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I Heard Jesus in You

People sometimes say, “I saw Jesus in you,” and that’s good. That’s a great compliment for someone to be given.  People also ask, “What would Jesus do?” And again that’s good.  Really makes one stop and think.   But what if people also said, “I HEARD Jesus in you!” and asked, “What would Jesus SAY?”

Sometimes we are super busy serving the Lord, and it looks like we are surely doing what Jesus would do, but all that time we are working so hard, our mouths are running and not coming close to saying anything remotely like what Jesus would say!

This year, 2018, my heart’s desire and goal is that every time I open my mouth whatever comes out would sound like Jesus!  Sadly, I’ve already missed that goal royally more than once, but I’m going to keep on trying.

Not counting the verses that speak of God’s judgement and eternal punishment for unbelievers, I think the scariest verse in the Bible is found in Matthew 12:36, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

EVERY idle word?  How many idle words have I spoken in the past fifty some years?  Millions?  Billions?  Gazillions?  How many of those idle words sounded like something Jesus would have said?

That thought makes me feel so convicted I don’t ever want to open my mouth again!  However, that won’t work either. The Bible says the virtuous woman “openeth her mouth with kindness” not silence!  And again Proverbs says “a soft answer turneth away wrath” not silence!

So today, in this still brand new year of 2018,  may our desire and prayer be that before we speak, we stop and ask, “What would Jesus say?”  And when the words start pouring from our mouths, may others hear Jesus in us!

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My Times Are in Thy Hand

Last Wednesday Jacinto walked for about ten minutes then began to feel chest pressure, dizziness and nausea.  Because of his past heart problems, we should never ignore any chest discomfort so off we went to Urgent Care to find out what was going on.  While we waited for the doctor after the nurses performed various tests, I felt anxiety begin to creep into the edges of my soul.

The “What Ifs” began.  “What if Jacinto is having another heart attack?”  “What if they send us straight to the hospital?”  “What if the insurance doesn’t want to cover it?”  “What if we have to cancel our upcoming trip to Mexico?”

Stop.  Breathe.  Remember Psalm 31:15, “My times are in thy hand.”  Immediately my anxiety faded away.  What a comforting verse!  Our times are in God’s hands.  No better place to be.  Our unknown, uncertain scary future is clearly known and planned by our loving Heavenly Father.

I try not to borrow trouble.  I like to say, “Don’t ever borrow trouble.  You’ll get enough free!”  But I live with a husband whose health is a ticking time bomb.  Some of you know exactly what I mean.  Jacinto suffered a massive heart attack in 2003, cancer in 2008, and has been in the hospital numerous times through the years.  I have an overactive imagination and cannot function if I let my thoughts run wild.  “My times are in thy hand” has been my go to verse during all the uncertainty of many doctor and hospital visits.

I chatted with a dear relative not too long ago whose husband is also facing challenging health problems.  She was quite concerned about their unknown future.   “Remember,” I said softly, “the Bible says our times are in thy hand.”  “That’s right,” she exclaimed with relief and was immediately comforted.

I can picture myself and my family upheld in God’s strong, loving hand come what may.  He will not drop us.  His strength will not falter.  Whatever 2018 may hold for all of us, we can rest assured, “Our times are in His hand!”

I Wanted that Hamburger! Mexico Memories

I wanted that hamburger!  I had a craving to make hamburgers last Saturday.  (This was written in Mexico in 2001 and recently rediscovered going through old diaries.)  Just as we sat down at the table to eat, into the yard pulled a visiting family.  Now you can add water to the beans easily and stretch out other foods, but, how oh how, do you multiply hamburgers?!!!

The family hadn’t eaten, so inwardly reluctant, I gave my hamburger to the man and ate a ham sandwich.  I could not believe what a struggle that was for me!  I wanted that hamburger!

I also wanted to be alone, and they stayed all weekend and left after lunch on our “free” day.  There were 18 people in the house over the weekend, and we ran OUT of water.  It was a very hard experience for me.  I am discouraged about myself because I have to struggle so with basic hospitality.

Reading this now makes me smile.  I wanted to be a missionary from the time I was eight years old and loved my life in Mexico, but often felt stretched far out of my comfort zone.  Never felt like I had the “natural missionary personality” whatever that was.  Had to depend on the Lord for His help and grace in every situation.  Looking back that wasn’t a bad thing!  If I accomplished anything, everyone knew it was the Lord and not Rebecca doing the accomplishing!

Comfort zones are overrated!  Being pushed out of them causes us to realize once again our need for God’s help and grace in every situation.  I often say I have not one cheerleading bone in my body, but I am a LOUD, passionate fan of God’s unfailing grace.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

His Stretched Out Hand in 2018

Peter is one of my favorite Bible characters because though he usually had the most enthusiasm for serving Jesus, he rarely acted wisely.  He always meant to be a fearless Christian, but his courage often deserted him just when he needed it most.  I love Peter with all of his good intentions and lack of follow through!

When the storm was raging and all the disciples cried out in fear, he was the only one brave enough to leave the ship and start walking toward Jesus, but the moment he started focusing on the boisterous wind, he became afraid and started to sink.  At least Peter was smart enough not to try to save his own life by attempting to swim back to the boat!  He cried out to the best lifeguard in the history of humanity.

I love Jesus’ response in Matthew 14:31, “And IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

I don’t know about you, but I spent too much time in 2017 focused on the storms swirling around me.  Spent too much time being “tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary”.  Spent too much time feeling sorry for myself because of all the trials that our family has gone through.  Just like the disciples I was troubled and cried out in fear.

There are painful circumstances that I cannot change.  Stressful problems beyond my ability to solve.  When I focus on the storms, I am paralyzed by fear and start to sink into depression and self pity.  However, just like Peter I have a choice.  I can try to save myself and continue to sink, or I can cry out, “Lord, save me!”

Instead of staring at the raging storms that will doubtless come our way in 2018, may we choose to focus on Jesus’ outstretched hand.  When we focus on Jesus’ hand–His strength and His power–all our anxiety about our circumstances fades away.  We can trust our problems and the unknown future to our omnipotent Father.

“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.”  Isaiah 59:1

“You’re a Bad Winner!”

“You’re a bad winner!” one of my sons accused me indignantly.  “You’re a good loser, but you’re a terrible winner!”  Wow!  There aren’t very many games we play that I can beat the J’s–just rook, Dutch blitz and ping pong.  That’s about it!  So naturally I enjoy it wholeheartedly when I win and maybe rub it in a little and brag about it for a few days!

After all, I am a good loser.  I don’t get angry or pitch fits.  I ‘m not the Aguilar famous for overturning the board during monopoly games!  I’m not the multiple Aguilars that yell at the ps4 screen when fifa isn’t going their way.  (Course the fact that I never play monopoly or fifa has nothing to do with how good I am at being a good loser!  haha)

It honestly hadn’t occurred to me that it is also important to be a good winner.  Without meaning to, I had offended my son.  I thought we were just having a great time rejoicing over how good old mom can still win a few times!  However, my son felt belittled by my boasting.

As Christians we may often feel like the world sees us as the ultimate losers in life.  We  comfort ourselves by reminding ourselves that Christians are the true winners in this game of life.  However, I submit to you that sometimes we as Christians act like BAD WINNERS!!

I have read many facebook comments recently where Christians write so hatefully toward those who disagree with their beliefs:  “You’re gonna burn in hell some day!  You’ll know I’m right when you face God’s judgment, but it will be too late then!  The devil must be proud of you!”

Wow and double wow!  If I were not a Christian, what would possibly make me want to become one after reading all the hate-filled, condemning posts written by them?  I’m not sure if anyone’s opinion has ever been changed after reading an opposing one on social media!

Yes, we need to take a stand but whatever happened to “…speaking the truth in love…”?  (Ephesians 4:15)

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

 

 

 

 

And the Doorbell Rang (My George Mueller answer to prayer)

I opened my wallet and pulled out 10,000 pesos with a sigh.  Ten thousand pesos sounds like a fortune, but in the late 1980’s it was only worth about three USA dollars.  That was all the money I had.  I did not want to borrow from anyone.  I had come to Mexico to serve as a missionary without raising support, living by faith and watching God provide.  I was used to living on a very tight budget.

The problem was I had promised the children in my Saturday morning Bible club a Christmas party with cupcakes and small gifts.  I knew that the children were very poor and might not receive many or any presents for Christmas so I wanted to give them something.  Around 30 children attended, and I had had the joy of leading many of them to Christ.  Three dollars for 30 children would only allow me to buy each one a piece of candy or gum.  I wanted to get them something better than that if possible.

So I prayed and asked the Lord to provide and reminded Him (in case He had forgotten) that it was Friday night and my Christmas party was the very next morning!  I went ahead and baked and frosted the cupcakes.  I studied my Bible lesson.  In those days I wrote out my lessons and painstakingly translated them into my far from fluent Spanish!  Occasionally I wondered what I would do about the presents.

And then the doorbell rang!  The missionaries with whom I lived had returned from a quick trip to the Texas border.  They had picked up mail and packages that were sent to the border since that was quicker and safer than sending mail into Mexico.  They gave me an unexpected package.

I looked at the box and discovered it was from an old high school friend with whom I had not been in contact for some time.  I hadn’t known that she knew I was even in Mexico serving as a missionary.  I opened the box and to my joy and delight there were matchbox cars for boys and bracelets and hairbands for girls!  More than enough to give all the kids in my club a present the next day!

The next morning I walked joyfully up the mountain to my club happily carrying my cupcakes and gifts.  I told the children what had happened and how God had sent their presents at just the right moment!  They were very happy to receive their special gifts from the USA!  I have never lost the wonder of God’s timing and that wonderful answer to prayer!  Feliz Navidad!!!

“Now unto him that is able to do EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.  Unto him be glory…”  Ephesians 3:20-21.

Remember and Believe

What can we do when struggling to believe God’s promises?  When doubting His goodness in the midst of painful trials that don’t seem to make any sense?  When feeling like God has forsaken us?  We can remember and believe!

“When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:22) Sometimes when struggling to have faith in difficult trials, all we need to do to trust the Lord is to remember.

Remember who God is.    Job is my hero because when all the terrible tragedies happened in his life, the Bible says, “In all this Job sinned not, not charged God foolishly.”  (Job 1:22)  Wow and double wow!  Job’s response to heartache was outstanding!

However, as time went on and his burdens were not lifted but rather increased, his wife and close friends were miserable comforters and his health problems caused much physical pain, Job’s response became less stellar.  God reminds Job in chapters 38-41 just who He is.  Then Job remembers and believes and states:  “I know that thou canst do every thing….” (Job 42:2a)

Sometimes in the midst of pain and trials it is easy to forget just who God is.  We may begin our trials like Job did with lots of faith and trust that all things work together for good to them that love God.  But when the trials drag on and on with never any end in sight, it is easy to forget who God is and struggle to believe in His goodness in the land of the living.

Remember what God promises. 

  • Nothing is too hard for God.  “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”  Jeremiah 32:17
  • God will never abandon us.  “…I will NEVER leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  Hebrews 13:5
  • God hears our prayers.  “The Lord hath heard my supplications; the Lord will receive my prayer.”  Psalm 6:9
  • God plans our future.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  Jeremiah 29:11

Remember what God has done in the past.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”  Psalm 103:2.  One time after the Lord had answered prayer for us in a miraculous way I promised the Lord, “I will NEVER doubt you again!”  I think the Lord probably smiled and chuckled.  He knows me and how weak my faith can be and my attitude of “but what have you done for me LATELY”?!!!

No matter how many times God has proven His faithfulness in the past, it is easy to doubt in the present.  We need to remember on purpose all the times God has answered prayers and worked in our lives in the past.  It is good to write down answers to prayer so that when our faith falters and hope grows dim we can refresh our minds and hearts with evidence of God’s faithfulness from our past.  May we remember and keep on believing!