Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

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

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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

There Are Essential Doctrines

Matthew 4:10

Jesus said to him, Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

photo on 6-11-19 at 10.52 amWe’ve been digging into the Book of Acts in Bible Study and the Apostles’ Creed in worship. These studies and sermons are dealing with a number of basic beliefs and doctrines of the church. It is a good review of the basics for those of us more mature in the faith while it will be a basic lesson plan for new believers. Not too long ago we had 31 people accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I pray that at the end of the Apostles’ Creed study – more will receive Jesus too.

In the current sermon series we are dealing essential doctrines like understanding God the Father – God the Son – and God the Holy Spirit. We are dealing with the Virgin Birth – the death of Christ – His resurrection – eternity (eternal life) – the holy catholic church – and more. This series began in August and will run thru October. If you live in the area – join us! If not – listen online when the messages are uploaded to our website – www.fumcl.org.

Before we read today’s passage – here is a truth we must all understand – Satan is real! Satan is out to steal our joy and our peace. If possible – Satan is out to steal our walk with Jesus. Today’s passage is from the story about Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. Temptations are real and every day – even constant. We can find today’s story in Matthew chapter 4.  Here is a wider view of today’s passage. Continue reading

August 29, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Try Loving One Another

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.

I wish I had words or a solution for the hatred in the world. I wish there was a person or political party who had the answers or a solution. I wish our country could come together and dismiss the hatred – the racism – the evil – in our country and world today. But I can’t and no one else can – I fear.

Should we have stricter gun laws? Maybe so – but evil people will find a way to perform their evil. Should we make it harder for unstable people to get weapons – absolutely – but who gets to determine who is unstable or mentally ill? Some are very easy to tell – some are well hidden. Should we outlaw assault weapons outside of the military and law enforcement? Maybe that would help – but where would such a law start and end? There are no easy answers and as a former youth pastor friend of mine said – People are more the problem than any gun!

I believe the answer is found in telling more people about Jesus – and letting others see Jesus in us. I believe – if we were more excited and convinced of our faith – we would impact more people for Jesus. Continue reading

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Bring, Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Royal Priesthood

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

June 2019Many people have self-esteem issues. Maybe they were raised by parents who beat them down or never complimented them – you know – spending more time complaining about the B or C they received on their report card – rather than praising them for the many A’s they received. Maybe their spouse made them feel inferior or dumb. Maybe someone in their life spent more time tearing them down rather than building them up. If a person hears negativity enough – they tend to believe it and live it out.

Satan has a way of trying to beat us up as well. Satan loves to attack believers. Satan tends to leave his own alone. When believers sin and fall short – Satan is quick to remind us that we are no good – that they failed – that they sinned. Satan is quick to remind us that we are not worthy. He reminds us that we are not very good disciples. See how he uses truth? We are not worthy (on our own) – but we are made worthy through the blood of Jesus (someone shout glory). Continue reading

July 22, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clothe Ourselves in Christ

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

June 2019Dear readers – did any of us have a favorite piece of clothing growing up? I apparently – according to old photos – had a favorite cowboy shirt and a red baseball hat. In many of my childhood pictures – from a certain age – that was what I had on. I still have favorite clothes – enjoying the more casual look over anything dressy. When I was in my early teen years – I had a favorite hat that was always on my head it seems. I remember when I finally had to give it up – it was old – torn and smelled from years of sweating in it. I remember buying it with my own money at Ocean City one year. I know my girlfriends probably didn’t like it much – but it was a favorite!

As a pastor – I know there are proper times to wear certain clothes. For instance – I when I have a funeral – I will bring my collar and my suit jacket to work with me – so I can change before the service. I will return to the office for meetings after the funeral and put on my church shirt – typically a polo shirt with my name and the church’s name on it. I hardly ever wear a tie anymore – using the clergy collar shirt when I need to dress up. Continue reading

July 12, 2019 Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Daily Prayer, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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