Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Northing Can Separate Us From God

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

RayMcDNothing – and I mean nothing – can separate us from God. I love the blessed assurance of this passage. Paul was convinced that NOTHING could come between him and the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I love having that sweet blessed assurance.  At times it may be all we have to cling to in our lives.

Storms will come in our lives – this is a fact.  As the East Coast braces other storms that may follow the most recent one – some changes will happen. Like life has changed for those in West Virginia – in Ellicott City – in New Jersey – and in other places. If the change is merely working from home (because power at work is out) or maybe the children are home from school – there will be some changes in our lives because of the storms that come. Some will face major changes like our first responders – who may be asked to go out into the storm in life threatening situations. Whatever the change – we will all be impacted by the storms that come our way.

As part of my calling as a pastor I have been talking with people over the last few months with some major life situations facing them.  Some are battling cancer – some have marriages on the rocks – some have children who are making extreme decisions – some are still battling events from the past in their lives – some are battling addictions – while others are faced with economic struggles in these times. I’m sure I could continue with the list – and still not hit every storm that we all are facing – outside the weather. Some are even facing demonic attacks – I believe that Satan and his demons are busy at work – trying to steal our joy in Christ – I know this firsthand – and others do as well. Continue reading

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September 7, 2016 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Marriage, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If God Is On Our Side

Psalm 27:3

Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.

IMG_0301I like to play basketball. I play with some young men on M-W-F mornings around 6:30 am. They allow the old man to play – they are so nice! If it weren’t for my occasional three-pointer – I think they might not let me play. As I continue to get in better shape – I am playing better defense and actually driving the lane once in awhile.

An old friend of mine is one of the better players. I enjoy having him on the same team. When he is on my team and playing inside – I feel more confident shooting my three-ball – because I know he will get his share of my misses and turn them into baskets or pass it back outside for another three-ball by someone.

I like to play golf – and I enjoy playing tournament ball. I usually like to form teams where I am the worst player (I normally shoot in the mid to low 80’s). If I have better players playing with me – I gain confidence and at times can play over my head! We’ve won a few tournaments over the years. Continue reading

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear Not

Psalm 118:6

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

profileToday’s devotional thought was delayed – it somehow didn’t go out like it should – so I moved it to tomorrow and will do a new one for today.  It will be short and sweet.

I remember the first time I was on fast running water.  My new wife and I went white water rafting in Pennsylvania – on the Lower Youghiogheny River I believe.  It was amazing – but a little scary for a land lover.  We didn’t turn over – but some of the rafts in our group did and I will say before you worry – they all made it safely back to the raft.

We came upon a still water area and so we all got in line to jump off this big rock into a deep part of the river.  I will tell you now – I had jumped off high things before – into water – I wasn’t scared at all.  That is until I hit the water – it was freezing – the water – coming down off the mountain from the melted snow.  I lost my breath for a moment – and was scared – fear gripped me and I thought – will I ever come up and catch my breath? Continue reading

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Will Trust in You

Psalm 56:3

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

When I was younger – I had a cousin that needed a night light to sleep.  He was afraid of the dark.  When he spent the night we had to have a night light on all through the night.  I always thought the night light made the night scarier – you know – the shadows on things – and the imagination of a child.

As we get older – other things can scare us.  Like sickness – the economy – the lack of job security – marriages under attack – unexpected pregnancies – unplanned happenings – and on goes the list.  Does anything scare you today?  Do you try to plan out your life and get befuddled when something doesn’t go as you planned?

If the church provides nothing else – and it provides so much more – it can and tries to provide the truth that when we fear we can trust in God!  God is ALWAYS there for us – He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  Here are some other places in the Bible that give us such hope concerning God’s presence in our lives.

Psalms 56:3-4 – 3 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 – 8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

2 Corinthians 7:5-7 – 5 For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Philippians 4:10-13 – 10 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Fear not sisters and brothers – if God is for us – who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31)

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

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November 30, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, From the Pastor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nothing Can Separate Us

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I love the blessed assurance of this passage.  Paul was convinced that NOTHING could come between him and the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  I love having that sweet blessed assurance.  At times it may be all we have to cling to in our lives.

Storms will come in our lives – this is a fact.  As the East Coast braces for Sandy to hit over the next few days everyone’s lives will change.  If the change is merely working from home (as our staff is doing today and probably tomorrow) or maybe the children are home from school – there will be some changes.  Some will face major changes like our first responders – who may be asked to go out into the storm in life threatening situations.  Whatever the change – we will all be impacted by this storm (maybe we will lose power or have a hard time getting around).

As part of my calling as a pastor I have been talking with people over the last few months with some major life situations facing them.  Some are battling cancer – some have marriages on the rocks – some have children who are making extreme decisions – some are still battling events from the past in their lives – while others are faced with economic struggles in these times.  I’m sure I could continue with the list – and still not hit every storm that we all are facing.  Some are even facing demonic attacks – I believe that Satan and his demons are busy at work – trying to steal our joy in Christ – I know this firsthand – and others do as well.

Paul writes about some of the hardships people face and he writes to give us hope.  He tells us that no matter what we are facing we have hope – Romans 8:37 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  He gives us hope as we face the storms of life – Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  who  have been called according to his purpose.

Paul assures us that God is with us and if God is with us – no one can stand against us and have any victory.  Romans 8:31 – What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?  What an assurance.

These passages remind me of a song we sang at 8:45 worship Sunday – Blessed Assurance.  Here are the words from the first verse and refrain: Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. Refrain: This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long; This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior, all the day long.

My hope is that those of us under attack by the evil one – in whatever manner the attack is coming – will rest in the knowledge today that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.  Romans 8:38-39 – 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

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October 29, 2012 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey | , , , , | Leave a comment

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