Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Day 21 of Lent 2020

Mark 14:18

While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me — one who is eating with me.”

Ray 2020Today is Day 21 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope we are enjoying and keeping up with the 40 Day reading plan. I am appreciating them myself as we walk to the cross. I also hope and pray that you are well and surviving this pandemic we are facing.

Today’s reading is about the Passover lamb – Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior. The verse I picked out for this day is the one that talks about the one – Judas – who would betray Him that night. Whenever I read this verse I think – in what ways have I betrayed Jesus? In what ways has the church betrayed Him? Can we take a moment and think of ways we have betrayed Jesus?

Our walk with Christ is often compromised by our sinful choices. We need – daily even – to focus on Jesus and not on self or the world around us. How are we doing with that? During this isolated time – we could really spend more time focused on Jesus. Continue reading

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 11 of Lent 2020

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

Ray 2020Today is day 11 of the 40 Days of Lent reading plan. I hope you are enjoying the reading plan as it walks us through some of the events in Jesus’ life as He walked to the cross. Lent is the 40 days leading up to the cross. My prayer is that God will draw us into a deeper relationship with Him during this Lenten season.

Here’s today’s reading – it is about Jesus’ temptations. We’ve taught and preached about temptations. Join us on Tuesdays at 10:30 am and 7:00 pm for our Bible Studies and on Sunday mornings for our worship services at 8:30 am and 11:00 am at First Church at 424 Main Street – in Laurel, Maryland. There is always room for one more and we would love to share with you. We also have education time (commonly called Sunday School) at 9:45 am on Sundays for the whole family. We have 5 adult classes during this time. Continue reading

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Theology, Worship | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Agree to Disagree?

Romans 12:18

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

img_0063-2Well – here we are in the year 2020. This year – we will see much debate – numerous votes – and an opportunity to agree to disagree with many friends – family and others.

I am disturbed by the number of colleagues and others that think they are being prophetic by speaking evil about and toward the current POTUS. I disagree greatly with much our current POTUS says and does – as I have with previous presidents – but I wouldn’t say some of the things others are saying. There needs to be a way of disagreeing with the POTUS or others without speaking evil. How are we a witness for Jesus when we join in the name calling and judging? I hear some of the same rhetoric when it comes to those who support the conservative side of our denomination.

Living at peace with each other in days like these is not easy. During this season of time – pre-2020 elections and pre-2020 General Conference – we need to focus as much as possible on living at peace with one another – even everyone. I know – it is not easy to live at peace with people who are diametrically opposed to your ideology or theology – but it is what we are called to do as we walk out our faith. It is not always easy to live at peace with those we love and agree with either. We don’t need to agree with everyone – but as we disagree – we should not be disagreeable. Living at peace with others doesn’t mean we always have to agree for sure.

In today’s passage Paul writes – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. How do we read this? And if we read it that we should strive to live at peace with everyone – how well are we doing? If we’re as blue as it gets – even radically blue (far left) – even socialists – with our politics – how well do we get along with someone who is as red as it gets – even radically red (far right)? Can we discuss our differences without becoming ugly? I know this doesn’t seem to happen on many social media pages I visit. It seems like the far left cannot even comprehend the far right – and vice versa – and they don’t play well together either. Continue reading

January 10, 2020 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

Temptations! God Can Help Us Overcome!

Matthew 4:11

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Life ChangeWhat is it that temps us these days? Between now and Thanksgiving – not a long time – I’d like to challenge us to spend time praying and fasting – seeking God’s help in avoiding and overcoming what temps us. Remember – yesterday we talked about how powerful prayer can be.

How about taking the time between now and Thanksgiving – to remove something that tempts – by lifting it to God in prayer – asking for help. I’m tempted by a number of things – some of which I will share with you today. For most of us – the things that tempt us are greater than we are alone or they wouldn’t really be temptations. For example – I cannot be tempted to eat liver. Now some people love liver – but I would need to be very hungry with no hope of any other food before I would succumb to eating liver. Ice cream (most any flavor) would tempt me. Pizza would tempt me. Snicker bars do tempt me. All-you-can-eat restaurants tempt me. Bargains and deals tempt me. Liver does not tempt me.

What is it that tempts you? Some people think they are above temptation. Some think they are so strong they can stand up – alone – against the devil and his temptations. I want to suggest that battling Satan alone – on our own – is not a battle we will often win. We’re told in Scripture that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 We are battling the spiritual realm and need Jesus in order to come out on top. What is it we can fast from that will allow us to be draw closer to Jesus during the next 10 days? Continue reading

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Straining Toward What Is Ahead Of Us

Philippians 3:13

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amOne of the biggest issues most of us face is forgetting the past and straining toward the future – what is ahead of us. Some of us tend to live in the past and the past – most often – will only hold us down and hold us back. Forgiving ourselves is often the problem – as we mentioned in Sunday’s sermon. Long after we have confessed our sin to God and repented (grieved and turned away) of them and God has offered grace and mercy we still tend to hang on to the guilt at times. Anyone with me this morning?

Paul was focused on being holy – being perfect – striving after Jesus with all in his power. In striving for perfection – he couldn’t – he wouldn’t – allow himself to dwell on past sin – having confessed it and repented of it – he was focused on the task ahead.

Satan wants us to dwell on our past sins. Satan wants to steal the joy of forgiveness – mercy – and grace. Satan wants us to live in guilt and without the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Continue reading

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

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