So this morning I have a short two-part exhortation for you. And the first part is really simple. Today is 67 degrees and sunny, and so I want to exhort you — if you’re able, at some point — to get outside and enjoy the 67 degrees and sunny.
It is the end of April and I think today is the warmest, sunniest day that we’ve had so far this year, and it’s easy for us here in Minnesota to recognize that days like today are a gift from God — days like today are one of those good gifts coming straight down to us, from the hand of God. And so, enjoy it.
I think joy is the theme of days like today, and I think we see this in Psalm 65. I’ve been meditating on this psalm over the past week, and it’s fascinating how in this psalm about God’s faithfulness to his people, it is shown in how he provides and blesses his creation. The creation around us — the waters, and pastures, and hills, and meadows, and valleys — they are all, because of God’s provision, shouting and singing together for joy. David mentions joy three times, starting in verse 8 when he says:
You, [God] make the morning and the evening shout for joy.
You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it.
The river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settlings its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.
Basically, when we enjoy creation it’s like coming to a party that’s already been started. Our joy in the created world means tapping into a joy that’s already there. And I want us to do that.
But here’s the thing: you can’t really do that unless your sins are forgiven.
The psalm starts there. Verse 3: “When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgression.”
In other words, David says: “I am a sinner, God, and you are the forgiver of sin.” And until we understand that, until we experience that, I don’t care how warm and sunny it is, we will be living beneath the cloud of guilt and shame. You will not be able to truly experience the joy of God’s created world until you experience the joy of God’s forgiveness. And so, second part of the exhortation: be forgiven.
Confess your sins to God, trust in Jesus Christ, and receive his full and complete forgiveness.
That’s why we have this moment in our service. I want to invite you to go to God with me in confession.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we recognize this morning that your wonder surrounds us. You are a good God and you give good things, and today, we see the good thing bright and clear in 67 degrees and sunny. And we recognize, Father, that in your goodness, it is 67 degrees and sunny for everyone. You make the sun rise on the evil and the good, on the just and the unjust, and that is the sheer extravagance of your goodness, period. And we thank you for that.
But we confess, Father, that too often we have turned our backs on your wonder and we have chased after cheap substitutes. We have sought joy in our iniquity, and pleasure in our sin. We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking that we can be happy in your distance, that we can be okay without your presence. But it’s not true. Forgive us, Father, for believing this lie, and forgive us for our many sins, as we come now to confess them to you silence.
Now, Father, make your light to overcome our darkness. Make the sun of your mercy overcome the clouds of our shame. Because now we remember the gospel anthem that rings true. That as all creation shouts and sings together for joy, we shout and sing: we are not dead, but alive; we are not lost, but found; we are not your enemies, we are your sons and daughters — all because of the death and resurrection of Jesus for us. In his name we pray, amen.
Assurance of Pardon
Church, you have confessed your sins. Now, hear the good news!
When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Therefore, to all who humbly seek the mercy of God I say, in Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven.