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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