When I was a little girl, barely speaking, I was fascinated with a lamp on my parents’ nightstand. Its ceramic base depicted a scene that I can no longer describe, but I do still remember one detail about it.
I would point to the lamp and say, “Horsey!” My mother would respond, “No, that’s a lamp!” I would insist, “Horsey!” This exchange continued several times until one day, my mother looked closely at that lamp and there she saw what I did — a tiny brown horse, with minuscule brush strokes depicting its flowing mane and tail.
I think horses appeal to our little girl souls because they represent how God created us to be — courageous, strong, and beautiful.
In the Book of Job, God lays out to Job several marvels of his creation, including the horse (Job 39:19-20, 22a):
Do you give the horse his might?
Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
… He laughs at fear and is not dismayed.
Compare his language to the ideal woman described in Proverbs 31:25:
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she laughs at the time to come.
As image bearers of God, maybe we are drawn to the way horses embody both power and gentleness. But that gentleness comes with training and trust.
A young horse must learn obedience and discipline and to focus on his master (or his mistress). His natural spiritedness and power is put under authority. The Old English verb for breaking in a horse was “to meek.”
And the Greek equivalent is “praus,” the word used by Jesus in Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Jesus wasn’t talking about the weak, as our current language would imply. Rather, he was referring to those who are strong in spirit but surrendered to him, those who avoid harshness because they know the love of the Savior, and those who know freedom from fear because their trust is in him.
Meekness, like gentleness, is strength under control. It is being exactly who God created us to be but willingly giving ourselves back to him. It is that intersection where we will “delight in abundant peace” (Psalm 37:11).
Are you spiritually like a wild young horse? Or have you given your loyalty to Jesus?
Do you think of yourself as courageous, strong and beautiful? Share a courageous act from your past, a time when you showed strength, or a moment when you were beautifully gentle.
Did you have a childhood fascination with horses? What encouraging words would you share with that little girl you once were?
Freedom From the Money Master
Upon his succession to the throne of Israel, Solomon asked God for discernment and wisdom. God was pleased with his humility and not only granted this request but he also gave this son of David wealth and honor so that Solomon would have no equal among earthly kings.
About one thousand years later, Jesus lived in the small agricultural village of Nazareth, the stepson of a tradesman. Not exactly the same earthly experience as Solomon.
Two men, separated by a millennia and extremes of wealth. One a mortal man granted favor by God, the other the Son of God. Yet both warned us of the potential money has steal our freedom.
Proverbs 22:7, which is attributed to Solomon, says, “The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” The Message goes a step further and interprets this verse, “so don’t borrow and put yourself under their power.”
Ouch, Solomon. Must be nice to have enough to bankroll 12,000 horses, 700 wives and 300 concubines. But Solomon undoubtedly knew a few men who were indebted to him, and with his gift of wisdom, recognized the power that he had over them.
In contrast, the King of Kings, in his humanness, knew suffering and probably heard some difficult conversations about putting food on the table. Yet Jesus expounds on Solomon’s warning and tells us that we cannot serve two masters, “You cannot serve God and money.”
I use a leash when I walk my Labrador retriever, Mayfield, in our neighborhood. As her master, I know that the leash protects her from running into the street and keeps her going in the direction where I want to lead her.
Now if another master would put a second leash on her, which of us would be able to lead her? I would be pulling her one way and that second master would be pulling her another. She can only be lead on one leash by one master.
Jesus’ warning is much like Solomon’s in that money will readily master us — if we let it. Money can be an idol that consumes our thoughts, whether we are anxious about having enough or greedily chase after it and all the pleasures it can buy. How we view money reveals the condition of our hearts and who we trust more — God or ourselves.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavily Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” — Matthew 6:26
Hear that: You have value. Jesus continues,
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” — Matthew 6:31-33
Going back to Mayfield, I demonstrate my love for her by feeding her twice a day and ensuring she has water and that all her needs are met. Sometimes, when she is hungry, she asks me to feed her in her own doggie way. My timing isn’t necessarily hers. But Mayfield trusts me and knows I will provide for her.
We all have had months when money was tight, when we weren’t sure how all the bills would get paid. But here we are today — clothed and fed. Our heavenly Father knows our needs. Out of love for us, he may not necessarily give us what we want — or when we want it. He allows us to learn from the consequences of our actions, as a good dad does. But when we trust him and the provision of grace that he has given us through Jesus, he is faithful.
So when it comes to your money, which leash are you wearing? Are you wearing the leash that tethers you to the demanding, unfaithful master of money worries? Or have you found freedom from anxiousness when you allow the Good Master to lead you?
“Beloved” is a term we don’t hear much in the secular world but we see a lot in the Bible, and there it mostly refers to the reader — to you and to me.
Beloved. It is a name, your name and my name. It is what our Lord calls us. It is a name that drips with a sweetness, like honey. It stops us cold when we’ve been running. It takes our breath away that we could be called “Beloved” by a holy and perfect God.
What if it’s also an invitation? Be loved. Do we believe that we are loved? In 2 Thessalonians 3:5, Paul writes, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” This purest, most genuine love is ours to embrace. It is for us to breathe in like the most pleasing of aromas and feel like the softest of blankets.
The Bible has a lot to say about love. Because God is love. If you take nothing else away from today, know that you are fully, wholly, unconditionally and completely loved by Jesus, who willingly laid down his life for you and for me. I leave you with the final words of Romans 8:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”