By Michelle Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Music can be a powerful force in the church today - helping Christians take their mind off of themselves and onto the Savior. Music can also help a non-believer get to know Jesus’ love in a way that leans on the word of God without compromising its message. Do you have a favorite song you like to sing at work or at home that helps you set your mind and heart on God? Here are fifteen songs rich in theology that when sung can be offered as a sacrifice of praise:
1. Amazing Grace
One of the most well-known hymns, Amazing Grace has broken religious barriers, appealing to both the non-believer and believer alike. It does so with the clear message that, despite our sinfulness, we can receive forgiveness, like in these lyrics:
Amazing grace! how sweet the sound!
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found;
Was blind, but now I see.
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2. Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm wrote this hymn based on the phrase used in the Lamentations 3:23 with an emphasis on the unchanging grace of God. This song reminds us of the hope we as Christians have in Christ that every day is a new day to start over with Christ’s redemptive grace:
O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not
Thy compassions they fail not
As Thou hast been
Thou forever will be
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3. We Win by MercyMe
For anyone who feels like they can’t succeed in life, this song from MercyMe is a great reminder that we are all winners—through Christ’s death. Based on Romans 8:37-39 which says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” we can rest assured that Christ’s death won the ultimate battle—against death.
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3. Ghost by MercyMe
MercyMe diverges from their normal material in this haunting tune. Speaking clearly about the Holy Spirit and the importance of His presence in a Christian’s life, Bart Millard and the gang address the impact relying on the Holy Spirit has on eradicating fear in our lives. As Millard penned, “Ironic in a way, I’m no longer afraid. And a ghost is too blame.”
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5. Raise a Hallelujah
Husband and wife duo Jonathan and Melissa Hessler wrote this song after their son Jaxon was miraculously healed after a deadly kidney infection that almost took his life. Bethel Music sings this song as a testimony to God’s faithfulness in a particularly dark time in their lives. Everyone who sings this song are reminded that God is still a God of miracles! He can heal a person in an instant with a simple word or touch. When times are at their darkest, we can remember that God hears, sees, and heals.
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6. So Will I (100 Billion X)
From the first word to the last, Hillsong strings together a lyrical masterpiece. From words like “A hundred billion creatures catch your breath (a reference in Psalm 150 about everything that has breath will praise the Lord) to “No syllable empty or void,” we can rest assured God holds us in the palm of His hand. Although the phrasing is at times complicated, this song pulls no punches in its affirmation that God is so much bigger than us and we are just a small part in the larger galaxy that is the world He created.
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7. Is He Worthy
Chris Tomlin’s music always strikes the heart of believers and his new release is no different. Making references in Revelation to the Lion of Judah and the seven scrolls, Tomlin reaffirms to the body that God is indeed worthy of all of our praise. Tomlin asks, “Is He worthy?” then answers, “He is!” In this we can all rejoice and praise the Lord.
8. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
This song encapsulates the fear (and subsequent faith) it takes to follow the Lord no matter what he asks of us. In reference to Peter’s decision to walk on water and fall due to his lack of faith, this song reminds us that we all stumble and fall. With God, we only need to trust in Him and He will never let us drown.
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9. You Make Me Brave
Amanda Cook belts this tune that serves as an encouragement that following Jesus involves taking that first brave action. Just like Peter had to get out of the boat to walk on the ocean, so do we need to take that first step. Similar to Hillsong United’s song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),”Jesus called Peter to take a step of faith, to get out of the boat, and through his power, walk on water. It is only when we take a step that we can do the impossible—with God’s help.
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10. Red Letters by Crowder
The title Red Letters refers to Jesus’ words highlighted in red in the Bible. By the power of those words we are saved and by the power of His blood we are healed. This theologically rich song packs a punch. Without Christ we are to pay the wages for our sin which is death. But because of Christ’s atonement on the cross, we don’t need to pay that penalty anymore. We only need to accept His love and yield our lives to Him.
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11. There Is a Cloud
Simple in tune but complicated in lyrics, Elevation Worship proves they are not out to simply sing happy praise songs to tickle listeners’ ears. Listeners can’t help but ponder the lyrics such as, “Hear the word roaring as thunder, with a new future to tell, for the dry season is over, there is a cloud beginning to swell.” Anyone who is in a dry season spiritually, they can shout the chorus of “we receive your rain,” as a declaration to God that when we are ready, God will bring his rain into our lives.
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Lauren Daigle burst onto the scene last year with her chart -topping album Look Up, Child. From there she has released hit after hit, including You Say, Look up, Child and her newest release Rescue. This song reminds us God has not forgotten us. The chorus tells us God hears us and will come find us no matter how far we have strayed off of the path to righteousness.
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13. Surrounded (Fight My Battles)
Michael W. Smith made this song a household tune. Although this seems simplistic in its chorus (which is the most widely sung part of the song) most people don’t realize there are verses that are based on Elijah. 2 Kings 6:17-20 says, “And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Elisha, with the help of the Lord, was able to put his troubles in the proper perspective. This song’s catchy chorus will help us do the same.
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14. What a Beautiful Name
Hillsong Worship composed and sang this song as an anthem to the matchless and holy name of Jesus. This song serves as reminder that simply calling upon His name heals, comforts and saves. God exists in three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—all of which existed before time even began. This song reminds us that Jesus came from heaven, willingly stripped himself of his deity and became fully human and fully God and walked the earth to heal the sick, drive out demons and bring people to a saving knowledge of His father. Through Jesus’ blood, we cannot be separated from God’s love. Not now, not ever.
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15. I Am Who You Say I Am
Hillsong knocks it out of the park again with this tune that reminds every listener we were once enslaved to sin. But Jesus’ sacrifice allowed us to become worthy in God’s sight despite our sin. Not only this, but it emphasizes the beauty of hospitality when in the lyrics it talks about having a place in God’s house and being set free from the penalty our sin caused. Although the lyrics repeat several times, this catchy tune serves as the perfect song to hum when you are down or belt out in a time of praise and thanksgiving because He is worthy of our praise.
Although clashes in worship still exist today, they don’t have to create a schism between the generations. God’s love is greater than musical preferences. Both hymns from the past and music today can put our minds and attitudes in the right place and focus our attention on the subject of all of our worship—God.
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Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.