Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

God Loves A Cheerful Giver

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

There are many hot topics in church life. There are many things talked about in the parking lot. The Judicial Council of the church is hearing arguments this week concerning some of the hot topics in the United Methodist Church. Their decision will more than likely be transformational for our denomination unless they kick the can down the street to some future date or group.

One hot topic in many churches is the idea of giving. There are several scriptures about giving in the Bible. Here are just a few.

Proverbs 3:9 – Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;

Proverbs 11:25 – A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 18:16 – A gift opens the way and ushers the giver into the presence of the great. Continue reading

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April 27, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Lord of the Harvest

Luke 10:2

He told them, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

In church life – there is a common statement that is very sad. It goes like this – 20% of the people do 80% of the work in the church. At times this might be because the 20% has a hard time sharing or delegating the work load. At times it might be a control issue on the part of the 20%. But most often it is because the 80% aren’t joining in the labors for Christ in the church. Are we part of the 20% or the 80%?

Think about this for a moment. Are we only attending worship in our church and doing nothing else? Are we only taking what the church offers – youth ministry – children’s ministry – family ministry – worship – fellowship events – etc. and not giving anything back? In essence are we takers without being a givers as well?

There is another saying we might be familiar with – it goes like this – you get out of something what you put into it. I wonder what a church would look like if everyone associated with that church were to serve God in some capacity in the life of that church? What if everyone in the church considered themselves workers in the harvest fields Christ has for us? I mean – we can all help somewhere! Right? Continue reading

March 14, 2017 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Numbers Are Awesome

Psalm 147:4

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgThe Orioles won again last night (Wednesday) – and so as I write this on Thursday morning for Friday morning – they are 60-46 – the 3rd best record in Major League Baseball. If they win tonight that will make them 61-46 – but that is getting ahead of myself.

I mentioned Sunday – in the sermon titled Let’s Talk About the Pastor – that I loved baseball because I love numbers. I was preparing to be a CPA in college when God called me into the ministry – so I love to crunch numbers and baseball is filled with them. For instance – in order to win 90 games this year the Orioles will need to go 30-26 in their remaining 56 games – very doable. Currently they are playing at a .566 clip and to win 90 they will only need to play at a .536 clip. If they stay at .566 they will end the season around 92-70. See what I mean about numbers? Baseball is filled with numbers. A player that fails 7 out of 10 times for a career can go to the Hall of Fame. Continue reading

August 1, 2014 Posted by | Church, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will We Offer God? – Day 2 of 21 Prayer/Fast

1 Chronicles 21:26

David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.  He called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.

RamonBlogIt is day 2 of our 21 day prayer/fast.  I hope your New Year’s Day went well yesterday.  I kept myself busy – spent a good amount of time at the start of the day praying/reading as I was seeking His face – while desiring His grace.  By the days end Carolyn and I had cleaned the atrium (taking down Christmas decorations) and I put a kneeler near one of the sliding doors so we could kneel to pray and look out into the woods behind our home.  I plan to spend a lot of time on that kneeler during these 21 days.  Make yourself a place to pray and spend time in God’s presence.  Create an altar area where you can worship God and offer yourself to Him.

Today’s passage is about building an altar and sacrificing on that altar.  David was ordered by an angel to go and prepare an altar and to sacrifice to God upon it.  As David was following his directions he made a point of paying for the altar and the sacrifices.  David didn’t want to offer God something that was cheap or easy!  He wanted his offering to cost him something.  1 Chronicles 21:24 – But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.”

21 day fastSo here is the question for us to ponder today.  It comes from the devotional thought that accompanied today’s reading.  During the 21 Day Prayer/Fast – what will we offer God?  What sacrifice will we make that will cost us something?  A fast is a time of showing spiritual control over the physical world around us (like our hunger and desires).  I know for some to give up soda – coffee – caffeine – chocolate might be difficult.  What is it that might cost us something more than an inconvenience?  What if for some our fast was not eating during the daylight hours.  What if those who followed this fast offered God not only the sacrifice of not eating – but also gave Him the time we would have spent eating in prayer and devotion?  What if we also took the money we would have spent on the food and snacks we would have eaten during the daylight hours and gave it to a food bank or another charity?  Denying self is part of a fast.  The challenge is to spend more time in God’s presence – seeking His face while desiring His grace.

Today’s larger reading – 1 Chronicles 21:18-27 – touched my spirit and mind – not only for the 21 Day Prayer/Fast but also in my daily walk with Jesus.  It caused me to think – what am I offering God on a daily basis that costs me something?  A tithe of my income is one thing – but what about a tithe of my time – or of my talent?  What about giving Jesus my all – not just what I offer on the altar as a sacrifice but all that I have as well?  When folks join the church – at least in our denomination – they promise to support the church with their prayers – time – talents and gifts.  If that is a base for a disciple – a follower of Jesus – what additional sacrifice – what additional offering might we make to God during this prayer/fast?  Just a thought.

The devotional thought today asks – what will your sacrifice be during this fast?  Part of the answer they give is – make sure it’s a sacrifice that will cost you something.  They encourage us to make our commitment in writing and sharing it with someone who will help to hold us accountable.  We can do that through the comment section to this blog post or more privately with someone.

I’m praying for you as you walk this walk.  I know of some other folks who are walking through this 21 Day Prayer/Fast with me.  I hope there are others.  I pray your day today goes well.  If you have removed some or all food – I have found that the first 3-4 days are the hardest.  Drink plenty of water (I’m on my 10th bottle as I write this devotional thought).  God bless you today and every day.  I would love to read or hear what God is doing in your life through this prayer/fast.

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

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January 2, 2013 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Fast | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Your Offering Acceptable to God?

Genesis 4:1-5

1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

The setting was probably a family gathering of some sort – maybe a family time of worship (since all were related to Adam and Eve).  The occasion of worship was probably at the end of the year or the time of the harvest.  Cain and Abel brought their offerings before God.

This passage doesn’t talk about the size of the offering – as other parts of the Bible talk about a tithe (tenth), alms (above the tithe), or sacrificial giving.  It speaks mainly about our heart when we offer to God.

Some commentaries will run with the fruit of the vine and the blood of the animal sacrifice.  I really don’t believe that is the trouble here.  I do not believe that the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering because it was a blood sacrifice and on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor because it wasn’t!  I believe it is the heart of the offering that matters here.

Cain’s offering suggests that he didn’t bring his best – his first fruit – the portion that God requires.  The Bible says: In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The key phrases for me are underlined above.  If both were bringing their offerings at the same time – and the difference is not the blood sacrifice – than it must be that Cain bought some of the fruit of his harvest and although Abel brought some of his harvest – it was the best portions and from the first fruit.

In Malachi God is upset at the priest and the people for offering blind, lame, and impure offerings.  Could it be here that Cain brought of what he had – maybe even implied here is some of his average crop – while Abel brought the best portions of the first fruits?

Do you give God a tithe and more of your income – your harvest?  Or like some – do you offer God the leftovers – after you have taken care of your wants and desires?  Will God be pleased by the offering you bring Him?

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

October 11, 2010 Posted by | Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Theology | , , , | 2 Comments

   

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