TD Jakes - A Tasting with the King
Let's talk about the historic feasts and parties of ancient Israel and understand that the harvest seasons were huge events, not just work events. They were moments of elaborate celebrations, and people would come from miles and miles around to appreciate what God had done because they so recognized that the harvest was at the mercy of God sending the rain. And the big parties that they would have would last for days and days and days because they had experienced drought, and nothing causes you to enjoy harvests like having experienced drought. It gives you a spirit of gratitude and appreciation, and if you've never been through a drought, you'll think you did it because of your own goodness, but once you've been in a drought, you know that you're at the mercy of the Lord. Usually representing a key moment in Jewish history was symbolic of the fact that we are dependent upon God to meet every need.
Our harvest depends on him. Our increase depends on him. Our growth depends on him. Our promotions depend on him. Our businesses depend on him. The health of our children depend on him, our livelihood, and so we give him the glory. And particularly in Israel, these were robust parties, huge celebration. The master vintner is celebrating you as well. He's celebrating you. He's got a plan for your life. You're not an afterthought. You're not an accident. You're not an incident. He has a plan for you. So imagine the collaborative effort of God celebrating his children while they're celebrating him. It's much like praise and worship, that we can praise until God turns around on his throne, dance till God dances with you. That's a celebration.
In Israel, they had seven different kinds of feasts, and I just wanna name them quickly so that you might know them and remember them: you've got the feast of the Passover, you've got the feast of unleavened bread, you've got the feast of firstfruits, you've got the feast of weeks, or Pentecost: Rosh Hashanah, which is the feast of trumpets: the day of atonement, Yom Kippur: the feast of tabernacles. All of these feasts point to different attributes and aspects of their faith and their trust and their collaborative living with God.
It is no incident that the first miracle that we see Jesus do occurs at a party, after John 1:1, and talk about "In the beginning was the word, the word was with God, and the word was God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness, and the darkness comprehensive it not. Now, there was a man who was sent from God. His name was John. He was not that light, but he was sent to bear witness of that light, saying, 'there is one coming after me, who's mightier than i, whose shoes I'm not worthy the latch it. I will indeed baptize you with the water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire". And, finally, 1:14, "And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld the wonder of his glory, the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth". "The word was made flesh".
The abstract was made concrete. The invisible was made visible. The intangible was now touchable. Christ materialized. Matter materialized, "And we beheld the wonder of his glory, the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth," just so that he could hang out with you. They talk about that in John 1:1, and the moment they get through telling you that Jesus is God, in 1:1, by the time you turn the page to chapter 2, he's at a party. You would think that, after you got through goin' through all of this elaborate introduction to teach me that Jesus, the word, was made flesh, that Jesus is God, that he would go out and do some God stuff, but John 2, he's at a party: "Hey, what's up"? He chilling. He's at a party with his disciples, and the biggest problem he solves is not a withered hand, it's not leprosy, it's not a woman with the issue blood. It said they've run out of wine, and all of a sudden, he solves the problem by taking the mundane waters of Cana and turning it into the blissful, powerful, fragrant wine of a wedding whose guests were so appalled that they said, "You have saved the best wine for last".
How do you celebrate God? How do you celebrate God fulfilling his promise? Now that we know that God can be holy in one, and party in two, how do you celebrate God? All I have to do is remember the times when I had no electricity or no running water and look back over my life and see where God has brought me from, and I celebrate God. I honor him, and I worship him, and I appreciate him, and I know I didn't get here by myself. I know I didn't deserve to be where I am. "To God be the glory for the things he's done". I wonder, did God also celebrate Israel during these feasts in the same sort of way just like a parent celebrates the accomplishments of their children? Often the giver, the parent, receives as much joy, in the giving, as a child does, sometimes more.
In Matthew 25, it talks about a very interesting story where Jesus, in a parable, talks about the talents that he has given out to various ones of his servants, and to one he gave five, and to one he gave two, and to one he gave one, each with the expectation that you would do something with what he gave you because that's really what life is all about, doing something with what God gives you. The master leaves the three servants in charge of the possessions that he has placed into their hands. Now, bear in mind, the servants are now in charge. I don't want you to miss that. These people who were subservient are now in leadership, that they have been moved into a position so powerful that now they're accountable to the owner himself.
I just wanna stop a minute and praise him for that. Yeah, you can be a slave one minute and a master the next, and that's kind of good stuff, to me. Yeah, yeah, things can turn 'em in, that's why you have to be careful how ya treat people because the person you met down might end up, up: and the person who's up might end up down. You never know how it's gon' go. When he returns, he awards his servants who produced more with what he had. The servant who buried his talent, everything he had was taken away from him. If the master vintner celebrated Israel, then I believe he celebrates you. He celebrates you by becoming all that he has labored for you to become. He celebrates you because you have become all that he has labored for you to become. When you win, he wins.
The Bible said that God is so interested in you bein' fruitful that it pleases him that you bring forth much fruit. "So shall ye be my disciples". As you move beyond your crushing fermenting, God sets the table for his royal wine tasting. This celebration is a celebration for all of eternity to understand that everything that God has laid out on the table, he has done it without hiding it, even from your haters. He has done it openly and publicly and that he is not ashamed of the journey he took you through, so sit back and take the white napkin and put it in your collar, if you please, and allow the very angels themselves to pour you the first glass of success, and enjoy the nectar that comes from obeying him, and recognizing that "He doeth all things well".
There are some places in God that are reserved only for those that he chooses. "He that dwelleth in the secret place, secret place, of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty". There are some places that God will take you into that are only a celebration of your intimacy with him that only you and he alone can enjoy the inner sanctum. My favorite scripture in the Bible is Psalms 27, "The Lord is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled, and they fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, and though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple".
Check this out: "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his tabernacle. In the secret of his pavilion shall he hide me. He shall set me up on a rock. Now shall my head be lifted above my enemies round about me, and I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto my God. Hear, o Lord, when I cry with my voice. Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. For when thou saidst, 'seek ye my face,' my heart said unto thee, 'thy face, Lord, will I seek'". This is the hope of every believer to have that communion, that "Koinonia," that fellowship, that covenant, that closeness, that intimacy where you and God, and God and you, and you and God, and God and you, and God and you, and you and God, and you and God alone can enter into that place of intimacy. Intimacy. It's so wonderful to be in a place with him, to be around somebody with whom you have nothing to hide.
The Bible said, "All things are naked before him with whom we have to do". There's nothing about you that he doesn't know, not just what you did, but what you think, what you thought, what ran through your mind, what you would've done, what you could've done, what you're capable of doin', what you dreamed about, what you think about. "All things are naked before him," so there is no need to be pretentious, important, self-righteous, spectacular, impressive. You can be your authentic self because he already knows who you are, and what makes it even better than that, you are "Accepted in the beloved". You are "Accepted in the beloved" because your life is hid in Christ with God. When you come before God, you come before God in Christ. In him, I live. In him, I move. In him, I have my being.
If anybody, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, and all things have become new". Why? Because of my position, not my condition. My condition is a work in process, but my position is complete. It is finished. It is total. It is done. It is absolute. I'm already in the holies of holies. I got the hookup. I'm straight in the presence of God. That's why, when Jesus died on the cross, the veil was rent from the top to the bottom so that I would have no restrictions. That's why Hebrews says that I can "Come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need".
There is nothing restricting me from being able to access him anytime, anyplace and anytime at any moment in my life. I don't have to be in a sanctuary. I don't have to be in the pulpit. I don't have to be in the choir stand. I don't have to put on a certain outfit. I don't have to wear anything special. I can access him in my shower. I can access him in my bathtub. I can access him on my way to work. I can access him because he has taken me through the process that brought me to a place that I am the wine at the table of shew-bread. I am the smell of burning incense in the holies of holies. I am the part of manna that did not ferment. I am the wood that he covered with gold. I am the sheepskins that surround the tabernacle. I am the bowls and vials that are in the most holy place only because I am in him, only because I am in him, only because I stood with him in the crushing. He said, "If you suffer with me, you will reign with me. If you go down with me, you'll come up with me. If you are buried in the likeness of my death, you shall be in the likeness of my resurrection".
Do you hear what I'm saying to you? The pain only lasts for a season, and then it's over. The joy lasts for a lifetime. Take heart, my friend. Have hope. Be filled with trust. God is working in you to transform and prepare you for this eternal feast, and if you think we're partying over here, you just wait till we get over there. You just wait. You just wait till the trumpet sounds and the skies roll back and the clouds move out of our way and the angels bow and welcome us into the eternal presence of God. Everything that we have taught on this side is only the pattern of the dress. It is not the dress itself. We are wearing a pattern, but when we get there, we're gonna put on the real thing, the real feast, the real celebration. That's why Jesus said, "I will drink no more wine until I drink it new with you in the kingdom of our God," so save the best drink for last.
There are moments and times that the enemy would come in my ear and sit on my shoulder and whisper audibly, almost so much that I could discern his voice itself, and trying to convince me that, because of something that I'm going through or facing or feeling or thinking, maybe I am not blessed. Maybe I'm not blessed because I've still got a mountain to bring down, a valley to forge, a river to cross, a problem to solve, a weakness to overcome. Maybe I'm not blessed because I've got a problem in my family or my finances or my job or my situation. Maybe I'm not blessed because I gained too much weight or lost too much weight or didn't do something that I had set up as a goal for me to do, and then I have to remind him that I am not blessed because of what is on me. I am blessed because of what is in me. I am blessed no matter where I go. I am blessed no matter what I wear. I am blessed in the city. I am blessed in the field. I'm blessed in my going in. I am blessed in my coming out. I am blessed in my uprising, and I am blessed in my down-setting.
If I don't do nothing but sit here, I sit here blessed. If I stand here, I stand here blessed. I have been blessed with these feeble lips of clay and these human hands I hold and these clay toes that are in these shoes. I have been blessed to see drug dealers turn into deacons. I have been blessed to see winos turn into choir members. I have been blessed to see convicts turn into converts. I have been blessed to see the power of the Gospel change deadbeat dads into responsible fathers. I have been blessed to see people go back to school and get their GED and continue to get their PhD. I have been blessed to see the downtrodden uplifted. I have been blessed to see homeless people buy their first house. I have been blessed to see families reconciled, and I have performed weddings for people who had divorced and walked away and decided to come back together again. I have seen God do the impossible. I have seen God do the amazing. I have seen him do the spectacular. I have seen him do the supernatural.
Through these humble eyes and these weary, feeble lips, I have seen God move mountains too big for me to climb, and you cannot tell me that I am not blessed because what makes me blessed is that I have access to him anytime, anywhere, anyplace, that I can come before the king without ceremony, ritual, or routine, that I need not changed my garment or shave my face or go through any kind of ritual or routine, that I am accepted in the beloved, and I can come into his presence, and access is granted because I got it like that with God, and you got it like that with God. You've got a relationship with God like that. Jesus took for us what we would never be able to handle on our own. He took our griefs. He carried our sorrows. He took our weaknesses. He took away our excuses, but the master was not content with just saving us.
No, he wishes us to be like him. He desires to refine and transform us, and every little step I take, every little step I take, I'm inching a little bit closer to being like Jesus. Every little step that I take, I can see his nature coming out in me even when I don't want it to. Even when I want to stay mad, even when I wanna hold a grudge, even when I wanna get even, I see little pieces of Jesus showing up in my speech because he is carnate in my own humanity. He is realized in my own personality, and it is because of him that I rejoice in the crushing. I celebrate the crushing because I'd have no hope to be his glass of wine and be held in his hand if I had not been his grape and been crushed by his feet.
The Bible says, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning". This is longer than a normal night. It can be months. It can be years where weeping endures, but the promise yet remains that joy comes in the morning. I'm praying with you for morning, and then you'd have the strength to endure however long the night until the morning comes. I've experienced the crushing pain of life, and I have seen the bright awakening of morning. Father, bless my brothers and sisters right now as they face that dark, midnight season in their marriage, in their finances, in their business, in their heart, in their home, with their children, with bereavement. Lift them up, and let the early shadows of daybreak begin to appear above the Eastern sky. I thank you for it now in Jesus' name, amen.