Published November 1, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"November Message Audit"

Occasionally, I enjoy doing a "message audit" on the month's Top 20 – to see what kind of messages these songs are providing. And when I was putting together the Top 20 countdown for November that you heard on the broadcast last weekend, I was struck by the strength of the lyrics in each of these twenty songs – and especially as a whole, taken together.

Although every song is different, of course, I found what I'd consider a few primary themes in these songs.

One such theme has long been a staple in Southern Gospel music – the Christian's longing for heaven and that "blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) of seeing Christ.

The Perrys' "Blue Skies Coming" song gives the Christian such hope even in difficult times: "Though the thunder and the lightning say a storm is on the way, we've been promised sweet deliverance if we trust Him and obey." That's an encouragement to us in our everyday living.

The group Beyond The Ashes sings about the "Coming Of The King," the sure promise of the Lord's return: "I believe these are the final days and even now the Lord is at the threshold just waiting now to call His church away... I'm getting ready for the coming of the king... He's coming down for you and me..."

And what a day that will be! "Then, I'll see the face of my Savior dear, beckoned close by His sweet command; All my burdens gone, I will rest at last, On the banks of the Promised Land." ("On The Banks Of The Promised Land," Karen Peck & New River.) Karen told me, "It just seems that people are ready to go. I mean, they're seeing the reality of heaven and I know that we've had a lot of loved ones and friends pass away over the past month, and...the Lord just reminds us that heaven is a reality and the Bible says the only way that we can get to heaven is through the blood of Jesus. And we see the importance of knowing Jesus and knowing that what we do between now and the time He calls us home or He comes to get us, we need to make every day count for Him..."

How soon? "It's almost over, we are going home. Our Lord is coming, to claim His own. Be faithful pilgrim, brave and strong. It's almost over, we are going home." (Mark Trammell Quartet: "It's Almost Over.")

And what happens then? "We shall see Jesus, just as they saw Him. There is no greater promise than this. When He returns in power and glory, we shall see Jesus...just as He is." ("We Shall See Jesus," Legacy Five.) "Don't That Sound Like Heaven" (Palmetto State Quartet) is another obvious inclusion in this category.

Another song, "I know," sung by the Collingsworth Family, puts it this way in no uncertain terms:

I know my sins are covered by the blood of the Righteous Lamb
I know that Heaven is waiting and the saints will soon move in.
I'm not shaking, ‘cause I'm not stayin' in this world of pain and sin.
I know, by the signs that are given
I know, by what I've been reading
I know, by every indication, Jesus is coming again.

There are songs about God's blessings on our everyday lives. "How blessed it is to be His child, To know my soul will never die; To feel God's nearness everyday, Enjoy His grace all along the way." ("How Blessed," the Bowlings.) Also, "Greatly blessed and highly favored, imperfect but forgiven child of God." ("Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored," Gaither Vocal Band.)

Among those blessings is God's promise to be with us every day of our lives (Matthew 28:20; Psalm 23:6). Inspired by Philippians 4:13, the Crist Family sings the song, "His Strength Is Perfect" "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength; But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me; No great success to show, no glory of my own. Yet in my weakness, He is there to let me know." (See 2 Cor 12:9.)

The Kingsmen song "He's Everything I Need" is a great reminder of that truth: "I've never known Him to fail, He's conquered both death and hell. So do not doubt that He will prevail, I've seen what He can do." And when we need such help, the Lord is as near as our knees: "I just fall on my knees, He hears my pleas, He knows my need, When my strength is nearly gone, And I feel so all alone, I just fall, I fall on my knees." (Browders, "Fall On My Knees.")

Brian Free & Assurance sing a strong declaration of faith, "I Believe:"

I believe in the message of mercy and grace
That tells of a Savior who died in my place...

And, after all that, it should come as no surprise that the month's number one song is nothing less than a celebration of all of the above – "Saved By Grace" as sung by the Triumphant Quartet:

Saved by grace
I've been saved by grace
My name is in the book of life and
My sins are washed away!
Saved by grace
I've been saved by grace.
It's not what I deserve but I'm saved by grace!

I didn't cover all of the songs – the rest are strong, too – but I hope that as you listened to the program last weekend you were struck, as I was, by the strength the messages in today's most popular Southern Gospel songs. Thank God for these singers who record the songs and the songwriters who put it all down on paper! We truly are blessed.

- Paul

Note: Credits for all of the songs referenced above can be found here.

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