This is odd. I am dating this post for Sunday, June 19th since I am going to write about events from that day, but it is actually Friday morning, June 24th. I am certain I already posted about preaching on Sunday, but I can't find the post anywhere on our blog. Hmmm...I either lost a post or am losing my mind!
So, Sunday was a busy day. Pastor is out town at the Liberty Fellowship family summer conference. Liberty Fellowship is the group that Pastor, Stan (our singles pastor) and I are ordained with. Anyway, Pastor was gone so I got to preach. I really enjoy the opportunity to preach and am thankful Pastor David trusts me enough to fill in while he is away.
As I was thinking and praying about this opportunity to preach, I came across Matthew 12:33-37: "A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned." (NLT)
As I read that, I started thinking about all of the things I have tried to keep from coming out of my mouth...hurtful words, curse words, lying, gossip, etc. I remember one period in my life where I determined I was not going to say negative things about people. There were a number of times when something negative would come to mind, but I just determined not to say it. That was a good feeling, and I believe the Lord was pleased with that decision. But after reading this passage from Matthew, I realized that while God was happy that I was not "saying" those things, He would rather take those things out of my heart. Then, not only would I not say them, but they would not even be in my heart.
About this time, Brooke, Amanda and I were over at my parents house. Brooke was inside with Mom while Amanda and I were outside with Dad. While Dad and I were talking, Amanda began crying and came up to me. When I asked her what happened, she took me over to a fire ant hill and told me she was trying to kill the fire ants (because she knows we do not like them). She was trying to destroy the whole mound one ant at a time. Those of us who live in Texas know, theoretically, the best way to get rid of fire ants is some sort of poison bait that the ants will take to the queen/queens. If the queen dies, the mound dies or at least moves.
Later, the Lord brought this story and this passage together. How many times in my spiritual life do I try to overcome sin issues one little ant at a time? Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." (NLT) The Lord was telling me that I could fight sin issues in my life one ant at a time or I could give Him my heart, let Him take out the nasty stuff in there and put His "stuff" (wisdom, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) and kill the whole "ant hill" at one time.
Lastly, with it being Father's Day, I thought about the things we give our fathers on Father's Day. What has God told us He would like for us to give Him...our hearts! So I preached a message called "The Heart of the Matter" and used the acronym HEART to look at what God says about the heart and, more specifically, how we can take a a "kill the whole colony" approach to sin by giving our heart to God.
As they often do, my parents came to hear me preach. I always appreciate them coming, and since Sunday was both Father's Day and Mom's birthday, we went out to eat together after church. Afterwards, we all came back to the house and spent a little time together before everybody got sleepy for a Sunday afternoon nap.
Sunday night, we didn't do much of anything. We just relaxed and probably went to be early. It was a busy Sunday.