Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

We Do Not Walk Alone!

2 Timothy 4:17

But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave you ever been in a tough place because of your faith? A place where the enemy was out to get you? A place where those around you were beating on you – seemingly from all angles? A place where there seemed to be no way to safety? I would imagine we have all faced such times. We recently talked about witnessing our faith in our Bible studies and when we do so in an unsaved world – we will come under attack. Remember the words from yesterday’s devotion and from our Lord – John 15:18 – If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

When I think of being attacked for my faith I think of the stories in the Bible of Daniel and of Shadrach – Meshach and Abednego. Daniel was thrown into a Lion’s den – a den filled with very hungry lions! The three boys were thrown into a fiery furnace – so hot that the heat killed those taking them to the furnace. Each time it was because they were being faithful to God and wouldn’t disobey Him. Each time God delivered them – or as Paul writes – stood at my side and gave me strength. Continue reading

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September 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus Will Help Us From Losing Heart

2 Corinthians 4:16

Therefore we do not lose heart

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amHave you ever lost heart? There are a number of times I have lost heart. With injuries and age creeping up on me – my sport playing life has changed (I spend more time with golf these days). I love me some basketball – if you didn’t know that fact about me. With two rotator cuff surgeries in back to back springs (2017 & 2018) – I have not played a lot of basketball in the last three years or so. If you ask my wife or my friends – they would tell you I have contemplated leaving the game for good. My orthopedic doctor and my general practitioner even suggested it when I injured my shoulder playing basketball – which led to my last surgery – and the knee issues. I went back this past spring and enjoyed the full-court running (it might help me lose more weight) –  but I’ve given it up I think. For most of my life I have been a 3-point bomber. I would find an open spot and the ball would find me and I would bomb away – hitting a high percentage typically. But – after two shoulder surgeries – gaining some age – and not working out much for two years – my 3-point shot was weak this spring. I actually had to abandon the 3-point shot at first and shot and hit from inside the arc. I got my shooting touch back – but the knees barked! I will not lose heart – even if I have to give up basketball for good! Continue reading

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Should Encourage One Another

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amEncouragement is very important. There are many persons in the families of our church and community who have known very little encouragement in their lives. They have been raised in families where discouragement was the focus – with very little – if any – encouragement. Families where more fuss was made over a grade of B in one class rather than the grades of A in all of the other classes. Families where the small mistake was made to be larger than the overall good job done.

Discouragement in the church is also a tool that the devil uses. Someone does a tremendous job with a program and the first thing someone says is something that didn’t go right. Worship was awesome and a person points out the one thing that didn’t go well – first.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to improve one another – we’re actually called to do that in Scripture. What I’m question is the attitude and timing. Read Revelation where Christ instructs John to write to the seven churches. In those passages Christ always affirms where He can affirm – encourages – before He gives corrective instruction. Continue reading

August 30, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living With Plenty – When Is Enough – Enough?

1 Timothy 6:8

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhen is enough – enough? I’ve often written about our fleshly desires and how they can be contrary to the Holy Spirit’s desire for us. Today I ask the question – When is enough – enough?

In a society where entertainers – from ball players to actors – get millions upon millions for acting in a movie or TV show and playing a game – When is enough – enough?

In a society where the haves and the have nots are so far apart – When is enough – enough? When should those of us with plenty feel an obligation to help those of us who have very little? (I know – some people have made personal decisions that have gotten them where they are today – but there are plenty of people – if you have this concern – to help who are trying their best and are down on their luck). Often the church is called upon to help those who are in need. As a pastor I am often put in the position of deciding or discerning the difference between someone in need and someone trying to scam the church. It is not an easy place to be. Continue reading

August 27, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mercy to All

1 Timothy 1:16

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.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amMercy is not something that many of us offer very easily. Many of us are more into what is fair. Mercy is not fair.

I love this passage from Paul – it shows his heart – a heart of humility and of reality. He firmly believed that he was a sinner saved by grace. If Paul – one of the patriarchs of our faith – thinks of himself as a sinner – saved by grace – ought not we all?

Paul believed that the sins of his past – made him unworthy to be of service to God – yet was thankful that God showed him grace – and called him to His service. He is what he wrote:

1 Timothy 1:12-16 – 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 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.

I can identify with Paul. I too have sin in my past that makes me feel less than worthy to be saved – let alone to be called to serve God. My sin is grievous to me. Yet by God’s grace – I have been forgiven – and not only forgiven – but called – and not only called – but used for God’s purposes. It amazes me – it humbles me – it causes me to desire to do all that God will allow me to accomplish for His glory.

What about you? Mercy – Grace – God’s love – are offered to all who would receive it. Like Paul – won’t you receive the free gift of God’s grace today – and be amazed with him that God could use you?

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

August 20, 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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