living on borrowed capital. Romans 13:8 says, "Owe no one anything except to love one another." It's good sense indeed to owe nothing except what you have collateral to cover (for example, a home for your family to live in).

A rather common expression in the King James Version is "gird up your loins" (1 Peter 1:13; Eph. 6:14). Even Jesus said we should have our "loins girded about," meaning, Be ready to go almost on a moment's notice (Luke 12:35). Don't let yourself be entangled with worldliness, "lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting [which means too much of anything], and drunkenness [anything that weakens your clear judgment], and cares of this life [credit card debt?], and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them [including even the elders, pastors, and Bible class teachers??] that dwell on the face of the whole earth" (Luke 21:34, 35).

In simple language, what does it all mean? It's now true, more than any time in the past, that "there is not much time left, ... For this world, as it is now, will not last much longer. I would like you to be free from worry" (1 Cor. 7:29-32, Good News Bible). In other words, right now is "borrowed time." (Even a nation that lives on borrowed capital is in danger.)

Here's a morsel of Good News: that text again in Romans 13:8--yes, you are in debt, to love someone today with the love wherewith the Son of God has loved you. Blessed indebtedness, for He has "capital," "collateral," to cover you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 21, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Luke’s Intimate Details of the Birth of Jesus

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

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

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

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

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

(5) We thank Luke for sharing her exquisite poem of thanksgiving (vss. 46-55), that seems so like the heartbroken Hannah's psalm of gratitude (1 Sam. 2:1-10). Mary shared some special "humiliation" with Hannah that made them kindred spirits. Luke discloses a very literate, sensitive, and polished lady of exceptional abilities.

(6) Only Luke provides us a fitting entrée to the thrilling story behind the birth of the world's Savior. A totally selfless man must prepare His way (Luke 1:57-80; John 3:28-30; only a selfless people can prepare the way of His second coming; Rev. 14:1-5, 14, 15).

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

The raucous din of the Season almost drowns out the precious story. Linger over it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 21, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Let's Listen to the Angels

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The beautiful song says, "O pause beside the weary road / And hear the angels sing." Let's listen to what they said to the shepherds at Bethlehem (Luke 2:9-14):

(1) "Fear not." But you say, "I do fear, and I can't help it!" "Fear hath torment" (1 John 4:18). You can choose to believe and to fear not! Listen on for the reasons.

(2) "I bring you good tidings." God never brings you Bad News. The bad news that King Saul heard the night he died was not from the Lord, but from Satan. Even if you're on your deathbed, the Lord has only "good tidings" for you!

(3) "Of great joy." Not ordinary joy. The "good tidings" is objective; you cannot make good news or "do" it, but if you believe the objective good tidings, then the joy becomes subjective--a part of your experience.

(4) "Which shall be to all people." Sinners?? "All people" are! Yes, the good tidings are for you, unworthy as you feel yourself to be. The gospel is universal. Christ died the second death "for every man" (Heb. 2:9). "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isa. 53:6).

(5) "Unto you is born this day ..." Christ is born "unto you," as surely as when a mother delivers a child, the nurse says, "to you is born" this child. The child belongs to the mother. Jesus belongs to you.

(6) "In the city of David ..." There must come that name of the sinful king; he must be remembered, not for his sin, but for his repentance.

(7) "A Saviour." Not a possible, maybe, perhaps, offer of a Saviour if, if, if ... but in fact "the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42), "the Saviour of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10). Some Christian people argue against the angel's message, insisting that He is not "the Saviour of all men," He merely would like to be, if, if, if ... Are you a sinner? Then the truth is, He is now (present tense) your Saviour.

(8) "Which is Christ the Lord." Eternal Son of God, once crucified, soon to be the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 25, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: In Thanks, What Will You Do for Him?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

That divine cry of dereliction on Christ's cross, "My God. Why have You forsaken Me?" is the world's moment of truth. In becoming the Son of man, the Son of God became our second Adam, the new corporate Head of the human race.

When the first Adam sinned in Eden, "we" sinned in him, because each of us is "adam"--that is our name. Each of us is his fallen descendant; he could do nothing other than pass on to us his fallen, sinful nature in alienation from his Creator, destined to "perish" eternally.

From Christ's birth in Bethlehem, He lived in the sunshine of oneness with God. "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government [of the world and of the universe] shall be upon His shoulder" (Isa. 9:6, KJV). But He took on His sinless nature our sinful nature that He might meet the awful problem of sin in our flesh, sin's last lair; God sent Him "unto us" "in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, [He] condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). As our second Adam, Christ won the awful battle.

But now as Head of the human race He enters into the darkness of hell on His cross, dying our death, doing what in John 3:16 He says He doesn't want us to do--He tastes what it means to "perish." It's terrible beyond any words. We can't grasp it unless we understand Galatians 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written [quoting Moses], Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (cf. Deut. 21:22, 23).

Thus He was "made to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). For you personally, intimately, not only instead of you but as you, He dies your second death. Now in thanks what will you do for Him?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 17, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Knocking at the Door"

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Have you ever been despised and rejected by someone important in your life, whom you deeply loved? You remember the pain was wrenching.

Can we conceive of Jesus Christ experiencing that? On an infinitely grander scale? For millennia our human souls have been concerned for our own salvation; in my youth I remember sincere, grey-haired ordained elders declaring to me that the most important issue in life is the salvation of our own souls. This is almost universally accepted as the essence of orthodoxy. "Evangelism" is crafted on that premise. But there's a more important issue.

In undertaking the salvation of this world, Jesus took our humanity upon Himself; He knows how we can love; the “one” so deeply loved by Him as His bride-to-be is His church.

Has He known the bitterness of unrequited love, as we can know it--only on a cosmic scale? Can the companionship of multitudes of holy angels compensate for what His heart yearns for in the absence of His church's response to His love?

The pain of Calvary was for only a few hours (we think); indeed, it was intense. But the Hosea-like pain of extended nuptial alienation is Calvary's pain extended.

Christ declares Himself as endlessly "knocking on the door" of His Beloved (Rev. 3:20), waiting for a "certain one" (tis, Gr.) to respond as a satisfaction to His own lonely divine-human soul. He is still the One "despised and rejected." He wants to be with His people on earth, even though earth rejected and expelled Him; heaven is simply no longer "home" for Him.

On this grand Day of Atonement, a change has come: the most important question in life is now for us to honor and vindicate Him. He deserves His reward; it is He who must be "crowned," no longer we who seek that honor.

 —Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 15, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by “Dial Daily Bread.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: God’s Richest Blessing May Be in the Disappointment We Suffer

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Many times we tell stories to the children about wonderful answers to prayer. We tell them about Daniel in the lions' den, of David fighting Goliath, of Peter saved from prison, and of course many modern stories of people's marvelous answers to prayer.

That's all good, and I do not doubt the truth of those stories. But I am concerned about something else--sometimes there are children who have prayed for something but did not get it. I knew one little boy whose grandmother was very sick, and he prayed that she might get well; but she did not get well. She died. When children ask the Lord for something, but don't get it, then hear all these wonderful stories, they wonder what's wrong with them. Why doesn't the Lord answer their prayers too?

Well, we must think about this. We must be honest. Not all prayers get a marvelous “Yes” answer. If you don't get what you asked for, that does not mean that God does not love you, or that He did not hear your prayer. He said “No” instead of “Yes.” And often His “No” is more loving toward us than a “Yes” would be. If a young child asks for a sharp knife, a loving father or mother will say “No.”

God's richest blessing may be in the disappointment that we suffer. If God is like a Santa Claus to Christians, giving them everything they ask for, many people would join the church who are not at all converted, and that would not be good at all.

God's people suffer in this world along with those who are not His people. When they suffer, God suffers with them. He never forsakes them. We must remember Jesus on His cross--He prayed to the Father but He says God did not hear Him (that's in Psalm 22). Jesus felt that His Father had turned His back on Him, because He prayed, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matt. 27:46). There are many people in the world who have to suffer, not because God doesn't love them, but because they are faithful servants of Jesus, who honor Him by enduring their suffering.

The Good News is that God will never forsake you; He does hear every prayer you pray; and He will give you what is best for you and what is best for others. Even the little boy's grandmother who died--someday we will know why the Lord permitted that--and we will love the Lord more because we will know that His answer was because He loves us. We can trust Him, because He died for us on His cross.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Grafting" Back Into the Vine

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The world is in turmoil. Fear of terrorism is everywhere. And what's the main root cause of this terrible fear? Basically, America's fervent support of the state of Israel. This has been encouraged, almost dictated, by Protestant Christians who believe that the Bible teaches that God's promises to Abraham will be fulfilled by His blessings on a literal, political modern Israel.

Such a vision encouraged President Truman's initial endorsement. That state must eventually recover the boundaries of ancient Israel in the time of Kings David and Solomon, yes, achieve world domination. Theology, true or false, has immense consequences.

But for many centuries Bible-reading Christians also have believed that Abraham's true descendants have always been (and still are) those who have his faith, not just his DNA. They see in the Bible how ancient national Israel rejected their political nationhood when they rejected their true Messiah. "We have no king but Caesar!" they proclaimed officially (John 19:15).

God's New Covenant promises to Israel will be fulfilled by "grafting" individuals back into the Vine, along with believing Gentiles who are "grafted" in--all by faith in Christ, who is the true Vine. "And so," in this way, "all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:1-26).

Just now, on this grand cosmic Day of Atonement, the Holy Spirit is working diligently "grafting in" repentant sinners from the ranks of literal Jews and from the myriads of "Gentiles" everywhere. "Therefore consider," says Paul, "the goodness and severity of God" (vs. 22). Let the Holy Spirit "graft" you in; don't "resist Him in His office work."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 14, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Can We Find Some Good News in the Southern California Fires?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

[This "Dial Daily Bread" was written during the October 2007 wildfires in Southern California, so evacuation numbers are for 2007 (if interested, you may find details at:

Similar weather conditions were in place then as with the current situation in Southern California. This "DDB" seems relevant today.]


This daily mini-Bible study likes to concentrate on happy subjects, and find good things to say about discouraging topics. But we're struggling to find something good to say about the calamity in Southern California.

Imagine--over 350,000 people evacuated from their homes! Imagine what "evacuation" means--how do you "evacuate" without getting on the freeway to get out, and can you imagine 350,000 people clogging the freeways? They can be one vast parking lot.

I used to live in the San Diego area; I never dreamed I would see things like this before the Bible's "seven last plagues" of Revelation 16. Can we find some good news? Yes:

(1) Innumerable acts of kindness are being done by people, even strangers; the Holy Spirit has not yet been withdrawn completely from the earth!

(2) There is evidence that the love of God is still active; in wrath He has remembered mercy (Hab. 3:2).

(3) In the disasters described by the prophet Ezekiel his "woes" usually ended with the promise, "you shall know that I am the Lord" (35:9, for example).

(4) It's always, yes always, good news to learn to "know the Lord." Even the final "lake of fire" at the end of the millennium (the 1000 years of Revelation 20:11-15) demonstrates the mercy of the Lord. The lost will say "Thank You" for that "Lake" rather than exist forever in tortured consciousness of their own utter self-condemnation. They will "welcome destruction," says a very wise writer.

(5) Is God sending these terrible disasters? Is Southern California more wicked than any place else, thus deserves them? This same question was asked Jesus after a local disaster: "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?" He answered: "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:2). Jesus didn't bring that disaster but He brought good out of it, for all the world to learn.

(6) There is precious good news in this remark of Jesus: it's possible for all of us to "repent" because repentance is a universal gift that the Holy Spirit tries to give us (if we will believe and receive the gift; John 16:8).

(7) This painful disaster, with world news coverage, educates us all in a happy lesson about Reality; it's another proof of God's love: "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out [when we "evacuate" we probably won't even carry our important personal papers with us]. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim 6:7, 8). Precious contentment! Enjoy it today.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 23, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What God Wants More Than Anything to Give You

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we read Matthew 24 or Luke 21, the conviction is overwhelming that we're living in what Daniel says is "the time of the end" (Dan. 11:35; 12:4).

At the same time, the conviction overwhelms us that the last message Revelation says must "lighten the earth with glory" will be the lifting up of Christ on His cross (18:1-4; John 12:32, 33). God has honest-hearted people all over the world. Lifting up their Savior on the cross will "draw" them all to Him.

"The Lord will make a short work upon the earth" (Rom. 9:28). It won't take a long time for the Lord to "finish the work" once He has a people whose hearts are moved and melted by His agape-love seen at the cross.

That "short work" will accomplish not only the proclamation of "the truth of the gospel" to all the world in one generation (Gal. 2:5; Matt. 24:34), what we have thought must take decades or even centuries to prepare God's people to meet Christ when He returns. First Thessalonians 4:16, 17 will be completely fulfilled. God's people will get ready to be "translated" as Hebrews 11:5 describes Enoch's experience. All done in "a short work"!

Now is the time when the Lord's "beatitude" is being fulfilled: "Blessed [happy] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).

Are you hungry and thirsty? There's nothing the God of heaven wants more than to give you that hunger and thirst. Ask for it!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 4, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Ancient Struggle Between Esau and Isaac

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When the Titanic plowed into the jagged edge of an iceberg, everybody on board suddenly realized his corporate involvement in the ship. No little group or individual could go on feasting and partying to the jazz music; a common fate now faced everyone.

What the captain and crew had done intimately involved everyone--captain, crew, millionaire and steerage passenger. Flooded compartments below deck meant your first class stateroom would soon be flooded. The lights were going out.

Some of us live in lands of peace and prosperity. Can we go on partying while the Middle East is locked in a human struggle that involves an "old covenant" bondage universal in principle? Abraham's family was in reality the human race, for in an "everlasting covenant" God gave him the whole world as "an everlasting possession" (Rom. 4:13; Gen. 17:8, 7).

The Israelis and Arabs epitomize the ancient struggle between Esau and Isaac, both sons of Abraham--one by "the flesh," the other by "promise." But fleshly Jews or Arabs are not Abraham's true "seed": "Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted as the seed" (Rom 9:8).

"If you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise [covenant]" (Gal. 3:29). That is: neither fleshly "Isaac" nor "Esau" has a divine advantage over the other. The Israelis and Arabs contend for a land and a Temple Mount too small for both; their conflict points to the universal struggle for the domination of this planet. Of the common father both claim, Acts 7:5 says, "God gave him no inheritance in [Canaan], not even enough to set his foot on."

If the Lord and Master of us all had also "nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20), it's time we should each realize that by right we don't "own" even a "foot" of this present earth. Real security is only "in Christ," "the Savior of the world" (John 4:42). Below decks are already flooded; don't set your heart on a stateroom.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 21, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, December 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Look to Me"--Too Easy and Simple to Be True

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

It seems too easy and simple to be true, but there it is in Isaiah 45:22. The Lord says, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." Could we have misunderstood? Verse 21 confirms it: "There is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior." If He were only just, we would all perish; but He is also a Savior! And there is our hope.

Could the translation be wrong, it seems so simple? The Hebrew word panah means to "turn the face" and is translated as "look" over 40 times in the Old Testament, and the idea of "turn the face" over 50 times. It involves a choice to face reality, not merely a passing, involuntary glimpse. Is it possible that there is salvation in turning your face towards God? That's what Isaiah says!

In Numbers 21 we find the story of the snakes that bit the murmuring Israelites. The Lord told Moses to make a snake out of brass and lift it up on a pole so that those who looked at it earnestly would be healed. And Jesus tells us in John 3:14, 15 that Christ crucified on His cross is the fulfillment of that type. And in the familiar 16th verse He explains further, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish [from the bite of the serpent of sin] but have everlasting life." In other words, to "believe" and to "look" are the same--a choice to face reality.

In Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul explains that the looking and the believing are the same as "comprehending with all the saints" the grand dimensions of the love (agape) of Christ. This is true, because John says that God is agape (1 John 4:8).

So our text, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth" means, comprehend the amazing character of God, who could destroy us because of His justice, but who is our Savior because of His agape. Yes, comprehending that character of unearthly love will heal you of the poisonous bite of sin. It will change you, from the inside out. "Look!"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 5, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Jesus' Solution to John 6:28

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

After 2000+ years, how much progress have "we" made as God's people? Think of them then: expecting their Messiah to come “almost any time,” just as we are expecting the same Messiah to return "almost any time now." At least, "soon." They knew 2000 years ago, just as we know now, that there must come a great reformatory movement among God's people in order to be ready for the Messiah.

There was an atmosphere of expectancy among God's people then, as there is now. And uppermost in their minds was a question that, frankly speaking, is in ours today: "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (John 6:28).

Today there are seminars and sermons presented in the churches that are variations of that question. "What program, what duty, what plan, shall we do that we might have that great reformatory movement of revival in preparation for the return of our Messiah?"

There is diligent study in the Bible and inspired writings that yield a multitude of quotations about duties to "do"--about health reform, diet, good works, tithes, offerings, witnessing, devotionals--ad infinitum. And some sincere people are brilliant and have re-phrased the question, so it reads: "What shall we not do, to work the works of God?" "What worldly habit must we give up in order to have that great reformation?”

Each "expert" has a new program that this time will "work," if only we will "do" it, or give up doing this or that which is "worldly." There must be something we can "do" (or not do) to cure the worldwide disease of lukewarmness that everybody agrees afflicts the church. We long for some program, some new idea, some plan from some fertile minds.

Could it be that Jesus had the solution 2000 years ago? "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom [God] sent" (vs. 29). The solution is not doing something, but seeing something.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 1, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Can "The Whole World" Be Deceived?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When we wake up each new morning, we find bewilderment and confusion all over the earth. We humans cover the earth like little ants running around when you disturb them, and yet we are the family of God. We are created in His image. The glorious Creator of the vast universe left His high and holy place and became one of us. But we are not "ants"; we are sons and daughters of God "in Him." We are fellow-saints with Him engaged in the greatest struggle that has ever been waged in the universe--the controversy between Christ and Satan. We are not spectators at the arena; we are players on the field.

What's happening around us is the closing scene of this titanic war between two "spirits"--the One designated in the Bible as "Holy," and "the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience" who is inspired by "the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world" (Eph. 2:2; Rev. 12:9).

How can "the whole world" be deceived? Jesus says that so terrible will be the deception that it will come "on the face of the whole earth" like "a snare" (Luke 21:35). It's happening now. But thank God, not everyone will be deceived.

Think what it was like when Jesus was born; the masses knew the inspired prophecies of the Old Testament, yet how many recognized the Messiah when He came as a humble Baby in Bethlehem? Some did, but only a few.

So today, there is for sure a "remnant" (Rom. 9:27): "few who are saved" (Luke 13:23) who have learned the lesson of Bethlehem; who walk "softly" (1 Kings 21:27, KJV); who respond to "the still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12) that calls them in God's word, who choose to believe every truth that the Holy Spirit teaches as "He guides you into all truth" (John 16:13); who "follow the Lamb [the crucified Christ] wherever He goes" (Rev. 14:4, 5); who are "with Him" as He takes His final stand in the struggle of the nations of earth (Rev. 17:14); who identify with "the Lamb" so closely that they penetrate His thinking and His feelings.

Amid earth's clash of arms and the din of its endless traffic, listen!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 12, 2004.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Welcome" Signs are Up, the "Keep Out" Signs are Gone

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Why is the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament? Does it say anything to us now that it didn't say to its readers in the first century A.D.? Immediately we are struck with one outstanding fact: nowhere else in the New Testament is Jesus described as being a "high priest" or even a "priest." Only in Hebrews does Jesus take on this added dimension. It must mean much to us because an entire book is devoted to explaining it. But what does this new identity mean to us?

Jesus is the true Original of which the ancient high priest in Israel was merely a shadow. Hebrews makes clear that the sanctuary in old Israel was only a shadow that represented the great original in heaven where Jesus ministers. Closed doors or drawn veils characterized the old earthly sanctuary; there were no "Welcome" signs, only those that said sternly, "Keep Out!" No one but the high priest himself was ever permitted to step foot inside the Most Holy Apartment that represented the throne of God. Fear and exclusion permeated the atmosphere the closer you came to the sanctuary.

The same idea dominates the thinking of multitudes today: they are afraid of God and afraid to pray; they think they see the "Keep Out" signs everywhere. They are afraid even to step inside a church. But to all, the Book of Hebrews says loudly, the "Welcome" signs are up, the "Keep Out" signs are gone. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16, KJV). Walk right in past all the holy angels. You are now the elite; they are "ministering spirits" assigned to serve you (1:14)!

Why do you now have this new prestige that every angel in heaven recognizes? Because you are good? No; the fact is you are a sinner. The reason is that you are now royalty; royal blood flows in your veins because the Son of God "took part of the same" "flesh and blood" that you have so that "in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto [you] His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people" (2:14, 17).

The angels worship the great High Priest; they don't worship us, but they respect us! So, what should we do? "Come boldly"! Realize who we are! Let this thought lift your mind from preoccupation with the trifles on this earth.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 18, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Saints" Who Have Forgotten That They Are Sinners

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The question is often asked, How does Jesus Christ as the world's great High Priest cleanse His heavenly sanctuary?

The "cleansing" idea comes from Daniel 8:14 which says that "unto two thousand and three hundred days [in literal time, years]; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (it's going on now). Christ is the antitypical High Priest, of whom Aaron and the Levitical priests of Israel were the type; His antitypical "sanctuary" is the heavenly one of which the earthly Levitical was the type. Once a year "the day of atonement" was its "cleansing," the type of the antitypical Day of Atonement in which the world is now living (but most people don't know it). The ultra-special work of "cleansing" the ancient high priest did on that one day was a type of what Christ is doing now (Lev. 23:27-32).

But what is it that He is doing? What Christ is doing now is searching the hearts of His people on earth through the Holy Spirit; He told us long ago that's His first work, to "convict of sin" (John 16:8).

What is so special about current "Day of Atonement conviction of sin" that is different from past ages? He is now convicting His people of unknown sin, sin lying so deeply buried in human hearts that it is unrealized.

A prime example is the apostle Peter. He was so sure that he could never fall so low as to "deny" Christ; that awful sin was there all the while but beyond his knowledge. Another example: King David. He was blessed with inspiration to write our beloved 23rd Psalm, and he has slain Goliath and done many grand works, but he stumbles headlong into the "pit" of adultery and an awful cover-up of murder.

Another prime example of tragically "unknown sin" is the very "angel of the church of the Laodiceans" who does "not know" the pathetic poverty and blindness that characterizes Christ's church today, which hinders His saving work for which the world suffers deprivation.

The high priestly ministry of Christ in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary brings conviction of known sin; a wonderful work! Thank God for it.

His high priestly ministry in the Most Holy Apartment goes deeper; unknown, unrealized sin--the great curse in the lives of "saints" who have forgotten that they are sinners.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 31, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Two Great Systems of Thought

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Two great systems of thought contend in almost all Protestant churches. One is Calvinism--which maintains that if God purposes something, it's going to happen whether or no. In other words, if God elects someone to be saved, that person is going to be saved! But this system is forced to recognize that many will be lost at last; therefore it requires the belief that God has not elected "all men" to be saved, but has chosen some to be lost. It means Christ died only for "the elect," and, actually, loves only "the elect." Pretty discouraging if you're not sure God has elected you, and you're not sure Christ died for you!

The other great system of thought is Arminianism, a reaction against Calvinism. It maintains Christ died for everyone, that His sacrifice is sufficient to save everyone, but it is only provisional. It's a maybe, perhaps, possible salvation which is true only if the sinner succeeds in doing his part properly, that is, believes and keeps His law. Otherwise, the sacrifice of Christ does you no good; it's as if He had never died for you. This system appears to be much better Good News, but it leaves also a nagging fear: how can one be sure he is doing everything just right, has believed enough, or repented enough?

A wise author expressed an idea that transcends both Calvinism and Arminianism, in her book The Desire of Ages (p. 660). She maintains that when the Son of God said "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:53), He was speaking to every human being in the world. "Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and blood of Christ." This is true, she says, both of our physical and our spiritual nature.

And she comes full circle: "The sinner may resist this love, he may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus" (Steps to Christ, p. 27). Thus when Christ died on His cross, He "elected" "every man" to be saved; He purchased the gift and has given it to him; but the lost deliberately reject that which Christ has given them in the gift of Himself (John 3:16-19). Let's stop resisting Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 5, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What in the New Covenant Impacts Your Personal Life Today?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What is in the truth of the New Covenant that has an impact on your personal life today?

All seven promises God made to Abraham (Gen. 12:2, 3) are made to you, for Abraham is your "father" by faith. God promises (1) to make of you "a great nation," that is, make your life important; (2) "bless you," that is, make your life happy; (3) make your "name great," that is, people will respect you highly; (4) you "shall be a blessing," that is, to others--out of your inmost soul will "flow rivers of living water" as Jesus said in John 7:37-39; (5) God will "bless those who bless you," that is, He will honor you among your acquaintances; (6) He will "curse" anyone who "curses" you, that is, people will learn to respect you; (7) and in you, through your life, He will bring happiness to "all the families" who know you, for they will be enriched with your "blessings."

Sound impossible? Well, it sounded so to Abraham, and to Sarah especially who just couldn't give birth to the boy baby "heir" that was included in those seven promises. So, it meant waiting a quarter century for the birth of Isaac, "the child of promise," when everyone said it was hopeless. Sarah just couldn't bring herself to believe, so she and her husband invented the Old Covenant in the Hagar/Ishmael episode.

If you have been wrestling with unbelief in the darkness of discouragement, that is what can be expected as a "child of Abraham." (His descendants served for centuries in Egypt, thinking they were born to be slaves! They lacked Abraham's faith.) But you can learn to believe!

Can one learn to be happy as Sarah was at the birth of Isaac, even when your life has been ruined by divorce, illness, accident, loss of job, poverty, disgrace, or prison? Yes; choose to believe the promises of the New Covenant, for that's what Sarah finally did when "by faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised" (Heb. 11:11).

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). "Judge Him faithful"! That's the first step.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 1, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Elijah's Message—The Most Effective Reconciliation the World Has Ever Known

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When God promised to send us "Elijah the prophet" just before the second coming of Christ ("the great and dreadful day of the Lord"), his message is not to be a thunder and lightning denunciation of mankind reminiscent of his slaying the 450 prophets of Baal at the Kishon River (1 Kings 18:40).

Rather, "Elijah's" message will perform the most effective reconciliation of alienated peoples the world has ever known: "he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6). That is the last message of much more abounding grace this world will hear--that of the fourth great "angel" in Revelation 18 that "lightens the earth with glory" (vss. 1-4).

Only one Bible message can close the great gospel commission with such glorious success--the lifting up of Christ on His cross as He predicted: "'When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Me.' (In saying this He indicated the kind of death He was going to suffer)" (John 12:32, 33, Good News Bible).

The message of the three great angels of Revelation 14 appears superficially to be the most terrorizing ever proclaimed, the greatest fear possible for human hearts: whoever takes the "mark of the beast" "shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, ... poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. ... He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone ... in the presence of the Lamb ... forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night" (vss. 9-11). Could any message be more blood-curdling?

But wait a moment: it's introduced as "the everlasting gospel" of Good News (vss. 6, 7). Look more closely! It's the last effective call: "Be reconciled to God"! (2 Cor. 5:19, 20). How? By His love at last fully revealed at His cross (vss. 14, 15)!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 24, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Man of Romans 7, and 8

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In reading Romans 7 and 8, you will see that in chapter 7 Paul is sad. He tells how he is "the purchased slave of sin. ... What I do is not what I want to do, but what I detest. ... I agree with the law [of God] and hold it to be admirable. But as things are, it is no longer I who perform the action, but sin that lodges in me. ... Nothing good lodges in me--in my unspiritual nature, I mean--for though the will to do good is there, the deed is not. The good which I want to do, I fail to do; but what I do is the wrong which is against my will; and if what I do is against my will, clearly it is no longer I who am the agent, but sin that has its lodging in me.

"I discover this principle, then: that when I want to do the right, only the wrong is within my reach. In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves and making me a prisoner under the law that is in my members, the law of sin. Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me?" (vss. 14-25, The New English Bible).

People have argued for many years as to who Paul is talking about. Does he mean he himself before he was converted? Or is he talking about himself while converted? Well, he ends the chapter by saying, "With the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" (vs. 25, King James Version).

It's difficult to believe that while Paul was writing those words he could still be wallowing in alcoholism, adultery, envy, jealousy, or hatred. No, at this time Paul was living a life of victory in Christ. Therefore it is clear that Paul is describing himself as a representative of the entire human race. His "I" is the corporate "I" of humanity in general--anybody who wants to do what is right but who realizes that his nature prompts him to do wrong. That is all of us, by nature!

But in chapter 8 Paul answers his own question. There is somebody to rescue him, and that is Christ Jesus. There is a new law in Him, a new principle at work--of triumph over sin and evil. And as a human being you are a part of His purchased possession--the freedom and victory are already yours. Now believe it, and act upon that faith.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Bible Thanksgiving

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Suppose you were hungry, homeless, and sleeping under a bridge or in a cardboard box; could you celebrate Thanksgiving? Many of us tell how we say thanks for nice homes, cars, food, jobs, friends, and fun. Can those who have none of this have Thanksgiving? Don't say yes if only the Red Cross or Salvation Army gives them a turkey dinner. That lasts only one day, then back under the bridge again.

There's a Bible Thanksgiving that gets lost in the normal celebrations: thanksgiving that you don't have to die the second death; thanksgiving that you have actually been given eternal life "in Christ." That refuge under a bridge may be very uncomfortable, but it's your privilege to rejoice that "in Christ" you have already been redeemed from hell itself.

The Son of God also was homeless, had nowhere to lay His head, He says; but He was resurrected to eternal life, and "in Him" you too inherit the same. Welcome to sharing your living space with Him!

It's astounding, but it's Bible truth: you have already been "elected" to eternal life "in Christ," not that you deserve the gift for which you celebrate such transcendent Thanksgiving. Paul says, "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8, 9; when it says "not of works" it means not of your own volition).

Face reality: if Christ had not died for you, you would most certainly have been eternally lost. But He did die for you, and rose again; the "you" in Ephesians 1 and 2 is the "you" of the entire human race. All have been redeemed. Your seat at the heavenly banquet has your place card on it with your name.

Now, don't through away everything by choosing to disbelieve this gospel truth. Yes, you can be lost, and many will be; but not because they weren't elected or were overlooked. John 3:16-19 says the problem is unbelief. Believing the Good News will give you a Thanksgiving Day 365 times a year; and such faith will enable you to find a way out from under that bridge.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 26, 1997.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, November 20, 2017

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Dial Daily Bread: Have We Misunderstood the Gospel?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Galatians 5:16, 17 has spiritual nuclear energy within it. It says that if we have made the choice to walk with the Holy Spirit and let Him hold us by the hand (isn't that what baptism is?), He strives night and day 24/7 against our fallen, sinful "flesh," our sinful nature. Yes--personally, individually. The result? The text says we "cannot do the things that [we] would" (King James Version).

There are two ways we can read that: (1) We cannot do the good things the Holy Spirit prompts us to do. If the mighty power of the Holy Spirit is striving against our "flesh" and we still can't do the good things we'd like to do, that looks like the worst bad news we could imagine. That would mean that sin is stronger than God. In other words, He has lost the great controversy--in principle. That's an Old Covenant way to read Galatians 5:16, 17, popular but questionable.

(2) The other possibility is: if we choose to let the Holy Spirit hold us by the hand we cannot do the evil things that "the flesh" would prompt us to do. Paul goes on to detail "the works of the flesh" that the Holy Spirit saves us from doing: adultery, idolatry, hatred, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, envy, to name a few (vss. 19-21). A good list of things to be delivered from! But too often we seem to get entangled in them. Why? Have we misunderstood the gospel?

Then the apostle details some of the good things that the Holy Spirit prompts us (and enables us) to do if we "walk" with Him: "Love [agape], joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith," etc. (vss. 22-24). That's the best good news we could imagine; it's New Covenant news.

The traditional way to understand Paul is that we can't do the good things we'd like to do, so Jesus just has to "cover" for our continued sinning, which is nice of Him to do but leaves Him ashamed before the universe for the failure of His gospel to save from sin. In Romans 1:16 Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes."

[Incidentally, we may have thought that Romans 7:15 is parallel to our text in Galatians, but it doesn't talk about a Spirit-consecrated life, but a pre-Romans 8:1-4 life.]

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 17, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Daniel "Saw" in God's Plan of Salvation

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The only light that shone in the darkness of the ancient world was that from the prophets of the Old Testament. The God of heaven had endowed Abraham and his descendants with the only message of salvation ("in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed," Gen. 12:3). But Israel and Judah failed miserably, and became worse than the pagans whom they were sent to evangelize (Eze. 16). The honor of God as Creator and Redeemer of the world was dragged into the mire; Israel blocked His plan of salvation. In a desperate last chance to appeal to the hearts of His people and because of His love for the dark world, God permitted them to be dragged into Babylonian captivity.

Then it was that finally one of the captives saw God's plan of salvation made plain. But even Daniel could not "see" it until he grasped the principle of corporate guilt and repentance. When, like Jesus later at His baptism by John the Baptist, Daniel took upon himself personally the guilt of Israel (Dan. 9:3-20), the fog rolled away and he was able to receive "skill to understand" (vs. 22). Only then could he "see" what the Savior of the world would accomplish: (1) "finish the transgression, ... (2) make an end of sins, ... (3) make reconciliation for iniquity, ... [and] (4) bring in everlasting righteousness" (vs. 24). No superficial band-aids here!

Jesus would "condemn sin" "in the likeness of sinful flesh," get down to its roots and outlaw it forever (Rom. 8:3, 4). No more offerings of animals to only perpetuate egotism. No more Old Covenant blindness. Abraham's "Seed," that is, "One, ... who is Christ" (Gal. 3:16), would deliver the human race from the iron grip of egotism. God's New Covenant promise would no longer be sabotaged by rebellious Israel. The crucified Lamb would become "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (Rev. 5:5, 6). But all that "the Lamb" accomplished in Himself must be demonstrated finally before the world and the universe in those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (14:4).

The success of God's grand plan of salvation must ultimately depend on its final hour, and it is there that the "cleansing of the sanctuary" truth comes into its own. Christ must be able to demonstrate to the universe that He has indeed "finished transgression," "made an end of sins," "made reconciliation for iniquity" (not reconciled to iniquity--Satan's counterfeit!), and "brought in everlasting righteousness." God grant us grace to cooperate with Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 11, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Special Message for Youth--Why Was Christ Punished for Our Sins?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Today's "Dial Daily Bread" is a special message for youth (but adults are invited to read too).

Why was Christ punished for our sins? He was innocent.

In school, Billy does something wrong and must be punished. But the teacher decides to punish Johnny instead of Billy, when Johnny is innocent. He has done nothing wrong. Is this fair?

Youth have a keen sense of justice. Somehow they get the idea that God the Father is angry with sinners, but He knows that if He punishes them for their sins, they will perish. So, the common idea is that He lets His hot wrath fall on an innocent man instead, on Jesus. So Jesus dies on the cross instead of us sinners. That way, God can forgive us. Is this fair?

The answer is important:

(1) God did not kill His Son Jesus; people did.

(2) God was not angry with His Son Jesus, neither was He angry with us. He was angry because sin brings misery, agony, and death.

(3) God does not hate the sinner, but He hates the sin.

(4) When God forgives a sin, He does not merely pardon it and excuse it so that we go on doing it again and again. True forgiveness means taking the sin away so the sinner won't do it again. Therefore true forgiveness is what teaches us to actually hate sin.

(5) While it is true that Christ died to satisfy the claims of the law, which says that death is the punishment for sin, His death does more than that: it shows us how sinful we are by nature, and it shows us what sin can do--it can murder the Son of God. That's terrible! When we see this, our selfish human hearts are actually changed. We are reconciled to God, that is, our enmity is changed to true friendship. We become members of a new family--the family of God.

(6) When we see the cross of Christ we see that He not only died instead of us, He died as us. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul says, "If One died for all, then all died." You identify with Christ as He dies on that cross.

And (7), from then on you want to live for Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: 1994 Phone Message.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Ravens" of the Bible

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

We don't pay much attention to them for they are lowly creatures--ordinary blackbirds, crows: the "ravens" of the Bible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 4, 2009.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What God Promised in the Third Commandment

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

For hundreds of years people have thought of the Ten Commandments as ten prohibitions, stern warnings not to do what we naturally feel like doing, ten "don'ts" set in hard, menacing stone. As most people usually read them or hear them preached, they come across as discouraging. But now people are discovering that there are assurances of salvation in them, and that God has some great Good News for us in the Ten Commandments.

The third commandment, for example, is a promise of happiness deep within our hearts. It reads: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Ex. 20:7).

Not only does it speak of saying a wrong word with our lips, but it goes deeper within. It says: don't pretend to be a follower of God when in your soul you know you aren't. Don't let people think of you as a great person when you know it's a lie. God has put into this commandment an assurance that He will give you authenticity of character. No deceptive veneer on the outside with cheapness underneath; no paint covering up flaws within.

We're talking about the kind of character God wants to see in us. If you become a billionaire, but in the end realize that your character is only an imitation, you can't be happy. So, in order to save us from that embarrassment now and in the end, the dear Lord has given us this third commandment--an assurance that if we will believe His Good News, He will guarantee to make us into a wonderful character of truth, uprightness, and purity. We will become a beacon of light in a dark world, a refuge where people will come for rescue out of the storm. Nothing can bring you such happiness as to know that both God and man honor you for being genuine through-and-through.

But God's great third commandment contains a warning that we dare not disregard. "The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain." His name is holy, no matter how many times in ignorance your lips have taken it in vain. When you "see" what happened on the cross, how the Son of God took your place, died your second death, endured the hiding of His Father's face--then something begins to happen in your hard heart. It is melted; tears come into your eyes. Never again will you want to take that holy name upon your lips in anger or in jest! Now you have begun to get acquainted with the One whose "name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).

Now your lips, your speech, are different. Like the disciples who spent time with Jesus, the crowd understood they were "different." The people said, "The way you speak gives you away!" (Matt. 26:73, Good News Bible). The proud person becomes humble, the profligate becomes pure, the filthy language becomes clean. This is Jesus saving us from sin, now!

God has promised in the third commandment that He will hold you "guiltless" forever. "Happy are those whose sins are forgiven, whose wrongs are pardoned. ... whom the Lord does not accuse of doing wrong" (Psalm 32:1, 2, GNB). That happiness is especially precious in these last days as we prepare for the return of Jesus as He has promised (John 14:1-3).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: A New Look at God's Law, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."