Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Bridging the Gap Through Space

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Are we stretching the truth too far to say that God personally loves each of us individually even more than our earthly father has loved us when we were little? Your heart-answer "yes" or "no" will determine your happiness here and hereafter.

When we read the four Gospels we see that the great burden on Jesus' heart was to teach us that His Father in heaven is our Father, too. It's in Matthew alone no less than 41 times! And His interest in us is so complete that when He cares when even a little bird falls to the ground, Jesus adds, "You are worth much more than many sparrows!" (10:31, Good News Bible).

In other words, your heavenly Father is intensely interested in your personal happiness, and His personal attention is as focused as if you were the only human walking the earth!

Satan tells you, "No, you're not even a digit in His computer! One dot in seven billion?" And right here rages a "great controversy" within your own heart: will you believe what Jesus says, or what the devil wants you to believe?

"But I'm not that important," you object. Now you can realize what Paul means when he says, "Fight the good fight of faith!" (1 Tim. 6:12). You don't really believe John 3:16 unless you believe the Father loves you personally so much that He gave His only Son for you as if there were not another lost soul. (He is different than we are--He is infinite.)

One of our problems is the emotional block that we have from our infancy; seldom (if ever!) is there a father who adequately interprets to his little child what that love of the heavenly Father is like.

Now it's our job to learn how to "believe" John 3:16: to bridge this gap through space by choosing to believe that the Father of our Lord Jesus is "our Father which art in heaven," intimately close and caring. Welcome to happiness eternal--a gift given by grace received through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9)!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: May 26, 2003.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Twisting in the Wind of Public Exposure

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

If King David were writing his Psalm 51 today, instead of praying, "Lord, blot out my transgressions," he might pray, "Lord, erase all those video and audio and Internet clips! Please blot out all the newspaper and magazine reports so I can go down in history with a clean moral record!" But God is not a magician--even He cannot erase electronic media, or at least, He won't. And although David prayed, "Blot out my transgressions," the fact is that the full sordid record of his sin of adultery and cover-up crime of murder is printed in the Bible for billions of people to read down through the ages. King David has been twisting in the wind of public exposure ever since.

Didn't God answer his prayer?

It depends on what he meant when he prayed. If he wanted only a divine cover-up so he could be spared the embarrassment, the answer is No. But fortunately, what David really wanted was something better--he craved a clean heart. He was willing to take any punishment, if only he could be "washed thoroughly" from sin itself. "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness," he begged in verse 14. Like the famous Prodigal Son, he was tired of wallowing in guilt-filth with the pigs. He wanted a clean conscience, let the record or the consequences be as they may. Don't abandon me alone in outer darkness forever, "do not take Your Holy Spirit from me," he prayed in verse 11.

In full, open, voluntary confession (not forced by evidence!) he found what he was praying for: "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5). And then he adds in verse 6 the Good News that every sinner longs for: "a flood of great waters" will not drown the repentant sinner. "He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him" (vs. 10).

If you know anything about what it feels like to be a sinner, you'll rejoice at that Good News!

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 25, 1998.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: It's Time for Unbelief to Go

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Jacob, the famous "Supplanter," tricked his father Isaac into giving him the birthright instead of to the elder brother (by-a-few-minutes) Esau. Esau was so angry that when he discovered what had happened, he threatened to kill him, and Jacob fled.

The first night of his exile the disheartened man dreamed of the ladder to heaven, and the Lord Himself appeared and renewed all the New Covenant promises He had made to grandfather Abraham (Gen. 12:2, 3). Then the Hebrew says that the next morning Jacob "went on his journey" (29:1) light hearted and light footed. That's what believing God's New Covenant promises does for anyone!

Most commentators regard Uncle Laban's subsequent trickstering of Jacob as payback for his own trickstering to get the birthright. The idea is that the Lord overrules our lives into judgment for our wrongdoing; Jacob must suffer now.

But the Lord has solemnly promised at Bethel to bless him in everything! No mention of a payback. God has intended from the beginning that "the elder shall serve the younger," just backwards from human planning (Gen. 25:23). "I will not leave you," He has promised, "until I have done that what I have spoken to you" (28:15). In other words, Jacob is invited to claim the equivalent of the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want," and is entitled to pray "the Lord's Prayer," "Our Father in heaven," with all its attendant blessings. Well might Jacob walk on air from now on throughout his life.

But as he grows old, he has to confess to Pharaoh, "Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life" (Gen. 47:9). Much sorrow and disappointment shadowed his entire life. And yet God had made those wonderful promises to him at Bethel!

The only possible conclusion: Jacob didn't always believe them with New Covenant faith. The inspired prophecy from before his birth said that he should receive the birthright; that was a New Covenant promise from the word go! Doubting or disbelieving it created his problems. All during his later anxieties with Laban he could have sailed through those trials with Solomon's [once] "merry heart [that] does good like medicine" if he had only believed (cf. Prov. 17:22)!

Surely we have come to the denouement of sacred history when we as a people should learn to believe how good is God's good news! One thing is sure--the 144,000 will (cf. Rev. 14:1-5). The time for rich blessings is now; and it's time for unbelief to go.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 17, 2006.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: 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: (1) 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 (2), has He predestined others before they are born to be lost?

If we choose to believe (2), 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 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 canreject what we are given!)

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: September 27, 2005.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Monday, July 20, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: The Message That Will "Lighten the Earth With Glory"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

The Bible specializes in Good News which is "the power of God to salvation" (Rom. 1:16). There is power in the word itself, as there is in the seed that sprouts. Those who wait for the second coming of Christ will demonstrate that power so fully that their message will "lighten the earth with glory." The message itself, not their personalities nor any goodness in themselves, will call believers to "come out of [Babylon], My people," and honest-hearted people will respond to the "voice" from heaven (see Rev. 18:1-4). Nothing will be able to hold them back from stepping out boldly to honor Christ in the closing work of the gospel.

The message will be proclaimed not just by one or two super-gurus, but by a multitude of voices all over the earth. God can use people trained in literary institutions, provided self is humbled and crucified with Christ so their ministry draws listeners to Jesus and not to themselves, but often self has gotten in the way and marred the picture.

Baal worship has delayed the finishing of God's work in the earth--the worship of self disguised as the worship of Christ. In the last great work as the truth is proclaimed powerfully, God will use humble people who are called from "the plow" as Elisha was called (1 Kings 19:19).

What will bring about this great development? The Bible is clear: the experience of justification by faith, which is the same as the experience of righteousness by faith. The faith itself will "work by love," the love of Christ (Gal. 5:6), not our own love. There will be no self-righteousness in this wonderful work that lightens the earth with glory. When self is laid aside, gets out of the way, the cross of Christ can be uplifted clearly, because self will be "crucified with Him." Then He will "draw all peoples to [Himself]" (John 12:32).

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 12, 2005.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: Elijah Is Alive Somewhere in God's Great Universe

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Some have criticized Elijah for being so abrupt and confrontational in dealing with his majesty King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Weren't the two the appointed leaders of God's work of that day? Hadn't the Lord wonderfully blessed Ahab's leadership of Israel with great success economically and militarily? Hadn't King Jehoshaphat, David's faithful successor, cooperated publicly with King Ahab? Shouldn't Elijah have worked more tactfully, and ministered quietly within the structure to bring about a gradual reformation? His was a very independent ministry, maybe offensive.

Above all, Elijah is faulted for a grievous "holier-than-thou" attitude--he thought he was the only one loyal to the true God. The Lord had to reprimand him for that--God had seven thousand hiding in the closet who hadn't "bowed the knee to Baal" (1 Kings 19:18; fearful?).

Wait a moment! The Bible gives Elijah great support: (1) His prayers were answered; that's something! (James 5:16-18). (2) God sent ravens to provide his board in the wilderness; (3) God appointed a pagan widow outside of Israel's borders to cook for him and provide him a guest room; (4) God honored him with fire from heaven--wow! (5) God sent him an angel to cook his meals for him in the desert when he was discouraged; (6) to top it all, God granted him a privilege only one other human in history (Enoch) has ever had--he was translated to heaven without tasting death. And better even than that, Elijah was entrusted with the honor of encouraging the Son of God as He faced His crucifixion (Matt. 17:3).

We'd better be careful what we say; Elijah is alive somewhere in God's great universe--maybe even reading this little essay! We don't want to knock a man so highly honored by God. Malachi 4:5, 6 seems to indicate that God has entrusted him with one more job: to lead or direct a vast reformation among God's people just before the second coming of Christ.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 12, 2002.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dial Daily Bread: The Cleansing Process--A Discipline That Takes Time

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"

Where's the person who hasn't at some time or other exploded with what he or she thought was "righteous" indignation? And then came to realize that some "self" was woven in! Rather humbling, isn't it? In fact, you can get grey with what you think are sanctified years and still make a fool of yourself.

A prime example is the Twelve, on whose heads had been laid in ordination none other than the Hands that had made the world. On the eve of Christ's crucifixion they were condemning Mary Magdalene who had been moved by the Holy Spirit Himself to do what she did (Matt. 26:6-10). Thus they made fools of themselves. They exploded with indignation which they thought was of the Lord, when in fact it was of Judas Iscariot's inspiration (John 12:4).

They didn't know what would later be written by an unknown contemporary in his Letter to the Ephesians: "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you" (4:31, 32).

But having been educated in the personal presence of Christ for some three years, should they not have known? Common sense should have taught them. But when you get angry, you are often bereft of it. The disciples, even if righteously angry at Mary's supposed extravagance, should have been "kind" and "tenderhearted" in rebuking her. They weren't. Thus they set themselves up for the most stinging rebuke Jesus ever gave them.

In the previous verse (4:30), Paul says that our emotional outbursts "grieve ... the Holy Spirit of God, by whom [we] are sealed for the day of redemption." In other words, there is a grave possibility that we may negatively "seal" our eternal destiny by one of these sudden unsanctified outbursts.Time to fall on our knees and beg Mary's Defender for a new heart that can be cleansed--down into its buried unconscious roots.

Just remember that the cleansing process may take longer than a day; it's a discipline that takes time, but is no less certain if you are sincere in asking for it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 4, 2004.
Copyright © 2020 by "Dial Daily Bread."