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Paul Heil's "The Gospel Greats" syndicated radio program.

The Gospel Greats Weekly Newsletter
Published March 13, 2018

In This Edition

Paul's Epistle
"Fullness Of Time"

Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman...."

What's so significant about that one expression, "the fullness of time?" Isn't that an odd expression? A dictionary of English language idioms says, "If something happens in the fullness of time, it will happen when the time is right and appropriate."

So with this verse in Galatians, Paul is telling us that Jesus, born in "the fullness of time," was born when the time was both right and appropriate. Why was this so?

Well, first of all, it was right and appropriate because God had said it would happen. He even gave the prophet Daniel a timeline for when Christ would come. Although there are differing interpretations of this, Dr. Charles Stanley says Daniel's well-known "70 weeks" prophecy – actually 70 "weeks of years," or 490 years total – began the clock running with a decree from Artaxerxes in 458 BC to rebuild Jerusalem, something accomplished by Ezra and Nehemiah. That was the first seven "weeks," or 49 years. Then there would, according to the prophecy, be 62 more "weeks" – 434 years – until the appearance and the anointing of the Messiah.

That would bring us (there was no "zero" year) to 26 AD. What happened then? Jesus was baptized by John. Jesus' ministry began and he was publicly recognized as the Messiah. The date is confirmed by the fact that Luke 3:1 tells us Jesus was baptized during the "fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Ceasar." Since he began his rule in 11 AD, the 15th year would be 26 AD. It was the "fullness of time." (Daniel's 70th week is still future.)

It was also the right time for Christ to come because world conditions were right. The Romans ruled from Iran in the East to Britain in the West – the largest area they would ever control. This meant good Roman roads to transport the Gospel message. The empire was, overall, peaceful. "Koine" (or common) Greek, the language in which the New Testament was compiled, was spoken or at least understood everywhere. Roman influence was rising while Jewish influence was declining, reflecting dying Jacob's prophecy that Shiloh (the Messiah) would come when the scepter was departed from Judah (Gen. 49:10.) Commentator Matthew Henry notes that the first taxing made in Judea (Luke 2:1 KJV) was "the first badge of their servitude; therefore Shiloh must come..."

What's more, prophetic passages in Daniel, Malachi, Zechariah, Haggai and the Psalms all indicated Messiah would have to come when the Temple was standing in Jerusalem. Jesus had to come when He did because less than four decades after His crucifixion the Temple was destroyed (70 AD) by the Romans. He came at the right time – in the "fullness of time."

Now, because He came at the right time the first time, we can have every confidence that He will return, as promised and prophesied, at the right time – at the fullness of time. Paul tells us that in "the fullness of the times" Christ will "gather together in one all things...both which are in heaven and which are on earth in Him." (Ephesians 1:10.) We don't know when that will be, of course, but we do know that it will be at exactly the right time in world history. We know that because we have faith and confidence in the God Who made that promise that He would return.

But there is an application here for us, too, in our everyday lives.

We are impatient people. We hate to stand in long checkout lines. We hate talking on the phone and being placed on hold. We hate sitting in a traffic jam, barely moving. And (oh, oh) we hate (is that the right word?) asking God for something and then not seeing any immediate results.

But Scripture reminds us many times that we are to "wait on the Lord." We wouldn't have to be encouraged to wait if God always answered immediately. Sometimes He does. But not usually. Why? Because the time isn't right. He can view all of time – start to finish – and knows exactly what time is best for things to happen – for prayers to be answered. After all, as Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven..." And that certainly includes God's purposes.

The Whisnants had a very popular song called "A Greater Yes" from songwriter Marcia Henry that says it well:

     You pray in faith, and wait for God to move.
     Time passes and you wonder
     Did He hear me when I called?
     Should I even have prayed that prayer at all?

     There comes a time when childlike faith must graduate to trust.
     Trials come and you're convinced you're on your own.
     The teacher's often silent during the hardest test.
     But He'll answer when it's time with what is best.

And the lyric bridge in the song says it all:

     Sometimes God will answer – just like we prayed.
     Then other times, what's on His mind
     Is a better plan, another way, a greater yes.

God's silence does not necessarily mean "no." Usually it means, "Wait — the time isn't yet right for your answer."

I'm sure you can look back at some of the major things God has done in your life – things that came not when you wanted it or not when you expected it. It happened, instead, how the Lord wanted it, and when He wanted it. And you can probably see how, in retrospect, it was so much better that way.

And that's the way He'll work with and for you through every new problem, every new prayer concern, every new need that you bring to Him. But He wants you to trust Him that He will answer when the time is right – in the fullness of time.

- Paul Heil

Comments on this?
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A printable version of the Epistle above is linked from our newsletter archive page.
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Coming on the broadcast the weekend of March 17th & 18th, 2018:

Featured Artists:   Our Featured Artists on this edition will be the LeFevre Quartet with songs from their current CD entitled "Well Done." You'll hear that title song along with their recent hit, "Let The Church Arise," and other songs from this collection of classic songs (redone) and new songs. Mike, Jordan, Jeremy and Keith will talk about the songs and what they mean to them — and to everyone. Please join us for our visit with the LeFevre Quartet.

Great Annual Giveaway: This will be Week #4 (the final week) of our 2018 Great Annual Giveaway. We'll remind you how you could win the 2019 Singing At Sea Cruise, the 2018 Singing In The Sun at Myrtle Beach, SC, or one of hundreds of other great prizes we have to give away. Remember, it's not too late to enter for each of the four weeks, but you must have the correct "Key Word" or "Key Phrase" as announced on the air for each of those four weeks. For more details about prizes and entry rules, simply click here.

Who can YOU invite to listen this weekend?
Click here to hear the audio announcement regarding this next program.
Click here to find a local station carrying The Gospel Greats program.

From the broadcast the weekend of March 10th & 11th, 2018:

This was Week #3 of our 2018 Great Annual Giveaway. Please enter once for each of the four weeks of the giveaway to ensure your best chance to win.

Our Featured Artists on this program were Brian Free & Assurance. This trio includes Brian Free, of course, along with long-time member Bill Shivers and Mike Rogers. Songs were from their current CD entitled "Beyond Amazed." I think you'll agree with what Brian said that all of the songs on this CD "magnify the Lord and how great He is," along with encouraging Christians at the healing power of God in our lives. I especially enjoyed the two songs Bill talked about, "Everything He Forgot" and "Leave With Nothing Left."

The Brian Free & Assurance CD featured on this program, "Beyond Amazed," is available from our mailorder service, Springside. Just call 1-800-38-MUSIC to order. Call by Friday, March 16, 2018, ask for the "Featured Artist Discount," and get 20 percent off this item. You can order easily from our webstore by using this link to go directly to this item. Note, too, that our "Featured Artist Discount" applies to any other currently in-stock recordings by this artist. While ordering online, when you get to the "Checkout" page, find the "Special Instructions" lines near the bottom, type in "Featured Artist Discount - 20 percent" to get the discount. Note that the discounted price will not be reflected online or in your first confirmation e-mail, but it will be applied here when the order is processed and before it is charged or shipped.

On this program's Headline Update you heard comments from a few Southern Gospel artists about the recent passing of Billy Graham. Here's a link to an online magazine interview in which I answered some questions about personal memories I had of his ministry as I was growing up. If the referenced article is not the first that appears, you may have to scroll down to find it.

For the song list from this broadcast, click on the link below.   (PDF viewer required.)

Hear last weekend's Headline Update report about your favorite artists by clicking on this link.

New item available this week from

  • Guy Penrod"Blessed Assurance" (CD)

Click here to view that Southern Gospel music item in the current Springside Music Update newsletter — including 20 percent discounts on the week's new releases. Or get the Springside Music Update newsletter by email directly each Thursday morning. Details can be found here. Or call 800 38 MUSIC during weekday office hours to ask about current specials or to order. Your purchases from Springside help support The Gospel Greats program.

Shelia Shares

This past week, one of my best, long-time friends died. Her move to Heaven has created a void in my life, but I'll see her again. Let me tell you the story of our journey through a tribute to Norma Jean...

"Remembering Norma Jean"

In January, 1976, I moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia, to start a new job. It was at Eastern Mennonite College as secretary to the campus pastor. One morning, that first week of classes, I attended the morning chapel service. When the service ended, a lady approached me and started talking. I had no idea who she was. And, she had mistaken me for my sister. That was the start of a great friendship with Norma Jean.

During the year and a half I served at the college, we did everything together. I was her relief from studies. She was my encourager. She always told me I got her into trouble. But, really, Norma Jean was the one who had the ideas and then pushed me to fulfill them. She was always right beside me, laughing and enjoying life. Norma Jean had a great capacity to enjoy life without regard to where she was or what the circumstances were. Her outlook was positive.

Norma Jean didn't see strangers. She saw friends she hadn't yet met. And she was a friend to everyone. It didn't matter if they were rich or poor or young or old. She cared about them all.

She rejoiced with me when I got married and when the children came along. She truly knew how to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.

Norma Jean's job decisions were not about making money. They were about serving people. They were about caring for people of all ages. She served in some poor areas and was happy to do so. The littlest ones always had her heart.

Just a few weeks ago, I sent Norma Jean a little ceramic frog. I know she got my message. During those college days, I told her that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. She remembered that through all the passing years and she finally met her prince when Dan came along later in life. She was so happy to have a male friend and lover to share her life. I am so glad Dan was with Norma Jean through the good times, and especially through the difficult last days and weeks and months.

I never doubted that Norma Jean knew the Lord. He was a part of her life the entire time I knew her. So, I plan to see her again. In fact, when I go through the gates of heaven, she'll be there to welcome me. No weak legs, no trouble breathing, and her speech will be clear. When she sees me, she'll have that sweet innocent little grin on her face and I'll know she has some scheme dreamed up, trying to get me in trouble in heaven.

Norma Jean, you got there first. Be assured, I'll join you in God's time. Just think, we have all of eternity to celebrate.

- Shelia Heil

Comments on this?
(To ensure that we get your comments, please use that address and do not simply hit "reply" on your email program.)
A printable version of the "Shelia Shares" above is linked from our newsletter archive page.
Note: That same page includes a link to the audio version of this "Shelia Shares" and a "Share" button for sharing this column on Facebook.

On the Lighter Side

Changing Technology

We often have daycare groups come to visit our library for story time. After reading one such group a story, I gave each of the children a bookmark as a memento of their visit. But one little boy, who was more used to technological gadgets than old- fashioned tools, wondered how to use his bookmark. So I demonstrated how to place it between two pages, then closed the book. "When you start reading again, voila!" I said, holding the book as it opened to my bookmarked page. "Wow!" he said. "That's cool!"

Things You Never Hear in Church


The Senility Prayer

"Lord, grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference."

Are You Ready?
1 Thess. 5:2-10; Matt. 24:44; Luke 21:34,36
Free Gift
Pray for the President!
Until next Week...Keep Looking Up!