Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Encouragement Is Very Important

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Rays HaircutEncouragement is very important. There are many persons in the families of our church and community who have known very little encouragement in their lives. They have been raised in families where discouragement was the focus – with very little – if any – love or encouragement. Families where more fuss was made over a grade of B in one class rather than the grades of A in all of the other classes. Families where the small mistake was made to be larger than the overall good job done.

Discouragement in the church is also a tool that the devil uses. Someone does a tremendous job with a program and the first thing someone says is something that didn’t go right. Worship was awesome and a person points out the one thing that didn’t go well – first.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to improve one another – we’re actually called to do that in Scripture. What I’m questioning is the attitude and timing. Read Revelation where Christ instructs John to write to the seven churches. In those passages Christ always affirms where He can affirm – encourages – before He gives corrective instruction. Continue reading

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 30 of Lent 2020

Joel 2:12

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Ray 2020Today is day 30 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan (Sundays are not counted in the 40 days). We’re coming to the end of the reading plan as we head toward the cross. My prayer is that we will be drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus during this Lenten season. This Lent – more than any other – will mark us. We will remember our spiritual and physical journey during this Lent. We will look back at this time of pandemic – of isolation – and we pray we will remember that it was God that carried us through.

I found this passage recently – and it was in line with today’s passage. Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Today’s passage is along the same line – as I wrote. We are called to return to God with all our heart.

Where is our heart today? Is our heart centered on God? Is it becoming more and more focused – during this isolation. Continue reading

March 31, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 13 of Lent 2020

Mark 12:42

But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

Ray 2020Today is day 13 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the 40 Day reading plan – I know I am. Keep up with the stories about Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. These Biblical stories are a great way to walk through Lent.

Today’s reading reminds us that it isn’t how much we give to the Lord’s work – but rather the heart with which we give it. The widow gave her all – the rich – they gave from their abundance. How do we give? Do we give our tithe and think we are doing so well – when a sacrificial gift might be 15 or 20%? Are we giving sacrificially to God or are we giving from our abundance? Let us search our heart today and be honest with ourselves. Do we give our all to Jesus or only from what we think we can spare?

Here’s a good question. How do we determine what to give? Do we give our full offering to the church we attend or do we give to other charities? Do we under the difference between a tithe and an offering? We talk about taking up our tithes and offerings on Sunday morning. Do we know what that means? Continue reading

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hide God’s Word In Your Hearts

Psalm 119:11

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

img_0063-2In a number of sermons I have mentioned that living for Jesus is enhanced – even made possible – through a deep knowledge of the Word of God. The more we know – the deeper we search the Word of God – the more useful a tool it will be for us in our spiritual journey. I once said – the more we use our Sword (our Bible) the more useful that tool becomes to us – so we encourage people to bring their Bibles to church and to follow along during the sermons. Today we can read our Bible on our smart phones and even follow along on www.Bible.com through our live events and leave notes on the sermons. There are so many tools available to us as we read the Bible.

Reading and storing up the Word of God in our heart – in our mind – is so important. Jesus resisted the Devil when he tempted Him by quoting the Word of God. Jesus was such a student of the Word of God that He knew when Satan was using it wrongly! Matthew 4:1–11 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Continue reading

January 29, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Will Help Us From Losing Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16

Therefore we do not lose heart

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave you ever lost heart? There are a number of times I have lost heart. With injuries and age creeping up on me – my sport playing life has changed (I spend more time with golf these days). I love me some basketball – if you didn’t know that fact about me. With two rotator cuff surgeries in back to back springs (2017 & 2018) – I have not played a lot of basketball in the last three years or so. If you ask my wife or my friends – they would tell you I have contemplated leaving the game for good. My orthopedic doctor and my general practitioner even suggested it when I injured my shoulder playing basketball – which led to my last surgery – and the knee issues. I went back this past spring and enjoyed the full-court running (it might help me lose more weight) –  but I’ve given it up I think. For most of my life I have been a 3-point bomber. I would find an open spot and the ball would find me and I would bomb away – hitting a high percentage typically. But – after two shoulder surgeries – gaining some age – and not working out much for two years – my 3-point shot was weak this spring. I actually had to abandon the 3-point shot at first and shot and hit from inside the arc. I got my shooting touch back – but the knees barked! I will not lose heart – even if I have to give up basketball for good! Continue reading

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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