First Impressions 2

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First Impressions 2

Post  fennywest on Tue 26 Oct 2010, 1:59 am

First impressions can be deceptive, fear instigating , faith impairing, doubt redoubling, strength sapping when the enemy of our souls stands out like towering Goliath and chanting and breathing fire, carnage, damage, defeat, sickness, disease, poverty, penury, ruin and even death.

He will show us evidence that we know about underline the scary death traps that we may find ourselves and breath fire and despair and hopeless into our souls if we keep listening to him.

The way he booms, a zooms around, swaggering hollering. howling, snarling, bellowing, bragging, we may be tempted to believe him. He may even show us movies of the damage he had done in times past like Sennacherib. He may write us letters that sting, show us pictures of nightmares looming. We may even perspire as we read the letter and almost expire and retire to die.
10Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.
11Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered?
12Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar?
13Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?
14And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD
33Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.
34By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.
35For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
36Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.
37So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
38And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

But if we will be wise we will not go by these first impressions. For the enemy knows that his days are numbered and will throw his worst on the redeemed of the Lord. And those who know their God shall be strong and they shall do great exploits. They shall see through the first impressions and discover that their enemy is no match for their God. He has a glass jaw. He is a phoney roaring lion seeking whom. He wants those who will believe him more than they believe their God. He wants those who will fear the one who can only kill the body but those who know that their lives are hidden in Christ in God shall not be cowered but remain bold and strong.

Gideon and his 300
5For they came up with their cattle and their tents, and they came as grasshoppers for multitude; for both they and their camels were without number: and they entered into the land to destroy it.
6And Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites; and the children of Israel cried unto the LORD. Jud6:5-6

When you see Gideon who initially saw himself as the weakest link, from the least of the least, going out with 32000 men against 135,000, what comes to mind? He must be a fool. That is the first impression. He stands no chance. He and his men will be mauled in second or minutes. This stand to reason and logic doesn’t it?
Then God tells him the people are too many. Tell all those who are afraid to return home and 22,000 men returned, what would have gone through your mind first and foremost. ‘No contest!’ you would say. They might as well surrender.
Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword. Jud8:10

Gideon now had 10,000 to face 135,000 and God is still not satisfied with this number and told Gideon to test them further with a view to reducing the number. He was to take them to a brook where they would quench their thirst and those only those who were in a state of readiness even while satisfying their thirst were chosen. And these were just 300. Those who knelt down and drank with ease, laying down their weapons were sent home, deemed unfit for battle.
Now what is your impression of Gideon facing this great armada of soldiers like the sand of the sea with just 300? Surely it will be from ‘No contest to foolishness, a joke.
But one with God is majority! If God be for you who can be against you?

7And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place Jud7:7

First impressions are deceptive unless you are seeing from the eyes of God.

You need to know, that you know, that no matter the size of the enemies arrayed against you, once God comes on your side the scale is tipped in your favour.
Gideon and his band of 300 looked a chicken feed, a small fry, a suicide attempt, but when you know that behind them is the Most High, the All-powerful, the victorious Banner, the ever-present, with Whom all things are possible, who decrees and it stands, commands and comes into being it will change your perspective and you will hold your peace.

20And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
21And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
22And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath. Jud7:20

When you see David approaching towering, macho fighting machine, Goliath, what is your first impression?
‘This is outrageous. This boy is simply mad. Has he no advisers? He is deranged. Are there no physicians in the land? What has gone wrong with Israel that they want to sacrifice this lad? Sure you would say David stood no chance and it was just a piece of entertainment.
But when you know the God of David and have the experience and relationship he had with that God you will be confident and will be able to say yourself, in the face of the enemies against you: ‘This day you will realise that the Lord does not save with swords and spears. How dare you defy the army of the living God? This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands and I will cut off your head. You come against me with spears and sword but I come against you with the name of the Lord of Hosts, whose name is above every other name. Today, I will give your flesh to the fowls of the air and the beats of the field.

When you see a man over 100 years old, and going about with a name, ‘Abraham’ – Father of many nations- what is your first impression of this man? Yet he has no child and his wife is barren. He has a ‘no or low sperm count’. Surely you would be right to say from the natural perspective, that he should stop deceiving himself, forget about children change his name to a less provocative name and wait to die. You would tell him that his dream was dead and buried and beyond resurrection.
But it was God who changed his name. and so against natural hope, Abraham believed in supernatural hope and God changed his story; God changed the hopeless situation. In the fullness of time God gave Abraham laughter, Isaac, just as He said.

17(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:
20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform
1And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
4And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
6And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
7And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.
Gen 21

His word will not fall to the ground. Heaven and earth will pass away but the word of the Lord abides forever. The grass may wither, the flower may fade but the word of the Lord abides forever. He watches over His word to perform it. By two unchangeable things- His word and His oath, it is impossible for God to lie. Has he spoken, and will He not do? Does He bring to a time of birth and stop delivery?

When you see Joseph, who had a dream of future greatness thrown into the pit, then sold as a slave , ending up as a servant in Potiphar’s house, tempted and in spite of his excellence and integrity ending up in the dungeon what is your first impression. You would be right if you say he was cursed; when even his righteousness does not save him. He does good and gets bad for it. Yes, you would be right to say Joseph had lost his way. ‘He honours God and God has abandoned him.’

12And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.
13And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth,
14That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
15And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.
16And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home.
17And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
18And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
19And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
20And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
21But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Gen39:13-21

But God saves the best till the last. God has the trump card. God knows how to turn bad into good. He has the last word, not our enemy. We know that the God we serve works everything together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes.
Yes, we know the story, in the fullness of time the king dreamed a dream and Joseph was the only one who could interpreted the dream. The butler who had forgotten him, suddenly remembered Joseph and told he king about him. Joseph was brought out and he interpreted the dream to the amazement of the king. The king was overwhelmed and immediately triggered a miracle: a foreigner became the Prime Minister of Egypt and second in command.

And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
9Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:
10Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker:
11And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.
12And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.
13And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
14Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

38And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
40Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
41And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
42And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
43And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
44And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
45And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
46And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. Gen41:38-46

The impossible became possible the dead dream came alive right before our eyes. Our first impression has been blown asunder, proved false. The prisoner is now feted, adorned, bedecked with royal apparel and the people bowed the knee to him.

Chariots of Fire
Elisha’s servant came out one morning to wash the mules and Carmel and what did he see? The Assyrian armies were surrounding them and they were innumerable. Naturally he feared. His first impression was: this is the end of the road for us.’ We are finished!’
He ran back and woke up his master. ‘Master, Master he said, you would not believe this. We are in great trouble, in a big soup. We are in a hole, trapped by the Assyrian army. What shall we do?
The prophet was as cool as ice. He prayed that the Lord would open the eyes of his servant to see that there were more with them than angst them and the Lord did. What did he see? He saw a host of heaven angels n chariots of fire that far outnumber the enemy.
14Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
18And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.2Kings6:14-18

Yes, when you have had an encounter with Him in the secret place, nothing on the outside will make you quake. When you have trembled at his word in your closet you will not tremble at the sight of the enemy outside your closet no matter how formidable or intimidating they may look. No bad news will cause you to be alarmed
Because you know whom you serve and who m you believe and it shall be just like He had told you.

When the three nations (Moabites, Ammonites and Mount Seir) gathered against Judah, they were like the sand of the sea. And they came suddenly, so King feared naturally. If you were there what would your first impression be?

It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
2Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.
3And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the LORD: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

This is another case of a king who was doing good being attacked, surrounded overwhelmingly. You would say it pays to compromise and not rattle the enemy.

Jehoshaphat did the right thing. He called a fast and the whole nation sought the face of God.

15And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.
16To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel.
17Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.
18And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.

When your enemies come like a flood, do the same. Seek Gods face. Don’t panic. Watch and pray. Seek to hear God’s voice.
As they sought God’s face, the King led the prayer meeting himself and prayed a powerful covenant prayer, reminding God of His promises and reminding Him of His friend, Abraham. He ended His prayer with, ‘We do not know what to do but our eyes are on You.’
God responded with a prophecy: Be not afraid neither be you dismayed the battle is not yours but the Lord’s. Tomorrow, you go out against them. God gave them a ridiculous strategy which they followed and their enemies destroyed themselves after they had praise God singing praise ye the Lord His mercies endures forever and ever. And the place where they were told to come for battle became a bread basket as the took the spoils of war so much that it took three days to gather up everything.
That is what God can do for us when we seek His face in the face of the onslaught of our enemies and hear from Him and obey Him regardless of the simplicity of His instructions or how ridiculous it may seem. He remains the same, yesterday, today and forever.
22And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.
23For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another.
24And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped.
25And when Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoil, it was so much.
From Saul to Paul

Saul of Tarsus was a name that struck fear, terror, damage, havoc, imprisonment, torture or even death to the ears of the early Christians. So when he came into town every Christian went into hiding. You will be mad to approach him. Then one day, on the road to Damascus he had an encounter with the Lord, as a light for heaven struck him blind whilst he heard the voice; ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? ‘

Who are you Lord was his question and the Lord told him, ‘I am Jesus Christ, who you persecute’. He was commanded to go to Ananias who was to lay hands on him to receive his sight.

The Lord also appeared to Ananias in a vision and told him who was coming and what he was to do.
What was the first impression of Ananias? Fear, panic of course. He argued with the Lord that this man was the ringleader of the anti-Christian mafia, as if the Lord did not know. God had to tell him not to allow that first impression to becloud his judgement and that this man was a chose n vessel of Him to take the gospel to the nations and that would himself suffer many things.
Soon there was a knock on the door and there was the hit man, Saul of Tarsus.
11And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Acts9:11-18

God can transform anyone and we need not go by the outward appearance of men. The greatest enemies of the Gospel can turn out to be its greatest champions and trophies as we see in Saul of Tarsus who wrote thirteen best sellers of all time. This should encourage us as we witness and preach the Gospel, not to give up in spite of the obstacles and opposition, keep praying for them and watering the seed we have sown until it bears fruit.

We all have issues

And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.
25And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years,
26And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse,
27When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment.
28For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.
29And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.
30And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?
32And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing.
33But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.
34And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

When you see the woman with the issue of blood who had bled for twelve long years, spent al she had saved and her condition grew worse, what would be your first impression? When you are told that apart from that barrier she was not allowed to mingle with others in the community or allowed to go out what would your conclusion of the matter be? Doubtless it will be one of hopelessness. End of the road or dead end. At this stage doctor normally tell their patients, ‘sorry there nothing we can do. Let us switch off the life-supporting machine. Go home and prepare to die. Get a priest to say the last rites. Case dismissed. It’s all over. But it is not over until the Master says so. Man may despair and give p on you base on the evidence which ay be dire, dark, gloomy, hopeless, but with the God of Hope there is hope.
Yes, someone dared, took the risk to visit this woman, in spite of the restriction and tell her about the miracle worker. ’ That person overcame their first impression of hopelessness and gave her the good news
Have you heard, madam? There is a miracle worker in town. His name is Jesus. He heals the sick, raises the dead, opens blind eyes, fed 5000 with two fish and five loaves, walks on water stilled the storm by the word of his mouth. He even heals people by proxy.
And as the person continued that woman listen with her mouth open and she asked, ‘Where is He? Where is He?’
She began t rehearse:
‘If I can just touch the hem of His garments I shall be made whole. She kept saying it to herself and eventually she venture out. In her mind the Levitical law restricting her replayed itself but she ignored it. She said to herself,’ I will not let my miracle pass me by. She dragged herself along until she was very close to Jesus and his entourage. The throng was massive, a discouraging at first impression but she kept on encouraging herself; ‘If I can just touch the hem of his garment I shall be made whole. The price is worth paying.’ She must have also thought,’ ‘What if you are crushed? Is it not better to die peacefully at home? Why do you want to die in misery- crushed to death? She had to overcome that thought by keep on saying to herself, ‘If I can just touch the hem of His garment, I shall be made whole. ’xxxxxx
It was difficult to bend down but she did and reached out and touched the hem of Jesus’ garments her fingers were nearly crushed but she succeeded in touching Jesus and immediately power zoomed out of Jesus, like electricity and stemmed the tide of the flow of blood. The ceaseless flow was terminated, arrested immediately. Jesus knew something unusual had happened to Him. He knew power had gone out of Him. He knew someone had touched him in an unusual way. Someone had made a withdrawal by faith. And so He asked, ‘Who touched me? Who touched me?’ The disciples were amazed at His question and they replied, ‘Everybody is touching you and you are asking, ‘Who touched me? What a question! But Jesus knew it was a different touch, he kept asking until this woman came forward and owned up. He told her daughter go. You faith had mad you whole. She came as an outsider, broke, busted, disgusted, depleted, drained, in despair, wasted, weak, worn, in mourning, in agony and broken, but she went home restored, healed made every wit whole, joyful and a daughter of Abraham.

So what is the conclusion oft the matter?
Do not be alarmed at the threat of the enemy. One of the greatest weapons of the enemy is discouragement, which can come when you feel, hopeless helpless and vulnerable. The Bible records ‘Fear not 365 times which means you need to remind yourself not to fear, at least once everyday. Know who you are in Christ. Partner with God. and know that one with Him is majority. See things from God’s perspective. Believe God’s promises. Act on them. Put on the whole armour of God so that you will not panic when the enemy threatens you. Know that God is working for you behind the scenes. And no weapon fashioned against you will prosper. Know also that when the enemy comes like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise a standard against him. Your life is hidden in Christ in God. You are more than a conqueror through Christ. You may be hard-pressed but you will not be crushed. You may be perplexed but you need not be in despair. You may be persecuted but know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are not abandoned. If God be for you who can be against you? God has good plans for you. Think about his plans and purposes for your life regardless of what you see in the natural. The things which are seen are temporary but that which is not seen is eternal. See beyond the first impressions that your enemy makes to distract or frighten you or cause you to worry, doubt God or be discouraged. See your God as all-mighty, ever-present, sovereign and good in all his ways. See Him as good all the time and you will not be moved by the first impressions of principalities or powers or the devil himself.
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