In God’s community of believers, there’s freedom to cry on one another's shoulders, or share in the happiness of a job well done, and then carry those trials and victories to the cross of Christ for answers and thanksgiving. No other relationship is built on this firm foundation for problem-solving and hope-filled direction.

     Kathy Schreiner portrays this ebb and flow of our faith walk in little vignettes of that same Hope. We can relate to her honest portrayal of stumbling blocks coming from within and without. She ends each trial and victory by bringing the issue back to Jesus; where she can lay the burden or victory down at the feet of the only one who overcame every problem on earth. It’s there that we too find forgiveness, resolutions, and blessings.

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 EHV

Thanksgiving by Kathy Schreiner

What will your Thanksgiving look like this year?  Depending on where you live, it could look a lot different than years past. 2020 has forced us to rethink and redo a lot of what we have taken for granted.  Holidays have not escaped.  Even with everything COVID has thrown at us we are still not in the kind of dire straits faced by those who celebrated that first Thanksgiving. 

 

Those brave people who left their homeland, sailed an at times angry ocean, faced illness, disease, starvation and other trials still found reason to thank the Creator.  The pilgrims knew they owed their very existence to a merciful God.  They were thankful for their meager food, shelter and each other. 

They knew God had sent the native people to teach them how to live in their new land.  Food and fellowship is how they chose to celebrate these blessings.

 

However, they did not forget the most important part of any celebration.  They invited God to be part of it.  He was the center of their celebration and deserves to be the center of ours as well. 

 

In 2020, will you be thankful for all the many blessings God has graciously given you or will you bemoan the few things you do not have this year?  No matter what we lack we still have everything if we have Jesus-The one thing needful (Luke 10:42).   Choose Jesus. 

 

The writer to the Hebrews said in chapter 13, verses 5 and 6, "Keep yourselves free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man [or a virus] do to me?"

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What now? by Kathy Schreiner 

It seems like the U.S. presidential election is over. Did your candidate win or lose?

Now what? Well, things will pretty much go on as usual…

The sun will rise in the morning and set at night.

Fall will turn into winter.

The Corona virus will be with us until it isn't.

We will sin.

 

Unfortunately, that never changes. This side of heaven, we will always sin.

Fortunately, there is a remedy for that. It is found in God's Holy Word. The remedy is Christ Crucified.

 

It seems too simple to be true...

God sends His only-begotten Son.

He lives a perfect life on earth, free from sin.

He is put to death on the cross as payment for our sins.

In three days, He rises from the dead and later ascends back to His home in heaven.

 

All we have to do is believe in this sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus. We can't do anything to earn heaven; the price of admission has been paid by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have only to trust and believe.

 

The world tells us, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Christ is the exception. His Good News does seem to be too good to be true, but it is true! Heaven is God's gift to us because of His great love and mercy. A GIFT! Free and clear.

 

The Corona virus has caused mayhem around the world. They say a vaccine is coming. It may. But it will not be a cure, only a treatment. Will there be side effects? No one knows.

 

The devastation of sin is much worse. There is no comparison. Sin dams us to hell. Romans 6:23 "For the wages is sin is death."  BUT the passage does not end there. The last part is: "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

 

No matter how things go after the election, God stays the same. 

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22. Friends by Kathy Schreiner

It was 10:00 pm when the phone started to ring. My heart went to my throat. Calls at that time of night usually mean bad news. However, this time it was good news.

 

A friend from my Soul Sisters bible study group was on the other end. She apologized for calling so late, but she just had to share her good news. My friend Debbie had a very dear friend who was in essence a part of her family. Her friend was single, but had an extended family in Debbie's. She would be included in every family function. “R” (we will call her) was there for birthdays, baptisms, weddings, confirmations, cookouts, you name it, and “R” was there.

 

“R” was not of the same religious background as Debbie. Over the years they had tugged back and forth discussing this. Finally, “R” said she had been told to leave her church for voting a certain way. This pretty much soured her on the idea of "church". She did not want anything to do with it anymore. As a woman of faith, this really bothered Debbie. She would bring it up regularly at bible study. What could she do to help her friend?

 

“R” became ill and was placed on HOSPICE. Debbie selflessly managed to find time to help care for her while working, taking care of her family and dealing with a recent medical diagnosis herself that none of us would want to receive. Debbie is a nurse. She told the study group her medical training told her “R” did not have much time left. She wanted to make sure her friend had the comfort of knowing Jesus as her Savior. We told her to forgo any of the small stuff and focus on Christ crucified with “R”.

 

Here comes the phone call. Later that very day Debbie gently asked her friend if she knew what would be happening to her. “R” took a moment to think. Then she seemed to realize what Debbie meant. She was asking her if she knew where she was going when she died. A smile was seen on “R’s” face and in her eyes. She pointed to her dear friend Debbie and said "You. You told me the truth about Jesus. I believe He died for my sins. He is the only way to heaven."

 

This is the good news Debbie wanted to share with me. Her friend would be in heaven when she passed which she did just three days later. While we know it is only through the Holy Spirit that faith is worked in someone's heart, they have to hear the Good News from someone.

 

In 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 7 Paul tells us, "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

 

It is humbling that God would use us, jars of clay, to relay the "light of knowledge" to others, especially our friends. Debbie not only let her light shine; she made the effort to try to penetrate the darkness surrounding her friend.

 

The hymn writer, J.M. Scriven, wrote "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". Truer words were never spoken. Jesus Himself says this in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

 

That is just what Jesus did; lay down His life for us, His friends. How blessed we are!

 

I know “R” was blessed also, to have God send a friend like Debbie into her life.

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21. Calendar Days by Kathy Schreiner

I flipped the page of the calendar for a new month to write things down so I do not have to rely on my senior brain. Of course, this doesn't do much good if I forget to look at the calendar so I keep it open on the table with my lap top.

 

As I was entering times and places, I was struck by little notations printed on different days of the month. An asterisk at the bottom of the page stated that Jewish and Islamic holidays start at sundown the day before they are listed. My curiosity urged me to peruse the months. A variety of observances are listed. Some of these included: Chinese New Year, Boxer Day, National Freedom Day, Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, Victoria Day, Eid al-Adha, Al-Hijra/Muharram, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali and many more. I confess, I do not even know what some of these observances are about. That doesn't mean they are not important to someone, but I guess they are not that important to me.

 

I was also struck by days that were not recognized on the pages of the calendar. Some of these include: Epiphany, Ascension, Maundy Thursday, All Souls Day, St. Michael and All Angels Day, Trinity Sunday, Pentecost, Reformation Day and many more days that I do know, but how important are they to me, to us? How many of these days do we still observe?

 

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17 NIV)

 

Here the Apostle Paul is speaking about the Old Testament festivals God established for His people, the Israelites. They were a “shadow” of what came through the atonement work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. We may not be obligated to observe Christian festivals, but it is good to set aside these special dates to remember, honor, and celebrate God’s amazing plan of salvation for all people.

 

While it might not be printed in a secular calendar, we can inspire a new awakening to celebrate these special Christian festivals for what they truly are about. The commemoration of the Protestant Reformation will soon be upon us. I hate to think where we might be if the great "I AM" had not used His servant Martin Luther to inspire a spiritual awakening in the world.

 

Made Alive in Christ! (Ephesians 2:1-10 NIV)  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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20. No Excuses by Kathy Schreiner

Last Sunday afternoon I started to feel some very severe pain in my mouth. I had not been to the dentist since I retired so I was chastising myself for putting this off. There was no excuse. I had enrolled in a new dental plan since I could not keep the one offered from my former employer. No excuse. I guess I could blame COVID, but that too would be an excuse. Now my hesitation was coming back to bite me (pun intended.) Funny part is, I had scheduled an appointment for the next week. Why couldn't this wait just one week to happen?

 

The pain was getting worse so I went to the store to get some relief. All that did was numb my tongue but not the pain. I called the dentist's office hoping they could squeeze me in. They were wonderful. I could come in an hour. God bless Dr. G. and her staff. Well, a few x-rays and an exam did not reveal anything. I was started on a regimen of 10 days of antibiotic.

 

Meanwhile, the left side of my face was swelling by the minute. By Tuesday morning I could barely open my left eye. The swelling under it was purplish and looked like a large apple slice. The pain was horrible. To add insult to injury I discovered the dental insurance I was paying for was not accepted by my dentist (heavy sigh.)

 

Of course, I prayed. I felt I was responsible for putting myself in this situation. If only I had not put this off. I know God gets us out of messes of our own making daily so I kept praying. By Wednesday afternoon the swelling had gone down quite a bit. More importantly, the pain was gone. I have come to the conclusion it is a sinus thing.

 

When friends called to check on me, I joked if Halloween were closer I would not need a mask. I was kind of looking like the phantom of the opera…scary on one side (an observer could decide which side.) It was enough to embarrass me to the point of not attending three bible studies last week. Did I really need to stay home? After all, I wasn't contagious or anything. But vanity got the better of me. Using my appearance as an excuse I gave up precious time studying with my friends at the feet of our Redeemer—the same One I had asked to heal me. He kept up His end, why didn't I?

 

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks on at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)

 

I was so concerned about what others would think when they looked at me, I was not thinking about what God was seeing in my heart. No excuses.

 

The older I get, the more I value time in God's Holy Word. I still was able to spend time in the Word by myself but I really missed doing this with fellow Christians. It is so important to be together in the Word so we can strengthen, support and encourage each other. We need to do this as often as we can. No excuses!

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