The Right Impression
Psalm 139:13-16; I John 3:1-2; Matthew 16:23; I Chronicles 19:15;
II Corinthians 7:1
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT (Written by Rick Raymer, Major)
Taking a walk as part of my recovery from my first back surgery, I stuck my cane into a hole in the pavement that had been repaired with a spongy substance. I pushed the cane down into this gooey stuff, and when I took it out, it had left an impression. I thought to myself, I’ll look at it another day to see if my impression is still there. Five days later, I saw that my mark remained. I was reminded of the impression Jesus has left on all of us.
First, He left His impression on us before we were even born.
“You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Psalm 139:13–16 (NLT)
In essence, God makes an impression of Himself within us. He knitted us together and left His impression—His image— upon our very being. When He breathed the breath of life into us, He left His imprint upon you and me.
When my grandmother made clothes, she used a pattern. You might say she made an impression of the original design.
Did you ever see the movie August Rush with Freddie Highmore (now of Good Doctor fame)? In that movie, his character, August, stood in the middle of the tall grass as he pretended to direct a symphony while the wind made beautiful, shifting impressions on it. In a field of grass, those impressions remain only until the wind changes directions or ceases to blow. The clothing my grandmother made lasted only a few years. The impression I made with my cane will only last a short time. But when God gives us eternal life, He imparts to us an impression that is timeless!
At the Carr P. Collins Social Service Center in Dallas, Texas—arguably the largest social service center in the Salvation Army world—an employee with the title “Ambassa dor of First Impressions” sits at the front desk. This is the first person people see when they come into the facility. This individual smiles at everyone who enters, whether it’s a parent in need of food for the family, a homeless person seeking shelter, or a wealthy donor. Regardless of their
circumstances, people are all treated the same way because we know that’s what Jesus would do.
Holy children of God
As we ponder the word impression and what it means, I am confident that if you and I bear the impressions of God Almighty we will be holy, just as He is holy. We will be His children. John wrote of this many centuries ago:
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know
us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
I John 3:1–2 (NIV)
The process of being conformed to the image of God’s Son happens over the course of our lifetime. As we live from day to day, we continue to be conformed to His image. The more we get to know Him, the more we become like Him. When we see Him face to face, we will receive our resurrection bodies, just as He received His. So we will stand before Jesus as holy impressions!
While we are here on Earth, you and I must convey a holy impression to a world that so desperately needs to see it. God put His impression on us so that we could shine brightly in a dark, sinful world. We can be like a flame on a
candlestick beckoning the lost to draw near.
What kind of impression are we making on those around us? If we do not spend time in God’s Word, we are not going to make the right impression. If we do not spend time in prayer on a consistent basis, we are not going to
convey the right impression.
That right impression is to exemplify the very God who breathed into us the breath of life. I believe our job as His children is to present Him in every aspect of our lives.
Not focusing on the world’s ways
It’s all about setting our priorities for what is truly important. We know for certain that this world is temporary; it’s built on things that will have no place in the true, lasting, permanent world of God’s Kingdom. But all too often, we lose sight of this fact and yield to the temptation of focusing on the ways of this world, such as, “If it feels good, do it!” or, “Anything goes” (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone!). Even Peter lost his sense of what was truly important.
When Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer, be killed, and be raised again, Peter took Him aside and told Him not to say such things. Jesus’ response was, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God but merely
human concerns.” Matthew 16:23 (NIV)
The Bible speaks of our being travelers here. “Our days are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.” I Chronicles 19:15 (NLT) That means this world is not our true home. So we can’t fall in love with this world or its
ways, which at their very core are corrupt. Our reason for being here seems to involve being refined and made pure as snow so that we will be ready to fit into God’s Kingdom, where we will live for eternity.
Until that time, God puts His impression on us to shine as a witness in this world to those who will accept Him. That impression is made by His Spirit, and His Spirit is the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of holiness.
Our journey to holiness begins when we accept the invitation to follow Jesus. But we must continue on our journey by using our “free will” the right way and by continuing to reject the daily thoughts, impulses, people, places, and
things that draw us away from God and away from holy living.
This is the impression that God puts in our lives. His impression reflects Him for the world around us to see. The more we block out this world’s values, which cannot stand, and choose the holy ways of God, the more the world
around us sees His impression in us. The more we reject, the more we reflect.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “ … let us make ourselves pure from everything that makes our bodies and spirits impure. Let us be completely holy.”
II Corinthians 7:1 (NIrV)
In other words, we can and should turn from our wickedness and claim the second blessing of a clean heart. Then and only then will we be perceived as God’s children.
These are certainly words to live by, but the question is do we?
Hope to see you next week as we look at "Walking Blameless Before God."
(Today's devotional comes from the book "Living Holiness Out Loud in The 21st Century" by Major Rick Raymer. If interested, this book can be purchased through Trade South.)
OUR CORPORATE PRAYER
Father, into Your hands, we commit our lives afresh and anew and ask that Your precious Holy Spirit will do what He does best and guide our thoughts, actions, and motives as we pursue holiness. And give us the power to walk in Your Spirit each and every day so that the impression we leave on all we meet will point them to the Christ of Calvary. In Jesus' name, amen.
OUR WORLDWIDE PRAYER MEETING FOR MAY 4, 2023 ~ CANADA AND BERMUDA TERRITORY
REACHING OUT TO OTHERS
Take an hour or more to volunteer this week for a non-profit agency and do so in such a way that leaves an impression that will cause others to think of Christ.