Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Suffering for Our Faith for Jesus

1 Peter 4:12-13

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

img_0063-2Of course Peter was writing to a persecuted church – a church that was being arrested for their expression of faith – beaten – at times thrown to the lions – crucified in arenas for sport – forced to battle gladiators to the death. Peter was trying to assure them that their suffering would be for just a little while. Here is more of his writing.

1 Peter 4:1-13 – 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do — living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4 They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.  12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. Continue reading

February 7, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Love One Another?

John 13:35

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amDo we have a hard time loving others or showing love to others? I know some men who have a hard time showing love – or even saying I love you to family members. Speaking of men – we have our monthly men’s ministry meeting tonight at 7 pm. I hope to see you there.

Typically it is easier to say I love you to those who love us back or do nice things to us or for us. If someone is nice to us or shows us respect – it would seem easier to love them – right?

Loving others is not an easy command from Jesus. In today’s passage Jesus says that others will know we are His followers – His disciples – if we love one another. Think for a moment – are there folks we have a hard time loving?

Here’s today’s passage in partial context. John 13:34–35 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Continue reading

September 13, 2019 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

To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Life ChangeSo – does anyone but me think about death? Maybe it comes from living by a cemetery as a child or from being a pastor for 42 plus years. I wouldn’t say I think about it all the time – but I certainly do think about dying – from time to time. Like recently – going to sleep – I was counting the number of years I have left if I live to be my father’s age (the answer is just over 20 years). A few nights ago – I dreamed I died. I had informed my wife before dying to bury me with my Apple Watch in case I wake up and need to get someone to come get me (now that was a scary dream). OK – two such thoughts the same week – that is a bit much – and not my norm.

Have you thought about dying? I believe the early Christians thought about it – maybe a lot. They faced life and death situations all the time. They were being crucified in mass – they were being thrown to wild animals – they were forced to do battle with gladiators – all in arenas for the sport of the Roman people. Much like the Christians that were beheaded – or burned in cages – or drowned – by terrorists in the middle east. In the Western world we often are so protected – especially those of us who do not live in the crowded urban areas of our country. Law enforcement can only do so much – and I thank our law enforcement officers for all they do while I condemn those bad eggs that shouldn’t be in uniform. Continue reading

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One in Authority is God’s Servant

Romans 13:4

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Ray 2018Before I pen the first words in this devotional thought – I imagine there will be those who agree with me and those who disagree with me. I have friends who will debate this passage with me and argue that the current circumstance doesn’t fit into this passage. I’ve love to hear their take on this section of the Bible.

Let’s take a look at the world where Paul lived for a moment. In the early church – Christians were being persecuted by their own people – in many cases – as Orthodox Jews saw them as heretics (Paul/Saul was among them early on). Not only were they being persecuted by the Jews – who put their Lord to death – they were being persecuted by Rome. Rome was an oppressive power at the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. Christians were being crucified in arenas – put before wild animals and gladiators as well. It was the worst of times some might say.

Paul writes these words to those Christians under such a terrible burden and oppression. Here’s today’s passage in partial context. Romans 13:1–7 – 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Continue reading

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Father – Forgive Them

Luke 23:34

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Forgiving people is not easy. We have all sinned. We have all hurt people. The old saying – hurt people – hurt people is so true. When we hurt or when others hurt us – forgiveness is not easy. We tend to hold grudges. We tend to seek revenge for the hurt. We tend to get angry and at time we close down when we are hurt. At times we even strike out at others when we are hurt – even to those closest to us – even when they had nothing to do with the hurt we feel.

What are some hurts we have experienced? My heart goes out to those who have experienced the death of a child – at the hands of someone – be it an accident or intended. I feel for those who have lost children or other loved ones in drive by shootings in some of our urban areas. The chemical attack by Assad on his people brought many images into our living rooms. Such pain in my heart watching babies gasping for a breath. I’ve talked to persons who have had hurt from abusive parents – from ugly divorces – from false accusations. These and other images and experiences beg the question – can we really forgive those who do evil in our world? Continue reading

April 12, 2017 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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