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

Putting Satan and Guilt Behind Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

Photo on 10-9-18 at 2.15 PMA number of our members are dealing with the guilt of the past. Several have come to me to talk about it. This is one of the biggest issues many of us face – forgetting the past and straining toward the future. 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. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away from our sin) 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. Think about it! Is there where some of us dwell? Continue reading

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

Showing Love At Christmas

James 4:1

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

RayMcDHave any of us ever seen a child throw a temper tantrum? Maybe it was because they didn’t get what they wanted or what they thought they deserved? Maybe they were in the grocery store and wanted a certain box of cereal they had seen on TV. Maybe it was Christmas morning or at a birthday party and the gift they wanted wasn’t there or the gift they got disappointed them somehow. I pick on children because they haven’t learned to hide their emotions like many of us have (some of us haven’t yet). They let that raw heart-felt emotion show many times.

Adults are not innocent here my friends. I have seen grown adults – in church meetings no less – throw temper tantrums – throwing down a clip board – pulling power plays to gain an upper hand in a discussion – and more. Do we ever sit back – after an outburst by someone (or by ourselves) and wondered – where did that come from? James asks that question today – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? Continue reading

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Advent Thought, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk Like Jesus – Press On Toward the Goal!

Philippians 3:13-14

13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

IMG_0301Last Sunday – during the sermon – I asked if anyone was perfect. If anyone was perfect they were asked to raise their hand. It was not a surprise to me that no one lifted a hand – not even one – because – on our own – we are nowhere near perfect. Our sin nature – although overcome by the spiritual nature we put on in Christ – still rears its ugly head from time to time in our lives. Even though we want to be obedient to God – we often fail. We do what we do not want to do and do not do what we want to do (so says Paul in Romans 7:15).

During the 21-Day Prayer/Fast – our imperfect nature – or should I say my imperfect nature – surfaced a number of times. I struggled at times with my food intake and at times with my social media fast. It was not easy – and yet I knew what I should be doing and what I should not be doing. The same can be said as I strive to lose more weight – I know what not to eat – yet at times I seem to yearn for just what I shouldn’t have for sure. I know I am alone in this area! Continue reading

January 27, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Enemies of the Heart

James 4:1

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

Have you ever seen a child throw a temper tantrum because they didn’t get what they wanted or what they thought they deserved?  Maybe they were in the grocery store and wanted a certain box of cereal they had seen on TV.  Maybe it was Christmas morning or at a birthday party and the gift they wanted wasn’t there or the gift they got disappointed them somehow.  I pick on children because they haven’t learned to hide their emotions like many of us have (or haven’t).  They let that raw heart-felt emotion show many times.

Adults are not innocent here my friends.  I have seen grown adults – in church meetings no less – throw temper tantrums – throwing down a clip board – pulling power plays to gain an upper hand in a discussion and more.  Have you ever sat back – after an outburst by you or someone else and wondered – where did that come from?  James asks that question today – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?

James says this about what battles within us: James 4:1-3 – 4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

I’m reading a book by Andy Stanley titled Enemies of the Heart.  It tells us that those thoughts and emotions we have tried to hide – sometimes – come from within us.  He writes about four enemies of the heart: guilt (I owe you), anger (you owe me), greed (I owe me), and jealousy (God owes me).  I recommend this book to everyone!  It is helping me.  You can also listen to Andy’s podcasts on these subjects on iTunes (search for Andy Stanley Leadership Podcasts in the iTunes store).  The series is called Enemies of the Heart and he has already covered guilt, anger and greed and will cover jealousy in October.

A side note – and it is important – we may think we have learned to hide our emotions and have learned to guard our tongues – but far too often what is in the heart will surface one way or the other – physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  We all need healing and I know I am learning a lot about why I do certain things as a person and as a pastor by reading this book and listening to these podcasts.  I would urge you read and listen with an open heart and see what God can tell you.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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(P.S. – sorry I missed yesterday – I was in a two day seminar and just didn’t get something out)

September 29, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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