TD Jakes - Faith Is Not An Experience, It Is A Journey
I saw a man running over in Acts, and I wonder where he was going. And he was running down the road, down this winding road, hollering and yelling. I caught up with him in Acts 8:30. His name was Philip. Philip was running dither to him and heard him read the prophet Isaiah. He's chasing, Philip is chasing a eunuch, an Ethiopian eunuch. An Ethiopian eunuch who is riding in a chariot, and God says to Philip, "Run him down. Catch up with him". Now, you know you gotta run fast to catch a chariot, Lord have mercy. But God says your job should you decide to take it is to chase down a chariot, because the eunuch is on his way back home, and I want something to happen in the turn and in the twists, and catch him. And Philip runs down the chariot, and when he catches the eunuch, the eunuch is reading out of Isaiah, and Philip asked him here, he says, "Understandest thou what thou readest"? And he said, "How can I except some man should guide me"?
Now, I wanna stop there a minute. He said I got the book, and I got the heart, but I still need somebody to give me the hookup. I wanna point that out for all of you independent people who think that you don't need anybody to teach you anything. That you can get off in your closet with your Bible and have your own brand of religion, and you think you're being spiritual, but you just got weird. The eunuch said how can I understand? Save some man. Never get where nobody can tell you nothing. And he said, "And he desired Philip that he would come up, and he said, 'Come sit with me.'" Come, come sit with me. Come sit with me on my chariot.
"The place of the scripture which he read was this, 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a lamb dumb before his shearers, so opened he not his mouth. In his humiliation, his judgment was taken away, and who shall declare his generation, for his life is taken from the earth.' And the eunuch answered Philip and said, 'Tell me something, man. Who is the prophetess talkin' about? Is it of himself or some other man?' Then Phillip opened his mouth and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus". He gave him revelation on the journey.
Now follow me, 'cause I wanna show you something this morning. The eunuch is an Ethiopian eunuch. This is not Ethiopia as we see it today, but this is in fact the northeastern part of Africa, a huge region or territory that was at that time defined as Ethiopia. And this man is a servant, the Bible says, to a African Queen called Candace. Now, this Candace, the name Candace is not really a name, because there is a succession and a dynasty of African queens who ruled in Ethiopia. They were warring women. They were women who fought, and reigned, and ruled. They are not queens in the sense of being Barbie dolls sitting beside a king, these are women with authority and power, and when I started studying what one of the queens called Candace encountered Alexander the Great, and Alexander the Great in his acquisition of territory was wanting to take Queen Candace's territory until she rode out to meet him on an elephant with all of her warriors wrapped around her.
And history struggles between two notions, one is that Alexander the Great just turned and went away, and the other is that they negotiated, but both schools of thought are clear on the fact he decided not to fight. This particular eunuch in the text was in charge of the treasury of the queen. He is a right-hand man with power. Well, why is the eunuch coming to Jerusalem? He has been to Jerusalem to worship. He is on his way back to Gaza and then to Ethiopia. To go from Ethiopia to Jerusalem was amazing, and he's worshiping in alignment with what he has heard by the hearing of the ear, and he's going back home, reading Isaiah, because he has gone to represent all of his people who could not go, and he wants to go back with deeper revelation. He's been to church, he's had an experience in church, but the real breakthrough happens on the journey. You missed that.
He's had an experience at church, but your real breakthrough happens on the journey. He's had an experience at the church, but the real breakthrough happens on the journey. It's not about what happens in here that makes you a believer, it's what you're doin' out there. If your faith doesn't make it outside of this church, you don't have no faith at all. Oh, it's easy to dress up and be all spiritual and holy in here, and raise your hand, and bow, and be slain in the Spirit, but Philip is chasing you. Philip is chasing you down, catching you, catching your chariot on the road, because he wants to update you from a hearsay relationship with God to a personal experience with God. He may catch up with your chariot at the hospital where your faith is being tested by a problem in your life.
See, it's easy to shout amen to the Word in here, but Philip is chasing your chariot down to the place of your pain. So, he catches... oh, God, I want to preach this. He catches the eunuch at the place of his uncertainty. Philip catches the eunuch at the place of his uncertainty. All of us have a place of uncertainty. He doesn't catch him in the synagogue, but he catches him tryin' to figure it out. I don't know who I'm preaching to this morning, but somewhere on the journey you're gonna come to a place of uncertainty where you're tryin' to figure it out. And most people are too egotistical to invite anybody to ride with you on your chariot. You would rather try to be your own physician and teach yourself than to allow Philip to get on your chariot and admit that there are some things about life you cannot understand by yourself. How can I save some man? Show me, I'm stuck here, bro. I can't get past this point. I've done all that I can do by myself. Hop a ride! C'mon, let's ride.
Touch somebody and say, "Ride on," ride on. I will remain stuck at this spot until I humble myself enough to bring somebody on this journey with me. Hop a ride, man. Oh, you don't understand how strong that is. See, most of us, and particularly men, we don't talk, we internalize our issues. And whatever it is, we don't wanna admit to anybody that we have a place of uncertainty, because it threatens our masculinity to admit that you can run the treasury, but you can't figure this out. Success in one area can cause you to be arrogant in another area, and just because you're good at this doesn't mean you're good at that. And some of us are so hell bent on being a teacher that we have lost the benefit of being a student, but look at this eunuch.
Oh, y'all don't wanna talk to me. Look at this eunuch, brothers and sisters, who says, "Man, I don't want to spend the rest of my life stuck on the side of the road, so Philip, catch a ride and step into my uncertainty". Until you can bring people into the place of your uncertainty, you will be stuck in the middle of your journey. Until you can lower your pride and your ego enough to communicate your deficiencies. How can I? I have gone through my inventory, there is nothing in my intellectual capacity that can figure this out without assistance. I can't get past this. I am stuck right here on my journey, and because my journey is more important to me than my pride.
It is absolutely amazing how many people hide the best part of themselves and miss the power that only comes when you are uncertain. You can't have faith until you are uncertain. You see, faith is the substance of the thing you hope for. If you already got it all together, faith will never run you down. Faith is for somebody who says how can I? "Therefore, being justified by," oh, don't bother me, I got the Bible for you. I've got the Bible for you. God says when you stop justifying yourself, faith will justify you. It'll run down your chariot and hop a ride. And when Philip got on board the chariot, he opened up the missing part. Ooh, God, ooh, this is so good. It's just so good, man, it's good.
See, cars wreck over a missing part. You wouldn't have bought it if it didn't look good. You wouldn't have bought it if it didn't smell new. You wouldn't have bought it if you didn't like the exterior, and the interior, and the luxuries, and they let you play the radio, but it broke over the little things. It had a carburetor, and a battery, and an engine, it had an exhaust pipe, it had all of that stuff, but the thing that makes them do a recall are the little things. You see, the eunuch was missing a little thing. What he was in his body, he was in his understanding. Phillip said, "Man, you're good, you're on your way back, but God says before you get home, I'm gonna give you the little things so that you will not be impotent in your understanding". And they rode down the road, and as Philip was expounding the Word of God to him, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Here's water".
See, you see what has happened to him? As he rode with Philip, he has now realized that Jesus is the Messiah, and he said I'm not going to go home without everything that God has for me. I do not understand why people come to church late, leave early. I'm not being, really, I just don't understand. Why would you even make the trip if you weren't gonna get everything you could get? It's like going to the football game, and missing the game, and eating the food. God is so into giving you the little things that he's chasing this guy down after the service, saying don't miss this, don't miss this, don't miss this, don't miss this, don't miss this, don't miss this. You got your Bible, you got your heart, it's the little things. Phillip gave him a little thing, a little revelation. Took what he had been reading with uncertainty, and gave him revelation, and when he got revelation, he says now he said I've come to a place in my journey where we ran into some water.
See, because faith needs to work to work. Faith needs to work to work. Faith can't work through thought, faith has to take action to be legitimate. As long as it remains philosophical, it's just an ideology. But when you take it and put it into action, see, faith will work if you work it. If you don't work it, you can shout about it, you can dance about it, you can come to church, but when you get an opportunity, you ought to say, "Here's water". What does hinder mean? And Philip says to the eunuch, he said, "If thou believest with all of your heart, then I will baptize you". And the Bible says straightway. Good God Almighty. Straightway, straightway is a word I love. They went down into the water.
See, you can come here until your shoes run out of leather, but if you don't work this on your journey, if you don't get at some twist or turn and say I'm gonna work what the Bishop is teaching, the reason some of you can come once a month is that you haven't run out of gas because you haven't run the car. You don't have an appetite 'cause you don't exercise, but if you are exercising your faith on the journey, I don't care how tired you are, it'll make you get up out of the bed. Touch seven people tell them, "I'm getting ready to work this thing". I'm getting ready to work it. I'm getting ready to work this thing. Now, here comes the work. He went down into the water. He went down. He went down. He went down into the water.
You see, the thing about baptizing somebody, you can't baptize somebody who won't bend. In order to baptize somebody, they got to be able to bend, and if they bend, they gotta be able to trust you. See, the baptizee is not in control, and a lot of people don't want to be in any situation where they are not in control. But you'll never experience the glory of God until you are willing to lose. I'm running out of time, Lord have mercy. Is this helping anybody? Slap your neighbor and say, "Let go". Trusting, trusting, trusting, trusting, trusting, trusting. Trusting that if God got you into it, yes, yes, yes, if God took me down, God will, God will, God will. If he took me down, if he let me go through it, if he let me lose it, if he let this happen to me, he that had began a good work in you shall perform it. I got to quit.
Tell your neighbor, say, "Neighbor, I may go down, but watch this". God says you will never know me in the power of my resurrection until you know me in the power of my suffering. If I take you down and you trust me on the downside, just cast all your cares on me. Cast all your pain on me. Cast all your burdens on me. If I took you down, I'm able. Somebody give him 30 seconds of crazy praise, praise him. As I close my message, I know I don't say it much like I used to, but get somebody by the hand, shake it like you gonna shake it off, look 'em in the eye, and tell them, get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready, get, get, get, get, get. You're coming up. You're coming up. You're coming up. Give God a praise.