Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Showing Grace Is Not Always Easy

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.”

IMG_0435-0It is hard – at times – to show grace. 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 kept 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

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is It Hard To Show Grace To Some?

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.”

IMG_0301Do we have a hard time showing grace – showing love – to the Zacchaeus types in our lives?  The first few verses of Luke tell 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 kept 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

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Virgin Birth – Essential!

Matthew 1:23

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

profileMerry Christmas!  It is one day past Christmas Day – and we are now into Christmas time.  The stories have been read and the presents have been opened and shared.  So what did you get this Christmas?  Present wise I received a new fleece pullover – black – which I love.  How about you?

What I really got for Christmas was a chance to worship and celebrate with my new church family – our first Christmas together.  All three of our services were well attended and we shared about the treasure of Christmas and what God has done for us and our need to share the story with others.  It was a moving time and many have already expressed how God touched them Christmas Eve.  Thanks to the children – the worship team – the choir and musicians – and of course all who attended and helped in any way. Continue reading

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Losing Our Life for Jesus’ Sake

Matthew 16:25

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

profileChristmas is just around the corner – are you tired of reading that yet?  I hope not because there are several more devotional thoughts coming out before Christmas!  Christmas is a time of great joy as we wrote yesterday – because of Jesus – the babe in the manger – who became the man on the cross!

Today we move away from the Christmas passages and move to one that talks about losing our lives for Christ’s sake.  Jesus was teaching His disciples and Peter decided He didn’t like what Jesus was saying about His earthly future.  Peter didn’t like what he was hearing.  This was that famous passage where Jesus tells Peter to get behind Him.  Here is today’s passage in partial context.  Matthew 16:23-28 – 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Continue reading

December 18, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hidden Treasure

Matthew 13:44

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

profileChristmas is coming.  I know – I’ve said that before – but – I will keep saying it – probably right up to Christmas!  It is a wonderful time of the year for many of us.

I was asked the other day – during a 45-minute 2.5-mile walk through a forested trail with hills and rocks – what my vision for our church would look like?  In between trying not to twist my ankle and trying not to have a heart attack – I shared that it wasn’t so much what we did but for me it was the heart in which we did it.  I created a saying some 30 years ago that goes like this – Christianity boils down to ________.  For those how know me or have known my ministry – you know how to fill in the blank.  Christianity boils down to attitude and we have expanded that saying to include the condition and position of our heart. Continue reading

December 9, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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