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Monday, November 18, 2013

God-Size Burden vs Empty Fulfillment!

In life we all are in pursuit of something. Many are in the pursuit of happiness. Many are in pursuit of the American Dream.  Many are in pursuit of nice home. Many are in pursuit of a nice car.  Many are in pursuit of financial freedom. Many are in pursuit of the perfect spouse or mate. Many are in pursuit of academic success.  Many are in pursuit of status.  None of these things are inherently wrong or bad.  However all of these things sends you on a chase of empty fulfillment.  The moment you get the car you realize it doesn't do it.  The moment you get the house you realize it doesn't do it.  The moment you reach the financial freedom you realize it doesn't do it etc.

The Apostle Paul had a God-size burden to advance the gospel.  This burden led to great hardship from lashings, to being shipwrecked, and even imprisonment.  However Paul had what many of us long for and that is fulfillment.  Paul rejoiced in his hardships and his sufferings and his imprisonments not because he knew brighter days were ahead but because he knew it was for the advancement of God's agenda.  He knew what he was enduring was bigger than his self and was God inspired, God designed, and God approved.  There is nothing more fulfilling in life than living out your God giving purpose!!

So here are some things to pursue that won't leave you hanging.  Pursue peace as the writers of Romans, and Hebrews suggest.  Pursue the good works Christ created us anew to do.  You ever notice that there is a small sense of fulfillment you feel when you reach out to the least of them in some act of compassion? Yeah?  Its because God-size burdens brings fulfillment.

What is your God-size burden?  What is that thing that is bigger than yourself that you are willing to give your life to? 

Scripture Reference: Phil., Romans, 1. Cor. 2, Cor.

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Beauty of God: Strength

The beauty of God's strength is it is only activated when we surrender.  The beauty of God's strength is it is made perfect in our weaknesses.  One of our greatest weaknesses is trust in our own strength.  However the true measure of strength in God's eyes is your ability to acknowledge your frailties.  In a world that promotes individualism and being a self-made individual.  God promotes trust in his Strength.  He wants to be your strength! 

If we truly understood the omnipotence of God we would delight in trusting in HIS strength.  God wants to be your refuge and very present help in your time of trouble.  So the moment you can't do God will do, but as long as you try to do God will let you do.  Look at the beauty of a God who wants do for you what you can't do for yourself!

Scripture Reference: 2 Cor. 12:9

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, November 4, 2013

Beauty of God: Compassion

When many people think about the beauty of God they think of His creative handiwork.  How beautiful the sunset is or how beautiful a clear night sky is when you can see the millions and millions of stars.  No doubt the beauty of God is on display.

However I would like to suggest that the beauty of God is the fact we serve a God who won't prevent you from suffering but decides to suffer with you.  Not only will He suffer with you but He suffered for you.   The greatest act of compassion ever demonstrated was on Calvary's cross where Christ suffered to demonstrate His love for us.  Christ willingness to suffer then lets us know his willingness to suffer with us now. 

I don't know about you but that's beautiful to me. The beauty of God is seen in His willingness to suffer with you and I.  Compassion means to suffer with.  The compassion of God demonstrates the beauty of God more than any skyline, beach, etc. and can or ever will.  Remember HIS beauty today!

Scripture Reference: Roman 5:8

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All Rise:The Honorable Samson Presiding

As we bring our journey through the "Judges" of Israel to a close we come to undoubtedly the most infamous one of them all Samson.  You know the story of Samson who was to be consecrated as a Nazarite from birth meaning he wouldn't drink wine or consume anything from the vine.  Lord knows I love me some grapes!  He also wouldn't cut his hair.  As the narrative progresses he falls in love with a woman he is not supposed to get entangled with.  Samson believed that his hair was the source of his strength as Samson possessed superhuman strength.  Samson  killed a lion bear-handed, he killed 30 Philistines at Ashkelon and thousand more with a jawbone of an ass just to name a few of his amazing deeds due to his supernatural strength.  The woman eventually seduces Samson and cuts his hair and in turn Samson loses his superhuman strength.  He was blinded and put in jail as a result but when he cried out to the Lord Yahweh restored his strength to him.  Samson story has a tragic ending has he pulled down the Temple of Dagon killing himself and about 3,000 Philistines.

Samson life teaches us an important lesson and that is this God is the source of our strength.  Like the late great James Cleveland wrote in his classic "God is".   However like Samson we have the tendency to try to find  strength in other places i.e. church, family etc.  Like Samson we will find ourselves in situations where we will have to call out or cry out for HIS strength!  God is the source and the strength of my life is what the songwriter said and would have to agree.

So remember God is!  I know its simply but it's true God is!

Scripture Reference: Judges 13

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Abdon Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Abdon. Abdon was the son of Hillel the Pirathonite and he had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy young donkeys.  Abdon judged Israel eight years.  Then Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mountains of the Amalekites.  This is all the bible says about Abdon.  Abdon name means to work, to serve, or servant.

There is something we can learn from Abdon name and life.  Abdon was a wealthy man but apparently that didn't deter him from having a servant's heart.  In a world full of I got mine now you get yours type of thinking we see a man who names means to serve.  God isn't against wealth but God is against wealth at the expense of relationship with Him.  God is more concern with how you use your resources than the amount of resources you have. 

Let us heed the biblical warning not to gain the whole world and lose our soul!  Abdon was a man of wealth but his name indicates that he was always willing to serve.  You are never too BIG to serve and you never reach a status where you are not called to SERVE.  Remember greatness is the eyes of the kingdom is the one who is willing the serve the most.

Scripture Reference: Judges 12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, September 23, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Elon (Zebulun)

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Elon.  Elon the Zebulunite  judged Israel ten years.  Elon was buried at Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.  That's all the Bible says about Elon in the book of Judges.  His name means tree or oak tree.

Elon still has something to say to us because God chose him.  I know that may not sound like much but it really is everything!  The fact that he was chosen to deliver Israel implies that he was a faithful to Yahweh.  No greater compliment can a believer be granted than to be faithful to Yahweh.   Also oak tree in the bible refers to a strong and mighty tree.  Which  implies that Elon perhaps was a strong and mighty judge.

Can you be considered an oak?  A strong believer who is faithful to Yahweh?  Or do you crumble and lose faith as the pressures of life mount.  I encourage you to today to be strong in the faith like an oak and stay faithful to Yahweh even when your life situations suggest otherwise.

Scripture Reference: Judges 12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Ibzan Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Ibzan.  Ibzan was from Bethlehem and he judged Israel seven years.  He had thirty sons and he gave away thirty daughters in marriage. He brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons then Ibzan died and was buried at Bethlehem.  That's all the bible says about him in the book of Judges.  Ibzan in Hebrew means illustrious. 

There is an important lesson to be learned from Ibzan and that is we are to seek to live illustrious lives.  Illustrious means well-respected or to be admired for past achievements or accomplishments. What I think is interesting is that Jewish tradition suggest that he is Boaz from the book of Ruth.  If that be the case then he definitely lived an illustrious life but whether he is Boaz from the book of Ruth or not does not diminish the fact that he was worthy to be mention in the book of Judges. We also know he ruled longer that Jephthah who may have the more popular story but doesn't mean he lived the more illustrious life.  Ibzan was respected and most likely well-off.  If is indeed Boaz we admire him for being Ruth's kinsman-redeemer. 

Do you live a life seeking to be well-respected by man or by God?  When you seek to earn the respect of God you receive the favor of God.  Notice I said respect you already has is approval thanks to being in Christ Jesus if you believe in the gospel.  But you can join Job, Noah, and Enoch just to name a few on list of people that were well-respected by God.

Scripture Reference:  Judges 12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Jephthah Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Jephthah. Jephthah was the son of Gilead by a harlot/prostitute.  He judged Israel 6 years.  As Jephthah was growing up his half-brothers chased him away, denying him any inheritance.  Jephthah led the children of Israel against the Ammonites.  Jephthah his perhaps best known for the vow he made to Yahweh.  When he vowed that if Yahweh would deliver the Ammonites into his hands whatever comes out of the door of his house to meet me when I return in triumph fromm the Ammonites I will sacrifice it as a burn offering. Unfortunately for Jephthah his daughter was the first to come out of the door of his house to greet him after Yahweh kept his end of the deal. 

Jephthah's story teaches us an important lesson.  We must honor the vows we make to the Lord no matter how painful our sacrifices may be.  I know many have debated since child sacrifice was a pagan ritual would Yahweh really be pleased with such a sacrifice.  I am not here to debate that.  However this story does serve as  warning about commitments we make to the Lord.  Its better not to make a commitment at all rather than make a commitment you are not willing to fulfill. 

Jephthah noble vow led to an unimaginable sacrifice but unlike many of us Jephthah made the sacrifice thus fulfilling his commitment to Yahweh.  No matter where you fall on Jephthah decision to go ahead and sacrifice his daughter as a burnt offering the overall implication is clear commitment to the Lord requires sacrifice!!  Are you really willing to give your life to Christ or does it just sound good?  Think about the implications of such a decision you may not have to sacrifice your child/children but you will have to sacrifice something! 

Jephthah gives us an example and encouragement that there is no sacrifice that worth more than keeping your vows to God!  Let us go and do likewise.

Scripture Reference:  Judges 11&12

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, September 16, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Jair Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Jair. Jair the Gileadite  judged Israel twenty-two years. Jair had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities in the land of Gilead. Jair died and was buried in Kamon.  That's all the bible says about Jair the judge. 

From this there are some things that we can deduce from Jair's life he judged for twenty-two years which means he had a successful reign that indicates that he was a good ruler. The fact that he had thirty sons who rode thirty donkeys and possessed thirty cities indicates that his sons were well off which more than likely means he was a wealthy man.

So what can we learned about from Jair? Just because your life is seemly insignificant in the eyes of others doesn't mean you can be successful in God eyes.  Though he may not seem important compared to the likes of Samson, Gideon, and Jephthah he had a successful reign.  I learned that its seemingly the most minor people who makes biggest impacts in life.  It's the stories you don't hear about that makes the biggest difference in life.   Think about it?

Scripture Reference: Judges 10

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, September 12, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Tola Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges," of Israel we come to Tola. Tola was the son of Pauh, son of Dodo, a man of Issachar.  The only other things the Bible say about him in the book of  Judges is that he rose up to save Israel, he lived in Shamir in the mountain region of Ephraim, he judged Israel twenty-three years, and he died and was buried in Shamir.  That's all we really know about Tola. 

Tola teaches us an important lesson and I know you are thinking what can that be?  Though Tola story doesn't provide us much details the significant thing about Tola is that he is mentioned!!  For many us that is not enough we want to have memorable stories like Gideon, or Samson but the fact that Tola is mentioned means that he didn't go unnoticed by God.  People get caught up in the details but God sees the big picture!!  At the end of the day he saved Israel like the other judges with more popular stories.

So maybe your life seems like Tola not very grandiose, or doesn't seem like what you are doing is be noticed by anyone remember God notices what you do and it is significant to God!!!

Scripture Reference: Judges 10

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Gideon Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges," of Israel we come to Gideon.  Gideon is one of the more popular judges.  You may remember the story of the fleece where Gideon has this back and forth with Yahweh asking Yahweh for a sign not once but twice.  Or you may remember Yahweh telling Gideon to reduce the size of his army from 32,000 down to 300.  Or you made remember Gideon hiding in the wine press.

Gideon teaches us an important lesson and that is it does not matter what you think about you but only what God thinks about you.  Notice what happens to Gideon. Gideon was hiding and was afraid.  Yahweh calls Gideon man of valor or brave warrior.  Gideon thought of himself as weak and fearful while Yahweh declared that he was brave and courageous.  Gideon had to make a decision about whose report he was going to believe.  God had a plan to use Gideon in a mighty way but Gideon had to push past fear and self-doubt to walk in who God declared he was.  Gideon thought because he was from a poor small tribe that he wasn't able to be used by Yahweh but Yahweh had other plans for him!

Like Gideon let us embrace what God says about us and walk in the purpose that God called us to.

Scripture Reference: Judges 6-8

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Deborah Presiding

As we continue our journey through the "Judges" of Israel we come to Deborah.  Deborah was a prophetess and a judge. She was the wife of Lapidoth.  During Deborah's time the Canaanite king Jabin, ruled the land of Hazor.  I won't use this forum to argue for women in ministry though I am a proponent of women in ministry.  Deborah's general Barak is listed in the Heroes of Faith in Hebrews 11.  Deborah may best be remember for her song.  After her and Barak led 10,000 men from Israel against Sisera who was Jabin's army general she wrote a song of praise after the great victory.  Deborah name means honeybee and was regarded as a mother in Israel for her ability to settle disputes.

Deborah represents the first biblical account of a virtuous woman.  Virtuous was indicative of  power and strength she was the first woman in the Bible to be casted in that light.  Deborah demonstrated courage and the wisdom to trust God.  Deborah let's us know that God is more concern about your character than your gender.  Deborah's life models for us the proper response to the difficulties we will face in this life and that is with courage and the wisdom to trust in God.  A fool trusts in their own power and abilities but one who is wise will trust in the Lord with all their heart.

Let us learn from this great Woman of God to a be people of courage with the wisdom to trust God and watch God give you the victory!

Scripture Reference: Judges 4

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis 

Monday, September 9, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Shamgar Presiding

As we continue our journey through the Judges of Israel we come to Shamgar. Judges 3:31 records the little known story of Shamgar.  In fact there are only two verses that even mentions his name (Judges 3:31 and Judges 5:6). That's right 42 words tell his story. Shamgar was an example of an individual of who simply used what he had for the glory of God. God was looking for someone who would stand up and defend his honor. All of the Israelites were paralyzed with fear, but not Shamgar.

Shamgar decided despite what he did not have a sword or a shield he would use what he had for the glory of God! He did not allow fear of the enemy to keep him from being used by God. Shamgar could have made excuses but he decided to use what he had for the glory of God. So he used his ox-goad and killed six hundred Philistines to deliver Israel.

This teaches us that God will give you the victory in whatever it is he is calling you to do if you are willing to use what you have for the glory of God! Shamgar used his ox-goad! The question becomes what is your ox-goad? Will you use it for the glory of God?

Scripture Reference: Judges 3:31

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Ehud Presiding

As we continue our journey looking at the "Judges" of Israel we come to Ehud.  Ehud was a left-handed Benjamite who personally killed Eglon the fat king of Moab. Ehud also led Israel in the slaying of 10,000 Moabites.  You may be wandering why the Bible mentions he is left-handed.  The fact that Ehud was left-handed meant he was the most unlikely person to save Israel from the hand of the Moabites.  In Jewish tradition being left-handed was seen as a curse and someone who was left-handed was considered a second class citizen if you will.   Ehud didn't allow quote on quote his stereotype to determine his destiny.  Jeffrey Johnson's "Waiting on Superman," sermon is one of the best treatments of Ehud you will find.

Ehud teaches us an important lesson and that is that it isn't peoples' opinions who determine your destiny its God's opinion that determines your destiny.  If Ehud had listen to what people said about him he would probably have had low self-esteem and lived a defeated life but instead Ehud knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and knew that God honors faith.  Ehud step up in a time that no one was willing to step up and as result God used the most unlikely of the unlikely to deliver his people.

Perhaps you like Ehud don't have the ideal background and people have stereotyped you BUT the same God that was able to use Ehud is the same God that is able to use you!  However it's up to you like Ehud to sense what God is seeking to do in the life of His people.  When what you desire to do aligns with what God is seeking to accomplish through the body of Christ the result is GREAT things from the most unlikely of sources.  Remember he was a Benjaminite one of the poorest tribes of Israel.

Scripture Reference: Judges 3

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All Rise: The Honorable Othniel Presiding

Today I would like to begin a new journey looking at the " Judges" of Israel.  The book of of Judges represents a time of lawlessness where anarchy ruled and ever man did what was right in their own eyes.  I would like to begin today with Othniel. Othniel was the nephew of Caleb you remember Caleb the only man other than Joshua to see the promised land from the Exodus crew.   Othniel is best known for capturing Kiriath-Sepher/Debir and delivering Israel from the oppression of the Edomites.

Othniel teaches us the importance of seizing opportunities. Caleb presented the opportunity and Othniel seized it.  Often times in our lives God open doors but we are to reluctant to walk through those doors.  In the process we miss out on opportunities to be used by God for the edification of the body of Christ.  Othniel demonstrated courage and a willingness to respond to a challenge and as a result he experienced the favor of God.

God challenges each us to participate in God's mission and to be conformed daily into the image of HIS SON.  We are presented with opportunities each day but the question is how will we respond?  Othniel responded with courage and willingness!  Let us respond the same way so like Othniel we can experience the favor of God and the body of Christ can receive deliverance.

Scripture Reference: Judges 1

God bless
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Benjamin

As we come to an end of our journey of the sons of Israel/Jacob we come to Benjamin . Benjamin was the second son of Jacob's true love, Rachel. Rachel had a difficult child birth with Benjamin in fact as she was dying she named him "Ben Oni," which means son of my sorrow. However after he was born Jacob changed his name to Benjamin which means, “son of my right hand." But to steal a quote from the classic movie, "Coming To America," his momma name him Ben Oni I am going to call him Ben Oni j/k. Benjamin had two famous descendants Saul who is recognized as the first king of Israel and Saul later named Paul who is recognized as one of the greatest apostles ever.
Both of Benjamin names have something to teach us. Ben Oni teaches us that life is full of sorrow. Though sorrow is a part of life God provides us a comforter in the form of the Holy Spirit. Benjamin teaches us about authority. In Jewish tradition the right hand was the hand of authority and symbolic of honor and power. Jacob went on to dote Benjamin not to the extent he doted Joseph his beloved but much to the chagrin of his other brothers. Because we are in Christ we have receive a position of honor and are able to walk in the newness of life no longer do we have to be ashamed of our past and failures. We have the honor of being called a child of the MOST HIGH GOD.

Benjamin may have been the last but remember the last shall be first and the first shall be last in the kingdom of God.

Scripture Reference: Genesis 35

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Zebulun

As we continue our journey through the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel we come to Zebulun.  Zebulun was the sixth son of Jacob's first wife.  When he was born his mother Leah said, "God has presented me with a gift and this time my husband will treat me with honor, because I born him six sons."  So Zebulun name means honor in Hebrew.  The blessing he received from his father was somewhat positive it said that he will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships.

Zebulun name teaches us an important life lesson and that is children should bring honor to their parents.  We all are children whether our parents are still alive or not we still bring honor to their name by how we live our lives.  Same is true from the spiritual sense how we live our lives reflects upon the one whom we claim as our Father.  When we live any kind of way we bring shame to the name of Christ.  When we submit our will, our agendas, our desires, our thoughts, etc. and become obedient to HIS will we bring glory/honor to our FATHER in heaven.

So let God's endorsement of you be like Leah endorsement of Zebulun where God can say this is my servant ____________ who delights in glorifying my name.  Now that is a goal worth pursing!!!

Scripture Reference: Genesis 30 and 49

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Joseph

As we continue our journey through the sons of Jacob/Israel we come to perhaps the most popular of his offspring.  Joseph was the firstborn son of his father's favorite wife Rachel.  The story Joseph is perhaps one of the most popular one's in the book of Genesis.  He was adored by his father to the point that his brothers despised him.  It didn't help that Jacob gave him a special coat that ignited even more dislike for him amongst his brothers. His brothers ended up selling him into slavery.  Now that's some serious dislike!

Joseph life teaches us an important lesson and that is God can use evil motives for his greater purpose. Though Joseph experienced  various hardships as a result of being sold into slavery from being accused of rape and thrown into prison.  God took Joseph through all of that to positioned him for his true blessing.  Joseph would become second in command in Egypt and end up saving his brothers amongst others in a time of intense famine.  Even though a bad thing led to him going to Egypt  it turned out to be the best thing for Joseph.

So the next time that bad thing happens recognize that there could be a greater purpose that is bigger than you at work behind the scenes.

Scripture Reference:  Genesis 30-50

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Issachar

As we continue our journey through the twelve sons of Jacob/Israel we come to Issachar.  Issachar was the ninth son of Jacob and the fifth born to his first wife, Leah.  Issachar name means "hired".  There is an interesting story surrounding his name.  One day Reuben was out in the fields during the wheat harvest and he came upon some mandrake roots. Reuben then gave the roots to Leah and when Rachel found out about the mandrake roots (fertility drug) she asked Reuben for them and the rivalry was reignited. Leah went off on Rachel and demanded to have the night with Jacob.  Thusly Issachar was born because his mother hired Jacob via her son's mandrakes.   Talk about some Y&R drama lol.

Issachar names teaches us an important life lesson and that is we are all hired to do something.  Some of  us are hired to do a job. Some of us are hired to help others find a job.  Some of us are hired to counsel others who can't find a job.  Often times we tie being hired with wages but the greatest work ever accomplished was not paid in wages but in blood.  When Jesus came to earth to die for the sins of the world he was hired by an unfailing love for all of creation!! He paid our debt with HIS own blood and hired us by grace to spread that love do a dying world!!

You have have been hired to be an ambassador for Jesus the Christ.  You have been hired to be a witness for Jesus the Christ.  You have been hired to be a living epistle for Jesus the Christ.  He paid for you with HIS very own blood!  Let your desire to please HIM be your wage and/or reward.

Scripture Reference: Genesis 30

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Asher

As we continue our journey through the sons of Israel/Jacob we come to Asher.  Asher was the eighth son of Jacob and the second born to his fourth wife, Zilpah.   Asher means "happy" in Hebrew.  Asher receives a positive prophecy from his father Jacob.  His blessing was that his food will be rich; and he will provide delicacies fit for a king.  Anna the prophetess in the New Testament is believed to be a descendant of Asher.

Asher names teaches us a important life lesson and that is life is too short to be unhappy.  In a world where everyone seeks happiness whether its from:

  • A career
  • A family
  • A spouse
  • A car
  • A house
Everyone just wants to be happy.  However though Asher brought Leah happiness she never experienced joy because her happiness was based on having more children than Rachel.  She never experienced the joy of knowing she was loved and accepted by Jacob.   What is your happiness based on?  If it is not based on the presence of God you will never experience the joy of knowing that you are loved and accepted in Christ Jesus.  Like Leah you will only have a form of happiness contingent on others and that's not what God desires for you.  The Gospel offers you love and acceptance in Him will you accept it?

Scripture Reference:  Genesis 49

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Gad

As we continue our journey through the twelve sons of Jacob we come to Gad.  Gad was the seventh son of Jacob, and the first born to his fourth wife, Zilpah.  Gad's name means fortune or good luck. Since I don't believe in luck I will go with fortune.  Zilpah was the servant of Leah Jacob's first wife.  Once Leah was unable to produce any more children her sense of worth was tarnished so in order to outshine her sister Rachel she bored children via her servant.  Wow isn't it amazing many females feel this way today?  As if they are only good for laying on their back. I need about 23 women to say the devil is a liar right through there lol.

 Gad name teaches us an important lesson and that is there is no such thing as good luck.  Though his name meant good luck his life was anything but lucky.  Jacob prophesied that he would be attacked by a band of raiders does that sound lucky to you?  His mother was a slave and didn't even get to lay claim to the child as she bore him for someone else does that sound lucky to you?  Gad ended up with the territory on the other side of the Jordan aka "The Promise Land" does that sound lucky to you? 

 Life isn't about luck it’s about trusting God despite the circumstances.  Remember we walk by faith not by sight.  God can make an unlucky situation into a blessing.  Just ask the first century believers whose persecution led to the spreading of the gospel message. Just ask the woman who was caught adultery how her shameful predicament led to her deliverance.  We serve an intentional God that doesn't operates by some pagan idea of karma or good luck but grants favor to his children as God so chooses.

Scripture Reference: Genesis 30

 God bless,

 Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Naphtali

As we continue our journey of looking at the twelve sons of Jacob we come to Naphtali.  Naphtali was the sixth son of Jacob, and the second born to Bilhah.  Naphtali name means "my wrestling," and it refers to Rachel wrestling with Leah in her competition with her sister to bore children from Jacob.  Not much else is really known about Naphtali.  The land assigned to his descendants eventually became Galil which later became known as Galilee which is where a large part of Jesus earthly ministry took place.

Naphtali name teaches us an important life lesson and that is there are some things in life we are going to have to wrestle with.  We have to have to wrestle with our old nature.  We have to wrestle with disappointment.  We have to wrestle with trials and tribulations. We have to wrestle with principalities in high places.  We have to wrestle with difficult people.  We have to wrestle with fear.  We have to wrestle with shame.  We have to wrestle with this and wrestle with that.

Naphtali let's us know that in life we have to wrestle with some things but the good news is that greater is HE who is in you than he who is in the world. In other words God gives you the strength to overcome anything you are wrestling with.

Scripture Reference:  Genesis 30:8

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Dan

As we continue our journey through the twelve sons of Jacob we come to Dan.  Dan was the fifth son of Jacob, and the firstborn to his third wife, Bilhah.  Dan's story is interesting because even though Bilhah was his mother Rachel considered him her own. Bilhah was Rachel's servant and Rachel asked Bilhah to lay with Jacob and bore her a child.   Dan name means judge in Hebrew.   Jacob prophesies that Dan would provide justice for his people.   You may be familiar with Samson who was a descendant of Dan.

Dan teaches us an important life lesson and that is no matter how you were conceived you were conceived for a purpose.  Though Dan was conceived simply because Rachel was impatient God had a had a plan and a purpose for Dan's life.  He would provide justice for his people. I like many others didn't come from a two parent married couple home. In other words my conception was not intentional or planned but like Dan God has a purpose for my life.  The same is true for you God has a purpose for your life!!

What is this purpose?  To participate in God's mission of reconciliation and redemption in the world!  What that look likes for you I cannot say but for me it is showing compassion to the least of them.  In that way I provide justice for my people (God's image bearers) won't you join me?  How will you participate in God's redemption project?

Scripture Reference:  Genesis 49

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Judah

As we continue our journey through the sons of Jacob we come to Judah.  Judah is Jacob's fourth born son to Leah.  Judah name means praise.  It was Judah who ended up with the royal scepter meaning that Jesus Christ would ultimately come from his descendants and after 42 generations Jacob's prophecy came to pass.  You remember it was Judah's idea to sell Joseph into slavery as opposed to killing him. It is this act that many believed lead to his receiving the royal scepter.  Judah perhaps has the most prominent position of any of the twelve tribes and Judah is listed first of the tribes receiving the Seal of God for 12,000 of its members.

Judah teaches us a very important lesson and that is sometimes in life you are going to be force to take a stand. Joseph was his father's beloved son by his love Rachel and Judah knew the love and affection that his father had for his brother Joseph.  Judah also knew the great disdain his brothers had for Joseph because of the affection his father had for him.  The hatred was so intense they wanted to kill Joseph but Judah took a stand!  What's interesting is that even though he took a stand he still had evil intentions.  Sometimes we do the same thing:

  • We don't come to someone defense because we love them we do it because we don't like a particular situation or the particular person they are fighting against.
  • We don't give God praise because we love Him we do it because we think that unlocks the blessings we so crave.
God shows us through the story of Judah that even though our motives may be impure He can still use them to accomplish His purposes!  We have a God that loves us despite us and also can use us despite us!!  What a MIGHTY God we serve.

Scripture Reference: Genesis 49

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Levi

As we continue our journey looking at the sons of Jacob or Israel we come to Levi.  Levi is the third son of Jacob by Leah.  He like his brother Simeon is most known for their uncontrollable anger.  What distinguishes Levi from his brother Simeon is the blessing he receives from his father.  Though Levi descendants would be scattered they would serve in the capacity of priests.  In Joshua instead of receiving the inheritance of the land the Lord would be there inheritance. 

Levi teaches us an important lesson and that is even though we have our issues we are still fit for service.  Levi like is his brother was revengeful and truth be told so are we.   However  that did not keep the Lord from utilizing the Levites for his service.  That's encouraging to know that I am not define by my issue.  This brings to mind the gospel even though the temple was destroyed and the Judeans were disperse or scattered due to persecution the gospel was still being spread.   In other words God can still accomplish God's purpose even when it seems like bad things are happening.

Levi teaches us that in simple terms that you don't have to be perfect to serve the Lord.  For the Romans writer extols that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

 Scripture Reference:  Genesis 49

 God bless,
 Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lessons from Israel: Simeon

As we continue our journey of looking at the twelve sons of Jacob we come to Simeon who is often paired with his brother Levi. Simeon is Jacob's second son born to Leah. Simeon got his name because his mother felt unloved by Jacob and said God gifted her Simeon because God saw her unloved state. Simeon is what you would consider a hot-head. In other words he had a quick temper and often failed to control it.

 Simeon teaches us that anger prevents forgiveness. Dinah (Simeon sister) was raped by the Shechem. Simeon and his brother Levi slaughtered the men of the Shechem in a violent rage, ignoring the fact that a resolution had already been made by Jacob and Hamor (Shechem father). The residents of Shechem agreed to circumcise themselves and live in peace with Jacob’s family. Simeon allowed anger to cloud his judgment and took matters into his own hands along with his brother Levi. Often time we respond the same way as Simeon but God like Jacob in this narrative has already worked out the situation. Our problem is much like Simeon's we don't like our Father's justice. Just because our Father doesn't respond the way we think He ought to doesn't mean He hasn't responded.

Simeon ended up receiving a curse from his father instead of the customary blessing. What is anger keeping you from? Could it be the greatest blessing of them all which is fellowship with the Father.

Scripture Reference: Book of Genesis 34, 49

 God bless,

Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lessons From Israel: Reuben

Today we begin a new journey as we look at the descendants of Jacob. Jacob is most known for tricking his brother Esau out of his birthright and wrestling with the angel of Lord. The latter of which left him with a limp and a name change. He became known as Israel after his encounter with God. He went on to bore 12 sons from 5 different women. The first of which we will examine today.

Reuben whose name means behold, a son was Jacob's firstborn and was entitled in accordance with the Jewish tradition to receive the birthright and the larger share of his father's inheritance. Reuben however despise his father because he knew that his father didn't love his mother. Can you imagine knowing that father was married to your mother but was in love with someone else. This hatred grew to the point where Reuben slept with his father's wife (Bilhah). As result Reuben lose his inheritance and instead of received a curse from his father instead of the customary blessing.

Reuben is model of missed opportunity and unrealized potential. Many of us like Reuben has missed many opportunities and as result most certainly missed out on some form of blessings. Jacob prophesied that Reuben would be powerfully unstable. The descendants of Reuben went on to live out that fate. Reuben was supposed to be his father's pride and joy the one who would bring honor to his father's name. However Reuben blew it but his story reminds us that we don't have to.

But that's not how the story ends for Reuben in Revelation chapter 7 Reuben descendants are listed among the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel. This lets us know that even though we may blow some opportunities in our life there is always redemption available via the grace of GOD!

 Scripture Reference: Genesis 49

 God bless,

Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Malachi

As we come to an end of our journey of the most known unknown biblical characters we find ourselves at Malachi. Malachi who name means messenger of Yahweh or my messenger emphasized Yahweh's commitment to His people and the obedience He expected from them.  Malachi prophesied that Yahweh would form a righteous remnant into a purified covenant community and eliminate the wicked.  There are two feelings about the book of Malachi those who don't pay their tithes and offerings typically cringe at it and those who do pay their tithes and offerings are fond of it.  However there is more to Malachi message than tithes and offerings.

Malachi teaches us an important truth when you look at it through the lens of the Gospel.  Malachi begins with a disputation in where Yahweh declares his love for Israel.  God has demonstrated his love for you and there is really not any debate about:

  • He sent His SON to die for your sins.
  • He continues to grant you mercies each and every day.
  • He allows you to breathe in carbon monoxide and breathe out oxygen.
  • He provides nourishment for your bodies.
  • He keeps giving you strength when you need it the most.
Notice none of the things I mentioned where material things but God has also demonstrated HIS love for you by given you the desires of your heart.  But often times we like the children of Israel doubt God love for us!  How can a God who has shown his love for us in innumerable ways not loves us.  One of Satan's most important missions is to make you question God's love for you.  Gospel truth is that nothing can separate you from the love of God.  If you do nothing else in life understand that God loves you!! Never again question HIS love for U!

Scripture Reference: Book of Malachi

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Zechariah

As we continue our journey through the most known unknown characters of the Bible we come to Zechariah. Zechariah like Haggai prophesied to the post-exilic Israelites. Zechariah message urged the people to show their repentance through obedience, reminding them that Yahweh places higher priority on obedience than on religious ritual.

Zechariah teaches us an important life lesson and that is just because we are in the church doesn't mean that the church is in us. In other words being religious is not as important as heart transformation. It is obedience to the will of the Father that Christ modeled for us. This moves worship from a Sunday morning experience to a lifestyle. Zechariah reminds us that God's desire is for all of his creation (nations) to worship him. Ultimately foreshadowing the prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father when he ask that they will be One just as you and I are One.

Remember your obedience is better than sacrifice. The question becomes what are you called to be obedient to? Participating in God's mission on the earth. What is God's mission? Redeeming all of creation back to God's self. How do I get the power to be obedient? The Gospel is the key as it is the power of God!!

Scripture Reference: Book of Zechariah

God bless,

Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Haggai

As we continue our journey through the most known unknown characters of the bible we come to Haggai. Haggai had four messages that are specifically dated to the year 520 BC, the second year of the reign of the Persian king Darius. His primary focus was to rebuild the temple as his audience was the post-exilic Judeans. Haggai is one of my favorites books of the Bible because it serves as a wakeup call to all believers.

 Haggai teaches us an important life lesson and that is to get our priorities in order. Haggai was referring to the spiritual condition of the people of his day. They would use the best of their resources for themselves and gave Yahweh the leftovers sound familiar? Haggai issued a strong warning that if the people didn't change their priorities then the economic depletion and depression would continue. Could the trouble you are facing be a result of misplace priorities? When was the last time you examined yourself to see if you were in the faith? Misplace priorities is a very dangerous thing especially when those priorities move you away from Yahweh.

 Temple represented the visual symbol of God's dwelling place on the earth and by not rebuilding the temple the people were saying that they were indifferent about God presence in their lives. I don't know about you but I am in agreement with the Psalmist who said as the deer panteh by the water brook so does my soul long for thee O God (paraphrase).

Scripture Reference: Book of Haggai

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, July 29, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Zephaniah

As we continue our journey through the most known unknown we come across Zephaniah.  Zephaniah prophesied in the late seventh century, prior to the fall of Nineveh.  He announced the day of judgement against Judah and the nations.  Yahweh was upset about His people's behavior they were behaving like people who did not know the Lord.  Moral transformation and purification for God's peculiar people is a theme that is prevalent throughout the book of Zephaniah.

Zephaniah teaches us an important life lesson though and that is God's judgement as it relates to his people is always  just and it is always for a purpose.   I know what you are thinking how is it just that I lose my job and my source of income?  God's judgement as it relates to his people is always for the purpose of PURIFICATION.  Perhaps that job had become your God and God had to purge you from it in order to teach you that God is the source of your provision.  How is it just that my health is failing me?  Perhaps you may have taken for granted having the activity of your limbs and being able to walk without pain and God had to purge you of perfect health in order to show you that even the health you take for granted is a gift from HIM. 

So whatever your plight may be remember that God is just and the purpose of his judgement is purification.  Just like Zephaniah told the people of the judgement coming he didn't leave them with the promise of restoration.  There is always restoration after the purification whether on this side or in glory.

Scripture Reference: Book of Zephaniah

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Habakkuk

As we continue our journey through the most known unknown characters in the Bible we find ourselves at Habakkuk.  Habakkuk prophesied prior to the downfall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.  Habakkuk questioned  Yahweh about the injustice he saw in Judah.  Habakkuk teaches us how to have faith during difficult times.

Many are familiar with Paul's reference to Habakkuk in Romans when he says the righteous will live by faith but it is Habakkuk who first brings us this concept.  Habakkuk notes that the just shall live by faith but how do you have faith in the midst of the worst season of your life?  For Habakkuk there was never a time in the history of Israel that was worst than this. Habakkuk had many questions for God and I know in some circles it may be taboo to question God.   However what kind relationship would it be with a God you can't ask questions?  Habakkuk asked questions and the Psalms are full of questions and raw emotions.  Faith doesn't mean that you don't ask any questions faith means that your trust in God's goodness never wavers.  I figured you wouldn't take my word for it so I brought some witnesses:

  • Ask Daniel and he will tell you that in your lion's den situations the just will live by faith
  • Ask the Three Hebrew Boys and they will tell you that in your fiery furnace situations the just will live by faith.
Habakkuk saw a vision of a Warrior-King which assured him of the Lord's ability to sustain His followers through difficult times. I haven't seen a vision like Habakkuk but I have seen God make a way out of no way when my bills outweighed my income but bills were always paid.  I have seen God give me peace in the midst of plenty of storms.   I tell you the just will live by faith.

Scripture Reference: Book of Habakkuk

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Nahum

As we continue our journey through the minor prophets aka the most known unknown we find ourselves at Nahum.  Nahum the other prophet to prophesy to the people of Nineveh I know you thought Jonah was the only one.  Nahum gives us the image of Yahweh as a divine warrior king.  The Assyrian Empire was renown for their military might and abilities.  God used Nahum to prophesy about their impending destruction due to their harsh treatment of God's people. 

Nahum reveals to us that God will fight our battles.  Nahum reminds us that we have divine warrior on our side.  We have a God who goes before us to make crooked paths straight and a God who watches behind us to make sure the fiery darts don't take us out from behind.  Nahum dispels the myth that God is not actively involve in the affairs of His people. Nahum portrays a God who is concern about the welfare of his people and is willing to fight on their behalf.  

So the next time trouble comes your way remember you have a divine warrior who is on your side!  You don't have to fight or retaliate because vengeance is mine says the LORD i will repay in other words God will fight your battles!!  I don't know about you but I am grateful for my divine warrior!!

Just ask David who was being hunted down by Saul won't God fight your battles.  Just ask Moses and the children of Israel as they were being pursued by Pharaoh's army won't God fight your battle.  Just asked any cancer survivor won't God fight your battles.

Scripture Reference:  Book of Nahum

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Micah

As we continue our journey through the most known unknown we come across perhaps one of the most socially charged prophets of them all Micah. His message was that of the social injustice the people of Judah endured. He is believed to be a contemporary of Isaiah. Micah prophesied that the people would be exiled to Babylon but in the end God would forgive his people and keep his promise to Abraham. In Micah resides arguably one of the most powerful scriptures in the entire biblical narrative. It is found in Micah 6:8. In fact in a recent interview a Congressman from Chicago was being interviewed about the Trayvon Martin verdict and his response was that we are called to Micah 6:8. What does Micah 6:8 say you may be wondering? He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (NKJV)

 Micah answers for us one of life's burning questions and that is what is my purpose? Micah gives us the key to pleasing God. The question becomes what does do justly look like in your life? Could it be to speak up for someone who has no voice? Could it be to right a wrong that you have the power to make a mends for?  What does to do justly look like in your life?  I could go on and on as you can see I am pretty fond of this scripture but I will quit there.

 Micah challenged the people of his day and he challenges us today to fight for those who don't have the ability to fight for themselves.

 Scripture Reference: Book of Micah

 God bless,

Bondservant Hollis

Monday, July 22, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Jonah

As we continue to look at the most known unknown characters of the biblical narrative we come across arguably the most known of the unknown Jonah. The story of Jonah is well-known in many circles as it tells of God's sovereignty and how God offers all the opportunity to repent and experience his mercy.  Jonah was a reluctant prophet who had a great disdain for the people of Nineveh so much so that he try to avoid is calling altogether.   As the narrative goes Jonah ends up in the belly of a great fish and relents to the will of God for his life.

Jonah teaches us an important life lesson and that is don't allow disdain for someone or something keep you from fulfilling your God given purpose.  Anger can prevent you from doing what you know God would have you to do.  This is the danger that the book of Jonah teaches us.  Who is anger keeping you from blessing?  For Jonah it was the people of Nineveh but the question becomes who are the people of Nineveh in your life?

Moral of the story don't allow disdain to destroy you!!  For God has a greater purpose for your life which is to bring Godself glory through your life.

Scripture Reference: Book of Jonah

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Amos

Most people are more familiar with Famous Amos Cookies than the Amos of the biblical text.  Amos was prophet who prophesied around 760 BC. What I like about Amos was he was concern with the socio-economic oppression prevalent in his day.  Amos was concern about injustice I imagine he would be all over the Trayvon Martin situation and the countless others like it that happen every day.   Amos asked the infamous question, " How can two walk together unless they be agreed?"  That's an interesting question we all would like to think that we are walking with the Lord. In fact one of the infamous songs of the old church is called, "Walk With Me Lord," but how many of our lives are pleasing to God. Remember how can to walk together unless they be agreed?

Amos teaches us an important lesson about worship as well.  Amos 5 deals with true worship you see the people had become mundane and ritualistic in their worship. However Yahweh issues a strong warning via Amos in chapter 5 of the book of Amos letting the people know Yahweh does not delight in vain sacrifices.  How many of our lives are like that:

  • Not going to church because we delight to worship God but because we know we ought to go.
  • Not reading our bible because we delight in growing in grace, knowledge and truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ but because we because we think we ought to.
Amos reveals that God is concern with the reason why we do what we do more so than the act itself.  God wants our affection more than he wants some ritual act.  This is your boy Amos and you have just been served.

Scripture Reference:  Book of Amos

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Most Known Unknown: Joel

As we continue to navigate through some of the most known unknown characters of the bible we arrive at Joel.  You know Joel the one who names mean Yahweh is God.  Now that's some kind of name.  Joel prophesied about the impending destruction of the people of God if they did not repent. Joel utilizes locust invasion, which had destroyed the crops.  This was only a foreshadowing of what was to come if the people didn't repent.

The book of Joel teaches us a important lesson that is the Day of the Lord is coming.  It will either be a day of rejoicing for the believer who strives to do the will of God or a day of judgement for  the ungodly and unrepentant.  Both views of the Day of the Lord are present in the book of Joel.  The question then becomes will you be ready?  What are the locust in your life seeking to devour you?  For the people in Joel's time the locust devoured the vineyards and the fig trees which were symbols of peace and prosperity that had become the source of their joy and contentment oppose to God being the source.  The devastation was so severe that their entire economy was turned upside down for the people of Joel's day harvest time was a time of celebration and great joy but it had turned bitter. When you are out of fellowship with God in their case breaking the covenant the result is devastation.

The book of Joel teaches us that when are not actively growing or seeking to growing in our relationship with God the results are devastation.  It's dangerous not to pray aka talking and listening to God.  It's dangerous not to read the Bible aka spending time with God.  I don't know about you but I feel like the songwriter who said," When the song is over and the music stops do you know Jesus does He live in your heart."  That's the only thing that really matters and unlike the people of Joel's time we live in the time that he prophesied about when he said God will pour out his spirit on all flesh.  Thank God for the Spirit of God that leads us into a deeper fellowship with God.

Scripture Reference: Joel

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Most Known Unknown: Hosea

As we continue to take a look at some of the most known unknown characters of the biblical narrative we arrive at Hosea.  Admittedly if you know one of the minor prophets he would probably be one of the one's you know but perhaps not.  Hosea tells the story of God's unwavering love for Israel.  Though Israel prostituted itself to the god of fertility (Baal) God's love for his chosen people remained intact.  To demonstrate Israel unfaithfulness towards the covenant they had made with God.  God uses a relationship between the prophet Hosea and an adulterous prostitute name Gomer to demonstrate Israel's unfaithfulness to his covenant.

The book of Hosea teaches us an important lesson and that is God loves us despite us!  Though we are unfaithful to his precepts God still loves us.  Though we are unfaithful to his commands God still love us.  There is no book that depicts the compassion God has for his people like the book of Hosea.  No greater love story has ever been written greater than the love depicted in the book of Hosea.  The image of  a God who pursues his unfaithful lover despite her indiscretions. 

Rejoice today in the God of our salvation a God who loves us despite us.  A God who loves you when you don't love others.  A God who loves you when you don't love yourself.  A God who loves you just because that's who God is.  Hey, I'm no Rob Bell but love truly does win in the book of Hosea.  So be thankful and grateful to a God who can love you like that!!

Scripture Reference: Hosea

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Monday, July 15, 2013

Most Known Uknown: Obadiah- You are your Brother's Keeper

Growing up in the south one of my favorite groups was Triple Six Mafia or Three 6 Mafia.  They were the self-proclaimed most known unknown. I imagine that's how many of the minor prophets feel.  People are somewhat familiar with their names but don't really know them. For next few days I want to introduce to you the biblical version of Triple 6 Mafia.

Obadiah whose name means servant of Yahweh teaches us an important lesson and that is we are our brother's keeper.  Short story shorter Obadiah tells the story of Judah and Edom who are descendants of Jacob and Esau.  In Judah's worst day as they were being taking captive Edom stood aloof and watch as their brother was being destroyed.  Not only did they not help their brother but they delighted in their misfortune.  As a result Yahweh's anger was kindled against Edom which teaches you and I that God is concern about how we treat our brother and sister.  The ability to help our brother and neglecting to do so is sin in the sight of our God.  So when:

  • You see your brother being taking advantage of and you sit idly by Yahweh's anger may be kindled against you.
  • You see your brother about to make a decision that you know will result in much pain and misery and you sit idly by Yahweh's anger may be kindled against you.
  • Rejoice when others fail or fall short Yahweh's anger may be kindled against you.
God holds us accountable for how we treat our brothers and sisters so let us learn this lesson from Obadiah.  Even though:

  • Cain didn't keep Abel
  • Nor did Nino Brow keep his brother
We are called to be our brother's keeper.  

Scripture Reference:  Obadiah 1-20

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sins of My Skin: Affirmation of Others

In my experience as an African American and in a broad range of conversations that I have had with other African Americans I have discovered a common thread the need of affirmation from others. Many live their lives in hopes to receive adoration and affirmation from their peers.  That's really what that outfit is about because you are bothered if no one notices it.  That's really what that hair do is about because you are bothered if someone doesn't like it.  That's really what that car is about  that's why you have to tell everybody about it. That's really what the house is about because you are bothered if no one comes over.  That's really what that vacation is about that's why you have to check in and post pictures everywhere you go.  This need for affirmation is so subconscious that we are not even aware that we are doing it or desiring it.  All of these things help give people a sense of identity/image. 

The gospel offers you affirmation from God when you seek to understand the gospel truth God gives you a new identity and new image.  No longer is it based on what you have but it is based on who you have.  No longer is it based on how good you look to others but it is based on do you look like Him. God seeks to be the one who gives you affirmation!!  Isn't God's affirmation the only one that's going to matter on that DAY anyway?  You do know that you are the apple of God's eye? 

Scripture Reference: Psalms 17:8a

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Heart Of A Believer

One my favorite songs is by Shekinah Glory is called, "Yes." The lyrics simply say will your heart and soul say yes. The prophet Jeremiah says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 ESV)" What's interesting is that in Jewish thinking or Hebrew understanding the heart often times refers to the mind. In fact some translation even translate the passage to read, "The human mind is more deceitful than anything else. It is incurably bad. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9 Net Bible)" Often times that's how we go through life in our hearts we say yes to God's will and our soul agrees but our minds are often focused on any and everything other than the will of God. A few questions:

· What do you spend most of your day thinking about? Is it the will of God for your life?

· What do you think about when you first wake up? Is it how can your participate in what God is doing in your community?

· What do you think about before you go to bed? Is it an evaluation of how you can grow in your walk with God?

Often times what we feel in our hearts and what we make up our minds to do aren't in harmony with one another. When this happens we been have deceived:

· When you say you love Jesus with everything but fail to support the kingdom of God.

· When you say you believe Jesus is the door but are a proponent of religious tolerance.

· When you say love God but hate your brother whom you see every day.

· When you say God gave you an assignment but you doing everything but that assignment.

Beloved don't be deceived ask God to help your heart and mind to be centered on Him and his purposes.

 Scripture Reference Jeremiah 17:9

 God bless,

Bondservant Hollis

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Day After

The one night stand never gives you anymore attention the day after.  Nobody calls, texts, or writes on your FB wall the day after your birthday.  Nobody checks to see how you doing the day after the funeral. Nobody seems care about the tragedy the day after.  Nobody seems to care about the natural disaster the day after.  Nobody seems to care about the homeless the day after.  Nobody seems to care about the neglected the day after.    Nobody seems to care about the sermon the day after.  We have an innate tendency to move on to the next thing.   So what about today?  Do you still care that HE IS RISEN the day after?  Do you still care that YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN the day after?  Do you still care that OUR HOPE IS STILL ALIVE the day after?  Do you still care that JESUS CREATED US IN HIM TO DO GOOD WORKS the day after?  Do you still care that JESUS CALLED US TO THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION the day after?  Do you still care that the POWER OF THE RESURRECTION is still available to you the day after?  Do you still care that the COMPASSION OF THE CROSS is available to you the day after?  Do you still care that we are in a BROKEN WORLD IN NEED OF A SAVIOR the day after? 

Never forget that true ministry begins the DAY AFTER! 

Scripture Reference: 1 Corinthians 15:4

God bless,
Bondservant (slave) Hollis

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Slave: A Better Identity

Most of us have some type of emotion when we hear the world slave.  Often for obvious reasons the word slave has a negative connotation.  Contrary to popular belief all slaves didn't have a harsh life it was directly dependent of the graciousness of their Master.  What is interesting about a slave is that a slave doesn't have identity except for the identity that is given to them by their master.  Slaves had no rights, no privileges, their entire identity was granted to them by their master.  That's an interesting concept.  Many of the apostles refer to themselves as slaves.  To be more specific they referred to themselves as a slave of Jesus Christ ( James 1:1, Philemon 1:1, 2 Peter 1).

To be a slave of Christ was a badge of honor!!  When did that stop being the case?  What they were saying was that they were forsaking whatever prestige, status, ambitions, and desires they had to become a slave for Jesus Christ.  They were giving up their identity for a better one.  So stop looking for your identity in all the wrong places.  People look for their identity on the job, people look for identity in a car, people look for identity in a house, and people look for identity in relationships. These things are not bad in of themselves but Jesus offers you a better identity!!  To be his slave but unlike earthly masters who can be cruel listen to how God describes God's identity is Exodus 34:6 The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.  That's the kind of Master with have the opportunity to serve and did I mention God never changes!!

If you hear nothing else hear this: Jesus Gives Us A Better Identity!  We are all slaves to something might as well be slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18)! 

God bless,
Bondservant (slave) Hollis

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Just Wanna Be Successful

Hip Hop Artist Drake recently released his smash hit, "Successful" "he says he wants the money and the cars and the cars and the clothes."  Then he goes on to say I just wanna be successful.  Truth be told the culture we live in breeds this kind of thinking.  Many Christians if they are honest really measure success in the same fashion.  Only difference is there is a # that says God is good at the end of the statement.  However is that really how God measures success? Is God really concern with how much one accumulates?  Is God really concern with you being successful?   Last I checked God does not measure success in the same manner we do:

  • Moses didn't lead the children of Israel to the Promise Land but in God eyes he was successful.
  • Isaiah preached many years to people who would not listen but in God eyes he was successful.
God measures success differently than the world does.  God measures success based on your faithfulness to his precepts and His word.  God measures success based on your obedience to the various things he has gifted and call you to do.  Being successful in God eyes may mean forsaking your comfortable lifestyle and foregoing the riches of this world however there will be a great reward for you on the other side glory.   The question we must really ask ourselves is whose success do we really want?  What does our actions say about whose success we are trying to obtain?

P.S. God is not anti-success but God is anti-idolatry that is to say when you desire success more than Him therein lies the problem.

Scripture Reference: 2 Timothy 4:7-8

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Amazing Generosity: Craigslist Joe

One of my favorite books in the Bible is the book of Acts.  It tells the story of the early church as they try to deal with life after Jesus The Christ and remain faithful to the task that He set before them. In a world full of individualism and self-pleasing people I watched a refreshing documentary entitled, "Craigslist Joe"  it tells the story of a guy who wondered if he could survive for 30 days based on the generosity of people utilizing only Craigslist. This reminds me of the latter part of Acts 4 where it says that nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,  and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

The church was built on generosity!  That's an interesting concept to give up some possessions to help those in need.  I wander if the Church could be considered generous today? Craigslist Joe discovered that there are still some generous people out there in the world!  I encourage you today to be a generous giver.  Give up something that someone may have what they need.  Jesus THE Christ gave up his life that we might have what we needed and that is fellowship with God.  Let us follow this example and give up something this Lenten season so that someone else can have what they need.

We cannot be the church and not be generous its apart of who we are!  The interesting part about that passage of scripture is that the greatest witness the early church gave to the world was that they valued Christ more than anything the world could offer and that's why they could give away the things the world valued.

Scripture Reference: Acts 4:34-35

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Social Media Can Cause You To Lose Your Reward

We live in a day where you can't go to the bathroom without social media.  I mean literally people Instagram and Twitter pic from the restroom.  People's lives have become consume by this social media frenzy.  To the point that you really have to wonder where it will end?  One of my favorite post was when someone said, "Praise the Lord I got new I-phone 5 # God is Good."   Really?  Is God an accessory who is only good when we get what we want?  Does God really care you got the I-phone 5?  Okay enough of that but you catch my drift. 

From what I can see social media has taken boasting to a whole new level!  Sad to report that has infiltrated the church as well.  Last I check the Bible says, give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you (Matthew 6:4 NLT).   First thing Jesus says as chapter 6 begins is be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by then.   However if you look at social media all you see is the exact opposite people cannot wait to tell you what they doing for others, how many people joining their church, etc. 

Maybe it's just me and maybe I am bugging out.  However through the lens I see the gospel narrative it is clear that social media could be causing many to lose their reward!  I am sure I will get some push back on this one.

Scripture Reference: Matthew 6

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Now That The Pressure Is Off.

The gospel frees us from the pressure of trying to earn our way into heaven!  Hallelujah!  This means that we can now focus on living the gospel (implications).   True understanding of the gospel gives us the gift of gratefulness.  Truth is we deserved to die and the penalty for the sins we have committed, are committing, and will commit is death.  Jesus paid the price for our sins and the proper response is gratitude!  Here are three characteristics of a grateful heart:
  1.  A grateful heart is a willing heart.
  2.  A grateful heart is a loving heart.
  3.  A grateful heart is a serving heart.
The question becomes what does that look like in my day to day life?  For today we will take a quick look at doing the unexpected.  As I study the gospel I discover a Jesus that did the unexpected.  For example the children of Israel expected a militant and conquering Jesus (Messiah) instead they got a loving, compassionate, and serving Jesus (Messiah).  This means for you and I that we are to do the same. Here are a few tangible examples of how you can do the unexpected:

  1. You can call someone who you never called but have their number and give them an encouraging word.
  2. You can buy someone a meal who doesn't have the ability to pay you back.
  3. You can visit someone who has no else to visit them.
Simple things like that can make a major impact on the lives of individuals and when we do those sort of things the gospel goes from being a set of beliefs about Jesus The Christ to power of God in our daily lives.

Scripture Reference:  Deuteronomy 6:5

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Pressure Is Off!

Happy New Year.  I have been debating back in forth whether to continue writing.  Life after seminary has been pretty frustrating but I will save that for another rant.   Today I want to focus on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.  Often times we feel as if we have to do something to please God. Church can make you religous but not pleasing to God.  I suggest to you that this feeling comes from your desire to please other people.  However God is not like people.  JD Greear in his book "Gospel"  offers what is called the gospel prayer which goes as follows:

In Christ there nothing I can do to make you love me more
 and there is nothing I have done that makes you love me less
Your presence and approval
is all I need for everlasting joy
As you have been to me so will I be to others
I will measure your compassion by the cross
And your power by the resurrection

In essence what he is saying is the pressure is off.  You can't do anything to make God love you more in Christ because God's love for Christ is perfect.  So instead of trying do things you think will please God focus on the primary command.  Love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, and soul and thy neighbor as thyself.  That is to say live your life as a grateful response to the love that God demonstrated on the cross.  The same power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that will allow you to live a life of gratitude to the God who love you enough to take your place. 

You see Christ did for us what we couldn't do for ourselves.  Therefore is we focus and saturate our lives with the gospel (life, death, burial, and resurrection) of Jesus Christ we see his love in action.   Gospel is not something you believe to get saved but the Gospel is what keeps you saved daily (sanctification). 

So the pressure is off just focus on loving God first and once you see how God has loved you then you love others in the same capacity.  So simple a child could understand.  

Scripture Reference:  John 19:30

God bless,
Bondservant Hollis