Freedom in Christ
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Life by the Spirit
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.
9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
21 Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. 22 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
I hope you receive this letter in the Spirit that it was sent. While I am aware that you might or might not be aware of this situation I was brought up that the Pastor of the church is the under-shepherd and the needs and doing of his flock are at the end of the day his responsibility. In having that understanding I feel it imperative to address you in this letter. In addition I have been trying to be more open in my own life. I feel that pride will sometimes keep you quiet and that often times we are quiet through the test when we should be talking either to uplift another or just to let them know they are not alone. Perhaps even to avail ourselves to the Lord’s blessings.
On Friday you posted the following on your Facebook page “DEEP FRIDAY: God will always send somebody in your life to challenge your contentment. Somebody that will look you in your eye and tell you…”you can do better than you doing”. So stay humble my friend so when it comes it won’t hurt so bad.” I pray this helps and doesn’t hurt.
I am a single mother of four. One in college (Out of state), one in elementary school and two in head start. I am the co-creator of Online Fellowship a non-profit website that spreads the word of the Lord free of charge. From preachers, to poetry, bible studies and even my own writings its on there, including Royal (because we support and spread the word of those we believe are focused on God’s commandments). I grew up in Detroit in a family full of Pastors including my grandfather. I am a member of Royal as of January 2014 but attended since I have been in this area roughly 4 years. I believe in living in a kind manner. I love people and typically believe in the good of all people. This often times leads me to being disappointed and sometimes hurt but rarely discouraged or disheartened. However never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be so disheartened by Royal.
I believed when I joined Royal that I was casting my lot with a Church that believed in the same principles that I value in the Bible for example: Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. 28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”– when you already have it with you.
What is she talking about?
When I joined Royal I never thought that I would have to ask for anything. I am accustomed to being able to provide for myself and my family. There was even a time when I worked three jobs while in college to make ends meet. I have worked since I was 15 years old and I am much older than that now. I joined because I believe in the fellowship of one or more being gathered in His name. I believe in connecting with others that have the same belief in helping, in serving, in sacrificing.
I thought I joined a church that was growing in an area of North Charleston where there is so much help needed that they would never close their doors because there had to be much work to be done. That’s where I needed to be. See I was working in that area helping the children of Charleston County who had suspected developmental delays and I was a Parent Educator both helping parents become their child’s first teacher and advocates in determining if there was a delay that needed to be addressed. I reached out to you then and stated that I would be willing to come to the church and screen the children free of charge so that they could get referrals if needed and never heard anything back. That was my work and this was my church so I wanted to get in there and be of service. However all of that changed in May when I unexpectedly lost my job. See this has been a really tough year for me. I unexpectedly lost my father in February and at the same time I lost about half of my pay for a month. Then just as I was bouncing back from travel expenses etc. I lost my job. Because of the way our payroll was processed that Friday was my last pay. I am not receiving unemployment and all I needed was a little financial assistance.
Being a private person I asked all of the other resources I could think of before trying Royal. I have never been great at begging and thought well at least try with the folks you won’t have to look in the face every Sunday first. Not like anyone there knows who I am, right? At any rate all other options fail. I call the church and as I speak with the church secretary I am first told that you do not do rental assistance. Wait, you sit in one of the poorest areas of North Charleston and are building a million dollar facility? How can you not do rental assistance? But ok. Ma’am not even for the members? Oh you are a member in that case you need to speak to your deacon and he will tell you the process. My deacon? Who might that be? (For privacy sake lets just say Deacon umm BLUE). Ok might I have his number?
I call Deacon “BLUE” who asks me a few questions, do you attend the church, what happened, etc etc. I explain yes I am a member. I lost my job and haven’t found anything else yet. That I am from the North so I do not have family here to assist and that I am just in financial peril and looking for August rent. That my daughter needed extra money because she transferred to an out of state college for her major and that she did not get on-campus housing so what I had I needed to use for her to get a home at school. Was I supposed to leave her homeless? He inquired well what will you do next month? Next month? At this rate I pray not packing. I do not know? I am looking for work, maybe my unemployment will be approved anything. I don’t owe next month yet but I am behind this month. OK he says I will get back to you after I meet with “THE COMMITTEE”
Three more conversations and a Sunday later I am called back. I’m sorry he says, but the committee met and reviewed your case and they are not willing to help you. They said that they looked at your financial record and it looks like you only gave 1.00 since you joined and you are not on any committees or anything so they decided not to help you. Excuse me Deacon can you repeat that last part again? This time slower he repeats, you are not on any committee and you are not contributing to the finances of the church so there is no help for you. (Camille, Deep breath please don’t start the sentence off with that word.) I needed it to be repeated as a pinch to wake me out of my disbelief not because I couldn’t comprehend. I sat stupefied for a moment in utter shock and heartbreak as to what I just heard. He then went on to say that they have a employment thing on Saturdays to come there. Ok that sounds good but the emergent need is now. What about that, I have a bunch of suggestions and until one of them pans out. My main focus is keeping a roof its hard to focus on much else. I am looking Daily!
My response to him was as follows and I need to share this with you all. I am disheartened by your decision. I have given to the church on many occasions (sometimes scrapping the bottom of my purse for the last bit of money I had) but I never put it in an envelope because I was giving it to God not to man so I didn’t care about a tax receipt. I thought I was joining with a part of the body of Christ not a credit union where I needed to give in order to receive. I am so disappointed, as a matter of fact Pastor to use your own words “you can be doing better than you are doing”.
I am hoping that you can help me understand because if you read my writings on here you will learn that I don’t believe in the business of the church not being dynamic. I tell people when they say church is a social club that it is not. That it is where you go when you are trying to be be better and that part of being better is sacrificial service to others. But what are you doing when you can tell a mother with small children who is trying no because she didn’t give? Do you have any idea what it took for me to pay for daycare alone when I was working? No you don’t because that wasn’t part of my interview for credit approval. But I gave what I could. Do you have any idea how much stress and pressure I have been under? No it wasn’t part of the credit approval process. But I gave what I could. The deacon didn’t even ask to pray with me. I guess a dollar doesn’t buy you prayer. I have heard you ask the congregation for money for this new building so many times. Do you realize how much money the church would have on any given Sunday if you asked the church to give 50 cents for a special offering for those in need? .50 cents not even a dollar?
See I come from a family of preachers and I watched my grandmother cook almost everyday and serve plates out the back door to people in the neighborhood and we would sometimes eat green beans with tomatoes on top because she had given them all the chicken. I watched my grandfather give the church 10.00 when all he had was five. I watched the deacons go into their pockets and give people who wondered in on off the streets money for food and a ride to the store. I also saw them rarely go without for long. So I believe in giving my food away when I see a homeless person or giving them my last bit of money because it is who God calls us to be. I believe in servicing those who are ignored or treated poorly. I believe in caring for the least of these. So understand I am having a hard time understanding why I should stay associated with a church that says no because I didn’t give money. Now if it was because I wasn’t on the choir or usher board etc. I was still working for the church through my work with Online Fellowship. Humbly and quietly. Also while I love to sing and sing loud in the congregation I do not have child care because I have no family here. I also used to leave my house at 6:20 am dropping children off at school and not return until 7:00 pm and still need to cook dinner and check homework. I wish I could have been on the choir but I didn’t know that it was a requirement to be considered worthy of assistance in time of need.
A few months ago I received an email from another member. She was reaching out to our site to say that she was leaving Royal because of the way she was treated by the deacons when she needed help (Let me know if you want to see the email, I will forward it to you only). She stated she reached out for help and in turn the deacons threatened to call agencies against her. Because I was a member and because I know that one bad run in with a church can unfortunately turn people away from Christ. I reached out to her. At the time my job gave me access to a lot of local charities and support agencies. I offered her clothing for her and her daughter, food and help with transportation and utilities. I explained to her that I was not trying to influence her decision to stay at Royal but I wanted her to know that GOD is love and ever helping, He doesn’t abandon us based on what we can give Him and that there are children of His who believe in that. I told her I wanted her to know that as my sister in Christ that I loved her even though I had no idea who she was but I was there to help. I told her I hoped there had been some misunderstanding between her and Royal and to never give up on Christ. However I sadly now know the reality of the committee.
I know many members will give and never have to come to you for help. I know that you are building that big fancy new building and that you have big plans for it. I also know that none of that will impress God. That the same standards that we judge by are the standards by which we will be judged. Imagine that getting to heaven and asking to come in and God saying, “No, the committee said you didn’t give enough”.
I’m writing through my emotions and trying to speak from a place of love and reproach. I hope I wrote this well and wasn’t too long winded. I hope you understand that I am hurt but do not wish to hurt or embarrass you or the church. I hope to challenge your contentment with the way the least of these are handled. As well as to display my own weakness and need for Gods hand in my life. God bless you all and keep you.
The Sheep and the Goats
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I would add my member id but like i said I don’t know where those envelopes are.
Elijah Announces a Great Drought
Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Elijah Fed by Ravens
2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”
5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”
1 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
“So that you may be proved right when you speak
and prevail when you judge.”[a]
5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
No One Is Righteous
9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”[b]
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”[c]
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[d]
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”[f]
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
The Appeal Renewed
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
Dealing With False Teachers
14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 3
New International Version (NIV)
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
A Final Charge to Timothy
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.