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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