Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Keeps This Wicked World From Being Destroyed?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why doesn't God destroy our wicked world now? There is an answer in the sanctuary service of Israel:

Two lambs were offered "daily" on the altar of burnt offering, morning and evening, in behalf of everyone within the boundaries of Israel. Strangers and Gentiles were included as the beneficiaries. No repentance was required, no confession; no questions were asked; the lambs were offered continually, whether anybody believed or not (Ex. 29:38-42). All you had to do was to be a human being, and you were under the umbrella of God's abounding grace.

This was the gospel by "moonlight" (Rev. 12:1). As we come to the "sunlight" of the New Testament, the meaning is made clear: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). As a wise writer has said, "God has encircled the world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air [we breathe]."

The daily service of the two lambs was a ministry for the whole world. When Jesus came to John asking for baptism, John refused. Jesus had to give him a Bible study there in the water, convincing John that He was the antitypical Lamb of the daily service. "Then he allowed Him" (Matt. 3:15).

The next day John introduced Him, saying, "Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Not "maybe," "perhaps," or "He would like to be," or "He takes away the sin of a few." Why this universal sacrifice of atonement? "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (1 John 2:2).

The "incense" offered on the altar of incense daily or continually was also a type of a universal ministry of intercession. Only the blood of Jesus continually ministered keeps this wicked world from being destroyed (Rev. 8:3-5).

Thank God He still ministers today in the Most Holy Apartment! You and I can respond today! And that's Good News!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: January 19, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Responding to Christ’s Love

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

If someone gave you a precious gift, your most natural response would be to say a fervent thank you. And, further, according to the value of the gift, your most natural response would be a desire to demonstrate your gratitude to the friend for what he did.

This capacity for glad, thankful response is built into your human nature, a part of the package that is you. It is almost instinctive. Dozens of times a day we will catch ourselves saying thank you for kindnesses done, and as often we find ourselves watching for opportunities to respond.

This simple, unaffected, uncomplicated response of our humanity is all that God has ever asked from anyone. Christ gave Himself for us on the cross. If we don’t see it, or can’t sense how there was any real gift or sacrifice involved, there will naturally be no response of loving sacrifice on our part, only the self-centered desire for our own personal security. Such a halfhearted, lukewarm response is inevitable from anyone’s heart when Satan succeeds in obscuring the reality of what Christ gave for us.

But when we see what happened at Calvary, something does begin to move us. “Through death [the second death]” Christ destroyed “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and” thus released “those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14, 15).

As we remember the cross, Satan will be defeated continually. Many people all around the world will respond exactly as Paul did:

“We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one Man died for everyone, which means that they all share in His death. He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for Him who died and was raised to life for their sake” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15, Good News Bible).

It simply becomes almost impossible for anyone who sees it to live any longer unto himself! Talk about power. This must be what Paul meant when he said, “The message of the cross … is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

--Robert J. Wieland

From: In Search of the Cross, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Our Heavenly Father Is True and Faithful

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

All through the ages, Satan has tried to shake people's confidence in God's character. One thoughtful writer has said, "The world is dark with misapprehension of God." Such false conceptions of Him are at the root of pagan or heathen religions, and multitudes of professed Christians are suffering various kinds of depression for the same reason. For example, think about the doctrine of God torturing lost people in painful fire for all eternity; that paints Him in darker colors than history's worst dictators.

But even those who seek to live close to God may be tempted to wonder if He is the kind, loving, just Heavenly Father that they want to believe in. Why does He permit injustice? When they pray to Him, begging for a piece of bread, does He give them a stone? Satan is so cruel that he would like to make you think that is God's character!

The answer to that terrible temptation is Jesus. When He became our "second Adam," entering the stream of our humanity to become "Immanuel, ... God with us," He suffered being tempted "in all points ... as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). On His cross He cried out, "My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

The Bible is full of examples of people who were tempted to think He gave them a stone instead of bread: Job, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph sold by his brothers as a slave, David fleeing from the king of Israel, Saul "the anointed of the Lord," Jeremiah in his dungeon and his mud hole, John the Baptist dying alone in a dungeon, Paul sick unto death, etc.

Let us build our faith not on transient feelings, but on the solid rock of Bible truth. Our heavenly Father is true and faithful!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 6, 2013.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: It Will Come, Like a Lost Vein of Gold

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The announcement is yet to be sounded, "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Rev. 19:7, 8). The good news is that these words will come true! The key to fulfillment lies in the repentance that Christ calls for.

Executive committee actions, polished programs, high pressure promotion, can never truly motivate. Truth must be the vehicle, reaching human hearts, for only truth can penetrate the secret recesses of Laodicea's soul. The Lord has in reserve a means of motivation that will be fully effective. Something happened at Pentecost which fueled the early church with a phenomenal spiritual energy. It must and will happen again.

That fantastic motivation flowed naturally out of a unique repentance. No sin in all time was more horrendous than that which those people were guilty of--murdering the Son of God. Mankind's deep-seated "enmity against God" had finally produced its full fruitage (cf. Rom. 8:7). But they were only our surrogates, acting on our behalf. By nature, we are no less guilty simply because by accident we were born many centuries later.

Sin has always been "enmity against God," but no one ever fully understood its dimensions until the Holy Spirit drove the truth home to the hearts of Peter's audience that fiftieth day after the resurrection. The realization of their guilt came over them like a flood. Theirs was no petty seeking for security or reward in heaven, nor was it a craven search to evade punishment. The cross of the ages was towering over them, and their human hearts responded to its reality.

A repentance like that of Pentecost is what Christ calls for from us today. It will come, like a lost vein of gold in the earth that must surface again in another place. Our hazy, indistinct idea of repentance can produce only what we see today--hazy, indistinct devotion, lukewarmness. Like medicine taken in quantity sufficient to produce a concentration in the bloodstream, our repentance must be comprehensive, full-range, in order for the Holy Spirit to do a fully effective work.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: "As Many As I Love ... ," 1986.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Happens to Someone Who Is "Alienated From the Life of God"?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What happens to someone who is “alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18)? The resultant “ignorance” produces naturally that “hardening of their heart.” It happens all the time, as it did long ago in Paul’s day. Gentiles went to the games in the amphitheaters to watch men kill each other, and they enjoyed watching Christians, men and women, thrown to the lions. The people loved the excitement and the flirting with death, so they would watch it. Human hearts today have become so hard that they could someday watch Christ being crucified and laugh.

“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:20-24).

Thank God, here comes that wonderful word, “But …” God so loved the world that He sent His Son into this cesspool of iniquity. We “learned Christ” like we learn a new language. It is He Himself who has been teaching us. Like a tree shedding leaves in autumn, we drop these worldly ways one by one as the Holy Spirit convicts us of this and that. Hearts as hard as granite are “renewed” and become human again. The very mind has a new life; you stop and think a moment and you realize, you are a new creation! You discover that “true holiness” is the only way to live a happy life. You repent that you so often shied away from it, and resisted it.

Let’s count up what Paul is asking these people to remember:

1. Stop walking like the other Gentiles do. You have a new heart now.

2. Put off your former conduct, like you put off a worn-out, shabby, last year’s coat. Just put it off! Don’t pull it out of the garbage can again.

3. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” In other words, stop resisting the Holy Spirit as He renews your mind. Constantly He is trying to give you “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5).

4. “Put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.” Put off your old, put on the new. Putting on the new is easy once you have put off the old; that’s the only struggle you have. Once you see how “the world” crucifies Christ afresh, you can’t be enticed any longer to follow its ways.

Jesus tells us that He is sending the Holy Spirit to us, each one, individually and personally. The Lord has untold billions of people (and angels) to care about, but no matter, He attends to you as if you were the only one He has on earth. He is infinite; but because He is, He can attend to the finite, which is you.

--Robert J. Wieland

From: Ephesians: You've Been "Adopted," 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Invitation From "Dial Daily Bread"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Next week many of you will begin studying the new Sabbath School quarterly on First and Second Peter: “Feed My Sheep.” 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 in the context of the "most precious" 1888 message. Some of the essays 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 the words "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.


The "Dial Daily Bread" Staff

Dial Daily Bread: One of the Most Common-Sense Suggestions in the Bible

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

One of the most common-sense suggestions in the Bible is in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul has been discussing the Lord's Supper (vss. 23ff); the bread is a symbol of the body of the Lord Jesus "which is broken for [us]." We are to observe this ordinance "in remembrance of [Him]."

But then he warns us against eating "this bread or [drinking] this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner," for such careless, thoughtless irreverence makes us "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord," in other words, guilty of crucifying "again" for ourselves "the Son of God, and put[ting] Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).

Then the apostle says "let [someone] examine himself," for "he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." This guilt can even cause sickness, and "many sleep" (die prematurely). The reason is that the Lord's Supper teaches us that "every meal becomes a sacrament." If we eat our daily food without discerning and recognizing that all we have comes because of the sacrifice of the Son of God we "eat and drink judgment to ourselves."

Then comes the eminent common sense: "If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged" (vs. 31). Why wait until the final judgment to face judgment? Wouldn't it make sense to do a self-judging process first, and get it over with before the final condemnation?

The Holy Spirit's job is to "convict of sin" (John 16:8), and enable us to do the self-judging now. It's all on a friendly basis, though it feels severe. The primary sin at the bottom of everything is, we do "not believe in" Him (vs. 9).

If we do believe, not only will those "rivers of living water" flow out of our inmost soul, but we will see righteousness in Jesus going to His Father, and we will know that "the ruler of this world" has been cast out of our lives (vs. 11). We will "trample" upon that enemy! (cf. Luke 10:19).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 25, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: What Makes the Difference Between “A Pure Heart” and a Heart That Sins?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

What makes the difference between “a pure heart” and a heart that sins? We answer glibly, “Jesus.” Yes, of course; but why does He purify some people’s hearts and not everybody’s? What is the anatomy of sin? When we want “a pure heart” but end up again committing the horrible sin that we hate, what’s gone wrong? “If, while we seek to be justified by Christ we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin?” (Gal. 2:17). Is there some fine print in the “contract” we haven’t noticed?

A thoughtful writer said something way back in 1900 that we can’t say any better: We “are not saved by being delivered utterly from the flesh, but by receiving power to conquer and rule over all the evil tendencies and the desires of the flesh. ... If [we] were to be saved by being delivered from all temptation, and set in a realm of no temptation, then Jesus need not have come into the world. But never, by any such deliverance as that, could [we] have developed character. Therefore ... Jesus came to the world, and put Himself in the flesh just where [we] are; and met that flesh just as it is, with all its tendencies and desires; and by the divine power which He brought by faith, He ‘conquered sin in the flesh,’ and thus brought to all mankind that divine faith which brings the divine power ... to deliver ... from the power of the flesh. ... Instead of Jesus’ trying to save men in a way in which they would be limp and characterless, by setting them in a realm of no temptation, He came to man ... in the midst of all his temptations, ... and by that conquest brought victory to every soul in the world. ...

“Adultery begins in the unclean thought, the lascivious desire. ... [Jesus] was ‘touched with the feeling of our infirmities’ because He ‘was in all points tempted like as we are.’ ... ‘Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts [his own desires and inclinations of the flesh] and enticed’ (James 1:14). All this Jesus could experience without sin, because to be tempted is not sin. It is only ‘when lust hath conceived,’ when the desire is cherished, when the inclination is sanctioned,--only then it is that ‘it bringeth forth sin.’ And Jesus never even in a thought cherished a desire, or sanctioned an inclination, of the flesh. ... In so doing, He brought complete victory, and divine power to maintain it, to every soul in the world.” *

If the 1900 language bothers you, here is the point: Now receive what He has given you.

--Robert J. Wieland

* Alonzo T. Jones, Review and Herald, Sept. 18, Oct. 2, 1900.

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 15, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Story of Esau--Two Points for Teens to Ponder

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Just because the gospel is "Good News" doesn't mean it doesn't warn us against sin. Hebrews is the only book in the New Testament that is permeated with special Good News of our Savior as the Lamb of God, as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, as our faithful High Priest.

In Hebrews our attention is focused on the love of Christ who "tasted death [the second] for everyone" (2:9). With the "shedding" of His blood is "remission" of sin (9:22). The sacrifice of the Son of God is infinite. However, the word "love" or agape is nowhere in Hebrews, but, by the drama of massive understatement, His blood-sacrifice on His cross permeates Hebrews as the eloquent revelation of the love (agape) of Christ.

Suppose Christ's brilliant light shines on someone's pathway, only to be ridiculed and forsaken: the rejecter brings on himself the abhorrent judgment not only of God--but of the universe of God (hence, the dire warnings in Hebrews 6:4-8; 10:26-29).

There is one more: 12:14-17, the story of Esau. He "fell short of the grace of God." A "root of bitterness" sprang up in his young heart; he became "defiled." Like too many teens, he steeled his heart against the solemn worship of God, resented Isaac's and Rebekah's calls to family worship, hated Sabbath study, chose to be worldly in spirit, "profane," rebellious.

But all this while he still "had" the glorious "birthright"--given him when he was born. God Himself could not wrest it from him. Jacob marveled that his brother could be so nonchalant, so irreverent, so lacking in appreciation for the trust that was given him. And then the time came when he "sold" that precious birthright--all for some momentary gratification.

Teens can ponder two outstanding points:

(1) They have the birthright as surely as Esau had it; Christ's sacrifice has bestowed upon them a "judicial ... verdict of acquittal" (Rom. 5:15-18, New English Bible). For teenage folly they are forgiven just like those who crucified Christ the first time (Luke 23:34).

(2) Indulge our natural born "enmity against God" (we all have it; Rom. 8:7), we are still forgiven. But choose to despise, to "sell" that forgiveness in exchange for sinful indulgence--think about Esau. He cried buckets of tears--and never found a way back.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 22, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Character Perfection--Is It Possible?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is it possible that sinners (like all of us) can overcome sin and become truly Christlike in character? Can "the righteousness of the law" (perfect obedience, perfect loyalty) ever be achieved in this life? The Bible quite clearly says: "all have sinned and fall short [present tense] of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). Our very nature is sinful; and even "saints" can't help showing that they are sinners. Nobody is perfect. So, is perfection of character just a dream?

The Bible insists on a Good News answer. God sent His beloved Son into the world on the special mission to "save His people from their sins," not in them (Matt. 1:21). Romans 8:3, 4 says that "He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us ..." The word "righteousness" used there means the righteous character of those who walk "according to the Spirit."

Hebrews 13:21 says that the Savior will "make you complete ["perfect," KJV] in every good work to do His will." And Revelation 14:1-5 describes a people at the close of time who "are without fault before the throne of God," who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes." Not part way, but totally. They will refuse "the mark of the beast" and will receive "the seal of God" (Rev. 13:16, 17; 7:1-4).

Are they fanatics or extremists? No! Jesus got in on the perfection debate Himself on the Good News side. He said: "Be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). In saying so, He gives us the key to unlock the mystery. His context is learning to love like the Father loves, who sends His rain and sunshine on the just and on the unjust, who loves bad people, even His enemies. Jesus' idea of "perfection" is simple: learning to love like that!

John learned the idea from Him, for he also says that if you've learned to love like that, you "know God," you're "born of God," He "abides in" you, you have "His Spirit," and you yourself "dwell in God." Furthermore, you overcome fear (which goes along with sin), and you end up "perfect" (see 1 John 4:7-18).

True, you and I were born totally lacking such love (agape); but there's a filling station where the Holy Spirit "[pours it] out in our hearts" (Rom. 5:5). Or to change the metaphor, it's the simple matter of going to school to learn it, "the school of Christ," where the "student" must have been enrolled since kindergarten.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 12, 1999.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Sin God Cannot Forgive

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

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

Is such a person happy after he has committed it? The common idea may be that no, he is very miserable. But it is more likely that he is remarkably carefree and lighthearted. He could be forever smiling, even have a sparkling personality. The Holy Spirit is no longer convicting him of sin!

Jesus said that His first work with any of us is this: "When He is come, He will convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). The holy nerve of conscience has been severed, and the sinner goes on through life with no voice getting through to reprove him of wrongdoing.

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

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

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: We Don't Need Another Long Detour

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Why did God deliver the Ten Commandments at Sinai with fear-inducing thunder, lightning, an earthquake, fire, an ominous trumpet blast, and a death boundary around the mountain (Ex. 19:16-19)?

Did He frighten Abraham when He delivered to him the New Covenant? We read that He melted Abraham's heart with the revelation of His love and wrote the Ten Commandments upon his believing heart (Gen. 12:2, 3; 15:1-7; Gal. 3:8). Why this awesome display at Sinai?

Before Israel left Egypt He gave them the same Good News He had given Abraham 430 years earlier, but the people didn't listen (Ex. 6:2-9). Then at Sinai He renewed the promise He had made to Abraham (19:4-6). But the people in unbelief invented for themselves the Old Covenant idea of disregarding God's promise to them and substituting their own to Him (vss. 7, 8).

Paul in his Letter to the Galatians appears as the first Israelite to discern the meaning of Israel's history: "the law ... was added [or emphasized or underlined] because of [their] transgressions, till the Seed [Christ] should come to whom the promise was made" (3:19). They thought they were able to do everything the Lord said to do, so now He had to impress on their minds their helplessness to obey and their need of His much more abounding grace.

In Paul's words, "the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came [in everybody's personal experience], we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the [Ten Commandment] law was our tutor ["schoolmaster," KJV) to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" as Abraham was (vss. 22-24).

Thus "the law" led Israel on that long detour of ups and downs in their history after Sinai. Finally, instead of believing as Abraham did, they crucified their Messiah; but now we have the opportunity to believe!

We don't need another long detour; let's "believe" today as God intends we shall!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 29, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Could "Baal Worship" Still Be With Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Elijah's story is no legendary tale to be forgotten in a few days. Both Malachi and Jesus talk of God "sending Elijah" back again before the second coming of Jesus. And we are told that when "he" comes, some Christians will treat "him" as King Ahab and Jezebel did. Could we do that?

Could "Baal worship" still be with us? The name Baal simply means "lord." A housewife would call to her husband, "Baal, come to lunch!" Over a century of spiritual confusion, the people sincerely thought it was another acceptable name for the God of Israel; because they were afraid to pronounce His true name for it was too holy. Baal worship developed gradually. It was "contemporary worship," keeping up with the times, an ecumenical "outreach" to the many secular people all around them. The people of Israel liked it.

Ahab and Jezebel were the equivalent of "the anointed of the Lord" in holy office. This was plausible, for the Lord had "made Baasha prince over My people Israel," bad as he was (1 Kings 16:2, KJV)! So much prosperity attended the reign of King Ahab that the people naturally saw him also as the divinely appointed "prince of Israel." Worldly? Yes.

Was Elijah sweet, humble, and gracious in his approach to the king? He strides into Ahab's office with no appointment, right past the secretary, sets himself in front of the startled king and announces doom. Then disappears without a good-bye. Later he confronts Ahab and tells him directly he is the sole cause of the terrible drought and famine. Would any church board like to invite "Elijah" to be your guest speaker?

Jesus clears up a lot of confusion by telling us that when "Elijah" comes, "he" won't be a man with a stern face and a white beard. "He" will be a message! (See Matt. 11:7-15.)

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 9, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: How Does the Good Shepherd Idea Translate Into Practical Living?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

How does the Good Shepherd who is seeking and finding His lost sheep translate into practical day-by-day living? If the Savior gives us a good faith-relationship with Himself, shouldn't it be fair for us now to "maintain" that "relationship" by (a) Bible study, (b) prayer, and (c) witnessing? If the Lord gives you a new car, isn't it fair that you "maintain" it by changing the oil, renewing the brake pads, paying the insurance, etc.?

Yes, it's fair, but a lot of cars fall into disrepair by not being "maintained." The new car thrill wears off; as also many people lose their "relationship with the Lord" by neglect and forgetfulness. So we have "revival" campaigns at various intervals. And of course, all that is good.

It sounds like reasonable good sense that millions know no other way to be Christians. But when you think it through, isn't this the essence of the "by faith plus by works" idea? We're afraid of any Good News that's better than that, because making the Good News too good might lull us to sleep and we'll forget to keep the law. The "faith plus works" idea becomes immensely popular because it seems to be the only way people can stay "faithful."

If the Good Shepherd has risked His own life to save the lost sheep, doesn't it make sense that He require the sheep to walk its way home? Yes, that's fair; but that's not what the parable says: "When He has found it, He lays it on His shoulders, rejoicing" (Luke 15:5). Paul says in Philippians: "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until [it is finished on] the Day of Jesus Christ" (1:6).

What does that mean? Lazy, do-nothing religion? No; it means that through the Holy Spirit the Good Shepherd who initiated this good "relationship" now seeks to maintain it. His love is not only a finding love, it's also a keeping love. The Holy Spirit is a Person who keeps convicting us of "sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). Be careful: don't drown His voice. That's where our problem starts.

Even Jesus, when he was with us in the flesh, needed His Father to wake Him up "morning by morning ... to hear as the learned." (Does the Father love you less? It seems fair to say No, He loves His Son more; but the amazing truth is He loves us just as much!) But Jesus did not resist His Father's awakening calls--as we do so often: "I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away" (Isa. 50:4, 5).

You can't save yourself even one percent. But you can let Christ save you, you can "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," you can "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," etc. (Phil. 2:5; Col. 3:16). You can stop resisting Him.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 12, 2003.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Habakkuk Tells Us, “Don’t Get Impatient; Hang On”

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

I am sure that everybody who believes in the Lord shares a common problem: we seldom get answers to prayer as fast as we want them. Some get tired waiting and give up their faith. Habakkuk, in chapter 2, verse 3, encourages us not to give up: "The vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

That word "tarry" in the Hebrew is two words. The Good News Bible has the idea: "The time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed." The idea is not that God is slow, or that He has to be waked up.

He's very quick--so much so that Isaiah says He answers our prayers before we pray them ("before they call, I will answer," 65:24), but the answer seems slow to us. One reason is that there are hindrances to His answer getting through to us, as Daniel describes in 10:12, 13 when the angel tells him, "From the first day that you set your heart to understand, ... your words were heard, ... But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days."

It could well be that the Lord has already sent the answer to your prayer, but some similar hindrance has occurred. In the meantime, it's your job to believe in the Lord, to appreciate His character, to know that He is your Friend, not your Enemy. So David says over and over, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him" (Psalm 37:7). Wouldn't you be embarrassed if you became impatient like King Saul when he was waiting for the prophet Samuel to come and he went ahead in his impatience and did what he should not have done? (1 Sam. 13).

Habakkuk is telling us, "Don't get impatient; hang on. The Lord will not truly delay. It would be a pity if when His answer does come, you in the meantime have given up so you can't receive the blessing, and then like King Saul you lose everything!"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 10, 1998.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, March 06, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: God Never Drives Anyone to Despair

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There are sincere Christian people who believe that man is by nature immortal. They think that the story of the witch of Endor tells the truth that "Samuel" was still conscious after the Bible says he died. "Look," they say, "1 Samuel 28 says that 'the woman saw Samuel,' and that 'Samuel spoke to Saul,'" saying this and that (vss. 12-19). So, these people say, "this proves that even though Samuel was dead, he was still alive somehow."

But look again and see what this so-called "Samuel" had to say to poor King Saul. The harried king was already nearly distraught with fear because of the impending battle with the Philistines. He had been praying to the Lord and got no answer; did this so-called "Samuel" bring him any message of Good News? No, this "spirit" said precisely what Satan would say to any discouraged soul: you've had it, there is no hope for you! Take your own life!

God Himself never tells that to anyone. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins" (1 John 1:9). If in this extremity with the Philistines, King Saul had called for a prayer meeting and invited David (who by the way was a true prophet of God) to come and join them in solemn prayer, the true God of Israel would have responded to save Israel, as He had always done. But King Saul actually invited the devil to guide him and the nation!

This so-called "Samuel" harassed and tortured a helpless human being and drove him to utter despair by recounting all his sins and mistakes so as to overwhelm him and drive him to suicide. No, that is not what any true messenger from God does to anyone; He never drives anyone to despair! 1 Samuel 28 calls this evil spirit "Samuel" only because the witch thought it was he, and King Saul believed her.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 17, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Why Ask God for Something When You Doubt He Will Bless You?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When you pray for something and you don't seem to get an answer, what could be wrong? The stock answer is Psalm 66:18, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear." "Regard" means to cherish, to keep on indulging the sin after the Holy Spirit convicts you of it, which is "willful sin." Yes, the Lord has too much self-respect to take a prayer seriously that comes from someone who goes on willfully insulting Him. He still loves that person, and He keeps on giving that person grace and mercy and kindness, but He can't "do business" with someone who is obviously, knowingly, purposefully, willfully, a hypocrite.

"But that's not me!" someone says. Maybe there's another reason why prayer seems unanswered: If you choose to doubt His willingness to hear and to answer (and worst of all, express the doubt to someone else), you are making it embarrassing for God to answer your prayer. He just can't, much as He would like to!

The reason is that you doubt the very bedrock character of God; you are thinking maybe, perhaps, possibly your heavenly Father will give you a stone when you ask Him for a piece of bread; and then you have slid yourself into the position of being a hypocrite. Why ask God for something when you doubt His willingness to bless? You are mouthing empty words! That's hypocrisy!

So: (1) "He who comes to God must believe (a) that He is, and (b) that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). And (2), "Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24). Believe what? That you receive them (present tense), and that you will have them (future tense).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: November 8, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: God Gave You a Precious Book!

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Would you like to have an experience better than watching any movie? Read the Book of Revelation all the way through--no commentaries or books to explain it. Don't get bogged down in details--just go through it like you'd watch a play on a stage.

You'll soon see that there is a special blessing pronounced on the one who will do so--it's in chapter 1, verse 3: "Blessed is he who reads, and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep [treasure] those things which are written in it; for the time is near." That is the only book of the sixty-six in the Bible that has such a special blessing on the one who reads it, or just listens to it being read. Yet, strangely enough, it is the one book of the sixty-six that seems to be most often neglected by preachers.

You will find one word appearing over and over, more than 25 times, "the Lamb." In fact, it is the first symbol in the book, and it is the easiest to understand. It means the crucified Christ. The cross of Christ is therefore the most prominent subject in the Book of Revelation.

As you read, you will see the great drama of the ages played out as on a giant movie screen, and something will well up in your human heart to realize that the central Hero of this vast portrayal is your personal Savior, the One who knows you best, who loves you when you have even been at your worst, the one who went to hell to save you and died your second death. Then you will realize that you are an important participant in this vast drama, that you have an important contribution to make.

It's a thrilling experience to read the Book of Revelation all the way through to that glorious climax when you walk the street of the New Jerusalem and eat the fruit of the tree of life, and drink from that pure river of the water of life. Yes, God gave you that precious book!

--Robert J. Wieland

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