I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “IS ANYBODY AT HOME?”

The leaves have turned to their golden hues, the oranges are bright, the browns deep, and the yellow sends a subdued brilliance across the land. The sidewalks are cleared and the homes luxurious. The Man stops in front of the large home and stares at its magnificence.

He enters the open gate and slowly walks the long tree-lined brick lain driveway to the front door and reaches for the gold-plated door bell. He waits. There is no sound of footsteps so He presses the button again.

He waits.

The third time He presses the button He steps back and looks around. A large dog in the yard barrels around the corner barking furiously and bearing its large teeth. The Man smiles. There is no fear and the dog stops beside Him and wagging his tail licks the Man’s hand. No one comes to the door so the man pats the dog on the head and returns to the street.

As He walks slowly down the tree-lined street He gazes at the beauty of the colorful trees and landscaping of the homes. He walks the long circular driveway of another home and steps up to the etched glass door and rings the doorbell.

He hears footsteps approaching and the door is cautiously opened slowly and a maid with her black uniform and white apron asks who He is and what He wants.

“I am the I Am.” the Man replies. “May I speak to the head of the household?”

The maid looks at Him curiously and replies, “Just a moment,” and disappears behind the closed-door.

The master of the house appears and with a smirk asks, “What can I do for you?”

The Man reaches His hand out to shake the owners hand but the owner just looks at the Man’s hand and doesn’t reciprocate. The Man nods and simply states, “I am the I Am. You need Me.”

Laughter fills the air as the owner stands with his hand on the door knob laughing as though he’s just been told a very funny joke.

The Man waits.

The laughter has turned to a snarl and the owner states emphatically, “Look around you! Look at this home! Do you see the Lambro Deni in the drive? Do you see all that I have accomplished; the big home, the beautiful car, the magnificent landscaping? You fool! I don’t need anything you are offering!” He steps back and slams the door in the Man’s face.

The Man moves on down the street and when receiving the same arrogant greeting at several of the homes, He stops in front of a shack that the neighbors have tried to get condemned.

The grass is overgrown. Weeds line the partially collapsed fence. The shingles need repair, and one window is cracked and barely hanging onto the frame. He walks to the splintered, weather-beaten wooden door being careful on the three broken steps and knocks loudly.

“Who is it?” is yelled from the other side.

“I am the I Am.” the Man states.

The door flings open on its rickety hinges. A woman rushes out to meet the Man. She’s dressed in a ragged dress, bare feet, and hair a mess. Her face is lined with life’s pressures and yet her eyes sparkle with tears of joy as she hugs the Man and states, “Come in, come in. I just made some soup.”

The Man steps inside.

***

Proverbs 11:4 – “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”

***

The Lottery lines are long when the jackpot rises to millions of dollars. Thousands of people stand in line with fancy dreams floating through their minds. “If only I can win, then I’ll…” is the dream. Casinos are loud, smoky, and filled with hopes and dreams of “hitting the big one” and many walk away disappointed for their dream was not fulfilled. Men and women work day in and day out to climb the corporate ladder to gain the success they feel will put them on top only to find the internal emptiness is still there. In our quest for “the good things of life;” that large house, new car, expensive silk suits, and fine jewelry, we often times forget that there are no moving trucks allowed in heaven. All the work, all the sacrifices we make, are left behind when we take our last earthly breath. When that last breath is exhaled we will find ourselves in one of two places; heaven or hell. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy but riches will not buy us a ticket into heaven! Christ will hand us the key to His kingdom freely if we reach out for it. Riches might satisfy for a time but they will only bring us great torment and sorrow and lead us into Satan’s domain if we rely on our wealth and not on faith in Jesus Christ. Eternity is a very long, unending time, and no amount of money and wealth can keep us from spending eternity in eternal torment and agony, or spending it in great love, peace, and joy.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Garden”

The Garden

The ground has been tilled, the weeds removed, and the tools set aside, for now. The woman sits at her kitchen table holding her hot mug of coffee while contemplating on the day ahead.

The doorbell rings startling her out of her revelry and she sets the mug on the table and walks to the door. Opening it, a Man stands smiling and asks, “Are you ready to plant your garden?”

“Yes,” she replies. “I’ll meet you out back.”

The Man is standing beside the tilled plot of ground looking down at it when she walks up beside Him. “It isn’t very big but you know how I love to garden.” She apologetically states.

“Did you know that only one seed can grow and multiply? Don’t worry about the size.” The Man wisely states.

They kneel down in the dirt and begin planting a few seeds, some plants she acquired at the nursery, and patting the dirt carefully around them she seems pleased with their progress.

The Man sits down at the edge of the garden and gazes over the now filled plot. He’s quiet and the woman looks over at Him, smiles, and then asks, “A penny for your thoughts?”

He chuckles. Scooping up some dirt in His hand He looks at her and holds out His hand. “This dirt represents people. If they are nurtured the seed will grow. If not, the seed will die. It all depends on the person.”

The woman sits thinking for a moment and then looks at Him a little confused.

“You are planting seeds here in this dirt and you fully expect all of them to grow.” He states. “But what about the seeds you plant in people’s hearts? Not all those seeds will grow but do you stop planting?”

The woman stares down at the garden they just planted for a long moment. “I never thought of that. This is like the parable of the seeds in the Bible.”

“Exactly. People get discouraged when they don’t witness the seeds planted growing and give up. Like the seeds here in this soil, some will grow into beautiful plants and others will be choked out by weeds if you don’t tend to the garden.”

The woman stands, dusts off her jeans, and replies, “Let’s get some ice tea. I think I understand.”

***

 

Matthew 13:8 – “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (See Matthew 13:1-9)

***

I love to play in the dirt planting flowers. This story reminds me of how I planted a seed, A Rose of Sharon, and came back the next year to see a grown plant with all the seed pods at the ends of the branches. In no time I found dozens of small Rose of Sharon plants sprouted around the foot of the main plant. That’s how Christianity is supposed to work. We plant spiritual seeds in someone’s life, nurture it, and watch how that person goes out into the secular world and plants more seeds. We, as Christians, are gardeners. We plant, we nurture, and hopefully, our seeds have taken deep roots and multiply into the kingdom of God. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the results of your labor of love. Not all “soil” is receptive.

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Now That’s Faith!

 

The sun is beating down. Sweat pours down men’s sides, down their faces, rags are dug out to swipe the sweat from their eyes as the crowd closes in closer and closer and closer.

A woman leaves her chair and with disgust she thinks, “This has got to stop and I’m going to do something about it right now!” She peeks out the window and can hear the crowd and see many gathered together.

Leaving the comfort of her home, in pain she crawls slowly toward the crowd. She has to stop and crouches over as pain rips through her body. Taking a deep breath of determination, slowly she claws her way through the legs, around robes, and ignores the stench of dirty feet.

She looks up and moves robes to the side and with a sigh crawls the next few inches to where a Man is standing. With her last bit of energy she reaches up and grabs the tassel hanging from His shawl. She wants to cling to it with all her might but is thrown back as though lightning has struck her as soon as she touches it.

The Man turns suddenly and shouts, “Who touched Me?” The woman lies sprawled on the ground at His feet.

“Who touched Me? I felt My power leave my body.” The Man states.

The crowd goes crazy and someone shouts, “With all these people how do we know who touched you?” The Man looks down and sees the woman sprawled on the ground. He kneels down and gently lifts her up and cradles her in His arms.

Now He knows who touched Him.

Her eyes flutter open, she sighs as she gazes up at Him.

Her infirmity is healed.

 

(Sue’s version) Matthew 9:21

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The Narrow Road – True Story

Running along the trail, his footfalls resound upward and leave a deep resounding thump, thump. thump like a drum beat in a cave. The birds stop their singing and take flight as he lifts his head and screams, “Why God? Why?”

Suddenly dropping to his knees, his fingers dig into the damp soft ground and sobs rip through him from a heart that seems to have shattered into a million pieces. Peering from beneath a nearby bush, a rabbit sits twitching his nose with big brown eyes watching Brian. Brain is unaware as wet leaves soak his jeans.

Feeling exasperation and anger, he flings his arms heavenward with shaking, clenched fists. He yells to God, “How can you love me? You can’t when you let this happen!” Falling face down, Brian sobs into his folded arms. The still of the forest absorbs his cries.

The rabbit has scampered to safety and the birds have taken flight as Brian lies on the cold damp ground confused, frustrated, heartbroken, and doubting how God could ever love him.

 

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One Little Flower

At times we feel there is no hope when we see a country in decline. We pray, we speak out in earnest, and yet things seem to only get worse.

There are times we see a bit of change and our hopes rise, just a bit, but then things turn back to leave us feeling hopeless. Where does our faith come from if not from those times when things seem hopeless?

Every mountain rises up from a desert floor and it is in the desert that faith is built. If there is no opposition then there is nothing to hope for. If there is no healing, then there is no illness. If there is no mountain to climb then how do we reach the stars?

Walking through the desert a Man looks out across the dry arid plains. It is as though nothing can grow in this arid retched land and yet as He walks He sees a small desert flower. He stops. Bending down He fingers the delicate pedal and smiles. There is hope for this seemingly hopeless and dry retched ground.

That is how people must look at what is going on around them. When things look as though death is taking its toll of a country, a family, a school, or maybe a church, look around and there will be a “flower” blooming somewhere that is unexpected.

The hope seen through the eyes of faith can and will search out those things that seem hopeless and will see there is hope in what might be considered the most unlikely of places.

Hope comes from the heart and that hope is instilled through the Man who created it.

(Sue’s version) Romans 5:5

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Invisible Protection

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The young lady giggles as she swings her boyfriends hand back and forth as they leave the sandy beach walking side by side. They stop at a window in the side of a building and buy a slice of pizza each. Finding a bench under a tall Palm tree the young man says a quick thank you to the Lord for their food and they take big bites out of their pizza.

Sitting in the shade they chat about the world’s problems and finish eating their pizza. “There isn’t much we can do about what’s going on in the world,” the girl says.

“Sure there is!” the boy replies.

“What? We’re only two people, how can we solve the world’s problems?”

“Well, we can’t solve the world’s problems but we can take a stand with others. You know the Lord said ‘where two or three are gathered in His name, He is present.”‘

“Yeah, but…”

The boy cuts her off. “If we got a bunch of kids together at school and started a prayer group I’ll bet we could make a difference.”

“But what would we pray about?” The girl wipes her face with a napkin.

“I don’t know. Maybe angels around our school. God has warring angels, I’ll bet they’d guard us!”

The girl laughs and stands. “The school won’t let us do that, silly!”

“But don’t you see? That’s where we can make a difference!” The boy states enthusiastically.

She looks at him for a long moment, and begins walking toward the beach.

“Well, what do you think?” He asks and quickly walks up beside her.

“Whatever,” she states and keeps walking.

“God said we have guardian angels and I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be asking around and see if we can get enough kids to join in.”

Reaching the water, the girl laughs, shoves her boyfriend playfully and darts out into the water “You do that,” she yells, and dives into a wave.

A Man has heard them and grins His approval.

(Sue’s version) Psalm 91:11 – Matthew 18:20

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Stand Strong

The Man travels from city to city checking on His children. He sees a child playing in the park and the sound of her laughter fills the air.  He kneels down and gently cups her cheek. “You are so loved, little one,” He states and moves on.

In the next town He sees statues. One of a Civil War veteran that had called out to Him with his last dying breath. On down the street He sees a woman sitting on a bench eating her noon meal. She glances up at Him, smiles, and waves. He knows the pain she’s hiding.

Walking into the area known as the ghetto He sees poverty. Children playing stick ball in the trash strewn streets. Mothers peeking out the dirty window of an apartment filled with cock roaches. He shakes His head sadly.

Moving uptown with the tall buildings, traffic noise, and aroma’s of various street vendors, people are rushing, bumping into each other and curses are heard from passing taxi cabs. No one notices Him.

He travels to a rural area where a church is being built. It’s almost completed. He sees the pastor and approaches. “A beautiful church,” the Man states.

The Pastor turns and states, “Yeah and you wouldn’t believe the trouble we’ve had in building it.”

“What do you mean?” The Man asks, knowing full well the obstacles they have encountered.

“First the county said they didn’t want another church. Then a bunch of non-believers started picketing. We had to fight tooth and nail to finally get the permits. I was ready to give up!”

“But you didn’t. The Father heard your prayers. What are you going to call it?”

The Pastor rubs his chin and grins and then states, “You won’t believe this and we’re going to really have a fight on our hands when we put up the sign, but the Lord spoke to me in a dream and said to call it the ‘Christ’s True Gospel Church.'”

“Why do you think there will be a fight?” The Man asks.

“Are you kidding? We aren’t allowed to make any reference to Christianity or  make any reference to Jesus!” The Pastor exclaims.

The Man walks to the building and looking inside He sees a large cross on the front wall of the sanctuary. “That’s a beautiful cross.” The Man states, pleased.

“Yes, it is. One of the locals made that cross from one of his trees on his property. An atheist group saw it being carried into the building and filed a lawsuit stating its offensive and has to come down. We have one for the roof, too and they’re really having a fit over that one. But we just keep praying for God’s divine intervention.”

The Man turns to the Pastor and places His hand on his shoulder. Looking directly into the Pastor’s eyes the Man states, “I am the Great I Am and your prayers will be answered.”

(Sue’s version) 1Thes. 5:16-18

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