September 1

Matthew 17-18, Psalm 90

Most of us have the tendency to shut off at times during conversations, in so doing we miss the message that is being conveyed. Though in my field of Obstetrics and Gynecology I often have the pleasure of giving good news, many times I have to deliver difficult news. Just this month I told a couple of women that they had cancer. Throughout the year I unfortunately must deliver the news that my patients have miscarried, or their baby is no longer alive, or their baby has a birth defect or the potential for one. More common than not once I say the first few words I can see it in their eyes that they have shut off to everything else I am attempting to convey. For instance, when telling someone that they have uterine or endometrial cancer which often has a wonderful prognosis, they stop listening once they have cancer and want to know how much more time that they have and are already writing their own obituary. Many birth defects are not severe and pose no significant threat to the baby, but my reassuring words are often lost with the parents only hearing the word "abnormal". So many of my patients immediately begin blaming themselves after a miscarriage despite my reassuring words immediately after delivering the news and stressing to them that the miscarriage had nothing to do with how careful they were. We read in James 1:19, "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;". There is a reason that God gave us two ears, two eyes but only one mouth, but so often we tend to use the mouth over the other two.

We read in Matthew 16:21-23, "From that time Jesus began to show the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." A little later we read again in Matthew 17:22-23, "Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up." And they were exceedingly sorrowful." Though the thought of their leader and their Savior dying was devastating to them, the disciples immediately shut off when they heard the first part of the message completely missing the second part about His resurrection. On the Mount of Transfiguration as Jesus appeared in His glorified state, rather than simply absorbing everything that was going on Peter felt the compulsion to speak in 17:4, "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." We next read God's response in 17:5, "While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ""This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" We would all do well to heed this message from God to hear Him.

How often are we all guilty of this. A conversation gets heated and rather than listening to what the other person is trying to say which might need to be heard, we have already shut down and are preparing our rebuttal. How often to we miss what a pastor is trying to convey as we are distracted by our own thoughts or by the need to say something to the person sitting next to us. How often do we miss the complete message that Scripture is trying to convey because we focus on one verse or one portion of the Scripture completely ignoring the rest of what is being conveyed. How often do we prevent the Holy Spirit from conveying a fresh insight for us on a particular portion of Scripture because we essentially put our hands up to the Holy Spirit and say , "No thank You, I already know this part of the Bible." We can only hear if we allow ourselves to be empty vessels. The Holy Spirit will not cram into an individual who is already full of his own thoughts and ideas. If we want to feel the presence of Him, we must all approach Him in His Word, in prayer, in worship, in fellowship with fear and trembling waiting in expectation to what He has to deliver to us that day. The Christian walk is a dynamic one, the question is are we remaining receptive to His lead.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster