Riding Lessons

Another great devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada.


For physical training is of some value,
but godliness has value for all things,
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
—1 Timothy 4:8

Riding Lessons

By Joni Eareckson Tada

A friend and I were once joking about what kind of horses we’d like to be.  He mused, “I’d like to be a wild stallion, racing free across the plains, my mane and tail whipping in the wind.”  I smiled and countered, “Maybe, but a horse like that will never win any honors.  I would rather have the confines of a pasture and stall and be trained for dressage under bridle and bit.”

An unbridled, untrained horse lacks the restraints that guide and direct. The bit, martingale, tie-down, spur, and crop appear at first to the horse as irritants and hardships.  But such inconvenience and suffering school the horse to listen to the rider’s commands.  How hard it would be for an animal, without the aid of his master and his crop, to train himself up in the way he should go.  What’s more, the horse would be useless in the ring, without a hope of ever winning honors for his master.

It’s the same for humans.  Our natural bent is to enjoy what we think is freedom out there without constraints.  But as someone has said, freedom is not the right to do what we want to do, it is the power to do what we ought.  Hardship is our bit and bridle.  What’s more, our Master is an expert with the reins and the crop. Godliness involves training… without it, no honor can be given to our Master.

One of the key elements in good animal training is to break the will, but not the spirit.  In the same manner, we are never more “ourselves,” never more spiritually free than when our will is bent to God’s will.  Our spirit thrives on this kind of submission; what’s more, we are then well on our way to godliness.

God, thank You for seeing fit to saddle me with certain hardships.  You know what’s best.  You know how to train me for godliness.  I yield and obey…  I want to win You honors!

Copyright © 1998. More Precious Than Silver, by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Jesus


The song “Jesus” sung by Chris Tomlin is a beautiful praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. As you sing along with it, think about the many attributes and names of Jesus. Here are just a few:

  • Almighty
  • Creator
  • Alpha and Omega
  • the Word
  • Lamb of God
  • Jehovah

My favorites are included in the lyrics to this song:

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).
“When He comes, He will tell us all things.” 

Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
—John 4:25-26

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said,
for we ourselves have heard Him and we know
that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”
—John 4:42

I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 
The Lord is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
y God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
y shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
—Psalm 18:1-2

Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One,
o Him whom man despises, to Him whom the nation abhors,
o the Servant of rulers: 
“Kings shall see and arise, p
rinces also shall worship,
ecause of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel;
nd He has chosen You.”
—Isaiah 49:7

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Crushed but not Broken


Crushed but not Broken

By Patricia Knight

Crowds of people pose unique and sometimes bizarre dynamics. A peaceful gathering meets to discuss, to listen, or to resolve issues. A crowd often degenerates into a mob by assembling to complain or to demonstrate.  Over-zealous behavior at rallies may lead to violence and injury. Crowds at sports arenas or long lines at retail stores may initiate pushing and shoving.

Crushing frequently occurs due to the compactness of a group, heightened by difficulty of individual movement. Some people may be physically propelled by the energy and intent of a multitude. Anyone attempting to exit the gathering could be trapped from within and seriously injured.

Jesus was the unlikely victim of crowd manipulation. “As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him” (Luke 8:42b). Some of those gathered around Jesus were thirsty for knowledge or in need of healing; others yearned to witness Jesus’ miracles.  In the midst of the mass where Jesus was pushed and jostled, He possessed the compassion to focus on one individual, patiently discerning that person’s need, and providing the specific attention required.

When Jesus detected a tug on His robe, He demanded, “Who touched me?”  His disciple, Peter, informed his Master of the futility of locating one individual within a multitude of people.  Peter argued,  “‘The people are crowding and pressing against you’” (Luke 8:45). Not satisfied with Peter’s complacent attitude, Jesus persisted. He identified the person’s touch as light but deliberate. Someone had a motive of healing in mind! Dr. Luke writes that the moment the woman with a twelve-year history of a hemorrhagic disease touched Jesus’ robe, her bleeding ceased immediately (Luke 8:44).


Jesus was on His way to heal another person, but suddenly He stopped, diverting His attention to the person in the crowd who tugged at His garment, transferring healing power from his body to hers. Jesus wouldn’t allow the woman to slink away from the crowd without commending her faith and assuring her of the permanence of her healing.  She learned that memorable day, “The Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Jesus’ reaction to a gentle outreach on His clothing or on His heart always initiates a tender, loving response. What prevents us from calling on Him for each one of our needs, whether minor or major? “Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say, ’Here am I’” (Isaiah 58:9).

When we are squeezed by unfamiliar circumstances, we may regress into anxiety or panic. We feel so crowded, we find it hard to breathe deeply or to move in the right direction. Every day we are bombarded with challenges to our faith. Calamities occur that threaten our ability to function: financial devastation, serious health issues, frayed relationships, loss of employment. We feel crushed by the enormity of the situation. We doubt recovery. We grieve losses. We are discouraged and distressed. Where do we find solace?

Frequently, Jesus escaped His followers, favoring a place of solitude and prayer. He sought spiritual enrichment:  re-connecting with His Father to fill His heart with heavenly goals and His mind with sovereign wisdom. By seeking His Father’s will at all times, Jesus renewed His strength and clarity of mission. We aren’t aware of the specific content of Jesus’ prayers, but we have evidence of the result:  refreshment, renewal, and rejoicing. For the Son of God, it was an opportunity to evaluate His priorities and to problem-solve; to worship and to glorify the Father. Jesus sought seclusion in prayer, the example He taught us to follow.

Our Savior understands our responses of anger, sadness, and confusion because He experienced similar emotions as an incarnated man on earth. Jesus was the subject of disbelief by His own siblings. He was humiliated, disrespected, criticized, and falsely attacked by opponents. Church leaders detested Him and sought His annihilation. What was His response?  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:45). Jesus possessed high energy levels to accomplish a demanding ministry by spending quality time in secluded, secret prayer with His heavenly Father.

God’s children aren’t exempt from troubles. However, God assures us that He will comfort, protect, and provide for those who cry out to Him for deliverance. Our Lord is faithful, the unfailing deliverer of the righteous, who also holds the wicked accountable for their hostility aimed at God’s followers. Jesus was crushed by crowds, but they were unable to adversely affect His ability to respond to individuals among  throngs of followers. Jesus hasn’t changed. He still listens intently to our prayers and intercedes with victory for those who believe.

During those experiences when we feel crushed or broken, remember, “God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34: 18-19).

Call on Jesus, lavishing Him with praise and gratitude. Call on Him to communicate and maintain a consistent bond of fellowship. Jesus wants to supply you with the antidote of spiritual joy of heart and peace of mind. To acknowledge that our heavenly Father is within easy access provides tremendous comfort. We are invited to confide in Him anytime, anywhere. “How gracious he {God} will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you” (Isaiah 30:19).

We may be crowded by an energetic group of people, as Jesus was, or we could be crushed by circumstances beyond our control. Either has the potential to threaten our strength or security, but Jesus offers the solution. Rejoice, for He has the desire and the ability to rescue us from all adversity. We are motivated to worship our Lord in the splendor of His majesty, glorifying His name at every opportunity. Father and Son deserve our personal best, for they have sacrificed their ultimate for each of us!

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise” (Psalm 48:1).

Guide to the four Gospels

From Overview Bible.

Guide to the four Gospels

By Jeffrey Kranz

The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels. These books tell us about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are named for their authors: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Each Gospel is about the same character and the same general narrative, and so they all share several elements:

The story of Jesus from four perspectives

However, the Gospels are written by different individuals for different audiences with different purposes

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: #Victorious


Life can be hard. That’s nothing new. We can sometimes feel that the world is changing for the worst too fast. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Stop the world, I want to get off!”

Beloved, if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, you also know the assurance of the hope we have for a better life after we die. We will enjoy everlasting life with Jesus Christ in our new, imperishable bodies!

The song “Victorious” by Third Day is a wonderful praise to our Messiah, who willingly took upon Himself the punishment for our sins at Calvary.

42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;

it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;

it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

45 So it is written:
“The first man Adam became a living being”;
the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

The spiritual did not come first,
but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

The first man was of the dust of the earth;
the second man is of heaven.

48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth;
and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.
And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man,
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.  

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters,
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,
nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery:
We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Corinthians 15:42-57

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

The Infinite Value of #Redemption

Another good one from John MacArthur’s Grace to You site. 


The Infinite Value of Redemption

1 Peter 1:18 and 19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” Two very wonderful verses; a glorious statement about being redeemed.

Redeemed used to be a very popular word in the evangelical vocabulary; I don’t hear it much anymore. It was a part of many, many hymns and gospel songs. There were even songs, many of them, and hymns with the word “redeemed” in the title. Reference was often made to Christ as the Redeemer. Don’t hear that very much anymore, and I think we may have lost an understanding of this most wonderful reality of what it means to be redeemed, and so we’re going to look at that in a little bit. But I want to give you some context.

As Peter writes, he is writing to some believers who are scattered around the Roman world. He describes them in verse 1 as aliens. They are aliens in the sense that they are part of God’s kingdom and so they are aliens in the world. They’re scattered throughout many of the countries and provinces: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. But they are God’s chosen. They are those who are being sanctified by the work of the Holy Spirit, those who obey Jesus Christ, those who have been sprinkled with His blood, and Peter is addressing this wonderful letter to them.

The circumstances are dire for them. Obviously, they are a first-generation church. No church existed before the Day of Pentecost. Here are these believers in the Gentile world made up of some Jews and Gentiles. They are definitely alienated from the paganism that literally dominates the world, and life has become very difficult for them. I’ll tell you why specifically.

Read the rest here.

The Power of #Weakness


The Power of Weakness

By Brian Biggers

And He said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9

This is one of the greatest mysteries in the Kingdom; that God will never allow His power to rest on human strength or ability, only on human weakness.  It goes completely contrary to rational thinking.

All our lives we’ve been taught ‘do your best and God will do the rest’ or ‘God helps those who help themselves’.  The reality of Scripture is that He waits until I’m completely hopeless before He steps in and does for me what I can’t do.  When in lifeguard training we were taught that when someone was drowning we were to swim to where they were but not to attempt to help them as long as they were still struggling.  If you did they would drown both of you.  Wait until they had no more energy and were going under, then you can reach in and save them.  I don’t need Him to help “me” do anything, since “apart from ME you can do nothing”.  A life that will experience the power and presence of God’s Spirit being in me and through me what I could never be begins not with trying to do His will, but by bending my knee in His presence and humbly confessing my total inability to do anything without Him.  This is the place in His Divine mystery that His power will meet me in my weakness and I will find that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.