TLO Disciple
May 2016--Living in God's Forgiveness

Pastor's Message 
In this TLO Disciple we will focus on Living in God's forgiveness.  Church Reformer Dr. Martin Luther wrote: "God's people or holy Christians are recognized by the office of the keys exercised publicly. That is, as Christ decrees in Matthew  18:15-20, if a Christian sins, he should be reproved; and if he does not mend his ways, he should be bound in his sin and cast out. If he does mend his ways, he should be absolved. That is the office of the keys."  And Luther writes in the Small Catechism: "The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent."  May the Lord guide our hearts to be ready and open to receive correction, live by faith in the comfort and peace that God gives in Christ Jesus through the forgiveness of sins, and forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven us.
Pastor Kroonblawd
To achieve forgiveness-awareness, try these actions:
* Forgiveness walks with friends and loved ones. Learn to let go.
* Observe it in your devotional life.
* Relationships-talk about forgiveness and its greatness to your spouse and kids.
* Grow: look back on your faith journey and how Christ has been with you always.
* Individually: in your alone time, take forgiveness with you.
* Victor, not victim or vindictive. Rise above it. Forgiveness removes the need for revenge.
* Eternal. Make a difference in the world. Jesus commands us to forgive.
Forgiveness is a Choice, by Reverend Dr. Steve Hokana

Jesus teaches about forgiveness
What are some things that get in the way of our forgiveness?
Here are a few:
  • An over-personalization of the offense.  Often, the things that offend us most are/were never meant to happen. Sometimes people, their manners and mannerisms, are a matter of who they are, their generation, and their culture.
  • Escalation. This is where the given offense is ramped up.  It is given unnecessary negative energy and attention.  This most often happens when we dwell on the matter. It is amplified when we talk to others about it again and again-and again. With an event such as the kitchen accident, a person might continue to say, "Can you believe it? How did this happen? What were people thinking? Who were those reckless idiots in charge?"
  • A preoccupation with self. Ultimately, a lack of forgiveness is born in an angry, jealous, and envious heart, or in a heart that has a different set of expectations than what is being met. "Unforgiveness" takes place when we see ourselves as victims. Unforgiveness happens when we are consumed with how we have been unjustly and unfairly treated, or when we feel out of control of a situation-others just don't measure up.
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When public confession and absolution is not enough to calm the troubled conscience.
God's people or holy Christians are recognized by the office of the keys exercised publicly. That is, as Christ decrees in Matthew 18 [:15-20], if a Christian sins, he should be reproved; and if he does not mend his ways, he should be bound in his sin and cast out. If he does mend his ways, he should be absolved. That is the office of the keys. Now the use of the keys is twofold, public and private. There are some people with consciences so tender and despairing that even if they have not been publicly condemned, they cannot find comfort until they have been individually absolved by the pastor.
Luther, M. (1999, c1966). Vol. 41: Luther's works, vol. 41: Church and Ministry III (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (Vol. 41,). Philadelphia: Fortress
From the Lutheran Hour Ministries

Forgiveness is a Choice, by Reverend Dr. Steve Honaka

  Here are the topics covered in this Project Connect booklet from Lutheran Hour Ministries:
  • Nuts and bolts of Forgiveness
  • I'm too busy
  • Let's get going on forgiveness
  • Who else wants to get in on this forgiveness?
  • This is personal.
  • Forgiveness is a family "thing."
  • Forgiveness can crush addition
  • Forgiveness is possible, even in marriage.
  • There's a way back from the brink.
  • What about when someone won't forgive you?
  • There's forgiveness in the workplace
  • Forgiveness - It's the unfinished, beautiful story.
  • What about forgiveness and you?
  • A four-step plan  for forgiveness
  • There's a place where the forgiven gather
It's time to forgive!
This depiction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant on a stained glass window in Scots Church Melbourne shows the initial forgiving of the debt and the final punishment of the unforgiving servant.
So, what might be helpful in learning to forgive?
How might we work together? How might we partner together? How might we "high five," cheer, and encourage each other?
  • Know that God is love.  True forgiveness can only take place in the knowledge and certainty of what God has done for us, and what He is doing in us. It is God who leads and empowers forgiveness.
  • Know that Jesus forgives you. You are forgiven. You blunder. You make mistakes. You mess up. And you know what? You are forgiven.
  • You must know that God commands and expects your forgiveness. This may be tough to hear. But much as we have expectations of others, God expects our forgiveness. He expects us to look more to Him than to the offense of others. He expects us to take hold of Him and let go of some other things. You may need to practice. You may need to work at it.
  • Here's a "mountain man" challenge: Let's help each other. Forgiving others is as tough. But working together as a team, forgiveness is made possible. Forgiveness takes good communication. It takes practice. It takes effort. Perhaps our greatest forgiveness is for those who are just stuck. Perhaps our greatest forgiveness is for those who just won't forgive. But if our goal is to leave no one behind, we may have to leave ourselves and our pride behind. We look at people in their hurt. We look at people in the complexities of their lives. We walk a mile in another person's shoes. We look at life from another point of view: God's hand is upon us. God is with us. We are forgiven.
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Baptism forgives by faith
"To speak quite plainly, it is one thing to forgive sins, and another thing to put them away or drive them out. The forgiveness of sins is obtained by faith, even though they are not entirely driven out. But to drive out sins is to exercise ourselves against them, and at last it is to die, for in death sin perishes completely. But both the forgiveness and the driving out of sins are the work of baptism. Thus the Apostle writes to the Hebrews [12:1], who were baptized and whose sins were forgiven, that they should lay aside the sin which clings to them. For so long as I believe that God will not count my sins against me, my baptism is in force and my sins are forgiven, even though they may still in a great measure be present. After that follows their driving out through sufferings, death, and the like. This is what we confess in the article [of the Creed], "I believe in the Holy Ghost, the forgiveness of sins," and so forth. Here there is special reference to baptism, in which the forgiveness takes place through God's covenant with us; therefore we must not doubt this forgiveness."
Luther's Works, Volume 35, p. 38
Dig Deeper  
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.

Calendars, volunteer information, serving groups and the like will accompany the TLO Together, on the last Wednesday of the month.   Click here for the April 27 issue.  This publication is also mailed upon request.
Soli Deo gloria

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