Gospel Song

When I was out yesterday running a few errands, I heard this great song playing on the Christian radio station (the song was released in 2021), and I’ve heard it before but this time I made a mental note of the title. You can listen to the song on the YouTube link at the bottom of this post (it’s titled Gospel Song by Rhett Walker).

Here are the opening lyrics to the song (from azlyrics.com):

I could listen to my heart
I could listen to the world
I could listen to my problems
But what I think I need to hear
Nice and loud and crystal clear
Is about the One who’s gonna solve them

Isn’t that the truth? Too often we listen to everyone and everything going on around us or inside of us (our own thinking, feelings, emotions) when we just really need to put our focus where it belong–on “the One who’s gonna solve them.” And that would be Jesus.

Another section in the song states:

Let me stop and testify
I was dead and brought to life
By the power of my Savior
But if I’m being real with you
Sometimes I forget it’s true
I could use a reminder

How often in any given day could we use a reminder? I can’t speak for you, but I know enough about myself to know that I need daily reminders. And the song ends with this reminder:

Ain’t nothing like a gospel song
Makes me want to sing it all day long
Something ’bout that amazing grace sound of praise
Makes my troubles not seem so strong
Let me hear a heart set free
Holy Bible to a melody
Turn it up and then play it again, play it again, play it
On and on and on
Ain’t nothing like a gospel song (x2)
Like a gospel song…

A month ago I came across a book at Walmart published in 2019 titled, Everything You Need: 8 Essential Steps to a Life of Confidence in the Promises of God,” by Dr. David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, CA. In his opening paragraphs in the Prologue to the book, he writes:

People often ask me, “Pastor, what’s going on in the world today? What’s the biggest issue we face? I have many answers, and each contains the same overarching work–pressure.

Family pressure. Time pressure. Financial pressure. Unprecedented pressure to compete and succeed by society’s standards–at work, in school, in our communities, and maybe even in our churches. As Christians, we’re encountering pressures in our society we’ve never faced before. We’re living in unprecedented times, which brings unparalleled tension…. (Quote source and the rest of the prologue is available at this link. The quote source is also found on page IX in the hardcover copy of the book.)

Everything You Need was published in 2019 which was right before the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the entire world starting in March 2020, and it changed the way everyone lives with challenges that are still very much ongoing and not likely to disappear any time soon. It’s a storm unparalleled in it’s reach including worldwide supply chain disruptions and supply shortages taking place today, and adding in Russia’s war in the Ukraine that started in February 2022, we now have the highest rates of inflation since 1981. It brings to mind the story about Jesus calming the storm (one of his many miracles) reported in Matthew 8:23–27, Mark 4:35–41, and Luke 8:22–25. Here is the account from Luke 8:22-25:

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Jesus has the power to calm us during the storms as we are going through them, and the power to stop the storm in it’s tracks if that is what he chooses to do. Either way, the “calming” comes from him and it is not something we can fabricate on our own. When he asked his disciples “Where is your faith?” after he rebuked the wind and the raging waters and the storm subsided, he asks us this very same question in the midst of the storms of life that assail us. We need to turn to him and commit the storm to him, whether it ends right away or whether we have to keep going through it. It is his calm that he extends to us when we turn to him for help. It is that “peace that passes all understanding” that he gives us that Paul describes in Philipians 4:6-7:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Back to Dr. David Jeremiah’s book, Everything You Need–the scripture text that the book chapters cover are based on 2 Peter 3-11 which states:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you read the prologue to Dr. Jeremiah’s book (available at this link), it will give you an idea of the topics you will find in each chapter of the book which covers each of the qualities listed above in 2 Peter 1:3-11. For the purposes of this blog post, the focus is on “perseverance,” which is covered in Chapter 6 titled, “Relentless Determination,” in Dr. Jeremiah’s book. He describes perseverance as “a never-give-up attitude, a commitment to move forward when everything is conspiring to hold you back. No matter what happens, you finish the job… [it’s] the ability to go through a severe time” (quote source is found on page 96 of the hardcover edition of Everything You Need). If you want to read more, you can order the book at this link and at other online bookstores.

Several of Jesus’ parables involve the topic of perseverance, and one of the best known parables on perseverance is found in Luke 18:1-8 titled, “The Parable of the Persistent Widow:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

GotQuestions.org explains the meaning of this parable:

The parable of the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1–8) is part of a series of illustrative lessons Jesus Christ used to teach His disciples about prayer. Luke introduces this lesson as a parable meant to show the disciples “that they should always pray and never give up” (verse 1, NLT).

The parable of the widow and the judge is set in an unnamed town. Over that town presides an unjust judge who has no fear of God and no compassion for the people under his jurisdiction. In the Jewish community, a judge was expected to be impartial, to judge righteously, and to recognize that judgment ultimately belongs to God (Deuteronomy 1:16–17). Thus, the judge in this story is incompetent and unqualified for the job. Justice was not being served.

A needy widow repeatedly comes before the judge to plead her case. According to Jewish law, widows deserve special protection under the justice system (Deuteronomy 10:1824:17–21James 1:27). But this unjust judge ignores her. Nevertheless, she refuses to give up.

Eventually, the judge says to himself, “I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!” (Luke 18:4–5, NLT). The widow gets the justice she was seeking. Then Jesus explains His point: if an uncaring, unfit, ungodly judge answers with justice in the end, how much more will a loving and holy Father give what is right to His children?

We do not always get immediate results when we pray. Our definition of swift justice is not the same as the Lord’s definition. The parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that effective prayer requires tenacity and faithfulness. A genuine disciple must learn that prayer never gives up and is based on absolute trust and faith in God. We can fully count on the Lord to answer when, where, and how He chooses. God expects us to keep on asking, seeking, knocking, and praying until the answers come (Matthew 7:7–8). Disciples of Jesus are people of persistent faith.

The parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge is similar to the parable of the persistent neighbor (Luke 11:5–10), another lesson in Jesus’ teachings on prayer. While both parables teach the importance of persistence in prayer, the story of the widow and the judge adds the message of continued faithfulness in prayer.

Jesus presents a final quiz on the matter at the end of the parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge. He asks, “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will He find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:8, NLT). Just as Paul stresses in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, continual devotion to prayer should be a way of life. The Lord wants to know if He will find any faithful prayer warriors left on the earth when He returns. Will we be among God’s people still praying at Christ’s second coming, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10)?

Faithful, never-ceasing, persistent prayer is the permanent calling of every true disciple of Christ who is dedicated to living for the Kingdom of God. Like the persistent widow, we are needy, dependent sinners who trust in our gracious, loving, and merciful God alone to supply what we need. (Quote source here.)

Faithful, never-ceasing, persistent prayer…. Let it rise up from us daily in the middle of the storms in life. And as Rhett Walker’s song reminds us–I could listen to my heart, I could listen to the world, I could listen to my problems. But what I think I need to hear nice and loud and crystal clear…

Is about the One . . .

Who’s gonna . . .

Solve them . . . .

YouTube Video: “Gospel Song” by Rhett Walker:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

A Fresh New Year Ahead

We are now four days into the new year of 2021, and I’ve decided I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions this year. I didn’t make any last year, either. However, in the midst of the challenges we faced as a nation in 2020 (and Covid-19 is still very much with us heading into 2021), it was during this past year that I finally found two things I’ve been needing for a very, very long time. And both showed up very suddenly and unexpectedly.

In March, I was able to replace my 15-year-old car with a much newer and only slightly used 2019 model car, and it was totally unexpected as I went to a car dealership to look around but I had no expectations as I was just looking (something I had done at other dealerships several times in the past year and a half when my old car started costing me a lot to repair during the previous two years). However, this time I ended up trading in my old car and driving away in the much newer 2019 model car.

Then, in October, I stopped at an apartment complex I didn’t think I could ever afford in the exact location I wanted to live in, and I discovered I did qualify and I could afford an apartment there after all, and I signed a lease and moved in two days later. Mind you, for the past six years I had been applying (and placed on waiting lists) to find a senior apartment in an income-based senior apartment complex, and I was getting absolutely nowhere with it while I was living in temporary housing all during this time. So, in September I gave up the idea of finding an apartment in an income-based senior apartment complex, and I contacted an apartment locater who sent me a list of apartments in the area where I wanted to live. Turns out that it was the last apartment complex listed that was located right where I wanted to live, so I called and made an appointment with a leasing agent, and that is where I am now living.

Who knew, right? I’d been waiting for so long for both of these things to finally come around, and I was getting nowhere with either (especially regarding the housing), but I knew I couldn’t just give up because it was taking so long. And where does one go to give up anyway? Whenever I get discouraged (and I have been at times over the past several years–discouragement visits all of us from time to time), I think about the Parable of the Persistent Widow that is found in Luke 18:1-8:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

In a devotion published on February 27, 2019, titled, The Persistent Widow,” by Kim Forthofer, author, she states:

When Jesus was with his disciples, he told them a story of a persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). This one had been wrongfully treated, and she sought justice from a local judge.

The judge in the case was a despicable man who didn’t care about anyone but himself. He refused to grant her justice and ignored her case for a considerable amount of time.

This widow had no one else to help her. She had no lawyer. She had no husband or son to fight for her. Yet, she faithfully brought her petition to the judge, each time asking for justice.

Finally, the judge granted her request. He did so, not because he cared about what was right or because he had a sudden revelation. He simply wanted the woman gone.

Jesus concluded his story with a powerful question: “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7)

Sometimes, you may pray for someone else, for them to receive justice in a situation, and it feels like nothing is happening. But God is always working situations out for His glory (Jeremiah 29:11) and our good (Romans 8:28). (Quote source here.)

In an article published on November 1, 2018, titled, The Power of Expectations,” by Matt Hagee, Lead Pastor at Cornerstone Church, he writes:

When you say something like expectation, people think all kinds of things. Some responses are emotional and others are practical…things will turn out the way they’re going to turn out, no matter what you do.

Don’t develop your expectations based upon other people’s opinions. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no matter what his circumstances were. He was singing in the midnight hour from a jail cell, and yet remained undeterred in his mission:

“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”2 Timothy 1:12

Recent research shows that 80% of church goers do not openly share their faith with those around them. After they leave church, they don’t do anything else to engage others in the Gospel. Why? I believe they don’t share openly because they have a pre-determined expectation of what will happen when they do. If they invite their neighbor to church… they might say no. Their co-worker might be offended and turn them in to HR. If they take their faith outside of the church, it might cause them some trouble; people might paint them in a negative light. These people are placing their expectations in the wrong place.

If God is for me, who can be against me? (Romans 8:31Only when the church has enough confidence to share their faith outside of the church walls will we make an impact on the world around us. We need to place our expectations in the right place, pointed toward God the Father. We need to believe that He has our very best in mind, even when we can only see the smallest sliver of our existence in front of us.

As a man thinketh, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).

Your expectations drive your beliefs. Where do your expectations come from? Do they come from those around you, or from the Word of God? Are you trying to gain the approval of your boss, friend, neighbor, mother-in-law…? Are your expectations for the future based upon past experiences? That’s a very limited perspective. None of us understands all that God did to bring us to the moment we are living right now. Don’t limit a limitless God.

Do you remember Daniel and the lion’s den? He could have easily become discouraged… but he prayed, as was his habit. He was still thrown into the lion’s den. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you don’t have problems; it means that God shows up for you in a mighty way when you call out to Him with great expectation. Daniel cried out to God from the lion’s den and he was saved.

Even when the rules changed… Daniel didn’t. He stayed the course and prayed… as was his custom. King Darius of Persia paced the floor while Daniel slept like a baby in the lion’s den. When the king cried out for Daniel the following day, he responded that his God had delivered him.

Your beliefs become your behaviors and your behaviors become your habits. Do your habits include praying every day, reading the Word of God, seeking Him in your daily life? Your habit of praying with great expectation gives you the ability to move mountains of impossibility.

You live in the here and the now. You cannot see from your vantage point all that God is doing for you, how He is working in your life on your behalf to give you an unbelievable future. Keep praying with great expectation, even when you cannot see the great things that are just before you.

Because of Daniel’s faithfulness, all that was taken from the children of Israel was returned to them by King Darius. Everything that was stolen from the temple, every item that was stripped….was returned. Do you need something to be restored in your life? Cry out to God with great expectation. Don’t base your prayers on your own ability or your past experiences. Our God is greater! His power is limitless!

I know in whom I have believed and He is able!

What would happen in your life if you were to expect the unexpected?…

In everybody’s life there is something that takes you by surprise because it’s unexpected. But there are things we can expect from God in our lives. We can expect signs and wonders; we can expect the sick to be healed. Supernatural things should be happening in the lives of every Believer.

There are things that God expects from us. When we fulfill our part, it leaves our lives open for God to complete the unexpected in our lives. Are you looking for something supernatural to happen in your life? Expect the unexpected!

God is faithful to fulfill the great work He has begun in you. What are your thought patterns? Are they fixed on Jesus? What are your habits?

Take control of what you are spending your time on, what you are fixating on… and these things will become how you live your life. Begin to expect the goodness of God to flow over every portion of your life like a great tidal wave of blessing. Let His goodness and love, His miracle-working power flood your life like never before. Get ready! Great things are on the way. (Quote source here.)

In an article published on August 10, 2016, titled, When God’s Timing Is Not Our Own,” by Sam Storms, Ph.D., Lead Pastor at Bridgeway Church and founder of Enjoying God Ministries, he writes:

The God of the Unlikely Time

Often our schedule and God’s seem out of sync. He acts earlier than we had expected, or later than we had hoped, or when it seems most awkward and inconvenient. The result is that sometimes we are impatient with God or choose to act impetuously, while on other occasions we are lazy and inactive.

I suspect that’s how the Israelites must have felt as they stood on the banks of the Jordan River, prepared to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. They learned a lesson there that all of us must learn sooner or later. The lesson is simply that the God we love and serve is often the God of the unlikely time.

When the two spies returned from Jericho, Joshua received the news he had been waiting for: “And they said to Joshua, ‘Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us'” (Joshua 2:24). But God then forced them to stand and watch the raging waters of the Jordan River for three days! The torrent was unabated. They could only look across the rising waters into Canaan, on the other side. The river seemed utterly impassable. Their long journey to the Promised Land appeared to have ended just short of their goal. Why did God bring them to the edge of the river and compel them to look with longing and frustration at the land he had promised to their forefathers? His reason seems clear: to drive home to their hearts the seeming impossibility of tomorrow!

God compelled them to wait three days to allow their feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and inadequacy to reach the highest level possible. He forced them to wait until the waters of that river had risen to such a height that virtually all hope had been washed away.

A Lesson in Faithfulness

We often find ourselves asking, What does God expect of me? What does he want? The answer is that he wants a people who will faithfully respond to his call to act in the pursuit of his promises, even at the most unlikely time.

Perhaps you are only moments away from seeing the fruition of a dream that you’ve nurtured for years. Perhaps there is some massive problem that is on the verge of being solved, or a fractured relationship that is close to being healed, or a lifelong prayer that may finally be answered. God may be speaking to you in much the same way that he was speaking to the Israelites, saying, “Stand up! Be firm in your faith! The day of inheritance is here. The moment for fulfillment has arrived. As difficult as it may be for you to understand, I’ve actually chosen this challenging and demanding moment precisely because it affords the greatest opportunity for my power and love to be seen when I finally step into the situation and bring it all to pass!” (Quote source here.)

Those articles should give us plenty of “food for thought” as we enter this new year of 2021. However, what is most important of all is what Jesus told his disciples to do in Luke 18:1

Always pray . . .

And never . . .

Give up . . . .

YouTube Video: “Miracle” by Unspoken:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here