Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Christmas Praises 24

Luke 1:31-33

…And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

christmas-2During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

One of the most amazing things about our church is the feeling of family. We are not a large church, more like a medium size church, and because of that we can really get to know each other. I haven’t been attending for generations like some of our members but I have attended long enough to be considered by some as part of the old guard. I must admit that I have felt at home from the first Sunday I attended, welcomed by almost everyone. It is this friendly and welcoming spirit that drew me back each week when I first started attending and it is what I try to show to newer people now. I see Jesus in this friendly church. For those of us who do not have generations of family living near each other, this church has become my family. I love that our pastor and leaders believe in the Bible and are not afraid in this day and age to preach it and teach it. I love that we have a staff and a group of people that care for our facility and that it almost always looks sharp and clean. I love our outreach ministries and our willingness, most of us, to do new things. But what I love the most is the family feel. I hope we never lose that feeling. Merry Christmas my family.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


1 Chronicles 16:12

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

profileDecember 23rd – just two more sleeps until Christmas for those who count sleeps!  All four candles were lit this Sunday on the Advent Wreath.  That means the last Sunday before Christmas has passed.  The day we celebrate the birth of Christ is soon to be upon us.  Are you ready?  My wife wants to send me to the Mall today – can you believe it??

What are some of your best memories of Christmas?  My dad loved Christmas.  He loved watching us at Christmas.  I’m sure he was usually beat on Christmas after leading worship on Christmas Eve – going out to get our tree many years after the last service and setting it up.  He and mom would decorate the tree and put all the gifts together and in the right place.  I would imagine he didn’t get to sleep much before we got up! Continue reading

December 23, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Throw Off Everything that Hinders

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

RevRayI love this passage.  I love the idea of being sold out for Jesus – which I get when we are instructed to throw off everything that hinders our walk with Jesus – our joy in the Lord.  What is it that hinders us?  Let’s break down today’s passage a little and see what might be in this nugget of truth.  This may take us several days.

Therefore – whenever you see the word therefore you must look to see what was before – what this next statement is restating or concluding.  Hebrews 11 is commonly called the faith chapter.  It begins by presenting to the readers a litany of God’s faithful.  It begins with Hebrews 11:1-3 – 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.  It then presents the faithful like Abel – Enoch – Noah – Abraham – Sarah – Isaac – Jacob – Joseph – Moses and so on.  That chapter ends with these words – Hebrews 11:39-40 – 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,… That great cloud of witnesses expressed a deep faith – but – they never got to see what had been promised!  We get to see it! Continue reading

April 16, 2013 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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