Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Showing Others God’s Grace

Luke 19:5

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.

It is hard – at times – to show grace. We talked about showing grace yesterday in the message. There are people in our lives that we would have a hard time showing grace to I think. Do we have a hard time showing grace – showing love – to the Zacchaeus types in our lives? The first few verses of Luke 19 tells us some about him.

Luke 19:1-4 – 1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

Zacchaeus wasn’t JUST a tax collector – but a chief tax collector. In Jesus’ day – Rome had some heavy taxes. And they hired Jewish people to collect the taxes from their own people. Most tax collectors were ruthless (they had Roman soldiers to help them collect) and corrupt. If they were asked to get $500 (for example) from each person – they could actually ask for more – and keep what Rome did not demand. That was how they became wealthy – through their corruption. Well – a Chief tax collector would be the one who told the other tax collectors what Rome needed (and they always put more into the figure for their cut). So – if Rome needed $500 a person (again – an example only) – the Chief tax collector might tell those under them that Rome needed $600 and keep the $100 for themselves. The regular crooks – I mean tax collectors – would then ask for $650 and keep the $50 themselves. You can easily see why the Jews quickly came to hate the Tax Collectors – not only because of Rome’s taxes – but because of their corruption – their sin. Continue reading

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July 16, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Where Is It That We Struggle Most?

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.

Have you ever felt one way and yet ended up going another way? Silly question I guess – since we are all human and most know the right thing to do but have succumbed to the wrong way in our lives. 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. We fall short and sin.

Where is it that we struggle the most? For some it is what we put into our bodies that tempt us. That could mean drugs or alcohol or it could mean overeating – all are harmful to us – and we know it – 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. Continue reading

May 10, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Bore Our Sins! We Owe Him Our Everything!

Isaiah 53:12

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

So the day after Easter – a time when most pastors take time off to sleep late and spend some down time – found me on the road early to the Annapolis Mall to sit outside the Apple Store to see if I could get my work laptop fixed. After waiting an hour for the store to open and 45 minutes after that to see a tech and about 15 minutes of running tests – I was told that I needed a new top case assembly (keyboard circuit and cover). They could fix it in the store but it would take 3-5 days. So – at work – I will be using my iPad and work more from home on my iMac – till I get it back. I’ll need to find some down time later.

Today’s passage is a prophecy concerning Jesus. It ends with a reminder that He bore our sins on the cross of Calvary. He made intercession before the Father on our behalf. He took upon Himself all of our sins – and according to scripture the sins of the world – for those who would receive His grace – paying the blood price we could not ever consider paying. Remember – there would be no Easter without Good Friday – no victory over the grave had Jesus not died on the cross first. He bore our sins – we owe Him our everything! Continue reading

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

Day 2 of Lent 2018

John 12:3

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Today is day 2 of Lent – 2018. The story today for me is about sacrifice – the sacrifice that Mary (not the Virgin Mary) was willing to make for Jesus. Mary (might have been the woman caught in adultery – obviously someone who have known Jesus and His grace) entered a dinner given in Jesus’ honor. She offered Him a gift – a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; and poured it over His head. It was a lavish gift. It was a gift that showed great sacrifice on her part.

The question I thought of today as I read this story was – what am I willing to sacrifice for Jesus? In a sermon not too long ago I asked the question – what does it cost us to follow Jesus? My hope is that as we read today’s Lenten passage we will ask what we are willing to give up – not just for Lent – but for Jesus? Continue reading

February 15, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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