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Frankie Mazzapica - The Panting Deer

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    Frankie Mazzapica - The Panting Deer

Thank you for tuning in today, my name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of the message is "A Panting Deer," or "The Panting Deer". Let me just lay the scriptural foundation on where we're building this message out of. It's in Psalms chapter 42, verse 1, where David says this, "Just as a deer pants after streams of water, so my soul pants after you". Now, the whole purpose of this particular chapter that David is writing is because he is on the run, he is being attacked. Now, he is the king of Israel, but he is running out of his kingdom, he's running out of the castle, he's on the run not because of an enemy of his, not because of someone who he has battled in the past, but because of his own son, Absalom, has decided that he should be on the throne.

And so, he built this army within the kingdom, and he decided, he rallied them and he said, "I should be in that kingdom. I'm wiser, I'm smarter, I can lead this nation better than he can". And he began to change the minds of a group of people, a large group of people, who became his army, and they attacked the kingdom. Now, I've got my kids sitting on the front row right now. If you even think of trying to kick me out, kick your mother out of our own house, we fed you, okay? You don't kick us out of our own house. But David, he just left. He was being chased. And then he writes the psalm, and he begins to talk about the three things that he wants most.

The first point I'm gonna share with you is how David was longing for the presence of God. The second point is how David was longing for communion. And the third point is how David wanted even more than that. So, here we go, let's just dive right into the first point where David is longing for his presence. Now, notice when he wrote, he said, "As a deer pants after streams of water, I am panting after you". Now, a king who loses his kingdom, who loses his chambers, and now he's on the run with no home, his family is not with him, he has no food, he's not telling the Lord, "I want my kingdom back". He's not saying, "I want my throne back". He's not saying, "I want all the treasures, all the gold, all the silver, the servants, the garden that I would wake up and walk through". He's not saying I want any of those things back, he's saying, "I am being chased, and what I want more than all of those things is I want to be in your presence".

What did he know that most people don't know? Why would he desire to be in his presence more than any tangible thing that he's lost? What has he experienced that most have not? What he's experienced is that there can be a 3-foot radius around us that the rest of the world is not experiencing, where in your 3-foot radius, you are experiencing the presence of God. Now, for those of you in the room that say, "I've never experienced that, and if that's truly available, I want that," this is the message for you. When you are sitting down at a table having dinner, you can literally, and I've been practicing doing this myself, to try to reach out and go for this. I'm still learning how to do it on a consistent basis. But when you're sitting at a table, even though people are talking to you, or even if I'm sitting at my desk, I can just become aware of the presence of God around me, and for that split second, it's just he and I.

I know that he's there, I can feel his love, and there's just this moment of connection. Well, David could step into that moment, and feel that moment, and feel that peace so quickly, that he's saying, "Even though I'm on the run, even though I've lost everything, what I want most is to be connected with your Spirit". You know what's fascinating? Is that when he says, "As a deer pants after streams of water, so I pant after you," deer do not pant after water. That's not something deer do. Dogs pant after water. Their tongue is hanging out of their's hanging. They make it abundantly clear they want water, and they want water now. And then when you give them the water, it's like they wanna stick their whole head in the bowl. But this is not what deer do. They don't go out seeking for streams of water.

But David knew that and he wrote it anyway, because what he did know is that deer, even though they experience that 90% of their water comes from what they eat, he knew that deer only pant after water when they are being chased by a predator. When a predator is chasing them, there's so much sweat, so much water leaving their body, that if they cannot get away from the predator, they will lose so much water, so much sweat, that they will fall over and die. So, it's when they're being chased do they want to pant after water. If they can get away from their predator, the first thing they start looking for is a stream of water. David is saying that exact thing. He's saying, "I am being chased right now from every direction".

There's battles on the outside and there's fear on the inside. I know all of us have been there. Some of us are there right now, where there's battles wherever we look. It's almost like you and I can handle one battle, but if it's gonna be a battle from this direction, a battle from that direction, a battle from this direction, now we feel like we're panting, we're just trying, we're struggling. I was talking to somebody the other day, and I was just kind of passing down the hall, and he said, "Well, I got up this morning, and if I go to sleep tonight, I won".

And I started laughing, because there are seasons where if we can just get back into our bed, we won. But that's not supposed to be the way of life. It's not supposed to be like that. It's supposed to be where even though we're experiencing all of this trouble, all of these battles, we are able to create a 3-foot radius around us, and begin to experience his presence, and get rest there. It's a rest that surpasses our understanding. We don't know how we're getting rest even though the problem still exists. How does that happen? David knew that that happened, and that's what he was praying for.

Now, he's also asking for communion. He wants communion. Now, what does communion mean? Communion is a deep connection. If you've ever had a deep connection with someone, oftentimes it happens at a table. You're sitting on one side, they're sitting on the other, and you've opened your heart, you're sharing how you really feel. There's a connection there. But when that relationship no longer has that, you're saying my soul is panting after water, but what you're really saying is "I need that connection back". David would not be asking to be connected with him if he had an unbroken connection already. When we allow our stresses, our worries, our problems, to cause us to be so overwhelmed that we're no longer praying, that's when the enemy is winning. When we learn how to walk through trouble, walk through problems, but our prayers never stop. It's like these continual darts, these quick prayers that we learn to say in the middle of it all. It's like one prayer after the next that never stops.

Smith Wigglesworth said it like this, "I don't always pray for an hour, but an hour never goes by without praying". This is a continuous thing. So, David allowed this connection to break, and when there's no connection, you feel this sense of being completely alone. You may be married, you may be single, you may have a family of 42 around you, but none of them are able to know how deep the feelings are when you're in a terrible season, and that's when you become a shell of who you once were.

My son was sharing this with me the other day, about how dogs that are trained to hunt, for example, if a dog is trained to go find a duck, or go find a coon with a hunter, these dogs, if they've been trained to do that, when they run out to go find this duck or this coon and they can't find it, and they stay out there. Though they ran out with excitement, and their tail is wagging, and they're drooling, and they're doing what they're born to do, if they don't find anything, and they stay out there, their excitement drops, the tail stops wagging, because they get joy out of doing what excites them. They also get joy on pleasing their owner.

Have you ever noticed that when you walk into the house, if you have a dog, the moment you walk in, your dog looks at you like they have never seen you before. They're, like, their eyes are big, their tongue is hanging out, their tail is wagging. They love you more than your mother loves you, but these dogs lose the excitement when they feel that their owner is disappointed with them, because the connection has been broken. So, these owners, what they do if the dog is hunting raccoons, they'll take a raccoon out of their bag and they'll plant it somewhere, so that the dog will find it. And all of a sudden, he comes back to his owner all excited, the tail is wagging again, and the owner is, like, shaking it, you know, scratching his ears, and there's this joy that comes back when the connection comes back.

And so, the Lord will allow these certain seasons to remind us that when we're not connected to him, when we're not talking with him, when we're not aware of his presence around us, when it's been too long where we've actually allowed our voice, not our thoughts, our voice, to say to the Lord, "I love you. I love you". Every Tuesday night, we have prayer here in the sanctuary. I was walking down the hallway to come to the sanctuary, and I thought to myself, I'm gonna spend the entire hour just praising him and that's it, that's all I'm gonna do. I come into the sanctuary, and do you know my words to him were not very creative, and it wasn't even in variety. I said over and over again, "Thank you, thank you".

As I was saying thank you, I was thinking of things. I was thinking about my children, I was thinking about my wife, I was thinking about the fact that I have carpet in my house. Thank you, thank you, ten minutes went by, all I was saying was thank you, thank you, thank you, I love you, thank you. This is when the connection with the Lord begins to re-establish and you begin to feel close because you are having communion with God. But what's so interesting about God is that he's not just interested in hearing your prayers. Because after I prayed to him, I shouldn't say not just interested in hearing you praise him, because after I praised him for a certain amount of time, and I wasn't timing it, I felt myself kinda want to pray about something else, and this was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, saying, "You're having communion with the Father, but he wants you to ask for things".

Sometimes we think that we shouldn't ask for too many things. That's not scriptural. What the Bible says is the exact opposite: to pray about everything. If you're worried about it, pray about it. If you think about it, pray about it. Whatever comes to your mind. In Philippians chapter 4 verse 6 it says this, "Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything," and then take these breaks of praising him for everything that he has done. This is what communion with God looks like. Regardless of what season you may be in, whether it's an easy season and you're tiptoeing through the tulips, or whether this is a season where you seem to be grinding and grasping for hope. Whatever season you're in, you keep your voice speaking praises. You keep on and you don't stop. One of the Scriptures that I have tried to sear into the minds of our children is 1 Thessalonians 5:17, because it says this, "Never stop praying".

Now, many of us haven't memorized a Scripture in a long, long time, so we're gonna memorize one right now. It says, "Never stop praying". So, you tell me, raise your voice and say it. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 it says? You guys are geniuses. You didn't even need to practice that. Let's say it one more time just to bury it in our soul, but say it loud this time. First Thessalonians 5:17 says? You sound good. You sound better than the person next to you, if I can be honest with you. Never stop praying. That's how that communication, that's how that communion stays continuous. When you go to sleep at night, you close your eyes, it's the last thing you say. When you wake up in the morning, but you haven't even opened your eyes yet, it's the first thing you say. Throughout the day, you're taking intervals of just praising him, just for two or three seconds. This is how communion stays, it's unbroken.

So, he was saying this, "Just as the deer pants after water, so my soul pants after you". In other words, "I wanna be back in your presence". Number two, "I want to have communion with you". But then the heart of the prayer is saying, "I want more than what I'm experiencing right now". I went through a season of my life where I told the Lord, "I don't wanna just be one of those guys who prays throughout the day but nothing in my life ever changes. I want the trajectory of my life to change". Years ago I remember turning 40. It's so funny on how when you're young, you can't wait for your birthday, and then as you get older, you dread your birthday. And then you start being real tempted to lie when someone asks. It's like, you know, you're hoping, you're hoping that you still look young, so when someone says, "How old are you"? What do you always say? "Well, take a guess," and you got your fingers crossed behind your back.

Please, please, please, love me enough to lie to me. And then you get into this particular season where you walk into a room, and you look at people, and you're like, "I gotta be younger than them". Have you ever been there? Oh, just me, okay, that's great. You go, "I gotta be younger than that, I gotta be". But in these seasons, I remember specifically telling the Lord, "I don't wanna just be a person who prays and nothing happens. I need the trajectory of my life to increase, so that I don't get caught up staying at the same place with you year, after year, after year". Are you with me? Have you ever thought that? I don't wanna stay there. You know, when you look back a year, or you look back two years, you wanna think to yourself, "I'm so much further along. My relationship with God is so much further along than it was back then".

And so, David is saying that. "My soul is panting after you". He's saying, "Don't leave me here in this spot, I'll go crazy. If I don't have any more of anything, if I don't have any more of anything, if I never make $1, if I never have something new, my relationship with you has got to be better than it's ever been. It has to be". I want to remind you, there is always more. Sometimes we meet somebody, and there's this old saying that, you know, don't judge a book by its cover. Where you meet someone and go, "Man, this person's awesome," and then you realize that the book only has one page, and you're like, "Okay, I was expecting more". But with God, there's always more. However close you are with the Lord, there's so much more. The dreams that we can have when we sleep at night can take us to a place that makes this world feel like "The Truman Show".

I don't know if you've ever seen "The Truman Show," but it's this big huge dome, a massive dome that was built, and everyone inside of the dome is an actor. All the houses that were built, there's like this massive set, and this little baby was born inside of this big huge dome and raised in the dome. And as a child, as a teenager, as an adult, he was convinced that this whole set was truly the world and it was all that existed. And then he got so frustrated with what was going on, he got into a boat, got into this manmade ocean, and began to ride, and his boat crashed into the end of the dome. He began to pick it back, and he stepped past the dome, and all of a sudden, he realized that the world that he was living in was a set. That it was this big. The real world, the world that was far more real, was beyond his own thinking, his own imagination, his own world.

We have to remember that this world is the playground. This world is the temporary thing that begins to fall apart. The real world is around us. When we look back on this world, we'll laugh at how fragile it was. If you've ever had someone in your family or a loved one pass away, and they're in heaven now, if they could come back, they would say two things. They would say, "Heaven is real," and then they would say, "I don't wanna come back here," because the other world is so wonderful, and it's so beautiful, and we can access that relationship with God on a regular basis when we begin to pursue him like we never have before. I always say it: pursue God with all your heart and watch everything else fall into place. Do you receive that, come on?
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