Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Deny Self and Follow Jesus

Philippians 4:11

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgChristians who live in the USA live in a society of plenty – for the most part – even a society of excess. We have a hard time doing without. We have a hard time denying self. Obesity is rampant in our culture partly because we have so much food and very little constraint. We live in homes large enough for several families. We have multiple vehicles – often more than the number of drivers in our family – one for every occasion. We throw away what some cultures would treasure. We have so much – denying self is foreign to us.

Here is today’s passage in partial context – there are final instructions given by God through Paul in his letter to the church in Philippi. Philippians 4:4–13 – 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Continue reading

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will We Offer God? – Day 2 of 21 Prayer/Fast

1 Chronicles 21:26

David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.  He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.

RamonBlogIt is day 2 of our 21 day prayer/fast.  I hope your New Year’s Day went well yesterday.  I kept myself busy – spent a good amount of time at the start of the day praying/reading as I was seeking His face – while desiring His grace.  By the days end Carolyn and I had cleaned the atrium (taking down Christmas decorations) and I put a kneeler near one of the sliding doors so we could kneel to pray and look out into the woods behind our home.  I plan to spend a lot of time on that kneeler during these 21 days.  Make yourself a place to pray and spend time in God’s presence.  Create an altar area where you can worship God and offer yourself to Him.

Today’s passage is about building an altar and sacrificing on that altar.  David was ordered by an angel to go and prepare an altar and to sacrifice to God upon it.  As David was following his directions he made a point of paying for the altar and the sacrifices.  David didn’t want to offer God something that was cheap or easy!  He wanted his offering to cost him something.  1 Chronicles 21:24 – But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

21 day fastSo here is the question for us to ponder today.  It comes from the devotional thought that accompanied today’s reading.  During the 21 Day Prayer/Fast – what will we offer God?  What sacrifice will we make that will cost us something?  A fast is a time of showing spiritual control over the physical world around us (like our hunger and desires).  I know for some to give up soda – coffee – caffeine – chocolate might be difficult.  What is it that might cost us something more than an inconvenience?  What if for some our fast was not eating during the daylight hours.  What if those who followed this fast offered God not only the sacrifice of not eating – but also gave Him the time we would have spent eating in prayer and devotion?  What if we also took the money we would have spent on the food and snacks we would have eaten during the daylight hours and gave it to a food bank or another charity?  Denying self is part of a fast.  The challenge is to spend more time in God’s presence – seeking His face while desiring His grace.

Today’s larger reading – 1 Chronicles 21:18-27 – touched my spirit and mind – not only for the 21 Day Prayer/Fast but also in my daily walk with Jesus.  It caused me to think – what am I offering God on a daily basis that costs me something?  A tithe of my income is one thing – but what about a tithe of my time – or of my talent?  What about giving Jesus my all – not just what I offer on the altar as a sacrifice but all that I have as well?  When folks join the church – at least in our denomination – they promise to support the church with their prayers – time – talents and gifts.  If that is a base for a disciple – a follower of Jesus – what additional sacrifice – what additional offering might we make to God during this prayer/fast?  Just a thought.

The devotional thought today asks – what will your sacrifice be during this fast?  Part of the answer they give is – make sure it’s a sacrifice that will cost you something.  They encourage us to make our commitment in writing and sharing it with someone who will help to hold us accountable.  We can do that through the comment section to this blog post or more privately with someone.

I’m praying for you as you walk this walk.  I know of some other folks who are walking through this 21 Day Prayer/Fast with me.  I hope there are others.  I pray your day today goes well.  If you have removed some or all food – I have found that the first 3-4 days are the hardest.  Drink plenty of water (I’m on my 10th bottle as I write this devotional thought).  God bless you today and every day.  I would love to read or hear what God is doing in your life through this prayer/fast.

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

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January 2, 2013 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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