Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Lent Officially Begins Today

Luke 14:33

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

112015 Ray McDonaldToday is the 1st official day of Lent for 2016.  According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary – Lent is defined this way – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ.  The 40 days does not count Sundays.  Of course – this year we began our Prayer/Fast on Sunday – February 7th – the first day of our Pre-Lenten Revival.  That would be 49 days – counting the Sundays.

On Friday past – I wrote a devotional blog titled – I Will Not Deny You.  So here’s the question – Have we decided on something to give up during Lent so that we can remember the suffering of Christ?

Once we’ve decided what to give up – and I suggest it ought to be something we really like or something we would have a hard time giving up – we ought to think of something to add or to do for Christ during Lent as well.  So how about some ideas on what to give up and some ideas about what to add or do for Christ during Lent?  I’m still searching for some things myself.  I decided that Social Media was too valuable to my ministry to give up – so I will try hard to only use it for ministry. Continue reading

February 10, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Not Deny You

Matthew 26:35

Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

profileLent starts on February 10th – Ash Wednesday.  That is the last night of our Pre-Lenten revival at First UMC.  We hope to see you at First UMC in Laurel soon.  The revival begins on Sunday – February 7th during our morning worship services at 8:15 & 11 am.  It continues each night – Monday through Wednesday at 7 pm.  Evening services will be in the Sanctuary this year.  We hope to see you there (more information at the bottom of this devotional thought).

Lent – according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as – a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ.

Today’s passage is about Peter and the disciples saying they would not deny Christ.  They said they would actually die with Jesus if need be.  Here is today’s passage in partial context.  Matthew 26:30-39 – 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”  35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”  37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”  39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Continue reading

February 5, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Psalm 23:4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

112015 Ray McDonaldI seem to be doing more funerals of late – more than normal for sure.  I have recently celebrated four funerals in a five-day period.  It is an honor to help families celebrate the life of a loved one.  Most funerals I celebrate are from folks in our community – folks I have not had a previous chance to minister to or with – and I just try to bring them a measure of comfort for the short time I have with them.  I usually talk with them on the phone and meet them on the day of the service.  I often read the 23rd Psalm.

I love today’s portion of the 23rd Psalm.  One of the great hopes and blessings of our faith is that we do not have to fear death.  I can usually tell people of faith versus people will little or no faith when I share at funerals.  The way we face death is telling. Continue reading

February 4, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Call To Prayer And Fasting

Zechariah 7:4-5

4 Then the word of the Lord Almighty came to me: 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

112015 Ray McDonaldSo – here is a question for us today – as we prepare for our Pre-Lenten Revival time in February (the revival starts Sunday – February 7 – and is on Prayer).  Do we pray and fast – regularly?  I mean – is it an essential part of our spiritual walk as we strive to draw closer to God?  The answer to that question might go a long way in explaining if we are growing spiritually or not.

I would like to call the church to a time of prayer and fasting from the start of our revival through Lent (7 weeks – 49 days).  I know that is a long time – but it will be very rewarding – if we seek His face and desire His grace.

When we fast from something – we should spend extra time with God.  Spending extra time with God – will draw us closer to God.  Here is something important to understand. Read well!  When we fast from certain foods and expect something – like weight loss – is fasting for us or for God?  Losing weight is OK – but it shouldn’t be the reason we fast.  As we call for a time of prayer and fasting during Lent – what would we fast from and how would we spend our time? Continue reading

January 27, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Fast, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If We Confess Our Sins!

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

IMG_0301God’s grace is amazing as the song – Amazing Grace – records (isn’t that one of your favorite older hymns?).  One of the best promises in the Bible – IMHO (in my humble opinion) – is this one about the forgiveness of sins.  We are all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. Today’s passage speaks of God’s desire to forgive. 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Most of us have experienced deals before – like if you do something – I will do something. As children I remember getting notes passed in school – with if you like me – I will like you. As adults we learn that if we work at a certain job – the boss will pay us a certain paycheck. I’m sure we can all come up with if you I will life experiences. We have one in today’s passage when we’re told if we confess our sins – He will forgive our sins.

During the revival we will take a close look at confessing our sins – what that means. We will also look at what forgiveness looks like – being healed and made whole. Continue reading

February 13, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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