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

If You, Lord, Kept A Record Of Our Sins!

Psalm 130:3

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

Do any of us keep records of things? For instance – I know couples that keep track of how often they argue. Others keep a record of how often they spend time together. Some must actually schedule time together because their schedules are so full and can be overwhelming. Some keep records of wrongs and bring them up to the other from time to time. Some keep a record of when the other partner did the dishes or watched the children or got their way in some area of disagreement.

Do any of us keep records of things? The baseball season is basically over for my team – they need to go 8-2 in order to finish at .500. But baseball is filled with record keeping. Records seem to be made to break. Homers are being hit this year at or near a record pace. Continue reading

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be Merciful

Luke 6:36

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

RayMcDWhen I was younger – and I officiated baseball games – in some of the leagues where I worked there was something called a mercy rule. Sometimes it was called a slaughter rule. Either way it went like this – if a team ever got ahead of another team by 10-15 runs – (depending on the league) – the game was called to show mercy to the team being beaten so badly. In some leagues it didn’t matter how many innings had been played and I remember the mercy rule being applied in the bottom of the first inning. Mercy – defined on an online dictionary is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

In the Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical TheologyMercy is a concept integral to an understanding of God’s dealings with humankind. In English translations of the Bible, it comes to expression in phrases such as “to be merciful, ” “to have mercy on, ” or “to show mercy toward.” The corresponding term, “merciful, ” describes a quality of God and one that God requires of his people. The noun denotes compassion and love, not just feelings or emotions, as expressed in tangible ways. Continue reading

October 12, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Forgiveness: God Calls Us to Forgive Others

Leviticus 19:18

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Has someone done you wrong?  Sitting here I am thinking of some of the ways that people hurt others.  Has your spouse cheated on you in your marriage?  Has someone stolen from you at work – money or maybe your ideas?  Has someone slandered you and your reputation – saying false things or spreading gossip – even if true?  Has someone broken your trust?  These and others hurts can cause us to be bitter and vengeful.  We can allow the hurts to keep us bitter or we can seek help from God.  God wants us to forgive and to let go of our bitterness – our grudges. He has even modeled such forgiveness for us many times – one example was while He hung on the cross. Luke 23:33-34 – 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

When we are wronged – how we react – as Christians – is very important.  Forgiveness is a key part of a Christian’s life.  Forgiveness in us is supposed to be a reflection of the forgiveness God shows to us.  It is so important that we forgive others that God places it throughout the Bible.

Moses was told to tell the people of God the following – which includes loving those we might otherwise hold grudges against.  Leviticus 19:11-19a – 11‘Do not steal. “’Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another. 12 “‘Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.  13 “‘Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him. “‘Do not hold back the wages of a hired man overnight.  14 “‘Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord.  15 “‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.  16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.  “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.  17 “‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.  18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.  19 “‘Keep my decrees.”‘

Forgiveness is essential sisters and brothers.  Essential for us – and essential in us.  We are even forgiven as we forgive others.  Matthew 6:14-15 – 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Living in God’s grace is not easy – but we are reminded to forgive as we have been forgiven.

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

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June 6, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor | , , | 2 Comments

God’s Grace is Sufficient to Cover All Our Sins!

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

It seems that during our current sermon series on guardrails – we not only have been challenging people to set guardrails in their lives – but by reminding people of their regrets – we have found a group of people who are having a hard time dealing with their regrets.  I felt the need today to remind us that we are all sinners – every last one of us.

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Not only have we all sinned – but the good we do – the righteous acts – are like filthy rags.

Isaiah 64:6 – All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

I do not bring these two Scriptures up to further depress us about our sin – our regrets – but rather to say that none of us is worthy – in and of ourselves.  The best among us – their righteous acts are still like filthy rags compared to our God.  I say this to help us realize that two truths can be trusted.  First – we cannot earn or merit our relationship with God.  We can NEVER do enough good to offset our sin.  Second – we are all in need of God’s grace – EVERY one of us!

Too often – as I deal with hurting people – we find them falling into one of two categories. First – I am so bad God could never forgive me (as if our sin is somehow greater than anyone else’s sin).  Second – my spouse/friend is so bad I cannot forgive them (as if our sin is somehow less offensive to God and somehow we live on a higher plane).

God tells us – my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

Saint Paul saw himself – as Saul – as the worst of sinners – because he was putting to death the followers of Christ – yet He knew God’s grace could forgive him.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 – 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

If we turn our hearts over to God – confess our sins and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior – His grace is sufficient for you. God’s grace is so amazing.  We need to lay our regrets at the cross and allow God to wash us clean.  We need to forgive others as we would want to be forgiven.

Matthew 6:14-15 – 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

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

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February 15, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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