TD Jakes - Spiritual Maturity
This is what God says about Ishmael. "'Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.' Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink". God is taking care of Abraham's mistake in the wilderness. Oh, somebody ought to shout me down right now, because you made a mistake and you think God doesn't care about it, but God will take care of your mistakes as well as your miracle. And God cared for Ishmael and wouldn't let him die in the wilderness. "And God was with the boy, and he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt".
History will teach us that Ishmael will go on to have 12 sons, he will have 12 sons. Isaac is the promisee, he will only have two, Jacob and Esau, but Abraham's grandson Jacob will have 12 sons, and those 12 sons will become the 12 tribes of Israel. Look at Abraham's tree, the branch on one side is coming up with Hagar's Ishmael, and on the other hand, something just sprouted out of the dead womb of Sarah called Isaac, and another branch is growing. Later on, when Sarah is dead, he will marry Keturah and another branch will come out. No wonder God said, "You will be the father of many," "You will be the father of many," "You will be the father of many," many nations came out of the loins of one man, and he was significant to God, and his life is just reaching the apex of significance at 100 years old.
Give yourself some time, calm down, quiet yourself. Both sons were circumcised. Look at Genesis 17, 10 to 14, both sons were circumcised, circumcision was a covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed as a sign of the covenant; it is not the covenant, it is the sign of the covenant. So, Ishmael has the sign of the covenant just like Isaac does. "This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised.
So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin should be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant". Are you with me? It's amazing to me, when we pick up the text, we're dealing with a circumcised Isaac, at eight days old, and an Ishmael who has been circumcised. And ultimately, Sarah going to ask him to put the bondwoman out, and her son, which is a circumcision; the removal of Ishmael is as much a circumcision as the cutting of his flesh; this whole text is circumcision. Are you hearing what I'm saying to you? In every case, we are seeing flesh being cut away and cast off. "Put out the bondwoman and her son," that's circumcision in the family. "Every male child shall be circumcised," that's circumcision in the body. And God is into circumcision.
What have you cut off lately? Cutting off certain things, certain people, certain situations, is not the covenant, but it's a sign of the covenant. This is an equal opportunity chance, male and female, we all got some cutting to do. Write that down: We all got some cutting to do. In order for us to receive the promise of God, we've all got some cutting to do and we've all got some bleeding to do and we've all got some pain to bear, because cutting off that which you are connected to is painful. So, in our text, there is pain, there is a party and then there is a pain. In our text, language is growing, genealogies are growing, nations are growing, and God is pruning. There is a continual, ongoing pruning in your life that does not stop. It is highly unlikely to live a life void of poor judgment or fallacies, that's what I want you to see.
The second thing I want you to see is that God's grace is broad enough to offer a plan for your fallacy while his greatest providence rests on your faithfulness. I'm telling you that God can get the glory out of your humanity as well as your holiness. God said, "I'm gonna make a great nation out of Ishmael. He's not the one, but he's still a one, and I'm gonna make a great nation out of Ishmael". And that nation, today, is called Arabs, and the Arabs are descendants of Ishmael, and they have become a great nation and a warring people, and God blessed them to survive to this day. And yet, they were not the one, but they were still a one. You gotta make peace with your fallacies so that you can walk into your faith and your destiny.
A separation is often required when your fallacies mock your faithfulness. There is a rumbling in this house, because, for a while, your fallacies and your faithfulness can live together under the same roof but eventually your fallacies will begin to mock your faith. And this is what's happening in this text. They were cool, they were having a party; Isaac has been weaned, Abraham throws a party. They were all having a good time till Sarah looked out the window and she saw her mistake mocking her miracle. I wonder how many people in this room have had your mistakes mock your miracle. Ooh, it's getting quiet in here.
As long as I'm looking at Isaac everything is fine, but you look out the window and you know that Ishmael is making fun of Isaac, that Ishmael is making fun of Isaac, and it's all in your house. Any time you have inconsistencies, eventually one will mock the other, and at some point along life's journey you gotta put one of them out. In order to be whole, in order to have peace, in order to have tranquility, in order to have unity, there comes a point that something that is mocking something that God has promised you has got to go. That's what's happening in this text.
Jesus says of his Father, he says, "I am the vine, ye are the branches," in John 8, chapter 1. "And my Father is the husbandman." or, "He is the vine dresser." or, "He is the gardener". And there is nobody in that text that doesn't get cut. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, [I cut it] away: every branch in me that beareth fruit, [I cut] it, that it might bring forth more fruit". No branch escapes the cut; there's not a person in this room that can escape God's knife; there's not a person in this room that won't have party one moment and pain the next. Oh, do you hear what I'm saying? How could this switch from one verse to the other? They're having a party, they're having a celebration, Isaac is weaned, until Sarah looks out the window as she begins to see the mockery in her own life.
This is the catalyst of change: when you confront what is mocking your destiny. The real lesson here is the promotion of patience, it is understanding that letting go of your fallacies is painful and problematic, but the real lesson here is the promotion of patience. If Sarah had only waited she wouldn't have had to deal with this fallacy. Now Abraham is in a crisis, he is in a crisis because, now, his wife has asked him to put out his son, his son who he knows, not the son he just had, the son he's grown up with. She wants him to cast out the bondwoman and her son, and Abraham ain't hearing it.
He's not hearing it, and an argument has broken out in the house because Abraham told Sarah, "You must be tripping". He wouldn't have been in the house, this is what I said, this is Jakes's version of the Bible; he wouldn't have been up in this house in the first place if your mouth hadn't have made this decision to bring him in the house. Now you're gonna turn around and change your mind in the middle of the story. It's a good argument, it's a true argument, but it's not right. Oh God, can I go deeper? It can be true and not be right. It is true that Sarah is reversing her own idea, it is true, but it's not right.
How do you know it's not right? Because God said, "Harken unto [the] voice," of thy wife Sarah which I have given you, Sarah is right, but the problem is they're asking Abraham, who has waited till he was 100 to have a child while all of his brothers and all of his family and all of his kin people are having children. He has nothing to show for 100 years. And you know how it is when you get something after not having something for a long time and now they want to take it from you. Now you're ready to, "You ain't gonna take this, none of you". Because when you've waited a long time to get something and now you gotta give it up, it is difficult, it is painful, it is hard, and it takes faith. It took faith for Abraham to submit to the voice of God, to harken unto the voice of a woman who got him in the mess in the first place.
Now, y'all know you will change your mind? Can you feel the tension in this text, can you feel the marital discord in this text? Abraham is the father of faith and he's having trouble in his marriage because he is sick of Sarah. This is a part of the Bible that we don't teach. These are our spiritual parents, our covenant parents, the patriarchs of all that we embrace as faith are having marital problems, they're having a fight. They went from a feast to a fight, from a party to pain, but they still stayed together. Can you stay with somebody that you have a right to leave? Oh, y'all ain't gonna talk to me, let me go on back home, y'all not ready to talk to me. I can imagine what's going on online, y'all are not ready to talk.
Can you stay on a job that you have a right to quit? Can you stay because God put you there, can you stay because you're called there, can you stay because your destiny is there, can you work it out because God is about to do something amazing in your life? Is there ever a time in your life that God gets bigger than your feelings? Oh, y'all not gonna talk to me, let me try this: Is there ever a time in your life that God gets bigger than your fear? I hear you dance, I hear you shout, I hear you speak in tongues, but the moment something gets on your nerves, you are out of there. Abraham is staying with a woman whose advice has created a problem, and her cure has created pain. But Abraham's problem was also Abraham's practice. Y'all ain't ready for me tonight. Abraham's problem was also Abraham's practice. God allowed him, he said hearken unto the voice of thy wife, I want you to get used to giving up your son.
Stay with me, because by the time we get to Genesis 22, when God says, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac," to the mountain to offer it up, it has become easier for Abraham to give up Isaac than it was for him to give up Ishmael. He said, "I've been through this before, and if God took care of Ishmael, God will take care of Isaac". So, now, he takes Isaac to the mountain and he doesn't stagger at the promises of God, because the problem led to the promise. Talk to me a minute in here, talk to me a minute in here. Abraham said, "I'm used to cutting off stuff, I cut off my flesh, I cut off my Ishmael, and if you ask me for Isaac, you can have him too". And he told his servants, "Me and the lad are going yonder to the worship," but some kind of way God is gonna get us out of this. If he took care of Ishmael, he'll take care of Isaac.
I survived the cutting of my flesh, I survived the cutting of my first son, and I'll survive the cutting of my. Oh, y'all don't hear me. Daddy, I see the knife, and Daddy, I see the wood, but where is the sacrifice? Don't worry about it, boy, God himself shall provide the sacrifice. Your faith comes out of your experience with God. And little by little, Abraham is growing up, he's growing up through the things he suffered, he is learning obedience through the things he suffered, he's learning endurance through the things that he's suffered. And by the time we get to the 22nd chapter, which is just another chapter away, Abraham has gotten good at saying yes to God even when it hurts. Is there anybody in here that's gotten better at saying yes to God even when it hurts, or is God just a God of your convenience and a God of your good times and a God when things are working out and a God?
When you agree with him, you say yes, but when it draws blood, you back away. That's why the book of Hebrews said, "You have not yet resisted unto blood". You got to be God's child, even when it causes you pain, even when it draws blood, even when it hurts your feelings. The promises of God are sure, the promises of God are sure. He will say, "Surely blessings I will bless thee, and multiplying, I will multiply thee". The promises of God are sure, say it with me, the promises of, say it again, say it again.
Now, that's praise, that's praise, when you compliment God's character, when you brag on his integrity, when you trust him in uncertainty, when you praise him in the middle of pain, when you give him the sacrifice of praise, when you believe him even when you're hurt, when you believe him even when you're frustrated, when you believe him even when it doesn't feel good, when you believe him even when you're living in a situation that is below what you want it to be, when you believe God even when your flesh is saying, "Leave this crazy woman and walk out the door". And I'm not talking about Hagar, I'm talking about Sarah, "I'm sick of her and her bad advice, because now she wants to hurt me again". And yet, God says, "Wait-wait, go back, and harken to the voice of thy wife; the woman is right. I want you to practice giving up your son". Your problem is your practice. Can I go deeper? They gave me my first church, it was in Montgomery, West Virginia. At that time, and I think even now, Montgomery had one red light in the whole town.
So, you know how big that was; you blink and you was out of Montgomery. And I had to drive about an hour or so to even get to the church, and I was working a full-time job. And it wasn't a church, it was a building, and the building wasn't a church, it was a hole in the wall. And I was preaching my heart out, and preaching Sunday mornings and Sunday night, and teaching Wednesday night Bible class, and had to be at work at seven in the morning. And the church was not growing and the church was not developing, and I was teaching everything I knew, I was teaching on the Tabernacle ever since I was a teenager, I was teaching Moses's Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of David, the Temple of Solomon. I was teaching eschatology, I was teaching Christology, I was teaching everything I knew how to teach to about five old ladies and two little kids. And a big service was 40 people, and if we hit 100, it would have blown our mind, we'd have had to put out chairs.
And I thought, "God". Eventually, it took me a while because at first I was grateful to just be there at all, but eventually, I got tired of preaching to a handful of people. And people were making fun and they were laughing at me and they were calling me the boy preacher. I didn't realize that my problem was my practice. What you may be wrestling right now, it may only be preparation for what God is about to do in your life. And stop being so frustrated because it's not working out; this is not the recital, it's just the rehearsal. And you know, the choir don't look like the choir when they come to rehearsal: They don't have on the roads when they come to rehearsal, they don't have their hair done and their black dress with the pearls around their neck when they come to rehearsal. And so, don't be so upset about what you're going through, your problem is your practice. Let me prove it to you in Scripture.
The Bible said if you can be, "Faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many". And so, I was faithful for 10 years, preaching to less than 100 people, to prove to God that I would preach even when the numbers were down. I couldn't even imagine preaching in a building like this, I couldn't even imagine preaching to the crowds that I had preached to later. Later, I would preach to a million people in Uhuru Park in the middle of Kenya, but at that time I couldn't get 100, but I was practicing. And if you're faithful over a few things, God will make you ruler over many. I don't know who I'm preaching to right now. Your business might be failing, you might be struggling to keep the doors open, but don't you doubt the promises of God. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy is coming in the morning". Your problem is practice.