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.

The God Who Restores

The God Who Restores

Offense is a word, an act, or a misdeed that lures you to harbor pain. Much of it is based on miscommunication and misinterpretations. When you clarify the intention and not merely judge by the action, or worse, what other people said, there is healing to be had.

In this blog entry, Victory Fort senior pastor Paolo Punzalan tells the story of two friends whose friendship was healed by God, showing how forgiveness is the reset button for any relationship, and how God is indeed the God of restoration.

Stop Giving Lip Service to Christianity

Stop Giving Lip Service to Christianity

In his blog post entitled, “You Don’t Believe In What You’re Saying,” Pastor Paolo Punzalan talks about the importance of practicing what we preach. As Christians, we need to live a life of integrity because we are living testimonies of the transforming love of Christ. Pastor Paolo quoted Matthew 23:3, “Pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach,” which is Jesus’ warning about religious leaders who don’t walk the talk. Pastor Paolo cautions us that outward appearances can be deceiving. Nevertheless, the fruit of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness—will always be evident in a person whose life is truly aligned with Christ—a Christian life that is not merely giving lip service to Christianity. It doesn’t mean we have to lead perfect lives, but it is important to always strive for Christlikeness. Being a Christian shouldn’t mean being adept at Christianity, or knowing the Bible from cover to cover, or knowing the right words to say. The word “Christian” should mean “changed by the

power of the gospel”—repenting of sin and receiving new life in Christ. It should mean, “walking to follow Jesus.”

Both Willing and Able

Both Willing and Able

As a father, I get various kinds of requests from my children from buying a toy to riding our bikes.  My heart is to do give what would be best for them at any given moment.  Fulfilling a promise is something I will move heaven and earth for so that they won’t end up disappointed and let down.

There are times that I am willing but for some reason unable because of current circumstance. I may be willing to ride our bikes with my 7 year old son, but if it’s raining hard, our current situation will hinder us from doing so.  On the other hand, the weather might be perfect but if I am not willing because of laziness or exhaustion, then my son will still end up disappointed.

The Bible shows us that God has both the ability and the willingness to follow through on His promises to us.  In Jeremiah 32:17, the prophet declares, “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”

Jeremiah was overwhelmed by this truth.  He makes a declaration about the greatness, majesty and magnificence of the Almighty God.  He then follows it up with two amazing realities.

1. GOD IS ABLE.

How does he know this? He declares His ability by expressing not only His Lordship over creation, but His power to create the heavens and the earth.

If you are facing an extremely difficult situation that may seem insurmountable, know that the God of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth, is more than able.

Do you ever wonder why the planets in our solar system stays in orbit?  The Bible says that “in Him, all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Now if God is able to run the solar system which is a million times more complex that the lives we live today, don’t you think He has the ability to run our lives?  The answer is a resounding “YES!”

2. GOD IS WILLING.

Jeremiah proclaims that God created the heavens not only by His power but also by His outstretched arms—a picture of God extending His desire to meet His people’s needs.

Jesus declares in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Because God is mighty, He is able to do all that He said He would.
Because God is our Father, He is willing to follow through on His promises.

God is both able and willing.  Because of that, I can live life with a smile on my face.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Past

Don’t Get Stuck in the Past

“Remembering the past can be funny when remembering fashion, but it can be not at all amusing when it involves life experiences.”

In this blog entry, Pastor Paolo Punzalan of Victory Fort identifies the heart behind choosing what to forget and what not to forget in a relationship, and identifies three types of experiences in the past that we should consider forgetting if they stop us from becoming everything that God wants us to be

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies

“Do not be surprised when your young child comes to you one day with a story that is completely not true.”

In this blog entry, Pastor Paolo Punzalan of Victory Fort shares three truths about lying that parents need to understand, so they, in turn, can address with integrity and love when they catch their children lying.

 

Imparting Wisdom to our Children

Imparting Wisdom to our Children

“As parents who have been entrusted with these amazing brains, how can we even help them if they know more about us? Smart doesn’t necessarily mean wise. Wisdom comes from experience. Wisdom is applied knowledge.”

In this blog entry, Pastor Paolo Punzalan of Victory Fort shares three things parents can do to impart wisdom to their children.

“Will God Follow Through on His Promise?”

“Will God Follow Through on His Promise?”

“The promises He released for each and everyone of us are as good as done.“

The Bible says that every promise God has for us is “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ. Pastor Paolo Punzalan reminds us of the truth of God’s faithfulness in this blog post.

“Later, You Will Understand.”

“Later, You Will Understand.”

“There are a lot of things in life we don’t see, for we only get the benefit of the now. But God sees the end from the beginning.”

God is sovereign through every situation in our lives, both the good and the bad. Learn more about this truth in Pastor Paolo Punzalan’s blog post, “Later, You Will Understand”.

Life Change is Not the Goal

Life Change is Not the Goal

“What happens on the inside will eventually show up on the outside.” Discipling others means bringing them closer to Jesus. Victory Fort pastor Paolo Punzalan reminds us that genuine life change comes from God, not from us. Check out his blog post!

Joy vs. Happiness

Joy vs. Happiness

“A lot of life is based on the decisions we make.”

What is the difference between joy and happiness? Know about it in Pastor Paolo Punzalan’s blog post, “Joy vs. Happiness”.

Lead to Leave

Lead to Leave

“If you go to the Scriptures, Jesus defined leadership differently. He said, ‘Leadership is serving.’” How do you define leadership? In this blog post, Pastor Paolo Punzalan shows us what it takes to be a true servant leader.

Forgetting God and His Words

Forgetting God and His Words

paolo-punzalanSometimes it is easy for us to forget about what God commands us, particularly with money. In this blog post by Victory Fort pastor Paolo Punzalan, discover the three things that we need to remember in light of God’s faithfulness. Check out his latest blog post, “Forgetting God and His Words.”

Investing in the next generation

Investing in the next generation

“If we don’t invest in the next generation, someone else will.”

Pastor Paolo Punzalan takes the Bible story of Hannah, mother of Samuel the prophet, and uses it to provide three things we can learn from her story to motivate us to invest in the next generation.

Read the full blog entry here.