Frankie Mazzapica - Bruised and Smoldering Saints
Thank you for tuning in today, my name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of my message is "Bruised and Smoldering Saints". Saints of God, children of God, who have been bruised, who are smoldering, like a wick, like a candle who has just an ember left. Weak children of God, children of God who have been bruised. Notice this Scripture which is the foundation of the message. It's in Matthew chapter 12 verse 20, where the Lord says this. "I will not break a bruised reed, nor will I allow a smoldering wick to be quenched. I will make sure that justice is victorious". He's using an illustration of the weakest things on earth, a bruised reed and a smoldering wick.
A bruised reed in the marsh, if a duck were to land, let me say it this way, I want you to picture it this way. I don't want to just talk about it, I want you to picture it. If there were a marsh with a bruised reed, if a wild duck were to land on it, it would snap. If a man were walking through the marsh and his foot were to graze it, it would break. If a mighty wind came through the marsh, it would surely cause that reed to sway back and forth. But the Bible says this, if you're as weak as a bruised reed, I will not allow you to be broken. Do you love the Lord for that? Think of the smoldering wick, a wick of a candle that just has a flicker of a flame. An infant's breath could blow it out.
One tear of a mother could put out that ember of flame. But the Lord says this, that weakness that you feel, I'm not going to let you get quenched, I'm not gonna let you go down. Let me unpack three points, and it's the three sentences or the three phrases of that verse. The first point is what is the bruised read representing? The second point is what is the flickering wick being spoken of? Who is in that category? And then the third one, the third point is in regards to how the Lord says that justice will prevail and they will be victorious.
So, let's unpack that first point where he says a bruised reed will not be broken. When he says a bruised reed, he's not talking about the children of God who are like Samson, they're strong, they're bold, they're courageous. He's not talking about the children that he has who find it easy to be righteous and to be holy, who find it easy to walk straight up. They don't bend down in discouragement or depression. They're not overwhelmed with anxiety. They don't know what it feels like to be depressed. They don't know what it feels like to be overwhelmed. That's not who the Lord is talking to. He's talking to those who are like a bruised reed. A bruise happens from the outside in. Where a person hurts you, a circumstance has set you back, where it is difficult for you to overcome the words that someone has said. You can remember it years back. You can remember the circumstance that almost broke you. It was so difficult.
Many of us are in a circumstance like that right now, where it is so challenging, it is so hurtful, it is so overwhelming that you can never really stop thinking about it. It's a stress, it's a worry, it's a hope that you can't stop thinking about, but because the circumstance is like a blunt, like out of nowhere, it was a surprise. These are who God is talking to when he speaks of a bruised reed. He's not talking about the strong ones.
If he were only talking about the strong among us, Satan could walk up to the Lord and say, "See, you are not all that powerful. You can only save the strong, people who were already strong before you came into their life. Look, the weak ones, who needed strength, you've lost them, they've fallen to the wayside. You're not powerful enough to help the hurting, to help the weak". But the Lord says back, "Look around, devil. I've got the strong, I've got the weak, I haven't lost one of my children. They're all here".
Come on, put your hands together for that. They're all here. I reached down and I grabbed the weak. I looked at the strong and I smiled, but I chased down the weak. I lift them up. I oppose the proud, but I raise up the humble. He looks to show his strength and to show his glory among the weakest among us. Let me say this as an illustration. My wife bought a plant a few years back. It was in a pottery pot. It was a small palm plant, and it was a small palm tree, like a small palm plant. It wasn't a tree, it was just about that big. She set it just outside of our door in some soil in the flower bed.
I came out several months later, I looked at the pot, I looked at the small palm plant, and I said, "You know what? I think that pot, that plant would look better if I put it over here". So I reached down to pick up the pot, and it was so heavy. The the pot was only about this big, and it was so heavy I started rocking it back and forth thinking that the soil had built up around it. Started rocking it back and forth, and I could get my fingers underneath the bottom of the pot. I started to lift it up and I couldn't lift it, even though my fingers were at the bottom of the pot. I was so perplexed, because again, it wasn't even that big. It was like an 18-inch pot made of pottery. So, now I'm getting mad.
So, sometimes you gotta hurry up and get mad so you can get bold. But anyway, I'm pulling it and I lift it up, and then I notice that the roots of the plant wanted water so bad that it broke through the bottom of the pot to go find water. And I thought to myself, "I'll bet you if I take this pot, if I can unrestrain you and put you in soil, that you will grow and surprise me on how big you will grow". Sure enough, I did that, I brought it to the back yard, I put it in a hole, I watered it, and it began to grow. I also went out and bought a rose bush. I put that rose bush in the soil, and it's so funny to watch me in the morning.
I've been doing it for years, I did it this morning, I walk out in the backyard just a few moments after I wake up, and I drink coffee and I look at all the plants that we planted. And I'm like, "Wow, look at there, we planted that one, we planted that one," and in the palm over here, sure enough, it's about this high, it's got a trunk about this big, and the rose bush is also doing well. But several months ago, a storm came, many months ago because it hasn't rained in our city in about 14 years. But anyway, it rained, and wind was strong during that storm, and after the storm, I went out there and I looked at the palm and it was just as strong as before the storm. But I looked at the rose bush, and the rose bush had been pushed down into the soil. It had been smashed down during the storm.
Which bush do you think I walked up to first? I smiled at the palm tree, but it was the rose bush that needed me. I went to the rose bush and I took a straight stick, I put it into the ground, and I grabbed the branches of the rose bush, and I wrapped it around the stick. And I backed up and I looked at it and I said, "I planted you, I watered you, and I'm not gonna let you die". I wrapped it, I binded it, I put it together, and I watched over it, and I watered it. The Bible says in Isaiah chapter 44 verse 3 that he will pour water on the thirsty. That he will flood the dry ground.
Does anybody believe that? I can proudly say that that rose bush is about this big and blooming. It is strong, and we are ready for the next storm. I'm telling you, we're ready to go. And this is how God looks at bruised reeds. This is how God looks at those of us who have been blunt forced hit, where we got a bruise that we're covering up underneath our armor. But the Lord looks at his children and he says underneath that armor, I see that bruise, I see that cut, and I want you to know you're not gonna crumble. I'm gonna keep you strong. I will not let a bruised reed be broken. Come on, let's say it then. I won't let it happen.
And then he says this, "I will not let a smoldering wick be quenched". Think of a smoldering wick in a birthday cake, where there's candles on the cake, and somebody makes a wish and they blow out the candles. And sure enough, the flame is put out, but there's always these embers that require another blow. Those embers are so weak, that as I said earlier, an infant could blow it out. You know, I remember that when I was in elementary school, my PE teacher brought us all out around this chin-up bar. He brought us all out, and he says all of you, the boys, the girls, you're all gonna do some chin-ups.
And of course, I'm looking around and I'm thinking to myself, "I will do more chin-ups than everybody here". I'm a boss, I'm half Italian, half Brazilian, right? And so, the guy before me, I remember that he did about six or seven chin-ups. He was my biggest competition. I jumped up and I grabbed the chin-up bar.
Now, it was the role of all the students to cheer each other on. I grabbed that chin-up bar, and I pulled myself up, and on the very first one I realized I'm in trouble. I'm in trouble. I put my chin, I lifted my chin as much as I could, and just touched that bar. The second one was much slower, and I thought, oh, jeez, this is not good. And then I'm hearing all the girls going, "Come on, Frankie, come on". And I'm like, "Oh, dear God, grab me by the shoulders and lift me up".
The third one, I felt my elbows trembling like this, and I'm at the third one. On the fourth one, I got myself about like this, and I realized this is as much as I'm gonna do. I can't even get my chin up, all I did was bend my elbows. I knew that as hard as I was gonna try, I was not gonna get that chin up there. I could only do three, but I hung there for a little while, and I thought if I try really hard, if I just put one more gust of strength into there, can I get myself up? And I remember thinking, "Frankie, this is as far as you can go. You are not strong enough to do one more thing. Go ahead and let go. Let go, go ahead and lay it down. This is as far as you can go".
I let go of the bar and I came down. I was so disappointed, so disappointed. Now that I'm an adult, I often find those moments where the flicker of hope on the inside begins to flicker, and all my hope is almost gone. Where I think to myself, every single struggle that I have right now, I don't think I'll ever get past it. Every single thing that discourages me, these things have discouraged me for years, I don't know if I'll ever get over it. Every single... let me ask you this, have you ever faced the temptation that you've been facing for many years, and you just think to yourself, I'm just not strong enough to do it? I've been fighting in this exact area, and I'm just not strong enough. The anxiety, the fear, the relationships that I can't let go of, I'm just not strong enough. I can't do it. The flame, the hope, the faith in yourself and in God, God may help all of you, but I don't know if he'll help me.
Have you ever thought that? Come on, wave at me or nod your head. Don't let me feel alone in here. I know he'll help you, but I don't know if he'll help me. I know Paul felt the same way. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 7 he said, oh, gosh, there is a servant from Satan that is buffeting me. It's like to buffet means to punch in the ears. It's somebody is speaking to him, speaking down to him, discouraging him, just constantly wearing him down. You see, Paul was not anyone to look at. I've studied Paul, and the theologians point out that he was about 4 foot 9. He was bow-legged, he was hunched-back, he had a unibrow, he was bald, which I'm not holding that against him at all. He had a unibrow, and he was not even good at preaching.
In fact, he admits it. In 2 Corinthians chapter 11 verses 5 and 6 he says this. "I know I am an unskilled speaker". He is a preacher and he's not even good at preaching. And so, there was somebody there, "You are nothing. You are ugly. You can't do anything. We are going to kill you. You are no servant of God, you're a slave of the devil. You're serving the devil, you're not serving God". And he pleaded, "Dear God, will you please help me"? And then in the 9th verse, 2 Corinthians 12 verse 9, the Lord says something that sounds like this. He says this, "My grace is sufficient. When you're weak, I will be strong".
But here's the thing that bothers me so much, is he didn't say I'm gonna get rid of that guy, He didn't say the problem is going away, what he is saying is when you're weak, you're gonna see me be really strong. But he did not imply that all of a sudden he wouldn't be weak anymore, the only thing he said is you're gonna see how strong I am while you're weak. You see, when you are a flickering candle, when you're trying to believe but you're so weak that you don't have hope, the Lord says this, I'm gonna keep you somewhere in the middle. You're going to be fearful, but you're also gonna have faith. You're gonna be afraid, you're gonna be weak, but you're also gonna know that I am strong. You're gonna be somewhere in the middle.
I'm not happy about that. I don't wanna be somewhere in the middle. I don't want to be hoping and to be afraid, and to be discouraged but yet have courage at the same time. I don't want that, I just wanna be strong. I want strut when I walk. I wanna brush my shoulders and say, "Devil, is that all you got"? I don't wanna be the guy. I don't like being the guy. Dear God, I can't take much more. I don't wanna be that guy. But there's something powerful about being in the middle. There's something powerful where the Lord says if I can keep you in the middle, if I can keep that flame not burning with confidence, but not completely out where you run from me, you're somewhere in the middle, you will be weak, but you'll be strong, but you're going to see my power all around you.
Come on, put your hands together for that. You're gonna see it. I want to point out something that King David said on this very thought, about being in the middle. It's in Psalms chapter 30 verse 7. He says this, Lord, I am begging for two favors. Now, if you were to ask the Lord for two favors, I doubt that it would be these two favors, because these two favors have never crossed my mind before, and I'll be surprised if it crossed yours. But he says this, I beg two favors, don't ever let me tell a lie, and number two, watch this, don't make me rich, but yet don't make me poor. Keep me somewhere in the middle and just meet my needs. Because if you make me poor, I may steal and disgrace your name, but if you make me rich, I will take strength in myself and I may betray you. Just keep me somewhere in the middle.
I wanna let you know that when you are a bruised reed, he won't let you break. When you are like a flickering candle, he won't let you go out. He's going to keep you somewhere in the middle of being nervous but being confident. And this is when God steps in and says I'm going to show my strength among you. Come on, put your hands together for that. The very last part of the verse, it says this, "Until I make justice victorious". I'm gonna keep the reeds strong, I'm gonna keep the ember burning until you are victorious.
I love the verse that coincides with that, it's in Revelation chapter 3 verse 8, where the Lord says this, I am going to open a door for you. Here it comes, I know you are very weak, but you have kept my word and you have not denied me. He's looking at the weak among us. He's looking at those of us who have been bruised, who have been hurt, who have been insulted. He's looking at those who have a lack of hope and faith in ourselves and in God, and he's saying I see that you're weak, but even still, and especially so, I'm gonna open up a door of opportunity for you that you can't open for yourself. I'm gonna open up a door that you didn't even know was there.
It's kind of like those movies where somebody walks into a library and pushes on a stack of books and then the door opens. Strangers don't even know that the door is there. And the Lord says I have a door for you that I'm gonna open up. You can't elbow it open, you can't kick it open, you can't even fret and hope that it will open, it will open before you realize there was ever even an opportunity there, and this is what I do with the weak, because God is good and he loves you. Come on, put your hands together for that.