Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Where Do We Struggle?

Romans 7:18

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWhere do we struggle the most in our lives? Have we ever felt one way and yet ended up going another way? Silly question – right? We are all human and most know the right thing to do but have succumbed to the wrong way. We often know the right way – and yet yield to the wrong way. We fight temptations and evil – but at times we fail in our struggle. I know I have more times than I wish to remember. And I keep trying to find a way to be faithful to what I know to be right.

Where do we struggle the most in our lives? For some – it is with what we put into our bodies. That could mean drugs – or alcohol – or it could mean overeating. Anything we do to excess and can be harmful to us. We know certain things are wrong and harmful – yet some of us continue to abuse our bodies with what we put into them. We try diets – we try to be sober – we try to walk the steps – but – at times – we succumb to what is harmful for us. Again – I have a mirror up as I type this devotional – seeing myself – and reflecting! Continue reading

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

What God Has Prepared for Us!

Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Life ChangeI’m a planner. I use an app that sets reminders for my to-do-list. It syncs to my phone and my other devices. My wife and I use an app to tell each other what we need at the grocery store (it actually works when she remembers to check it – lol). I use a program that keeps all of my important info or data (no secrets or deep treasures) available to me wherever I am. I plan out future sermons well in advance. I try to give as much information to the worship team as possible – as far out as possible. I allow our office assistant to review and even edit my work calendar. I have my work & personal calendar and several other calendars on my devices. My wife and I have planned – financially – for our retirement (we have a target figure and conditions we wish to achieve before we retire). In other words – and I could go on and on – I plan and try to execute my plan(s).

Are you a planner? Do you make plans or do you fly by the seat of your pants? One of my favorite saying is – if we aim at nothing – we are bound to hit it. Making plans is important for most of us. Carrying those plans out is what we should all aim at – allowing for adjustment of our plan(s) as things develop. For instance – the Orioles plan to win their division and thus make the playoffs. If during the season that doesn’t seem possible – the next target would be to make the playoffs by being a wild-card team. If that doesn’t workout – the next thing is to improve to the point where next year (or soon) – they will be able to compete for their goals. Continue reading

May 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Get a New Heart

Ezekiel 18:31a

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit.

Life ChangeOnce – when I was preaching a sermon series on forgiveness – during the first sermon in the series – someone ask – during the sermon – if I could preach of forgiving ourselves. I hope that I touched on that in that series. I think I will repeat that series sometime soon. Today’s passage from Ezekiel spoke to my heart about forgiveness. I want to share it today for our devotional thought.

We have said a number of times – in sermons and in teachings – that the heart is very important as we walk out our faith in Christ.  Christianity boils down to attitude is now a common phrase many of us know. The position and condition of our heart is very important – so I like the simplicity of today’s passage – Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Continue reading

April 1, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Will Stand?

2 Timothy 4:2

to preach God’s message. Do it willingly, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. You must correct people and point out their sins. But also cheer them up, and when you instruct them, always be patient. CEV

Life ChangeWho will stand? Being popular is important to so many. Being well liked – being well thought of by others – being in the in crowd appeals to some. Some folks will go out of their way to be liked. Popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for sure – but some strive after it anyway.

Some pastors will do almost anything it seems to be liked by their congregations too. I’ve known pastors who are people pleasers (many are it seems). I personally will do most anything to keep peace in the church – as far as it involves me and what I wear – how I work – etc. Where I draw the line – and I hope many pastors draw the line here – is with the truth of God’s Word. I will not dilute the Word of God. I will not water it down (for those who don’t know what dilute means – lol). I will not back away from preaching and teaching the truth of God’s Word.

Some pastors – IMHO – seem to be drawn toward political correctness. A social agenda seems to supersede the truth of God’s Word for some. I was reading some church publications recently online – and some of our churches and even some of our conferences seem more focused on social correctness rather than understanding the truth found in God’s Word (IMHO). Continue reading

February 21, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Deepening Our Walk with Jesus

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

Life ChangeI greet you in the name of Jesus – my Lord – my Savior and my dear friend. I write to encourage you this morning in your walk with Jesus. During our sermon Sunday I encouraged us to work on our spiritual fitness. We want to encourage those who would hear to take the time to build their spiritual lives and to develop a deeper walk with Jesus. We want to urge people to take advantage of the many opportunities to eat spiritual food and to grow stronger.

I write to encourage you to NOT rely on your pastor(s) to have knowledge of the Word and a relationship with Jesus! I write to encourage you to regularly search the Word and to pray on every occasion. Your faith cannot be based on your parent’s faith – your grandparent’s faith – your pastor’s faith – or anyone else’s faith. Each of us must develop our own walk with Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians that we are to always have joy and to test everything.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 – 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.

Remember one of the sayings I use so much? Happiness is circumstantially driven – but Joy is spiritually derived. Continue reading

February 11, 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, Missions, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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