Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Deny Self and Follow Christ

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Life ChangeLent is almost over for 2019. We have a special Seder meal tomorrow night. I hope you signed up. Hope to see you there. We have our Good Friday service Friday at 7 pm. We will continue our walk toward the cross with John’s gospel. Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary – is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ. 

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ – that they would actually die with Jesus if need be. Here is today’s passage in partial context. Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Continue reading

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April 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grass Grows and Withers

Isaiah 40:6

A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.”

Life ChangeA number of summers ago I lost my front yard. A combination of lack of water – excess sunshine – and a weak root system did it in. I treated the ground – aerated – seeded with good seed – fertilized with starter fertilizer and winter fertilizer later in the season and that following spring I fertilized it again. It came up strong and full. I fully realize that if I can’t figure out a way to water the yard in the summer – it will not be as full later in the year. That year I got an estimate for a sprinkler system – and that was way out of my price range. I purchased some extra hose and have tried – during the dry periods – to water the front yard. It did OK.

Even with all of that work that fall – just a few weeks into March even – my yard was like most yards – dormant (to a degree). It did remain green through the winter that year – thanks to fertilizers and a mild winter – but it was in a dormant state. With the warmer than normal March that spring – with lots of sunshine and some rain – my yard was ahead of schedule that spring. It had time that spring to deepen the roots and thicken before the summer months. I cut my grass at the highest setting my lawn tractor with a mulching kit would allow. I cut the grass twice a week during the peak-growing season so I don’t leave behind piles or clumps of dead grass. I love a green lawn throughout the year!

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April 16, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May We Only Boast in the Cross

Galatians 6:14

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Life ChangeDid your team win the National Championship in Division 1 basketball? Virginia won for the men. My cousin Mac went to Virginia and he was very happy. Did your team even make the dance? If so – how far did they go? My team – Maryland – made the dance and made it to the second round – but fizzled out. Did any of us boast on social media about our team? How about at work or in other conversations?

Did our team win their opening game in Major League Baseball this week? The Orioles usually do but didn’t this year. Which team will win their division this year – the league championship – the World Series? If our team is playing well – will we compare them to other teams and boast a little in our circles? The Orioles started out real well and had a few good games – but are losing as of late.

I saw some parents posting on Facebook about their children’s spring teams and some about their children’s scholastic achievements. I’m so proud of our youth and the youth I know. Some High School seniors I know are busy preparing for college or careers. Our new favorite college team might just be where our child attends – even if we never saw ourselves rooting for them before! Continue reading

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Jesus as We Walk to the Cross

Matthew 10:32-39

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.  34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Life ChangeThis coming Sunday we will start a new sermon series for April titled – Easter: Before and After. This week’s message is titled – Jesus’ Prayers. Come and enjoy – come and grow in Christ.

Today’s passage came to me as I’ve prepared for the cross this year. The first verse says: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” We’ve mentioned many times that most of us like to hear Atta boy/girl when we have done well. We’ve asked the question a number of time: how do we acknowledge God before men and women? We like affirmation and this passage calls us to affirm Jesus before others.

The second verse in this passage of Scripture says what happens when we do not acknowledge God before people. It is a part of this passage I’m sure some wish Jesus hadn’t included: But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” None of us wish to be disowned by Jesus!

As we read on to verses 34-37 – we read: 34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. When I was younger – I didn’t get this part of the passage. I mean – it didn’t sound like Jesus to me. I thought of Jesus as a peacemaker – one who would strive to connect families. God gave me to my family and then He gave me my family – my wife – children – and grandchildren. Another Gospel even use the word hate when referring to our feelings toward those we love – compared to the love we are to have for God. Continue reading

April 3, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get a New Heart

Ezekiel 18:31a

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.

Life ChangeOnce – when I was preaching a sermon series on forgiveness – during the first sermon in the series – someone ask – during the sermon – if I could preach of forgiving ourselves. I hope that I touched on that in that series. I think I will repeat that series sometime soon. Today’s passage from Ezekiel spoke to my heart about forgiveness. I want to share it today for our devotional thought.

We have said a number of times – in sermons and in teachings – that the heart is very important as we walk out our faith in Christ.  Christianity boils down to attitude is now a common phrase many of us know. The position and condition of our heart is very important – so I like the simplicity of today’s passage – Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Continue reading

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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