DayBreaks for 7/26/19 – The Great Contagion

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DayBreaks for 07/26/19: The Great Contagion

From the DayBreaks archives, July 2009:

The Black Death plague ravaged Europe between 1348 and 1351.  It is believed to have traveled to Europe via rats aboard ships that came from Asia.  In three short years, 30-60% of Europe’s population died from the plague.  It is estimated that the plague killed nearly a quarter of all persons in the world died during that time (~100 million deaths).  The bubonic plague had a mortality rate of thirty to seventy-five percent and symptoms including fever of 101–105°, headaches, painful aching joints, nausea and vomiting, and a general feeling of malaise.  Of those who contracted the bubonic plague form of the disease, 4 out of 5 died within eight days.

The world hasn’t seen a plague like that since.  Let’s pray it never does.  But we do have avian flu, swine flu, regular old flu, and other diseases that could be equally deadly if they were not contained…and if not for modern interventions. 

These and other contagions are serious business and can spread rapidly.  But Scripture has something today about contagion of the spiritual kind that we should think seriously about.  Consider Deuteronomy 29:22-27 (NIV): Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the LORD has afflicted it. The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur–nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger.  All the nations will ask: “Why has the LORD done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. Therefore the LORD’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book.

Lest we think all of the above came about because of massive sin, all we have to do is go back a couple of verses to verses 19-20 to see the cause: When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.”  Do you get it?  It starts with “such a person”, a single individual, who persists in going his own way.  And what is his own way?  Following his own wisdom and desires and wants rather than God’s.  In short, sin.  But did you catch the consequence?  “This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.”  The contagion spread from one man determined to do his will instead of God’s, and it spreads to other people like a contagion…but even one person, it appears, is enough that the contagion will even affect the dirt and soil.  In The Gospel According to Moses, Athol Dickson put it in these words: “The corruption beginning as a hidden thought in one man’s mind is so contagious it ends with a curse not just on humanity but even upon the soil and plants!  Suddenly it seems the Torah is treating sin not as a mere choice, but as a disease, a highly contagious, full-blown plague upon the earth.”

He continues: “I am reminded of the Torah’s teaching that simply touching holy things such as Mt. Sinai, the tabernacle altar, or the offerings presented at the tabernacle altar could cause a person to become holy.  The Torah says physical contact with a specific piece of real estate, a portable piece of furniture, or a slaughtered animal could make a person holy under the right circumstances.  There is no stronger argument for the contagious nature of spiritual conditions.  Unfortunately, I believe the Torah also strongly implies that this spiritual contagion flows both ways.  For example: Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening. (Num. 19:22) 

Not one of us would voluntarily touch Yersinia pestis (the infectious agent of bubonic plague).  Yet daily, we touch and handle sin, playing with it as if it were a toy rather than a destructive contagion that brings plague everywhere.  If only we had eyes to see how deadly it is…

PRAYER: Jesus, we need to have a deeper understanding of the deadly contagion that is the sin in our lives.  Help us understand its effect not just on ourselves, but on others that we love, and upon You as seen through the cross.  In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/22/16 – Too Little, Too Late

DayBreaks for 4/22/16 – Too Little, Too Late

From the DayBreaks archive April 2006:

“UNIONTOWN, Pa. – A man was so angry that his girlfriend wouldn’t heat up sandwiches that he threw a microwave at her and then proceeded to beat her to death. Walter Fordyce told police he argued with his live-in girlfriend, Mary McCann, when things escalated. He threw her to the floor, hurled a microwave oven onto her chest, and then stomped on her chest and banged her head against the floor. However, Fordyce claims his intent wasn’t to kill her. “It was an accident.   I didn’t do it on purpose,” police quoted Fordyce as saying.  He apparently ran to a neighbor’s for help, but nobody was home. He came back home and discovered she had no pulse, but found the time to go downstairs and drink a beer before going to another neighbor’s home to have them call 911.” 

Sometimes stories just don’t make sense.  Sometimes it is easy to tell if someone is telling the truth or making things up.  But sometimes, it isn’t all that easy to know.  In the case of Mr. Fordyce, his story just doesn’t hold water.  His lack of urgency showed that he really wasn’t concerned that his girlfriend might die. 

I wonder how the Lord feels about our “stories.”  I don’t mean the tale of our lives, but the stories we concoct to attempt to fool God.  King Saul tried it when he brought back spoils of war instead of leaving them behind and destroying them all.  God didn’t buy his excuse.  Moses tried excuses with God, too.  God didn’t buy them, either.

When is the last time you made up some crazy excuse to offer God for your disobedience?  I’ve done it far too often.  No, I don’t even speak them out loud, just inside my head, but God hears them just the same and knows that I’m just trying to cover my tracks. 

Mr. Fordyce got around to calling 911 after wandering around the house, having a beer and wasting a lot of time.  It was too little, too late.  When Christ appears again in glory, there will be all kinds of stories offered to him about why people didn’t take action sooner, to declare their faith and put their trust in him before the pulse stops.  Don’t be one of those who makes excuses.  It’ll be too little, too late.  Forever.

PRAYER:  Help us, Lord, to never try to fool you with clever stories and excuses for our disobedience.  Help us to understand the urgency of “coming clean” before you, of seeking your help and salvation while there is still time.  Help us also to realize that not only is our time for action running out, but that of our friends and neighbors and family members, too.  Give us your wisdom to live accordingly to this great truth.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 07/30/13 – The Danger of the Backward Glance

DayBreaks for 07/30/13 – The Danger of the Backward Glance 

looking-back-over-my-shoulder-a22249969Luke 9:62 (NLT)  But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

The old Sunday school story is a familiar one: Lot and his wife and daughters leave the city of Sodom and get out just in time before judgment falls on the cities in the form of fire and brimstone.  It was a close call…one could almost imagine the smell of smoke permeating their clothes. 

Before leaving, they were warned to not look back.  But as you know, Lot’s wife just couldn’t resist a backwards glance…and was punished for her disobedience.  Was her infraction worse than what Lot would do with his daughters?  No.  So why did she receive such a harsh judgment?  I don’t know…one should never second-guess a Sovereign God and I’m sure He had His reasons that some day He can explain to us (if we’re still interested in such things once we see Him.)

I suspect, however, that it was an object lesson for us that relates to Jesus’ words in Luke 9:62, telling us that having once started on a path, looking back is just plain foolish.

Why is it that we have such a longing to look back?  I’m speaking here of the desire to “reminisce” about our previous life before becoming a Christian – to the “pleasures of sin” as the Good Book calls them.  I have a hunch it’s because there is still a lot of the “old man” left in us.  It’s because we haven’t fully and completely died to the desires of the flesh.  It’s because we’ve not seen or experienced at any level approaching the ultimate level of the joys and delights of heaven that await those who don’t turn back.

Jesus knows we are prone to backward glances.  He also knows that backward glances are deadly because our memories of past sins sing siren songs to us (Satan makes sure of that!)  He knows that the agonies of hell are real and joys of heaven are equally real and that no earthly pleasure can compare to what heaven holds nor earthly pain to that of the pit.

Are you being tempted to cast a backwards glance over your shoulder?  Listen to Jesus and keep looking ahead! 

PRAYER: Our pasts not only haunt us, Lord, but they call to us to tempt us to return to our old ways!  Strengthen us and keep us from turning our heads back with longing!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 03/09/12 – Circumstances, Obedience and Happiness

DayBreaks for 03/09/12 – Circumstance, Obedience and Happiness

The truth about our circumstances, obedience, and happiness...

There are many who say, “Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!” 7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:6-8

Humanity has long been caught up in trying to find happiness.  Our track record isn’t very good.

We think our problem is the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  We don’t like what’s going on around us, what’s happening to us, we cry about how unfair it is (and that may be true), we hate being powerless in the face of seemingly overpowering circumstances.

So, what do we do?  We try to change our circumstances.  We get into rebellion mode.  If we are children and don’t like that we have to do what mom and dad say, what do we do?  We get out of the house or out of their sight and do want we want, not what they told us to do.  We disobey.  Why?  Because we think that our happiness will be found, or at the very least, increased by disobedience.  We see the “forbidden fruit” and think that if only we can have it, we will be happy – if even for a little while.  So, like Eve and Adam, we reach out (in disobedience), grasp it and take a bite, thinking that it will increase our happiness.  I wonder how long Eve and Adam felt better about what they did?  I’d be willing to bet that the feelings of guilt set in within the first second.  And things didn’t get any better after that…they go worse.  And yet, we persist in the notion that disobedience is the pathway that leads to happiness.  It does not.

As Randy Pope said a couple weeks ago: “Circumstances to no determine the happiness of the heart.”  He was talking about how believers are oppressed.  When it gets difficult, what is our temptation?  To disobey, thinking we’ll be happier without the suffering that obedience may bring.  He noted that we signed up for following a suffering Christ.  He concluded by saying, “Happiness is always found inside obedience.  It is not found in disobedience.”  He’s right.

Maybe you’ve been searching for happiness in the wrong ways.  Maybe I have, too.  Maybe instead of disobedience, we should try obedience.  Instead of grabbing the forbidden fruit, we should pull our hand back and say, “Lord, you are all I need.  In obedience to You I will find delight and joy and happiness enough for ten million lifetimes!”

PRAYER: Grace – O Lord, how sweet the sound!!!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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