Frankie Mazzapica - Battles and Blessings
Thank you for tuning in today, my name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of the message is "Battles and Blessings". Battles and Blessings. I so badly wanted to title this message "Blessings and Battles". I wanted to come out with the positive side and then just kind of mumble the side that's not as fun to talk about. But in full reality, if we're all going to be honest with each other, we're gonna take our church mask off and we're just kinda, like, okay, we're family here, we're going to be honest. We have battles that last so much longer than we want them to. Some battles we wish only lasted for an hour and they end up lasting for a week. We have battles that last for a week, and then a month, and then they have three or four years.
These battles, they're just like a rock in your shoe. Has that ever happened to you? You got a rock in your shoe, you keep stepping on it, and then what do you do when you've got a rock in your shoe? You try to kick it forward, right? You try to kick it in front of your toes so you don't have to step on it, and that's fine, it stays up there for a little while, and then it creeps back down and you're stepping on it again. And that's what we end up doing with these challenging moments. We figure out how to adjust, and then we can kind of breathe for a minute, and then it gets worse again. And to define what a battle is, it's when you are getting squeezed. It's when you are in a season where you would change it if you could. It's when your children, your beloved children, are going through something that you would give all the money you have in order to change it for them.
You whisper to yourself, "I wish I could take that problem and experience it for myself, just so they don't have to experience it". But when you cannot control the situation and you're getting squeezed, you are in the middle of a battle. You are in the middle of a battle when your marriage just seems like it is in a hopeless state. There's no pulling it back. You can't pull it back, you can't. You've tried, you can't. Both people have tried, one person has tried during one season, the other person tried, and you just can't. You are in a battle. You are in a battle when you cannot get your finances up to a level that you need it to be, and that is a tough battle to be in because you cannot put your hand on it like you can the radio and just turn it up.
Finances are difficult because in most cases, if you work harder, you don't get paid any more than what you do if you don't work harder, and so you're stuck, you're stuck. And I want to say this, if you have someone that you love, like a best friend or a family member, and they say something that just cuts you... you could handle it if it was an enemy, you can handle that. You could handle it if it was somebody that you really didn't like, but isn't it interesting how the enemy knows exactly what will hurt the most, and that person will just inadvertently, or purposely, say something that just pierces the heart. And you can start the process of forgiving, but oh, it's so hard because they cut so bad.
The last point of a battle or example of a battle is when you've done something in your life and you cannot forgive yourself. You can't forgive yourself. And in the back of your mind, you believe that maybe God has forgiven you because you've been told so many times that he has endless mercy, but you can't embrace it and you can't forgive yourself. You wanna be consistent with God, you want to be a worshiper, you want to be the greatest warrior, but in truth of the matter... there was this old song I grew up with, "Underneath this armor, this warrior is a child".
And it's hard, it's difficult, but I want to say this, and I don't like what I'm about to say. I wish what I was about to say was bologna. I wish it was, but it's in a battle where humility becomes the fabric of who we are. It's in a battle, it's a battle when character, good, godly, faithful, character becomes the definition, it becomes our reputation. It's in a battle where we learn how to pray. It's in a battle where we've backed up and the Lord is sayin' I have seen the humility embraced. I have seen your character develop, and I have seen you pray. I've heard you pray and it has moved me. And it's in a battle where you begin to experience an anointing that you have never experienced before, absolutely. Have you ever come out of a battle and all the pride and arrogancy you used to have is gone? Are you with me?
It's not that you were cocky before, but now that you just walked through hell, you just got this sense of humility, and it's so funny how after you've walked through hell, you don't judge people like you use to judge 'em. Are you with me? Come on, put your hands together. You don't judge people like you used to judge 'em. So, I'm gonna talk about battles, I'm gonna talk about blessings, and then I'm gonna pray for you and bless you and then this service will be just about over.
I want to get this entire message out of a passage in Acts chapter 14, verses 1 through 3. Before I share it with you, though, I want to say that Paul and Barnabas in the Bible, they were, like, locked at the hip, and they would go from town to town and start churches, and they would go from town to town and it encouraged believers. They would go and they would challenge people who were not believers to accept the message of Jesus Christ. They were extremely effective, but there was a sect of Jews, there was a group of Jews that followed 'em wherever they went, and all they would do is mock. All they would do is try to strategize a way to get them stoned or even kicked out of the city. That's all they'd do.
And so, that takes place in Acts chapter 12, Acts chapter 13, but I wanna tell you what happens in Acts chapter 14, verse 1, 2, and 3, it says this: "And the same thing happened in Iconium". Paul and Barnabas went to the Jewish synagogue, as they always do. They went to the Jewish synagogue and preached with such power that there was a great many of Jews and Gentiles who became believers, but there were some Jews, however, that they shunned, they spurred against the message of God, and they set their mind to poison the thoughts of the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas. Verse 3 says this, and I love this, the first few words of this. It says this, "But the disciples stayed there for a long time and they preached boldly about the grace of the Lord, and the Lord proved what they were saying was true".
The Lord had their back. He proved what they were saying was true by giving them power to perform miracles, signs, and wonders. This is not my message, but I just want to throw it in there just for fun: these were disciples, they already believed in Jesus, they were already Christians, and then after that, they received power. Do you know as a Christian, as a daughter of God, a child of God, you know that you're saved, you have an address in heaven, you're gonna live eternity with God, but I want you to know that right now, that there's power available, and it is promised to you in John chapter 14, verse 12. It says, "Anyone who believes shall do the works that I have done". So, all of us, all of us, you, me, Aunt Bebe, all of us are available and have been promised this power, but I'm not gonna preach about that.
But what I want to talk about, first I'm gonna talk about the battle. And I wanna just look for a second on verse number 2 where it says this, that some of the Jews spurred against the message of God and poisoned the lives and the people's thoughts against them. Can I just say, anytime you see God working, you will also see Satan working against the move of God to try to stop it.
Anytime you see a person, and many of the people that I'm talking about is the person you see when you look in the mirror. Because anytime you see a person that is really from the core of who they they am, desperate to worship him, desiring to be close to him, worshiping with all they have, and they hate it, they hate it whenever they do something that they know that wasn't pleasing to the Lord. They hate it. They desire to be perfect, even though perfection is out of reach. They desire to be holy. They desire to be righteous. And even more than that, they desire to be the one that the love of God flows through them, blesses them, and then flows out of them. They desire to be the one. That they desire to experience the power of God and have the power of God flow through them.
So they're walking with God, they're sharing the love of God, and they're sharing the power of God. Anyone who has that desire, there are hordes of hell, not taking a day off, never taking a day off, that are coming against you in depression and discouragement. Some of you have other battles. It's not discouragement, it's not depression, you have other battles. There's addictions, or fears, or issues with your mouth. You speak death more than you speak life. Sarcasm is speaking death, just so you know. I'm not gonna go after that, that's another sermon.
But for me, but for me, Frankie Mazzapica, it's depression that has always fought me the hardest. And I gotta tell you, sometimes I have won the battle, and there's a lot of other times where I've lost. And when I lose that battle, or when I'm losing the battle, I'm going down like a funnel. All I wanna do is run and keep on running. I'll make Forrest Gump look like a bump in the road. I just keep running, and running, and running. And when I start goin' down that funnel, I have this, on this side, and I'm depressed, and on this side I'm anxious. And when that happens, you feel like you're never gonna be able to crawl out. You can't ever crawl out. And this is what a battle looks like. You feel like you're never gonna get out.
But what I love is when the next verse, when the Bible says that the disciples stayed even longer. They stayed even longer. You got this massive opposition that's not just the peanut gallery yelling, they're not just doing that. Yeah, they're doin' that, but it's not just that. They're talking behind your back, rallying up a crowd to come against you, and they're rallying up a crowd to stone you. Think about this. They want to push you into a pit, gather around you, and stone you, and kill you. And the Bible says that they stayed a long time in spite of that. We've all heard of the responses when adversity comes. There's flight or fight. We've all heard that. I'm gonna say that there's a third option, it's grit your teeth and whisper. Hang on and whisper, "Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Jesus, Jesus, help me, help me".
You don't have the energy to fight. Sometimes you're in a battle and you can fight, you can walk into your house and say, "Every demon, get outta here". You are ready to fight. But then there's sometimes you just don't have it in you. You don't want to run, and throw God and religion and faith to the curb, you know that's a bad move, but you don't have the energy to fight; you're stuck. And in those moments, that's when you whisper, "God, you gotta help me. Gotta help me, you gotta help me, you gotta help me. If you don't help me, I'm never getting out of this. I gotta have you". This is what happens when you're in a battle.
Let me take a commercial time out to make an illustration. My favorite ride on a child's playground is a swing. I love swings, because when I get on a swing, I have three kids, I've taken 'em all down to the local park. I love swings because I'm in charge. I decide how fast this swing's gonna go. I decide how high it's gonna go. And most importantly, I decide when I get off. I love swings. It's like when you're in the middle of a battle, it's intense, it's intense, but you know this is not gonna last long. It stinks, but it's not gonna last long. It'll stop in a few days. But then there's the other ride on the playground that I hate. It should not even exist.
Whoever came up with this ride should be in jail. They should be in jail, their whole family should be in jail, and their kid's kid's, kid's, kid's, kids should be in jail. Whoever came up with this ride is probably dead, because it's been around for a long time, but I hope they died on the merry-go-round, because they're the ones who built it. Okay, now this doesn't sound very uplifting, and it's not something that Christians should say, and I'm sorry for that. But do you know how many times I was a kid, I've been sitting on the playground, talking to friends, leaning on those bars, and some schmagool comes running up there and starts spinning it.
At first it's like, ha, ha, ha, and then after a while, it's like, okay, okay, okay, okay, alright, I'm good. Let's go ahead and stop. It's still goin.' And the more I say stop, the more excited he gets and starts spinning it, and sure enough, the schmagool has a friend who's a schmagool, and they come runnin' over, and they're just having a ball. And I'm so mad, I'm so angry, mainly because it's goin' too fast and I'm out of control and I can't stop it. Now, those are battles, now that I'm older, I'm not comin' 50 yards from a merry-go-round. But even still, there are schmagools in my life that push me into a merry-go-round that I cannot stop.
There are situations that push me into a playground that I cannot stop. And worse yet, just like getting off of a merry-go-round, just like getting off... see, when I got off a merry-go-round on the playground, I'm looking to kill the guy, but I can't really fight 'em because I'm... all discombobulated, I'm dizzy, and isn't it true that it is hard to pray when you're dizzy? It is hard to pray when you're sick to your stomach? And some of you in this room, it's like, look, I came for faith. Well, before I build your faith, can we be real on why we need faith? Come on, is that okay? And they said they stayed even longer in the middle of it all. They stayed even longer.
I want to encourage you today, if you have the strength to worship, worship. If you have the strength to pray, pray. Short prayers are powerful prayers. But if you don't have the strength to worship like David worshipped, I wanna tell you I've been there a thousand times, and you just gotta whisper your way through it. "Jesus, I need you. I need you. I need you. Jesus, I need you. I need you. I need you". I gotta tell you, in Psalms 56:9 I think it is, it says every time you pray, the tide of the battle turns. It doesn't say every time you pray for an hour, it says every time you pray. Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Angels comin' down. Jesus, help me. Swords comin' out. Jesus, help me. There's the angels, the armies of heaven. Jesus, help me.
Now, let me talk about my favorite part of the sermon, and that's the blessings. Because if you can grind through the battles, there's blessings waiting at the end. It's so fascinating that blessings follow faithfulness. It's not the blessings and then faithfulness. You know, when you say God, if you'll bless me, I'll be faithful. That prayer is like, oh, wah-wah-wah-wah-wah. No, but when you're faithful, that's when you experience the blessings. Has anyone ever experienced that before? The blessings come after faithfulness.
And so, let's go back to this Scripture. In verse number 3 it says, "And the disciples stayed longer, and they preached boldly about the grace of the Lord, and the Lord proved what they were saying was true by giving them power to accomplish signs, wonders, and miracles". God had their back. He's sayin' I know you're weak, I know you're tired, I know the whole world is against you; you feel like you're preaching your brains out, and nothing's happening. Have you ever tried to be a good influence and really tried to reach a loved one, a friend or a family member, and you think to yourself, "I have done everything I know how to do, and I don't think I've done anything at all? They're just as much of a bimbo as they were before. I tried to reach 'em".
And the Lord just comes along and says, "I know you feel like nothing's happening. I know you feel like that, but I'm gonna give you a power that can accomplish more in one second than you can accomplish in a year". I have seen it so many times, so many times, a person in their 80s or late 80s, they feel like, "Oh, the best years are behind me," and then all of a sudden, they step into a season where more people get healed in a matter of months than the entire life behind them. More people get converted, more dreams, more visions are happening when they're awake and when they're asleep than the entire 50 years that they just lived. There's a new season that you walk into. There's a new season that you step into.
I want to close with this last thought. For every single person here who's fighting a battle that they can't even put into words, it's just overwhelming, I want you to remember three truths and do not let the enemy take it away from you. Number one, you are not alone. Number two, you are not rejected. And number three, he's with you. You are not alone, you are not rejected, and actually the number three, is you are not hopeless. You're not alone, you're not rejected, and you're not hopeless. When I say you're not alone, it's got a double meaning.
Number one, we're all going through somethin'. The second meaning is that even though you feel alone, the Creator of the universe is with you. Number two is you're not rejected. After a series of mistakes, not only do you feel like you're alone, it feels like the Lord is no longer with you because you've just made too many mistakes. You're not alone, you're not rejected, and you're not hopeless. Hopeless means you don't think this is ever gonna change. I want to tell you, just like those disciples were in the middle of the most challenging season that they could imagine, they may have felt hopeless, but help was on the way. I wanna tell you, help is on the way. Help is on the way, help. If you receive that, c'mon, help is on the way.