Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Our Labor For The Lord Will Not Be In Vain

1 Corinthians 15:58

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

I’m back from my staycation. For the last two weeks I have taken some time off to relax and reflect. If you missed our weekday postings – I’m back! If you didn’t miss them – you probably aren’t reading this anyway.

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to return to my home church – Mt. Zion UMC in Lothian – MD. As a child – a couple of months old – my family moved to Mt. Zion (MZ). My father followed his father as the pastor of MZ (granddad died mid year and the Bishop called my father to take his place). I lived in the parsonage of this church until I was 9 – the pastor’s son. We returned often to this base church because my grandmother – who lived with our family after her husband’s passing until she built her own home. She still lived in the community (next door to the parsonage) after we left for another church.

It was about 18 years later that a new Bishop appointed me to MZ. I thought it would be neat to return to the church where my grandfather (3 years) served and my father (9 years) served. Little did I know that Carolyn and I were to spend the next 24 years serving in this church community. We were blessed by our time together. We stayed in touch with MZ over the years because other family members remained at this church after we left. They live in the community and so do we.

It has been about 10 years since we left MZ as pastor and so returning yesterday was a blessing. There were some familiar faces present as well as some new ones. We were warmly welcomed. I thank the pastor who followed us and ministered to MZ for 10 years for allowing us to return – Rev. William (Bill) Herche (retired).

As I sat in the Sanctuary praying and waiting for worship to begin – I came upon today’s passage. Recently – at Annual Conference – a number of my peers retired (including Bill Herche). It caused me to become very reflective – or more than usual. The sermon I preached today was titled – Building a Legacy – and much of it stemmed from these reflections.

Recently – I was honored to celebrate the life of a man who had three daughters (like me) and to hear their testimony at their father’s funeral was also one of those moments when I reflected. He was being honored for a life well lived – a life that included a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ – which he had passed down to his children.

As one gets older – one reflects on the life lived and the days – weeks – months – years – and maybe even decades left. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. 1 Corinthians 15:50–58 – 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

What we earn doesn’t count – we can’t take it with us. Where we live doesn’t count – someone else will own it after we are gone. Our possessions will fade or be passed down or sold – they will do us no good in eternity. What matters is the work we do for the Lord – sharing our faith with others – telling others about Jesus – especially our children. We all sin and fall short – many times in our lives – but the work done for Jesus will not fade.

Several people came up to me yesterday at MZ and talked about their faith and how it developed and grew at MZ. In some small way – I felt blessed to have been a part of that journey. My years at Trinity UMC – at Smithville UMC – at Eastport UMC – at Delmont UMC – at MZ – at Mt. Oak Fellowship – and now at First UMC in Laurel – have not been in vain if folks have been drawn into a deeper faith with Jesus – because Jesus has worked in us – thru us – and at times in spite of us. Paul writes in today’s passage – Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

In the next 3-10 years I will retire from the active full-time ministry. I hope I never stop – even after retiring – sharing the faith with others. I hope we all do this – whether we are pastors or not. Each of us is called to let somebody know about the faith we have in Jesus. It will be part of our legacy. If we do this – our work for the Lord will not be in vain.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

June 19, 2017 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Hahah…I did miss your blogs. Glad you are back and had a good staycation!! See you Sunday.


    Comment by halousmm | June 19, 2017 | Reply

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