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Do you ever wonder what the voice of God sounds like? Usually it’s depicted as thunderous and reverberating. Or we hear the Hollywood voice of Charlton Heston ring in our ears. No matter what we imagine, we can’t begin to capture the power, purity, and beauty of it. After all, it is the voice that spoke the vast universe with all of its majesty and complexity into being with just the poof of its breath (Psalm 33:6). Amazing!

The voice of God is difficult enough to wrap our minds around. His speaking voice, that is. But what about His singing voice? In spite of what is portrayed in church Christmas and Easter pageants, the Bible never mentions angels singing. God, however, is. And, in a most amazing thought, He is singing to us! We may have a vision of an out-of-this-world angelic choir but this is God doing a solo. Can we imagine? Absolutely not! But it’s true. Check out Zephaniah 3:17 in the ESV (my preferred version): “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Can we possibly imagine God our Creator taking such delight in His creation?! And yet this verse goes so far as to say that His joy in us will make Him sing!

I have heard beautiful singing. Unfortunately, it absolutely did not come from me. Think of the greatest voices you have heard – Sandi Patti, George Beverly Shea are just some examples for us Christians. Consider the greatest opera stars, like Pavarotti, that have ever performed. Or close your eyes and hear a massive choir of top-notch vocalists sing Handel’s Messiah and the thrill of “The Hallelujah Chorus” – and then multiply that to the nth degree. I’m sure we can all identify with the way we were transported when these great talents (whomever you have in mind) began to sing. It seems, at times, as if we are moved to some other place, some other universe as the melodic waves of their vibrato wash over us. But they are not the voice of God. Not even close!

We know that we are commanded to sing. We are told to sing encouragement to each other (Ephesians 5:19) and we are told to sing praise to God (Colossians 3:16).* And that is beautiful, a truly meaningful part of corporate worship. In corporate praise, nothing stirs me more than when the worship leader and the instruments go silent and, with an a cappella unison, God’s children edify each other and exalt our Lord simultaneously by ringing out our songs of adoration. Glorious, right? But this is still not the voice of God singing. Not even close!

Back to Zephaniah 3:17. What is even more amazing than the yet unknown tone of God’s vocals is what He has in mind as He literally “sings over us.” Clearly, He does all things for His own glory and the byproduct of His self-centered (Yes, you read that correctly. You might want to read chapter 6 of David Platt’s new book Radical Together. That chapter is entitled, The God Who Exalts God: We are Selfless Followers of a Self-Centered God.) pursuit of that glory is our eternal good and our unspeakable joy. Not to dive too deeply into the concept that God pursuing His own glory is the most loving thing He can do for us, His children, let’s see what Zephaniah says His singing to us involves.

According to this verse God sings to us:

  • because He is a saving God that dwells with (in) His people.
  • to acknowledge that glorifying Himself by saving us brings Him great joy.
  • to show His compassion towards us brings us peace. A peace with Him and a peace within that defies worldly understanding (Philippians 4:17).
  • because He is glorified in what He has done for us. Therefore He exults (to show or feel a lively or triumphant joy or delight – see Psalm 16:3) over uswith loud (I love that) singing.

This is the love of God for His own. A people that He has chosen, redeemed, and secured for Himself in Christ. His children that He sings over with a voice we can’t begin to fathom, with a divine melody that defies description. It is an infinitely loving lullaby that, I believe, will have Jesus central in the lyrics. This chorus of His passion for us has already begun even though, in the present, we tend to hear Him in that still, small whisper (1 Kings 19:9-13). But one day God’s amplified voice will resonate and echo throughout His entire creation as He sings to us this supernatural love song. From the very mouth of God a thunderous anthem of His indescribable gladness in us will rise with an ever-increasing, infinite crescendo of cosmic delight. It may be as faint as a whisper now but it is so very real. And one day every corner of the universe will hear the heavenly notes of this joyous, agape-saturated serenade trumpeting His love for us.

*This is dedicated to my friend Shaun Ljunggren – may you forever sing God’s praises!

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Just because a song is played on “Christian” radio doesn’t make its content Biblical. Tragically, those listening can’t always discern the difference between God-centered lyrics and lyrics that are more akin to pop psychology. Below are two examples of often played “Christian” songs.

One song never mentions God in any sense and is completely self-oriented. Its message could have just as easily been written by an atheist, agnostic, or humanist. The second set of lyrics is saturated in Jesus-exalting language. A life of self-denial is the focus. It could only have been written by someone seeking to magnify his Lord and not himself.

Although I could expound upon the weaknesses of one song and the virtues of the other I’ll leave further commentary alone – the contrasts are crystal clear. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, read and discern for yourself:

“It’s Your Life” by Francesca Battistelli

This is the moment
It’s on the line
Which way you gonna fall?
In the middle between
Wrong and right
But you know after all

It’s your life
What you gonna do?
The world is watching you
Every day the choices you make
Say what you are and who
Your heart beats for
It’s an open door
It’s your life

Are you who you always said you would be?
With a sinking feeling in your chest
Always waiting for someone else to fix you
Tell me when did you forget

To live the way that you believe
This is your opportunity
To let your life be one that lights the way

“Empty Me” by Jeremy Camp

Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me.

Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me,
I want more of you and less of me, yeah.
Empty me,
Empty me, yeah,
Fill, won’t you fill me,
with you, with you, yeah.

Holy Fire, burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me, yeah.
Empty me,
Empty me, yeah.
Fill, won’t you fill me, with you, with you, empty me now.

Well won’t you empty me, well won’t you empty me now.
I want more, I want more, I want more of you, Jesus.
I want more, I want more, oh.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus, oh yeah,
Thank you, Jesus, yeah.

Holy Fire, Holy Fire, Holy Fire, Holy Fire

And now for your decision. Which of these songs most honors God? Which one most exalts man? Which lyrics best capture the majesty and worth of our Savior and gives us the desire to glorify and praise Him? Judge based upon His Word and His Spirit.  All I will say is that we must be careful what we call “Christian” music. It may not be about Christ at all.

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