Game Changer

downloadWhat is your favorite productivity app or gadget? Why?

Game Changer, definition: ‘an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current manner of doing or thinking about something.’

A revolutionary product is a game changer. Sometimes, it’s a book that changes how you think and live and act. Some element takes you a higher place of victory and growth is a game changer. When God steps in a special way, that can be a game changer.

Gen 32:24-28 “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. 25 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. 26 And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. 28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”

Jacob came from a dysfunctional home. There was favoritism and competition between siblings. The name ‘Jacob’ literally means ‘heal grabber.’ Esau means ‘red and hairy.’ Jacob was trying to supplant where he was, trying to get ahead, even from the womb. Early on, Jacob conned Esau out of his birthright as the oldest son and had to flee for his life because of it. So, he went to live with his uncle.

Jacob got a taste of his own conniving when his uncle conned him into marrying the wrong girl. He did marry the right girl, but it was trouble. His father-in-law tried to cheat him over and over again.

Has anyone every tried to cheat you? How did you respond?

Sometimes, God puts you into a holding pattern and you get frustrated. Instead of turning to God, you turn away. However, God allows you to go through situations and circumstances, not to torture you, but to develop you. He wants to get you to a place of total, perfect reliance on Him.

Open your heart to God’s will and God’s timing.

Jacob finally left his father-in-law and decided to return home and try to make things right with his brother. It had been about twenty years, but he found out his brother was coming to meet him with 300 men (an army). So, Jacob sent out gifts to appease his brother. He sent everyone else ahead to meet Esau. Then, Jacob was by himself with everything familiar stripped away.

There Jacob wrestled with a man until the breaking of day. This was no doubt a physical manifestation of God working in his life. Jacob had a physical change and never walked the same way again.

God will make you a new creature as well. He can find you wherever you are. You can’t hide from Him. But, when you get into that place with God, He can change everything for good.

How has either knowing God or even knowing about God changed your life?

Jacob wouldn’t let go in that ‘wrestling match’ until he was blessed. God asked, ‘What is thy name?’

Your name defines you. Jacob was a liar, a deceiver, a trickster. Culture, social groups, family status, financial status, all these things try to define you.

But, God can change your name. He can give you a new identity. He can take what you are and what you have been and change everything about you.

God caused Jacob to become His fighter. He became a prince among men. He caused Jacob to become powerful in the things of God.

How has God changed your identity?

Jacob (the old name, old nature) was carnal and selfish, but Israel (the new name, new nature) was spiritual and godly.

You don’t have to be the same anymore.

Isn’t it interesting that the game changers Jesus picked for his twelve closest followers were tax collectors no one wanted and a man who would cut off your ear rather than talk things (or think things) through? On the Day of Pentecost, it was none other than the former ear-cutter-offer, the one who denied Jesus three times, who preached, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ (Acts 2:38)

It doesn’t stop there with God changing you. He can use you to be a game changer for somebody else’s life.

This Bible study excerpted from a sermon preached by evangelist Jacob Tapia.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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The Mother of Us All (Bible Study for Life Groups)

les-anderson-189376.jpgWhat is a good mom?

2 Tim 1:5 “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

Rom 16:13 “Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.”

There is more to these lists of names than you can see at first glance. There are 26 names mentioned in Rom 16. 6 of these names are women. In a male-oriented society, Paul could not mention the church without mentioning the significant role of women in that church.

In verse 13, Paul mentioned Rufus’ mother who he ascribes as a mother figure to him. We’re not sure if she helped him through sickness or she opened her home to him, but we can be sure she was very dear to him.

Mark tells us of Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus’ cross. He had two sons, and one was named Rufus. This man’s wife might have been this same Rufus’ mother. This man, Simon, was the first who touched Jesus’ blood.

The Bible lists many mothers held in great, high, noble esteem, Rufus’ mom, Moses’ mom to name a few.

Being a parent, particularly for a woman, changes everything in his or her life.

There is a love that overwhelms all the difficulties of having babies. A mother continues to love and work even though there is little thanks. At times, she wants to give up, but she can’t. It’s an investment into a child’s life. It’s a picture of selfless love in its truest form.

Does the church, the mother of us all, do and feel the same way about new babes in the Lord?

Gal 4:26 “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”

Not the Jerusalem on earth, but heaven’s city, is free. That city is the mother of us all.

We know Who our Father is. But a child needs a father and a mother. The church is the mother. She gives that, ‘sincere milk of the Word.’

Prov 28:24 “Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression; the same is the companion of a destroyer.”

This is not only a biological father or mother, but this verse speaks of spiritual parents as well. Don’t rob from God (our Father) or the church (our Spiritual Mother).

We get our identity from our Father and Mother. There really is a mother—the church.

What kind of an identity are we passing on as a church body?

Luke 8:21 “And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.”

Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful to His mother. He was making the point that those who hear the Word of God, and do it, are His mother and family.

The mother is like a city of refuge.

Psalm 46:1-11 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. 4 There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. 6 The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. 9 He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. 10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”

Both God and the Church are meant to be our refuge.

A mother, heavy and burdened in love can flow like no other to their child. When adversity takes place, you’ve got a safe place in your mom. Friends desert in trials, but mom won’t desert you. The church is the mother of us all and will be there for you in every place of your life. There is power and refreshing and something about being in the house of God that fills you up! It’s momma’s arms, it’s the love of God that flows through.

How can we as a church fulfill that calling to be a ‘city of refuge’? What are we doing right? What could we improve? How do we need to change the way we think?

Isa 25:4 “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.”

Psalm 27:1-5 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”

In the crazy storms of life, seek for shelter. The church is your shelter. There is peace that passes understanding.

This Bible study excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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Called By His Name you know the meaning of your name? If so, can you share it? Do you like your name? Why or why not?

2 Chron 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

God never just says something. He’s always trying to take us somewhere, to teach us something.

In this passage, He’s calling them His people, called by ‘My’ name. He’s not saying, the Jews or the Hebrews. He’s saying, ‘Called by My Name.’

At the burning bush, God told Moses to go, not with an army or some great military force behind him, but to tell Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go.’

Moses said, ‘Who shall I say sent me?’ God answered, ‘I am that I am. Tell them I AM sent you.’ It’s really very simple. ‘He is.’ In the Old Testament in reference to God, they would say, ‘He is,’ that simple, ‘the eternal, self-existent one.’ He has no beginning or ending. He is the eternal One.

The Jews called Him ‘He Is my Healer,’ ‘He Is my Banner,’ ‘He Is my Provider,’ (Jehovah-Jirah, etc).  They referred to God concerning His attributes, His deeds. They didn’t have a personal Name that specifically identified Him.

Isa 52:6 “Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.”

God didn’t want them to know Him only by His power or His attributes or His blessings. He wanted them to know Him in a personal way.

Names matter to God.

Isa 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Phil 2:9-11 “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

There is nothing more powerful than that name of Jesus! There is no weapon that can stand against Him. The only thing, the mightiest thing there is Jesus. Anything that opposes the will of God will fall at the name of Jesus.

Yeshua (Greek) literally means, ‘He Is my Salvation.’

Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

John 14:14 “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Acts 3:6 “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”

Apostolic believers know the One-Who-Made-All-Things hears you when you cry out to Him. He answers prayers.

Rev 3:8 “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

Today, there is an attack, not on faith, not on religion, not on believing in a god. There is an attack targeted at the name of Jesus.

There is so much today that compromises and calls for conforming. The gospel of Jesus Christ is confrontational. It not only calls for change, it makes that change possible.

  1. What difference does it make to know someone by name, not just knowing about them, but knowing them on a personal level? (As in being able to call the president by his first name)
  2. Why do you think the name of Jesus is so controversial?
  3. Can you tell of a time when calling on Jesus by His name changed your life?
  4. How do you call on Jesus’ Name? (How do you walk in His authority in your own life?)

For further study see Acts 19:13-17

This Bible study excerpted from a sermon preached by Skip Christo.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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The Second Chance God

Give a Key to Prisoner by sakhorn38How do you handle your mistakes?

1 John 1:7-10 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband, Uriah, murdered, Nathan the prophet confronted him. David deserved death for his sin, but he repented and instead of judging him, the Lord showed mercy and forgave his sin.

Many people ask the question, What is truth? Today, absolute truth has been watered down. It’s more about tolerance than absolute truth these days. If there is no true, there is no false.

Biblically speaking, truth does not care what you’re feeling. Truth brings forth judging. Judgment must be established upon immutable truth. It was the law that exposed sin.

Truth does not waver. Truth brings light. Truth is precise. Truth reveals things to you.

Judgment ought to come when a violation of truth comes. In Scripture, we find judgment coming when truth is violated. However, mercy is also present throughout the Bible, even more than judgment.

Eph 2:4 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,”

2 Cor 1:3 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”

There is a difference between grace and mercy. Grace is getting something you don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting something you do deserve.

David deserved to die, but God gave him a second chance. The hand of judgment was stayed by the hand of God. David not only didn’t die, he didn’t lose his crown. Judgment said David will always be in a battle, but mercy said he would always get the victory in the battle.

Psalm 51:7 “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Purge means ‘un-sin me’. Hyssop is used to apply the blood.

Heb 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

Rom 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

The apostle Paul had a choice on the road to Damascus. He could choose to die and be judged or take that second chance and serve Jesus.

The woman at the well got another chance. The woman caught in the act of adultery got another chance.

1 Peter 2:10 “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Truth reveals sin, but mercy conceals it. Truth is black and white, but mercy is a prism.

James 2:13 “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.” (KJV) “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; but [to the one who has shown mercy] mercy triumphs [victoriously] over judgment.” (AMP)

Isa 55:7 “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

There is another chance. You may be filled with guilt and shame, but Jesus’ shed blood covers all of that. Of course, you have to repent, be baptized in Jesus’ name, and be filled with His Spirit. After that, confess, trust God to forgive and cleanse. (I John 1:9)

These things deactivate mercy: Feeling Unworthy, Pride, Worldly Tendencies, and Unforgiveness.

These things activate mercy: Confess, Worship, Exercise Faith, and Show Mercy.

Don’t be defined by your mistakes, instead, let mercy define you.

  1. Why do people try to hide their mistakes?
  2. Why do you think people refuse to receive mercy?
  3. How have you experienced mercy in your life?
  4. Describe a time where you witnessed someone showing mercy.

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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The Power of His Resurrection

002-jesus-aliveMat 28:6-7 “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.”

Phil 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

Without the resurrection, there is no hope.

Recently, Pastor Anthony preached about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be honest, as a practicing Christian, I don’t wonder whether or not this event really happened. My study and personal experience with God have made it easy to believe. He is God after all. Isn’t God supposed to be able to do whatever He wants? Including rise from the dead?

However, of course, not everyone finds it easy to believe. In fact, many dispute the resurrection. My goal isn’t to argue. That tends to be a waste of time. People who argue don’t really want to believe even if you can prove it to them. On the other hand, addressing this issue is good in that it helps answer people with honest questions.

Pastor began with, “The good news is there really was a resurrection. What sets Christianity apart from other religions is the empty tomb.

“On Easter, you typically have people at church simply because it’s Easter. Church is a religious activity, but not really a part of everyday life. There are those who are not fully convinced about the resurrection. Many see Christianity as a list of rules.”

“There are documented facts about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In any library, you can find in secular books in which Jesus is mentioned as a documented historical figure. He claimed to be the Messiah and lived about 2000 years ago. A host of hostile witnesses testifies of His life and where He lived. Jewish and Roman scholars wrote about His life. It is a fact that He was crucified under Pontius Pilot and His followers claimed that He rose from the dead. There are thousands of historical finds that confirm these things.”

At least there’s no doubt that Jesus actually existed. It’s the miracles and resurrection that are questioned.

Pastor continued, “There is factual evidence in history that He was crucified as stated in the Bible. It is a fact that they could not produce the body after they buried Him. It is documented that there was a rumor circulated that the disciples stole His body. Now, there was a lot of guards surrounding that tomb. How could the disciples have done it?”

“Not only was Jesus a man of God, a man of healing, He lived and was falsely accused and shed innocent blood. He rose from the dead!”

“Why is the resurrection such a big deal? All you need to do to debunk the myth is produce the body, yet no one could do it. Jesus Christ’s body could not be produced. The apostles not only preached that Jesus rose from the dead, but they died for their assertion.”

I don’t know about you, but I would not be willing to die for a lie.

Pastor said, “It’s not just a fact that Jesus was raised up, there is a power in His resurrection. God became a man, and in that flesh, He became a sacrifice to pay the penalty for your sin. He allowed His body to be whipped and by His stripes we are healed!”

The fact that He could raise Himself up from the dead shows that He chose to sacrifice Himself.

I loved this next part. Apparently, when a person was buried in a tomb, it wasn’t a simple thing of pushing a big rock in front of the entrance. It was actually sealed shut. One or two people couldn’t push the big rock out of the way. To open the tomb back up, you needed tools and ten to twenty strong men.

“When the women went to anoint His body, they talked about how they were going to move the stone out of the way. When they got there they were surprised.” 

The stone wasn’t rolled away so Jesus could walk out. The stone was rolled away so people could see in. 

Jesus laid down His life for you and me. He rolled that stone away to give proof of his resurrection and to show that He did all that He said He would do.

“Peter and John came to a point that they no longer doubted Jesus. They no longer questioned His ways and chose instead to simply do what He said to do.” 

Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

“Peter no longer was the crazy guy who put his foot in his mouth, he had a lot of wisdom in his letters (1, 2, 3 Peter). He went from denying even knowing Jesus to standing up in front of thousands with boldness preached how to be saved (Acts 2:38).”

“If you’re dealing with doubt or are troubled about whether or not you know God, there is a cross that you need to visit. There is a tomb that you need to visit.”

In a world that so obviously does not have all the answers, there is One who does. There is One who wants to know you and show you His heart, His love, His forgiveness, His hope. God is real. He kept every promise. He really did put on flesh, come as a man, lead and teach a group of 12 and others. He really did die on a cross as a substitute for the sins of you and me. He paid the price we owe. And, He rose from the dead.

You can experience that power.  

Rom 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Come and see for yourself. It’s real. And you can experience and know Jesus for yourself.

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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What Is the Will of God?

What is the will of God?

Sometimes, God’s will is to stop doing what you already know is NOT His will!

1 Peter 3:9-11 “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. 10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: 11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

Just as you don’t only separate yourself from sin, but you also must consecrate yourself to God, it’s important to not only do the things God does want you to do but also to NOT do the things God doesn’t want you to do.

If you know what you’re doing (or saying) isn’t working, pause and find out if you need to do something different. Maybe you should just stop. Stop doing what you’re doing. Stop talking. Stop pushing your will, your way. If I try to force MY way and MY opinion on someone, it probably won’t be received, but if I don’t hold onto my will or my way, but do God’s will His way, then He (and the other person) is responsible for the consequences.

Of course, He has given us a measure of authority and a structure where we are to be in authority over and under (submitted to) those He put into place. As we let go our own will, He guides with that still, small voice. But you can’t hear His voice if your own carnal will is shouting.

Yes, the other person may be totally off, but arguing in cases like this is like trying to wrestle with a pig. George Bernard Shaw said, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

Perhaps the other person doesn’t particularly ‘like it,’ but in the end, it’s not really a win/win. Often, it’s a lose/lose.

577088_312329688855462_789056673_nWhen you stop fighting for your own way, even if it’s right, and take the time to listen and show genuine care and love to another, whatever the conflict is, the conflict can often be resolved quickly.

What is God’s will?

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God!”

Excerpted from an inspiration given by Christina Li.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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Knowing the Will of God

liane-metzler-150284Rom 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

In my life, I’ve found that knowing God’s will can be tricky. My flesh tends to get in the way! The truth is, it’s not that difficult at all. Of course, the Bible doesn’t have your specific name in it with the perfect job, spouse, city, etc. that you are supposed to choose, but in those cases, it’s fairly obvious what is not the will of God.

Bro Christo taught on some very specific things we can know about God’s will. If we apply these things to our lives, it’s a lot easier.

His first point was, “The will of God comes with a promise. If God wants you to do something, there is a promise attached.”

1 John 2:17 “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

Heb 10:36 “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”

If you do God’s will, you receive eternal life. That is one of the promises.

Bro Christo made the point that “If you serve in a business, oftentimes there is no promise of benefit. When a soldier obeys a commanding officer, there is not necessarily a ‘big picture’ benefit. It might not benefit him personally.”

In business, there may be no promise at all. However, with Jesus, there is always a promise.

Rom 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

1 Peter 4:2 “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”

Bro Christo’s second point was, If you’re in the will of God, you won’t be fulfilling the lusts of your flesh. The will of God will sanctify you. Don’t think you can sin and somehow justify it as part of the will of God.”

The whole purpose of Jesus coming to die for you and me is to separate us from sin. He did the work on the cross, but we have to choose to live His way. If you want to do something that is sin, you can be sure that is NOT the will of God.

Another point is, “The will of God is an example for ignorant people.”

1 Peter 2:15 “For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”

“People will see in your life that you have changed for the better,” Bro Christo explained. “When you are in the will of God, it silences the silly things people might say about you. Your life will be a witness to the people around you, to the people that know you.”

Our theme for our church is Transformation. When we have an experience with Jesus, we are forever changed. Staying in the will of God affects the choices we make. We no longer choose to get drunk or do drugs or mess around before marriage. There is a light in the Christian that the world doesn’t understand, but they do see it.

Bro Christo talked about the fact that “Some people want to know the will of God by laying a fleece before the Lord. They get this from the story of Gideon. The pastor is the voice of God in your life. God placed you in this church under him.”

Heb 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

Jesus is a God of order and He placed people over you for a purpose, to bless you and teach you and to cause you to mature in Him. Don’t fight that. Submit. That’s the will of God.

Bro Christo said, ‘The will of God gives you purpose.”

2 Tim 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,”

God has a purpose and plan just for you! Being directionless is not His will. Ask Him and He will guide you. If you listen to Him, He will make it very plain.

Another point Bro Christo made is, “The will of God is not selfish.”

2 Cor 8:3-5 “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”

God created us to be the church to minister to one another. Jesus demonstrated serving over and over again when He walked this earth. Now, He walks this earth through His Spirit in you and me, again ministering to one another.

This point by Bro Christo is so precious: “The will of God will make you a child of God.”

Mark 3:35 “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

To be called His child, adopted into His family, bought through His shed blood is priceless. Bro Christo asked the question, ‘What is worth more than Jesus’ blood?’ The answer is: You. 

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Skip Christo.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

Posted in Excerpts from sermons by Skip Christo, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What Drives You? A Tale of 3 Items

Maybach ExceleroLast week, my husband, Charles Li, preached a sermon about what motivates you. What drives you, what do you cling to that causes you to do what you? It’s not bad to cling, just make sure you cling to Jesus and not your own will.

Charles began with, “The church doesn’t exist for the members. The members exist for the church. What makes a drug addict redeemed and set free by the power of Jesus Christ? It’s because of a power that has apprehended him. He has become a servant of righteousness.

A famous missionary once said, ‘I don’t have the gifts, the gifts have me.’ It’s the same with God’s Spirit. You don’t have the Spirit, the Spirit has you! You are not your own, you are bought with a price. God has you. You have a purpose, and your presence in the body of Christ is important.

Taking an honest look at myself, I have to wonder just how well the church has me, how much the Spirit has me. Am I driven by discerning His will and acting on it? Do I take responsibility for checking my own spirit and making sure it lines up with His? The good news is, if not, I can get lined up in an instant.

He continued, “I have three objects that I want to compare tonight. Object number one, the brand new Disney Princess Carriage that arrived suddenly at the LoCascio’s house. Number 2: a common computer printer. And Number 3 will be a surprise. All three of these objects have a specific design. And all three of these need drivers.

The girls recently received a little play jeep that resembles Cinderella’s carriage. It is motorized, it is pink and awfully cute. It has a 24v rechargeable lead-acid battery under the hood, which gives enough power to go from 0-5 mph in less than 2 seconds. It has a 2-speed transmission, plus reverse. It has a cute purple light-up-able steering wheel, sports a carriage top, battery operated side lanterns, a removable tiara, side curtains, and a plastic magic wand that turns the lights on when you wave it. However, as beautiful and wonderfully accessorized as it is, in their splendor and glory integrated into this jeep, without a driver, the thing sits in their garage.

None of the items listed in the description can drive it.  All of these things determine its size, shape, how many passengers it can carry, how fast it can go, they are all a part of the design. But you need a person to drive it.”

Each person is like a car with his or her own unique personality, likes and dislikes, height, weight, hair and eye color, taste. Our God has created mankind as quite wonderful. However, when left to his own devices, man can be terrible. We need a better driver. We need a Savior and a Lord.

Charles said, “You could have a Lamborghini, or a Porsche, or even an S-Class “Maybach” model Mercedes, described as a private jet for the road, starting price of $166,200 without adding more bells and whistles. It won’t matter how great of a car it is if a bad driver takes it and crashes it into a very large tree.

The point is, in the case of The Princess Carriage or the Mercedes, the driver is of utmost importance. If the Carriage or the Mercedes gets crashed and broken, it will not be able to function, and in this case, it will be directly the fault of a bad driver. YOU NEED A GOOD DRIVER.”

My husband talked about a computer printer next. “Everyone knows what a printer looks like, but did you know printers have drivers? Whenever you plug in a new printer to a computer, a little notification pops up on the computer and says, ‘Installing drivers.’ Some printers come with aCD-ROMM that you load into the computer to install the drivers. What does a driver do on a printer? It allows whatever type of computer you have, with whatever type of operating system, to transfer the image to be printed in a way the printer understands, so the digital image can be transcribed onto paper. Without the right driver, you will have a dysfunctional printer. A big mess might come out on paper instead of the beautiful picture or words you are trying to print. Or the printer might not work at all. The driver is made up of multiple lines of code, but if any of these is messed up, the printer might print only partially, or the whole thing might not work.

I don’t know about you, but I would like my life to ‘print out’ the way it’s supposed to, the right way, the way the Creator intended. That involves me submitting to His coding.

Lastly, my husband talked about Exhibit C, a young man named Robby. “Just like the Mercedes (I didn’t think he’d like to be compared to the Disney Princess Carriage), he would be considered a fine specimen of a human being, and quite the eligible bachelor. Robby was a high school wrestler and football player, could probably drop and give me 60 pushups on command, and soon will be off to college. He is feeling a call into ministry, so young ladies, you might want to put Robbie on that mental ‘young eligible bachelors to watch over the next few years list,’ if ya know what I mean.

Now, like the computer printer, this fine specimen of a human being has a driver, with multiple lines of code. Here is the correct driver, with all the instructions, a Bible. How does it get downloaded?”

Ezekiel 36:27 “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

“The Holy Spirit is the channel through which the Word of God is downloaded into your heart and activated into your life.”

Heb 8:10-12 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

We have made a covenant with the Lord through baptism in Jesus’ Name. If you have a problem, God will be there. Just as a wife will come get her husband when his car won’t start, even if he doesn’t feel like she will or if he has a headache. She’ll be there because they have a covenant and she loves him. God’s love is the same way.

“But what if this fine specimen of a human being, a very eligible young bachelor, has the wrong drivers installed? Fear, hopelessness, loneliness, etc. There are scars on his arm to prove that even a fine young specimen of a human being with the wrong drivers can lead to varying states of dysfunction.”

Isa 53:4-5 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

1Co 6:19-20  “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

You are more precious than the blood of Jesus. You are well loved and precious and worth dying for.

My husband closed with, “There’s a lot of good drivers in the Bible to be downloaded into your spirit. Here’s some:”

Gal 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

Instead of trying to force the fruit, let God’s fruit have you. Exchange fear for God’s love and peace. Exchange despair for joy. Exchange frustration for longsuffering and patience. Exchange anger for gentleness and goodness. Exchange arrogance and selfishness for meekness. Exchange selfishness for temperance (self-control). 

Charles added that it is important to truly make the exchange. Don’t try to have both peace and frustration. They don’t co-exist well. Anger and joy don’t go well. Love and fear? Not so much.

Allow Jesus to help you make the exchange fully. He loves you. He is love. Trust Him to get rid of those things completely and follow His lead. Let Him drive. Jesus is the Best Driver. He not only knows the way, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Charles Li.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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Renew Your Mind

12174933486_5931e9107c_bFaith takes place between your ears and gets walked out by your feet. Even though you’re a sinner, Jesus died for you, He loves you, He changed you.

When you present yourself to God, you get transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Freedom is found in God’s presence, freedom from past mistakes, from current problems, from an uncertain future. However, this freedom takes submission. You have to give up your will and seek the Lord’s will for you. Instead of believing whatever thought comes into your head, take the Word of God, the Bible as your source of truth and live and walk out that.

Pastor LoCascio says, “You are NOT what the devil says you are. You are NOT what you say you are. You are NOT what other people say you are. You are what God says you are!

“Stop listening to foolish lies. God doesn’t want to destroy you. He cares for you. Sometimes, you think He’s asleep on the boat and you say, ‘wake up, don’t you care?’”

The truth is, of course He cares. Things may not work out the way you think they should, but that’s okay, because if you let Him, He’ll work things out even better than you could imagine.

Heb 11:1,6 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Don’t walk by what you see, but walk by what you know! It’s a fight! You may be losing the battle, but the war is not over!

This is tough for most people. We want to believe in what we can see. Faith is hard to develop. Trust is not easily given. Yet, God promises He will reward your faith. He will bless your choice to trust in Him. Of course, God is God and you can’t force Him to do things your way, but you can trust Him to do things better than what you could come up with!

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

Pastor LoCascio explains further, “Jesus talked about seeds that fell on thorny ground. Thorns are the cares of this life, stuff that gets in your mind. No fruit ever grows.

Peter said to take your worries, your thoughts, the cares and struggles of life, the stuff that you’ve done, the issues that choke the Word of God and deal with it, don’t dwell on it. That is not what faith is about. God is greater than your worries, your thoughts, your cares and struggles, even your past. If you allow your mind to dwell on your these things, you become prey to the devil.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be prey for the devil! To be honest, I’ve allowed it far too often in my life. When your feelings rear up, it’s so easy to believe them and to make really poor decisions based on false assumptions. The solution is faith, trusting God’s way more than my own. How many times have I fallen before I finally let go? Too many, but He never gives up!

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

This is our work, your work and mine. God won’t think for us. He wants us to learn to be responsible, to grow, to mature. There is a peace that passes all understanding, but that only comes through consistent walking by faith.

Pastor LoCascio says, “The key to resisting the devil is faith! God is more than enough. He will provide all of your needs. He is a healer.

It takes faith to hear God.”

1 John 5:4 “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

“It’s not a one-time thing, it’s continual overcoming by faith.

Keep fighting! Keep fighting! Keep fighting!

We have victory over serpents and scorpions. Serpents strike with their heads, scorpions with their tales. Heads or tails, we have the victory!”

That is easier to read than to put into practice, but just as consistently practicing any instrument, you will see progress, so it is with walking by faith.

Pastor continues, “You MUST have the mind of Christ! You must put on the Helmet of Salvation. You can’t prevent birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest. You can’t prevent crazy thoughts from coming into your head, but you can KICK them out!”

Phil 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Teach yourself, train yourself to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold onto eternal life!

Heb 10:38-39 “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

“Don’t shrink back like a coward. The fearful will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. You who are cowardly and worrisome, because you’ve allowed the battle to overwhelm you, you can’t please God.”

Your situation may seem hopeless, but God can handle anything. Nothing is too hard for Him and it gives Him glory to work on your behalf. He enjoys doing great things for you!

Heb 13:5-6 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

“Your doubt and worry anger the Lord.”

Be bold! God will never leave you. Believe it!

“Every time the king of Syria planned an attack on Israel, his plans were always revealed by the prophet Elisha. That made the king really angry. So, he sent an army to get Elisha to kill him. Elisha had a servant (not Gehazi). He saw the army coming and got really scared. He shook Elisha and woke him, ‘Look at the enemy approaching! What should we do?’ Elisha said, ‘Fear not. There is more with us than there are against us.’ The servant saw the many and counted only him and the prophet. Elisha asked God to open the eyes of his servant, to walk not by sight, but by faith.”

2 Corinthians 4:18 “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Cor 5:7 “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)”

God will honor faith!

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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In the Moment, What Will You Choose?

Psalm 27:1-5 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked,Depressed Business Man by David Castillo Dominici even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”

These are some of my favorite verses of Scripture. I love verse 4 especially, but I have to ask myself, are these merely beautiful words or is this something I truly desire and choose to go after? It’s not just a pretty place, to dwell in the house of the Lord and to behold His beauty. This is a way of life, a seeking after His presence and a willingness to let go those things that hinder that.

Pastor Merritt says, “It’s not on the mountain top that true growth takes place. Growth takes place in the valley. It takes place in that pavilion of the secret place of the Most High, in the midst of the storm when God is standing by your side. When there is confusion, hurt, betrayal, pain, in that moment, you have the potential to see genuine growth in your life. You also have the potential to see death or setback. It’s all dependent on your response. You can grow or step back.”

“You can experience great life or debilitating failure. It all depends on how you react in the moment of confusion or brokenness or setbacks.”

Pastor Merritt continues, “As the people of the Name, you must begin to revolutionize your mind, your thinking of how you look at hardships and suffering and confusion and pain. Your reaction must be dictated by what you know in the Lord.”

It is at those times when your children or your coworker or your boss are jumping up and down on your last nerve or you get that surprise bill that you’re not sure how you’ll pay or you make the same mistake…again, that you must choose how you will respond in that moment. Will you yell at your children or simmer at your boss or coworker? Will you freak out at that bill? Will you beat yourself up because of your failings?

“Be lifted up and encouraged,” says Pastor Merritt. “You may be broken, but God sees beautiful. You may feel lonely, but God sees lovely. You may be petrified, but God sees perfection and potential. His view of your setbacks is not governed by emotionalism, but by what He knows. Jesus knows the end from the beginning.”

Psalm 61:1-3 “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”

There is a story the prophet Nathan told David about a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had plenty, but the poor man had only a little lamb. The rich man had a visitor and he didn’t want to give of his abundance, so he took the poor man’s lamb. The poor man looked on that lamb as his own child. When David heard what the rich man did, he said he should pay it back and be stoned. Nathan said, ‘You are the man.’

Pastor Merritt explained, “Previously, David had committed several sins. At this moment in pain and confusion David had to choose either life or death. He probably began to recall those sins that brought him to this point. He probably thought about a rebuttal or excuse to get him out of that uncomfortable situation. However, he did not give a rebuttal or an excuse. Instead, he replied, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan prophesied that the child would not live but die. David neither ate nor drank from that day until several days later when the child died. Then, David went into the temple and worshiped. Theologians believe he wrote the 27th Psalm at that time.”

Because of your poor choices or someone else’s poor choices, your next move will bring either life or death into your situation. Know the sacrifices of God, a broken and a contrite heart He will not despise. Although David sinned and failed, he knew that God would show Himself mighty and strong.

One thing I’m coming to terms with is the fact that conflict is a part of life. God will use it to help me grow to be more like Him, but I have to submit to that. It is up to me how I respond in those situations, whether they are from poor choices or habits I’ve chosen or because of what someone else has done. Truly, I have no control at all. It is only through allowing God to be God in my life that I can experience that ‘peace that passes all understanding’. God WILL show Himself mighty and I WILL grow if I allow Him to do that work in my heart and mind.

When you are broken and confused, it is of the utmost that you do what David did and get into the presence of God and let Him do a work on your heart. Pastor Merritt warns, “It would be the devil’s greatest desire for you to take it upon yourself to try to get out of that pain. If you pull yourself from that surgery too early, you will be a detriment to yourself and no use to anyone else.”

His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Pastor Merritt received a word picture from the Lord, “this church is like a ‘well-oiled machine.’ God wants to revive and restore. He wants to bring life so you can be a blessing to yourself and everyone around you. A machine’s parts must each do its part, moving together.” 

2 Cor 12:9-10 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

The woman caught in adultery, Jesus refused to condemn. It was in the presence of Jesus that her life was changed. She stopped that sin and allowed His mercy to change her life.

You must allow God to do what He wants to do. Without your willingness, you will not receive your victory. It’s in the moment of brokenness and confusion that (if you choose to trust Him) God will work a miraculous change in your life.

Psalm 16:11 “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

It is that awful moment where you must choose either to trust the Lord or attempt to fix it yourself. Attempting to fix it yourself will lead to destruction.

‘Encourage yourself in the Lord.’ David did that. Wrap yourself in God. Seek Him. Your answer is in the Presence of God.

Mat 11:28-30 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Liberty (and joy and peace) is available to you, but you must wrap yourself in God.

Isaiah 10:27 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”

If there is suffering and hurt in your life, if there is brokenness, God wants to heal you. Your answer is in His Presence.

It is more than merely believing that God will take of you. You must get into His presence. Seek Him. Listen to Him. Walk with Him. Quiet yourself and reach for Him. Then, you will find that rest, that peace, that leading, that direction, that assurance.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (emphasis mine).

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Steven Merritt, missionary to New Zealand.

For the full YouTube audio/video, click here.

If you are looking for an Apostolic Pentecostal church and are in the Chicagoland area, come check out The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

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