My testimony is that the biblical messages behind the songs I heard on the debut album by Jars of Clay in 1995 prompted me to seek out the biblical connection to the words of songs like "Liquid," "Love Song for a Savior" and "Worlds Apart." That led me to dive deeper into God's Word for the first time in my mid-twenties, having grown up with more of a works-based faith and not relying on Jesus alone for my salvation. The transformation process included listening to every type of Christian music, and I was saved in 1999 when I said the sinner's prayer after listening to an artist testimony at the end of a Christian album where the artist invited me to join him, for which I'm eternally grateful. Knowing my testimony, my pastor suggested that I needed to give up my idol (music) and focus on God's Word and perhaps write about the biblical messages behind my favorite songs in Christian music.
I approached NewReleaseToday.com Founder Kevin McNeese with the idea, and he graciously agreed to post my original article. I started writing these devotionals with "Nothing Compares" by Third Day on March 10, 2008. One of my daily devotionals in trying to grow in my walk with Jesus is to sing to Him at least one song every day. To date, I've continued this series online with some examples of the songs that have helped me grow in my faith and become a more fully devoted follower of Jesus, along with the story and Scripture behind the songs. It's my prayer that my "behind the song" devotionals will encourage readers and be an influence to peoples' individual walks with Christ, or maybe to even lead people to Christ if they haven't yet made that decision.
Starting with "Nothing Compares" in 2008, for the past 10 years I've shared several songs that are testimony songs celebrating the day I was saved. These 10 songs featured as devotionals include encouraging Scripture to study and pray along with while singing these songs to Him. Here's a list of some of my favorite testimony songs that I've featured over the years. God bless!
"Nothing Compares" by Third Day Read the devo here.
When I pray to Jesus, one of my most consistent prayers has been to know Him more intimately. Paul captures that sentiment beautifully in his letter to the Philippians in chapter 3, verses 7 through 11, which Mac Powell from Third Day lists as his inspiration for the song "Nothing Compares." Daily we are presented with the choices of how to use our time, lifestyle choices, pursuit of riches, living for today not knowing what tomorrow has in store for us, questioning our loneliness and looking for meaning. You can take comfort in knowing that "Nothing compares to the greatness of knowing Jesus."
"Here I Am" by Shaun Groves Read the devo here.
Thank you Shaun Groves for writing and singing what's on my heart in "Here I Am," which is based on my life verse Isaiah 6:8 (NASB): "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for Us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!'" Whether it is the chorus of "Holy, Holy, Holy" or the beautiful cry of my heart "Here I Am," this Isaiah 6 passage put to song really speaks to me. Seven hundred years before Jesus came to earth, Isaiah pointed us to the cross and the saving love of Jesus. Once we know His saving love, what does "Here I Am, Send Me" look like in your life?
"Lay 'Em Down" by NEEDTOBREATHE Read the devo here.
I can't get enough of NEEDTOBREATHE's song based on the hymn "All Who Are Thirsty" and Psalm 42. The gospel feel of the song is similar to Dove Award winning "Washed by the Water." I get choked up when I pray along to the words of the song: "come down to the river, come and let yourself in, make good on a promise to never hurt again. If you're lost and lonely, you're broken down, bring all of your troubles, come lay 'em down." As the song sings, no matter if you are hurting, lost and lonely, burdened and broken down, you can bring all of your troubles and lay 'em down before God. This song encourages me to have comfort in that Truth.
"Out of My Hands" by Jars of Clay Read the devo here.
I absolutely love this song. Like all of my favorite songs by Jars of Clay, I connect to this song emotionally. We are set apart and holy as God is Holy when we accept Jesus as our Savior. I read every translation of Isaiah Chapter 1, and the message of this song and the album The Shelter can really be found in The Message translation of Isaiah 1:17: "Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless." Sanctification and holiness comes from trying to live out the messages of the Bible. "It's out of my hands, it was from the start, in light of what You've done for me. You lifted my head, You set me apart, in light of what You've done." What an amazing truth!
"I Am New" by Jason Gray Read the devo here.
In identifying with our sin, Christ paved the way for us to become identified with the righteousness of God. It is not merely that we acquire a right standing or do good works; we actually become righteous. In Christ we truly assume his righteousness, just as Christ assumed our sin. The basic message behind Jason Gray's songs is that "the added benefit is that people are able to see how God's grace works in a real person's life. When we come clean about our brokenness, Christ becomes the star of our testimony and not us." I've been very blessed to enjoy Jason's songs and get to know his heart for God. "I Am New" is a profound song to sing to God with gratitude as we celebrate the gift of our salvation.
"Good To Be Alive" by Skillet Read the devo here.
For me, the most encouraging part of the song is the message that I don't have to be perfect or rely on my plans, but that God knows me and loves me just as I am. That is cause for celebration. We need to live each day knowing that despite circumstances, God has a plan for "those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). We really bring nothing to the table. This song has quickly become one of my all-time favorite songs by Skillet. Between John's vocals and the excellent message behind this rock anthem, I can't get enough of the song. There are several lyrics that really speak to me, in particular: "You are everything I need. You feel like forever, You're a second chance for me." Once you are a follower of Jesus, you know that He is everything you need, He is forever, and He is a second chance.
"From the Day" by I Am They Read the devo here.
The message is celebratory and worshipful and includes God's promise as described to us in Revelation: "Where brilliant light is all around, and endless joy is the only sound." As believers, we all need to live for Heaven and not get depressed or angry about our fallen world. Pain and suffering point us to God and how much we need Him. I Am They's hit compels me to cry out, "God I'm ready now!" The song is a glimpse of what we'll be doing for all eternity. If you have put all of your hope and trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation, you can sing along with a loud voice: "From the day You saved my soul 'til the very moment when I come home, I'll sing, I'll dance, my heart will overflow, from the day You saved my soul."
"Call it Grace" by Unspoken Read the devo here.
When you sing this song, the devotional thought we should all be thinking is whether we are submitting our lives to the Truth or just singing the words. God wants us to boldly approach the Throne of mercy and grace to receive and obtain what we need from Him. When we acknowledge our identity in Christ in this song, our burdens are removed. I can't get enough of the beautiful poetic and powerful expressions of faith in this song. Unspoken singer Chad's story of overcoming his addiction in "My Recovery" is celebrated in "Good Fight" and "Call it Grace." This song is a great way to thank Jesus for our undeserved gift of grace. Know that whatever struggle you are facing, "Some may call it foolish and impossible, but for every heart it rescues, it's a miracle. It's nothing less than scandalous, this love that took our place, oh call it what it is: call it grace."
"My Story" by Big Daddy Weave Read the devo here. Big Daddy Weave can really write a hooky and truth-filled chorus, and lead single "My Story" is catchy, relevant and worshipful, like their previous hit songs "Overwhelmed," "Redeemed," "What Life Would Be Like" and "Every Time I Breathe." "My Story" is a modern adaptation of the hymn "Blessed Assurance." The song is an upbeat worship declaration sung with a stirring passion and filled with prayerful lyrics. You'll worship our King Jesus right along with Mike, in particular through the proclamation in the chorus: "Of the grace that is greater than all my sin, of when justice was served and where mercy wins, of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in, to tell you my story is to tell of Him."
"More Than I Deserve" by Paul Baloche Read the devo here.
This song by Paul Baloche is a great celebratory anthem about what it means to have hope in Christ. Sometimes it is hard to believe that God loves us so much that He knows us intimately and wants to fill our hearts with love. As Christians, we are God's adopted sons and daughters, and we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Don't let the world tell you who you are. It doesn't matter what you look like if you have Jesus on the inside. That's where we can find our true identities, in Him. I'm completely convicted by the strong biblical lyrics and find immense comfort in this song. Commit your heart to Jesus as your first love. Make it your heart's cry to join in and sing along: "Every tear is wiped away, no sorrow will remain, the kingdoms of the earth will kneel, for the Kingdom of our God is here, more than I deserve."
NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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