Category: One Focus Blog

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of God’s Lovingkindness

Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You…Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses, for they are from old…For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth…How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings…Oh continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heartThe Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime and in the night His song shall be with me – a prayer to the God of my life (Psalm 17:7a, 25:6, 26:3, 36:7,10,42:8 NKJV)

God’s lovingkindness is mentioned 24 times in the book of Psalms – more than any other book.

I understand that God is holy – a God of justice and love. His justice must be met, sin must be dealt with but once I realized that and asked Him to save me, what I have experienced in my own relationship with Him is a keen awareness that everything He does and allows in my life is because He loves me. He is a caring loving Father who disciplines when necessary, but absolutely showers with blessings when I stand close to Him. Of all the promises of the Psalms, this one is the most precious to me. I can have peace during times of uncertainty and turmoil and I know I can count on Him to be there for me in every circumstance – not because of anything I have done, but simply because He loves me.

Since the above verses come from the NKJV which uses a lovely language that is somewhat foreign to us today, it helps to examine how other translations describe this word. Faithful love, wonderful love, amazing kindness, steadfast love, covenant love, marvelous mercies, miraculous deeds of mercy, gracious love, loyal love, strong love, wonderful faithfulness, great love, unfailing love – all these define the lovingkindness of the Father that I know and love.

When we move to the New Testament, we see the love of the Father expressed through the loving sacrifice of His Son. That was foreseen by the prophets of the Old Testament, but when God’s timing was perfect, God sent Jesus to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Now THAT is lovingkindness.

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

The Lord has made himself known…The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant…Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness…God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…My soul clings to you, your right hand upholds me…Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand, You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory…Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you...When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul…The Lord is on my side as my helper…Psalm 9:16a, 25:24, 36:10a, 37:3, 46:1, 63:8, 73:23-24, 94:19, 118:7a ESV

How would you describe your best friend? Someone you really know, not just an acquaintance but someone who shares life’s details with you and you do the same. Your best friend is there when needed, loves you in spite of knowing unattractive things about you, comforts you when you are down, lovingly corrects you when necessary; in other words, someone you can count on to walk beside you and tell you the truth – for your own good.

God is greater than all of us. That is indisputable. What is absolutely amazing is that He wants to be our FRIEND! He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden and spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to His friend.

Friends talk to one another – that is what prayer is. God knows you and He wants to be known by you – you can grow in that relationship by prayer, listening to Him through His Holy Spirit and His Word.

Friendship is a covenant relationship and God’s friendship with you cost Him everything.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends is you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you (John 15:13-15).

This is Holy Week. Everything Jesus endured during His lifetime and especially that week – the horrible and unimaginable torture He endured before the crucifixion and then the crucifixion itself – Jesus did it all for His friends. He is my best friend – is He yours?

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Hope

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life…I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise (Psalm 119:49-50, 58) NIV

The war in Ukraine breaks my heart. Slaughter of innocent people, including the deliberate attack on hospitals, schools and public places where people are seeking refuge is pure evil. I have to force myself to concentrate on anything else because this tragic situation occupies much of my thoughts and prayers – day and night since it began. I find it so consuming because I have friends in both Ukraine and neighboring countries that are helping its refugees. I feel so helpless.

I remember the struggles I had when I posted “Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Deliverance.” With all the examples of miraculous deliverances, we still had to deal with the reality of Christians being martyred for their faith. My conclusion for that promise was that indeed the promise of deliverance is real, and best 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. Even when God choses not to miraculously deliver one of His children from a trial in this life, in the midst of that trial, Satan has no power over him and a believer is ultimately delivered from all pain and sorrow.

In testimonies of Christians who are in Ukraine and those who are helping just across the Ukrainian border, the refrain is the same. God is a God of hope. How can they be so hopeful in a time of terror? Christian hope is not wishing for something that might or might not happen, but a certain assurance that the God of hope will someday make all things right.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord.

And now abide faith, hope, love….

…remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father.

But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Jeremiah 17:7, 1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Hebrews 3:6

The refrain of Kristian Stanfill’s song, Hope has a Name, is:

Hope has a name

Emmanuel

The Light of the World

Who broke through the darkness

All hail the King

Emmanuel

The Light of the World

The Glory of Heaven

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Mercy

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live (Psalms 116:1-2 NIV).

“Mercy” is sometimes translated “loving kindness”. My husband, Richard, says, “Mercy is not getting what we do deserve”. A. W. Tozer puts it this way, “We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion; we who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven. And all through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us…Mercy is an attribute of God, an infinite and inexhaustible energy within the divine nature which disposes God to be actively compassionate.”

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy…. [here is God’s definition of mercy] He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes, for the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them (Psalm 103:8-18 NKJV).

Loving kindness defines God and His mercy. This promise of mercy bore flesh as Jesus, the mercy seat, provided redemption for those who would believe in Him. Christians, having experienced that mercy, have within ourselves the Spirit of God who can enable us to exhibit a sweetness of gracious compassion we could not do on our own. It is not within our sinful nature to do so; however, having taken on the nature of God as one of His children, we can then demonstrate what that is like in real life and real time. Non believers are not so much taken by what we say, but what we do. When our reaction to their unjustness toward us is compassion and kindness, it takes a little of the wind out of their sails. Merciful kindness is an unexpected response to cruelty and judgment.

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Discipline

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from the days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked (Psalm 94:12-13).

You may be like me – surprised to find one of God’s promises is discipline. Who asks for that?

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in (Proverbs 3:11-12)

God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore… Make level paths for your feet…(Hebrews 12:10b-13a)

NIV

We may not want discipline or ask for it, but when we need it, God gives it. From a loving father to a child who needs correction, God takes charge when we stray from the path He has designed for us.

D. James Kennedy had this insight:

We live in an age characterized by lawlessness. We do not hold criminals accountable for their actions. We do not hold able-bodied welfare recipients accountable for being industrious and providing for themselves and their families. We do not hold our political leaders accountable for acts of immorality, corruption, and criminality while in office. We do not hold children accountable for being decent, respectful, honest, trustworthy, and upright.

The permissiveness of the past two decades has produced an age of lawlessness today. The Bible rebukes our permissiveness and calls us to godly discipline. Remember, we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and we are called to discipline our children – and to be a disciple one must be disciplined! To be disciplined means to have boundaries, to know that there are things we should do, and things we must not do. Our children need discipline and (though few would admit it!) they really want and seek it. Show me an undisciplined child and I will show you a bundle of insecurities, because that child lives in a disordered, chaotic, and meaningless world; children need and crave structure and dependability in their lives. Show me an undisciplined child, and I will show you a child who feels unloved, because no one has ever taken the time to care for him by setting loving boundaries for his life.

D. James Kennedy, Led by the Carpenter: Finding God’s Purpose for Your Life

Led by the Carpenter was published in 1999!! Do you want relief from the days of trouble occurring now – in 2022? Submit to any discipline your loving Father may give you, creating level paths for your feet. His desire is for you to share in his holiness.

Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway (Psalm 85:13 NKJV)

Claiming the Promises of the Psalms: The Promise of Peace

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety…The Lord gives strength to his people; The Lord blesses his people with peace...I will listen to what God the Lord has to say; he promises peace to his people, his saints – but let them not return to folly…Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each otherGreat peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble (Psalm 4:8; 29:11; 85:8,10; 119:165 NIV).

Since the pandemic began, I have made several trips to doctors’ offices and noted the questionnaires that you must fill out in a new office now include a multitude of questions about handling stress and inclination toward depression or suicide – so I was surprised to learn that, in America, the overall suicide rate has actually gone down during the pandemic.

It may seem counterintuitive — and not every scenario is comparable — but suicide rates tend to decline during times of large-scale public crisis. That can include anything from terrorist attacks and war to natural disasters. It isn’t yet fully understood why, but one leading explanation is that people inherently want to pull together during turbulent times…

Children were no longer at school with their bullies. Employees were no longer forced to work next to toxic coworkers. People who hated their jobs suddenly had a reason to stop working…Unable to go to work, people started spending more time at home, typically with…their support networks…

Craig Bryan (clinical psychologist who heads trauma and suicide programs at Ohio State University College of Medicine,
The Pandemic Didn’t Increase Suicide, That Shouldn’t Be A Surprise – STAT – Nov. 16,2021

It seems, however, that some experts believe the downturn is short-lived. “Based on prior disasters, suicide rates sometimes dip only to go back up again after the immediate crisis has passed.” – Deb Stone, a lead behavioral scientist at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Of course, this is not the only time we have had to deal with issues of stress and circumstances beyond our control. History books are full of such times and the pandemic is not the only issue now causing great stress in America, but God tells us not to be anxious. Some antonyms of “anxious” include calm, relaxed, peaceful, quiet, tranquil. Trusting Him during times of turmoil is the only thing that will result in the peace that passes all understanding.

God ties peace to our reliance on Him and our obedience to Him. That makes perfect sense. Any Christian knows peace in your life is interrupted when you sin and ignore His guidance.

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.