Beyond the Series: Grace to Sacrifice

Beyond the Series: Grace to Sacrifice

Following Jesus requires denying ourselves and taking up our cross. In this article, Pastors CJ and Mye Nunag share their thoughts on how to embrace a life of obedience and sacrifice.

 

Was there a point in your life where you had to make a big sacrifice to follow God?

PASTOR CJ: Life, generally—in light of following Jesus—is comprised of making sacrifices. But these are not sacrifices caused by sin or disobedience. It’s just that, at some point, there are preferences that we have to let go of for the sake of following Christ.

Years ago, I shifted vocations to follow Jesus. Initially, the plan was for me to become a medical doctor. Everything had already been laid out, including the resources, but I decided to give that up when I was called to serve the Lord and do full-time ministry.

Even until now, there are still sacrifices that I make every day in order to follow Christ. (Like when God prompts me to give more even after I have been faithful in giving.) But obviously, all of these pale in comparison to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. All of these are nothing compared to what He has done for us.

PASTOR MYE: Sometimes, we feel like we are making sacrifices because we are giving up the things that we want, but in reality, we are simply embracing what God wants for us.

There was a time in the past wherein, just like CJ, I thought I had it all figured out. I was supposed to go to law school when God started calling me to a different path.

Even before I became a Christian, I had always wanted to be part of a change in our nation. I thought the best way to do that was to help create laws for the betterment of our country. So I thought I could work in a government office as a lawyer. However, even if it was a noble desire, it wasn’t what God wanted me to do—He wanted me to do full-time ministry. I could have been successful pursuing that career, but I couldn’t have lived with the fact that I was not at the center of God’s will.

 

How do you continue to respond in faith when troubles come?

PASTOR CJ: We find the grace to sacrifice because our Savior sacrificed for us first. Most of the time, it doesn’t feel like we’re making sacrifices anymore, because God is giving us so much grace to do it.

PASTOR MYE: Personally, knowing that God has gone ahead of me as I go through whatever situation gives me the strength to face it. I know I just have to move forward, trust Him, and hold on to His grace as I go to where He wants me to be. There will always be challenges when we follow Christ, but knowing that I’m at the center of His will keeps me grounded in faith.

PASTOR CJ: Responding in faith is really about moving forward and learning how to trust God despite difficult situations. So when there are things that I don’t understand, I take time to reflect and talk to people, confirm with scripture if possible, then take the next step even if things are still a bit vague. I take time to slow down if necessary, but I still continue moving forward.

PASTOR MYE: I guess, the more we move in faith and have a revelation of who God is, the more we become willing to sacrifice. We realize that there’s nothing we cannot lay down before His feet. There’s nothing we can’t give up for Him.

 

Indeed, there’s nothing better than following Christ and being at the center of His will. In the end, it is always worth it to live a life of obedience and faith.

 


Pastor CJ and Pastor Mye serve in our church in U-Belt. They have been married for fifteen years and are blessed with two children—Samuel and Elle.

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

Even When It’s Hard

Even When It’s Hard

Following Jesus means no turning back—even when things are hard. In this story, Ponce shares how God gave him the strength to continue walking with Him as his wife, Rochelle, battles with her disease.

In 2013, my wifeRochelleand I went back to the Philippines. We used to work abroad in the Middle East, but due to sudden changes in government policies, our company had to close down. We came back to our country with nothing.

Exactly a year ago, Rochelle was diagnosed with colon cancer. We didn’t know what to do. We just lost our jobs so we had no financial means to support her operation and medical treatments. We felt so helpless; we just prayed and cried out everything to God.

While we were clueless on what to do, an aunt based in the United States sent us the money we needed for Rochelle’s operation. I knew it was God answering our prayer. My wife immediately underwent surgery, but the operation wasn’t successful. The doctor told us to go back after three to six months for another surgery, but until now, she hasn’t gone back yet due to financial challenges in our family.

Rochelle and I are both Christians. Her father was a pastor (who died of cancer) and we both grew up in Christian homes. Despite that, it’s still so hard to continue trusting God every time I see my wife in pain. I would ask God so many times why it had to happen to us. Our daughter, who is just six years old, would often do the same as well. She would bombard me with questions about Rochelle, and I would be at a loss for words. It’s not easy to be a devoted father to my daughter and a strong husband to my wife. Sometimes, I just want to give up. But God always draws me back to Him and makes me realize that He is sovereign through it all.

I can always put my faith in Him—even when problems are trying to break me apart.

Last month, right after the prayer and fasting week, God made sure that I would continue walking with Him despite our situation. He surrounded me with people who would always pray for and with me. He also gave me a Victory group that encouraged me to serve again in church as part of the technical and stage management ministry. I never thought I would be able to continue volunteering in church, but God took away my doubts and gave me strength.

No matter how hard things are right now in our family, our situation is not an excuse for me to give up or lose faith in God. There is always hope in Him. I know that He will always give me the strength and wisdom I need to handle what will happen—whether good or bad. He will always keep my heart strong.

Right now, my wife is still bravely battling with colon cancer. As she continues her fight with the disease, I am also fighting with her through prayer. Our God is a great God, and we believe that He has a plan and a purpose for whatever trial we are facing right now. We just need to continue walking with Him in steadfast faith.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

When things get hard, let us not forget that we are not alone. God is walking with us through every difficult situation. Let us always go back to the cross and press on.

Whatever It Takes to Follow You

Whatever It Takes to Follow You

Can we boldly trust God and do whatever it takes to follow Him? Be inspired as Jill shares how God gave her the courage to live according to His plan. Here is her story.

I grew up with my family in Quezon. When I turned 16, my aunt asked if I could temporarily stay with her in Parañaque. My mother was working in Bahrain at that time, while my father was also in Parañaque but living in a company-owned dorm for employees.

When my parents agreed, I transferred to a high school in Parañaque and worked part-time at the salon managed by my aunt. On my first day on my new campus, I immediately noticed that the students there were quite different from the students from my old high school. I was not yet a Christian then, so I easily became curious about all the new things I got introduced to and allowed myself to indulge in them. I entered into a relationship with a girl from my class and invested so much of my emotions in it.

Three years into that relationship, I got invited by an officemate to attend a worship service in a small community church. When I attended, I felt a joy I had never experienced before. But I also felt uneasy—because I knew I was not honoring God in the way I was living my life. While knowing God, deep feelings of guilt continued to creep up within me. I tried to get away from the things that are not pleasing to the Lord, but I kept breaking my resolve.

Then God made a way. I landed a job in Makati, which prompted me to move to my older brother’s place in that city. I learned that he and his friend were attending worship services at Victory Fort, so I asked them to bring me along one day. After a year, I prayed and asked God to give me the courage to completely close the door to the things that are not from Him and to take away everything that was preventing me from following Him. I knew it wouldn’t be easy—in fact, it would be very painful—but I still made a decision to let Jesus be my Lord once and for all.

Last year, God surprised me when I unexpectedly found the courage to let go of the things that were breaking His heart. I prayed and felt a different kind of peace knowing that I had already surrendered everything to Him.

On October 26, 2018, I went through Victory Weekend and thanked God for freeing me from all my sins and for empowering me to share this testimony. I am beyond grateful to the Lord for taking me out of a situation that was full of pain and guilt and for helping me walk with Him in faith. He pulled me from a pit I thought I could no longer get out of and made me realize that nothing, indeed, is too hard for Him. He took away every condemning thought and enveloped me with His grace. I denied myself the things I thought I wanted, but ended up finding myself whole and complete in His love—and that’s all I needed.

Currently, I am part of Victory Fort’s kids and prayer ministries and continuously allowing God to be Lord over my life.

”You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33)

Following God is not easy, but it is always worth it. May we faithfully do whatever it takes to obey God and live lives according to His will and purpose every day.

Not My Plans But Yours

Not My Plans But Yours

Eduardo is a doctor who recently opened his own clinic and finished his subspecialty training. After investing half of his life in training for his profession, he had been looking forward to formally starting his practice this year—but God seemed to have other plans.

I grew up in a Christian family. I used to tell myself before that there was no need for me to be highly involved in the ministry because I already know Christ. But, God had His ways; I was eventually connected to a Victory group in 2011 and started growing more in my walk with Him.

In 2015, I heard the pastor tell the congregation to pray for a nation. When I did, God had impressed in my heart a creative access nation in Asia. I didn’t understand and tried not to think much about it, but that prayer stayed in my heart.

I am an otorhinolaryngologist or an ENT specialist by profession. During years of toil and hardship, God would always carry me through and assure me that it was Him who brought me to where I am now. Last year, I finished my subspecialty training in plastic surgery and opened my own clinic. I was ready to reap the time and money I invested in my craft, when God, unexpectedly, started calling me to do something beyond my profession.

During one of our prayer and fasting meetings in Victory Malate this year, God placed in my heart a desire to go to the nations, particularly in a country that is deemed to be dangerous by many. But like what happened in 2015, I kept brushing aside the idea of being a missionary. I kept telling myself that maybe, God was just calling me to pray for the nations. I kept ignoring the desire He had placed in my heart.

Until one day, I talked to one of the leaders in our ministry and opened up about it.  I was told that going to the mission field is a process and I should not hastily decide on it. We prayed and after that, God revealed something to me.

While I was mulling over everything, God showed me the real condition of my heart—the real reason I didn’t want to obey His call. Unknowingly, the blessings He gave me became my priority. I was looking forward to my career and how it would impact my life and identity because I knew a lot of people were expecting big things from me this year. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I put more weight on the provision than the Provider. I placed my security on what I could achieve.

On the last day of our prayer and fasting week this year, God assured me that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion. He gave me peace as I focused on Him and waited for His plans to unfold. I realized that what I should really focus on is how I could serve God with all my heart—whether through my profession or through a “different mission” elsewhere.

And that’s what really matters.

Currently, I am helping a friend know God more through ONE 2 ONE, and doing it gives me a different kind of joy and fulfillment. Helping people through my profession gives me a similar feeling, but it’s different in many ways. It’s one thing to save someone from a physical death; it’s another thing to help someone be saved from an impending spiritual death. God truly changed my heart.

While I am waiting for God to send me to where He wants me to be, I resolve to continue honoring Him through what I do as a doctor and as a disciple willing to make more disciples. I am ready to obey and give up all that I have to follow Him; I will always choose His plans over mine.

“We may make our plans, but God has the last word.” ( Proverbs 16:1)

God’s plans for us are always bigger and better than what we have for ourselves. Allow Him to replace our plans with His. It is hard most of the time, but following His will is always worth it in the end.

Cross Check Series

Cross Check Series

Following Jesus does not guarantee an easy and trouble-free life. In fact, it requires denying ourselves and taking up our cross. As we face the reality of great challenges, we can put our great faith in our great God who will carry us through. In the next four weeks, we will look at the words of Jesus that serve as a cross-check to believers.

Here are the topics for each week:

  • Week 1: Self-Denial
  • Week 2: Hard Truth
  • Week 3: Path to Greatness
  • Week 4: Facing Troubles

As we check our hearts, may we be led back to the cross of Christ and allow it to help us embrace a life of sacrifice and obedience.

See you at our worship services in our churches across the Philippines!