We All Need Consistency

by raymcdonald

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Consistency is something most of us look for in our lives. We want to hit the target again and again – being on target in our relationships for instance. In talking with young couples over the years and playing the I Expect Game with […]

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Define Faithfulness

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

What do you think of when you hear the word faithfulness? I first think of the vows we share at our marriages – to be faithful until death do us part. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian portions of the Bible – the relationship between God and His people – between Jesus and the church – is compared to that of a bride and groom. I like the love and passion shown by God for the church. Here is a passage from the Hebrew Bible.

Read more: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2022/01/06/define-faithfulness/

Faith Is More Than A Wish

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Have you ever wished for something? Maybe a new red bike for Christmas. Maybe a new Barbie doll. Maybe a G.I. Joe action figure. How about a Mattel Thingmaker or Creepy Crawlers set (pretty dangerous toys for children in the 60’s). Another dangerous toy – Lawn Jarts. When we made our wish list for Christmas – we might not have thought we would get everything on our list – but it was nice to put a few things on the list for sure.

Have you ever wished for something? Maybe to play major league baseball or NFL football or NBA basketball. Maybe to dance on Broadway or to sing at the Grand Ole Opry. Maybe to act on TV or the stage. Maybe to have children or have a career or both.

Have you ever wished for something? Like to meet your forever love. Like to have children. Like to live long enough to see your grandchildren have children. Maybe wishing to live long enough to see a child graduate college or to marry.

Have you ever wished for something? Wishing for something is common. We wish for things we hope to receive. We wish for things we hope will happen. Often the things we wish for do not happen. At times – we wish way overboard – beyond our ability or the ability of others to make our wish come true.

Have you ever wished for something? The Make-a-Wish Foundation is a group of people that want to make a last wish come true for children with terminal illnesses. Often these are grand wishes – beyond the family’s ability to provide. They do amazing work.

Faith is not wishing. Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Faith in God is not a wish. We can have confidence when we have faith in God. I’ve gone under a few times for surgery and probably will a few times in the future. I have had full confidence that I will either be with Jesus or back with my family each time.

My faith is not a wish. My faith is based on Jesus – who is the same every day – Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. That is where I place my faith – not a wish at all.

Continue: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/11/23/faith-is-more-than-a-wish/

For To Me – To Live Is Christ – To Die Is Gain!

Philippians 1:21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

So – does anyone other than me think about death? Maybe it comes from living by a cemetery as a child or from being a pastor for going on 46 years. I wouldn’t say I think about it all the time – but I certainly do think about dying – from time to time. Like recently – going to sleep – I was counting the number of years I have left if I live to be my father’s age (the answer is just under 20 years). A few nights ago – I dreamed I died. I had informed my wife before dying to bury me with my Apple Watch in case I wake up and need to get someone to come get me (now that was a scary dream). OK – two such thoughts the same week – that is a bit much – and not my norm.

Have you thought about dying? I believe the early Christians thought about it – maybe a lot. They faced life and death situations all the time. They were being crucified in mass – they were being thrown to wild animals – they were forced to do battle with gladiators – all in arenas for the sport of the Roman people. Much like the Christians that were beheaded – or burned in cages – or drowned – by terrorists in the middle east. In the Western world we often are so protected – especially those of us who do not live in the crowded urban areas of our country. Law enforcement can only do so much – and I thank our law enforcement officers for all they do while I condemn those bad eggs that shouldn’t be in uniform.

Today – Paul reminds us that he thinks about death. The difference between Paul and some of us – maybe – is that when Paul thinks about death – he thinks good thoughts – not about how he will die – but about dying and being with Jesus. Here’s today’s passage in partial context.

Philippians 1:12–26 – 12Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. 15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. What if we lived that way? What if we lived for Jesus and anticipated – even looked forward to heaven? How many times have you heard – good to see you – and someone responds – better than the alternative – or – better than pushing up daisies – or – better than being viewed. These are common responses. I’d like to suggest that these are not good responses – because there is nothing better for a Christian than to die and be with Jesus. Of course – as Christians – as Paul put it – If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Comment at: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/11/18/for-to-me-to-live-is-christ-to-die-is-gain/

God’s Love – It Endures Forever

Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.

The National Football League (NFL) will get started soon (they began camp this week). School will begin shortly – we hope – virtually or in-person or some hybrid model. There are a lot of things happening – even in the midst of this pandemic – that some consider good.

We often debate what is good in our lives. For instance – if you asked me a few years ago what was good – I might have said – lemon meringue pie – or peanut butter moose track ice cream. These days – I try to stay away from both. I’m trying to lose some weight for a variety of reason (this seems to be a never ending quest). Some might say – my marriage is good – or my children are good – or my favorite team is good (the Orioles are playing better of late – but they are a long way from being called good).

School is starting back up soon. Is school good in your book? Will your favorite High School sport play this year and will your team be good? Will your school’s band get to play this year and are they good? Is our school good in general? What or who do you think is good?

The ultimate good – of course – according to Scripture and the personal experience from many of us – is the love of God. All things we consider good are temporal – they do not last. But the love of God endures forever. Even as we face the sudden death of a dear friend and member of our church – God is still good and with us through it all.

Continue at: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/08/05/gods-love-it-endures-forever/

Attitude Check Trinity!

Philippians 2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

This is one of my favorite passages. I have a number of them for sure. Years ago I took this verse and created a favorite saying. Many of our readers have heard this saying numerous times and could quote it with me. It goes like this – Christianity Boils Down to Attitude. Years after coming up with this saying – I added the following – Christianity boils down to attitude – the condition and position of one’s heart. Now – I know full well that Christianity is all about God’s grace – that it is all about Christ’s life – death and resurrection. But – as we mentioned many times in teachings and in sermons – Christian maturity is all about the condition and position of the heart. Christian maturity is about doing – about walking out our faith – and this takes an attitude likened to the attitude of Jesus.

Read more: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/07/29/attitude-check-trinity/

Encouraging Others

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

We must encourage one another. Encouragement is very important. There are many persons in the families of our church and community who have known very little encouragement in their lives. They have been raised in families where discouragement was the focus – with very little – if any – encouragement. Families where more fuss was made over a grade of B in one class rather than the grades of A in all of the other classes. Families where the small mistake was made to be larger than the overall good job done. Encouragement is so important to the development of a child and also for the rest of us too.

Discouragement in the church is also a tool that the devil uses. Someone does a tremendous job with a program and the first thing someone says is something that didn’t go right. Worship was awesome and a person points out the one thing that didn’t go well – first. I’ve been part of very dynamic worship and the first thing some negative people will say is – We went too long or I didn’t like the music choices.

It isn’t that we shouldn’t try to improve one another – we’re actually called to do that in Scripture. What I’m questioning is the attitude and timing of things. Read Revelation where Christ instructs John to write to the seven churches. In those passages Christ always affirms where He can affirm – encourages – before He gives corrective instruction.

In today’s section of Scripture – Paul is trying to give good advice to the church – some departing words of encouragement. It is worth reading again my friends – and we should take these words to heart. Here is today’s passage in partial context.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-24 – 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 12 Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

We are to have a positive – forward looking faith – building one another up in the faith rather than tearing one another down. We are to have the same attitude that Christ had – and I can’t imagine Christ being discouraging to a believer – someone striving to follow His teachings.

Philippians 2:5 – Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who do you know that needs encouragement today? How about giving them some! Tell them you love them. Give them a heart or thumbs up on social media. Try to help others have a good day! Be an encourager today and every day and see how God is blessed.

Trinity is in a season when our members need to be encouraged. We all have much to change and repent of – but – we also do so much well and we need to spend some time building one another up. Join me as we enter a season of encouragement.

Just something for us to think about today as we go on our way.

Comment at: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/07/13/encouraging-others/

May Our Words Please God

Ephesians 6:19

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,

I was going to wait until Wednesday to write Thursday’s devotional thought – but – decided I would play it safe and write it before my heart surgery on Tuesday. I know I am in good hands (God’s and my surgeon’s) – and that plenty of prayers have been lifted for me. Yet – you never know how these things will go. I plan to be home Wednesday morning and feeling great by Thursday or Friday – but – I decided to write today anyway.

As I finish 45 years of ministry – the last 8 years at First Church of Laurel – and being year 46 at Trinity in Annapolis – this has always been a prayer of mine – that whatever I speak or preach – may be words that God gives me. Another verse that fits here is this one – Psalm 19:14 – May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I’ve always said – don’t believe a word I say because I say it – but – examine every word against the Word of God (the Bible). If what I say lines up with the Bible – you can believe it because the Bible says so – not because I say so. As a pastor – as a Christian – my desire is to never speak mere words from my mind. My desire is to always present God’s Word when I speak – write or preach.

Please forgive me when I have not done so. I’m asking those at Trinity – Smithville – Eastport – Delmont – Mt. Zion – Mt. Oak – First and now Trinity again to forgive me when I have sinned and not been faithful to God’s Word. Trinity – as I come to serve you – please hold me to the Word of God. Please have mercy when I fail and in love – hold me accountable.

Read more of Ray’s blog: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/may-our-words-please-god/

When I Grow Up!

Ephesians 4:13

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

A phrase I often use – goes like this – when I grow up. For instance – when a friend hits a nice drive or approach shot in golf – I might say – when I grow up – I hope I can hit shots like that. When someone hits a shot in basketball – like my friend Gary often does – an amazing one that is very hard – I might pull out my phrase – when I grow up – I want to be able to do that. I have a hard time growing facial hair – TMI right. When my brother or nephew grow a beard – I pull out my phrase – when I grow up – maybe I’ll be able to grow facial hair too.

Do you have dreams or thoughts about when you grow up? What is that old jingle – I’m a Toys r Us kid and I don’t want to grow up – or something like that. I hope I never fully grow up (in some ways). I always want there to be something more to accomplish and to move toward (even to hope for in the future).

What are your dreams or plans for when you grow up? Some of our younger friends are dreaming about their careers – their marriages – their children – their homes – etc. Some of us might be dreaming about retirement and enjoying our senior years (when we grow up). Maybe we’re hoping to make ends meet – when we grow up. What are your dreams or plans for when you grow up?

 

Read therest of Ray’s blog: https://raymcdonald.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/when-i-grow-up/

My Faith Is Not a Wish

by raymcdonald

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Have you ever wished for something? Maybe a new red bike for Christmas. Maybe a new Barbie doll. Maybe a G.I. Joe action figure. How about a Mattel Thingmaker or Creepy Crawlers set (pretty dangerous toys […]

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