Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

A Slave To Sin?

John 8:34

Jesus replied, Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

IMG_0301Slavery is a hot subject in America – even in the year 2015. With the current debate over the confederate war banner/flag – thoughts of an evil time in our country has surfaced. There was a Civil War in our country from 1861 to 1865 – and one of the main points of disagreement between the two sides – the north and the south – was over the subject of slavery.

An article found online from Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia – slavery was a main reason for the War Between the States. Here is a portion of that article. In the 1860 presidential electionRepublicans, led by Abraham Lincoln, opposed the expansion of slavery into U.S. territories. The Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured a majority of the electoral votes, and Lincoln was elected the first Republican president, but before his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy. The first six to secede had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, a total of 48.8% for the six. [Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln’s inaugural address declared his administration would not initiate civil war.

People today – in the north and south – might still disagree on some of the reasons for the War. Some might even disagree over slavery – still – but I would imagine that most people in America today realize that slavery was an evil. Continue reading

August 4, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Much Do We Love God?

Genesis 22:2

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

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What or who is it that we love more than anything? I love my wife more than anyone else in this whole world – and my daughters too – but my granddaughters are catching up with them. I would most anything for them. Last night is a good example (this is meant to be a funny point folks). My beloved Baltimore Orioles were playing the team from Boston in a tight baseball game. The score was 1-0 in favor of the Orioles. It was the top of the ninth and our closer had already gotten four outs and was trying to close out the game with the final out. He had two strikes on the batter and my granddaughters arrived from New Jersey!

I’m not sure what happened – but I got out of my chair – left the TV room and went to help them as they came into the house. I didn’t run back in to see what was happening until all of their stuff was in from the car and I had one granddaughter in tow around my neck! (He ended up walking that batter but got the next one out and won the game.)

They key point – I left something I enjoy – at a critical moment in the game – to see my granddaughters. I’m not holding that up as any major thing mind you – but as an example of what we do when we love something or someone more than something or someone else! Continue reading

June 10, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Do You Meet God?

Genesis 12:8b

There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. NIV84

profileHave you ever had a meet Jesus moment?  I remember several times where I have felt Jesus was right there with me.  I’ve mentioned some of them in past devotional thoughts.  There was the summer of 1967 when I was 12 and we had a revival at our church and I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  There was the time I took part in a 24 hour month-long prayer vigil and felt Jesus with me in the chapel as I prayed and read the scriptures.

There have been other times when I felt so close to Jesus as well.  One time that stands out – and I have shared it before as well – was the Stand in the Gap event that Promise Keepers sponsored on the Mall in DC.  We had over a million men gathered together to worship God and give Him glory.

Those are highlight moments and there are others for sure.  Maybe for you it was a prayer room at a hospital while you were waiting for a love one to pull through surgery.  Maybe it was at a Women of Faith conference or a Catalyst conference.  Maybe it was on an Emmaus Walk.  Can you think of a time when you felt especially close to God? Continue reading

October 4, 2013 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Self Examination Time – Are We on Fire for Jesus?

Revelation 3:14-16

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

RevRayIn thinking about our spiritual journey – our day-to-day relationship with Jesus – how would we grade it?  Would we grade our walk with Jesus as useful or useless for the kingdom?   Do we feel like we are sold out for Jesus – partially involved with our faith – or even unconnected with Jesus?  How serious are we when it comes to our faith journey?  Our relationship with Jesus?  These are good questions in light of today’s passage from Revelation 3.

Today’s passage speaks volumes about what God expects of His followers – His disciples.  God expects us to be on useful for Him – hot or cold – sold out – no holds barred – ready to dive into each day to serve Him and glorify His name – to be a good witness for His glory.  My fear or rather concern is that too many in the church today are lukewarm – riding the fence – trying to stay somewhat connected but not really sold out.  I fear some are trying to cover their bases – not wanting to go to hell but not really sold out for heaven either.  Our wants and desires run us more than our love of God.  We will serve God – as long as it fits into our plans – into our schedule – into our lives.  We will give offerings of time – talent – and money – until it becomes inconvenient for us – until it costs us something we want or desire.  Many church goers tend to draw the line somewhere in the lukewarm arena I fear. Continue reading

May 2, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Throw Off Everything that Hinders

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

RevRayI love this passage.  I love the idea of being sold out for Jesus – which I get when we are instructed to throw off everything that hinders our walk with Jesus – our joy in the Lord.  What is it that hinders us?  Let’s break down today’s passage a little and see what might be in this nugget of truth.  This may take us several days.

Therefore – whenever you see the word therefore you must look to see what was before – what this next statement is restating or concluding.  Hebrews 11 is commonly called the faith chapter.  It begins by presenting to the readers a litany of God’s faithful.  It begins with Hebrews 11:1-3 – 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  It then presents the faithful like Abel – Enoch – Noah – Abraham – Sarah – Isaac – Jacob – Joseph – Moses and so on.  That chapter ends with these words – Hebrews 11:39-40 – 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,… That great cloud of witnesses expressed a deep faith – but – they never got to see what had been promised!  We get to see it! Continue reading

April 16, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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