Frankie Mazzapica - Gifts, Grace and Rest
Thank you for tuning in today. My name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of the message is "Gifts, Grace, and Rest". I wanna springboard into the message by referring to a story that Jesus told in Luke chapter 15, and I'm gonna begin in verse 11, and this is what it reads: "To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them a story: 'There was a man with two sons. The younger son told his father, "I want my share of the inheritance before you die". The father agreed to divide his wealth between his two sons. The younger son, just a few days later, packed up all of his belongings and moved to a distant land, where he wasted all of his wealth on wild living. "I will go back to my father and say, 'Father, I do not deserve any longer to be called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.'"'"
The father said, "Quickly! Bring the finest robe in the house, put it on him, and put a ring on his finger and put sandals on his feet. And then kill the calf that we have been fattening, because we must celebrate with a feast". The reason why Jesus told this story is because he wanted you and I to know how he responds to a person who is returning to the Lord. How does he respond to a person who's been away from God, maybe even their entire life, and is walking towards him? How does he respond? He makes it abundantly clear that there is not a punishment involved.
There is not a moment where he looks at you and says, "What were you thinking? Have you lost your mind? I've been good to you, and now you have been ignoring". There's none of that. Probably my favorite word in the passage that we just went over is the word, "Quickly"! When the son said, "Please take me on as your hired servant," the next words were, "Quickly! Bring out the finest robe". In other words, as the son came to the father with a broken heart, the Lord responded, "Quickly"! There was no hesitation there, he's not looking at you, looking at me and saying, "I'll forgive everybody, but what you did, no". No, it's, "Quickly"!
On the count of three, everybody say it out loud, just encourage me. 1, 2, 3, "Quickly"! 1, 2, 3, there you go, I know it's not the cool thing to do but you really encouraged me. 1, 2, 3, "Quickly"! If you talk back to me, I'll preach short, if you go sleepy on me, then I'll feel like I got to say everything 14 times over again. So just say something, even if you say, "This is for him". Anyway, in Psalms chapter 51, verse 17, it says this, that the sacrifice the Lord desires... now keep in mind that this chapter, Psalms 51, was the chapter that David wrote after he committed adultery, got that woman pregnant, and then killed her husband. The Bible says that the sacrifice that the Lord desires, here comes David before the Lord, just like the prodigal son coming before his father, he's coming before God.
I don't know what you've done in your life, it's not likely that you have committed adultery, got a person pregnant, and killed the husband. It's just not likely, but if it did happen, then this story's really for you. In Psalms 51:17, David writes, he has this revelation from God after all the things that he's done. He says, "The sacrifice that the Lord desires is a broken spirit. He will not reject a broken and a repentant heart". There's no one here that has ever done anything at all that the Lord looks at you and says no, he sees a broken heart and he cannot reject it.
So let me go over the three things that happened, the three gifts that the Lord gives you and gives me every single time we step towards him with a broken spirit saying, "Lord, I have drifted from you". Every single time, you receive these same gifts that the father gave the son in Luke chapter 15. The first gift that he gave them is he says this, "Go to the house and bring the finest robe and put it on him".
Now, when he came back to the father, he had just spent days, weeks, months, I don't know how long he was gone, years, he had spent that much time living wildly. The father wasn't on his mind, he just wanted to jump as deep as he could into a pool of sin and stay there. He lost all of his money, and a part of the story says that he was so hungry that he jumped into a pigsty and ate their food. So when the son came back, he was filthy, he stunk, and the Lord looks back, because the father represents Jesus, he says this: "Quickly! Go get a robe of righteousness and put it on this young man, this is my son. And make it happen right now, now".
Now let me illustrate this point. If you're a parent in this room, just wave at me if you're a parent in this room. Let me see if I can illustrate this point. My daughter is 18 years old, she's sitting on the front row, my son's 15 years old, sitting on the front row, and they're each on each side of my gorgeous wife. I love you so much. My 8-year-old is in the children's ministry somewhere causing havoc just like preacher's kids do. Anyway, when my 17-going-on-18-year-old daughter and my 15-year-old son, between the ages of being born and 10, as you parents know, that is the most critical time to teach your kids the difference between right and wrong.
And so when they do something right, it's like, "Yeah," when they do something wrong, it's, "No, no, no, no". How many of you have parents that they can say no without saying, "No," they just raise an eyebrow, and they know that the answer is no, don't ever do that again, don't ever do that again, don't ever do that again. Do you know how many times we have said, "No, no, no," "Stop," "Don't," between the ages of zero and ten? Countless times. No offense to Presley and Luke, you guys kept us really busy. But you know what's so fascinating? For the life of me, I can't remember those moments of them getting in trouble between the ages of one and ten, I cannot remember it. I know they got in trouble because they are well behaved, so, but I can't remember, ages one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, I can't remember.
I'll tell you what I can remember is I have millions of photos of them walking around with their nook in their mouth, playing, walking around with diapers that were hanging between their knees. I got pictures of them but all I can remember is all the wonderful things of them sitting on my shoulder, drooling on my bald head. That's all I can remember. Parents, if you agree, put your hands together, you can't remember. It's out of my remembrance, it's out of my remembrance. The only thing I can remember is all the pleasant times, and I need you to know this, regardless of the lies the enemy speaks to you to pull your emotions and mindset and spirit down, regardless of it all. And you know it's the devil when you feel down and bad, that's how you know it's the devil.
That's not God talking to you, he's not like that, but God does not remember those moments. You might remember them, Satan will never forget them, but God, it's out of his remembrance because there is a robe of righteousness on you. And he's too busy celebrating today, therefore he's forgotten tomorrow, and he's thinking about the future. Isn't God good? Come on, he's good. That's the robe of righteousness, and then he gives the ring, it's a signet ring, saying, "What you establish here on earth, I will have your back in heaven". When you walk into your house and say, "Every demon get out the window, you weren't invited, leave," God says, "That's my son, that's my daughter, they have a ring. You heard what he said, Satan, get to stepping".
And then the shoes that go on the feet, this is saying, "This is my daughter, this is not a hireling, they are not like family, this is my daughter, this is my son". I was driving down the road the other day and there was a a car or a van, I can't remember what the vehicle was but I remember the advertisement and it said this. It said "Home Cleaning Services," and these ladies come to a house and they clean the house. Now these ladies, oftentimes, become like family to the people who live in the home, they become like family, and especially if they've been with each other for a long time. They're like family, they talk to each other like family, and oftentimes they give these ladies a key.
So they say, "Hey, look, even if we're not home, you're like family, come on in and take care of the place, and just lock the door behind you". But they're not family, they're like family. If the ladies that are cleaning had cleaned four houses that day, and at the end of the day around 7:30, 8 o'clock, they're tired, they're exhausted, they're hungry, if all of a sudden they take the key and come to a random person's house that they normally clean, open up the door, walk in around 8 o'clock, kick their shoes off, fall on the couch and go, "Foof, today was a long day," you'd say, "Did I forget something"? "Ah, it's been a long day".
They go to the kitchen, open it up and just start baking and cooking, and go, "Oh, hoho, let me tell you about my day". They're like family, the friendship, it's graduated, it feels like it, but they're not family, they're like family, they're not family. Now, a son, a daughter, now they can come in at midnight, 2 in the morning, not you guys, but midnight, 2 in the morning, "Oh, today". Do you see the contrast? The sandals on the feet were, "You are my son, you are not a hireling, you're not like family, you are family".
That was the gifts you receive, number two is the grace, the grace we receive when we come before the Lord. The Bible says, in Romans chapter 5, verse 20, it says this: "As the people sinned more and more, the grace of God became more abundant". As they sinned, grace was still higher than their sin. When we come before God, we're not looking at him saying, "I know I'm spit". No, no, no, there's this constant flow of grace and mercy. In Hebrews chapter 4, verse 16, it says this, "Come boldly". This is to you, all of you, poke yourself in the chest, I know it feels silly but just do it anyway. All of you, when you pray, "Come boldly before," the grace of God, "Boldly before the throne of grace," and receive mercy and grace.
Every single time you close your eyes and visualize his face the best you can, you put your hearts affection towards him the best you can, you receive two things every time. You receive mercy for all the things that you've done up until that moment in your life, they're forgiven, they're gone, and then he gives you grace. And what's grace? It's strength in all the areas that you and I are weak in. Every single time, you receive mercy, you receive grace, this is what he does. And when you do something that you regret, you say something you regret, you just tell him, "I need your grace right now". I'll give you an illustration.
When our church started like 17 years ago, we started off in a community center. Then we went to an elementary school, and then we went to a high school, and then this facility became available. So our business team and the owners of the building and our respective real estate agents were negotiating back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The business team was doing all the representation, mainly because they're smarter than I am, but they would BCC me to keep me in the loop, and so I'm watching the exchange back and forth. There was a critical email where our business team sent to them, "We don't like your price, we're not gonna take it". I replied-all and said, "No, I think we should take it".
I clicked it, went about my day. I'm driving down the road, I'm coming to church, happy as a clam. I get a call from someone on the business team, he says, "Pastor Frankie, did you mean to click, Reply All"? I didn't say a word, almost two minutes went by because, the business team, they have a vertebrae made of steel, so he stays quiet. He's not gonna be the first one to talk, so I'm not gonna talk either because I'm looking for a knife, sweat is running down this bald head so fast. Have you ever had a circle of sweat just make on the back, right on your shirt? And I said, "No, I did not mean to do that and I'm very sorry to you and our church family that I have blown this deal up". I hung up the phone.
So, the Lord is my witness, I go home, I put on some shorts and some tennis shoes, and I start sprinting around my block as fast as I could. And just before I threw up, I put my hands on my knee, and Joe, you know what I'm talking about, sprinting, sprinting, screaming, sprinting, sprinting, sprinting, just like, "Oh, my goodness". And then finally, look, I'm sweating now. Jesus, help me. I said, "Jesus, you saw what I just did, I need your grace". And wouldn't you know that that email was the best email that could have went out and the deal was very favorable for us? This is what happens when you say, "God, I shouldn't have said that, I shouldn't have done that, I need your grace". Isn't God good? C'mon, that's the grace of God.
So when a person comes before the Lord and they say, "Lord, I don't like the distance," sometimes there is repentance involved, sometimes it's just life got in the way, he gives you gifts, he gives you grace, and then the third one is rest. I love to imagine what the son did next. He has a robe, he has a ring, he has shoes, he's allowed sandals rather, he's allowed to go in the house and do whatever he wants. What do you think he did after that long travel? They don't have cars back then. What do you think he did after that long travel? The only thing they did in those biblical days was either walk or worse, ride a camel. He gets over there, you know he's exhausted, you know he's tired. He walks into the house, he falls on the bed and he begins to rest.
The scripture that comes to mind is Matthew chapter 11, verse 28. He says this: "All of you who are heavy burdened," all of you that are carrying weight and worries, all of you, "Come to me. Come to me, don't hit the bottle, don't eat every single gallon of ice cream you can find, don't sink into a pit of despair, just come to me". And in a very practical way, what, "Come to me," means is to close your eyes and try to visualize him the best that you can. Because the Bible says that, "If we seek his face," to the best you can, you put your mind's attention and your heart's affection, you just say, "Jesus, I need your mercy".
I told my wife, "I need to find something else, I can't do this anymore". We went on a short vacation, this is with the family, and I'm laying down in bed. A lot of times people tell testimonies where God came through for them and it was like 20 years ago, but they never say anything that happened within the last week or two. Have you ever noticed that? Like I'm a victory person, it's like, okay, this one happened within the last couple of weeks. We go on this trip, everybody's in bed, everybody's sleeping, it's 2 o'clock in the morning, I'm staring at the ceiling fan, I can't sleep. I walk outside onto the patio, and there's like a lawn chair there and I'm laying down, I'm looking at all the stars.
And I'll never forget for the rest of my life saying these words, "Jesus, I need you to rescue me, I'm in trouble, I'm weak, I'm tired, and sleep is not gonna help, a vacation is not gonna help. I need you to rescue me". The next morning, I woke up feeling the exact same way. Middle of the night, couldn't sleep again, I decided to stay in bed because the night before I got chewed up by mosquitoes. So I stayed in bed, looked up into the ceiling and said the same exact prayer. "Jesus, I'm in trouble, I don't know what I'm feeling, I don't know what's happening, I don't know how I got here, but I need you to rescue me". Next day, same thing, next day, same thing, next day, same thing. See, the most courageous prayer that you can pray is the prayer that you have prayed 1,000 times, but you continue to pray it again.
See, all too often, if the Lord doesn't answer our prayer by the third time then we decide he's not going to help us and we'll figure it out in our own strength, and the enemy is crashing cymbals and laughing. Margaret Thatcher once said, "Often times you have to fight a battle more than once to win," you have to fight certain things more than once to win. I don't know when it happened, I don't, I can't remember, and I don't even know how. I just woke up and I had muscles on my teeth, I had lightning in my veins, and I was ready to push the waves back into the ocean. I have no idea how it happened, but that's how faithful God is. Come on, give him a round of applause.