Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 31 of Lent 2020

Matthew 6:16

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Ray 2020Today is day 31 of the 40 Days of our Lenten reading plan. Remember – Sundays are not counted in the 40 days. I hope you have stayed current with us. I veered off of the online plan and am finishing the plan myself. Today’s passage is about fasting.

Lent is typically a time to give something up – to stop a bad habit – to deny yourself – to dig deeper into your walk with Jesus. Fasting is one way to do this. Fasting is denying yourself of something. You can fast from food or a certain type of food. You can fast from technology (a youth pastor I worked with did this one Lent) – or you can fast from social media (right now that might be tough with the pandemic restrictions).

Not only are we to deny ourselves of something – we are to replace that item with more of Jesus. For instance – if we are fasting from something – when we feel tempted to eat it or do it – we should spend time praying or digging into God’s Word. Continue reading

April 1, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 18 of Lent 2020

Matthew 25:14

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.”

Ray 2020Today is Day 18 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the 40 Day reading plan. I know I am. Keep up with the stories about Jesus’ life as we walk to the cross. Don’t slack and fall behind.

A previous day’s reading ended with Matthew 25:13 – “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” We start today’s lesson with verse 14 – “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” We must keep watch (13) and we must be faithful to the One who left us – only to return for us.

At First Church we believe that one of the ways we can be faithful while we await Christ’s return is to reach the whole family – everyone – for Christ. How can we help our church family to help the kingdom? During this quarantine period – when everyone is keeping their social distance – how can we still reach out to one another? One way is to call on one another. Another way is to connect through the online worship (Sundays) or online Bible Studies (tonight). See details in an email sent out to the congregation. If you didn’t receive it – message me and I will send it again. Continue reading

March 17, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 14 of Lent 2020

Mark 13:11

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Ray 2020Today is day 14 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are keeping up with the reading plan. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross (not counting the Sundays). My prayer is that this walk with Jesus will draw us into a place where we really feel His presence in our lives. Like I said last night in the Community Lenten Service – we are not to conform to the world. We are called to conform to the likeness of Christ. The closer we are drawn to Christ – the more we will be like Him.

Today’s reading reminds us that God is always with us – even when we are persecuted and brought to trial for our faith. Jesus promises His disciples and each of us – that His Holy Spirit will give us words to speak when we stand for Him and are brought to trial because of Him! He will never leave us nor forsake us! I find this very comforting. It gives me confidence that God is every with me! Continue reading

March 12, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sound Doctrine – We Need to Hold To It

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings (doctrines).   It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.

img_0063-2A number of people have debated Biblical truth over the years. Sound doctrine – even settled doctrine for 2000 plus years – is being debated by some well-intentioned individuals. People are trying to equate God’s love with some sense of an overwhelming acceptance of sin or even describing sinful acts as acceptable to God. The signs of the end are all around us dear readers. I read in today’s passage that sound doctrine is put up against ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We must feast on sound doctrine – rather than on what sounds good with today’s culture.

The example I want to use to help us get the point today is the obesity of our society. Far too often our children – and adults – are fed foods that are empty of value but full of calories. Junk foods – satisfy the mind and stomach – but do not add proper nutrition. These foods are filled with sugar – calories – and chemicals – that are not good for the body. The term junk food refers to items that may taste good – but have little – if any nutritional value. They are high in calories and often loaded with fat. Soft drinks – chips – cookies – candy bars – and much of the food from fast-food stops fit this category.

Our society has a hard time with our weight – because we fill ourselves with way too much feel good junk food. I believe we have the same problem with our theology. Way too often we turn our itching ears to false truths because they sound good. We’re warned about this position by God as Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy. Continue reading

January 15, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Puts A Smile On Our Face?

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.

Ray 2019What brings a smile to your face? Of course the first answer I would give these days is spending time with our children and grandchildren. We now have five grandchildren with a sixth on the way (eventually – an adoption from South Korea). Another answer might be this long 9 game winning streak by the Baltimore Ravens – which put them into the playoffs and currently the #1 seed in the AFC. Currently – the playoffs come through Baltimore. Another answer might be a late comeback by the #3 ranked Maryland Terp basketball team.

The Ravens have won the last two games – against two very good teams – by very close margins. They proved that they can win the close games against some very good teams. Of the current 11 playoff teams not the Ravens – the Ravens have beaten 6 of them – and some of those games were not even close.

I was smiling when the Terps came back from double digits down to win their opening Big10 game this week. The last second 3 pointer and and 1 of 2 free throws (the second missed on purpose with only 2.1 seconds remaining) had me cheering – loudly.

Still another reason to smile might be when my wife ran a 1/2 marathon. Another smile came across my face yesterday when several persons received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and others re-confirmed their faith. Other things bring a smile to my face – like when a friend makes a good shot in golf and gets excited about it. When we see someone with a smile on their face we usually think something just happened and we tend to be curious.

How about when people notice you have lost weight? Better yet – when they say something encouraging to you (if losing weight was what you were after). I remember when one of my daughters greeted me with a hug and she said – getting skinny dad – as she wrapped her arms around me? What about someone saying something about your new hairdo or your new dress (or suit)? How about the smell of your favorite food – or freshly baked bread – or bacon frying (that one always brings a smile to my face)? Continue reading

December 9, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: