October 2014

Body: 

Believing Before Seeing

“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.”     Romans 4:20-21  

Abraham, the “father of our faith,” the one of whom it was said “His faith was reckoned to him as righteousness,” had every reason not to believe God was going to fulfill His promise. The promise was that Abraham would be the father of many nations (verse 17). And especially as time passed while Abraham and Sarah grew old, Abraham “hoped against hope” (verse 18) that the promise would be kept. The scripture says that Abraham hoped “in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (verse 17).”

We all know that God kept the promise to Abraham. But still Abraham had to “hope against hope” while he awaited the fulfillment of the promise. He had to believe before he saw the reality. That’s why Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

It is easy to look back and see that God keeps His promises. It is harder when the promise is inferred rather than explicitly stated, when what we are hoping and praying for is a long time coming, and when we have not received the fulfillment of the promise. Then we find ourselves in Abraham’s position of “hoping against hope” as we seek to live in faith.

The Apostle Paul says in this Romans passage that the words “it was reckoned to him as righteousness” were not for Abraham alone, but for us too. Faith will also be reckoned as righteousness “to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead (verse 24).” Such faith is still required of us. Such faith is still reckoned as righteousness.

At UUC we believe that God has promised to make us a university for many nations, and for the faculty and students of those nations who are most like the faculty and students who founded our school. There are many, many like us who do not have the educational opportunity that we can uniquely give. For this task, as we await the fulfillment of this promise, we need the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.

In the moments when it seems least likely that our hopes can be fulfilled, those moments are when we most need to live in the presence of the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. That is precisely what we are depending on the Lord for…to call into existence a university that has not existed until this time.

Our opening verse of this devotion tells us that Abraham grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God. Let us all give glory to God for the university that God is calling into existence for many nations, a university built on the foundation of the Vietnamese Theological College, which God also called into existence almost 30 years ago, when it did not exist before that time.

What I have said about UUC is also true for the personal challenges any of us in the UUC community face. Hoping against hope is the primary experience of faith when the road ahead seems difficult. Such faith will be reckoned to you as righteousness. And as we await the fulfillment of all the Lord’s promises let us give glory to God, and live more intentionally in the presence of God who raises the dead and calls into existence things that do not yet exist.

It is easy to give glory to the God we know, as long as we keep our eyes on Him and live in his presence. Join me to do those things together this month, for our own sakes and for the sake of UUC.

God bless you in every way this month.

Dale