Faith Brings What We Hope For Into Our Lives
“Faith Brings What We Hope For Into Our Lives”
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 7, 2016
Readings: Genesis 15:1-6, Psalm 33
As we look at Ordinary Time, we are challenged to believe that what God has done is real. What He did in Christ impacts our lives. We read and know Scriptures, yet questions and doubts still hound us. We don’t believe what God says in His Word. We have a difficult time accepting what we read in Scriptures.
Christ came for two purposes: 1) to destroy the works of the evil one; and, 2) to show us how to live out the life God has given us. God has blessed us abundantly. How can we live out what we have learned these past eleven weeks? Christ came to restore us to the life God has given us, the life that we lost because of the fall of Adam and Eve. We may not believe that this life is ours now because we have not allowed its truth to live in our hearts.
Hebrews 11 shows us how faith works; it does not describe faith. “Faith is the substance/assurance of things hoped for, the evidence/conviction of things not seen.” This clearly tells us that we must have hope before faith works. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him….” And we must have hope to have faith, hope that the promises of God will be fulfilled in our lives. Abraham was given the promise by God that his inheritance will come from his own body. This is a principle – that the blessings from the promises of God will come through us, and not from anybody else. This underscores the need for faith.
Faith is the evidence, the conviction of things not seen. Faith will make the promises of God a reality in our lives. It’s the things that are not seen, things that we still have to experience in our lives that we hope for. Can we see salvation? No, but Christ did the work and gave it to us, so we put our hope in what He has done. By faith we believe that this salvation is ours for it to come into our lives and for us to benefit from this gift.
There are many examples of faith in Scriptures. God told Abraham that He would give him a son, his own flesh and blood, and his descendants would be a numerous as the stars. Abraham “believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Righteousness came to Abraham because he believed in God. It’s not something that he did but was given to him. It’s an attitude of believing. This righteousness has also been given to us through our faith in what Christ did for us. Do we see in our lives the work of God in Christ to provide for our needs? When we are in a financial bind, do we believe His Word that He will provide for us? Faith believes that God will meet our needs.
Abraham waited 30 years for the promise to be fulfilled. How did he do it? He, like Sarah, “considered Him faithful who had promised”. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven….” Noah’s faith drove him to build an ark, as he was instructed by God, even if rain was something they had yet to experience at that time. The rains came 100 years later! People may have thought him crazy for building something for which they could see no use for. But because of his obedience to God, he “became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith”.
We have so many examples of such faith and confidence in the promises of God to draw inspiration from. But for many of us, we pray for 5 minutes and we get frustrated when things don’t happen. Our confidence is that God will not fail us. The promise may take longer to be fulfilled, but we hold on by faith because we know that the wait is part of our testing. In our testing, we believe that we will receive regardless of how long we have to wait.
Hebrews 11:13 “All these died in faith without receiving the promises….” Abraham, Moses, Enoch and many others died without receiving the promise, but they believed just the same. Faith is bringing what we hope for to reality. Do we realize that when God called us, He set the course for our lives? He made us in His own image and likeness and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. This is our calling, and if God calls us to do something, we certainly can fulfill His calling. God gives us the ability to fulfill His call on our lives when we take that step in faith, even if we don’t exactly know how. This step in faith is the evidence of our confidence in God. This is what living is all about; we are not limited by what we see.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to “sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. We ask ourselves, how will we live if we sell our possessions and give to charity? The answer lies in where our treasure or security is. Is it in our bank account, our business, our possessions? Our hope should be in God; that He will take care of us. Banks can fail and close down; the economy can collapse – what then? Much of the world economies are shaky, with nothing solid to support them. Economies may collapse anytime; yet we put our confidence in these institutions. Our security should be in the promise of God that He will never fail us and He will never leave us. It doesn’t matter what happens because we know that He will take care of us. We have to put our faith in what God has given us. Hebrews tells us how faith works – by hope. Our hope is based on the promises of God. This is not easy to practice; it takes a heart that believes in what God has done. From Adam to Abraham and many generations later, the people waited for the promise to be fulfilled. They died without seeing the promise, but when Christ finally came, He went to Hades to set them free and deliver them from death. They finally saw the fulfillment of the promise.
Most of us give up on people who say they’ll do things for us because they don’t deliver. God isn’t like that. What He promises, He fulfills. The book of Revelation tells us that we put our trust in the world, but things of the world will collapse. We shouldn’t put our faith in temporal things. Our faith must go to the highest places. If we don’t have faith, we can’t receive the promises of God. If we don’t have hope, we can’t have faith. It begins with hope. We hold fast to our confession of hope and boast of this hope, because God will not fail. Our God is a God of hope.
Consider your calling. God will give us the ability to fulfill our calling. If we don’t answer that call and do something else, we cannot be truly happy and fulfilled. This is where we find our security – in knowing that we are doing what God called us to do. If our heart/treasure is in the Kingdom of God, we will live fully and in peace with God and prosper. Len is here because of the assurance of hope. We are called by God to “cultivate and keep” – to cause things to happen and grow for the Kingdom. God will not fail us in our calling if we work for its fulfillment with all our heart. Cultivation brings life; this is what we should be doing. The Gospel tells us to sell our possessions and give to the poor. This is in contrast to the man in last Sunday’s Gospel who built bigger storehouses for his produce, instead of sharing to the poor. Vanity is building and working for ourselves. We are here to help others.
Three things are important: faith, hope and love. Love is the motivation for all that we do. We can fulfill our calling because we have hope. Our challenge is to live out the faith we’ve been given. Don’t be doubters. Proclaim the truth and live in faith in everything that God has promised.