TD Jakes — Choke
Greetings, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to challenge those, to coach, if you will, those on the verge of their destiny. There's certain things that happen around you, that happen to you during the day that should not choke out God's purpose in your life. I pray as you go into this word it will bless you, guide you, direct you, challenge you, change you. The message, choked.
It was my first time being in Ghana and it was absolutely amazing. I had a myriad of experiences over there. To the conclusion of those experiences they asked me, would you like to go to one of the Spanish castles where the first slaves were sent to America? I thought, wow, this is my one chance to go. I probably will never get another chance to see that. I would like to go and see it. They said, well, we'll have to go up the ivory coast and it's quite a drive but if you're willing to take a long drive, I'm willing to take you. Good.
Me and a Nigerian friend of mine at the time, we went through Ghana up the ivory coast out to the beaches, beautiful beach, doesn't look like the beaches we have now. People live all over this. Huts and shantys and winding roads and we're traveling all the distance to go see these Spanish castles that were built and erected by the Spanish people by which they began to import what would now be almost human trafficking. But for them it was a business. Supplying a work force to build new countries as they were being forged and formed, free labor brought down the economic deficit. It was not about race. It was about money. Most things are about money. It was a way to subsidize, build a country with free labor.
They would do deals to snatch people away from their cultures and countries and livelihood and brought to these castles and wait for a boat to come in. You do to an airport right now and pretty soon they'll be a plane to take you wherever you want to go. You had to wait months and months in these conditions before the next boat that came back that was a slave ship. A slave ship was designed to move slaves. It had an underbelly in it so the slaves could be stacked. They were not kept or seated like your seated now. They were stacked so you could get more slaves at one time to import them over into these countries over all the turbulent waters many would die in the process of getting where they were trying to go. This is how they moved the slaves from one geographical location to the next.
I was fascinated to be able to go. I go with a Nigerian. We go into what is now almost a museum with all of these slave artifacts. And there's chains all over the walls as you walked along. And they had shackles through which they shackled their feet. And would almost welled the shackle together so you couldn't get away. It's about power. Somebody say power. It's about power and control. They had shackles designed to go around the neck. Tightly applied to the neck because the neck controls your breathing apparatus and any time you start moving and something starts pulling against your neck, it will make you calm down.
The same way you might take an animal and put something around their neck, I don't care how strong, sometimes the animal is physically strong enough to break the chain but when they feel the feeling of being choked, he'll back away from it. Because when it's necessary for any living mammal to be able to breathe. So they put the shackles around their neck so if you tried to escape the choking feeling would discourage you even if you're strong enough to break the chain. The neck is a vulnerable place.
You notice when the animals begin to fight they always go to the throat. If I could get your throat and cut your windpipe off, your muscles get discouraged. It's hard to think when you can't breathe. When you hear anything going for the throat, understand this is not just power but this is also intellectualism because there's an instinctualism. If you're a smaller animal it will slow you down and stop you. The only way to continue breathing is to maintain the cycle of breathing.
You're doing it right now without thinking about it. Consciously take a deep breath. Take it in. Take it in. Wasn't it good? You let it out. You let it out. No matter how good it was you have to let it back out. You're not surviving through the intake of air alone but also the expulsion. When you take it in and release it out you create a vacuum and ability to take in what's next. If you take in a breath and you get choked and can't get the breath out you're not available to take in what's next and when you stop being available to take in what is next, that's what causes you to die.
Anyway, it was an interesting opportunity. They took me down into a dungeon, awaiting area where the slaves were kept. They were actually stacked. So don't picture people standing as much as you might be stacked like sardines piled on top of each other. There was a trough down at the bottom of the floor which is where they defecated and urine would seep down through the bodies through the track and migrate out of the body. They were dehumanized in the process of doing it. A very large room. I can't remember exactly the dimensions but I'll guesstimate and say it might have been 50 foot by 50 foot room. Big high walls maybe 20 feet in the air. Solid walls. One window at the very top with just a little bit of air coming in. Very dark and very, very dang and very dark and smell of moisture and mold.
Even after all of these years. Because I'm a very spiritual person, when I walked into the atmosphere, I could feel, I don't know if you can understand this or not. But I could feel the spirits of the slaves. This dark foreboding feeling, this oppressive feeling. This overwhelming feeling. And I'm in the room. Up until they brought me into this room, I was okay. When they brought me in this room, I felt a little uncomfortable. I was in the room and shut up. It was dark. I was empathizing and feeling and sensing this moment.
My Nigerian friend spoke to me and said, how do you feel seeing all of this? And I had the strangest answer. An answer that even surprised me. Definitely surprised him. I said afraid. I felt afraid. Not just empathizing with the slaves. I felt afraid myself. For the first time in my life, I thought, this is what one person can do to another person. It doesn't matter the color, culture, kind. Whether you're talking about the holocaust or whatever. Whenever you look at it, you find human propensity of what people with abuse of power can do to another person. It was scary to me. For the first time in my whole life I thought, that can happen.
Somebody can come in and snatch you out of your house and put you in an atmosphere you can't communicate with anybody and take away all your freedoms and powers and change the rest of your life. And the reality of that was so overwhelming I wanted to leave. That's enough of this. I had enough of this. My Nigerian friend didn't feel anything like what I felt at all. He didn't feel anything like I felt at all. But I felt all of those feelings being in that atmosphere to see what people do when they abuse power.
Power corrupts, it's been said. Total power totally corrupts. It's a dangerous thing what you do with power. One of the greatest tests in your life is how you handle power. Talking about favor and o I got favor. The favor of God is on me. Favor is power. And if you have favor, how you handle favor will determine whether you keep favor or not. If you have power with somebody. Favor is power with somebody or something. If you have power with somebody, whether you keep the power is determined by how you handle the power. You have with somebody.
Right now whatever you ask me to do, I go out of my way to do it. That means you have power with me. If you abuse that power badly enough, you could use that power. You don't understand what I'm saying to you. That's power. Power doesn't exempt us from tests. Instead it increases our test. Yes, it increases our test. It increases our options. And the more options you have, the more tested you are.
Some people live right because they don't have no choice. It's easy for you to live holy when you don't have no choice. It's easy to be monogamous when nobody wants you anyway. I just thought I would give an illustration. It's one thing for you to sit on the couch, you know, weighing 375, four feet tall and looking like your mama hit you in the face with a skillet and you're watching somebody like tiger woods an saying that's blasphemy my God that's terrible. It's easy for you to judge him. Because they didn't want you anyway. In order to be tested. Don't act funny. Don't act funny now. You know how I am. Don't be surprised. This is reality.
What I am talking to you today on the surface is about forgiveness. But if you think deeply enough, it is about power. It is about power. Glory to God. And how you manage power. Jesus now has asserted some ideas to which he has created some discomfort for Peter because he's talking about unity. He's talking about his presence being manifest through unity and says to them wherever two or three are gathered together there I am in the midst of them.
Let's talk about unity. Unity is brought up in 127 I believe it is in Psalms where it says, behold how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. Scriptures like that bother me. I like scriptures that come right to me. I'm going to bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you. I like those kind of scriptures. I don't like scriptures communal social logical scriptures that are predicated on other people. Because it's hard enough for me to manage me without me having to worry about your crazy self. But in spite of my proclivities the Holy Spirit has ignored me and made some promises predicated on my ability to interact with other people.
So he says, behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. It is like the oil, watch this. He said unity, watch this. It is like the oil that fell on the head of Aaron. Fell upon his head. On to his beard. And then down to his skirts. So unity, the oil flows based on connectivity. Uh-huh. It flows based on connectivity. If you break the connectivity, you stop the flow. If you stop the flow, you lose the blessing. He says, if you keep the flow going, at the end of the verse he does two metaphors. How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity like the oil that fell on Aaron's beard. It's like the dew that fell on mt. Hermon. It's there that God commands a blessing.
Now, I just want to spend a minute on this. He commands a blessing. Only God can command a blessing. You can ask for a blessing. But God can command a blessing. You plead for blessings. God commands a blessing. I want you to see this because this is good. I'm going to take a little time. I want you to see this. He commands a blessing.
When the centurion was taking Jesus to his house to heal his daughter, he stopped in the middle of the road and said you don't have to go to my house. I understand power. I'm a man in authority and under authority. I say to this one go here. I say to that one, go there. You don't have to come to my house, speak the word only, and my daughter shall be healed. What the centurion understands, he doesn't understand religion. He doesn't understand theology. He doesn't come from a rich judaistic background. He understands power. He said, you have too much power for me to take up your time, come into my house. All you have to do is command a blessing. If you speak the word, my daughter will be healed.
Glory to God. I'll dig down in that a little deeper. I would command a blessing if I knew how to speak to the blessing. I don't speak the language that the blessing speaks. God speaks all languages a., b., he has all authority. Not only does he have the authority to command he has the ability to communicate. Even if I have the ability to command the blessing, how do I speak to it? How do I tell healing to go? What language does healing speak? But because God is so multi lingual. You understand what I'm saying?
Watch this. Your God is so multi lingual when he got ready to command a curse, he spoke to the frogs. If you were going to speak to the frogs, how would you say it? I don't know what he did. But whatever frogs understand, God spoke to the frogs, and they immediately went against their nature. Got together in groups and moved into Egypt as an army because God commanded the frogs. O my God. God commands. The Bible says God commands a blessing. He can speak to the blessing and say, blessing go there. Blessing come here. Blessing go to her. Blessing move over there. He commands a blessing. He is the Lord of the harvest. He's Lord of all or he's not Lord at off.
So God said if you want me to command a blessing, be careful how you treat your associations because I will command blessings based on how you treat your association. It will get good in a minute. Jesus said to them, this is how the kingdom operates. This is the job of the church to teach you how the kingdom operates. They teach you how the world operates. You got CNN Fox MSNBC. All kinds of ways to keep up with how the world operates. If you want to just operate in the world you don't need me. But if you want to find out how the kingdom operates, it's my job to show you. This is how the kingdom operates. Somebody says, this is how the kingdom operates. Yeah.
Now understand that the kingdom operates totally differently than how the world operates. So the Bible says you can be in the world but you are not of the world. You won't get blessed the way the world gets blessed. You're in it but not of it. Any time you go in amongst a group of people you're in but not of you don't get the same reaction as the people of it. Understand what I'm saying? Come to my house and I'll treat you nice and you'll be treated nice but you won't feel like one of my kids. You're in my house but not of my house. Sooner or later I'm not saying you have to go home but you have to get up out of here.
That's what it's like being a believer. You are in the world but you're not of the world. They may be nice to you sometimes but soon they'll get tired of you because you are not one of them. So my job is to teach you how the kingdom operates. Since the kingdom we operate in is spiritual and not physical, I have to use things you can reality to, to explain things you can't relate to. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven operates like this. It is likened unto a Lord who begins to balance the books of his servant and finding a servant that owed him ten thousand talents he said, can he pay me? The bookkeeper said, no, he has no way to pay you.
We have to balance these books. We have to make this right. We have to fix this. I can't continue to be in a relationship with you that functions at a deficit. That's a world unto itself. I'll walk away from that and leave that alone. If I get over in that. Make me hone in on all the relationships that operate in your life where you're giving more than you're getting. I don't have time for that today. A footnote there, to be continued. He said I can't continue to operate at a deficit. He said, I'm going to fix this. I don't care what it costs. Sell him, like the slave. Sell him and his wife. And his children.
He must have owed a lot of money. It's hard for me to conceive what ten thousand talents are, $10,000 or ten million dollars. Whatever it is, he said you owe more than you're worth. I have to sell you and your mama and them to straighten out the mess you got in, because you're in over your head. So now it's pretty bad. You sell me that's bad but you're going to sell my wife too? And that means her association with me has brought her into debt. That means whoever you connect yourself to whatever they're into you're connected into it too. Whether you're in the original part of the debt or not, your association with me has now brought you into an atmosphere for which you may have been totally irresponsible but now you got to pay to the piper, so see you baby, you got to die.