Category: One Focus Blog

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.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Abundance

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever

Psalm 23:4b-6

I often cringe when I see a spiritual article mention “abundance” because it is often a take on “prosperity theology”, but the reality is a relationship with God promises abundance in spite of the valley of the shadow of death (or as one commentator put it, “our darkest valley”); in spite of evil; and in spite of my enemies. The abundance David speaks of is the same abundance Jesus spoke of when He said, “I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

The prevailing promise of Psalm 23 is the Shepherd Himself. First (v. 1-3) David describes the Lord as the Shepherd Who provides what we need. Then (v. 4-6) David speaks directly to Him acknowledging that He gives us much more than we need. Christians now live in the abundant provision of our ever-loving, ever-caring, ever-interceding Good Shepherd. In our future is a time when God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes because of the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne [Who] will shepherd [us] (Revelation 7:17).

God calls His children His sheep. Sheep are not capable of caring for themselves. Neither are we. Sheep and children need guidance – in times of peace and in times of turmoil. It is comforting to know that our Shepherd provides correction and direction for all times.Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Sheep are defenseless and can not ward off an attack by a predator. That’s the Shepherd’s job. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19). Leave the situation to the Shepherd. He will take care of it. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. God wants to honor us – undeserving as we are. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one (John 17:22). Our sacrificial Shepherd died so that we might share His glory. What an amazing thought!

This promise is for the present and the future. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Knowing the Lord as our eternal Shepherd is the abundance we are promised. What more could we ask for?

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Divine Companionship

I will fear no evil, for You are with me.

Psalm 23:4

One of the saddest lessons to come out of the 2020-21 pandemic is how important relationships are to every one of us. As lockdowns prevailed, depression, despair and loneliness took its toil. Families were not allowed to get together for normal celebrations. Children were not allowed to go to school “in person” and those of tender age declared, “I miss my friends.” Church doors were closed – viewing sermons online is NOT the same as worshiping together as a congregation. Some experts predicted the dire consequences of isolation and they were right.

Many who have a relationship with God got even closer to Him during this time. Believers came through with a refreshed appreciation for His presence because they realized that His companionship could not be removed because of man’s restrictions. Wherever we are, He is.

We are made for fellowship – with each other but most of all with God. He created us with a longing that can only be filled with His presence. God uses every source available to Him – and they are unlimited – to assure us of His desire to fellowship with us.

David knew the reality of God’s presence as a shepherd boy alone tending sheep. He spoke of the uniqueness of divine companionship when he was king because being in charge can be another very lonely experience. He, like the apostle Paul, knew that nothing could separate him from the love of God.

FOR

The reason that we can fear no evil is because God is with us. Whatever comes our way, God has promised to be by our side. Jesus promised He would never leave us or forsake us. In life and in death, we can make it through FOR God is with us.

YOU

There is nothing that can substitute for divine companionship. The One who knows us best has promised to always love us and be with us.

ARE

That divine relationship is eternal but we don’t need to wait for His companionship. We need Him NOW and we have His companionship NOW.

WITH

God manifests Himself in His Son and His created nature which surrounds us. He walks by our side, and His Spirit lives within us.

ME

God is a personal God. He is my friend, my comforter, my guide. If you belong to Him, He can be the same to you. As children of God, we are never alone.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of the Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd….I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own

Psalm 23:1; John 10:14

Maybe knowing the Lord as your shepherd calms your anxious thoughts as it does mine.

God has always promised to shepherd His people. Because He knows me, His care includes:

  • providing what I need – spiritually and physically (I shall not want)
  • refreshment and rest (He makes me lie down in green pastures)
  • calm in a world of turmoil (He leads me beside the still waters)
  • renewing my strength (He restores my soul)
  • guiding me along right paths (He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake)

At one time in America, the expression, “He is as good as his word,” meant one could be trusted to do what he said he would do. In those days, contracts were made “on a handshake” because a man’s name and reputation were more important to him than anything else. That is no longer the standard. But for God, who does not change, He still is as good as His Word. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14a). For His name’s sake, my Shepherd committed Himself to care for me and all His sheep.

We do not know whether David wrote this psalm as a young shepherd or after he occupied his throne. One thing we do know. David was aware he needed a shepherd. The same shepherd who never left David’s side as a shepherd boy is the same shepherd who would lead David through the enormous responsibility of being king and ancestor to the Good Shepherd.

The Lord shepherds His own and assigns people – such as David – to glimpse how that is done. His ultimate example was His own Son – sent to live among His sheep, care for them, and prepare them for an eternal place of peace and security.

These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!

Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT

God continues to fulfill His promises – for his name’s sake.

He has promised to lead – we just need to follow.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.

Psalm 23:3,85:13