The Adventure

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Esther 4:13-17

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

Esther Plans to Intercede

15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, assemble all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maidens also will fast in the same way. And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went away and did just as Esther had commanded him.

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The Adventure

When I was about seven, I was in the car with my mom and my brother when my mom pulled over to the side of the road to study the map. “Are we lost, Mom?” I was worried.

“Oh, no,” she replied cheerfully, quickly folding up the map. “We’re on an adventure.” My brother and I exchanged doubtful glances as he whispered knowingly, “We’re lost.”

Adventures can be fun—and scary. They usually involve a bit of the unknown. As we walk in fellowship with God, it is likely that our lives will have many adventures—opportunities to serve Him. If we are reluctant or scared and we turn down an opportunity, we miss out. Will God still get the job done? Of course, but someone else will receive the blessing.

In Esther 4, Mordecai encouraged the young Queen Esther to help rescue her people. He cautioned: “If you remain completely silent….deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (v.14).

Esther was naturally frightened to take this assignment, but God used her courage and faith to deliver her people. Trust God to show you the way. Adventure ahead!

 

For life’s adventure, Lord I ask

Courage and faith for every task;

A heart kept clean by high desire,

A conscience purged by holy fire.

                                                                                                                                                                            Courage is fear that has said its prayers

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If anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death

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Today’s Gospel was very inspiring to me. Not only did it remind me of just how easy it is to love the Lord, but, It was as plain as the nose on my face. Even as a Catholic, I would be lying if I honestly say I don’t fear dying. While it is true, I can’t wait to be with the Lord, I still think everyone is afraid, even just a little.

John 8: 51-59

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Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death.” The Jews replied, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but you say: ‘Whoever keeps my word will never experience death.’ Who do you claim to be? Do you claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets also died.” Then Jesus said, “If I were to praise myself, it would count for nothing. But he who gives glory to me is the Father, the very one you claim as your God, although you don’t know him. I know him and if I were to say that I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I know him and I keep his word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it.” The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” And Jesus said “Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They then picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.

Consider This….

Death may be inevitable to all but in the Gospel today Jesus says that for those who keep his word they will not experience death. How is this possible when in truth no one escapes death? The Jews could not understand him. What death is Jesus talking about? Is it possible to live forever? Actually, Jesus was not talking about physical death. He meant that a life lived in him will bring one to eternal life. Jesus’ word is life giving. This means that if we keep his word and live it, we bring out the “shine of Jesus” in us. Therefore, we are alive when others see more of “Jesus” and less of us. As we experience more of the life that Jesus has shown us, we will come closer to the life everlasting that all of us are hoping for. Sin, on the other hand, means death (cf. Romans 8:5-6)  because it opposes Jesus, the Light. It operates in the darkness of evil and does not give light.

Let us allow the Light of Jesus to give us life. Live Jesus because he is the Resurrection and the Life! Something to ponder about today: we are made to live a life in preparation for what is eternal and reserved for all those who love God and do His will.

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Wilm4Life.org

No complaints, please!

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ImageDo you ever find yourself complaining about abundance? Too much food, too many t-shirts, too many gadgets, too many events on the calendar! The grumbling of the ungrateful has a long biblical tradition. In the desert years, the Israelites complained about the “wretched food” they were forced to eat daily. It’s shocking to realize they were complaining about manna, once celebrated as “bread from heaven” and now consumed with contempt! If you’re tempted in the upcoming weeks to grumble about “so many extra liturgies in church,” take a minute to recall what these services are commemorating, and give thanks.

Sin

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WHERE DOES SINFUL HUMANITY GO WHEN THEY DIE?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

HOW DO WE ESCAPE?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask

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To My Readers:

I have neglected my blog for some time now and this is not fair to those who follow me. I aim to be more diligent in my blogging, and as always I am open to your suggestions and feedback. Since my last post in December, I have opened a new website, thecatholicword.com as well as wilm4life.org .

I now manage both of these sites, please check them out and again your feed back is very important. I appreciate your patience in my lack of writing. Thank You and God Bless.

Paul

God’s Gift Of Salvation

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How Do I Please God?                                                                                Image

Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they have lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they have given money to charity, that they have attended church, or that they have not done anything “really bad.”

What Is Humanity’s True Condition?

Nevertheless, in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).

Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.

Where Does Sinful Humanity Go When They Die?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

How Do We Escape?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask.

What Is God’s Way Of Salvation?

Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way of salvation for sinful humanity. Describing this plan is the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.

Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5); “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

What Did Jesus Christ Come To Accomplish?

Why did Christ take on a human nature? Why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8b).

So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore, the Bible can say, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” (Romans 5:10b)

If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believes in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man came also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

How Do I Receive This Free Gift?

In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. God has already told us that our good works do not save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

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

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

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