Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

21-Day Prayer/Fast – Day 7

Mark 14:22

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

01032015 RayBroken and poured out – that is how Jesus was on the Cross of Calvary.  His body was broken and His blood was shed – for you and for me.  His love – the full measure of His love – was shown to all on the cross.  He died on the Cross because He loved us so much – His arms were outstretched for us!  How awesome is that?

We fast in order to connect more deeply with Jesus and His deep love.  We deny ourselves of something – like food – drink – worldly pleasures – personal desires – in order to be broken in His presence – to be like Him – to do without so that God might be lifted high.  We strive to humble ourselves and strive to identify with Jesus.  I pray that this is the heart we have as we pray and fast during our 21-day prayer/fasts. Continue reading

January 11, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Own Our Things – Or Do Our Things Own Us?

John 12:3-5

3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”

I’ve always been told – throughout my life – that one way to determine whether your things own you or that you own them is to give them away.  I remember a time in my life when even the smallest nick on my car brought tears (recently someone knocked a bike over on my car and I didn’t react at all – lol)!  What is it you treasure greatly?  I know older folks who would rather live together rather than marry each other because they trust in their pensions and retirements (which they would lose if they married again) more than they trust in God’s sovereignty and provision.  What is it you treasure?  I’m sure we could all come up with examples.

Do you remember the story in the Bible of the rich young man who came to Jesus asking how he could get eternal life?  This is a portion of that story – Matthew 19:21-22 – 21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

I don’t believe that this is a command to all of us to sell all we have and give it away – but – if that is what it takes for us to realize that our God is sovereign and in control…  We don’t have to give it all away to test this idea!  God has called us to tithe to His church – give 10% of our income – and many in the church today have a hard time trusting God with this spiritual principle.  Some would rather cheat or rob God and trust in their things! (Malachi 3:6-10 – 6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

The numbers are so easy – everyone can figure 10%!  If we earn $50,000 a year that would mean we give to the church $5,000 that year.  If we earn $100,000 a year that would mean we give to the church $10,000.  See how simple?

Here’s a phrase I have always appreciated in most bulletins in most churches.  Where the offering is taken – you might normally see the phrase tithes and offerings.  The tithe is supposed to be the base giving – not the goal.  The goal is to tithe and then offer more to God – tithes and offerings.  In today’s passage – Mary was willing to give a very expensive gift to Jesus.  We’re told that it was worth a year’s wage!  Do we own our stuff – or does our stuff own us?

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

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November 25, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bringing a Worthy Gift to God

Malachi 1:6e-7

“But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ “You place defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible.

I want to share a few thoughts around the thought process we go through when determining the gift we bring to God.  I’m sure none of us would openly call God’s table or altar contemptible.  When we bring a gift to God through our offering of time, talent, and monies, we intend to bring something that would honor God – don’t we?  The fact is we might need to think and re-think the process we use to determine our worthy gift to offer to God.

Here are some questions for us to consider.  What is a worthy gift for God?  What could we give to God that would please God?  Aren’t those deep questions?  I wonder, have we given much thought to what we offer God?  Here’s another question for us to think about.  When we give of our time, talent, and monies, through our local church, do we feel like we are giving them to God and God’s service?  If not, why not?  How can we approach our gift in this light?

Most of us know Scriptures that teach about giving.  We might feel we have heard way too many.  Malachi has a passage about giving that many are familiar with – Malachi 3:6-10.  This passage speaks about proportional giving and the blessing of God upon the giver of such a gift.  What we may not realize is that the beginning of the book of Malachi speaks about bringing a worthy gift to God.  God was angry with the people and the priests of Malachi’s day because they were offering God unworthy gifts and expecting God to accept their gifts and bless them.  Read with me what God spoke to them through the prophet of God.

Malachi 1:6-9 – 6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’ 7 “You place defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. 9 “Now implore God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”-says the Lord Almighty.

So the questions are still out there.  How do we, in our households, decide what a worthy gift to present God looks like?  Do we give proportionally according to our blessing?  Do we give some arbitrary figure?  Do we sacrifice to bring God a worthy gift? Do we bring God a gift from our surplus, from our leftovers, or from our first fruits?  Do we bring God a worthy gift?  That may ultimately be between you and God and different for each household – but have we considered what God might think in our decision process?

Whatever we have decided to give to God, if we were bringing it before God, personally, would that make a difference in what we would bring (instead of putting in the offering plate as it is passed)?  If we brought our gift before God, say to the cross, would we feel that our gift is fitting and worthy, a representative gift for the way God has blessed us?

Many of us live beyond our needs and live in the area of our wants (it is not bad to have some of our wants met my friends – as long as we have offered God a worthy gift before we deal with our wants).  Our worthy gift for God should come from our first fruits, even before we meet our needs, let alone our wants.  I believe that if we were to bring a worthy gift to God from our first fruits, our needs would be met (a promise from God – see Matthew 6:24-34).  Unfortunately, some of us meet our needs and our wants before we even consider what gift we will bring to God.

I hope I have given us something to think and pray about.  When we bring a gift to God of our time, talent, and monies, are we bringing a worthy gift to God?  Do we feel God would be pleased with what we bring?

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

October 29, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Theology | , | 4 Comments

How to Make Ends Meet

The economy is in the dumps right now according to the latest reports.  Many people are looking for a way to make ends meet.  I have been approached on several occasions with just that question – Pastor, how can I make ends meet? My answer is met with a curious look more times than not.  I usually respond to the person with a question – if they believe their personal/family finances are in line with what would please God? In other words – are they giving generously to God’s work and are they taking care of their needs first – before any wants get satisfied?  It may sound counter-productive to making your ends meet to give generously to God’s work – but I believe – I really do – that God will honor faithful and generous giving to His kingdom’s work.

One of the ways that God honors faithful and generous giving, IMHO, is a by helping us change our priorities.  When we acknowledge God’s Lordship over our lives and over our things, we begin to see more clearly the difference between our needs and our wants.  If most of us would be honest with ourselves, we would acknowledge that we make decisions almost daily that put us in a financial position that makes it hard to make ends meet.

Here’s another way of looking at it.  If we were to give generously to God – first – and decided we would live on what was left – what would be cut out of our spending?  Would we go out less often?  Would we do without cable TV?  Would we keep our cars longer?  Would we downsize our homes?  Would we have less clothes?  Would we work harder for scholarships to college?  Would we throw away less food – maybe only making enough to eat for one meal or using leftovers before they go bad?  Would we have a basic cell phone or no cell phone?  Would a regular size TV be sufficient?  Would we take less trips or cheaper vacations?  I could go on and on – you fill in the blanks – what wants are you fulfilling that are beyond your needs?

Now let me say it is not wrong to meet some of your wants.  The problem arrives when we are meeting our wants and haven’t given generously to God as God requires first.  We we make excuses to God by saying we just can’t afford to give generously to His Kingdom’s work because we have too many bills.  Most all of us live beyond our needs!

In the day of the Prophet Malachi – the priests and people were cheating God – saying they were giving their best when in reality they were not.  They were giving Him less than He asked them to give – they were hurting and were not under the blessing of God – because of what they were offering God.  They were pleading with God in worship for His blessing – yet He wasn’t responding to their pleas.

In the early church some were asked to give their all to Jesus – to leave their jobs and families and follow Him.  He promised to take care of them – to meet their needs – to make ends meet.

Do you feel like you are under the blessing of God or not?  Do you want to be under God’s blessing?  I know I do, and don’t want to get out from under it!

The answer to making ends meet, IMHO, is to treat what we have as God’s and to generously return to God what God requires and even more.  We cannot out give God.  Believe me – and if you don’t believe me – believe the Bible.  Read what it says below.

Luke 6:38 – ”Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Malachi 3:6-10 – 6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ 8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

Luke 18:29-30 – 29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

I will share other passages in the weeks to come.  God wants to bless us – wants to give us more blessing than we can handle.  The question is whether we know what to do with what He gives us?  Have we proven to God that we are faithful with small things so that He will entrust us with more?

Matthew 25:23 – “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

We should pray about the time, energy, money, and talent that we give to God – and how we use what is leftover.  If we wish to be under God’s blessing – then we are called to let God own all that we have and to return to God what God requires.

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

August 20, 2010 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Theology | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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