Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Jesus Is God The Son

Matthew 14:33

Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

RayMcDWhat was it that convinced us to become fans of a certain team? Was it our parent’s view or preference? Was it our friend’s view or preference? Was it our home team? Was it a winning season that won us over? I began to follow the Baltimore Orioles one year before their first World Championship in 1966 when they swept the Dodgers in four games. It was the local team and 1966’s season sealed me as a fan (although 14 losing seasons in a row and seasons like this current one make it hard).

What convinced us to attend a certain college (if we did) (being local and my dad’s college played into me attending the University of Maryland)? What was it that convinced us to ask someone or accept the invitation of someone to go on a date or later to married him or her? What does it take to convince us of something? We make a number of important decisions in our lifetime.

What was it that led us to believe in Jesus? What was it that convinced us that Jesus was the Son of God – even God the Son? Was it a message on a Sunday or at a revival service? Was it something we read in the Bible? Was it the witness of someone that convinced us? Was it a miracle or something we couldn’t explain? Continue reading

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July 17, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

A Great Adventure With Jesus

Romans 13:14

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

I remember playing pretend as a child. My brother and I would dress up like soldiers and playing Combat! It was fun to pretend. I was usually Sergeant “Chip” Saunders – played by Vic Morrow. I even had a plastic machine gun to complete the ensemble. I remember I had an army canteen and an army backpack (for my sandwiches for lunch). My brother and I would make adventures in the sand dunes between our house and beside grandmother’s home. It was fun playing make believe. When we got a little older we would play in the woods or even in the cemetery next door to the parsonage. It was great fun pretending.

We just finished a week of VBS at First UMC of Laurel. The theme was having great adventures – Rolling River Rampage. The children had a blast. They had great adventures on the river and learned about Jesus. They imagined a number of adventures on the river. We collected funds to support those devastated by the rising river in Ellicott City.

They learned that some adventures are imaginary – and some are real – like walking with Jesus can be an adventure but it is for real! We learned that following Jesus – who died to pay for our sins and to allow us into a right relationship with God the Father – can be a great adventure too. We were also encouraged to tell others of our excitement – being in an adventure with Jesus. Continue reading

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Missions, Outreach, 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

The Battle Is Not Ours Alone!

2 Chronicles 20:15c

For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Some of us have a tendency to take everything personal and some of us try to tackle everything ourselves. For instance – God tells us to give Him our burdens and we take them back. Matthew 11:28-30 – 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” What seems to happen all too often is we offer our burdens to God only to take them up again as we get off our knees. We try to leave them at the altar rail only to pick them up again as we rise. This happens to me far too often. Does it happen to you as well?

We’re reminded often in Scripture that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against spiritual foes. Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We cannot fight the fight against a spiritual foe with human means. We must have spiritual power to battle the powers of darkness. Continue reading

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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