22 February 2016


“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse…” (1:1, 2). The apostle Paul, guided by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote this epistle. The “saints” and “faithful brethren” refer to the same persons who were “in Christ” who lived in the city of Colosse. The term ‘saint’ does not mean  perfection because Paul instructed them in chapter three to continue putting of certain sins as they matured in Christ. ‘Saint’ denotes a life of holiness, one of sanctification.

In chapter one, verses 13, 14, we read: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” There is a kingdom of darkness from which the brethren had been delivered. This is in contrast to the kingdom of light. All who are not in the “kingdom of the Son of His love” remain in the “power of darkness”. To be “conveyed” is to be ‘translated’, that is to move from one place or condition to another. Thus the brethren in Colosse were in the kingdom of the Lord. They had been redeemed by His blood and had been forgiven of their sins! It is worthy to note that the kingdom of Jesus Christ was in existence in the first century!

But you may ask, when were their sins forgiven by the blood of Christ? In chapter 2: 12 we read: “buried with Him in baptism in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  It was in baptism that these brethren who formerly were in the “power of darkness” now had been “buried with Him in baptism” and “were raised with Him through faith in the working of God.”

We have learned that the “saints” in Colosse were in the kingdom, having been “delivered from the power of darkness and that occurred when they were “buried with Him in baptism”. The brethren were also in the body of Christ according to chapter 3:15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Please observe that whatever the “body” is, there is but “one” (1:24). In chapter 1:18 we read: “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Jesus Christ is the supreme and only head of his one body which is His church!

But once again you may ask, how did the brethren get into the “one body”? Please allow me to use a verse by the author, Paul, to answer that question from his epistle as found in 1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

In summary, we have learned that the brethren had been translated into the kingdom when they were baptized; that they had been baptized into one body which is the church of our Lord. And having been buried with their Lord in baptism they were redeemed from their sins by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Now they had “the hope” which was “laid up” for them “in heaven” (1:5). Thank God for His infinite love and grace!

19 February 2016


It was a beautiful afternoon several years ago when I was about to enter a local bank for my weekly business transaction. Suddenly, I heard three rounds of rapid gunshots. Automatically, I turned toward the direction of the sounds and saw a man across the street with a pistol in his hand. In a moment of time, he placed the gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. I heard the sickening sound of another shot and then the man slumped to the ground. The bizarre events were over in a very short time. I, along with others, had become unwilling witnesses to a terrible tragedy. The man had tried to murder a person in a parked car and then he killed himself. To say the least, it was a very unnerving experience.
I am not a novice regarding death. It has been a part of most of my life. I was only ten years old when my oldest brother was killed in World War II. Several members of my family and my wife’s family have died.
As a preacher and friend, I have been associated with death in many ways. I have in been in a hospital room when the spirit of a Christian lady took flight, relieving her of the intense pain caused by cancer. I have entered a hospital room just seconds after a small boy gave up the struggle with death and his precious soul went to be with the Lord. I vividly recall the Sunday evening, as I was about to get into my car to go to worship when my neighbor cried for help. Her husband was dying with a heart attack. I tried in vain to get assistance but my friend died while his wife and I stood helplessly by, praying and hoping that the rescue squad would arrive in time. And I have lost track of the occasions when I have been with grieving families when death came to claim their loved ones but I had never seen a person take his own life. You just don’t forget such a horrible scene.
Life is so precious. Man was made in the likeness of his Creator (Genesis 1:26, 27). Cain was sorely punished for taking the life of his brother Abel (Genesis 4:9-15). God has prescribed punishment for wicked people who have no respect for human life (Genesis 9:5, 6). “You shall not murder” was a part of the law of God given to Israel (Exodus 20:13). Jesus even restricts our intimate thoughts regarding our feelings for others (Matthew 5:21, 22). The civil government is commissioned to render punishment to violators who take the life of their fellowman (Romans 13).

Self-destruction gives the offender no opportunity of repentance, reform and forgiveness. Only God knows the state of mind of the individual committing suicide. Mental disorders sometimes motivate the deed. Some, however, have no regard for human life, even their own. How sad for the spirit of a man to be hurled into eternity without God and without hope.
As children of light in a world of darkness (Philippians 2:15), we should endeavor to inform others of God’s love (John 3:16), the value of man and his soul, the salvation in Christ and the assurance and hope for the Christian. We should teach them that life can be beautiful and meaningful; and, there are no problems so great but that we can find help from God and His people
Fatalism is the fruit of living in a world apart from God who loves and is caring. Our present society is trying to solve problems without His divine guidance. It can never be done, individually or collectively. Christ is still the hope of mankind. It is the privilege of the Christian to teach the message of redemption and hope to a world seemingly determined to destroy itself.
Raymond (2/18/16)

11 February 2016


 It was probably when David was captured by the Philistines that David wrote the words found in Psalm 56:3: “Whenever I am afraid.” Just think, here is the man who was anointed to be the next king of Israel and a great warrior, yet, he expressed that he was “afraid”.

Are there times when you are afraid? Afraid when alone in the darkness of night; afraid when a loved one is critical ill; afraid that you will not be able to support your family; afraid when there is a threat of another war; afraid when you growing old; or, perhaps afraid when you are facing death? Well, welcome to the club. You are not alone.

Please read what David also wrote when he said “I am afraid”: “I will trust in You” and “In God I have put my trust” (Psalm 56: 3, 11). We can place our trust in God who works out everything for our eternal welfare (Romans 8:28). It is in Him that we can have complete confidence as well as in His promise that He “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). And when it comes our time to “walk through the valley of death”, yea, even death itself, we can safely say, “I will fear no evil; for thou art with me”. Also we trust in Jesus Christ who said: “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…” (John 11:25, 26).

When we come to trust in God and love Him “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37), we will have this blessed assurance: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” (1 John 4:18). So when we are afraid, regardless of the circumstances, let us cry out from the depths of our heart, “O my God, I trust in You…” (Psalm 25:2).

Raymond, (2/11/16) 

04 February 2016


We have often heard that statement spoken by well meaning religious people when a tragedy has occurred in someone’s life. It may have been when a family member was killed in an accident or died with a heart attack. Perhaps it was when someone’s beautiful daughter was killed while playing in the yard when a drunk driver veered off the street and ran over the precious child , thus causing deep sorrow and grief to the parents. Several years ago, a gospel preacher and an elder of the church were returning home from a Bible study with a family when a drunken driver crossed the medium and crashed into their car killing both godly men. It may be that someone in trying to comfort their families made the statement, “It was God’s will.” But what does it mean that it was “God’s will” when a tragedy occurs and lives are lost or someone is crippled for life? Are we saying that it was “God’s determine will” when a drunk man lost control of his car and ran over a child who was playing in the front yard at home?

 Usually it is Bible believing individuals who exclaim that it was “God’s will” when some tragedy occurs and a loved one dies. While their intention is to express sympathy and compassion to the ones hurting, the person expressing this sentiment may not understand what he is saying. We should be very careful in attributing every act of violence and the tragedies in life to being “God’s will”. In essence we are blaming God for these occurrences and this alone causes many people to wonder what kind of God that we love and serve. There are scores of individuals who have become atheists or agnostics due to believing that it was “God’s will” when good people have to deal with suffering and sorrow in this world.

There is a vast difference between God’s permissive will and God’s determinate will. We know beyond any doubt that it was God’s determinate will that His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, should die for the sins of the world according to Acts 2:23, 24. However, God does permit events to happen because of the sins of men (like the drunken driver who killed the child). Suffering, sorrow and death came about because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve (Romans 5). Saints and sinners alike experience sadness, sorrow and suffering in this world. But to state that every occurrence of such is “God’s determine will” is not scripturally sound. I encourage you to be very careful in using the expression “It was God’s will” when an innocent child suffers deformities and/or death, or a Christian dies in an automobile accident or from a fatal disease.

The fact is, we are limited in our knowledge about multitude matters pertaining to suffering and sorrow in this life. But we can trust in the Lord God who knows all and has infinite wisdom, knowledge and almighty power (Psalms 139; Proverbs 3:5, 6) Our Heavenly Father works all things for our eternal welfare (Romans 8:28).

02 February 2016


 It is during VBS or in children’s’ classes that we often sing this song: “Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” How do we know that? Because the Bible tells us so. Here are a few passages that inform us of the Lord’s high regard and love for children. “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and  said,” Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:2-5). “But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). “But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them” Mark 10:14-16).

In my mind’s eye I can almost see our Lord pick up a child and give a big hug and say something sweet and special in the child’s ear. It is such a tender scene of Jesus Christ (God incarnate in human flesh) blessing the children and instructing others that they should become as little children if they desired to be acceptable to Him. Children are born into this life pure and sinless. They are not in need of being saved during infancy because they have never been lost!

  Virginia will verify that I love little children! I even stop young mothers in the grocery stores and ask them if I might look at their infant child in their ‘car seat’. To look upon the beautiful and innocent face of a child is to be reminded of one of God’s greatest gifts and blessings. Listen to what the Psalmist said about children: “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5).

 Dearest child, don't be afraid -
You've been wonderfully made;
Extremely special in God's sight
For He created you just right.
Do not doubt Christ's love for you
Or that our Lord is strong and true;
Remember Jesus is your friend
And that His love will never end.
It is important that you know
Jesus will never let you go,
Nor will his love grow cold or fade,
So do not fret; don't be afraid.

                                                                            by Belinda van Rensburg

 - Raymond, 1/30/16


 “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Revelation 14:19, NKJV). Here we have one of the ‘beatitudes’ found in the book of Revelation. The word “Blessed” means ‘happy’, not as the world considers happiness but because of the relationship one has with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. Please observe only the ones who “die in the Lord” are blessed. The Lord willing, I will attend the funeral of a friend and brother in Christ today (1/26/16). This will make the third funeral in nine days that I will have attended of Christian gentlemen who died “in the Lord.” Their families will not sorrow as those who have no hope because their loved ones were in Christ, having obeyed the gospel of Christ and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb by the grace of God. Though dead, like Abel of ages past, their works and influence for good will be felt for generations to come. They are now ‘resting from their labors’ in the eternal care of their Heavenly Father.
How To Die
How to live
And not How to Die
Is the great theme
Of the Book of books.
However, if we,
Trust the God of Peace,
Obey the gospel of Peace,
And, if possible, live in peace with man,
We are assured of a peaceful departure,
And a safe landing on the golden shore.
It is when we learn HOW TO LIVE
That we learn HOW TO DIE.

                                     - Frank L. Cox

01 February 2016


“TRUST in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And he shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6, NKJV, Emphasis, RE). This is one of my favorite passages in the Old Testament. To trust is to have full confidence and complete reliance in someone; in this case, the Lord God. Man will often fail you but God never fails. We cannot rely upon our own wisdom because the Bible teaches that the heart is deceitful. How one feels in his heart is not the assurance that is one is saved and is traveling in the right way, spiritually speaking. We must place our trust in the Lord because He will never fail us nor mislead us. God in His Word will provide for us the way of salvation that is in His Son. It is important that this trust must come from a heart that completely surrenders to the will of the Heavenly Father without any reservation. How comforting to know that if we place our trust in the Lord, He will be involved in directing our paths in this life. So, whatever you may do in this life that is honorable, always acknowledge that it is God who has blessed you and has provided for you in His providential care. 1/27/16