Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Hearing From God – Do We?

June 2019Often – as I sit at my desk in the wee hours of the morning – waiting to hear from God – I began to put some thoughts down for a devotional or a sermon. Have you ever wondered how one would hear from God? I mean – the Scriptures are filled with people hearing from God. Some examples are in the biblical text for us. There’s Moses’ burning bush.

Exodus 3:1-5 – 1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” 5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Continue reading

July 17, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faithfulness – Can We Define It?

Galatians 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

What do you think of when you hear the word faithfulness? I first think of the vows we share at our marriages – to be faithful until death do us part. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian portions of the Bible – the relationship between God and His people – between Jesus and the church – is compared to that of a bride and groom. I like the love and passion shown by God for the church. Here is a passage from the Hebrew Bible.

Isaiah 62:5 – As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

God’s faithfulness is NEVER questioned. God is the groom that will never be unfaithful to His bride – the church. The question is – how faithful are we?

In the Christian text we read Paul urging the church to be faithful. Romans 12:1–2 – 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Continue reading

June 5, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m So Confused

Matthew 16:25

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

Life ChangeI remember when I was much younger – during the 60’s – a time when young people would leave home – and travel across the county – to find themselves. Some ended up living in communes – some went to massive outdoor concerts – some experimented with drugs – and free (no commitment) relationships – some did all of the above and more. Each generation seems to search for their niche in life – for their identity – finding themselves. The world is ever-changing – some – like the greatest generation as they are called – grew up during wartime and grew up quickly with great responsibilities. Some have so much given to them – it seems – that some feel entitled to life and it’s blessings – with little responsibility. Some have ideals that seem out of this world to others – like the socialism some are suggesting for our nation these days.

Have you found yourself (were you even looking)? Do you know your purpose in life? Do you know God’s plan for you and your life? I was talking to a young man the other day. He was so confused. He seemed lost. He had tried on several occasions to take his own life. He had experienced such pain in his life – he couldn’t see what reason there was to continue to live. He had given up on God and on ever finding meaning in his life. I must confess – I’m a bit confused these days – politically and religiously. I’m wondering – is the end near? Is Christ’s return coming very soon? Continue reading

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God’s Will For Our Lives

Romans 12:2

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

RayMcDIf there is a subject that comes up the most in ministry – it is determining the will of God for our lives. We’re spending a time of prayer – interviews – and discernment right now on our next Contemporary Worship Leader. We’re praying about it and some of the candidates for the position are praying about it. We are seeking God’s will.

A number of High School students over the years have asked me how they can determine God’s will for their future. Where should they go to school? Should they go to college or trade school or some other form of advanced education past High School? What is God’s will for me?

Through the years young people have asked – what is God’s will concerning my future? Should I get married? Should I work here or there? Should I have my education and job before I settle down and get married? When should we have children? Where should we work? Where should we live? What is God’s will for me? Continue reading

September 22, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking God’s Will

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

112015 Ray McDonaldThis coming Sunday – at First UMC in Laurel – we will try to determine How We Can Discern God’s Will in An Ever-Changing World.  During our spiritual journey – our spiritual walk – have we ever wondered what God’s will is for our lives?  I mean – how many times have we sought out God’s will for our life?  Passages like Romans 12:2 speak about seeking God’s will for our lives.

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The more we form our lives around the things of God (rather than the things of the world) – the more clearly we will be able to see God’s will for our lives.  Sunday we will look at one possible way – maybe the only Biblical way – to seek God’s will for our lives. Continue reading

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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