Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Seventy-Seven Times = Unlimited

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amSunday – our sermon was on forgiveness – as part of the Apostles’ Creed sermon series. We talked about how hard it is to forgive. We talked about how our forgiveness is tied to how we forgive others. So – here’s a question for us. How many times have we forgiven someone for the same thing? Do we have a limit to our forgiveness? Does this saying work for us – fool me once – shame on you – shame me twice – shame on me? How many times will we forgive someone?

Peter asked Jesus – how many times should we forgive someone? Seven was a number often used in the Bible to represent completeness – and Peter would have been OK – I think – if Jesus had said seven times. I imagine Peter had come close to that number on several occasions with people he dealt with on a daily basis. Have we come close to forgiving someone seven times? Would that be considered a lot of times?

Jesus’ answer might have blown Peter away. In the NIV – the translation of the answer from Jesus is seventy-seven (77) times. In KJV – it is interpreted to read – Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (490 times) Continue reading

October 15, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confession and Repentance are Essential

Psalm 32:5

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amIn 2015 – I wrote a blog post about forgiveness. I wrote about grace in 2018. I love the topic so much I thought I would write about it again today (I have other posts about it too). There is something about God’s grace – God’s forgiveness – that blesses me and others. Confession is required for forgiveness and I preached about Confession and Repentance a number of years ago and probably will do so again soon.

One Sunday we preached on forgiveness in marriage (check out the sermon notes in the link provided). Every successful marriage requires forgiveness – because there are no perfect marriages – no perfect spouses. We WILL make mistakes. We WILL mess up (I just messed up yesterday)! We need forgiveness and we need to forgive. Confession and repentance are required for us to receive forgiveness – even in our marriages.

The Bible uses marriage – between a husband and wife – a man and a woman – as an example of our marriage with Christ (we are the bride of Christ). Here is one passage where Paul writes about the church – believers – being promised to Christ as His bride. 2 Corinthians 11:1–4 – 1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. Continue reading

October 10, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving Mercy

1 Peter 3:9

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne truth is that hurting people hurt others. If healing is to occur – we need for people to break the chain of hurting each other. In marriage counseling I often run into couples who are in a vicious cycle of tit for tat (equivalent retaliation) – he/she did this or said this and so I must say this back! Trying to give as much as we get is not healthy. The Old Testament tooth for tooth justice is not good for trying to heal relationships. Turning the other cheek is what will bring about healing.

Often – in marriage counseling – we have to come to ground zero – a place where we call time out and suggest a cleaning of the slate – forgetting/forgiving the past – because the past has so much baggage and distress – it is hard to move forward. I’m not suggesting the past isn’t important or shouldn’t be dealt with – eventually – but in order to move beyond the breaking point – a cleansing often has to occur. The camel’s back broke from the weight of one more piece of straw because there was so much straw already on its back. If – even temporarily – each straw can be dealt with one at a time rather than as part of the pile. When we get to the place where we have to try canceling the past – we usually give each partner some things to work on – like work on loving their partner and respecting their partner – even if they don’t merit it. Showing love and respect often allows for a space for healing. Continue reading

August 19, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Our Marriages

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

June 2019This is an oldie but a goodie. I have written about marriage many times and because I’m having a busy week – I pulled this post from the archives and reworked it some to post today. I thought this post might begin some conversations in our homes and enlighten us concerning ways to help our marriages. It is targeted at men for sure but was useful the first time I used it and I bet it will be this time too. Women can learn too!

I found an article online, by Paul Peterson. The article listed six ideas for husbands to improve their marriage. I thought they were pretty good so I will list them and then see if our readers can come up with additional things a husband can do. I’m still trying to find an article that would help women be better wives. Maybe it hasn’t been written yet because they are perfect (LOL) – I know my wife is!

Some of these items might seem outdated – but – believe me – many of them are still good ideas in many marriages. Adapt them to your context and make additions too.

Here is the list I found:

#1 Date your wife every week.

Just do it. Turn off the TV, say “no” to your buddies, find a babysitter and date that lady! Date her just like you did BEFORE you married her! Continue reading

July 24, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faithfulness – Can We Define It?

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

What do you think of when you hear the word faithfulness? I first think of the vows we share at our marriages – to be faithful until death do us part. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian portions of the Bible – the relationship between God and His people – between Jesus and the church – is compared to that of a bride and groom. I like the love and passion shown by God for the church. Here is a passage from the Hebrew Bible.

Isaiah 62:5 – As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

God’s faithfulness is NEVER questioned. God is the groom that will never be unfaithful to His bride – the church. The question is – how faithful are we?

In the Christian text we read Paul urging the church to be faithful. Romans 12:1–2 – 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Continue reading

June 5, 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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