Author: StephanieBBlake

I love to help others focus on the one thing that's most important in life through my ministry, teaching and writing. As Vice President of Xtend Ministries International - www.xtendinternational.com, I travel extensively with my husband. I maintain two websites: www.onefocusministries.com and stretchmoney.wordpress.com. On the One Focus site, you can find free Bible studies, devotionals and information about my first book, "The Prayer Driven Life". My book, "Money: How to Be Rich Without It and How to Stretch It Using Ten Hints from the Past and the Technology of Today" was the inspiration for stretchmoney.wordpress.com. Money saving hints are contained throughout the book and this site was created to continue to give helpful hints on stretching money or having the proper view toward money.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: God Promises to Hear His Children

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry…The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit,,,For in You, O Lord, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God…I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry…Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice….I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live (Psalm 34:15, 17-18; 38:15; 40:1; 55:17; 116-:1-2 NKJV).

When I wrote Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: the Promise of God’s Presence a year ago, we were in the throes of a terrible time in our nation – and in the world. Our circumstances have not gotten any better – in fact, they are worse. My testimony of this past year can be summarized in a statement I made in that post.

David said, He heard me. At another time he said, The Lord will hear me when I call to Him. Because David knew that God had heard him before, he knew that God would hear him each time He called.

Like David, I have a history with God. He has heard me and I know He will continue to hear me. When I need to be reminded of His presence, He knows just how to do it.

God’s promise to hear us adds a very personal element to the reality of His abiding presence. Not only is He present, The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth, He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them (Psalm 145:18-19). There is no thought you think He does not hear. There is no prayer you utter He does not answer. You and I, as His children, have a constant audience with our Heavenly Father. We don’t need to work to get His attention. Because that is true, we can count on an uninterrupted conversation with the One who knows every detail of our lives, and has an answer for every situation.

That conversation is called prayer.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Deliverance

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them… The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles… Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all…And the Lord shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked and save them, because they trust in HimCall upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me (Psalm 34:7, 17, 19; 37:40, 50:15).

I admit I’ve struggled to understand this promise. Knowing that God always makes good on His promises, how could I reconcile God’s miraculous deliverances of Daniel from the lion’s den; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace, and God’s chosen people through the Red Sea with other heroes of the faith who were tortured and killed? Stephen fell asleep while praying for those who were stoning him. He, along with others in Hebrews 11, obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

We do not know what God knows nor can we understand fully what brings Him glory. Many have testified of deliverance from impending threat, a horrible accident or recovery from a disease; however, the Father Himself suffered as He watched His Son journey to the cross even though Jesus asked Him to “take this cup from Me”. Jesus could have been delivered from the cross – He had power in Himself to do so – but He chose, for our sakes, to complete that horrible task in order to deliver us.

For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, and save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence and precious shall be their blood in His sight (Psalm 72:12-14).

Perhaps the best answer to why or why not the Father choses to deliver us from a temporal trial is found in Colossians 1:13-14. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

In today’s world, there are trials in abundance. God’s children can say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him“. In eternity, we will be delivered from the presence of darkness and sin. Right now, we can count on the promise that we have already been delivered from Satan’s power!

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Joy

You make known to me the path of life, You will fill me with joy in your presenceThe precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart…When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy….The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy…Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 16:11, 19:8, 94:19, 126:3,5 NIV)

“Claiming the Promises of the Psalms” was begun at the beginning of 2021 – a time in which I believed strongly we needed to notice and take encouragement from God’s Word. The pandemic that affected all of us – in America and abroad – is still with us. Our own country now has new issues facing those trying to raise families, make a living and live out their faith.Those who have small businesses have been particularly impacted by circumstances outside their control – no matter how hard they work, their lives have been made more difficult.

I took particular encouragement this week from a story about a small business that had to close down. After only five months in business, a retail toy store had to close its doors. The owners wanted to bring the joy back into shopping for toys. Their concept was a great one and their customers loved them and their shop. Several factors, though, caused them to decide they could not stay open. The American supply chain crisis was the last nail in that coffin. The owners’ cost had increased so much they couldn’t afford to buy any more product and knew their customers would not be able to pay the new elevated prices that would enable them to stay in business.

The owners of JoJo’s Toys and More in Newington, CT were sad, to be sure, about the necessity to close their dream store. It was their response that was captivating to me.

We are waiting for what the Lord has for us.

We get through it because of our faith.

There’s joy in our hearts – believe it or not – there’s joy in our hearts.

Eliah and Priscilla Lefferts

What a difference knowing the God of the universe makes! When things are falling apart around us, we know that He is for us. He promises joy – no matter what the circumstances are.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Continual Guidance

Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there; those who obey them receive a rich reward…The Lord’s loyal followers receive his guidance, and he reveals his covenantal demands to them…Yes, I find delight in your rules; they give me guidance (Psalms 19:11, 25:14, 119:24 NET).

My last post was Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Guidance. The emphasis in that post was on the promise that God would give us guidance if we trust Him for it. What I have discovered in the book of Isaiah adds another element to that promise – we need His continual guidance.

This also comes from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance…The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail (Isaiah 28:29, 58:11).

The GPS system on one of our vehicles often has a question for us. When we feel that we can proceed without the help of the GPS, even when we have not reached our destination yet, we can STOP GUIDANCE. Upon that instruction, the GPS is preset to ask, “Are you sure you want to stop guidance?” The STOP GUIDANCE command usually comes when we are in a familiar place and know the rest of the way home – thus negating the need for any further direction. On occasion, we have encountered some incident on the road that was unexpected. If we had kept the GPS system operating, we would have been warned about an “incident ahead” and possibly been able to drive around it.

Even as committed Christians, we sometimes think we can stop God’s guidance. We are in familiar territory. We know what the Bible says. We have been down that road before. The problem is we can’t see what He can see. There may be some obstacle, some incident on the road that could not have possibly been anticipated.

So…we would be wise to take advice from God through Isaiah and remember that the Lord will guide you continually.

STOP GUIDANCE should not be part of our journey. We need His guidance every step of the way. We could save ourselves a lot of grief if we continually let Him guide.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Guidance

The humble He guides in justice…He will be our guide even to death…You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory (Psalm 25:9a, 48:14, 73:24).

When I don’t know what to do, I know God does.

His loving direction surrounds us – leading from the front (as a great Commander would do), walking beside us (as a best friend and Comforter would do), and covering the rear (as a concerned Protector would do).

This promise of guidance was reinforced by Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit. “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth (John 16:13a).

The Internal Guidance of God

Certainly God’s guidance has external elements – like circumstances, something you hear, something you see or something you read (especially God’s word), but if you are walking daily with Christ, you can trust His internal guidance. He can speak to your heart; but you need to be still enough to hear Him. Elijah expected to find God’s guidance in wind, earthquake and fire, but it was His still small voice that gave him the guidance he needed. We picture David alone with his sheep when he pens, “He leads me beside the still waters and He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. When everything else but God is in the background, you can hear Him speak. When He has your full attention, His still small voice can come in loud and clear. His nudgings to do something or to refrain from doing something, to say something or not to say something, or even your next move in a task are to be trusted. I am not talking about what you feel – feelings can be deceptive. I am talking about what you “hear”. If what you hear could not be possibly be of Satan, trust that it is from God.

Even in ordinary tasks of life, God is there to guide. Since tomorrow is not promised, I have come to believe that what is done today is of great importance even when it is a mundane task. One of my frequent prayers has become, “What should I do next?” It is amazing to me that even a simple task He has me complete is finished just in time to get on to the next thing. And…since I tend to lose track of my thoughts, I often pray, “Lord, please remind me to do so and so.” And He does. Nothing is too small to take to God. If it concerns you, it concerns Him.

If your desire is to glorify God, He promises His guidance will accomplish that in your life. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you….He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit (John 15:7,5b).

We are living in uncertain times. How can we possibly navigate these frightening waters without the guidance of the Holy Spirit? We can’t. He can guide. He will guide. He will help us sort out truth and lies and will be our guide even to death.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: Psalm 37: The Promise of Inheritance

Written and sung by Squire Parsons

I love Sweet Beulah Land. I want it sung at my memorial service to remind those who attend that this world is not our home and for those who love Christ – as I do – we will be together again! I have good reason to look forward to my eternal home – it is real and it is promised. Psalm 37 describes those who will inherit the land and dwell in it forever as those who have been transformed by the love of Christ – those who hope in the Lord, the meek, the blameless, those the Lord blesses, the righteous and those who wait for the Lord and keep his way (v.9,11,18,22,29 and 34). Jesus repeated this promise – the meek shall inherit the earth – and told His disciples He was going to prepare a place for them.

We can look forward to that place BECAUSE God is there.

The Land of Beulah by H. Melville

For weeks, I have been pondering Psalm 37. So many things stand out in that wonderful passage. An inheritance is not earned. It is a legacy gift – paid for by someone who left his treasures to his loved ones upon his death. We have been promised an inheritance because of Jesus’ death on the cross. The believing thief who was crucified beside Him was promised,”Today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

All who trust in Him are promised an inheritance – a literal place where God resides.

Psalm 37 clearly states the fate of the evil and the good. The wicked (mentioned at least 13 times) are described as evildoers, workers of iniquity, who brings wicked schemes to pass.There is no place for evil in our inheritance.…those cursed by Him shall be cut off.

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread (v. 25) is my testimony. Along with the pilgrims in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I feel like I am traveling in the land of Beulah with a vision of my heavenly home getting closer and closer. Of course, I have no idea when the Lord will have me cross over into “the Celestial City”, but some day I will take my heavenly flight. Will you be there?

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance…(Hebrews 9:15 ESV).

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of God’s Watchful Eye

I will counsel you with my loving eye on you….Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him….From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth….But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love.

Psalm 32:8b, 10; 33:14, 18

I’m writing this post during an incredibly disturbing time. The world is in the second year of a pandemic; my country is in turmoil; friends in another country are sick, starving and oppressed; Haitians are experiencing yet another natural disaster while their country is leaderless; and many freedom loving people are caught in the most frightening circumstances imaginable in Afghanistan.

God promises His presence but His is not an inactive presence – like a babysitter who reads her novel while she should be keeping an eye on the children. God’s loving eyes are on you. He watches over you. Nothing escapes His attention or His concern.

How do we square the truth of God’s watchful eye with the sad state of affairs in our world? Are His children saved miraculously out of trials? Some are. Many are not. Remember the Lord Jesus who willingly died in our place. Remember His disciples and thousands who have been martyred since His death and resurrection. Many of the Psalms deal with persecution and disaster. We cannot ignore that fact.

I find myself so heart broken for those who are suffering that I can’t stop checking to see if things have gotten any better. They haven’t. My eternal perspective assures me that they will. I know God sees all that is going on. For my brothers and sisters in Christ, this promise comes at a crucial time. God is watching. He sees everyone, but His loving eyes are focused on His family. This life is but a vapor, but eternity lasts forever. His watchful eye takes note and He will reward trust in Him. He turns His face from those who do evil. God is just and His justice will prevail.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit…Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:15-18,21-22

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Strength

The Lord is the strength of my life…Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart…The Lord will give strength to His people…Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength…Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 27:1, 14; 29;11; 31:4, 24).

God promises to be the source of strength to those who love Him with all of their strength. When asked, “What is the first commandment of all?”, Jesus responded, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:28-30). Paul commented on this joint participation when he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). He also urged others to do the same as he described the armor of God, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).

We often think of strength as having a physical quality. And it does. I often pray that God will give me the physical strength to finish an assignment that He has given me – one that entails the use of my aging body! I am encouraged by the woman described in Proverbs 31 because she also found it needful to strengthen her arms.

In the verses of the Psalms above, we see twice the promise that God will strengthen your heart. We need strength in every part of our being – mental, physical and spiritual – but most of all in our heart – where our intentions live.

David, who wrote these Psalms, certainly knew how relying on God’s strength could accomplish an otherwise impossible task. He experienced that as a young boy when he met the giant Goliath.

A modern day example of the all encompassing supply of strength from God was Desmond Doss. His refusal to carry a weapon during WWII brought him ridicule from other soldiers, but in the bloodiest battle of the war, he single-handedly evacuated 75 men from behind enemy lines. The story of his heroism was documented in the film Hacksaw Ridge. Desmond Doss was not a large man with “strong” arms. He was a man of faith who continually asked the Lord to help him rescue “just one more.” Because he was a man whose spiritual heart was incredibly strong, God gave him superhuman strength to accomplish the task to which He called him.

Whatever God is calling you to do, He promises to give you the strength to accomplish it.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of a Perfect Teacher

When you pray the promises of God, you can be absolutely sure of the answer. After asking God to “Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day”, David then records the answer to his own prayer. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies (Psalm 25:4-5,8-10). For those who want the Lord to lead them, the promise is that He will certainly do it. Humility makes us teachable. It is the recognition that we are sinners, that we need guidance and that God knows what we do not know and His plan is good and right.

Years ago, as a youth in my church, I remember making a bracelet with the letters WWJD. That stood as a reminder that if I had a question, I should immediately ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” Good teachers not only impart much needed information, but they are good examples. As The Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus is our best example. As Christians, we reflect on the knowledge that God has a plan for our lives. That being so, we can count on the Lord giving us the guidance we need – not just for the big picture (using our spiritual gifts and achieving our life’s purpose) – but for everyday living. If we have a question about anything, God is ready to teach us how to do it. Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses (Psalm 25:12).

“…One is your teacher, the Christ” (Matthew 23:8,10).

“You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:13-15).

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Access

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek him, who seek Your face.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Psalm 24:3-6, James 4:8

Among the many things I remember about the presidency of John F. Kennedy, the charming pictures of his children playing in the Oval Office are at the top of the list. Who just walks into the President’s office? His children do!

...you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you...

Jeremiah 29:13-14a

When President Kennedy’s children wanted to see him, they came through the door of the Oval Office.

To come into the presence of our Father, we need clean hands and a pure heart. It is impossible for us to do this on our own – we need the God of our salvation to cleanse and purify us. And He does – through the Door. Because of Him, we are a royal priesthood and as such can stand in His holy place and have access to the King of glory. (Psalm 24:4,5, John 10:9,1 Peter 2:9, Psalm 24:3,7-10)

Christians do not have to wonder whether they will see God or be able to come into His presence because the promise is – through Christ – we have access to God now and for eternity.

We come into the presence of God because we are invited! God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God (Psalm 53:2).

The promise is certainly for the future – Christ has promised to go ahead and prepare an eternal place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:2).

But rest assured – the promise is for today as well. Our hearts are His throne room and we have access to Him at any time – through prayer.