Thursday, April 12, 2012

Could it be an angel?

Has something ever happened that you knew an angel of the Lord was with you? Maybe you have seen an angel? Do we know if we have seen an angel, really?

My husband has told me the story of when he was driving over the road, he came to a truck stop and in the front of the shop there stood a man. This man held a sign asking for help. As my husband came to him, he said he felt the hairs upon his arms begin to stand. He gave this man money, and the stranger said to him,"Thank you my brother in Christ." My husband was not in the store very long, and came out and that man was no where to be seen. He said there was no way he could have walked away that quickly. He believes he was in the presence of an angel.

My Sunday school class is filled with some amazingly giving women. One day we were speaking of homeless people, and whether or not we give. One woman stood out to me with her grace and compassion. She said she always gives money to the homeless. Her reasoning was the fact that she doesn't know their circumstances and it is not for her to judge, but to give. I thought this was beautiful. There is a verse that is just amazing. Hebrews 13:2 states this; "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels." How awesome of God to send His angels to us?  In our daily lives we do not to know if we are helping an angel or if we are helping a stranger in need. The question is, should it matter?

I believe if we knew we were helping an angel we would empty our pockets, knowing it would please God, but for us to give to another for no reason, do you think we would? I know I have given at times to men and women standing on the corner. I have heard others say, if they can stand on the corner all day, they can get a job standing all day. Sadly, I am sure I have said these words too. I know there are schemers out there getting rich from others compassionate giving, and that is totally wrong. But do we have the right to judge those asking for help? Do we know them? The point is, do we care to know them? It's easy for us to look down on others, isn't it?

Of course, we must use good judgement. Maybe we could offer to buy a meal instead of handing money. Offer a job for pay. Pray with them. At least acknowledge them as a human being. May we not be too quick to judge. With the way the world is today we can be one paycheck away from being on the same streets, asking for the same help.

In our churches we need to be aware of the needs in our communities. We need to be that outreach for Jesus to shine. We are so blessed. I am so blessed and I know my hand should open a bit more easily. Why are we afraid to give? There is nothing material we have on this earth that is more important than the person standing next to us.

May we open our hearts and our pockets. May we give what we can and not expect something in return. Just maybe we could learn to give until it hurts. It's easy to give a coat when you have twelve in the closet. We need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We have it too easy. Goodness, I have it way too easy. There is always more we can do. Lets open our lives to our communities. Open our hearts to those around us so they see nothing but the love of Christ flowing through us.

We don't know what has happened to them throughout their lives. What war they have been in, what illness they now have that totally takes over their minds. Many of those on the streets have had much, and have lost much. We are not to judge them, for it could be me on that corner just as easy. If I was homeless for some circumstance, and I had my children with me, I would pray for someone to reach out and help us.

Give when you feel led to give, and not have the attitude that they can help themselves. For how many could be angels called from heaven to see if we are really being the christian we claim to be? In Matthew 7:12 it says this; "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets." In Matthew 25:35-40 it tells us this; "For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? and the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."

Did you catch all the capitalized I's and Me's? These verses are  of those that we must search our hearts about. Whatever we do to other people, we in turn do to Jesus. If we knew we were doing it to Jesus we wouldn't be doing some of the things we do. We would treat Him with all love and respect. That kind of changes the whole picture when we look at His words telling us about entertaining angels and when we hurt others we are hurting Him. As we love others, we are loving Him.

Lets change the way we think, and focus on Jesus, and know that He loves us, and for that love we should be treating others with that same kind of love. The next time we see a stranger in need or someone hungry, may we allow our focus to remain on Jesus and really ask, "What would Jesus do?"

Our motives are so powerful. They really are. At times when others are watching, we are all about helping. But what about when no one is watching at all? What about those times when credit isn't coming our way? If we are honest with ourselves we know that center stage is a nice place to be. We like to think people really know the good we do. But does what others think really matter? If we are concerned with the popularity of serving in openness, we need a heart check. We need to be that vessel who serves not hoping for grand gestures nor basking in the limelight of giving.

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."
Proverbs 22:9

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6:19-20

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."
Luke 6:35

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Luke 6:38

Dear Heavenly Father, open my heart to give graciously. May I give until it hurts. Change me to look more like You, Father. Help me to want to give to others. May I not question the need, but be willing to be empty myself for You. Use me so that I may bring glory and honor in all I do for you, Lord Jesus.


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