Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Hearing From God – Do We?

June 2019Often – as I sit at my desk in the wee hours of the morning – waiting to hear from God – I began to put some thoughts down for a devotional or a sermon. Have you ever wondered how one would hear from God? I mean – the Scriptures are filled with people hearing from God. Some examples are in the biblical text for us. There’s Moses’ burning bush.

Exodus 3:1-5 – 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Continue reading

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

God Loves Us

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

June 2019Tuesday night at VBS – today’s passage – was the passage of the evening. We were telling the children that God loved them – each of them – individually. We started on Sunday night with stories of God’s love. on Monday night we talked about God loving everyone. Tuesday night we talked about God loving us individually – and today’s passage was the main passage.

If you watch golf at all – you are well aware that at many golf tournaments – someone will probably have a sign behind the golfers (where the cameras catch it) that reads John 3:16. This passage hit home with me this week as I watched the national and the international scene unfold around me. I’m wrestling with the needs of others and the need to secure our borders. I’m trying to understand the need to protect our people from terrorists and other threats. I listen to the debates about building a wall – denying certain people entrance into the USA – and the need to keep track of certain people. It can be very confusing at times and very mind blowing. All people are God’s children – even those who do not obey Him or even believe in Him. Yet – in society we have boundaries and borders and nations.

As Christians who are from a certain nation – we are often caught dealing with our national interests and our Christian global interests. Christ died for the whole world (although all will not accept His free gift of salvation). Christ died for the people we are trying to keep out of our nation – even the criminal elements. It is a hard place at times. It is tough taking a stand because there are arguments on both sides of most discussions. I tried this week to ask for thoughts on a clergy page and all I received was one offer to talk person-to-person (not doable at this time) and pushback for the way I presented my question. If even clergy cannot discuss this issue – how can we expect others to do so? Continue reading

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If We Confess Our Sins…

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

June 2019Confession is key to forgiveness. Saying we are sorry for what we have done is important – but – remember – confession is more than merely saying words. True confession involves repentance that requires three things – confession – grieving – and turning from sin.

I’ve often said that we sin in specifics so we ought to confess in specifics. If we lost our temper – we should confess that we have lost our temper – and not just something as simple as – Lord – forgive me for all of my sins.

Naming our sins actually helps us with the grieving process. If we remember our sins – and remind ourselves what it is that we did wrong – it might bring back memories that we wish to avoid in the future. For example – if we hurt our child by saying something – simply asking for God to forgive our sins is a cop out. Remembering the look on our child’s face brings back the hurt they felt and that we felt when we sinned. Going to the child and apologizing – in specifics – will also help us remember and grieve our sin. Continue reading

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet Time With God

Mark 6:31

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

June 2019OK – we prayed a few years ago for our children and grandchildren to come home – two grandchildren and parents were living in New Jersey while three grandchildren with parents were living in California. We are so glad to have them back home. It is good to have family close. It was special having almost the whole family together for the 4th of July celebration at my brother’s home. Yesterday was a wonderful time being with family.

Having said that – quiet times around the McDonald home are few and far between these days. Carolyn and I have not had our home to ourselves yet very much in our married life – with children moving back home (we loved it) and my brother-in-law (and dog) living here the last 4 plus years. Being so close to our children and grandchildren – you know they are over often (again – we love it). They all love each other – yet like siblings and cousins – there are times they battle as well. I am not complaining – but finding a quiet moment is not easy – even early in the morning. Yet we realize how important – even essential – quiet time can be for us. My quiet time is often my ride to and from work (about 35-40 minutes one way most days). I listen to music – but – I often listen to podcasts and sermons – soaking in the Spirit and in the Word of God. Continue reading

July 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy 4th of July – 2019

2 Chronicles 7:14

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

June 2019On this 4th of July – I will use this very familiar passage from 2 Chronicles to remind us that God wishes to turn every nation around – if it will confess and repent and turn to Him. I believe that God would transform any nation that turned its collective hearts toward Him. Lord knows that America needs to humble themselves and turn their hearts to Jesus. The world is running as fast as it can away from God and America seems to be following the rest of the world. As a mater-of-fact – it seems the church is also fleeing God and following after the world and Satan.

In today’s passage – God was speaking to Solomon and Israel – but I think the message shared is equally compelling for all nations. God will bless and will heal our lands if we return to His commands – to His teachings. Continue reading

July 4, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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