Category: One Focus Blog

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

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Salvation

It is particularly fitting that on this day – Good Friday – that my searching for the promises of God in the Psalms brought me to Psalm 22.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people…I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart has turned to wax…My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth…Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet, I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me, they divide my garments among them, and cast lots for my clothing….

Psalm 22:6, 14-18

This magnificent psalm finishes with the fact that the story of Christ’s sacrifice will be told down through the generations and we are the recipients of His willingness to bear unspeakable pain so that we could be saved.

Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it.

Psalm 22:30-31

Without the fulfillment of the promise revealed in this Psalm, all other promises would do us no good – for in order to receive the promises of God, we need to first receive His salvation.

Every Christian has their own testimony – their story of how they came to know Christ as Savior. The common denominator for all of us, though, is this – we became acutely aware of our sin nature and our own sins against God and we came to understand that God is a God of amazing love who sent His Son to pay for those sins. With that understanding, and a heart belief, we trusted in Jesus Christ, God with us, as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin and asked for His forgiveness and for His Lordship in our lives.

With a sincere trust in God’s Son as our Savior, we KNOW that we know that we will spend eternity with Him. That eternal blessing began the day we received Him as Lord.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed

Psalm 20:6

We can be assured of eternal fellowship with God – for he has done it!

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of The Solid Rock

Edward Mote, pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church in Horsham West Sussex in the United Kingdom, wrote the lyrics to “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” in 1834. The song is best known by its refrain, “On Christ, the Solid Rock I Stand, All Other Ground is Sinking Sand”.

My hope is built on nothing less

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When darkness veils his lovely face

I rest on His unchanging grace.

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood

support me in the whelming flood.

When all around my soul gives way,

He then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,

O may I then in Him be found.

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne.

Edward Mote, 1834, public domain

It is thought that Mote wrote these lyrics as he pondered Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish builders, one who built his house on the sand and the other who built his house on solid rock. Whatever his inspiration, it also appears that Mote knew something of the need to call on God during times of “darkness”, ” a high and stormy gale”, “the whelming flood” and “when all around my soul gives way”. Although those lyrics were written so long ago, I think of many of my dear friends – who are going through some really, really tough times – who need this reminder that no matter the circumstances, the promise of God is that “He is all my hope and stay.”

David identified with this need as he called out to God, His Rock.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge…

For who is God but the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!

May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer

Psalm 18:2, 31, 46; 19:14

If you are a believer in Jesus, you have His promise of enduring stability. He will never leave you. He will fulfill every promise. He is your Solid Rock.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of God’s Unique Reliability

“Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and insincere hearts. May the Lord bring their flattery to an end and silence their proud tongues. They say,”We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own – who can stop us?” The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land (Psalm 12 NLT).

2020 was a tough year and so far, 2021 is keeping pace. In times like these, we are often tempted to say, “Will God come through?” “Will He keep His promises?”

We are not the first to feel this way. We join the ranks of faithful believers when we do. Consider Jeremiah, who dared to say, “Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?”(Jeremiah 12:1 NKJV). God answered that soulful question with an observation. “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?”

Jeremiah and David had honest questions in hard times, but because they knew God was trustworthy, they came to the same conclusion – God’s promises are pure and true.

David wrote each Psalm quoted in this post. The highlights are mine, but the emphasis is David’s – unfailing, never and always are strong words. God can guarantee “promises made, promises kept” – His love is unfailing; He never abandons His own; He is always with us.

Return, O Lord, rescue me, Save me because of your unfailing loveBut I trust in your unfailing love,. I will rejoice because you have rescued me…. I know the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me….Those who know Your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you (Psalm 6:4,13:5,16:8, 9:10 NLT)

Hang in there. Trust in God. In Jesus, all of God’s promises are “Yes and Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).