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Frankie Mazzapica - Two Strangers Met

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    Frankie Mazzapica - Two Strangers Met

Thank you for tuning in today. My name is Frankie Mazzapica. The title of the message is: Two Strangers Met. I'll unpack that title as we go through the message this morning. But let me just go ahead and lay the foundation out of scripture on where this message is being built. It's in 1 Peter chapter 1, verses 2 and 3. It reads like this. "God knew you and chose you long ago. His Spirit made you holy. He separated you from the rest of the world. He made you holy. As a result, you obeyed. And you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus". And then he goes on to say this. "Praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who through his great mercy gave us new birth, new life through living hope because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead". Can we just say thank you to God for that? Thank you to Jesus. Come on. Thank you, thank you.

And so, in that verse it says this. "New birth," or new life, that's gonna be my first point. The second thing I wanna talk about is the words right after that where it says, "living hope". That's gonna be my second point, and then I'm gonna end with the title that says this. "Two strangers met". So, I wanna just emphasize that all of what I'm talking about is a result of Jesus coming out of the grave. It is a result of the decision that God made to send his Son. And it's a decision that Jesus made to sacrifice his own life. In Romans chapter 3, verse 25, it says this. "And God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for our sins". People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his own life with the shedding of his blood.

So, it was a decision that God the Father made, but Jesus also didn't push back. He said, "Yes, I want to do this as well". These decisions gave us new life, gave us living hope, and it also caused two strangers to meet, that one decision. There are certain decisions in life that change everything. I met my wife through a blind date at church, at church. Now, granted, as a 21 year old, I'm looking all day every single Sunday. I'm just looking around. But the person who set us up said, Hey, there's a girl. Her name is Allie. She's from Canada. And I'm like, "This sounds great, because every single American I've talked to has turned me down". And so, we started dating, and I want you to just imagine this scenario.

As we're dating, I'm walking around, calling her Mrs. Mazzapica. I'm introducing her as Mrs. Mazzapica. Now, Allie would say back to me, "You need to stop saying that. I'm not married to you. If you like it, you should have put a ring on it. I'm not married to you". If I would have never made the decision to put a ring on her finger, if she would have never made the decision to say yes, which I wonder... never mind. If she would have never made that decision, our entire lives would not have gone in the direction that it's going now. There are three people on this earth that wouldn't even exist if we did not get married, Preslee, Luke, and Kate. They wouldn't even be here, it was a result of our decision. There are certain decisions that change everything. And the decision that God made, Jesus made, changed everything.

So, let me just dive into the first point. The first point is that through his great mercy, he gave us new birth, new life. Let me kind of unpack that. There was a season that Ezekiel in the Bible lived. It's in chapter 37 of Ezekiel. The Lord showed Ezekiel a vision, a vision where he was standing in a valley, and there were skeletons everywhere. These people were so dead that their bones were dry, and the Bible says that they were scattered. So, a person's lungs would be right here, and their arm would be over there, and their leg would, they were scattered. And the Lord asked Ezekiel, "Do you think all of these bones can live again? All of these dead people could live again"? If they come back to life, just like any one of us, they would have dreams of what they want their future to look like. And God's saying, "Do you think the dreams could come back again? Do you think their life... do you"?

And I love what Ezekiel said, because he did not believe that God could do it. I'm not faulting him. There are things in my life over the course of my life even today where my faith is thin that God is going to do that for me. Now, it's insane because, like Ezekiel, I've got a long history of all the times God has come through. Same as you, you have a long history where God has come through for you. But the problems now, sometimes it's almost like, yes, he's always been there, but I don't know if he will be here. And so, Ezekiel says back to God, he doesn't lie at all. He says, "Well, only you know. Only you know if all this can come back". And God backs up with just a thought, every single bone, every single person came back together again. He breathed and gave them new life, skin wrapped around them, and all of their entire being came back together again, including their dreams.

I wanna say to you today, if this is the only thing that you hear this morning is that just like God resurrected Jesus and he came to these dead people with dead dreams and dead hopes and resurrected those, I wanna say to you, I don't know what dreams you have that you may have let go of. You grew up with them, you had them tucked in your heart, but over the course of time through troubles and dry patches, hard patches, a lot of those dreams just, you learned to settle with what you have. I want you to know that every relationship that seems to be dead and fractured with no hope, that God can bring those back again.

Sometimes, sometimes it's not our relationships. Sometimes it's our health where we just learn to be sick, and we learn, I wanna tell you that that's not God's perfect plan for you. God brings things back to life as easy as it is for you to breathe. It's easy for him. He just thinks the thought and things come back to life. I want to share an illustration with how he did that for me. When, believe it or not, there once was a time when I had, like, rich, Italian, Brazilian curls. I really did. I really did have hair, and those were good days for me. I mean, I walked down the halls in high school like my leg was broke. Those were... do I have earrings in? No, I don't have earrings in that picture. I had two loop earrings.

Now, if you're a young person, you're a young man and your parents won't let you, that's a good decision. But I had two, I had two loop earrings, and I just thought I was not lacking confidence at all. And then the time came where one curl started dropping after the next. It started around 18 towards the end of my senior year, it's like God gave me some good years and saying, okay, that chapter is closed, get ready for this one. Have you ever not wanted a chapter to close? And so, the chapter closes, curls start dropping, bang, bang, bang, haircuts getting tighter, tighter, tighter, and then you just, like, I gotta give up here. And so, when you're shaving your face, you just keep, you just keep going up.

I gotta tell you, as much confidence as I had with those curls was equal to how insecure I became in a moment, in a moment. There was no more thinking that I could be confident in walking into a room. I would get dressed to go somewhere, go to work or wherever, and I wouldn't even look in the mirror to make sure everything's all right, because this is a problem. This went on for several years, because anything else in life physically that you wanna change, you can change, except for that. And that's what I get, which is just fantastic. And so, I went through this long depression, and I remember the day where it began to shift. I say began, because it wasn't like this moment, but it began to shift.

I read this scripture in Proverbs chapter 3, verse 26 where it says, where the Lord says this. "I will be your confidence". Now, that scripture just rocked me because I had no confidence in myself. And so, what the scripture is saying, and let me just say it to you, your confidence in yourself, if you have confidence, that's great, but there is a confidence that the Lord wants you to have, and it goes beyond your personality. It goes beyond your looks. It's much more substantial than that. Where your confidence comes in, let me say it this way. God's plan for you is not to be confident in your personality or your looks. His plan for you is to not be confident in who you are, but in who is in you.

When you walk around, there's something in your eyes that brings peace to another person. The Bible says that your eyes are the window to your soul. Regardless of what you think about yourself, which, if it's not good, if it pulls you down, anything that pulls you down is coming from somewhere below. And so, he's saying, "Whatever you're thinking about yourself, brush it off, because I am in you, and your eyes can bring peace to who you're looking. At your voice and your words can breathe life in who you're talking to". By the time you get done talking to them, they feel taller, they feel stronger, they feel more encouraged. And you're walking around with this power on the inside of you, and you have something in you that no one else has. It's unique to you, and that's where you draw your confidence. Are you with me? Do you agree with that?

So, there's a new life, there's a new life, there's a new mentality, there's a new you, but then there's living hope. And I love this point, because there's dead hope, and there's living hope. Hope is an expectation for the future. You're anticipating good things. When you have dead hope, you're anticipating the grind that you're experiencing now to continue throughout your life, that the tough times, the rough times, the burdens, the stress, it's not a season, it's a sentence. That's when you have dead hope that nothing is gonna change. Living hope can only come from God, and it's this knowing, this confidence that says God is paving a way before me. I might be struggling with things right now, but they are temporary, and it's this knowing that every season is preparation for the next season. What you're experiencing now is giving you wisdom, knowledge, strength to move into your next season. That is living hope. Do you believe that? Come on. That's living hope.

Let me illustrate that with a friend of mine. His name is Juan Martinez. I wish I would have asked for, I'm thinking of it right now. I'm just like, Frankie, come on. That would have been brilliant. I wish I would have asked him for the picture that he showed me so I could show it on the screen. When he was 17, 18 years old, he was so thin that he looked like he had skin wrapped around his bones. He was addicted to crack and cocaine, and the cops caught him, he was arrested, got put in prison. He got out because it was his first offense. He got out pretty quick. Just a few months later, he gets caught selling again, back in. His sentence was longer this time. They let him out after the end of his sentence, he does it again. This time his sentence was 15 years.

While he was in prison, somebody shared the gospel. Somebody told him about Jesus. He backed up, and he said, "I may not get out of here for the next 15 years, but over the next 15 years I'm gonna lean into him the best I can". To lean into the Lord means to be aware that he's around you all the time and to talk to him every time he crosses your mind, to tell him, I love you. And if he never crosses your mind, you tell the Holy Spirit, help me with that. Every time he crosses my mind, I promise, I'm gonna tell him how much I love him. And the more you respond, the more that will happen, and the stronger your relationship gets. That's what leaning in is.

And so, he decides, I'm gonna lean in. So, he's leaning in, his walk with God is getting stronger, and then all of a sudden he gets this young guy that gets put in his cell. He's in the cell, and he notices that he's reading the Bible. And he says this. "Will you pray for my mom? My mom is recently divorced. She's incredibly upset. She feels like her life is broken". He says, "Yes, I'll definitely pray for her. What's her name"? He's praying for her all the time, doesn't even know her. And so, the mother comes and visits her child, and one day my friend Juan said this. "I'd like to meet your mom". So he says, "Okay, she comes all the time to visit me, let's do it". He sits down with her and falls in love. He's like, "Oh my goodness. Where have you been my whole life? Oh, yeah, I've been in prison, so I haven't seen", but here's the kicker. She falls in love with him.

So, now she's coming to the prison, visiting him, and her son is like, "What's up with this"? They're visiting, they're pen pals, and he looks at her, and he says, "If I ever get out of here, I'm putting a ring on that finger right there". And she's like, "Let's get you out of here". They're both praying like crazy. He gets out early... He gets out early, and he calls her up. "Red rover, red rover". And she says, "Let's do it". They're in different states, and he says, "I'm not coming yet. I need three or four months to find out if I'm really changed. Because the last thing I wanna do is come mess up your life". And so, he spends three or four months just to find out if God really did change him, if he really does have a new life. And what he noticed is his appetite for drugs was gone.

Now, the thought of going back always crosses his mind, as it did then, but his strength to say no thank you was there. And he proved it to himself over a period of three or four months, and he calls her up, and he's like, "I'm ready to go". He comes down, moves to the state, they get married, they've been married for years. Their social media is obnoxious. They're always, like, hugging, taking selfies, kissing each other. It's like, go get a room and don't put this stuff, and, like, it's incredible. They're acting out the proposal all over again. They're crazy in love, but here's the kicker. They pastor a church.

How do you go from doing crack, selling crack, living in prison more than you do at home, to pastoring a church, being crazy in love? How does that happen except the Lord gives you a new life, and now you have living hope? I don't know. I don't know what miracle you need, but I can promise you this. If you think that that miracle is gonna come with discipline and devotion, it's not gonna come like that. It's gonna come by believing in the gospel. That's how it's gonna come, because then you're backing up, and you're saying, "I can't do this by myself. If there's ever going to be an open door, if there's ever going to be an opportunity where my life begins to build momentum, you're gonna have to do it". And that's believing in the gospel.

Let me go to my very last point. Two strangers meet. The first point is live a new life. Second point is living hope. Third point is when two strangers meet. The Bible says in Psalms 85, verse 10, it says this. That mercy and truth have met, and righteousness and peace kissed. For the sake of time, I'm only gonna tackle the first part of the verse where it says this. "Mercy and truth have met". See, before Jesus died on the cross, there was this massive curtain in the temple. It's not a curtain like it's in your house or in my house. The curtain in our houses are very, very thin. The curtain in the temple was thick, and behind that curtain was the Holy of Holies, and that's where intimacy, the presence of God, the mercy of God was found.

Only priests could go there once a year. And so, there's mercy on this side of the curtain, but on this side where everybody was living prior to the crucifixion was in a world of truth. And the truth is that ever since Adam, there's been sin after sin and sin. A man can't even get through a day without sinning. Couldn't. A woman couldn't get through a day without sinning. That was the truth. But then when Jesus died, that curtain was torn by God. A man can't walk up to a curtain this thick and tear it, can't do it. There's no scissors big enough. From the top to the bottom, the Bible says that the curtain was rent. It was tore in half. And then at that point, truth met mercy, and mercy came to truth and said, "I know your truth, but your truth does not matter right now because God's mercy is covering you".
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