Saturday, May 15, 2010
Take it! Go For it!
Bishop Noel Jones is arguably one of the most profilic preachers of our time. And, I feel priviliged to have been able to follow his ministry all the way back to the early 90's up to this point. I've always considered him to be the "Michael Jordan" of preachers, because he is the kind of preacher every other preacher wants to be like. His approach to the message, his intellect, his analyitical style of delivery is one that is unique but also often imitated by others.
On Friday, May 7th I had yet another opportunity to hear this powerful man of God minister during Greater Grace Temple's 11th Annual Pastor's and Church Leader's Conference. And, I can say that I believe out of all of the messages that I've heard Bishop Jones preach, this one by far is the best of them all! I'm sure you wondering how could I make such a declaration, how can I measure a Word from the Lord as being better than another? O.K. I have to admit that maybe that might be a bit of a stretch, because the power of God's Word is the same regardless of the delivery, or the person. But, maybe a better way of saying it is was this truly was a Word for me! And, I'll explain.
The text for the message came from the 11th chpt of Matthew where Jesus is approached by disciples of John the Baptist on behalf of John asking him, "Are you the One, or should we look for another?" Jesus responds, " The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." Jesus goes on to assert, "The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent taketh by force." The title of the message was "Take it! Go For it!" The message itself was thoroughly centered about the latter clause of Jesus initial response to the disciples of John's question of "Are you the one, or should we look for another?" After Jesus laid down the reasoning behind his credibility as the "One." He interjects a disclaimer, "and blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." And, until this message I must admit I didn't understand the significance of this latter clause, but what we discovered is that God uses scandal and offense to bless His people. And, if you are able to endure the scandal and the offense then you are going to be blessed! But, you have to be able to "take" or "endure" the scandal in order "take" or "apprehend" the blessing.
In Bishop Jones's message he offered several concrete examples of this premise that God uses scandal and offense to bless the children of God, with John the Baptist being the primary in his thesis. John the Baptist was specifically created to point the way to Jesus, and here we find him in Matt 11th chapter in prison facing imminent death, and grappling with whether Jesus is the one or should we look for another? And, to add insult to injury John the Baptist's death was not a peaceful transition from earth to glory, but it was violent. He was beheaded at the request of King Herod's wife, because of his outward expression of dislike for King Herod marrying his own brother Phillip's wife. And, so the question then becomes why would God allow somoeone who was created to the point the way to Jesus die such a horrible and violent death? Bishop Jones also inserted into his message the life of Joseph, and how scandalous his life was even though God had divinely appointed him to be the curator over his own brother's seed. Joseph went from the literal Pit to the Palace and all of it was initiated by the hatred of his own brother's and Joseph was not allowed to exact revenge against them becuase of their jealousy. He was not given the luxury of retribution even though he had it within his power. But, instead after revealing his identity to them he was able to declare, "what you meant for evil, God meant for my good so that I could save you alive." And, therein lies the heart of the blessing. Inasmuch as Joseph was able to take the offense and the scandal that was faciliated and ochestrated by God's own hand and carried out by his brothers. But, didn't not exact revenge, but rather spared his brother's, thereby preserving their seed. If Joseph had not acted kindly towards his brothers, but exacted revenge there probably would not have been a Children of Israel, if not a Children of Israel, than maybe not a line of Judah, if not a line of Judah, than maybe not even a King David and if not a King David well you know the rest. Some much hinged on Joseph's ability to endure the topsy turvey-ness of his life in order to get to not just his blessing but the blessing of future generations. And, such as it is with you and I. We have to be able to take it or endure the offensiveness and scandal of this walk with God, then we will get to the blessing God has for us. But, why does God choose scandal and offense to bless His people? Is this the only way that we can get blessed, and is this really the best way? And, Isaiah 55:8, God boldy responds; "My ways are not your ways and my thoughts are not your thoughts. For as high is the heaven is the from the earth, so are my ways from your ways and my thoughts from your thoughts." He reinterates this again in Isaiah 46:13, "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: " What God chooses for our lives, has to be the best thing for us, and we have trust that God knows what He's doing.
My question is can you endure?