VIDEO Last Mile of the Way, The Messengers,”It Makes Me Cry”

Apr 10, 2012

Since 1968, The Messengers have graced the world of Gospel music with their signature sound: smooth traditional gospel harmonies with a touch of R&B flavor.

The group’s founder, Willie Banks, began as many gospel artists do, by singing in the church. At the tender age of 5, Willie sang with his mother, Mrs. Vinnie Christian-Banks, during church services and the rest is history! After he decided to sing professionally, he performed with the following gospel groups: The Flying Clouds, The S.C. Violinaires, The Trumpets of Joy, Sister Edna Gallmon Cook, and The Jackson Southernaires. It wasn’t until 1968 that he decided to head up his own group, which he called Willie Banks and The Southernaires. This group signed with the Peacock-Songbird label and released Heaven Must Be a Beautiful Place, as their debut album.

In 1972, Willie put together the ingredients for a successful new group, Willie Banks and The Messengers. They first signed with HSE Records of Nashville and released four albums under this contract, God’s Goodness, For The Wrong I’ve Done, Mother Why, and Still In Charge. In 1979, they received a Grammy Nomination for Traditional Male Group of the Year, and each of their albums became a mainstay on the Billboard Magazine Top Forty Chart for spiritual music.

After many years on the road, Willie Banks began to look forward to the day that he could put an end to touring and remain at home with his family, but God had other plans. He survived a near fatal accident during one of his tours and made a vow to the Lord that he would live out his days singing God’s praises as long as he was able to. He signed a record deal with Malaco Records in 1988 and released Just Look at the Blessings, followed by Masterpiece two years later, and The Legend Lives On in 1992. Each of these albums received extensive air-play in every radio market nationwide and though Willie Banks passed away on February 1, 1993, the rest of the group remains intact and continues Willie’s mission to sing praises to God, as it is written in the scriptures, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but not God’s word.” They will tell you that they live, not by dwelling on those things which are past, but by pressing forward toward the prize of eternal life, which gift is made available through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

Since the passing of Willie Banks, The Messengers continue to record with Malaco Records, and have released gospel favorites such as Pressing Toward The Mark and Angels. Their latest release, entitled Special Delivery, is the first live recording they have made since they last taped with Willie. Recorded at the St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi, during the annual Jubilee Jam Festival in 1999, the project contains twelve cuts which include, “Help Me To Stand,” “Thank You Lord,” and “Never Stop Praising His Name.”

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The Right Keys

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17

Everywhere you turn in God’s creation you see His genius. Take the relationship between music and math. Music is impossible without the beautiful and symmetric numerical systems woven into the universe. For example, when you hit Middle C on a piano, it produces a frequency of 262 Hertz, which means that 262 pockets of higher air pressure hit your ear every second. If you play Middle G at the same time, you hear harmony because the wave patterns fit each other. Hit F-sharp and the sounds clash, resulting in discord.

A discord in music may sound interesting for a moment, but we seldom want an entire song that way. The same is true in life. We encounter moments of discord in our relationships, but we need to move beyond them for Christ’s sake and live in harmony. We need to hit the right keys—and James gives them to us in chapter 3: purity, peacefulness, gentleness, submissiveness, fullness of mercy, impartiality, and sincerity. This brings stability to our marriages, homes, and churches. It brings greater joy to our own hearts.

Which key do you need to strike today?

In my heart there rings a melody, there rings a melody of Heaven’s harmony… there rings a melody of love. Elton M. Roth in the hymn “I Have a Song That Jesus Gave Me”

Praising in Troubled Times

2 Chronicles 20:1-13

Praise is a celebration of the Lord, but when we are in trouble, celebrating seems out of place. However, the life of faith is frequently contrary to typical human living. Jehoshaphat faced his difficulty by applauding God’s past work and faithfulness, and by recalling His promises. When we respond in a similar way, we will be able to proceed with courage, too.

The natural human response to troubled times is self-pity, and rehashing the details and repercussions of our problem only makes it seem more threatening. Praise focuses our attention on God instead. If we are looking to Him for aid, then we can’t help but recognize His sovereignty. Every trial that enters our life comes through His permissive will, which means He has complete control. Whatever His reasons for allowing trouble into our life, He is faithful to see us through it.

Recalling the Lord’s mighty acts and focusing on His sovereignty in everyday life reminds us of our dependence upon Him (2 Chronicles 20:7-12). The king expected that God would have to intervene because recorded history showed He always acted to rescue His people. Israel’s recognition of her own helplessness is what unleashed God’s full power. When believers try to solve problems independently of the Lord, His work is impeded.

Our praise is limited only by our knowledge. The more we read and study the Bible, the better we understand God’s many attributes and assurances. Then when difficulty comes, we can celebrate His past faithfulness to Christians while awaiting His promised help.

Belief Systems Drive Global Events

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1 John 2:16-17)

In the broadest sense, there are only two belief systems: theism and naturalism. One believes in supernatural influence on the affairs of men and as the foundation of purpose and order, the other does not. The vast majority of the world is theistic (though not creationist) in its worldview. Only the “civilized world” is arrogant enough to consciously exclude the supernatural from its thinking. But this is the key: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). This is why we are clearly told, “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Underlying all, of course, is the great Adversary, who seeks to draw the worship of all men to himself and replace all “gods” as the god of this world. Satan is driven, like “a roaring lion,” to devour all who oppose him (1 Peter 5:8). The real war is a spiritual one (Ephesians 6:12-13). President George W. Bush was correct when he insisted that the campaign against modern terrorism will be “unlike any other we have ever seen.” It will be worldwide in scope, transcultural in impact, and years in the execution.

Will terrorists be eliminated and evil conquered? Not until Jesus Christ sets up His millennial reign. But we can “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), and we can “reign in life” (Romans 5:17). Freedom is administered through truth (John 8:32, 36), and Satan, when resisted in “the faith” (1 Peter 5:9), will “flee” (James 4:7). HMM III

Work and Worship

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:10

To understand the relative importance of work and worship it is necessary to know the answer to the familiar question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer given in the catechism, “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever,” can scarcely be improved upon, though of course it is an outline only and needs to be enlarged somewhat if it is to be a full and satisfying answer.

The primary purpose of God in creation was to prepare moral beings spiritually and intellectually capable of worshiping Him….

Without doubt the emphasis in Christian teaching today should be on worship. There is little danger that we shall become merely worshipers and neglect the practical implications of the gospel. No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist. Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed.

Draw me deeper into fellowship with You, Father. Lead me to focus on worship so that I can then, as a result, be useful in service. Amen.

God Gives, Gives, and Gives

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called. (1 Timothy 6:12)

We ought to spend more time remembering the blessings and the benefits God is continually giving us while we are alive—before we leave this vale of tears!

He gives us forgiveness—so we are to live for Him as forgiven sinners.

He gives us eternal life. This is not just a future reality—our life in Him is a present bestowment.

He gives us sonship: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God!” In this relationship there are many other gifts we receive from God, and if we do not possess them it is because we are not God’s children in faith!

We ask God to help us, to meet some need, to do something for us—and the Lord mercifully does it. I consider these the little and the trifling things, yet we make a great deal of them. But they are really the passing things compared to the great present benefactions of forgiveness, reinstatement in favor with God, sonship and eternal life!

Does Christ receive us when we come to him

Does Christ receive us when we come to him, notwithstanding all our past sinfulness? Does he never chide us for having tried all other refuges first? And is there none on earth like him? Is he the best of all the good, the fairest of all the fair? Oh, then let us praise him! Daughters of Jerusalem, extol him with timbrel and harp! Now let the standards of pomp and pride be trampled under foot, but let the cross of Jesus, which the world frowns and scoffs at, be lifted on high. Oh for a throne of ivory for our King! Let him be set on high forever, and let my soul sit at his footstool, and kiss his feet, and wash them with my tears.