Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Judging a Book By the Cover

1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

A number of people want to label people. They have a hard time seeing people as people – instead they lump them into categories. A number of people in the world judge a book by the cover.

For instance – some will look at a person’s age and assume they are too young or too old to accomplish a job or task. The United Methodist Church – for instance – has a mandatory retirement age (72). That doesn’t mean a person is no longer able to provide effective ministry – now does it? Shouldn’t a person’s effectiveness be the standard rather than an age?

Some will look at a person’s size or looks and assume they are not the person they want for the job. Can you think of occupations where looks count? The Naval Academy has physical standards – or at least they did. People had to have a certain height and weight and physical condition.

Israel used the eye test when it came to their king. Samuel – the prophet of God – used the eye test when selecting a king.  Yet – God looks not at the outward appearance – but rather the inside of a person – the heart – the inner person. Today’s passage tells us how God looks at people. Continue reading

January 8, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Looks at the Heart

1 Samuel 16:7c

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

112015 Ray McDonaldHow’s your prayer/fast going?  I’ve gotten some private messages – but would love to see some comments in the comment section.  What is God revealing to you?

Today’s passage is found in the midst of God’s rejection of Saul as King.  He was the people’s favorite because of his stature and his skill in battle.  But as Samuel and God discuss this subject – Samuel saw another that seemed to fit his view of what a king should look like in Eliab – an older brother of David.  David – of course – at his tender age – didn’t look anything like a king – but God knew his heart.  In the midst of this we read these verses: 1 Samuel 16:6-7 – 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Continue reading

March 9, 2016 Posted by | Build, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Family, Fast, From the Pastor, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord Looks at the Heart!

1 Samuel 16:7

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

82015 RayOne of the things I love about our church is the growing diversity. We’re getting ready to hang national flags from our members and friends at First Church. In a service we held about a year ago we had over 40 nations of origin represented. Some are several generations removed from their nation of origin but some are first generation in America.

We are putting the flags up in our entrance area – so that when people come into our church facility the first thing they will see is the great diversity of our church family. We want people to feel welcome and appreciated – right away!

Last night – as I was helping a congregation with their Charge Conference as a presiding elder – I met someone I hadn’t seen since High School days. I introduced myself to the group gathered – so he had an advantage. He asked me later if I recognized him. Well – it has been 42 years since I graduated from High School and he was two years behind me in school. I knew I knew him – but I couldn’t pull his name out of my memory banks. Shortly we were talking about the old days – bringing our heart to bear on our memories – talking about people who had died and people who still lived in the area. A person that an hour earlier had simply looked like another member of this local church – soon became an old friend that had many common memories with me.

One of the special treats – serving a diverse congregation – is that many within our congregation have learned to not judge a book by its cover so to speak. We strive to not make determinations by a person’s appearance (we try not to judge or look horizontally at anyone). We strive to get to know them and see their heart.

Here is today’s passage in partial context. This is the story of David’s anointing by Samuel. Watch how God instructs Samuel to not judge a book by its cover. 1 Samuel 16:1–13 – 1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” 2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” 4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” 5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. 6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

David – at the time – didn’t look the part of a King. When I read this story – I am reminded that God doesn’t always call the equipped – but God will always equip the called. We should ALWAYS take the time to get to know someone and to know their heart – instead of making horizontal judgments on appearances. Remember – the Lord looks at the heart – and so should we!

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

October 22, 2015 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Changed Heart

1 Samuel 10:9

As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.

profileIn a recent episode of Chicago Fire – one of my favorite TV shows – Captain Boden – like some men – had a hard time proposing to his girlfriend – Donna Robins. He had all the legal and logical reasons they should get married – mainly because they have a child coming together. This of course was not what Donna wanted to hear. She rejected his proposal.

After talking to Peter Mills in a one-on-one – man-to-man – Mills told the captain in no mixed words that wasn’t telling Donna what she wanted and needed to hear – that he loved her and couldn’t envision living without her. Captain Bolden – later in the episode – came to Donna’s school and as she was taking her class outside – he proposed again – in his dress uniform and with all the right words. She accepted.

One might say he had a change of heart. He saw things in a different light. He came to his senses. Continue reading

May 13, 2014 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

profileWe play a game at Christmas in our family.  When the McDonalds get together for Christmas we all purchase gifts for the game.  We usually place a dollar amount on the gift like $20 and we wrap them and put them in a pile.  We draw numbers and begin the game.

The game goes like this.  Number 1 goes first and can pick any gift in the pile.  Once they touch a gift (no shaking or sizing up the gift by touching it) they must open that gift.  Move to number 2 and the fun begins.  Number 2 can pick another gift from the pile or take the gift that number 1 picked.  If they take number 1’s gift – number 1 must pick another gift from the pile.  As we progress through the numbers the options increase.  For instance – number 10 can take the gift of number 2 and number 2 can take the gift or number 5 and so on.  We have to limit the number of times – per round – that a gift can float the room or we would be at it all night. Continue reading

December 5, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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