Apostolic Ministry

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Saint Paul

THE WRITERS:

This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. From these three, the apostle Paul was the main author. We do not know how much of the letter Silas and Timothy wrote, but all three of them were in agreement with what the letter contains.

TIME OF WRITING:

This letter may be the earliest of the letters of Paul that we have. Paul and his friends wrote it between AD 50 and AD 53. That is about twenty years after Jesus rose into eternal life.

Paul was on his second main journey in which he spread the good news about Jesus. He and his friends were in the city of Corinth when they wrote the letter. We can be sure of this, and about the date, from the letter and the book of Acts.

  • Paul had to leave Thessalonica and went to the city of Beroea. From there he went to the city of Athens (Acts 17). From Athens he went to Corinth (Acts 18:1). Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia and were with Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:1-5). Then Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see what was happening with that church (1 Thessalonians 3-5). They wrote this letter soon after Timothy had come back to join Paul and Silas in Corinth (1 Thessalonians 3:6).
  • Silas and Timothy were with Paul when they wrote the letter (1 Thessalonians 1:1). Only Silas accompanied Paul on his second journey. So, we know that they wrote the letter during that journey.
  • The ruler in Corinth during that time was a man called Gallio. The Jews there, who were against Paul, brought him in front of Gallio (Acts 18:12-17). They accused him of breaking the law. Gallio was ruler for one or two years, and that was between AD 51 and AD 53. As Paul was in Corinth for about 18 months, the date of the letter must have been between AD 50 and AD 53.

PURPOSE OF THE LETTER:

Timothy came back to Corinth with news about the church at Thessalonica. He told Paul and Silas that the church was strong but there was much persecution. Some people were saying bad things about Paul and his friends. These people claimed that Paul’s teachings were false. Then the Christian had many questions and were in need of more teaching. So the purpose of the letter included:

  • To express the joy that the writers felt and to give thanks to God for the good news that Timothy brought.
  • To tell the Thessalonians how much they loved them and to tell them they cared about them. The writers wanted to encourage them as they tried to live for the Lord Jesus
  • To answer the false things that the Jews and other people had said about Paul and his friends. These people said that Paul had come to make a profit from those who believed his message. They said that the message was not from God, but that Paul had made it up. They said that the fact that Paul had not come back showed that he really did not care for the Christians.
  • There were some more questions about the Christian who had died. They wanted to know what would happen to those Christians when Jesus came to earth again. And so the authors wrote about this (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and then taught some more about the return of the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
  • To teach those who trust in God, that they must not be guilty in matters to do with sex (1 Thessalonians 4:4-8). Such sins were common in the city in which they lived.

Understanding the value of the letter, we can surmise what is going on. Without getting into the whole letter, so let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13:

“For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaim to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner  worthy of God who calls you into His kingdom and glory. For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 NASB)

 

 

So what is the Message here?

  • I think it’s not so much as what Paul is saying, but why
    • This is what is known as Apostolic Ministry

Remember, Paul went to Thessalonica to teach the gentiles, (non-Jews) the gospel of God. When Paul and his friends left, the gentiles were persecuted. The Jews even bad mouthed Paul and his friends. What Paul and his friends did in Thessalonica was a good example of Apostolic Ministry. An Apostle teaches others, (believers and non-believers alike) to become disciples by their own works and by spreading the gospel of God by living a life of holiness.

 

 

How can we apply this Letter to ourselves?

  • We learn from the letter that Paul follows up with his teachings, almost mentors the gentiles to salvation.
    • We need to follow up with those we teach, to help them achieve holiness

How can you be an Apostle?

 

  • I can be an apostle by teaching people I meet how to live in Christ.
    •  I can be an apostle by sharing the gospel of God.
      • I can be an apostle by example, living my life in Christ.

 

There are accompanying articles I used in my Study. Are There Apostles Today, and Apostolic Succession. Please contact me if you wish an Emailed Copy of these articles. Thanks  

Paul Tanner

Paul@thecatholicword.com

 

The Workers in the Vineyard

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Matthew 20:1-16

Maybe you remember this old line: A conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, and a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested.

Our notions of justice usually cannot help but be influenced by our own circumstances and by our opinions about what we and others deserve. We insist justice has to do with equality, but a lot of time it’s a word we toss around to keep people and things we don’t like at bay.

And then along came Jesus, eager to mess even more with our regular attitudes about what’s right and fair.

It’s a story about Generosity

Maybe no other words attributed to Jesus’ cause as much offense to ethical calculations as the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard. He compares “the kingdom of heaven,” or the way things are when God sets the standards, to a situation in which hardworking, reliable people get shafted. Or do they?

This story starts with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19: 16-24, then Peter’s question in Matthew 19: 27. Jesus responds with this Parable: early in the morning, a landowner hires people to work in his vineyard for the standard daily wage. He hires additional people at 9am, noon, and 3pm and again at 5pm, telling each of these groups he wills them “whatever is right.” When the hot workday ends, he first pays the folks who labored only a single hour the standard daily wage, the same amount he pledged to those who worked nearly sunup to sunset. When the members of the full-day crew get to the front of the line, they receive the same amount, exactly what they were promised.

READ MATTHEW 20: 1-16

The full-day workers are understandably resentful. We aren’t told how the one-hour shift responds. Maybe they hustled back to their homes thinking the land owner might have a change of heart.

Meanwhile, dismayed accountants back in the vineyard probably start updating their resume`s.

The actions of the landowner are all kinds of crazy. They make no sense, at least from an economic perspective. Yet that’s the point. Jesus’ parables often include absurd behavior to deliver their message, which in this case is a characterization of what it means to call God “righteous” or “just.” When the landowner promises to pay “whatever is right,” his words mean “whatever is just.”

It’s a Parable about God’s Graciousness

So excessive is God’s tendency to give and care, it violates our instincts about fairness. Such justice looks rash. It almost makes God out as inattentive to the kinds of people who, just by going about their usual business, easily exceed humanity’s lowest common denominators for effort, morality and piety.

But, then again, the landowner does give the complaining workers exactly what he promised them.

It’s a story about people in need

We learn more about God when we travel deeper into the world the parable imagines and considers its other characters.

We have to ask about who receives extravagance from the landowner. Some may say that working in the fields is an allegory for serving God or toiling away in the ministries of the church. But those who are hired a 5pm suggests to me types of people other than those who sleep in on Sunday mornings.

After all, this parable draws all its force and illustrative potential from the dynamics of economic life. Whom, then, should we think the landowner encounters when he’s looking for workers late in the afternoon? What kind of people are the last to find jobs, added to the rolls only when there’s no more labor available? Nothing suggests that those characters in the parable are irresponsible or lazy. More likely, they are unwanted.

Who spends the whole day waiting to be hired but doesn’t find success until the end of the day? In Jesus’ time, these would be the weak, infirm, and disabled, maybe the elderly also. And other targets of discrimination, such as criminals or anyone with a bad reputation.

A God who is “just,” is inclined to show special generosity to the poor and outcast. No wonder the respectable people get anxious.

It’s a story about value

In the end, it’s not about unfair payments. At the parable’s conclusion, the full-day workers don’t moan that they have been cheated. They complain instead to the landowner, “You have made them (the one-hour workers) equal to us.”

It’s not the generosity or extravagance that makes them angry. Rather, the issue is this: By dealing generously with a group of people that no other manager in town considered worth the trouble of hiring, the landowner has made a clear declaration about their value and worth.

The landowner’s undue kindness thus denies the full-day laborers the bonus they think they can claim: a sense of privilege or superiority.

Discussion Questions:

 What is this parable about?

  • The parable makes it clear that the workers enter the kingdom of heaven when they are hired by the field owner. We enter the kingdom of heaven when God calls us and we accept his call.
  • Jesus uses an allegory. He compares the soon to come eternal reward process with the earthly reward process.

Who is the landowner?

  • The landowner in the allegory owns the field as God owns the earth. Both have absolute rights to do as they please.

Where and how did he get workers?

  • In the marketplace the workers are Christians, those who are true believers in Jesus.
  • We all have a job to do.
  • This world is God’s vineyard. He is raising fruit.

What can we learn here about God’s initiative of grace? (Matthew 9:9)

  • “Who went out” -This parable makes it clear that God is the one who initiates entrance into his kingdom. God calls us when we are still sinners (against God).
  • “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, and they will be like wool.  (Isaiah 1:18)

What did the owner of the vineyard pay the workers?

  • “He agreed to pay them” -Through this parable and many more Jesus is making a “contract” with us. An older term for contract is “covenant”. Jesus is making a binding agreement with us.
  • Jesus takes this contract seriously, we should too. Living according to the contract is living by faith in his words of promise. He promises to pay us.

What does this suggest about God who supplies our needs?

  • “His vineyard” When workers agreed to work in the field the owner agreed to supply their needs too. God provides what we need to do the work from his field

What did he agree to pay them?

  • He told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.”
  • “Whatever is right” Jesus is a fair and trustworthy owner. He will pay exactly according to what is right. We can trust him.

What can we learn here about God’s generosity?

  • Jesus gives freely and as we do not deserve. God is sovereign.
  • Those who worked all day received the blessing of working. Those who were hired last did not feel love and acceptance.

Sovereignty in this parable:

  • God initiates by looking for the worker
  • God calls
  • God sets the wages
  • God gives the task
  • God calls the workers in
  • God gives the pay


Paul Tanner August 21, 2013

paul@thecatholicword.com

Disciplining and Prayer

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15“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen to even the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

This has two logical parts to it:

  • Jesus tell us the procedure to follow when our brother sins. The first Anabaptist called this procedure, “The Rule of Christ”. (Anabaptist – Protestant groups that appeared at Zwickau in Switzerland as early as 1521)
  • Jesus broadens this authority of discipline to include the idea of the authority (The Church) to decide right from wrong—discernment.

What sins need to be confronted?

  • Anything that causes offence.
  • Anything that breaks fellowship.
  • Anything that is taking the brother or sister away from God.
  • Anything the community has agreed to hold each accountable for.

In Luke 17:3, a parallel text, Jesus says, ‘If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him.’ The rebuke is not limited to personal offences. Neither is it restricted to personal offences in the writings of Paul. In Galatians 6:1 we read, ‘Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.’ This can be done gently in five steps:

Step One – Challenge one another

  • The first step is going directly to your brother or sister, avoiding shame and gossip.
  • Don’t go while you’re angry; don’t go to vent your rage. But don’t wait too long before you say something. It will only get harder.

Step Two – Take a witness

The second half of verse 15 tells us the goal of the Rule of Christ – ‘If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.’ The goal is not punishment but restoration, c.f. Galatians 6:1.

  • If you can’t work it out between you or you can’t agree on whether the person is actually in sin. This is why, in the second step, we bring in one or two others – someone with more spiritual wisdom or experience, someone who can listen carefully to both sides.

Step three – Tell it to the Church

  • If the conflict still can’t be resolved with the help of one or two others, the matter is made public before the church. Again, this is to restore the sinner back to faith.

Step four – Treat the Offender as an Unbeliever

  • When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (1 Cor. 5:4-45)

Paul’s concern is the offender’s reconciliation that he might realize the seriousness of what he has done and repent. So, even at the fourth stage, the purpose is still to win the brother or sister over. If the offender refuses to listen to even the church, we are to treat him or her as a tax collector or a pagan. How did Jesus treat tax collectors and pagans? He ate at the table of tax collectors! He treated them as people in need of good news, in need of conversion.

Step five – Restoration

  • Jesus doesn’t explicitly mention restoration as a separate step, but he says it’s the goal of the process. Sometimes restoration won’t happen. But it is your hope and prayer that it will.
    Restoration should be as public as the discipline process was. It needs to come about as a result of obvious repentance. The church should then forgive the person and welcome them back into the church. Restoration should be full and final, with the person welcomed back into full church membership.

20 Questions for Today’s World:

1)       If you have children, how do you resolve their conflicts? Can you think of an example of a conflict that was resolved and all parties felt good?

2)       Why does Jesus take the time to tell us how to effectively deal with sin and conflict?

3)       What if there was no mention in Scripture on how to deal with conflict; can there be a better plan?

4)       Why is the application of love so important in maintaining growing, healthy relationships, and resolving disputes? What happens when love is absent?

5)       What happens when we, as a church, decide to ignore or fail to remove sin?

6)       How does a sin against God’s precepts affect you?

7)       How do repentance and the refusal to repent affect the church and community?

8)       Why does God call us to exercise mercy and forgiveness when dealing with Sin and Church discipline?

9)       How does mercy and forgiveness affect a person’s sin and his / her repentance? How would it affect you?

10)   What are some of the motivations and reasons why you or any particular person would not repent when confronted with sin or wrong doing?

11)   How would you define the word Church? What does Church mean to you as an expression? What should it mean?

12)   Read James 5:16: Why does God call us to confess our sins to one another and to Him? Why do so few Christians heed this call? How have you practiced this call?

13)   How is confessing sins an essential aspect to forgiveness and resolving conflict?

14)   Do you see in this passage the stages of offering mercy and forgiveness until all options are sought? How does it make you feel that God takes His time to deal with us with love and care?  How can you communicate this to others?

15)   How does it make you feel when someone who is clearly in the wrong refuses to acknowledge his or her sin or admit responsibility? Have you done this to someone else, and how do you think they felt?

16)   What happens to conflict and sin when the church is focused on community and prayer?

17)   Have you ever seen conflict draw people together for a cause, or perhaps create opportunities and communities to bring people together? How so?

18)   What happens in the life of the church when our motives for the restoration of God’s people from sin are skewed? What are some examples of skewing this motive?

19)   We are to take seriously the call to be responsible for one another in love and care. What can your church do to exercise this call better? What would happen in your church if the leaders took this call seriously?

20)   What would your personal life and church life be like if you put greater effort to extol people, that is, to come along side of them with comfort and help? How can you make this so?

Discipline and Prayer

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Matthew 18:15-20

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen to even the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

This Wednesday August 14th, we will be studying this passage with Guest Speaker Sr. Christa Rowe. I will post the complete study on 8-14-13.

Feel free to join us at:

Saint Patrick’s Parish

107 E 14th St

Wilmington Delaware

The Tragedy of the Twelve Spies

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I want to tell you a story of spies. Moses and the sons of Israel are in the desert on the Exodus from Egypt. Moses is at Mount Sinai, he has just received the Ten Commandments from the Lord. After a year at Mount Sinai, the Jewish people pack up their portable sanctuary and come to the borders of the Land of Canaan. They should have entered the land of milk and honey at this point, but the Jewish people came to Moses and said, “Wait a minute, let’s scout out the land first before we enter.” Moses prayed for the answer. Here is the summary of Numbers Chapter 13 and 14:

The people of Israel have left Mt. Sinai, where they received the 10 commandments. After some further travels, they camp in the desert of Paran. The Lord tells Moses to send some spies to explore the land of Canaan, which the Lord was giving to Israel. Moses sends one representative from each of the 12 tribes, including Caleb (tribe of Judah) and Hoshea/Joshua (tribe of Ephraim). Moses gives them explicit directives on what they are to find out: numbers and strength of the current inhabitants, towns, fertility of the soil, types of plants and produce. After 40 days, the spies return to give their report.

The group of spies agrees about the goodness of the land and its produce, but then the reports begin to differ. The majority of the spies go on to say that the inhabitants of the Promised Land are powerful and of such great size that “we seemed like grasshoppers”. They spread these bad reports among the people. Caleb has a different opinion – to take possession of the land “for we can certainly do it”. The people of Israel believe the negative reports and complain and rebel against Moses and the Lord. They lacked trust in God and forgot about all the miracles that God has already performed on their behalf in the recent past (the plagues, crossing the Red Sea, etc.). They said they would rather die in Egypt or in this desert than to go into the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb reminded the people that “the Lord will give it [the land of milk and honey] to us” and “the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid”. These words have no effect on the people. In fact, they were ready to stone Joshua and Caleb, but this did not happen due to the appearance of the “glory of the Lord”.

The Lord is angry at the way the people are treating Him with contempt. He considers striking them all down with a plague, and starting over with Moses to create a faithful nation. Moses appeals to God and His gracious nature not to carry out this threat. The Lord forgives His people, but there are consequences. The people had said that they would rather die in the desert than to be led into Canaan to die by the sword, and this is what happened to them. Everyone who was age 20 or over would die in the desert- the only exceptions were faithful Joshua and Caleb. The people would wander in the desert for 40 years: one year for each day of the spies’ travels, giving enough time for that generation of people to die. The 10 spies who spread the bad report were struck down right away by a plague.

The people go against God’s judgment and try to enter the land of Canaan right away. God is not with them in this venture, and the attempted invasion fails.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAIN POINTS TO THIS STORY?

  • Joshua and Caleb and the 10 other spies saw the same evidence but had very differing opinions on taking over Canaan. Joshua and Caleb were yielded to the Spirit of God, so their interpretation of the problem and their approach to the problem differed from that of the 10 other spies.
  • The 10 spies were thinking about the size and the strength of the other army, but Joshua and Caleb put their faith and trust in God and His strength and power.
  • The Lord is with us, even with the circumstances seem unfavorable
  • God’s way is the right way and He will help us
  • Because of the above, we don’t need to fear if we are doing God’s will and trusting Him

Today’s memory verse is Numbers 14:9:

“The Lord is with us; do not be afraid of them.”

I think it also talks about Determination

Determination is purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition.

Determination is looking at insurmountable obstacles as opportunities to cry out for God’s supernatural intervention.

WHAT ARE SOME DETERMINATIONS IN OUR LIVES?

Some practical evidences of determination in our lives today are seen in the following “I will” statements:

  • I will set goals.
  • I will make sure my goals are right.
  • I will ignore distractions.
  • I will not be discouraged by others.
  • I will face problems head-on.
  • I will not play the “Blame Game” (It wasn’t me—Jonny did it)

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF LIVING A LIFE WITH DETERMINATION?

Maybe It could be something like complete tasks, are not easily influenced by others, can think for self, people can count on, people trust

WHY DO YOU THINK SOME PEOPLE DO NOT DEMONSTRATE THE CHARACTER QUAILITY OF DETERMINATION?

Some possible answers could be: lazy, selfish, lack of examples, too passive, lack of instruction in goal-setting, low self-esteem, etc.

PUTTING DETERMINATION IN MY LIFE THIS WEEK:

Spend a few minutes in personal reflection:

Think of a task God has called you to:

This does not have to be a task within the church. It may be a task with one of your children, or a task He has given to you at your job.

Evaluate yourself using the determination “I will’s”.

Prayerfully come up with an action step to grow in determination this week.

Welcome

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Greetings and Welcome to my first Blog, The Catholic Word. My name is Paul Tanner. I reside in Wilmington Delaware, where I facilitate the Joy Fellowship. This is a interactive Bible Study at Saint Patrick’s here in Wilmington. I have decided to form an online Blog, to share my views on my faith and to share my Bible Studies with those that would like to read them. Please feel free to comment on anything I write, I enjoy positive feedback.

My next Bible Study is tomorrow, 8-7-13, and it is on the tragedy of the twelve spies.

Here is some of the Study I will hand out:

The people of Israel have left Mount Sinai, where they received the ten commandments. After some further travels, they camp in the desert of Paran. The Lord tells Moses to send some spies to explore the land of Canaan, which the Lord was giving to Israel. Moses sent one representative from each of the twelve tribes, including Caleb (tribe of Judah) and Hoshea/Joshua (tribe of Ephraim). Moses gives them explicit directives on what they are to find out: numbers and strength of the current inhabitants, towns, fertility of the soil, types of plants and produce. After 40 days, the spies return to give their report.

As you can see, I use a “narrative” approach.  I enjoy getting positive feedback, as well as discussing the story online.

Prayer to My Guardian Angel

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Angel of God, my guardian dear,

To whom His love commits me here;

Ever this day be at my side,

to light and guard,

to rule and guide.

Amen.

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