Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

November Prayer/Fast Is Coming Soon

Zechariah 7:4-5

Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

fullsizeoutput_ffeSo – here is a question for us today – as we prepare for our November Prayer/Fast. Do we pray and fast – regularly? I mean – is it an essential part of our spiritual walk as we strive to draw closer to God? The answer to that question might go a long way in explaining if we are growing spiritually or not. I believe that prayer and fasting are essential spiritual disciplines.

I am calling the church to a time of prayer and fasting from November 1st thru the end of the month. I know that is a long time – but it will be very rewarding – if we seek His face and desire His grace. Let’s use the month of November to deny ourselves of something – and focus more on Jesus.

When we fast from something – we should spend extra time with God. Spending extra time with God – will draw us closer to Him. Here is something important to understand. Read well! When we fast from certain foods and expect something – like weight loss – is fasting for us or for God? Losing weight is OK – but it shouldn’t be the reason we fast. As we call for a time of prayer and fasting during November – what would we fast from and how would we spend our time? It should be to draw closer to God. Continue reading

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October 22, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Perseverance Leads to Lacking Nothing!

James 1:4

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

fullsizeoutput_ffeI’m sitting here – in my church office – trying to find my focus! I’m praying and reading the Bible – I’m listening to some Contemporary Christian music – feeding my spirit (after a lunch of salad – grilled chicken and water to feed the body).

As I was reading in the Bible I opened to a favorite book – the Book of James – Christ’s brother’s book. I came across that famous passage at the beginning of that book.

James 1:2-4 – 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Continue reading

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tenderness and Compassion

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, 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 sinful nature 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.

fullsizeoutput_ffeIn a recent Bible study – the discussion centered – for a short time – on the Holy Spirit. There were some questions raised that made me think some teaching and some sermons on the Holy Spirit were in order. This is just a short response to that study. I came across this passage about the fruits of the Spirit and thought I would spend some time with it this morning.

What do you think of when you hear the words kindness and goodness?  A few verses before the Gifts of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5 – we read the following words. Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

When I think of kindness and goodness – I think of the heart of Christ. It is often contrary to my heart. I am not – by nature – a mercy person. I can express mercy – but only because of the grace of God – it isn’t from my natural fabric. The heart of God – the heart of Christ is seen best – for me – in the following passage. Continue reading

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Encourage Others!

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Photo on 10-16-18 at 6.18 PM

Let me begin by thanking God for my wife and oldest daughter. My wife for supporting me through 38 plus years and to my daughter – Shelly – for coaching me as I strive to become healthy again. I have lost 61 pounds so far and 35 of them have been lost the last three months under a new health plan that my daughter encouraged me to try. I will say more about this later. I am going to become a health coach – and it fits here – as we talk about encouraging others.

I think it is essential that we encourage one another. I’m sure I wouldn’t have lost all the weight I have – I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the healthiest I have felt in a decade – had it not be for others encouraging me. I also receive encouragement from the guys I play basketball with early in the morning. I know – often – they are merely putting up with me – often being the oldest guy out there. My shot isn’t what it use to be – occasionally I will get on a roll and hit a few threes but mostly they simply encourage me to get out there and exercise and play with them. I’m thankful.

I think it is essential that we encourage one another – not only physically but most assuredly – spiritually. The Bible tells us in today’s passage in Hebrews 10:25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.  I think the day is fast approaching – Christ’s return is near – and we need to be in the daily business of encouraging one another. Let’s try and see how we are blessed.

It is so easy to be critical. Tearing down doesn’t build up the Body of Christ. We do not ignore that which needs attention or correction but we do so in love and as much as possible through encouragement. We can correct and even rebuke as Scripture says through love. But often we fail to praise and encourage. It is easy to see and report and have an opinion about what we dislike. How about what we see going well?

Continue reading

October 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Satan and Guilt Behind Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMA number of our members are dealing with the guilt of the past. Several have come to me to talk about it. This is one of the biggest issues many of us face – forgetting the past and straining toward the future. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away from our sin) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt – at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Think about it! Is there where some of us dwell? Continue reading

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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