Living Hope
February 2019


Dear Friends in Christ
 
This month's TLO Disciple theme is Living Hope. In baptism God does a mighty work. In baptism into Christ our sins are washed away and we are made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, God gives us a sure and certain future in heaven by faith. Hope is relying on the living God for what He has promised. Hope is trust in the Lord for what is not seen.
 
Even before the world began, God, who never lies, promised eternal life. In Christ, you have become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. As we wait for our blessed hope, the return of our victorious Savior, may we hold fast and have full assurance until He comes.
 
Pastor James L. Kroonblawd

Our Certain Hope in Christ
By Kevin D. Robson
 
The Church's steadfast persistence in the face of trials, challenges and cultural counterattacks reveals something special: a quiet, certain hope. Such faith has its origin in the promises and works of the Savior Himself. We Lutherans are quite stubborn about this because Jesus is right here among us now (Matt. 28:20) and has promised to come again.
 
The spectacular Gospel truth - that we have been saved from sin, death and the power of Satan by God's grace in Christ alone - is the cause of genuine freedom. We are reborn at the baptismal font and bear the image of His sacrificial love. Jesus gave Himself for everyone; His Church and her members, in turn, embody this self-giving to others - from the greatest to the least. This Gospel directs us to love our neighbors with the works that God has prepared beforehand (Eph. 2:10).
 
However, such confident hope sometimes falters. Sins assail us, and the devil never stops with his accusations. He says: "Unworthy. Unlovable. Unrighteous. God could not really love someone like you."

But Satan is silenced whenever that peculiar cross comes into view (1 Cor. 1:22- 25). "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). This is why the children of God are continually drawn to the very instruments - the Word and Sacraments - that deliver the fruit of this cross with its eternal benefits. Our day-to-day lives are marked by continual repentance. Our sins are no more, and we are refined and strengthened to proceed into the world.
 
So whether across an ocean or in our own backyard, a persistent hope emerges. And from such faith, we pray that the proclamation of the Gospel and the Church's works of mercy may continue unhindered. In Kenya, in Texas, in countless other contexts - how marvelously these prayers are being answered. Rejoice over God's goodness, and give thanks!
 
In Christ,
Rev. Kevin D. Robson
Chief Mission Officer, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod


The Task-Filled Life
By Jan Brunette.
 
Psalm 147:10-11:  His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
 
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, the need for hope is crucial, as many people die emotionally or give up on life without it. Scripture tells us that  if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:25). Give us that patience as we learn more of the hope that can only come through You. In Jesus' name and for His sake we ask this. Amen.
 
My Hope Rests In You, Lord
 
The task filled life often overwhelms us. Though technology has greatly simplified how we do things, the extra freedom we have may cause many to fill the time with even more activity. Before we know it, a mountain of responsibility looms large and we wonder if we will ever be able to cross over to the other side where rest and relaxation are possible. With brains focused on work, business obligations, the children's activities, and our own personal agendas, we decrease the time in the Lord's house or in His Word. It is only when a crisis occurs or exhaustion takes over that we realize we need strength to dismount, or cross over from, the temporary to the eternal.
 
God's solution for all circumstances is possible - a solution that includes a Rock of safety, a Rock that equips us to reach the heights and beyond.
 
How can knowing of God's security give us hope during those times when the tasks to be done in this life seem insurmountable? Although we may not be learning to ride a horse or physically climbing a mountain, be assured that hope in the renewing and reviving love of Jesus is always ours.
 
Overwhelmed with your task-filled life?  Here's a group or personal Bible study resource from Lutheran Women's Missionary League,  The Task-Filled Life Bible Study, Jan Brunette - 2018;  6 main sessions, each followed by 5 short devotional sessions to dig deeper.



FROM GOD'S WORD

"Let us firmly hold on to the confession of our HOPE without bending in any direction, because the one who promises is faithful. And let us contemplate how we can stir each other up for love and good works."  Hebrews 10:23-24


Is there any hope for me?
By Rev. Harold Senkbeil
 
These words from a fellow LCMS Lutheran remind us of a side of the same-sex attraction issue few of us are actively addressing: "What I need is hope. Not hope that I will be straight - that's not going to happen - but hope that somewhere out there is someone who truly is a friend of sinners. Can you give me that hope?"
 
Where to begin?
Let's start here: (1) Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners par excellence. He bore all the sins of the whole world in His own body, including yours, and He took them all away with Him into His death. Now if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, and that includes you.



Obsolete or Just Misunderstood?
by Dr. Gene Edward Veith
 
A recent Pew Research Center study indicates Americans think marriage is obsolete. So, where does that leave Lutherans?
 
...Marriage, in short, is a vocation. God calls men and women into their marriages, and He works through them to bless each other. They become "one flesh." God is the one who joined them together, as Jesus Himself explains: "What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matt. 19:5-6).



Getting Closer As a Couple
by Victor M. Parachin
 
For various reasons married couples may drift apart. The vitality and sparkle that used to characterize their relationship is gone. They didn't plan it. It just happened - subtly, slowly, silently. However, there is good news. Christian couples can break through emotional distance to revive their relationships.
 
You can use these 10 words as reminders of ways to keep your marriage fresh, strong and God-centered: Faith. Listen. Remorse. Forgive. Share. Initiate. Time. Praise. Talk. Grow.


Marriage Resources and Retreats
 


FROM GOD'S WORD

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1:3-5


from Martin Luther
 
"Here there is nothing to praise but sheer mercy. Therefore we can boast of no works, but we must confess that everything we have is ours because of pure mercy. No longer does the Law or God's wrath frighten us as the Jews were terrified when they had to flee and did not dare approach the mountain (Ex. 19:16; 20:19). No longer does God drive and smite us. No, He deals with us in the friendliest manner possible and renews us. He does not give us the ability to do one work or two but brings about a completely new birth and a new existence in us, so that we become something different from what we were before, when we were the children of Adam. This means that He has transplanted us from the inheritance of Adam into the inheritance of God, so that God is our Father and we are His children and thus also heirs of all His blessings."
 
Luther's works, vol. 30: The Catholic Epistles. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 30, pp. 10-11).



KFUO Podcast
Thy Strong Word - 1 Peter 1: Born Again to a Living Hope

Click to get connected

From Fear to Hope
 
In May, an LCMS Mercy Medical Team traveled to Sierra Leone for the first time, bringing physical healing and the Word of God.
 
Story and photography by Erik M. Lunsford | Summer 2018
 
Expect what you cannot anticipate. For those whom God leads to serve on one of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's Mercy Medical Teams (MMT), anticipation and fear compete with anxiety and hope for prominence.


"Faith, Hope and Love: 
A Threefold Response to 13 Reasons Why "
The Rev. Dr. Lucas Woodford's "Faith, Hope and Love: A Threefold Response to  13 Reasons Why" provides a timely theological response and reflection for teenagers, young adults and grown adults. As conversation continues around the controversial Netflix series  13 Reasons Why, we pray this resource will be useful for parents, pastors and teachers who continue to love and support our youth in the midst of sin and death.
 
"God's Love: The Reason Why We are His Children" Points to the love of God in Christ Jesus as the true view of who we are, in contrast to how the world, and specifically  13 Reasons Why, teaches people to see themselves. This resource aims to aid anyone struggling with self-hatred to see that they are loved by God in Christ.


FROM GOD'S WORD

" In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious that gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."   1 Peter 1:6-7

The Christian a Citizen of Two Kingdoms
by J. M. Weidenschilling, M.A., S.T.D.
 
From Christian Citizenship Originally published in 1953 by Concordia Publishing House
   
When a teacher in one of our public schools asked her pupils to give the pledge of allegiance to their country, some of the children who belonged to a certain sect refused to salute the American flag. Were they acting according to the teaching of the Bible?
 
Edward E. Hale, in his A Man Without a Country, tells the story of a man who was not allowed to return to the United States because he cursed his country and refused to be loyal to it. Did this man thereby cease to be subject to any nation? What does it mean to be a citizen? In what sense is a Christian a citizen?


Living as Christians in an Age of Ultra-Surveillance
by Alan Ludwig
 
The year 1984 is long past, and our lives are under scrutiny in ways George Orwell never dreamed of. Big Brother doesn't advertise that he's watching us, but it turns out he is. Besides our own government nosing its way into our privacy, there are foreign agents, hackers, online merchants and who knows who else wanting to keep tabs on us. Even if we're of that increasingly rare breed that has no cloud connection, the electronic eyes and ears are everywhere. So far they can't read our thoughts. But there's a technology in the works even for that. Read more

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EDITOR'S NOTE
 
TLO Disciple, with a topical study in each issue, is distributed primarily via email on the first of every month.  Print copies are available by contacting the TLO Church office at 651-454-7235 or the Church Office via email.
 
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Soli Deo gloria



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