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Preaching to the Choir – by Phil Barfoot


I heard a definition of worship a few years ago from a third grader that really makes a lot of sense – it cuts right to the chase. He said, “Worship is GIVING GOD GOOSEBUMPS!

Obviously, not a highly academic or polished definition, but very accurate! Worship is giving God goosebumps – it’s entertaining God!

In Matthew 22, there is a story about a religious teacher who came up to Jesus and asked Him a very interesting question. He simply asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?

The answer Jesus gave him puts it all in perspective for us and sets our priorities in life and ministry. Jesus told him, The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. There is no commandment greater than this. In other words, WORSHIP is the greatest commandment!

The Westminister Shorter Catechism says it this way – “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

In a very real sense, “Worship is heaven’s highest occupation and earth’s greatest privilege.” Every Sunday, we have the awesome honor of leading our congregations into an intimate encounter with God Almighty! A little taste of Heaven on earth!

Revelation 4:11 puts it this way: You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for you have created all things, and for your pleasure they are created.

The fact is, each one of us are NOT just choir members, plumbers, electricians, nurses, teachers, accountants, lawyers, ministers of music – those are just our vocations. Our AVOCATION, our purpose, our real calling is that of being ministers to and worshippers of our Lord.

I Peter 2:9 calls us, “A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation… a people belonging to God to declare His praises.

When it comes to our times of corporate worship, there is a very simple, basic, yet essential concept of worship that makes this truth come alive in our worship services.

In a worship service, the congregation should be the participants, the worship leaders the prompters and God the audience. So many times, we get this turned around and the worship leaders become the performers and the congregation the audience or spectators.

True worship is all of us – choir, praise team, pastors, congregation – all joining our voices together and making God our audience. It’s all about being vertical with our praise. It is focusing all our attention, all our worship, all our praise on Him! There is a huge difference between the omnipresence of God and Hismanifest, intimate presence that we experience in this kind of whole-hearted worship.

One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 22:3 where the scripture says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. When you look closely at that scripture, it simply means that the Lord actually lives in, and is enthroned upon our praises! The Scottish scholar said this – “If no throne is provided, the King will not be present.

When your choir or praise team enters the platform this Sunday, remind them that they are literally creating a dwelling place – a throne for Almighty God. The Lord has promised us that where two or three are gathered in His name, He will be there! He lives in our praises!

One of my favorite examples of God responding when praise is made a priority, is the story of Paul and Silas in Acts 16. They are beaten, persecuted, stripped of their clothes and thrown into jail. Their response? The scripture says, “At midnight, they prayed and sang praises to God.

I love what Acts 16:26 says, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and EVERYONE’S chains were loosed.

Not only were Paul and Silas delivered, but because of their praise, the doors flew open and everyone’s chains came off! Then the jailer rushed in, fell trembling before them and said “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? They told him, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Then the jailer took them in, washed their wounds, and at his insistence, Paul and Silas baptized the jailer and his entire family!

How would you like that to happen in your church this Sunday?

Most of us struggle with so many “buzz words” when it comes to worship styles: “contemporary,” “blended,” “traditional,” “post modern,” “purpose driven,” “seeker sensitive,” etc… !

I love what Anne Ortland said, “God doesn’t give a hoot about style. The bottom line is not what style we are, but if we have a personal encounter with God and experience His manifest presence.

The best way for us to lead in worship, is to simply worship with abandon! That kind of worship iscontagious and encourages the congregation to move from spectators to participants.

Another great example of God responding to praise is found in II Chronicles 20:21-22. Jehosophat here wins a seemingly unwinnable battle simply because he made praise his priority!

Here are a few A.W. Tozer quotes that should inspire all of us in our commitment to worship:

Any man or woman who is bored by worship is not ready for Heaven.

“Genuine worship involves feeling. The worst thing that could ever be said about us is that we are a feeling-less people!

Worship is the means by which the glory of God is entertained.

Let’s give God goosebumps this Sunday!