Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Where Do We Struggle The Most In Our Lives?

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Where do we struggle the most in our lives? Have you ever felt one way and yet ended up going another way? Silly question – right? We are all human and most know the right thing to do but have succumbed to the wrong way. We often know the right way – and yet yield to the wrong way. We fight temptations and evil – but at times we fail in our struggle. I know I have more times than I wish to remember. And I keep trying to find a way to be faithful to what I know to be right.

Where do we struggle the most in our lives? For some it is with what we put into our bodies. That could mean drugs – or alcohol – or it could mean overeating. Anything we do to excess and can be harmful to us. We know certain things are wrong and harmful – yet some of us continue to abuse our bodies with what we put into them. We try diets – we try to be sober – we try to walk the steps – but – at times – we succumb to what is harmful for us. Again – I have a mirror up as I type this devotional seeing myself! Continue reading

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July 9, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Sins Are Many

Psalm 40:12

For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. NLT

Sunday in the message about forgiveness we talked about our sins and how God forgives our sin. Each of us has sin galore. Our sin has mounted up and it hems us in on all sides at times. Today’s passage – from the New Living Translation (NLT) says – For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.

Our sins are so plentiful – and left alone – they would keep us from heaven and send us to hell. But – even though our sins are more than the hairs on our head – Jesus died on the cross to provide grace – forgiveness. Continue reading

May 7, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgiveness of Sins

Ephesians 1:7

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

Tuesday – in our co-ed study time (Tuesdays at 10:30am and 7:00pm) – we discussed Justifying Grace. Previously we had discussed Prevenient Grace. Some of us are amazed at the grace of God – working in us and through us – even before we responded to God. I know I am amazed every time we study God’s Grace and understand it a little better. God’s Grace is very powerful.

God has not only provided Grace for us through the death of Jesus Christ – God has also tugged at our heart – over and over again – to draw us into a relationship with Him. Not only has God provided Grace and a constant tug on our spirits – God has provided a way to become justified in God’s presence. We can become just-as-if-we-never-sinned. Continue reading

May 3, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Sins Are Blotted Out

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

We haven’t had much snow this winter. I for one – really like snow – and not just a little bit. If it is going to be cold (which it has been this winter) and snow (which it has done very little this winter) – I say let the snow come down! I loved the years when we had storms of 12 – 24 – or more inches in one storm. Enough to slow down the area and allow for some home time. I also would like to see some significant snow this winter so I can really get some use out of my new snow blade for my lawn tractor (a John Deere of course – nothing runs like a Deere). I would also like to use my 4-wheel drive some!

One thing I really like about snow – its ability to cover up (blot out) whatever is in the yard. It covers all of the sticks and leaves and if there is any trash – it covers that up too. There are few things better – to me – than getting up early in the morning after a snow – before anyone has walked on it. The whole yard is so peaceful and beautiful – everything covered with a layer of snow. I have a couple of pictures of our home in the snow – and everything is so nice. Continue reading

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christ Came To Save Sinners

1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.

It won’t be long and March Madness with be upon us. I’m not certain my favorite college team – the Maryland Terps – will be in it this year. They have not played very well of late.

The competitive juices begin flow in almost everyone during March Madness. Even if a person doesn’t like or follow sports in general – they often get excited in the office place (and on Facebook) for their alma mater (go Terps!).

I wonder – have we ever had a competitive spirit about following Christ? I mean – have we ever thought of giving our very best effort – spending a day or a lifetime – seeking His face and desiring His grace? Have we ever gone out of our way to connect with others around our faith? With numerous Lenten season events happening at First UMC in Laurel – it would be a great opportunity to invite someone to join us. Continue reading

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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