Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The Joy of the Lord

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

RayMcDHappiness is circumstantially driven – while Joy is spiritually derived. This is one of my favorite sayings. I believe I created it some 35 plus years ago. When I did a Google search for these words – the first and only post that matches is this devotional thought I posted online last year. I’ve used that phrase for 3-4 decades.

The meaning of the phrase is that things or circumstances make us Happy – but Joy comes from our relationship with Jesus. Happiness is temporary – while Joy is lasting – even eternal. Continue reading

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August 24, 2018 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 23

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

christmas-praises-23During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Christmas has always been a family Christ centered holiday for me. It’s a time when we gather with family, including some family members that we may only see once a year. Our church family at FUMCL has always been an important part of Christmas and became even more important when we lost a parent and dealt with that grief during the Christmas season 5 years ago. Then 2 months later, we lost our final parent/grandparent unexpectedly. FUMCL is an extended family for all 4 of us. We have been at First Church since our oldest was very young. Prior to that we attended the church that I grew up in but came to First Church when we were looking for something MORE for our young family. First Church became that MORE that we were looking for. The Christmas season would not be the same without spending time with our extended blood family as well as our First Church family!

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Praises 3

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

christmas-3During the month of December I have asked some members and friends of our church to write a paragraph or so describing some of the things that bring them joy this Christmas season in their relationship with Jesus and First Church? They were asked where they see Jesus in their church family? They were asked what draws them to First Church. The reason for this is to stir up some joy and excitement this Christmas Season. I told them I would share their thoughts anonymously – but I am keeping their e-mails for sure. I will try to post a comment a day for December so obviously I need 31 comments. The posts will go up around noon each day.

Tinsel and lights, sparkle and shine, we celebrate his birth. It is Christmas Time.

Christmas has always been a magical time of year for me. Of course when I was younger the prospect of catching Santa delivering gifts or the time off of school was a huge deal but as an adult looking back I realize that two things ring true about Christmas for me and always have. The first is happiness and the second is love. What is it that marries these two together at Christmas?

When I was a child, back in my hometown there was a display downtown depicting Santa Clauses from around the world. I loved how each country represented had a different costume for Santa and different customs. Standing in the atrium of a glass building looking at all the different Santas, I felt this wonderful feeling of belonging. I was one with the world. Our Santas were not the same but the spirit behind them was.

What brings me joy this season is once again a feeling of belonging. At First United we are family. We are brothers and sisters under the grace of God, united in our faith and blessed with a relationship with Jesus. To me, for this season especially, the Christmas season is about having that bond. Worshipping together and gathering for social events fills us with happiness. It is what holds us together as a family and allows us to be a church that helps others and represent Jesus’ love. Just like the Santas in the glass hall, we are diverse and yet all united in the same spirit. Doing for others makes us happy. Lifting up others helps to lift us up as well, both as individuals and as a church family. The care and concern we have not only for each other but for our community and the world is a manifestation of love. Praying for others and providing encouraging words. That is love in action. Our various ministries provide support for all kinds of different people in different circumstances. And at the root of all of this is Jesus. It is his birth that provides the happiness and love that we are blessed to experience at First United.

The marriage of those two things, happiness and love is what Christmas is all about after all. It is the incomparable JOY, (the happiness we have in our hearts) as we feel the incredible love of the Lord that shines through. The overwhelming and freely given love that God showed us by giving us his own son.

I praise the Lord for the testimony. I hope that it brings those who read it great joy. Merry Christmas to one and all.

December 3, 2016 Posted by | Build, Christmas, Church, Community, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Personal | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Word of Encouragement This Morning!

Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

RayMcDWe must be careful when we pull verses out of context and try to make too much out of them. I pray I don’t do that – simply using the words of Scripture to encourage and give us something to think about as we go on our way each day. Here is a word that encourages me and I pray it does you as well. We all need encouragement from time to time – don’t we?

Paul is coming to the close of his letter (Epistle) to the Christians in Rome and he is trying to give them encouragement after giving them much instruction. Encouragement can be so helpful. When a team is going bad – like the Orioles – encouragement can lift them to play better. When a person is fighting depression – encouragement can help them fight through the down time and see the light at the end of the tunnel. When a student is having a hard time focusing on material for a test – encouragement might be of help.  When someone is trying to accomplish a significant task – encouragement can help.  Who are we encouraging today? Who’s walk in Christ are we trying to encourage? Who is encouraging us today? Continue reading

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

Can We Have Peace Now – or Only in Eternity?

John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Sunday we talked some about the difficult things that happen in our lives.  You can hear that sermon here.  I shared with the congregation some personal life experiences – some pastoral experiences – that left me in tears at the 8:45 service – as the memories flooded back into my mind and heart.  I believe we have all faced some times in our lives that remain there – and surface from time to time.  Maybe it is when a song plays on the radio – or you smell that certain smell.  Maybe when you go to a certain city or drive down a certain street.  Maybe it is a season of the year or when it rains.

Something triggers our memories and the emotions come rushing back to the front of our mind and heart.  That is what happened to me Sunday as I remembered some circumstances in my life that I still have a hard time understanding.  I was caught off guard because those events in my life are 20 plus years old.  I prayed a lot between the services and had others praying for me and I was able to get through sharing them in the second service without tears.  Life can be tough.  It can be difficult.  It comes with many ups and downs and I can only manage them through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  How about you?

Life will have its ups and downs – but – we  can still live a victorious life here and now – through our walk with Jesus as we cry out to Him and seek His face – daily – even moment by moment.  We do not have to live defeated lives until heaven!  Jesus was warning His disciples about some difficult times and told them: In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  He said I have overcome the world not I will overcome her.  Knowing that He has overcome the world – even as we face the daily grind of life at times – should bring us peace – even when we walk the tough roads.  I love knowing – no matter how bad the circumstances might be today – that Christ has secured my victory – and – I can enjoy the peace that comes from the eternal victory here and now – even as I face the tough times.  I know that was a long run on sentence – but – it makes sense to me for sure!  It brings me a peace – knowing I can walk with Jesus now and feel peace even in the midst of the difficult times.

So – this coming Sunday we will be asking the question – Who Is Jesus to You?  Is Jesus our get out of hell free card only – or is He more?  Do we rest in Him only for eternity or do you reveal in Him daily so that our peace is here and now and not just in the afterlife – even when times are tough?

Here are a few Scriptures to hang onto.  Job 22:21 – “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.  2 Thessalonians 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.  Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do you have peace now – or are you waiting till you die and have eternal peace in Heaven?

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

July 23, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , | 2 Comments

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