Frankie Mazzapica - Do Not Be Discouraged
Thank you for tuning in today. My name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of the message is "Do Not Be Discouraged". Do not be discouraged. It is so easy to have a goal and then look at your life and say, "I am so behind of what I'm looking for". If you're older than the age of 30, you have already began to think this thought; that you had plans, you had a trajectory and now you're looking at the pace of that trajectory and you're going, "I am so far behind. At this pace, I am going to come nowhere close to where I wanted to be in life". And it is so easy to get discouraged.
You know, my 8-year-old has already picked out names for her children already, and she's up in her game room and I can hear her talking. And she's got, you know, a husband, a wife talking to each other. It's like some teddy bear and another teddy bear and they got little teddy bear children, and she's already practicing on what a family is going to be like. But, you know, you plan for your family. You have plans for your children. You have a vision of what life is going to be like. I remember riding my bike through rich neighborhoods and pointed houses that were real big and said, "Well, I'm going to have a house like that. I'm going to have a house like that".
And then all of a sudden you turn around and you go, "This is not part of the plan". And discouragement sets in very, very quickly. And then when you wanted like break out of this funk or this trench and you're like, "I'm going to change everything," there's so much fear because what you are experiencing is at least good. It may not be great, and if you try to take a risk and step out for great, you may lose what's good. Are you with me? Say, "Yes". Come on, encourage me. Are you with me? Say, "Yes".
I want to share a verse with you, and it's going to be the foundation of my message. There's three sentences within this verse, and each of those sentences are going to be my major points. The first sentence is my first point, the second sentence is my second point, and so on. But this is what the Scripture says in Isaiah chapter 41, verse 10. It reads like this. It says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged because I am your God". Isn't that good already? We haven't even gotten to the second and third verse and it's like, "I love you". Says, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God". And then it says, "I will strengthen you, and I will help you. I will lift you up. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand".
Doesn't that sound good? Come on, put your hands together for that. "I will hold you up". And so let's just begin to unpack that verse. The first verse, it says this. "Don't be afraid. Don't worry. I'm with you. Don't be discouraged". So let's unpack that. I along with you have had these fears, and I've been open and I've been transparent that one of the biggest challenges in my life is I fight depression often. Everybody fights something. Everybody has an Achilles heel. And I can say a lot of times I'm winning and then there's other times where I don't know what's happening; but that's the battle that I fight, and it's something that I'm just constantly aware of. And my wife... thank God for my wife. She knows when I'm in a dip and she knows exactly what to do, and usually it's just, "Hey, give him space. Put ice cream in the freezer. Hopefully within a couple of days he'll be out of it".
And it's very difficult to pray during that season because typically when I pray... I don't like telling people this 'cause it's not a comparison game, but typically when I pray I pray for a few hours. But when I'm in this slump, I can only get like a sentence out or a whisper out and it's discouraging and somebody asked one time, "What does it feel like"? And I said, "You know, I'm afraid". And I'm well aware of the Scriptures where in 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 7 it says, "I have not given you a spirit of fear," which right there you realize that fear is a spirit. And so you just realize fear is not an emotion. It feels like an emotion, it feels like a thought, but it's not. It's a spirit.
And you recognize in Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12 that you are not wrestling against flesh and blood but instead you are fighting against rulers and authorities in this unseen world. You're fighting against mighty powers in this dark world. Just nod at me if you know this world is dark. Come on. And I appreciate the volume. It encourages me. Come on, help me out. But it also says that we're wrestling against spirits in heavenly places. This is the fight, this is the battle, and the Lord's Scripture says, "Do not be afraid, for I'm with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God".
There's a sport out there called spelunking. I have trouble pronouncing it. Spelunking. That's it. Spelunking. I have trouble pronouncing it because it is... I have trouble understanding why people would ever do this. Spelunking. What is it? Spelunking? Spelunking. All right, Spelunking. Look at these guys. So the whole... I just heard someone go, "Nope". This sport, if you will, is to look for caves that have very tight crevices and you crawl through them to see what's on the other side. I don't want to go to the other side. I like right where I'm at. But they crawl through these tight cracks and a lot of times it involves grappling or ascending on sharp areas, but the whole point is they are looking for crevices and cracks to squeeze themselves through.
And I was reading about this gentleman. It was an article. His name was Philip, and somebody was writing the article about Philip and Philip had never been... I'm not even going to try to say it again. He had never done anything like this before. So he went and he hired a guide and said, "This is something I've always wanted to do. Will you take me with you"? And so the guide as I read the article... again, this was a third person writing the article about Philip. And he got the guide and the guide began to take him to a particular cave and then the crevices that they were sliding through were getting tighter and tighter and tighter, and then at one point they had to get on their back and they had to push themselves through this crevice.
So they were on their back and at first there was enough room for their knees to be up and push themselves backwards, and then it got so tight that they could no longer lift their knees. They were pushing themselves backwards with their hands. Then it got even tighter than that, where they couldn't fill their lungs up fully with air. They had to only partially breathe and they had their face sideways and they were pushing themselves backwards. Well, Philip started to panic as you would imagine, but he started to panic and he started to hyperventilate and he said to his guide, he said, "Hey, I'm scared. I'm scared, and I can't breathe". And the guide said, you know, "Just stay with me. We're going to be okay".
And so a few moments later after they push themselves a little bit further, as I was reading, Philip said, "I'm not okay. I'm not okay. I'm not going to make it". And the guide said, "Listen, I don't want you to concentrate about anything else. Don't think about anything else. I just want you to listen to my voice. Just listen to my voice". Well, Philip died that day in the crevice. No, he didn't. I was just kidding. I was just kidding. I was just kidding. He didn't die. He didn't die. But anyway, he listened to his voice. The guy kept on talking. He got out on the other side, and he was able to tell the story and the article was written.
Some of you are never going to forgive me for that, but he got to the other side. And you guys are already ahead of me. The only way he got through is he just kept on listening the voice, and the guide just kept talking. He kept talking. He kept talking, and he just concentrated on what the guide was saying and he got through. You know, it's sincerely hard to lean into the Lord and say, "I'm scared. I'm scared". Usually when we're discouraged, we're just thinking it. Usually when we feel like the season that we're in is never going to change, we just try to get used to it. We try to get used to it and we try to just kind of adjust as life goes on, and at best case scenario we can get through one day at a time.
In seasons like that you're not trying to get through the week, you're not trying to get through the month, you're not even trying to get through the year. You're trying to get through the moment. "If I can get through this moment and be okay and..." Before we know it, all we're trying to do is get through one moment after the next. And it's the enemy's trap, it's the enemy's ploy to try to get us to be consumed with fear and discouragement, but I want to tell you this. One whisper to the Holy Spirit begins to change the tide. Come on. It begins to change the tide of your life. I want to challenge you. Whisper. Open your mouth and say something to the Lord. It doesn't matter what you say just as long as some words are coming out of your mouth that you're saying, "I need you". And maybe that's all you say. "I love you". Or you say, "I'm in trouble. I need you". It's words like that where you begin to feel strength.
That takes me into my second point. "I will strengthen you and help you. I will strengthen you and help you". You know, I talk to people all the time about prayer because, you know, every pastor has a primary passion that they love to talk about the most. For some pastors, they love to talk about mercy. Other pastors, they like to talk about grace. Other pastors, they like to talk about prosperity. For me... all those things are in the Bible, but pastors gravitate towards certain topics, and for me almost to an error by not talking about other things I talk about prayer. I'm constantly talking about prayer, and I want to say to everyone here that your prayer life will drastically begin to build momentum and be exciting if before you say one word to God you take a minute to realize who you're talking to.
You take a minute to realize how vast he is, how he has that his being has no end. A lot of times when we pray we still see Jesus as a person, but I want you to know that Jesus is not a human being anymore. The Bible says in John chapter 10, verse 30, Jesus says this, that, "I and the Father are one". It's hard to wrap our mind around that, but I can look at you and say your body and your spirit and your soul are one. I can't separate your spirit from your body. Your body is flesh and bone. If I want to say I want to find the real you and so I'm going to put you in front of an X-ray 'cause I want to find you... I don't want to just look at your arm and your legs, I want to find you, you. You are a spirit.
That's why when you see someone who has passed away, we all think the same thing when we walk past the casket. We all say to our self, "They're not there. We're looking at their body, but they're not there". How many people have thought that thought at a funeral? You look at them and go, "They're not there anymore. I'm looking at them, but they're not there anymore". What are you talking about? You know that their spirit is not there anymore. It's your spirit. So how do you separate your spirit and your body? You can't. How do you separate your soul? In the same way, you cannot separate Jesus and the Father. You cannot do it.
And so we have to remember that when we pray to Jesus we're not talking to a person anymore. He's kind enough to allow us for the few on the planet that has ever seen him, he takes a human form, but when you look at him you know that he's not human anymore. And so when you pray, before you say one word ask the Holy Spirit, "Help me begin to realize who he is".
Close your eyes and realize how vast he is, that even space is not beyond his being; that the world, that the stars, that over 1 billion galaxies are literally within him. There's no outside of him. You're walking in Acts chapter 17, verse 28. It says that we walk within him and find our being within him. And when you begin to focus on who you are talking to, you will realize that your prayers are no longer casual. They're no longer, "Jesus, I love you. I thank you. I need you. I love you. I thank you. Thank you so much for all you've done". You're not talking to a person, you're talking to the source of everything. The source of life, the source... come on, help me out. You're talking to a God, a God. I'm not saying that right. You're talking to the God of the universe. So he says, "I will strengthen you. I will give you help".
Now, the last and final point is the last verse, or the last sentence in that verse where he says this: "I will hold you up with my victorious hand". You know, when you see a mother or you see a father holding hands with their child as they're walking across the street or they're walking from their car into a grocery store, they're holding their child's hand, whose responsibility is it to make sure that those hands do not separate? Whose responsibility is it? I know it's obvious, but just say it anyway. Whose responsibility is it? It's the parent's responsibility. Why is that? Because the child on the first thing that distracts them they just wander off.
"Look how fast I can run," with their squeaky shoes. Squeak, squeak, squeak, bam. It's the father, it's the mother that takes responsibility to hang on with their virtuous, their victorious hand. How many times in your life have you done the very best you could to complicate your life? I mean, you really gave it your best shot. I mean, I've got countless times when I look back and I was like, "That was my best shot to mess my life up completely. I mean, I really tried". I saw an opportunity and I thought to myself, "If I go down this road, I'm going to mess my life up. Here we go. Let's do it".
And how many times have we made the wrong decision over and over and over again and the Lord looking back you felt alone, but he hung on not just with his hand but a virtuous hand that has never ever lost? It's never lost. He's hung on and he's hung on tight. And I want you to know, for everyone in this room, you're in a season where you're saying to yourself, "Guess what? I clawed my way into this church this morning. I've clawed my way because deep down inside I am so discouraged with life and I'm discouraged with my relationship with God because it's been so inconsistent, because my prayers have been absent, because my prayers have been lifeless; because I've got a secret sin that nobody knows about, a secret addiction that nobody knows about, and it is exhausting hiding it".
And you come to the Lord, you come into the church, you put your eyes up, you lift your chin up, and you don't know where you stand. I just want you to know that though you can't feel it with your flesh, he is squeezing your hand with his victorious hand and his patience does not wear thin. It's not like he's going to your rescue. It's not like he's looking at you and saying, "How many times are we going to have to do this"? The Bible says this in Psalms 103, verse... I think it's 14 where it says this: "I know how you were formed. I remember that you were made from dust". When he's looking at us, he's saying to himself, "These are my children, but their flesh was made from dust. They don't have a chance on being strong without me". And so he comes as a very present power, a present grace in time of trouble. Do you love the Lord today? Come on, put your hands together for that. Do you love the Lord today?