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Beyond the Series: Finding Purpose and Identity in God

Beyond the Series: Finding Purpose and Identity in God

Knowing that we were made in the image of God changes a lot about how we live our lives. In this article, Pastor Paolo Punzalan shares his thoughts on what it means to be created in God’s image and how we can find our real identity and purpose in the Lord.

 

What does it mean to be created in the image of God?

We were told in Genesis that we were created in His image and likeness. Human life has intrinsic value right from the beginning because we were created not in the image of the angels or any other created beings, but of God Himself.

God created everything else by His Word. But with man, He fashioned them with His very hands. He took mud from the ground with His bare hands and breathed life into man’s nostrils. That, in itself, shows how precious and valuable we are in His eyes.

 

How did the knowledge of God’s design change the way you live your life?

I was raised in a single-parent home. My parents separated before I turned one year old. I grew up without a father, and the first time I saw him was when I was sixteen years old. Because of this, I grew up with a lot of accusations, insecurities, and negative thoughts. I wondered if it was because of me that my parents separated; I questioned my value and worth. Wanting to make up for those feelings, I tried to gain people’s approval by performing well and excelling in athletics and academics. I had feared rejection so much that I became a people pleaser. I lived a life of performance.

But everything changed when I came to know Christ.

I was 17 when I encountered Him, but the understanding of His image in me was something that I had to learn over time. It was actually the growing knowledge of my salvation that helped me understand more who God created me to be. It was through Christ that I got to know God’s intent, purpose, and design for my life.

As God was redeeming and restoring me, I was also starting to find a greater sense of worth, value, and purpose—a greater sense of intentionality in living my life. I realized that I was called to demonstrate and express the glory of God because I was created in His image and likeness. As I live my life now, I make sure that I do it according to His design, purpose, and intent every single day.

 

How did you find God’s purpose for your life?

It all started with me wanting to get a sense of worth and value. When I was in college, my aim was to get a job that would give me a sense of significance in life, so I took up premedical studies. I wanted to be a neurosurgeon not because I wanted to help people, but because I wanted to get a greater sense of purpose. My identity was attached to that.

Since my late mother was in broadcast media, I grew up being referred to as “the son of Helen Vela.” Hoping to get away from that, I initially endeavored to find a job that would help me find my own niche—I wanted to make a name for myself.

But that wasn’t God’s plan; He was calling me to something else.

When my mom passed away, my sister and I had to take over our family’s production business. I could not go to medicine proper anymore. Somehow, I already knew at that time that I was being called to the ministry, but I still continued to help my sister run our business. I thought I would be happy and content to just serve and volunteer in church.

In 1997, however, I went to Russia as a volunteer missionary. God spoke to me during that trip and told me that my identity is not based on anything here on earth. Surprisingly, when I came back from Russia, I was asked to work full-time as a pastor. I could not say yes right away. There was a struggle because I was placing my purpose and identity in the wrong places. I then prayed to God and told myself that I would just try it for three months. Now, I have been a pastor for 11 years.

It has been more than a decade, but every day I make an effort to remind myself of the call and purpose that God has placed in my life—of my identity in the Lord.

 

 

We were all made in the image of God, by His design, and for a specific purpose. There is no need for us to look for our worth and value in other places. We can be secure in the knowledge that He fashioned us in His likeness and that we are His. Our identity can only be found in Him.


Pastor Paolo Punzalan serves as the senior pastor of Victory Fort. He is a former missionary to Russia and has ben serving in full-time ministry as a Kids’ Church pastor and lead pastor for over a decade. He has been married to Jenn for 23 years. They have four children—Nathan, Janina, Ryan, and Joaquin.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors on topics related to our sermon series.

Beyond the Series: Fulfilling God’s Mission

Beyond the Series: Fulfilling God’s Mission

For the past two weeks, we have been talking about God’s mission—His heartbeat. In this article, we have interviewed Pastor Carlo Ratilla about how he was called by God to go to the nations and serve in the mission field.

Being Called to the Mission Field

It was around October of 1984 when I knew in my heart that God was calling me to be a missionary. I was a new Christian when I was filled with so much love from God and the passion to serve Him just swelled in my heart. At that time, I felt that the best way to serve Him was to reach out to young people like me.

I took a bold step by committing to preach the gospel without really knowing how to do it. All I had then was the desire to spread His Word. At first, I would just go with a friend, knock the door for him, and let him share the gospel. I would just sit beside him, watch him as he preached, and take notes so I would learn how to do it as well. Eventually, I learned the ropes, and God gave me the courage to boldly share His goodness. Afterward, I started knocking on our neighbors’ doors, riding buses, and doing mimes on the streets just to let people know about Jesus.

When I learned how to preach the gospel, the desire to go overseas to spread His Word just grew in my heart. However, as a Cebuano who only knew how to speak Bisaya and Tagalog, it seemed like an impossible thing for me to do.

Knowing for sure that God was calling me to missions, I started learning how to speak the language by engaging with foreign missionaries. I would always ask them to spend some time with me after dinner so they could teach me how to speak English. I continued to pray to God, and one day, God surprised me by giving me a permanent English tutor—a lifelong partner. He introduced me to Sandra, my wife, who helped me master the language so I could reach out to more people here and abroad. Soon, I found myself doing missions in Sweden, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the US. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve God and be used by Him in these countries.

Passing the Baton to Future Missionaries

After years of doing missions, I went back to the Philippines to focus on my family. At that time, I thought I was done serving Him in the nations. But God had a different plan.

One day, one of our pastors talked to me and asked me to serve as a discipleship pastor in one of our Metro Manila locations and eventually join the Missions Team. I prayed about it and trusted God that wherever He was leading me, He would use me mightily. I said yes to His call and since then, I have been mentoring young missionaries and their families. Seeing them grow in faith and go to the nations to spread the gospel made me realize that, indeed, I was not yet done serving the Lord through missions.

Being a missionary is a privilege and a big responsibility. I always remind those who have a heart to serve God in a cross-cultural setting to involve themselves in their local church as early as now and do whatever it takes to know the ins and outs of the ministry. I always tell them that even if things are not yet clear and we do not see the full picture yet, we should go in faith and allow the Lord to reveal His plans for us.

“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

We are part of God’s mission and we are all invited to participate right from the very beginning. Let us continue to pray, give, and go as we do our part in spreading His glory throughout the earth through His church.

 


Pastor Carlo Ratilla serves in our Missions Team, ensuring the health and strength of our missionaries and churches. He has been married to Sandra for 30 years and continues to serve God with his children—Chloe and Justin.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors on topics related to our sermon series.

Beyond the Series: Living a Spirit-Empowered Life

Beyond the Series: Living a Spirit-Empowered Life

For the past weeks, we have been talking about making room for the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we end our fast today, may we continue to seek the Holy Spirit in everything we do. We have interviewed Pastor Jojo Henson to encourage us to live by the Spirit every day.

What does a Spirit-empowered life look like?

There were three key words in Acts 1:4-8. The first one is wait, the second one is receive, and the third one is witness. I realized those three things–wait, receive, and witness–are a cycle of empowerment, because these three things are the ongoing practice that make up a Spirit-empowered life.

To wait is to “make room” in order to allow the Holy Spirit to empower and speak to us. To receive is to “be the room” for God’s power to move in and through our lives. And the last one, to witness, is “getting out of your room” — which means stepping out of your comfort zone, and in turn, making an impact in our world.

A Spirit-empowered life is a cycle of waiting, receiving, and witnessing.

In the book of Luke, you’ll notice that the disciples were all in one room when they were waiting for the gift of the Father, which is the promised Holy Spirit. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit, they could no longer stay in that room. They had to go out into the streets where people could hear them preach the gospel. In other words, they had to get out of their room. It started with them waiting and making room for the Spirit of God, being the room to receive what God gives, and getting out of the room to go where the Spirit of God leads.

A Spirit-empowered life is a cycle of waiting, receiving, and witnessing. It’s always the three. It’s like baseball: somebody throws the ball, then you hit the ball and go to the first base, second base, third base, and so on. In our life with God, it’s like that. You have to go through all the bases. But you must first wait for the ball to be pitched. In the story I mentioned earlier, God commanded the disciples to wait. It’s so important for them to wait in order for them to move on. A Spirit-empowered life involves a lifestyle of waiting, receiving, and witnessing and going. You can’t go without the three. They always go together.

What does that look like in daily life?

Waiting on a personal level is seen in your devotions, the discipline of reading the Word and prayer. The receiving side is when God speaks to us, when He gives us a specific word. But what do we do with that specific word? Obedience—this is the going. A Spirit-empowered life starts by waiting on the Lord and asking, “Lord, where do you want me to go? Who do you want me to talk to?” As we practice this, it becomes second nature, so we are constantly in tune with his voice.

A Spirit-empowered life starts by waiting on the Lord and asking, “Lord, where do you want me to go? Who do you want me to talk to?”

There was this time when I was on a plane. I had just finished a weekend of ministry and looked forward to finally catching on sleep. And God answered my prayer by putting an empty seat between me and the man I shared the row with. Or so I thought, because the man kept trying to start a conversation with me. I kept cutting him off, but as I did, the Holy Spirit interrupted my thoughts and gave me personal details about the man, that he was separated from his wife and missed his kids. So I silently prayed and asked God what he wanted me to do about the information. “Pray for him.” I then dutifully introduced myself as a Christian and asked, “Can I pray for you?” He said, “Sure!” So I prayed a simple and direct prayer and said, “Lord, I pray that you bless this man. Lord, whatever difficulty he has with his family, you understand it. You know the issue with his wife and he misses his family. Lord, help him go through this difficult time.” I opened my eyes and he was weeping. I thought then for sure that I was off the hook and could sleep, but he went on to show me pictures of his family. He said, “I thought that God forgotten me, but because of your prayer, I know now that God still cares for me. I had stopped going to church but I now intend to go back.”

Wait on the Lord. Hear Him speak. Go and do what He says. That’s a Spirit-empowered life. You’ll see these three always in Scripture. In the Old Testament, David inquired of the Lord. He waited on the Lord, then the Lord gave him instructions and he went. You’ll also find the same thing in Jesus’ life and ministry. You’ll find in Scripture that He’ll go to a mountainside to wait, then the Lord would speak to Him, then he’d go. Wait, receive, witness.


Pastor Jojo Henson serves Victory nationwide, as well as in Victory Makati and Victory Bacolod. He is happily married to Ida, and they have five children—Jon, Jenny, Joe, Joaquin, and Sabina. They also have a daughter-in-law named Chrina and a grandchild named Chloe.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series.

Beyond the Series: Responding to Poverty in the Nation

Beyond the Series: Responding to Poverty in the Nation

One of the most prevalent social issues in the Philippines is poverty. As Christians, we cannot turn a blind eye to this matter because God called us to proclaim and demonstrate the gospel to the poor and marginalized, just as Jesus did.

After encouraging us to be in faith in the first part of the interview, Bishop Juray Mora shares how Christians can deal with poverty in the nation.

 

How should Christians respond to poverty in the nation?

The gospel is the solution. Some of the poverty we face is because of structures created by greed. One way to deal with that is to see a person’s heart regenerated through the power of the gospel. That’s still the ultimate solution.

The gospel is
the solution.

Another solution is a challenge for us to be generous in the way we live and help. I’m not just talking about finances, but also being generous in showing concern and compassion, and in every area of life.

The challenge for our own family is the people who help us in our home, our house help. The question is, “How can we be generous to this person’s family? How can we help them in a way that the next generation, their own children, will not have to be in this same situation of poverty?” Sometimes, we get overwhelmed. We think we can’t do much because of the prevalence of poverty in our nation. But we can do something, starting in our own home, through our house help. We tend to hide behind legalities, thinking of the legal minimum wage in our country. But as Christians, we must ask instead: “Lord, what is Your will? She’s working for me. She’s a blessing. How do You want us, as a family, to bless her in return and help her family?”

Helping one person
at a time can make
a difference.

Connecting with ministries that have the expertise, knowledge, and infrastructure to help the poor in our nation is another way. We may support such ministries financially or with our time and effort. Sometimes, we don’t give because we feel embarrassed with the amount we can donate. We have to get rid of the mentality that says, “What I can give is too small.” Regardless of how little our money is, God will use it. Besides, if you pool it together with like-minded people who want to help, then the impact will be bigger.

Just be sensitive. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you. You can start in your own home or neighborhood. If you don’t have house help, search for people in your neighborhood that you could start helping. It maybe the guy who keeps buying your old newspapers and empty bottles. There’s always a place to start. You don’t have to win the whole world all at once. Helping one person at a time can make a difference.


Bishop Juray Mora oversees our pastors as the director of Victory Ministers Association. He also serves as a preacher in Victory Ortigas. He has been married to Deah for 27 years, and they continue to believe God for greater things with their six kids—TJ, Iya, Sophia, Juliana, Celina, and Raymund.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors on topics related to our sermon series. Read the first part of the interview here.

 

Beyond the Series: Faith and Generosity in Every Situation

Beyond the Series: Faith and Generosity in Every Situation

The church has always been an important part of God’s mission to reach the poor and helpless. Yet people in the church often go through times of testing. Can we still reach those in need when we ourselves are experiencing setbacks from lending a helping hand?

In this interview, Bishop Juray Mora talks about being generous in times of testing and in times of abundance.

Can we bless others in any situation?

In times of testing, the purpose of God does not change. Even in times of abundance, the purpose of God does not change. We’re still called to be channels of God’s grace. It all starts with a desire to be used by God. God can still use us no matter how difficult our situation is. He can use us to be a blessing, proclaim the gospel, or reach out to someone, whether we’re on top of the world or whether we’re on the bottom.

In times of testing,
the purpose of God
does not change.
Even in times
of abundance,
the purpose of God
does not change.

How can we be in faith in times of testing?

Through years of reading Scripture, praying, and walking with God, I realized that the best way to respond to God is by faith. It’s through trusting God’s Word. If faith is not there, then I really don’t have a solution. This helped me realize that I should choose the path of faith. When my situation is overwhelming, I have a choice to trust someone who is bigger, more powerful, and more loving than anyone or anything I know.

The option to choose myself is always there, too. My limitations and incapacity are right before me always. Through the years, I experienced falling down many times, trying to find solutions my own way, and getting to a place of desperation where I already tried everything. In the past, I ended up praying, “Lord, sinubukan ko na. Wala talaga.” Then after getting to that point, I see God walk me out of the situation. He showed me why I had to go through the time of trying everything. But why not just go straight to God from the very beginning? You can ask Him for wisdom, strength, and solutions.

How should Christians respond to poverty?

The Scripture in 2 Corinthians ministers to me and challenges me. It talks about the Macedonian church. In trial and poverty, they still welled up in rich generosity.

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. (2 Corinthians 8:1,2)

That’s an encouragement and a challenge to you as well. Your poverty or trial is not a hindrance for God’s grace to flow through you and touch others. Sometimes, we have our eyes too much on ourselves, and we think it’s the end of the world. But when we start to look at others and allow God to use us, we begin to realize how blessed we are and how much God can still use us. When we allow God to use us as a channel of His grace, there will always be more than enough that will be left for our own needs. At least that’s my experience. That keeps me going despite the difficulty we are facing.

“Your poverty or trial
is not a hindrance
for God’s grace
to flow through you
and touch others.”

Many years ago, my wife and I realized how powerful it is to be used by God to help others in a time of financial difficulty. We decided to set aside a certain amount every week, then we would pray and ask God, “Lord, somebody needs help. Somebody may need this amount. Lead us. Show us who. Show us where. We’ll take it there.” When we don’t get any leading from the Lord that week, we double the amount the next week.

I’ll never forget a time when I met a pastor from another church in our city. He drove a pedicab during the day to augment his income because his church was really poor. One day, I knocked on his door at 7:30 a.m. after bringing my son to school. I gave him a certain amount of money, and he looked at me with a shocked expression. He said, “Pastor, I just finished praying. I just asked God for this amount so I could pay my electricity bill, which is about to be cut off.” When I realized that, I got so excited. I went home and told my wife. “We heard God, and He used us to be a blessing.”

It’s amazing that our needs are met the same way, without us telling anyone and advertising our needs. Some people would call, text, and show up to the house saying, “The Lord told me to give you this.” It’s amazing how God has provided for our needs as we allow God to use us as a channel as well.


Bishop Juray Mora oversees our pastors as the director of Victory Ministers Association. He also serves as a preacher in Victory Ortigas. He has been married to Deah for 27 years, and they continue to believe God for greater things with their six kids—TJ, Iya, Sophia, Juliana, Celina, and Raymund.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors on topics related to our sermon series.

Read the continuation of this interview here!

Beyond the Series: Truths on Suffering and Raising a Godly Family

Beyond the Series: Truths on Suffering and Raising a Godly Family

As the Wordview series comes to a close, we took time to sit down with Pastor Ariel Marquez of Victory Alabang to hear about the Word in action in his life. In this article, he shares his experiences from more than three decades of walking with God and reading the Word.

How did you learn to devote yourself to the Word?

I’m thankful that when I was a young Christian, there were disciples in church who taught me about the Word. It wasn’t just one pastor. Pastor Steve Murrell was the first one who sat down with me to disciple me, but there were also other people who taught me devotion to the Word. These include my friends from church who helped me and my brother Bernard how to read, journal, and devote ourselves to the Bible. That was my first experience of being devoted to the Word.

Can you share verses from Scripture that made a huge impact in your worldview?

“There is an assurance that you can go through life and have stability because of the Word.”

Psalm 1 is so meaningful for me. It starts with: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When it comes to looking at the world, the question is, “Where do I get my idea, my counsel, or my perspective?”

You’ll see two ways in this chapter—the way of the world and the way of the Word. The first way is a progression of destruction. It shows the pattern of people agreeing with the ways of the world. The Bible says in Romans 12 that we should not be conformed to the world’s ways.

The other way in Psalm 1 talks about one who meditates on the Word day and night, who is likened to a tree. When I heard this passage, I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be always fresh, flourishing, and bearing fruit. The picture in the psalm is a tree planted by streams of water. There is an assurance that you can go through life and have stability because of the Word. The promise in Psalm 1 helped me when we lost our son in 2003. It was one of the darkest moments in our family.

Our son, Jerome, got sick in October 2003. Two months after, he passed away. It was very quick because tuberculous meningitis is aggressive. We were in and out of the hospital for two months while our son had five surgeries. With all these things, you’ll definitely be shaken. It will shake you to the core. I had what I called a “faith quake.” At that time, I asked myself, “Who do I hang on to?” I’m so glad that the Word was there to sustain us. I have a strong wife, but situations like these test a marriage.

I know a couple who ended up going their separate ways because they couldn’t handle the pain of loss in a similar situation. In our case, it was really the Word that brought stability to our marriage. The book of Job helped me during that time. When Job lost everything, he said this statement, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Instead of Job blaming God, he blessed God. This became pivotal for us. We were a young couple in our early thirties then. Jerome was only eight years old, and Bea was almost twelve, but we were able to go through all that and still hang onto God’s promises. It helped us have a different perspective on suffering.

When people come into a relationship with God, blessings and eternal life are usually what they have in mind. Many expect a good life. Yes, that’s part of our relationship with God. Jesus said that He came to give us life and have it to the full (John 10:10). But, sometimes, people misinterpret this and think it means no more problems, no more sicknesses, and no more sufferings in life. Remember that Jesus Himself said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” It came from His mouth. The book of Job gives us a new perspective on suffering and encourages us that we can serve God in the midst of that. In suffering or pain, you can find your purpose. Jesus, the founder of Christianity Himself, went to the cross for us and suffered so much. Knowing these truths from the Bible helped me go through that difficult time.

“Suffering is part of the completion of our character in Christ.”

If ever a person or a family goes through a situation of suffering, don’t be surprised. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Suffering is part of the completion of our character in Christ. You can’t forge gold without fire. You can’t make a pot without going through heat. I think this is what I learned most from Job.

God is faithful. He won’t let you go through life without blessing. At the end of Job’s life, you can see the blessing of God. The story of Job gives you a holistic view of life. When we receive blessing, we praise God. When there’s none, we usually question God’s faithfulness. If you’re going through a good experience, you think God is good. What if you’re going through suffering or pain? Is God not good? The right answer is God is still good.

How do you devote yourself to the Word of God every day?

You have to find ways to make the Word fresh and like a novelty. I’ve been a Christian for 31 years. If you’re someone like me who has been reading the Word regularly, you have to find ways to be creative in reading it. When I start the year, I sometimes take on new Bible reading guides. I also buy a new version of the Bible. I just change the versions for my devotion. But for study, of course, I use the English Standard Version. I separate my study time for preaching from devotion time for myself. I study because I’m a pastor, and I read the Bible because I’m a Christian. That’s different. If I weren’t a pastor, I would still read and study the Word. Since I’m a pastor, I do both.

“The Word you’re reading right now will not only have an impact in your life. It will create a ripple effect in generations after yours.”

What inspires me? My children. Deuteronomy 6 tells us about impressing the Word on our kids. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  You’re not the only one who benefits from the Word you read. I know my kids will think, “Is my dad living it out?” This is my inspiration. My family is the one who is following my leadership. My children and the people I’m discipling continually inspire me to devote myself to the Word.

Whatever you have in your heart, impress them on others. The Word you’re reading right now will not only have an impact in your life. It will create a ripple effect in generations after yours. This is probably my main inspiration. If I fail in the home, no amount of success in the ministry can compensate for my failure. When it comes to the Word and love and passion for God, I would rather see my kids passionate for God first before the Victory group leaders in church. I always ask, “How’s my family? Are they walking with God? Are they loving the Word?” My home will validate my ministry.


Pastor Ariel Marquez is the senior pastor of Victory Alabang. He is happily married to Shirley, and they have three daughters—Bea, Anna, and Andrea.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series. For our Wordview series, we also sat down with Bishop Manny Carlos to talk about devotion to the Word.

Beyond the Series: Why Personal Devotion Is Essential to a Christian Life

Beyond the Series: Why Personal Devotion Is Essential to a Christian Life

For the past weeks, through our series, Wordview, we at Victory have been learning about the Word of God and how it shapes our worldview. In this interview, Victory chairman Bishop Manny Carlos shares how his worldview was personally shaped by the Word, and discusses how a daily habit of reading the Bible can transform lives the way that it transformed his.

Bishop Manny, what is a worldview?

“A worldview is the way you perceive and make sense of the world around you.”

A worldview is the way you perceive and make sense of the world around you. All of us grow up having a worldview. It’s a combination of what we’re taught in our families, our schools, our churches, and through our own experiences. A worldview is something that is developed over the course of one’s life and shapes one’s values. It is like a set of lenses through which you view life and reality. If you’re wearing sunglasses that have a yellow tint, everything you see will be tinted yellow. If you change the tint of your sunglasses to blue, then everything has a hue of blue. That’s what a worldview is. It’s a set of lenses that basically colors the way you see the world.

How did the Word of God shape your worldview?

The Word of God brings a counter-imagination to what is prevalent in the world. A biblical worldview enables you to see the world from God’s perspective. If we are to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to God, then we want to develop a biblical worldview, which is how God sees the world we live in.

“The Word of God does not just inform us or conform us to a standard. It has the power to transform our lives and change us into a whole new person.”

When I committed my life to Christ, I began to be exposed to the Bible. Yes, I started to go to church, but my thinking and values were not aligned to His Word in many ways. My worldview began to change as I read, meditated on, believed, and obeyed the Word. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The Word of God does not just inform us or conform us to a standard. It has the power to transform our lives and change us into a whole new person.

I experienced this, but it didn’t happen instantaneously. God changed my heart and desires. I used to live for my own dreams and visions, and I had my life pretty much planned out for myself. I wanted to be in the corporate world and succeed there. But as I devoted myself to the Word of God, I grew in my relationship with Him. Eventually, I heard the call of God to be a minister of the gospel. He changed my desire to live for my own dreams into desiring to live for His dreams.

The Word of God also changed the way I understood His purpose for relationships, such as marriage and family. It helped me prepare not just for the call of God in my life, but also to be a husband and a father who honors God. It also made me see my family as a great blessing. I learned that we can serve God together and fulfill His purpose, because God has purposes not just for individuals but also for families. The Word also helped me to see the church as a spiritual community, and that it is the instrument that advances His kingdom on earth. All of these things came from the Word of God. It changed the whole way I view my life. Apart from God’s Word, we will not understand His plan for humanity, society, and the world.

How did you develop a devotion to God’s Word?

Somebody taught me to live a life of prayer and meditating on the Word. I’m combining both because these are the main spiritual habits that God wants us to develop. Left to ourselves, we can’t develop either. We need others to model it for us.

The classic example of this is the disciples themselves. In the Bible, Jesus was approached by His disciples, who asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 

Prayer and meditating on God’s Word are not something you automatically learn by yourself. You need someone to help you. That is why discipleship is key to developing your devotional habits. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began by saying, “This is how you should pray.” He gave the model prayer. We learn not just by being informed, but by being mentored. When I began to walk with God, there were several people who helped me learn about prayer and reading the Word. These included my discipleship group leader, pastors, and friends. However, it is the Holy Spirit who will ultimately help us develop the habit and give us understanding of His Word, for He is our teacher who leads and guides us into all truth.

“Careful meditation leads to careful obedience, which brings success.”

I start my personal time with God by reading His Word. In my early years as a Christian, I read more than a chapter a day and used materials such as Bible reading calendars and Bible study guides like The Purple Book. When I didn’t know how to study the Bible by myself and was not yet familiar with the Word, these foundational books helped me. They helped me go through different Scriptures, and developed in me the discipline of writing Scripture down. Writing Scriptures helps you learn the habit of getting into the Word.

Over the course of time, I’ve been able to read through the Bible. I usually don’t finish the entire Bible in one year. I don’t read for the sake of reading. I read to reflect and meditate. Meditation enables the Word to take root in your soul and in your mind. Careful meditation leads to careful obedience, which brings success.

Why should we devote ourselves to God’s Word?

“The reason we engage with the Word of God is to grow in our relationship with Him.”

God wants to have a relationship with you. That’s the starting point. God already took the initiative to bring you to Him. He already made the effort to draw you near. God wants to commune with you, and desires to teach you and instruct you in His ways. A relationship with God is the motivation. He wants to communicate with us and reveal His will for our lives. This is why reading the Word is not an obligation.

In devoting yourself to the Word, you can’t read without praying. You can’t pray without reading. God’s Word propels you into communion with Him. The Word of God is more than the renewing of the mind. It helps us to be spiritually nourished and strengthened to walk in faith and obedience to His Word, enabling us to fulfill His purpose for our lives. When you commune with God through prayer, He often brings back to remembrance that which you have read in His Word. He communicates with you, and you communicate with Him. The reason we engage with the Word of God is to grow in our relationship with Him.


Bishop Manny Carlos is the chairman of Victory, a church with multiple locations in Metro Manila and over ninety churches in the provinces.

Beyond the Series is a set of interviews with Victory pastors dealing with topics related to our sermon series. For our Wordview series, we also sat down with Pastor Ariel Marquez to talk about devotion to the Word; be sure to visit our website next week to read his interview.