Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

If You, Lord, Kept A Record Of Our Sins!

Psalm 130:3

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

Do any of us keep records of things? For instance – I know couples that keep track of how often they argue. Others keep a record of how often they spend time together. Some must actually schedule time together because their schedules are so full and can be overwhelming. Some keep records of wrongs and bring them up to the other from time to time. Some keep a record of when the other partner did the dishes or watched the children or got their way in some area of disagreement.

Do any of us keep records of things? The baseball season is basically over for my team – they need to go 8-2 in order to finish at .500. But baseball is filled with record keeping. Records seem to be made to break. Homers are being hit this year at or near a record pace. Continue reading

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September 20, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love One Another Like God Loves

1 John 4:11

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

We are called to love one another like God loves us. God loves us so much He sent His Son to die for our sins. He loved us with His all.

Much of life is made up of dos and don’ts as we walk out our faith. We try to define sin and what is acceptable or unacceptable in our lives – and in the lives of others. When we create standards – we seem to judge others by that standard.  I believe we often lose sight of the most important character trait of God when we end up looking at the dos and don’ts. We tend to forget about God’s love. It is God’s love that provides us with grace – with forgiveness. 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.

God’s love is so wonderful – such a blessing. God loves us in ways we can only slightly imagine. The Bible gives us glimpses of God’s love. For instance – husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church – His body. Ephesians 5:25-28 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing  her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Continue reading

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Harvest Is Plentiful

John 4:35

I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

It is harvest time or soon to be for many crops. I live in a rural area and farmer’s markets dot the roads selling local corn and an assortment of vegetables. Local sweet corn is one of the things I love the most. I really enjoy this time of the year.

Farmers are beginning to harvest their crops in the next few weeks – even into September. Wheat – barely – beans – field corn – and more will be harvested. Living in a rural area – I drive past fields all the time that produce the crops that keep our markets full and help our farmers make a living. I also watch throughout the year as the farmers work the fields and prepare for the next crop. It is an almost endless job.

Farmers often begin to prepare for the next harvest even as they harvest the current crop. Farmers prepare the soil – fertilize the fields – cultivate the fields – plant the fields – tend to the fields – and only after much work and much prayer (and God’s grace with the weather) – the harvest time comes. Right now we have had so much August rain in our area that some crops that would normally be ready to harvest still have too much moister in them. Some crops may waste in the fields because of the excessive rain at this time of the year. Continue reading

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Daily Devotion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

August 4 – Baseball Season – 2 Months Left

1 Corinthians 9:24

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

OK – lots of posts on this blog are about significant theological issues. We have written about the United Methodist Church’s policies and doctrines. We have talk about church drama and operation. We have written about grace – peace – assurance – salvation – sin – Jesus – conviction – repentance – and more.

Today I want to focus just a few thoughts on this baseball season. As today’s passage suggests – athletes will strive to achieve the victory in their sport. In order to do so – they must practice – workout – and strive every day for their goal.

Recently I met two coaches from the Orioles and had a chance to talk with them about this season. The team will not give up and they have most recently (not counting last night because this was written before the game) won 5 straight and gotten within 3 games of the playoffs and 5 games from the division lead. Continue reading

August 4, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s Just Something About God’s Amazing Grace

Romans 3:23

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

God’s grace is amazing. I love the song Amazing Grace. I love the old hymns – and so do the folks in our church if the recent survey results are to be believed. Here are the lyrics from the first verse from that old familiar and fantastic hymn. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.

According to today’s passage – we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We all stand in the need of grace. Grace is all about what we do not merit – what we have not earned!

Paul writes in another Epistle about grace (the New Testament is filled with passages about grace). Ephesians 2:8-10 – 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Grace is so amazing! Continue reading

August 2, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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