Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The Week After Easter

Psalm 119:147

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.

Life ChangeEaster 2019 has come and gone. Lent was a powerful time this year for me. Holy Week was amazing. I loved the Seder meal and the Good Friday service. Easter Sunrise service is always special for me – I’ve only missed one in my adult life that I can remember. I loved sharing that time with my father when possible. I loved the hill behind Mt. Zion with the benches and three crosses and the sun rising over the hill – the pavilion at Mt. Oak (with the cross in the field) – and the prayer garden at First Church – just to name the last three churches I’ve served. Each holds many special memories.

On Easter morning I usually arise around 4 am. Sunrise this year was at 6:20 am so we started our service at 6 am. I know that some of our men and women – some of my friends – wake that early or earlier on a regular basis. One of my son-in-laws gets up that early most every day to go to work. It is not my usual time to rise though. As a matter of fact – there have been nights I haven’t gone to sleep until that time! My normal time to rise is 6:00 am or thereabouts. By that time we were starting worship on Easter morning. It was a powerful morning – we had a great time worshiping God. We invited other churches and the community to join us. The sun rising will remind us that the Son rose. Continue reading

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April 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Attitudes of the Heart

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Life ChangeI have been writing and preaching about attitudes lately – referring to an old saying of mine – Christianity Boils Down to Attitudethe condition and position of the heart. Today’s passage reminds us what impacts the attitudes of the heart. Namely the Word of God! Reading and understanding the Bible is essential as we mature in Christ. It is the key element in our training as Christians.

We have had a number of people put their faith and trust in Jesus lately at First Church (Praise the Lord). Something exciting is happening at First Church. Recently we have seen an increase in young adults coming to First Church. We’ve seen people accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Giving their hearts to Jesus. The best advice I can give them and others is to begin to read the Bible and join a Bible study where they can search together with others the truths of God. We’ve been calling people of late to train up in the Lord. Continue reading

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day After Thanksgiving!

Ephesians 5:19-20

19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life ChangeI hope and pray you had a fantastic Thanksgiving Day yesterday. I also hope you had time with the family. Around Thanksgiving table – we asked the question – what are you thankful for this year – and some heartfelt responses came our way. What would your answer be to that question? Maybe you are thankful for your health (maybe you haven’t had good health this year but are feeling better now). Maybe you are thankful for family and friends. Maybe you are thankful for your job or for your home. Maybe you are thankful for a son or daughter or a grandson or granddaughter coming home. I’m thankful for a new son this Thanksgiving – and of course – for all of my family.

The passage today gives the Sunday School answer – lol – and reminds us that we should be thankful for God and for all that God has allowed in our lives. We are even to greet one another with praises – even with songs of praise – acknowledging our thanks for God. Continue reading

November 23, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking Wisdom During Our Prayer/Fast

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

fullsizeoutput_ffeWisdom is something we should all seek after – shouldn’t we? Godly wisdom is something that God wants to give to us – generously – according to today’s passage. Why wouldn’t we seek after it? Why would we think we could survive on our own wisdom? Remember the last time we did…?

Godly wisdom is something we should seek after for sure. It is something I will be seeking after during our November Prayer/Fast. Wisdom to discern God’s will in my life would be amazing – but I will take whatever type of wisdom God wishes to share with me. As we seek God – I pray that we will also seek God’s will and wisdom in our lives. Continue reading

October 23, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tenderness and Compassion

Galatians 5:22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

fullsizeoutput_ffeIn a recent Bible study – the discussion centered – for a short time – on the Holy Spirit. There were some questions raised that made me think some teaching and some sermons on the Holy Spirit were in order. This is just a short response to that study. I came across this passage about the fruits of the Spirit and thought I would spend some time with it this morning.

What do you think of when you hear the words kindness and goodness?  A few verses before the Gifts of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5 – we read the following words. Galatians 5:6 – For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

When I think of kindness and goodness – I think of the heart of Christ. It is often contrary to my heart. I am not – by nature – a mercy person. I can express mercy – but only because of the grace of God – it isn’t from my natural fabric. The heart of God – the heart of Christ is seen best – for me – in the following passage. Continue reading

October 18, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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