Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Who Is the "Us" in Paul's Letter to the Ephesians?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians there is some evidence that the apostle intended the letter to go to everybody, not only to the believers in that city.

About half of the letter is concerned with telling the world what Jesus Christ did for us even before any of us were born. He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (1:3). But who is the "us"? The believers in Ephesus, yes, by all means; but are they the only ones?

Then the apostle goes on: "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, ... having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (vss. 4, 5). Now Paul brings the reader to a point of decision. We must decide: (a) Does he mean that God has "predestined" some people before they are born to be saved, and therefore the "us" means He has "predestined" "all" to be saved? Or (b), has He predestined others before they are born to be lost?

If we choose to believe (b), we raise an enormous barrier against the cardinal truth of the entire Bible--that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). There is no way under heaven that any rational human being can believe that a God who is love would determine some poor people to be lost before they are born, in spite of their desire (and trying) to be saved! If "God is love," He must give every one free choice; and a divine predestination to hell is no free choice!

The "us" in Ephesians chapter 1 has to be the entire human race. It's the same "all men" of Romans 5:15-18 who are given "the free gift" of election and justification in Christ their Substitute. (But we can reject what we are given!)

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 27, 2005.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is the Apostle Paul's Devotion Possible for Us?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever marveled at the devotion and self-sacrifice we see in the life of the apostle Paul? He said, "For me to live is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). He loved life as much as anybody, but still rejoiced that he was permitted to suffer for the sake of Christ who had suffered so much for him. On and on he went through life, scorning retirement, motivated by the love [agape] of Christ in his ministry, finally laying his head down on the block while the Roman soldier severed it.

Has Paul earned a first class ticket to heaven while the rest of us must be content with third class passage (if we get there!)? Will he enjoy a mansion in the earth made new while we will be content with a shack, if we can squeeze through the pearly gates, or maybe just sleep on the grass? Is the all-out devotion such as Paul's possible for us who live in comfort, and for many, luxury? It's not our fault we are heirs to the life-style we enjoy! In the final Judgment, will we step shamefully aside while Paul gets his very special reward? Or is his devotion possible for us?

In these last days it will be repeated in that mystic number of "144,000" of Revelation 14:1-5, who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes." It wasn't some special trait of character in Paul; he was a selfish sinner like we are, by nature. He simply saw something we have not as yet seen clearly: Jesus poured out His life (precious to Him as it can be to us!), "poured out His soul unto death" (Isa. 53:12)--the second death.

Paul was able to "comprehend" what we haven't yet clearly seen--"what is the width and length and depth and height" of this "love [agape] of Christ which passes knowledge" (Eph. 3:18, 19)? God will see to it that we "comprehend" it. Will you welcome the revelation?

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The "Super-Enemy" and the Final Judgment

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

During these thousands of years of human history, a "Super-Enemy" has tried to distort the picture of God's character. His purpose: to create and encourage in us a heart-"enmity against God" (see Rom. 8:7). And, of course, a heart-enmity against God will surely produce a heart-enmity against our fellow men, globally.

It's what "we," the world, see in our mirror--the image of a world dark with misapprehension of God. It's what our human society would be if we had no Savior, if His dear Holy Spirit were withdrawn from the world. Let's enjoy a lovely springtime, but let's remember we wouldn't have even one blossom if Someone had not worn a crown of thorns in our behalf, whose blood ran down the wood from the tree on which He was hanged, to sanctify the earth itself on which we live.

One distortion that Satan has tried to capitalize on is the doctrine of the final judgment. Jesus clarifies a widespread misconception: His Father refuses to condemn even one human being in the final judgment. "The Father judges [Gr., condemns] no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, ... and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man" (John 5:22, 27). In other words, the Father has washed His holy hands of judging sinners.

Where we think we see Him pictured in the Bible as our final Condemner, in reality He is pictured there as presiding at the final judgment. But the final sentencing, the condemnation of the lost, He has left to the One who is our Peer. It's like in our civil society: we select a jury of twelve citizens who are our peers to try a capital case. Our final Judge is to be our Elder Brother who has known and experienced all of our temptations to sin, but "knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21).

And then comes the amazing next step in understanding: Jesus Himself says, "if anyone hears My words, and does not believe, I do not judge [condemn] him." The only people He will judge "in the last day" are those who believe in Him, and He will vindicate them (John 12:47, 48). May we grasp the message, "Be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 16, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: An Overlooked Aspect of the Third Angel's Message

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There's an often overlooked aspect of the great third angel's message that creates a vacuum in our heart experience. Its absence nurtures lukewarmness--that vague sense of spiritual futility.

What's missing: the third angel's message is a Day of Atonement idea--something new in 6000 years of human history. It's the Good News of justification by faith in the light of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary--glorious truth beyond what our dear brother Martin Luther (in all his godly sincerity) could grasp in his day.

One clear-thinking writer said that as the third angel pronounces his fearful warning in Revelation 14:9-12, he is pointing to the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary: "Here [is found] the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." They have "followed the Lamb" in His final ministry!

And the Bible supports that profound insight, because the whole of Revelation chapters 12 and onward is built upon the awe-inspiring change in the heavenly administration when the seventh angel blows his trumpet in chapter 11:15: "Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,' ... Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple" (vs. 19)--clearly, the opening of the final phase of Christ's high priestly ministry in the Most Holy Apartment.

In past ages, Christ's ministry was preparing people to die. What is He doing now? Preparing a people for translation at His second coming. Life now is serious business; let's cooperate with Him. As the same writer has said, Let's stop "resisting our Lord in His office work."

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 14, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Does the Lord Love Some People More Than Others?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Does the Lord love some people more than others? Peter, James, and John were special disciples to Jesus, and John was the one whom in a very special sense, "Jesus loved" (John 13:23). They were eager students in the "school of Christ."

The Holy Spirit tells us:

(1) "Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights" (Prov. 3:11, 12; also see Heb. 12:5, 6).

(2) Some people go through life like it's a picnic ("have a continual feast," Prov. 15:15). Others are "gifted" with pain, sorrow, and disappointments. In the end, the "gifts" are more valuable.

(3) Did the Lord love Joseph more than He loved the ten brothers who sold him into slavery? All eleven were in "the church" of that day; He had a very special work for Joseph to do--hence his special "chastening" (discipline). Joseph seems to be a type of Christ, the Savior of the world, because he saved his family, and yes the Middle East world of that day, from starvation in the great famine of seven years (Gen. 41:41ff).

(4) For Joseph to have become able to hold that high position, required all that special discipline. The Lord's love therefore had to be displayed in that very unique way.

(5) No "chastening seems to be joyful for the present," that is, when you endure it you seem to be missing out on the picnic. It's "grievous," painful; "nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb. 12:11).

It may be hard to see through your tears now, but it's New Covenant training because it prepares you for that place of honor in the Lord's economy: "You shall be a blessing" wherever you go throughout the earth in your life time (Gen. 12:2, New Covenant promises!); all who knew you will thank the Lord for giving you to their world!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 24, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Am I Losing Out With God?"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Someone has written that when she got up in the morning she wanted to spend some "quality time" with the Lord, in prayer and Bible study, to maintain a "relationship" with Him. But then she couldn't help noticing how messy the kitchen and rest of the house were, so she felt she had to straighten things up. The "quality time" was gone. "So am I losing out with God?"

Let's "walk softly" here. There are times when a wise doctor keeps a patient in a coma on intravenous feeding; but normally a healthy person eats because he's hungry, not because of stern cold duty. Your problem may not be that your 24-hour day is too short (that would be God's fault). Perhaps good sincere people have given you a wrong idea of God. He is not waiting for you to maintain a relationship with Him; He wants you to know He is maintaining a relationship with you. It all begins with His initiative, not yours. He wants you saved more than you want to be.

When Jesus came, He changed our ideas about His Father. The Good Shepherd is not waiting for His lost sheep to find Him; He is seeking the sheep (Luke 15:3-32). The text about "seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near" (Isa. 55:6) needs a clearer translation. The Hebrew verb for "seek" is not the common one, looking for a lost object; it means "pay attention to Me because I am near! I'm not far away, ever!"

This idea of working hard to maintain our "relationship" with the Lord is a subtle Old Covenant idea that has crept in. When you begin to grasp His seeking love, His cross, you will "hunger and thirst" for His "truth of the gospel." It will expel your love for amusement; it will heal you of your Bible boredom. But here again we "walk softly": if you are in a spiritual coma, yes, force yourself to read your Bible and pray. But please ... believe the New Covenant.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 25, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A "Shared Substitution" With Christ

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

What does the Bible say about the "great controversy between Christ ands Satan"? This conflict leads up to the final Battle of Armageddon. It's more ominous than the world conflict with Al-Qaeda.

On its outcome hangs the destiny of this planet. The victory of Christ over Satan in Gethsemane and on His cross exposed Satan's true character to the unfallen universe so that "the great dragon was cast out ... to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him," says John. "Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, ... and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come'" (Rev. 12:9, 10). In other words, so far as heaven is concerned, Christ has won the great war.

But as to the inhabitants of this planet, "the great controversy" goes on until "our brethren" can be described: "they overcame him [the dragon] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" (vs. 11). This is not an "insurance policy" kind of relationship with the Lamb--you pay your premium ("I accept Christ!"), and now He "covers" for you in a "vicarious substitution" way, as an insurance company "covers" your loss if your house burns down. You don't worry about it--they "cover" for you.

Revelation pictures "our brethren" (vs. 10) far more intimately involved with the Lamb than the popular egocentric concern, "I'm okay, I'm covered, I'm saved! I'll sit back, relax, and 'occupy till [He] comes'" (Luke 19:13).

The sanctuary service which illustrates this "great controversy" tells us that now is the cosmic Day of Atonement--time for total experiential one-ness with Christ "through faith." His people become "partakers of the divine nature," they experience "I have been crucified with Christ," they "comprehend" the grand dimensions of His love (agape), they "overcome ... as [Christ] also overcame," they "grow up in all things into Him" "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

It's as a bride intimately "at one-ment" with her husband. They sense the heart-burden that Jesus carries. This is more than "vicarious substitution." It's realizing a "shared substitution," an intimate one-ness with the Lamb through faith. Do you see this as Good News?

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 6, 2002.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Path of Life

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

"Conventional wisdom" says that if you follow Christ, your path is difficult; and if you follow the world, your path is easy. But the Lord Jesus Himself says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:30). And for those who think they have a hard time in trying to follow Jesus or had to suffer opposition and persecution, He adds, "I will put on you no other burden" (Rev. 2:24). He doesn't want us to suffer torture!

Granted, He doesn't force anyone to "take up his cross daily, and follow [Him]" (cf. Luke 9:23), but He invites us to choose to follow Him into eternal life in the kingdom of God. He knows that we have inherited from Adam a sinful nature and how sin is contagious and habit forming; He knows that when His Father says that He "so loved the world that He gave" Him to be our Savior that we have an inward battle in learning to "believe in Him" (John 3:16). Unbelief (or dis-belief) is natural for us; we were born that way. But we can learn to believe.

The distraught father of the possessed boy in Mark 9 gives us a lesson. When Jesus told him frankly, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes," he broke down in tears and said, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (vss. 23, 24). Steeped in your natural unbelief, you can choose to believe. Then you will learn.

A new birth is needed every step of our way, but the Good News is that He loves us so much that He actually makes the path to eternal ruin a "hard" one. This again is contrary to "conventional wisdom" that says it's easy to just slide down hill into hell. An example of truth is what the Lord Jesus said to Saul of Tarsus as he was indulging his natural hatred of righteousness in persecuting the church. In love for his soul, the Lord confronted him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads" (Acts 26:14). It was a miserable life Saul was leading!

The Old Testament also teaches that God loves us so much that He has put obstacles in the downward path to ruin: "Behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns" (Hosea 2:6), "He has fenced up my way so that I cannot pass" (Job 19:8), "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps" (Prov. 16:9), "He has blocked my ways with hewn stone" (Lam. 3:9).

None of these Good News texts says that the Lord forces anyone to be saved against his will; but taken together they assure us that He continually tries His best to direct us into the path of life. Let's believe Him!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 1, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: To Be Truly Converted--What It Means (and Does Not Mean)

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If you follow Jesus truly, shouldn't your old sinful nature you received from Adam be annihilated? If you are faithful, shouldn't God now give you a sinless nature so you won't be tempted any more?

To be truly converted does not mean that God puts new flesh upon the old spirit; He gives you a new Spirit within the old flesh. He does not propose to bring new flesh to the old mind, but a new mind to the old flesh.

Victory over sin is not gained by having the human nature taken away, but by receiving the divine nature to subdue and have dominion over the sinful nature. It's not by taking away the sinful flesh, but by His sending in the sinless Spirit to conquer and condemn sin in the flesh. It's the grace of God teaching us to say "No!" to the flesh, just as Jesus did in His life on earth (Titus 2:11, New International Version).

The Bible doesn't say, Let this flesh be upon you which was also upon Christ, but it does say, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). It does not say, Be transformed by the renewing of your flesh, but it does say, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). God's people will at last be translated by the renewing of the flesh when Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven; but for now they are transformed by the renewing of their minds.

The Lord Jesus took the same flesh and blood, the same human nature, that we all have, flesh just like our sinful flesh; He was sent "in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). And therein is our deliverance, our victory "in Christ."

Good News: the closer you come to Jesus, the more you will be tempted by the flesh, but the more the "grace of God" will teach you to say "No!" to the flesh, and so you will "overcome" even as Christ overcame (Rev. 3:21).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 5, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Only Place to Find Good News

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

When you read the story of how Peter denied knowing Jesus when that teenage girl taunted and ridiculed him, how do you feel? Do you tremble, or cry out with the Eleven, "Lord, is it I?" Or, cry out with John Wesley, "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Peter was sincere; he was horrified when he realized what he had done. In fact, both Matthew and Luke say he went out and "wept bitterly." In other words, he was heartbroken, and threw himself on the ground and wishing he could die. He felt totally unworthy to help in the cause of God.

When Judas realized what he had done, he also wished that he might die and he did--at his own hand. The Bible says that Judas "repented himself" (Matt. 27:3, KJV), but it was a sorrow for the awful consequences of his deed, not that heartbroken abhorrence for his sin. Peter came within a hair's breadth of sharing the fate of Judas; but his heart-sorrow turned into true repentance.

Why did Peter fail so miserably? What was his real problem? We need to understand or we too will fail in our time of severe test.

The story of Peter's tragic fall is linked with the story we read in Exodus 19:8 where Israel made the same kind of promise that Peter made when he promised that "Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be" (Mark 14:29). Ancient Israel made the Old Covenant when they made their vain promise, "All that the Lord has spoken, we will do." Now their Old Covenant has finally come full circle in the apostle Peter's vain promise.

It's time that we learned our lesson after these thousands of years: our salvation does not depend on our making promises to God; it depends on our believing His promises to us. That's the New Covenant. And that's the only place where you will find any Good News!

--Robert J. Wieand

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 5, 2009.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Love (Agape) Never Fails"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

St. Valentines Day is a pagan festival imported into Christianity, but therein lies an important insight into real living.

The original pagan gods involved were Eros (Greek) and Cupid (Latin). To this day Cupid is often pictured as a cherub shooting arrows from his bow, the idea being that if he strikes a couple, they're programmed to fall in love.

The "love" with which they fall in love is of course eros, which is love based on the goodness or the beauty of its object. It is said that all the world loves a couple who are in love. But the eros-love that Cupid shoots in his arrow is not a lasting love unless the other love, agape, takes its place. Only agape love "never fails" (1 Cor. 13:8).

Cupid may do very well shooting his arrows to lead couples to fall in love, but the problem is that he can also shoot arrows to cause them to fall out of love. Broken hearts and bitter lives can follow.

Through Satan's deceptive wiles, youth imagine that the love that is agape spoils all the fun, and they instinctively avoid becoming involved. "Falling in love is my business!" they say. But let's not forget that the Son of God, the Savior, gave Himself for us, bought us and redeemed us from the kind of death that is eternal. His utterly self-sacrificing love deserves His having what He paid for--your affections.

When youth recognize that eternal truth that shines in the cross of Christ, they will outwit Cupid. Their love will be purified from selfishness--that bitter enemy of love. Their love will be incomparably delightful. The love they will know together will be a fabric woven stronger than any loom on earth can weave. Their love will be that described in the Song of Solomon: "Love is as strong as death, ... no flood can drown it" (8:6, 7).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: February 14, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Can You Really Claim That the Lord Is Your Shepherd?

Dear Friends of “Dial Daily Bread,”

Can anybody in the world repeat the 23rd Psalm and claim that the Lord is his or her Shepherd? Or is that a privilege reserved only for people who have done things right? Or, in stronger language--can sinful people who have wasted their lives make that claim?

There is nothing in the Psalm that says, Warning! Don't say this unless ... ! Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ..." (Matt. 11:28). "All you." No restriction.

The problem with saying that the Lord is your Shepherd is that you immediately obligate yourself to follow where the Good Shepherd leads you! His destination is "home," His Father's house, where you will be welcome, no matter who you are or where you have been.

Just believing and saying that "the Lord is your Shepherd" will strengthen your faith because you realize that you do not deserve the blessings that are wrapped up in that blessed psalm. Immediately you will sense that they are conferred on you undeservedly and are given to you through the much more abounding grace of the Shepherd of your soul; and that is step one toward salvation in eternal life.

Your self-pride is washed away in tears of repentance; just simply realizing how unlimited is your debt of gratitude, becomes a step toward Christ. "He who comes to God must (1) believe that He is, and (2) that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).

Memorizing and every day repeating the 23rd Psalm is eating the "bread of life" and drinking the "water of life." It reminds your sinful, worldly heart of the kindness of the Lord to you. Your heart is melted; faith begins to grow; you begin to "comprehend [appreciate] … what is the width and length and depth and height—[and] to know the love [agape] of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:18, 19). That last step can be nothing short of translation at the second coming of the Lord Jesus.

Of course you never stop with one Psalm; your hunger and thirst have been activated. They have been there all along as you "dwelt" in the world, but now they have been aroused from dormancy and you become aware that you want to know more and more. Eternal life has begun! The Holy Spirit says, "Welcome!"

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 6, 2007.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Is Daniel's "Fiery Furnace" Fact or Fiction?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Is the story of the "burning fiery furnace" in Daniel 3 pious fiction or authentic history?

Historical and archaeological research confirms supportive details: such as brick kilns that were common. Jeremiah 29:22 tells the history of how King Nebuchadnezzar "roasted in the fire" two seditious Jews; another Babylonian king boasted of burning some political enemies--evidence that this method of execution was actually practiced; Herodotus and Pliny tell of ancient kings who built huge statues covered with gold leaf.

The deliverance from death by fire had been promised: "When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." Doubtless the three Hebrew youth thrown in the fire had cherished this assurance. The promise "I will be with you" was literally fulfilled (Isa. 43:2). "The Son of God" shared the "furnace" with them, as even the pagan king confessed (Dan. 3:25).

This is the point of Daniel 3: will we believe that the Son of God shares our sufferings for His sake? Will He give divine courage to "stand up" when everybody else bows down? The apostle Peter collapsed when the test came to him (Matt. 26:69-75); in fact, all the eleven disciples ran away.

Many Israelites had been exiled to Babylon when Daniel and his three companions went, but none of them had the courage to obey God's Ten Commandments except these four! Granted, the three who faced the fiery furnace were terrified at the prospect of death by fire; but they sensed that they were called to honor the truth of God before the assembled leaders of an empire. He gave them courage, even if God should choose not to deliver them from death (Dan. 3:16-18; this was a selfless motivation inspired by agape). A similar final test will come to us all in the "mark of the beast" crisis (Rev. 13:11-17).

The Good News: right now worldwide the Holy Spirit is preparing, nerving, strengthening, and training willing people to endure the test. Fellowship with Christ in "fire" is precious, even today as we honor Him in school, in college, at work, at home.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 22, 2000.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Remember the First Work of the Holy Spirit

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask for Him and who will welcome Him when He comes. But let us remember: His first work when He comes will be to "convict [us] of sin" (John 16:8).

Is that painful to us? The old Irish poet used to pray that God would enable Him to see himself "as ithirs [others] see me." But the dear Lord in His great love for us goes a step further than Robert Burns was ready to go: He will show us ourselves as God and the heavenly unfallen host see us.

This is "salvation pain." Some day it will be reality for every human soul, even for those who at last choose to be lost. In Revelation 20 we read of the great "second resurrection" when those who have chosen to be lost are resurrected to gather around the Great White Throne when "the books [are] opened" (vss.11, 12). That is symbolic but very real language to describe the moment of final self-judgment when every person will see himself not only as others have seen him, but as God sees him.

The lost will not be thrown into the "lake of fire" screaming in protest; a very wise writer declared that they will "welcome destruction" that they might be hidden from the face of the Savior who died their second death for them.

Thank God for His great mercy in showing us now, today, what those "books of record" have to say; it's not too late for us to repent and rejoice forevermore in God's forgiveness. That is glorious Good News!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 9, 2008.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: "Enter Into the Joy of Your Lord"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

One of the most beloved parables of Jesus is about the Good Shepherd, who keeps seeking for His lost sheep "until He finds it" (Luke 15:4). That is, up to the point when he or she takes that last breath; the lost one may be entangled in hopeless briars and underbrush and has long given up any thought of being "found."

The Shepherd braves the storm, the darkness, the precipices, Himself wounded in His searching; what the lost "sheep" needs to do is just cry in the darkness--the Shepherd will and must hear. You can't free yourself, you are hurt; but you must do the most difficult thing you've ever done in your whole life--you must believe that He loves you with a seeking, never-giving-up love that is divine, and that "this man receives sinners"--you.

You must believe He actively forgives you; He was "made to be sin" for you "who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21), He has "chosen" and "adopted" and actually "predestined" you to be saved eternally (Eph. 1:4, 5). The thunder rolls through the mountains and the lightning flashes, but the Shepherd cannot go home to rest until He brings you with Him.

Think about Him instead of yourself; He needs a little joy--forget your own. Give Him the joy of "calling together His friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with Me, for I have found My sheep which was lost!'" (Luke 15:6). Somehow in the process it will rub off on you, "Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Matt. 25:21).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: April 4, 2006.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Can You Trust Your Emotions?

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

As you go about your work and your life can you sing for joy? Or are you worried about your standing with God, fearful of the judgment, confused as to what God thinks about you?

If you trust your emotions, you will be up and down, and you can be discouraged. Your emotions are like a foundation of sinking sand, but you need a foundation of solid rock--which is the cross of Christ.

God did not say, “I will so love the world that I will give my only begotten Son if, if, if ... they do everything just right." The Bible does say in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ...” He already loved, He already gave His Son for you, for the world is you. You are the one God loved and gave Christ to save. He has already redeemed you; He has already adopted you into His family. The Holy Spirit has already been given to you to convict you of sin and of righteousness and of judgment, because Satan has been defeated.

Yes, your heart can sing for joy! You have been elected to eternal life, and God is your Friend, your heavenly Father, your Savior. But does that mean that we can now live a life of disobedience to God’s law? No, of course not; but it does mean that this faith will work by love and will produce in our lives total obedience to God’s law. The Holy Spirit will convict you, and will prompt and guide you. Listen to Him, and let Him hold you by the hand.

The Good News is that God cares about you personally--today. Please tell Him, Thank You!

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: The Holy Spirit's Work Is All Good News

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Have you ever known anyone who throughout a long life had never been sick, never been in the hospital? I knew one such man, although I think before his long life was over, he did have some problems. Not only do most of us need some physical healing at times, we all need healing of the soul all the time. And Christ's ministry as great High Priest is especially that--His primary work is not bookkeeping, as many have supposed, but it is healing the soul of His people so that they can get well spiritually, and prepare for Christ's second coming. That means overcoming sin, cleansing from sin, from its deepest roots.

Someone, who acknowledged an obsession with food and needed to lose over a hundred pounds, wrote sincerely wanting help. She asked, "Will this Divine Physician hospitalize me, or treat me as an outpatient?" She was not ridiculing the idea--she seriously wanted to know how to get help from Christ.

Yes, He will put you in his hospital, His holy sanctuary. He will put you in intensive care, and further, He will monitor you 24 hours a day with angels serving as special duty nurses, with you as their only patient.

The Holy Spirit is God, and He is the Spirit of Jesus. We are closer to Christ today by the Holy Spirit than the disciples were 2000 years ago when they walked with Him down the dusty paths of Galilee. The Holy Spirit does not come for the purpose of just indulging you; or encouraging you to remain self-centered, lukewarm, and world-loving. His first work is to convict us of sin (John 16:8). Like a doctor, He diagnoses our case and identifies the disease that makes us sick.

But the Holy Spirit has a second work--to convict us of righteousness, and then of victory over sin (vss. 9-11). His work is all Good News to the one who believes what Jesus says.

--Robert J. Wieland

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

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: A Sobering Lesson From "Good" King Josiah

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Next to David himself, the greatest king to sit on his throne was Josiah, the last of all the good kings. He sought to undo the evil that his father Amon and grandfather Manasseh had done: he destroyed the pagan altars; cleaned wicked idols out the Temple, including the pagan prostitutes (yes, that was the nature of the paganism practiced by the people of God!); and he even executed the pagan priests. "Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him" (2 Kings 23:25).

But his reformation was imposed by his royal authority: "The king commanded all the people, saying, 'Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant'" (vs. 21). The Good News Bible renders it, he "ordered" them to do it. It was very good, but obedience based on royal authority is only temporary. When his 23 year old son Jehoahaz suddenly succeeded him, immediately "he did evil in the sight of the Lord" (vs. 32), and guess what? The fickle people followed him in that evil!

In 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles the Bible vividly portrays the nature of Old Covenant revivals, just as they are even today. Spectacular results--but only for a brief time. All egocentric motivation is Old Covenant in principle. The New Covenant motivation is based on freedom, a heart response to the love (agape) of Christ that "constrains" to willing service to Him, not imposed by fear of punishment or even by hope of reward.

The people of God at Mount Sinai rejected the glorious New Covenant God wanted them to appreciate (Ex. 19:4-6), and fastened upon themselves the bondage of the Old Covenant (vs. 8). It marked their history ever after. King Josiah ended his days rejecting the living voice of the Spirit of Prophecy because it came from an unexpected source (2 Chron. 35:20-25). A sobering lesson!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 23, 2001.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Dial Daily Bread: Ministering Spiritual Help to Others

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

There is almost unbelievable encouragement buried in one of Jesus' parables--a message for parents especially, but for teachers and anyone who wants to be a spiritual help to someone else. Ministering spiritual help to others is laying up treasure in heaven--preparing to experience a vast pleasure in God's coming eternal kingdom when you at last see the fruit of your love and life labors.

The parable is in Luke 11. It tells of a man who has had an unexpected guest show up when he has no "bread" in his pantry to feed him. So in his desperation he goes to his friend and neighbor at midnight and bangs on his door, "Please let me have some bread, not to feed myself but that I may share it with a friend of mine who has come in his journey, and I have nothing to set before him" (see Luke 11:5ff).

Maybe you know that desperate feeling in real life--you are not ready for guests, yet they've come. The parable is beautifully crafted (as only Jesus could conceive of a parable!) to encourage us who want to help others on their path to heaven.

We may wonder sometimes if the prayer we are praying is "according to the will of God." In this instance, don't wonder: the Lord wants you to help others and He will give you the spiritual truth you need to make your ministry helpful.

"Asking to give" is a good title for this parable: you become a channel through which the blessings of heaven flow to someone else. In the process, you will be richly blessed; the water of life cannot flow through you unless on the way it refreshes you, the "pipe" through which it flows!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 13, 2008.
Copyright © 2017 by "Dial Daily Bread."