Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Understanding the Bible

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn yesterday’s message (you can hear it when it posts and other sermons here) – we mentioned that that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through our being open to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came to teach us all things and to remind us of the things that Jesus taught. We also said that we cannot understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. As we search the truths in the Bible – inspired and urged on by the Holy Spirit – we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus.

A deep knowledge and understanding of the Word of God is only possible through a deepening of our walk with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we would encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on them by following sermon notes by using the URL found in the bulletin each week. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible. But – none of them has worth to us without the Holy Spirit.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

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September 23, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Gotta Tell Somebody

Luke 19:40

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHow many of our readers today enjoy a good detective/police show like me? Some of my personal favorites over the years are shows like Hill Street Blues – Dragnet – Blue Bloods – NCIS – and yes – Baretta. On these TV shows victims are often encouraged to speak out or to witness so that someone else will not have to suffer what they have suffered. Trying to keep others from being hurt is a strong argument and many times a victim will cooperate to put the bad guys behind bars.

An episode of Blue Bloods had Erin Reagan use that very approach with a young woman who had been attacked – trying to get her to testify so that others wouldn’t be attacked. Many detective shows use this approach or episode design. Speak out so that others will be protected or saved.

Today’s passage records the words of Jesus speaking about His disciples to the Pharisees – if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. The Pharisees wanted Jesus to make His disciples keep quiet. Jesus told them – if they did keep quiet – the rocks would cry out. Are the rocks clearing their throats in our life dear readers? Here is today’s passage in partial context – of course you will recognize it as part of the Palm Sunday story. Luke 19:35-40 – 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Continue reading

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Do We Treasure Or Collect?

Luke 12:34

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne of my nephews purchased several large crates full of baseball cards. I found him one evening going through them – sorting out teams – Hall of Fame players – and some others groupings. He was in his glory – a sports fan with sports memorabilia. As I was leaving I asked him to find some duplicates of some nice players and sell them to his uncle (that hasn’t happened yet). For those who have been in my office at church – you know I have a display of Hall of Fame players on my wall. I love baseball – the American pastime.

Another thing I enjoy is collecting hats – baseball style hats. I have several from the Orioles – the Ravens – the University of Maryland – the Redskins – the FBI – golf hats of many brands like Titleist – Callaway – SR (the Golf Club at South River) – Twin Shields – Glenn Dale – and more. I have one with a cross on it and others with the American Flag on them with blue and red lines on them as well. My home office door has three straps with hooks for hats on it. My closet in the bedroom has about a dozen hats that I wear the most. One shelf at work is decorated with hats (stop by them and see). I gave several dozen away to Goodwill recently because I couldn’t wear them all or keep them all (said the boss). A number of my hats belonged to my dad at one time. Continue reading

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2020 Election Promises

Joshua 1:9

the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWe’ve all heard the saying that the only thing we cannot avoid in life is death and taxes. Today is the day – 7 years ago – that my dad transitioned to heaven. I miss him so. He was always there to talk to and to share life with for sure. I covet your prayers for me and my family today. We will all die some day – unless we are alive with Jesus returns for His church – His bride.

The other part of that saying – we can’t avoid taxes. How appropriate that we’re in the 2020 election season and some candidates have already promised to raise our taxes and some have promised other things. Some candidates will say what they think will get them elected. Few will follow through with their campaign promises – although some do follow through on their promises. Although that is not the only issue at hand – taking more money from our already heavily taxed pockets – this issue does not resonate well with most people. I know I don’t like it. And why they need the new tax money doesn’t sit well with me either (of course that is another story all together).

What are some other things that we cannot seem to avoid in life? Are there people in our lives that always seem to show up – people we can’t seem to avoid? Some of those folks are treasures – always showing up when we need them – when there is a crisis. Some of those folks are anything but treasures – people you wish you could avoid – no mater the circumstances. Are there people in your life you have tried hard to avoid? Continue reading

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Do We Struggle?

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhere do we struggle the most in our lives? Have we ever felt one way and yet ended up going another way? Silly question – right? We are all human and most know the right thing to do but have succumbed to the wrong way. We often know the right way – and yet yield to the wrong way. We fight temptations and evil – but at times we fail in our struggle. I know I have more times than I wish to remember. And I keep trying to find a way to be faithful to what I know to be right.

Where do we struggle the most in our lives? For some – it is with what we put into our bodies. That could mean drugs – or alcohol – or it could mean overeating. Anything we do to excess and can be harmful to us. We know certain things are wrong and harmful – yet some of us continue to abuse our bodies with what we put into them. We try diets – we try to be sober – we try to walk the steps – but – at times – we succumb to what is harmful for us. Again – I have a mirror up as I type this devotional – seeing myself – and reflecting! Continue reading

September 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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