Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Walk Like Jesus – Press On Toward the Goal!

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

IMG_0301Last Sunday – during the sermon – I asked if anyone was perfect. If anyone was perfect they were asked to raise their hand. It was not a surprise to me that no one lifted a hand – not even one – because – on our own – we are nowhere near perfect. Our sin nature – although overcome by the spiritual nature we put on in Christ – still rears its ugly head from time to time in our lives. Even though we want to be obedient to God – we often fail. We do what we do not want to do and do not do what we want to do (so says Paul in Romans 7:15).

During the 21-Day Prayer/Fast – our imperfect nature – or should I say my imperfect nature – surfaced a number of times. I struggled at times with my food intake and at times with my social media fast. It was not easy – and yet I knew what I should be doing and what I should not be doing. The same can be said as I strive to lose more weight – I know what not to eat – yet at times I seem to yearn for just what I shouldn’t have for sure. I know I am alone in this area! Continue reading

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January 27, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 21

Ezekiel 47:5

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in — a river that no one could cross.

01032015 RayI know some will call me old – but one of my favorite praise/worship songs is sung by Steven Curtis Chapman – titled Dive.  It came out in the 90’s I think – so it isn’t considered contemporary anymore by some – but I love it!  You can find it by clicking the word Dive or by going to this link.

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As we finish our 21-Day Prayer/Fast today – I want to challenge us to dive in!  We might wonder – why are we being challenged to dive in now – why not on day one or even before the prayer/fast began?  I’m challenging us to dive in today because it is not about what we have done but what we will do that counts moving forward.  Of course I’m not talking about works righteousness – God’s grace covers our sins – but as witnesses to the world – how we live our lives says so much about the Jesus we proclaim. Continue reading

January 25, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , | Leave a comment

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 18

Joel 2:13

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

01032015 RayI want to quote the reading from today’s lesson from the 21-Day Fast reading.  Tear your hearts instead.  You can finish strong by making sure you are weeping and mourning and tearing your heart open wide to allow God’s power and presence to sweep across the landscape of your life.  Tell God today that you are baring your heart before His mercy, compassion, and unfailing love.  I love that phrase – allow God’s power and presence to sweep across the landscape of your life.  Allow God to have your past – present – and future – your whole life!

The passage from today’s reading (you can read it all with this link – Joel 2:12-32) talks about repentance and baring one’s soul before God – as we open our hearts before Him.  Verse 13 reads – Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.  The hope is that during our 21-day Prayer/Fast we have had such times as this where we lay before the Lord – confessed – and repented – baring our hearts and souls.  In the days of old they practiced rending – tearing – their garments as a sign of their repentance.  The passage tells us to not simply show the outward signs of repentance – but show our heart to God – to rend the heart before God.  The outward signs can be faked – but the inward is real! Continue reading

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 15

Psalm 51:1-2

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

01032015 RayHave mercy on me/us dear Lord as we enter our third and final week of the 21 Day Prayer/Fast.  As we embark on the end of this journey and prepare for the next – be ever before us – with us and behind us.  During Lent (and a little before) we will enter into a 40-Day time of reading through the entire New Testament.  Stay tuned for more information later.

I want to ask a question that I have asked a number of times during the prayer/fast – What have we learned through the 21-Day Prayer/Fast?  What has God revealed to us?  What is God saying to us – to our family – and to our church?

The Psalmist – reading from Psalm 51:1-19 – begins with today’s verses – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  As we enter this final week of the 21-Day Prayer/Fast – I challenge us to ask God to examine our deepest thoughts – our deepest hurts – our deepest sins – our very soul. Continue reading

January 19, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 14

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

01032015 RaySo we’re in day 14 of 21 – are we hungry yet – have we been filled by a deeper relationship with Jesus?  When I’m golfing with friends and we’re all having a tough hole or a tough round – I often ask the question – are we having fun yet?  So here I am – asking the obvious in another venue to a bunch of people who have been fasting for 14 days – are we hungry yet – are we having fun yet (in Jesus)?

If we’ve fasted from certain foods or even all food – hunger might be something we are dealing with these days.  If we fasted from something other than food – we might be getting hungry for what we are missing (I’ve had so many times I’ve wanted to post something on Twitter or Facebook – like during the Ravens game last Saturday or during the National Championship game on Monday)!  Hunger is not a bad thing.  Yet hunger can be a desire that controls us unless we control it – Tony Evans talks about controlling the stomach in his series on Fasting.  Having spiritual control over a physical desire is important – so the physical thing or desire doesn’t take control of us!  This is a main part of our prayer/fast.  Gaining spiritual control over the physical in our lives. Continue reading

January 18, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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