I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Homeless Angel”

 

Rising early the woman grabs her list of the items she needs to get at the store and  rushes out to the car thinking about all the chores she has lined up and errands she has to run.

Pulling into the parking lot she glances at a man standing under a tree at the edge of the parking lot. He’s unshaven and dressed in heavy clothes; a stocking cap covers his messy brown hair and military style boots to keep his feet warm.

His small hand printed sign asks for work. But she ignores him in her rush to get her items and go on with her day.

She grabs the shopping cart and wastes no time rushing up and down the isles checking off the items on her list as she tosses one item after another into the cart. After going through the check-out and loading the items into her trunk, she takes a deep breath as she starts the car and slowly backs out.

Stopping at the stop sign she looks over at the man. There are no people around him and all the cars are parked near the front of the store, not at the far end of the parking lot.

He looks at her, and then away.

She drives down the road to the next stop light and hears the Lord say, “Go back and ask what he needs.”

“But Lord…”

“Turn around and go back.” He states.

She makes an illegal U-turn and pulls into the parking lot beside the man and lowers her window.

He steps toward the car and looks intently at her.

“I don’t have any work for you but is there something you need that I can help you with?” She asks.

“Thank you, Ma’am. I need food.”

“I’m not going to give you money but if you’ll go into the store I’ll buy you what you need. Where are you staying?”

The rugged-looking man explains that he, his wife, and little girl were evicted and they’re staying with his wife’s mother but the mother refuses to let him in the house other than to go to the bathroom. He has a tent pitched in the back yard that he sleeps in. He then suggests a gift card for the store and that way he can get what his wife needs.

Contemplating what to do, the woman finally says, “I’ll get you a gift card if you promise me and God you will not buy booze with it.”

“I don’t drink or do drugs, Ma’am and I promise not to buy them.”

As she pulls forward she hears him say, “God bless you Ma’am.”

She quickly buys him a gift card and rushes back out. She rushes to the place where she spoke with the man. She doesn’t see him so she drives around the parking lot looking for him.

The homeless man is nowhere to be found. He just disappeared in a moment’s time.

She named him her homeless angel.

***

Hebrews 13:2 – “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

***

There are many men, women, and children across this country, across the world, that sit unnoticed, ignored, and ridiculed in alley ways, sidewalks, and parks. They are the rejects of society even though many are there by circumstances beyond their control. Mental hospitals have closed their doors, our veterans are left with no home or work when they come back from war, single mothers and entire families have been evicted from their home due to losing a job or catastrophic medical bills, and children flee from abusive homes without a place to run to.

There are many reasons why we have so many homeless people living on the streets or in shelters and when we see a man or woman holding a sign that asks for food or asks for work many of us pass by so as to fulfill our busy schedules. I wonder how many times we, or I, have walked past, driven past, someone in ragged attire and never considered that we may have just missed a real encounter with one of God’s angel’s that the Lord positioned there as a test to us. Where’s our heart? Are we too busy to reach out to others in need? The next time you see a homeless man or woman, stop and think, “I may be looking at an angel.”

 

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “High on a Hill”

The day was cold. Rain had poured down soaking the ground. The river was flooding, water rushing over the jagged rocks and forcing its way south.

On the bank stands a Man. He looks up to the sky, whispers a few words, and takes a seat under the only tree. A large tree; a tree with arms reaching to heaven, strong arms, arms filled with lush leaves and a trunk that can stand any storm.

The sun begins to peek through the dark gray clouds. Sighing heavily, the Man stands. He takes a few steps toward the raging river. He lifts one foot and slowly places his toes in the water.

He hears the sound of horse’s hooves drawing near. Louder and louder they come. Turning slightly, He glances over His shoulder and His lips quirk at the corners. He knows who is approaching and why they are coming.

The horses stop nearby. Men in their soldier gear dismount and approach. One man points his finger toward the Man by the river and yells, “That’s Him!”

The soldiers quickly walk toward Him and grab Him. But one of the men in the group is the Man’s friend and quickly draws his sword. He swings at the soldier and misses his target lopping off a part of his ear. “Oh rats! I’ll get’cha this time” the friend thinks.

The friend raises his sword and takes aim.

The Man chastises him.

He lowers his sword and takes a step back.

The Man places His hand over the bleeding ear of the soldier, healing it.

A few questions are asked and the soldiers lead the Man away.

The hill is high. The skull carved in the rock beneath the three crosses is a testimony of the evil that is taking place. The Man hangs limply, nailed to the Cross. His strength is gone. Blood pours from His wounds. Slowly lifting His head a mere inch from His chest He asks His Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The blood drips, water oozes from His side, pain sears through His body and weakly sucking in a breath His last labored words set the world on edge…

“It is finished!”

***

John 19:30 “So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”

***

Jesus’ sole mission on earth was to bring sinners into His saving grace. He doesn’t want anyone to go to hell but because we have been given free will He will not force Himself on anyone. Christ walked that path down the hill to Golgotha where He was nailed to a rugged cross. There were those who jeered, some mocked, some cried, others stood mute. An innocent Man who wanted nothing more than to show His great love to all of mankind hung bleeding, dying a most horrific slow death. I can’t imagine His pain. I can’t imagine the suffering He felt physically and emotionally and to be betrayed by friends, to look out over a crowd and see angry faces staring back at Him and then to ask His Father to forgive them. Those people are us! We do not deserve His love. We do not deserve His grace or His mercy and yet if we ask, “Father, forgive me,” He will, in a split second. Aren’t we glad that Jesus was obedient to the Father and so should we.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “Ya’ Just Never Know”

The weeks have been long and tiring for the woman. Her husband has been ill and now as she stands by his graveside the tears flow. She didn’t think she had any more tears but her wet cheeks have proven her wrong.

Her friend stands beside her and places a hand on her shoulder. “He’s with the Lord now and no more sorrow, no more illness. He’s at peace.” her friend whispers to the new widow.

The widow looks at her with crinkled eyebrows. “He wasn’t a believer. He’s in hell!” She bursts out sobbing and her friend pulls her into a tight hug.

The widow sobs in her friend’s arms as the people quietly back away and begin returning to their cars. Slowly the tears abate and the widow apologizes to her friend for her outburst.

Her friend looks and there’s a Man standing near the Oak tree. He looks familiar. The friend nudges the widow. “Do you know Him?” she asks. The widow glances over to the Man and suddenly sucks in a breath.

The Man approaches her and with love in His eyes He opens His arms to her and she quickly embraces Him as tears stream down her face.

The Man caresses her back gently and whispers in her ear, “Be not downcast, My daughter, for Jack is in heaven. He gave his life to Me and has been forgiven.”

The widow suddenly pulls back from the Man, “Oh praise be to God. Thank you Jesus!” she shouts.

Her friend stands transfixed, not knowing what just happened.

***

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn. For they shall be comforted.”

***

Many of us have gone through suffering with a long illness of a loved one. We know at times, way down deep within us, that we could lose them but we keep hoping for the best. Many never give a moment’s thought about eternity, but every human being ever born, or is to be born, will spend eternity in one of two places; heaven with God, Jesus, and loved ones that placed their trust in Jesus Christ, or, in hell without love, compassion, joy, or peace. Hell is an eternity without God and all that He is. Unless we have had a confession of faith from the loved one that is on their death-bed we can never assume that they are not in heaven with the Lord. It has been said that even the most adamant atheist, when facing the end of their time on earth, have asked Jesus to save them. It is a cold, dead heart that refuses Christ’s offer for an eternity filled with love. As long as we have not taken that last breath, it is not too late to ask Jesus into our hearts. He will welcome us with open arms.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “The Spirit’s Alive”

Cars line to enter the already packed parking lot. The sun is bright and hot but it has not detoured the saints from coming. People are already standing at the doors waiting to enter the sanctuary and the women fan themselves as the men wipe sweat from their brow.

Music can be heard sifting through the rafters and seeping through the walls. The vibration can almost be felt in their feet as the excitement grows and suddenly the doors are thrown open and thousands rush to find a seat.

The music reverberates through the room and hands have already started to clap, bodies are dancing between the rows of seats, and others are doing little jigs as they walk down the aisles.

The music softens just a bit and through the loud speakers, as stragglers search for a seat, a voice roars, “Are you ready to worship the Lord?” The crowd roars, “Yes,” and the drums, guitars, and key board roars over the crowd.

Praise songs are sung, the music is ear-bursting loud, but nobody complains as they dance at their seats, raise their hands high in the air, and give the Lord their praises through the words of the songs.

The Man isn’t seen but He’s watching and listening.

The devil runs as the room is filled with His glory.

The drums quiet, the keyboard softens, and the voices fill the room in hushed reverence. Tears are filling eyes, heads are bowed, and the sound of “Holy is our Lord God Almighty,” is being sung softly.

A Wind blows across the room and suddenly the heavens are opened. Standing before the King is a choir of thousands and their voices are joining with the saints in this room.

Shekinah glory fills the room. Heavenly light flows through the room and some fall under the Power, they cannot stand, and yet they worship.

As the song ends, Jehovah Elyon’s eyes fill with tears of love and joy.

He has been magnified.

***

Psalm 34:3 – “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

***

When we magnify the Lord we are coming before Him and exalting who He is. We are glorifying His Name, we are honoring God Almighty and what He does. We are giving praise unto the King of kings and Lord of lords. No human can die for another and be saved and yet the Son of God chose to die so that our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life with Him in His heavenly kingdom. Have you asked the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins? Do you magnify Him through your thoughts, words, and actions? Magnify Him today through prayers of praise and songs of worship. Show your gratitude and love for He died that you may have life everlasting with Him.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “Go and Sin no more”

 

Go and Sin No More

The night has been long and sleep has evaded the woman. She has tossed and turned, kicked the blankets, and stuffed the pillow over her head. It was a long day and even though she enjoyed the time with her friend, her actions have haunted her. There were no hurting words, or complaining, or condemnation. Her heart was right but her actions got out of control.

Tossing the blankets back she slowly leaves her bed and flipping on the light, she goes into the kitchen and starts a pot of coffee. A silent prayer is lifted to heaven as tears stream down her face. Grabbing a tissue she swipes at them, takes a deep breath and plops down on a kitchen chair. Head in hands she prays, “Lord forgive me. I think I moved in like a drill sergeant and I ask for your forgiveness. I repent, Lord, help me to ask for my friend’s forgiveness.”

There’s a knock on the door and surprised, she quickly dries her tears and opens the door. A Man is standing there in long white robes and sandals strapped to His feet. He smiles and asks if He may come in.

Stepping back to allow His entrance she is in awe and yet very surprised. She recognizes this Man but never thought He would appear at her door. She finally finds her voice and asks if He’d like some coffee, and He accepts.

Lingering over the hot coffee at the kitchen table, she isn’t sure what to say and suddenly bursts out crying. His love fills the room. “I know for what your tears are,” He states.  “You think you have hurt your friend.”

She nods, while blowing her nose.

“Oh My child, your heart was right. So many times people want to help others in ways that are not necessarily the right way. Bulldozing someone is not the way. Commanding they do this or that only accomplishes heartache. It is the love in one’s heart that speaks louder than any words. It is the life you live, the testimony of what I have done in your life that rings out to others. Shed no more tears for you are forgiven. You’ve learned a valuable lesson. Go in My peace, child, and sin no more.”

The door slowly and quietly clicks closed as the woman’s tears drip onto the table.

***

Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

***

We hear people use the phrase, “Beat them over the head with the Bible.” In so many ways we may do that to others without actually wielding a literal Bible. “You just don’t have enough faith!” That’s a blow. It is condemnation and judging where someone else is in their walk with the Lord. “You must have really sinned.” Or, “If you’d go to church more often…” All are beating the person up with the Bible in ways that only hurt, not help. As Christians we are to lift people up. We are to encourage them, not condemn them. Yes, if we see a brother or sister in Christ sinning we are to bring it to their attention but not in a way that beats them down. We do it out of love for them. Notice I didn’t say, “in love.” We sometimes get that messed up, too because we can use that as a means of gossip, condemnation and hurt. “I’m only telling you this because I love you” or “we really need to pray for …. he’s really messed up in the head.” Hurtful words are spilling out of our mouths. The Lord will convict us of those wrongful doings and it is up to us to ask for forgiveness and repent of whatever it was we said or did. He is always there to accept our plea and He will remember it no more.

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I AM- Devotional Style Short Stories – “Sweet Aroma”

 

The child stands at the edge of heaven. She’s curious about what goes on below and stands quietly while pondering all that she sees.

Waves of strife waffle up to her, streaks of stress zip past, anger thunders through the clouds, and as she is about to turn and walk away The Man appears beside her.

She looks up at His face and with furrowed brows and crinkle nose asks, “Is there no love there?” He kneels down beside her and places His arm around her small shoulders. She nuzzles up closer to Him.

“Listen with your heart,” He tells her. She cocks her head a little and scrunches up her face as though that helps her to tune into her heart.

“I don’t hear anything” she finally states.

“Close out the sounds of anger, hate, and dissension.” He whispers.

She tries again.

A sweet aroma engulfs her and she suddenly jumps away from Him and excitedly shouts, “I hear it. I feel it, I can smell love!”

“When we focus on God’s aroma we will escape the foul smell of sin.”

He leans over and gently kisses her on the cheek.

***

2 Cor.2:15- “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

***

To walk through a garden in the spring and breathe in the sweet aroma of roses, petunia’s, Azaleas, and so many other wonderful smells fills our hearts and brings a peace that we cherish. It is the same way with Christ. Only the sweet aroma He cherishes is the aroma of our prayers and thanksgiving. Our worship fills His heart. Those of us that are Christians know the peace that can come from spending time with our Lord and Savior, but what about those who do not believe? Many non-believers find Christianity a stench in their nostrils. They ridicule, make fun of, and try to convince others their faith is fantasy. God, through His Son, finds this as stench in His nostrils for the wages of sin is death and as we all know a dead corpse is not a pleasing aroma. Our prayers are sweet in God’s nostrils and our sins are stench. When we treat others as Christ would have us do and love one another as He loves us is the sweetest of His aromas. Through repentance and forgiveness our stench will turn to the sweet aroma that only Christ can give.

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I AM – Devotional Style Short Stories – “Hard Lessons”

Hard Lessons

Four young men stand gaping up at the mountain. One is determined to climb while the others try to talk him out of it, telling him he is inexperienced and will never make it.

The young man takes a deep breath and states, “I’ll go alone if you aren’t coming!” and hikes up the heavy backpack onto his back and heads determinedly toward a narrow path that leads part way up the mountain. I can do this myself. I don’t need them! He thinks.

The others watch while shaking their heads. “He has a real death wish,” one boy states.

The young fellow climbs and climbs, and before long he looks to be a small speck on the side of the mountain to those watching below.

He grabs at the crags in the rocks. He slowly pulls himself up another inch or two. Sweat drips down his face. His hands are already bloody and blisters form on his fingers.

Another six inches and he stops, breathing hard. His backpack feels fifty pounds heavier.

He finds a narrow ledge just wide enough for him to sit down and rest. He slides the backpack off his back and it suddenly drops over the edge falling hundreds of feet until the lad can no longer see it or hear its crash.

Out of the corner of his eye he sees movement and quickly twists his head to see what it is. Much to his surprise a Man appears at the other end of the ledge.

Clinging to the ledge, breathing hard and scared out of his wits, he yells, “Can you help me, Mister?”

The Man slowly makes His way to the young fellow and sits down beside him. He offers him some water from His water bottle and the boy thanks Him, and then takes a long gulping drink.

The young fellow swipes his arm across his mouth and hands the now empty water bottle back to the Man. He scoots back a fraction of an inch to press closer to the rock wall.

“We all have mountains to climb,” the Man states. “But we don’t have to climb them alone.”

The boy looks at Him and asks, “Who are you, and how’d you get up here?”

“I am the I Am and mountains are my specialty.”

“Huh?” The boy replies.

“There are mountains and there are valleys. Lessons are learned in both. It’s how well you traverse both and how well those lessons are learned that will determine your journey.”

The young fellow slowly slides his back up the rocky wall and stands cautiously. “Well, I’ll climb this one!”

His foot slips sending loose rock over the ledge.

The Man grabs him.

“You have much to learn.” The Man states, and helps the young man to the next ledge.

***

Prov. 29:23 – “A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

***

I remember an incident where I was talking to a friend and his reply to what I was telling him was, “You need to pray about that.” My mouth flew open and the words, “I don’t need to pray about that, I can do it!” spilled out of my mouth.

So many times we lean on our own strength, knowledge, or human wisdom when in fact the Lord says, “we can do nothing without Him.” Pride is an ugly thing and something the Lord detests.  It hinders us from God’s help, wisdom, and guidance. We suddenly become our own god by rejecting His promises to lead us, guide us, to give us all we need to do whatever it is He calls us to do. In pride we cut Him out of the picture and He will let us. Our pride will stand as a wall between Him and us if we do not repent of it and ask for forgiveness. It’s easy to slip into our humanness and do things on our own but it becomes so much easier when we have the Lord helping us.

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