Note: These are Sunday exhortations delivered at the beginning of Covenant Renewal Worship at Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl.
This morning I would like to continue to discuss this matter of what happens in the liturgy. Last week, I mentioned that we come to church on Sunday to be renewed by God. He gives gifts to us. We are passive recipients first, so that we may be active givers of thanks. All things are gifts from God. The grace of Yahweh is what is guiding this liturgical service; this Divine service is a response to what God has done and continues to do for us.
We have made some changes in our liturgy in these past nine months in order to more accurately reflect the flow of redemption. God is assembling His people to shower us with good gifts. He is calling us into His presence. But notice that before the Call we have an exhortation. What purpose does this serve?
a) First, the exhortation serves to call the people of God to holy conversation. When the minister of God exhorts you he is speaking as God’s own representative. Our conversation is different. We are not here to discuss our work; we are here to discuss God’s work on our behalf. The minister wears a robe to show the world that his calling is different. And when he speaks the people of God are to hear and be challenged and encouraged. As the writer of Hebrews writes, the liturgist or the minister is watching over your soul because he will give an account of how he has shepherded the flock one day. In the exhortation the minister looks in the eyes of his sheep and gives them the initial call to action.
b) Secondly, the exhortation is a taste of the Word of God. It is a Biblical principle, a quote that that captures the Biblical message, an encouragement that enlivens the weak, a call to repentance; it is all these things and more. It is given so God’s people may know that when they come to God’s house, they begin with the Word of God and they end with the Word of God.
c) Thirdly, the exhortation is like a table homily. It is like the father calling his children and himself to live in light of the realities of this New Creation. It is a subtle warning as if to say: Are you ready for this feast? Are you ready to be taken into the heavens? Are you ready to have supper with your Messiah?
d) Fourthly, the exhortation is a pastor’s plea to His people to transition their work-oriented minds into worship-oriented minds. It is true that we worship every day, but Biblically no day is more worshipful and delightful than the worship with God’s people on the Lord’s Day.
e) Finally, the exhortation is a message for you. It is a message for God’s covenant people. It is a message that only makes sense in our world. It is not a message for the unrighteous, but it is a message for the righteous. Unbelieving, covenant-breaking men have no interest in our assembly. They have no interest in the ways of Yahweh; they prefer to take advice from the wicked. The exhortation is like getting the ladder ready to go up to the roof, except in this case Christ is the ladder and Christ is taking us to heavens. Are you ready to renew covenant with our God? Let us pray.
Our God prepare our hearts for this holy task and quiet our hearts as we prepare to taste and see that you are good.