“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do.”
–Joshua 1:7 (NLT)
One of our favorite movies to watch around Christmastime is IT’s a Wonderful Life. But the principles this film contains don’t have to be limited to that time of year, and they can be applied to your life and mine. So please bear with me as we look at these ideas from a different vantage point.
Have you ever become lost in a fog of depression, as George Baily did in the movie? Let’s take it one step further and ask: are there times in life when you wish you’d never been born?
Maybe you don’t think you have anything to offer, and perhaps you feel like you have come to the end of your rope today. But, my friend, while you might not see this happen, the Bible says that if you are a follower of Christ, “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him.”
I grant you that our encounters with God’s angels probably won’t be as sensational as George Bailey’s were, but God uses His ministering spirits to strengthen, assist, and encourage us.
I am not writing this blog entry to concentrate strictly on angels, though, for God works in many different ways. I simply want to say that when we can’t see how God is working, Satan uses our discouragement, lessening our contributions to the work of God’s kingdom. Many times, we give up like George did, but instead of giving up on life, we give up on God.
If we listen to Satan’s lies long enough, we begin to believe that we have nothing to offer. However, nothing could be further from the truth if you are in league with the God of the universe.
To see this fact in action, walk into the conference room with me, where a meeting is being held. There we will see an amazing similarity to the parable of the talents which Jesus taught, from a 21st-century perspective. The meeting is just getting under way, and all calls are being held at this time, so please turn your cell phones off.

The man at the head of the table clears his throat and begins, “As the president of this firm, I thought it imperative to meet with you three men this morning. As you know, we are in the throws of completing a very momentous and delicate merger. Unfortunately, something has come up which I need to oversee. Therefore, I will be gone for quite some time.
“You are my most trusted men. Having said that, I will expect you to manage the top three departments of this company, making sure that production is up to speed. I would also like all three of you to invest my returns, so we come out in the black.”
Time passes, and prompted by some alarming emails from his secretary, the owner of the company is finally able to return. He goes over the books with a fine-toothed comb, and then he calls the men into his office one by one.
When he comes in, the first man says, “Sir, if you look at the computer screen, you can see that I doubled your money, and everything you gave me is there in the record.”
the president’s gaze softens. “I’m really proud of you, son. You can look forward to a bonus on your next payday. Now get back to work, and tell the second man to come in.”
Looking somewhat apologetic, the second man says, “My colleague you just saw had a long talk with me while you were gone. I wasn’t able to do quite as well as he has done, but I did make your money back with interest.”
Carefully, they go over his records in detail. Finally, the boss smiles, pushing back his chair.
“You may not have been able to do more, but you did your best and that is the important thing. I’m proud of you. You can go back to work. Oh, by the way,” the boss continues, “I almost forgot–you will also receive a bonus on your next check.”
Then the boss calls in the third man, who had been waiting outside. This man trembles as he enters, and he is unable to look his employer in the eye.
“What’s wrong?” the boss snaps.
“Sir, I knew you were a very difficult man, always investing in new markets. So, here are the stocks you gave me. See? I still have the portfolio.”
The president is having none of it. “You wicked, lazy employee! You could have at least invested what you had and given me the interest. But apparently, when things became difficult you gave up. Give your stocks to the first man. The only thing you deserve is a pink slip! And by the way, if you don’t remember anything else you heard in this meeting, remember that the one who is faithful with a little bit will be given more. Now box up your stuff and get out of here!”

Jesus is encouraging all of us to invest what we have wisely, as the first and second men did in this story. The Bible says that we have all been given spiritual gifts, and it is up to us to use those wisely.
And so, my friend, I encourage you not to coast through life, sharing Satan’s belief that you have nothing to contribute. God created you for a very good reason, and He is counting on you to make use of the talents and spiritual gifts He gave you.
If you aren’t sure what these gifts are, you may want to have a talk with someone you trust, like a family member or a pastor. Or better yet, pray and ask God every day to reveal how you can contribute to our world and His kingdom. Scripture says that those who ask for God’s wisdom shall receive it, so don’t be afraid to ask Him your persistent questions. If you don’t know God, please read about Him in His word, and prayerfully ask Him to take up residence in your heart today.
I challenge you to learn about your gifts and talents, if you haven’t done so already. Then you can help create your own wonderful life among God’s people.
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 Tuesday night Bible study. These studies are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-432-6498. 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.