Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

New Beginnings

First Church,

img_0063-2As we enter 2020 – I wanted to let you know how honored I feel to serve our Lord with you. We have made some treasured memories together over the last 6.5 years. I look forward to the time God gives us to continue to serve Him together. Whatever happens to our denomination – we can remain faithful to our Lord.

2020 will see many changes. We have a significant General Conference in the United Methodist Church in May with many proposals about our future as a church. We have a Presidential election in November as well – with many possible changes to our country’s leadership. If the Lord allows – we will see these – along with another birthday and special holidays.

A New Year – and even a new decade – are times God offers us as New Beginnings. Some will want to change some things in their lives. Some will get married. Some will have children. Some will get new jobs. Some will purchase a new home. Some may move away. Others may move into the area and join us at First Church. Some may try to change their physical or emotional or spiritual health. What new beginning are you looking forward to in 2020? Continue reading

December 31, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Beginnings

The Whole Family

Ephesians 4:11-13

11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Last Sunday we began to unfold the new Vision and Mission for our church family.  The sermon series will go through June 13th.  As we talked about the family being under attack – we mentioned that it will take the whole family to reach the family.  It will take all of our giftedness to be all that God calls us to be as a church family.  We even named some of the gifts that God gives to us.  I hope at least one of them resonated with you and you could see yourself being a help to the Body of Christ.

The passage I started this article with speaks of a purpose for God gifting us – to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. The family has been gifted to empower the Body – the family – the church – to be all God plans for her to be.

God wants the church – the family of God – to all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. We cannot reach such a lofty goal with 20% of the people using their gifts to God’s glory while others simply receive from others.  In order to be all God wants us to be we must all participate and do our part.

When I was younger, my grandmother taught me how to put puzzles together.  Puzzles have many pieces – some we tackled had 5,000 pieces.  We would always do the edge first – so we had a framework to guide us.  Then we would do the pieces that formed pictures – many times using the picture on the box to know where the pictures went inside the framework of the edge pieces.  It took time – sometimes days, even weeks of working at it a little here and a little there – before the picture started to take shape.  What I will always remember is that the picture was not complete – no matter how close to finished it might have been – until all the pieces were placed in the right place.

The family of God is not complete until all the pieces are placed in the right place.  We are not the perfect picture God planned until we are all where God planned for us to be in the church.  The church is not complete until the whole family is involved.

Won’t you pray with me for God to reveal to us our part and then do what God calls us to do?  The whole family can only be reached when the whole family is involved!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , | 1 Comment

God Created Us for a Purpose

Ephesians 2:10

10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Have you ever asked the age old question – why was I created – why am I here?  Many people in my generation left home to “find” themselves – seeking to find out who they were and why they were created.  Young people go through this while they are in college or shortly after they graduate and try to find their nitch in the world.  I went through a time of questioning – didn’t you?  It is a tough time to face – especially if you don’t find answers.

God gives us answers.  I love the thought that we were created by God for a specific purpose – for good works God prepared for us to accomplish.  God crafted us for good works that He prepared for us in advance.

It is so important to know God’s will for our lives – if indeed He created us for such a purpose or will.  I love to couple this passage with one of my favorites.

Romans 12:2 – 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Conforming to God’s desire is the way to find out God’s will for our lives – our created purpose.  The less of the world the more of God in our lives – the more we will be able to know God’s perfect will for us.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , | 3 Comments

The Lord Will Deliver

1 Samuel 17:37

37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Tough times come into everyone’s life – for sure.  David was no different.  He had tough times facing lions and bears protecting his father’s flocks according to this passage.  Here he was facing the Philistine – who was Goliath.  David faced many tough times – and each time he relied on God.  They were not easy times – they were tough – yet he relied on God.

David didn’t sit and do nothing while relying on God – but rather – trusting God he faced his tough times.  When going up against Goliath – he bent down and picked up several stones.  He wasn’t going to throw one stone and run.  If need be – he would have thrown each stone – doing battle with Goliath to the very end.

What tough times do you face?  Many in our church and community face tough times in the family.  Not only would I say that God wants to be there for you and with you in your tough time – but so does your church family!  Our vision is to reach the whole family for Christ and we want to do all we can to bring that vision about.  The Lord – using us or others – or in some other way – will be there for you during your tough times.  He promises.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , | Leave a comment

The Father Loves Us

John 16:27

27No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

Jesus was trying to encourage His disciples.  He had just told them He wouldn’t be with them for long.  He soon would be crucified and would be out of their presence.  as words of encouragement He told them that the Father would love them, because they loved Jesus and believed that the Father sent Jesus.

What a strong word of encouragement.  We just held a funeral for one of our members.  We believe that this member is with God, because this member professed to love Jesus.  The promise given to the disciples is good for us as well.  If we love Jesus – the Father will love us.

This is a great concept – and I pray we hear it and apply it to our lives.  Love for Jesus – following Christ – equates to being loved by the Father.

John 16:27 – 27No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Encouragement | , | Leave a comment

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