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Foresight is 20/20

January 1st 2012 by Joshua Simons

Today is an interesting day in the church year. It is New Years Day which celebrates the naming of Jesus. It is also the first Sunday after Christmas which celebrates Jesus' presentation in the temple and the story of SImeon and Anna. It could also be celebrated as Epiphany Sunday. The message today incorporates all these happenings as it points to the work of the Holy Spirit to create and sustain faith in the lives of God's people. Read more...

Christmas 1B - "Foresight is 20/20" - [Luke 2:21-40] (/dailybread/scripture/Luke%202:21-40/) - January 1, 2012

A babe is born. But who is he? How shall he be named? As the Christmas hymn asks, “What Child is this who, laid to rest on Mary’s lap is sleeping?”

Well, we know. Our Savior was born; the promised Messiah. His name is Jesus, meaning “God saves”, just as the angel, Gabriel, had earlier pronounced. The same Christmas hymn answers “This, this is Christ the King.”

And we know even more. This lowly Son of Mary and Joseph is also the only Son of God and the Redeemer of the world. He grew up in the divine favor of God, and as John the Apostle described, performed miracles and did so many signs and things that if they were all recorded, the world could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).

And we know his most important act was submitting himself to our fate upon the cross, dying in our place and rising from the dead three days later. He secured our salvation – forgiveness of sins and victory over death. We know.

We know because all this already happened, because people witnessed it, wrote it down, and we read it in God’s Word.

Hindsight is 20/20. We are more certain of what we see in the past than what we see in the future. There are countless books on recorded history based on facts, but no such book exists for recorded future based on facts. Hindsight is 20/20.

But the Holy Spirit gives us more. By our faith, granted by Him, foresight is 20/20. In our text today, Luke’s gospel account of the naming of Jesus and his presentation at the temple, it is clear that the Holy Spirit gave Simeon the ability to believe in Jesus. Perhaps Simeon had an idea that the Christ Child had been born; perhaps he had seen the star or had heard the message the shepherds had proclaimed. Perhaps he knew of Mary and Joseph and their baby. Perhaps. But three times in three consecutive verses, the Holy Spirit’s presence upon Simeon is mentioned. It was by the Spirit that Simeon knew that the Babe, Jesus, was Christ, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

Simeon’s part in this account is one of devout faith. He believed in the promise of God’s Word: the consolation of Israel and that he would see the Lord’s Christ before he died. By his faith from the Holy Spirit, foresight was 20/20. He believed in the things that hadn’t happened yet, but that the Spirit had revealed to him, would happen. And in that, Simeon serves as a wonderful example for us.

In this time following Jesus’ birth, we may also look to the wise men as examples. January 6, this Friday, is Epiphany. Epiphany basically means a revelation, a spiritual “a-ha moment”. The accompanying text for Epiphany is the visit of the wise men as this was Jesus’ revelation to the Gentiles, just as Simeon sang of. Though we don’t know much for certain about the wise men, we do know what led them to Jesus. They were led first by God’s Word – for they would not have known the star to mean that the king of the Jews had been born without knowledge of scripture. And they were led by the star – a miraculous sign coming only from God, and not naturally explained.

Revelation from God drastically changed the wise men’s lives and directed their actions. They traveled no short distance to worship a child, who they believed was king. They acted against Herod the king because of what God revealed to them in a dream. To be so trusting is to have 20/20 foresight. The Holy Spirit was most definitely present and at work, leading them to their Savior.

So we can now bring this all together in a common thread that applies to us as well. For Simeon, the wise men, and us; hindsight is 20/20. We believe, by faith, in past events as well as current conditions of our hearts as sinners and saints. For these things have been revealed to us in faith by the Holy Spirit, working through Scripture – the very Word of God.

But my message bears the title, “Foresight is 20/20”. It means that our faith allows us to believe, just as confidently, even in those things that have not yet come to pass, because they have been revealed to us in faith by the Holy Spirit, working through Scripture – the very Word of God.

From Luther’s Small Catechism, his explanation of the Third Article of The Creed: I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. The Holy Spirit gives us faith and allows us to transcend the limits of our human heart and mind, bound and chained by sin. He gives us the ability to believe in Jesus Christ. And belief in Jesus Christ includes all of who he is – not just part of who he is as some other religions do. The Holy Spirit by faith allows us to believe:

That Jesus is eternal, the true Son of God, equal to the Father (John 5:18), That he came down to earth born of a virgin fully man while remaining fully God, That he never sinned, That he died on the cross as the only acceptable sacrifice to God, serving our sentence for sin, and that only by the cross are we reconciled to God. That God raised him from the dead three days later defeating the final enemy, death, And that he is seated in glory at the right hand of God and will return again to make all things new and grant all believers eternal life with him in heaven.

These are the foundations of faith in Jesus Christ; some are historical fact, revealed in scripture; some have yet to happen or to be revealed with full understanding. Paul’s words: Now I know in part; then I shall know fully (1 Corinthians 13:12). Faith makes foresight 20/20. By the Holy Spirit we believe with certainty in coming things that without faith would be nothing more than a guess or theory.

Just as the Patriarchs, the people of God, and the Prophets of the Old Testament believed in the coming Messiah, though they knew not when or how . . . just as Simeon and the wise men saw in Baby Jesus salvation, though they knew not of the cross . . . so also we believe that Jesus Christ will return in power and glory to make all things new, though we know not when.

So from the Patriarchs and God’s people to the Prophets, Simeon, and the wise men and to us . . . the common thread to believe these things is this . . . they have been revealed to us in faith by the Holy Spirit, working through Scripture – the very Word of God. Foresight is 20/20. It seems so clear. So how does mankind stray?

The Bible tells me so. Simple, yet powerful words from a simple, yet powerful song. But those words are not believed by those who lack faith. The Bible – God’s very Word – is the only true authority in this world. Yet our pluralistic society rates it merely as one of many authorities. What a terrible denial of God! To elevate any product of this world as having equal authority to God’s Word is the grossest of idolatries and is rewarded with the Lord’s swift judgment, the prize of eternal hellfire. Still mankind seeks to invoke his own epiphany.

Mankind tries to use philosophy and science to figure out where we all came from and why we’re here. Even some within the Christian faith seek to justify their faith by “proving” God. But regardless of who or what, it all stems from one thing – the essence of our sinful nature – mistrust of God and his Word created by the lies of the devil. Yes, the father of lies creates doubts about God so that people spend more time trying to figure everything out instead of living by faith.

This also manifests itself on a more personal level as we act according to our mistrust in God, even when we’re not aware of it. We live a fast paced life – too fast – as we go about our business living, acting, and spending our time and resources as we see fit. But we are called to spend more time in God’s Word and prayer so that we better know his will and submit to his guidance by the Spirit. When I speak of 20/20 foresight, it is not only about Christ coming again. We live by faith and that changes us today, tomorrow, and each day of our life. The treasure of our faith is that we live looking confidently forward, seeing that God is there and at work. He guides us, provides for us, forgives us; his plan for us is always at work and it is good, very good, coming to its completion on the last day.
This New Year’s Day, look beyond your resolutions and see, with 20/20 foresight by faith, a resolute God who loves you unconditionally and has plans for you. See him and follow him. Grow in faith, letting the Holy Spirit water you with the Word. Look to the second coming of our Lord and let your knowledge of that truth pierce your heart, mind, and soul. Believe in the victory you have in Christ. You are a child of God, foresight is 20/20; walk as such, with firm faith, a bold joy, and an unparalleled peace. Amen.

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