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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Outbreak (04/07/11)

TITLE: Outbreak of Crises
By Edmond Ng


    While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you." (Job 1:16 NAS)
Frequently, when a crisis comes our way, it seldom comes alone. When I was a teenager, several crises happened in my life in succession one after another within a short span of time. The crises came like an outbreak of calamity suddenly and without warning—a loved one seriously ill, an affectionate relationship broken, and a discord in church separating many friendships and the congregation. It was like the entire world turned against me and I was left all alone with no one to turn to for help or share my pain and agony. In that state of despair and desperation, I strayed from God for a little while, but soon returned because I knew I could never live a meaningful life without Him.

The Bible tells of one who was also suddenly faced with a number of crises in his life (Job 1:13-20). Job first lost his sons and daughters, and then he lost his servants and livestock. Yet, through it all, Job did not sin nor did he blame God (Job 1:21-22). Satan then smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, yet Job held fast to his integrity (Job 2:4-10). Some days later, Job spoke out and said of his anxiety, “… my cries pour out like water. For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes” (Job 3:24-26 NAS).

All of us know the negative and lethal effects illnesses and diseases can have on us or our loved ones. Some diseases, such as cancer, have even branched into variations. A number of cancer patients shared that once they have been diagnosed with the illness, they deem themselves as good as dead. Anxiety followed and in their minds they can only think of the doctors as just counting their days.

Like the outbreak of boils and diseases, there is a type of outbreak today that is also spreading around the world. This is the outbreak of worldliness and self-centeredness. Just as a cancerous outbreak can have lethal effects and variants, worldliness and self-centeredness can also result in fatality and the domino effect of continuing sin, leading to the eventual death of people around us.

In his epistle to the twelve tribes (James 1:1), James described the outbreak of worldliness and self-centeredness as the source of quarrels and conflicts that wage war among fellow believers (James 4:1). The root cause of the war is the pleasures, lust, envy, pride, wrong motives, impure heart and double-mindedness of man (James 4:1-10). Sometimes we may fight and quarrel with others out of envy or lust, and sometimes we may even backstab others—knowingly or unknowingly—just to get what we want. We may at times want the right things for the wrong reasons, and we do not receive them because our motives are impure and self-seeking, desiring only to satisfy our own pleasures.

The Bible states clearly if our involvement with the world becomes too intimate that we participate in its adulterous ways, we make ourselves an enemy of God (James 4:4). We should therefore not be double-minded to think we can serve two masters, for either we will hate one and love the other or we will be devoted to one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).

We should therefore be cautious not to be infected or become carriers of worldliness and self-centeredness. Instead, we should be on the alert to quickly detect the symptoms and avoid falling prey or succumbing to the outbreak. We should submit and draw near to God, resist temptation and the devil, purify our hearts and come humbly into the presence of the Lord, and He will draw near to us and exalt us (James 4:7-10).

Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes tending to sway from trusting You, especially when in times of crises. Do not let us succumb to the outbreak of calamity in our lives Lord, but instead strengthen us that we may hold fast to Your faithfulness. Help us not to be double-minded Lord, that we may not attempt to serve two masters, but be devoted to You whole-heartedly.

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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/16/11
This is well done and so very we true. I was going to do a fictional story similar toyour devo. Mine was going to be about memetics a type of " virus" that can cause people to spread gossip and mean words. You showed it very elegantly and the scripture and prayer were perfect. Thank you for your devotion to your devotions. They are often just want I need to hear.
Laury Hubrich 04/16/11
Very nice devotional.
Lillian Rhoades 04/18/11
You covered a lot of great points. Consider taking a few key ideas and developing them, istead of packing your piece with multiple main ideas. Perhaps an illustration or two of some of the personal crises you mentioned in the first chapter wouold help to transition from one idea to the next.

Thank you for reminding us of where and to whom we can turn to in times of crises.
Lillian Rhoades 04/18/11
Oops! Instead ....Would