Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Straining Toward What Is Ahead Of Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne of the biggest issues most of us face is forgetting the past and straining toward the future – what is ahead of us. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem – as we mentioned in Sunday’s sermon. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Continue reading

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seventy-Seven Times = Unlimited

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amSunday – our sermon was on forgiveness – as part of the Apostles’ Creed sermon series. We talked about how hard it is to forgive. We talked about how our forgiveness is tied to how we forgive others. So – here’s a question for us. How many times have we forgiven someone for the same thing? Do we have a limit to our forgiveness? Does this saying work for us – fool me once – shame on you – shame me twice – shame on me? How many times will we forgive someone?

Peter asked Jesus – how many times should we forgive someone? Seven was a number often used in the Bible to represent completeness – and Peter would have been OK – I think – if Jesus had said seven times. I imagine Peter had come close to that number on several occasions with people he dealt with on a daily basis. Have we come close to forgiving someone seven times? Would that be considered a lot of times?

Jesus’ answer might have blown Peter away. In the NIV – the translation of the answer from Jesus is seventy-seven (77) times. In KJV – it is interpreted to read – Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (490 times) Continue reading

October 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confession and Repentance are Essential

Psalm 32:5

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn 2015 – I wrote a blog post about forgiveness. I wrote about grace in 2018. I love the topic so much I thought I would write about it again today (I have other posts about it too). There is something about God’s grace – God’s forgiveness – that blesses me and others. Confession is required for forgiveness and I preached about Confession and Repentance a number of years ago and probably will do so again soon.

One Sunday we preached on forgiveness in marriage (check out the sermon notes in the link provided). Every successful marriage requires forgiveness – because there are no perfect marriages – no perfect spouses. We WILL make mistakes. We WILL mess up (I just messed up yesterday)! We need forgiveness and we need to forgive. Confession and repentance are required for us to receive forgiveness – even in our marriages.

The Bible uses marriage – between a husband and wife – a man and a woman – as an example of our marriage with Christ (we are the bride of Christ). Here is one passage where Paul writes about the church – believers – being promised to Christ as His bride. 2 Corinthians 11:1–4 – 1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. Continue reading

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hatred Is All Over – We Need Love

2 John 1:5

I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amToday’s world seems to have so much hatred. Hatred between nations is not new – nations have gone to war and had tensions since time began. Protecting a nation’s borders is not new either – wars have been started over border enforcement or borders being ignored. In my opinion – tensions seem to be at an all time high in many places around the world. Hatred is running rampant.

Today’s world seems to have so much hatred. The last Presidential election (2016) seemed to turn ugly – uglier than usual. And the ugliness has only gotten uglier if possible. If you voted for Trump or Clinton – the opposite side immediately thought you were an idiot and hatred spewed forth – before and after the election. And the candidates didn’t help any calling those who supported the other side deplorables or talking about punching someone in the face – and the hatred continues. The rhetoric coming from the mouths and tweets of our leaders – on both sides – news bites – feeds the hatred being experienced today. And three years later – it is still going on. Continue reading

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Need A Mulligan For Sin

Ephesians 1:7

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amCan any reader remember doing anything we were sorry for later? Yes – I really did ask that question! Can any of us remember anything that we wish we hadn’t done? Anything we wish we could take back? Anything that we knew was a mistake the minute we did it or said it?

In golf – when someone hits a bad shot – mostly on tee-shots – they might ask their playing partners for a mulligan – some might just say they are taking a mulligan – a do over. In life – there are few places where do overs are. Most often we have to sleep in the bed we’ve madedeal with the cards that we selected.

I’m sure that Russell Wilson would like a mulligan on his last throw in Super Bowl LXLIX against the New England Patriots in 2015. Do you remember the interception in the end zone? I would also imagine that Pete Carroll would like a mulligan on the play call – just saying! I know some Seahawk fans wish they could call for a mulligan for sure. Continue reading

September 27, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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