Chapter 2:

The Crux of Faith in God

BEFORE STEPPING INTO one's purpose, an important prerequisite is faith in God. From time to time, you have heard people say, “Keep the faith and trust in God, all will be alright.” Normally this response is in times of trials, tests, and challenges, but what really is faith? The Hebrew equivalent for faith is Emunah. Emunah implies support, therefore we can count on the Lord’s support. The Bible says this about Emunah:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

(Hebrews 11:1, NIV)

Faith may also be defined as the substance or assurance of things we hope for but have not yet received. Additionally, it's the evidence of that which is not seen. In life, soon or later you come to the acceptance and realization that there are inexplicable things, there are questions whose answers will never be known, there are things out of a person's control, as well as reach, and there are things that cannot be stopped from happening. You know why? God and only God knows. A person must let God be God, which is premised on faith.

When my mom passed away, I struggled to come to terms with the loss. While she was still ill, I prayed to God for her recovery. I couldn't wrap my head around her diagnosis of esophageal cancer that followed just three months after a two-week hospitalization due to surgery for intestinal obstruction. Through-and-through, Mom endured one test after another. Then, when it seemed like she was catching a breather in life, the cancer came knocking. However, what struck me most was the positive attitude and faith in God she kept through it all.

One day she confided in me that she was so grateful to God because her illness couldn't have happened at a better time. Perplexed I asked, “Why?” and her answer was one that has stuck with me up to this day. My Mom was so grateful that God made it possible for coverage of her medical costs, irrespective of her lack of income. This was possible because her children were adults and able to cover the cost of her medical care. Even when it was dark and gloomy, she was still able to pick out a ray of light as well as hope. Talk about faith and confidence in God.

The important lesson I took from my mom’s situation was to accept and trust in God no matter what. God should be the focal point of a person's faith, not the actions of God. That is, it's important to anchor our faith not in the acts of God, but God himself. John, son of Zebedee who was the youngest disciple among the twelve, put it
this way:

When they found him on the other side, they asked him, Rabbi, when did you get here?

(John 6:25, NIV)

The background to this is that the day prior Jesus fed 5,000 men besides women and children with just five loaves of bread and two fish. And the next day the masses were in search of Him. Jesus answered them:

Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.

(John 6:26, NIV)

Here, we see Jesus pointing out that it's important to seek Him not for the blessings (loaves and fish), but for what He represents which is eternal life. This is corroborated by John:

Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

(John 6:35, NIV)

As earlier mentioned, it's paramount to make God the fulcrum of one's faith. This promotes confidence and courage to overcome limitations. The devil is counting on you to be dominated by doubt and lack of confidence. When an individual is low on faith, their self-esteem and confidence truncate. Such a person loses the desire to succeed, they lose the will to triumph, and lack the urge to fulfill one's purpose.

Faith in God is so important because it's the light that brightens one's path in the dark. God allows tests and trials in one's life to strengthen and measure our faith in Him. One's faith is directly proportional to the magnitude of the test they overcome. Paul the Apostle put it this way:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

(1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV)

You and I are a divine construct by God. He knows how much weight we can bear and won't allow any test beyond the limit you can absorb as an individual. Additionally, out of every trial God will leave an escape route, not to run away but to be able to withstand the challenge.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

(Romans 10:17, NIV)

Hearing the word of God and believing by itself is not enough. One must demonstrate service and obedience to God. Faith is confidence and dependence on God.

One of the scriptures that demonstrates confidence in God is this:

Then the word of the LORD came to him: This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir. He took him outside and said, look up at the sky and count the stars-if indeed you can count them. Then He said to him, so shall your offspring be. Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

(Genesis 15:4-6, NIV).

When God promised Abram a son 25 years went by, but he still believed and had faith in God. God always keeps His promise, however, it’s incumbent upon you to be patient and faithful to God. It's crucial that one doesn't waver in the face of trials. It’s written in scripture that with faith, you can move a mountain.

The other important dimension to faith is one of dependence upon God. It's imperative that one allows the Holy Spirit to guide them step-by-step. When God created the first man Adam, He placed him in the Garden of Eden. The only prohibition was to never eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now one may ask, What's wrong with knowing good and evil? Doing evil is certainly bad, but knowing evil shouldn't be a bad thing.

This tree symbolized two things—life and death. When you abide by the Spirit of God, you accept guidance and counsel on what is good and evil, step-by-step from the Holy Spirit. Contrary to this is independence from God. On the other hand, being content in oneself that you know good and evil, hence no requirement for assistance from God, leads to doing things your own way, banking on the five senses and wit. This is a recipe for disaster. The Bible says this about dependence on God:

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you.

(Isaiah 41:13, NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

(Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

(John 15:5, NIV)

The good news for you and me is that when it comes to faith, we don't need to have it in quantities of great proportion. Faith in God is more about concentration, not quantity. It must do more with the potency or power behind it than sheer size. Mathew put it this way:

He replied, because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move, nothing will be impossible.

(Mathew 17:20-21, NIV)

The background to this story is that Jesus had gone up the mountain with Peter, James, and John the brother of James. While on the mountain He was transfigured before them, after which they returned to the base of the mountain only to find the other nine disciples having failed to heal a boy who was demon-possessed, and suffering from seizures. So, Jesus proceeded to heal the boy after which the nine asked why they couldn't drive the demon out of the boy. In response, Jesus uses a mustard seed analogy in reference to faith. The grain of this seed is so small that it could slip through the fingers of a closed palm or hand, but that's ample faith to overcome the mountains in one's life. What matters is having confidence and trust in God without a doubt.

In his brazen attempt and effort to have dominion over the earth, the fallen cherub called Lucifer wants people to be lacking in confidence. The devil is counting on people to doubt they are blessed and highly favored by God. Satan is banking on you to be wavering and insecure in the belief that you are gifted and not called by God. I am here to report that the devil is a liar and should never be trusted. There's only one God, the benevolent, and compassionate Mighty God.

It's important to focus and ground one's faith in God because He's eternally unchanging. That is the kind of God to hold on to ad infinitum. In life, everything changes, and the only constant is change. To this end, it's wise not to make permanent decisions over temporary situations. Daniel stresses that:

He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

(Daniel 2:21, NIV)

Every season in life passes. Nothing comes to stay. Trust in the Lord God.

Believing in God matters a great deal in that doubt and insecurity are not pleasing to God. Trusting in God calls for a laser-focus kind of faith predicated on the El Shaddai[1]:

· Rejected and you still believe,

· broke and still believing,

· lost a job or loved one and still trusting God,

· problems with a teenage child and still believing,

· and so on and so forth.

The Bible says:

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

(Hebrews 11:6, NIV)

In other words, things like obedience, worship, prayer and so on are lacking where faith is absent. There is a popular adage that you reap what you sow. However, without faith there will be no harvest, even with tithing and other efforts to plant or sow. Therefore, faith is paramount and necessary in fulfillment of one's purpose according to God. One must throw all one’s weight into seeking God. It's folly to invest effort into seeking other things like money and knowledge instead of placing God front and center.

An important attribute of faith is finding rest in God. In pursuit of purpose, it's essential that one finds peace and rest in God. This is so important because the first thing that Adam ever did was
to rest.

Adam was created on the sixth day, and rested immediately on the seventh day. This translates to man surrendering all his cares to God. Come hell or high water, come rain or shine, whatever the circumstances in a person's life, it's important to find peace in God. This brings about calmness and composure irrespective of the season in a person's life.

Important to watch out for are the stumbling blocks to faith. These include:

· the devil’s tactics,

· a person's past feelings,

· one's level of reasoning,

· negative opinions from others, to name but a few.

Remember, the devil is always plotting for his next victim. This is corroborated in the Book of Job, where the Lord said to Satan:

“Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it."

(Job 1:7, NIV)

The background to this scripture is there was a meeting between God and His angels, Satan joining along. You would expect that the devil was uninvited and crashing the meeting, but that wasn't the case. It's striking that the devil can get audience with God. However, one should take comfort in knowing that irrespective of what the devil does, God protects us.

One summer day as I drove up a street in my neighborhood, I realized my gas tank was about empty, so I pulled up at the next gas station. I proceeded inside, picked up a soft drink and joined the que leading up to the cashier counter. As I waited in line to pay for my gas and drink, I noticed a young male in front of me about twenty years old emptying his pockets one after another as the cashier stood by in patience.

Finally, he came up with a handful of pennies that wasn't enough to meet the cost of his fountain drink. With head down, desolate, and a weary look, the young man stepped to the side, pondering his next move.

I stepped up to the cashier counter to pay for my items and inquired softly of the cashier, “How much does the fountain drink cost?”

“Seventy-five cents,” was the reply.

I volunteered to pay for it and handed it over to the young man. This encounter lingered on in my mind, wondering what the reason behind the young man’s misery could be. Many a people become overwhelmed by life itself. However, in each person lies greatness in the form of potential. This potential is God's purpose for man. Of importance is keeping God first place and trusting in Him, the result of which is an environment inside you that makes it possible for your spirit to fellowship with the Spirit of God, leading to a revelation and discernment of your purpose.

Fortunately, faith is a gift we receive from God. Through obedience to God as Abraham showed, one's faith will grow. Faith is not something that requires works on our part, but is purely a gift, and we don't have to pay anything in return.

Here is a classic example of what faith entails: Apostle Paul taught that:

If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God.

(Romans 4:2, NIV)

Simply put, this means that Abraham didn't do anything on his part to be credited as righteous through faith. Paul added:

What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

(Romans 4:3, NIV)

All Abraham did was believe. Then, Paul says:

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

(Romans 4:4-5, NIV)

You and I are considered righteous through faith in God. God opens our hearts and enlightens our eyes of understanding so that we are convicted in Him as our God. We submit to Him and whole-heartedly believe we need Him. One is justified by faith as righteous, so to speak. This means that God takes away the penalty of our sins and declares us righteous.

Continuing Apostle Paul asserts:

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.

(Romans 4:16-21, NIV)

This is why Abraham was credited for being righteous. Therefore, anyone who believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and believes that He died on the cross to liberate us from sin then through faith, you too are credited with being righteous.

It's imperative to walk by faith, not by sight. For you as an individual, if you are to reach your goals and dreams, faith will be a requirement in stepping out of your comfort zone into the unknown. If you are going to experience personal growth and fulfillment, operating in an environment where the outcomes are unpredictable and things seem out of order, trust and confidence in God are key. This trust and confidence in the Lord God can be nurtured through fervent prayer.

Mark put it this way:

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

(Mark 11:24, NIV)

Additionally, in times of challenge and adversity you pray to God to increase your faith, which he grants through the Holy Spirit. Growing one's faith is paramount and it's a lifelong process as one encounters test after test. As I mentioned earlier, one's faith is as strong as the tests encountered. Therefore, praying to God for protection against tests is the wrong prayer. Therefore, as you journey through life, keep the faith in God no matter what.

· When the journey of life seems all an uphill struggle, keep the faith.

· When the bills are high and income is low, keep the faith.

· When feeling rejected and neglected, keep the faith.

· When sick or not in good physical health, keep the faith.

· When you lose a loved one, keep the faith.

· No matter the uncertainty you encounter, keep the faith.

David the Psalmist says:

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him in his hand.

(Psalms 37:23-24, NIV)

Faith is a requirement in pleasing God, and when you please God, He guides you every step of the way towards your purpose. Along the way one will experience setbacks or falls, but still God has His hand out to lift you up. God knows everyone's end from the beginning. Jeremiah expressed it this way:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.

(Ipsa loquitar, Latin for "The thing speaks for itself.")

Like any manufacturer of a product, the sole aim of a product is to serve it's intended purpose, to succeed, so to speak. And God's primary purpose for creating man is to manage Earth on His behalf, and succeed in doing so.

[1] El Shaddai or just Shaddai is one of the names of the God of Israel. El Shaddai is conventionally translated into English as God Almighty —Wikipedia

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