Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

The Cost of Following Jesus

Mark 10:22

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

20140530-104833-38913743.jpgHave you ever lost something of real value – or had to give something up of real value? It could have had a material value or a sentimental value. It could have been something you lost – like misplacing something – or could have been something you had to give up – like a cost to do something. I tend to measure a number of activities I do – for instance – on how much work went into making the money it will cost me to do that activity (sad – but that is how numbers people think at times).

When we want something – most of us determine the cost and then decide whether it is worth what we must give up to get it. Do we buy a new car or a used car – it depends on the costs? Do we buy the newest phone or can our old one last – it depends on the costs? Do we move into a bigger home – it depends on the costs? Do we invest in a new relationship – it depends on the costs? Continue reading

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September 22, 2014 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Place God’s Word On Our Hearts

Deuteronomy 6:6

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

profileSunday – March 9th – we began our Lenten sermon series – Following Jesus – which runs through April 6th.  You can listen to Sunday’s sermon – The Cost of Following Jesus here.

Sunday we mentioned that the cost of grace was the death of Christ on the cross.  Sermon notes for the message can be found here.

One main point was that grace was free but that there was a cost to us to actuate it in our lives.  Christ died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2) but all will not receive this amazing gift. Continue reading

March 10, 2014 Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Lenten Thought, Outreach, Personal, Sermons, Theology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Losing Our Life for Jesus’ Sake

Matthew 16:25

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

profileChristmas is just around the corner – are you tired of reading that yet?  I hope not because there are several more devotional thoughts coming out before Christmas!  Christmas is a time of great joy as we wrote yesterday – because of Jesus – the babe in the manger – who became the man on the cross!

Today we move away from the Christmas passages and move to one that talks about losing our lives for Christ’s sake.  Jesus was teaching His disciples and Peter decided He didn’t like what Jesus was saying about His earthly future.  Peter didn’t like what he was hearing.  This was that famous passage where Jesus tells Peter to get behind Him.  Here is today’s passage in partial context.  Matthew 16:23-28 – 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Continue reading

December 18, 2013 Posted by | Advent Thought, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Outreach, Personal | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Us Not Become Weary in Doing Good

Galatians 6:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

In the midst of a teaching/writing on helping others – Paul writes about not growing weary of helping – doing good.  Here is the context.

Galatians 6:1-10 – 1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load. 6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Part of the cost of following Jesus – part of denying self and living for Jesus – has to do with serving others.  Serving others – thinking of others above ourselves – is not natural for many.  It is actually unnatural for most – but it is part of the new self that comes when we receive Christ.

StreetReach was an opportunity for many to give of themselves.  Young people gave a week of their summers to serve others.  Some of the youth gave up a week of their summer jobs and the “cash” that comes with it to serve others.  Some adults gave up a week of vacation.

Not only did they give up a week – but they slept in tents on the ground.  They worked in the heat pulling weeds – fighting poison ivy – trimming trees and bushes.  They sweat and felt the muscle pain of manual labor.  They put it all out there to reach the community for Christ – one yard at a time.

How have we given of ourselves lately?  What have we done to serve others – to doing good to others?  Are we giving of ourselves to others – for Christ’s sake?

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

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July 20, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey | , , | Leave a comment

Our Vision and Mission at Mt. Oak – Build Them Up

Our Vision and Mission at Mt. Oak

The Problem: Families are under attack

The Solution: Reaching the whole family for Christ

The Process: Bring them in, Build them up, Send them out

The Win: A changed life or family for Christ

Over the last two weeks – with one to go (January 9 – 16 – 23) we have and will preach messages that are centered on the vision and mission of our church – Mt. Oak Fellowship – in Mitchellville, MD.  Last Sunday we preached about building people up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ.  Next Sunday we will preach on the third part of our mission or process – namely building people up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ.  To see a listing of future sermons and Scriptures – and to listen to past sermons – click this link http://wwww.mtoak.org/media/mo-sermons.

Today we want to look at the second part of the process – namely building people up in their knowledge and understanding of Christ.  The sermon Sunday was centered on this subject.  We talked about denying ourselves and taking up our cross and following Christ.

A truth that hit us hard – and that some of us shy away from because it is so hard – is Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple.”

This is a tough word in English – and it is not much easier in Greek.  The word translated hate in the English is the word misei.  This word translates as hatred – or more literally – to love less.  Our love for God is to be so much greater than our love for our family or for our self – it is to be like love to hate in our understanding.  Still a tough word – yet more understandable with the literal translation explained.

It was this love that Jesus showed the Father at Gethsemane when His love for His own life was put aside as He did the Father’s will rather than His own. Luke 22:42 – “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Jesus tells us – Luke 14:27 – And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  We asked the question – what is our cross?  Again – we saw the cross of Christ – not so much the physical cross He carried to Golgotha – but rather the denial of self at Gethsemane.  Our cross is finding out those things that we want to cling to – and being willing to release them to God – to be used as God sees fit!

Jesus concludes the passage we looked at in the message Sunday with – Luke 14:33 – In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Following Christ – costs us self – self-control.  Jesus is to be our Lord – our Master.  We were bought at a price and must yield to His Lordship in order to follow Him.

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

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January 17, 2011 Posted by | Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Faith Journey, Vision | , , , , | 2 Comments

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