Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Following Jesus Is Easy And Hard!

Matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Following Jesus is easy and hard at the same time.

It is easy – because God has done all the work to provide salvation for all who would receive it. Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

It is hard – because we must continually fight our human – sinful – nature. Psalms 51:5 – Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. The sin nature is something that Christ came to control if not destroy in us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! I have often said the old has gone – as Christ comes into our lives – but it hasn’t gone far. Continue reading

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does God Require Of Us?

Deuteronomy 10:12

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

RayMcDSalvation is a free gift – according to what I read in the Bible anyway. Here is a passage that shares this truth with us. Salvation is free – it is not something we can earn.

Ephesians 2:8–9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

While salvation is free and there is nothing we can do to earn it – there is a required response to our salvation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Galatians 6:15 – Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Romans 6:22 – But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. Continue reading

October 21, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Labor in the Lord

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

IMG_0301Have you ever wrestled with an idea – wrestled with a theology? The church – the Body of Christ – has wrestled with several things over the years. One of those theological areas that people wrestle is between works and grace.

On one hand we have passages about grace. Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is a free gift from God to His people. Grace is available to all – all who turn their hearts toward Jesus – confess their sins and receive His Lordship. What follows are a few scriptures about grace.

Ephesians 2:8–9 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Continue reading

February 5, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Greatest Gift this Christmas

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ESV

profileI hope that through the Holidays – Christmas and New Years – you got the gifts you wanted.  I ended up getting a Maryland Jacket – a fleece pullover – a sweater vest – a picture of one of my grandchildren for my office – a Ravens sweatshirt/tee shirt combo and two very nice pictures of our granddaughters for our home.  I’ve probably forgotten something – but not on purpose.

What did you get?  What did you give?  Hopefully you remembered – during all of the giving and getting – that Jesus is the reason for the season. Continue reading

January 2, 2014 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Must We Do to Be Saved?

Acts 16:31

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”

RayBlogAs an Evangelical the question that often gets asked is what must we do to be saved?  Some may talk about good deeds and ways to earn their way to heaven – and they would be wrong.  Some may talk about doing nothing because we are chosen by God’s choice – and although they are closer to the truth than the first group – they too would be off some from the truth.  Today’s passage gives us a clue to the answer to the question that many ask.

Today’s passage falls within a very powerful story.  Here it is in a little larger context.  Acts 16:22-34 – 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God — he and his whole family.

The answer to our question today is in this story.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”

Here it is said in another way – this time by Jesus.  John 6:26-29 – 26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Paul wrote the answer to today’s question another way in another Epistle.  Romans 10:9 – That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The answer to our question than is to believe in Jesus – to accept that He is the One the Father sent – the Messiah – the Lord of Lord’s.  I need to say one last thing about this belief.  One of my favorite sayings about faith is as follows.  If I told you there was a bomb in the room and you believed me – it would cause you to take action.  Believing in Jesus will cause action – it will cause a response.  James – Jesus’ own brother wrote – James 1:22-25 – 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  James 2:14-17 – 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

To be saved – we must believe on Jesus – and that belief will cause a change within us.  2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  Please don’t get me wrong – we are saved by grace as Paul writes –  Ephesians 2:8-98 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

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

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Questions, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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