A Note from Stephanie: Hello and merry Christmas to all of you! Timothy needs one more week to finish his next, and possibly final, chapter of Captivated. Therefore, here’s one of his devotions which was written 2 years ago. We both hope you’ll have a safe and happy holiday!!
“I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them. So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone.”
–Joshua 24:13-14 (NLT)
The above verse may not sound very Christmasy, but I feel that I need to share them during this festive season. I believe that every day can be Christmas when we give freely, just as God did. We should look for creative ways to do this, and be thankful for the Lord’s working in our lives. But while doing that, we need to remember the greatest gift He gave: His only son.
I would like to thank the Lord for his provisions in my life, and for the way He spoke to me through these opening verses. So let me share a true story with you.
I was a student chaplain in the hospital, and I needed to find a new place to live. The apartment I lived in was a few miles from the hospital, and transportation expenses kept adding up, since I usually had to take cabs to work. Because of these expenses, the practical solution was to move into a new place.
So, I went out with a friend and we looked at some places. But none of them seemed suitable. Like packaged food, they all promised something new and different, but they essentially delivered the same thing. On the other hand, I knew that another friend of mine owned a house. Although I had never seen it before, I asked the Lord to move on my friend’s heart if it was His will.
Well, guess what happened? My homeowner friend called me the next day. He told me that the Lord had put it on his heart to rent out his house to me. I quickly learned that it was within walking distance of the hospital, and it turned out to be perfect for me at the time.
After I had lived in that house for a few years, I met Stephanie and she became my wife. We eventually moved out of my friend’s home, and the Lord blessed us with something wonderful and unexpected once again. But that is another story. (If you want to know what happened, read Stephanie’s devotion “House of Blessings”, which we published on March 30, 2016.)
“That’s nice,” you say, “but what does it have to do with Christmas?”
Simply this: Christmas Day is a time when we enjoy a lavish dinner as well as gifts. While that is certainly not wrong, God is often discarded like old tinsel. We get so involved in the trappings of the season that we forget about the gift of His son.
If the gifts I receive on Christmas don’t make me think about Jesus, then they are similar to the idols that plagued the children of Israel in their prosperity. But if the gifts and blessings which God bestows all around me cause me to focus on Him and on others all year round, my Christmas can be a daily adventure.
In this land of plenty, God is telling me the same thing He told the children of Israel. In today’s language, he says, “Put away the idols you treasure, and seek me above all things.” If I only seek the gifts and not the giver, I will never really be satisfied. I’ll be constantly trying to fill an eternal void inside of me with temporary things. Instead of living in this way, ask Him to fill you with joy and peace as you seek Him.
We talk a lot about peace during this time of year, but real peace can only come when you have made your peace with God. We sing songs like “Joy to the World”, but real joy only comes when you freely and gladly give to others and follow God’s example.
So if you don’t know God, seek Him and open up your heart to Him today. Your life will be enriched as you grow closer to Him, and you will find that as you follow Him, every day can be Christmas!
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6499. When prompted, press 1 for live chat rooms, and we’ll be waiting in room 31. You can press pound to bypass our friend Sharon’s intro message once you’ve entered room 31. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.