Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Called from the Boat

(Photograph from

Matthew 14:22-33

Why didn't Jesus just get into the boat?  That would have been easier, safer, quicker, less messy.

When the weary disciples wondered who (or what) this was walking upon the Sea of Galilee, Jesus could have simply hopped into the boat and said, "Ta-da!  It's me!"  But He didn't.

Instead Jesus announced His presence from the middle of the lake as He stood upon the waves.  And to prove Himself as the real deal He called Peter to join Him out there upon the sea.

To show His power, to prove His identity, Jesus calls Peter from the comfort and relative safety of the boat into the chaos and danger of the wind and waves.  When they were all back in the boat there was no more debate: "Truly you are the Son of God."

These past two Sundays the Gospel readings have come from Matthew 10 where Jesus sends His disciples out as sheep a midst the wolves.  He warns them of the dangers they shall face, the rage of those who will not understand it, the swords of governments who will not allow it.  Yet they shall rest secured, because Jesus is with them.  They do not go out alone, but in the power of the Spirit of God, Jesus Himself never leaving them.

And maybe this is the way Jesus is with all of us.  He calls us from the boat to stand with Him upon the waves.  He sends us from the comfort of our church pews or couch cushions into the nitty-gritty world outside.

The Christ beckons us to leave the places where we feel we have power, where we think we have a safe haven, so that He might show us who He is.  He is the Son of God.  He forgives sins with the very words of His mouth.  He keeps the embers of churches burning long after we have given up hope.  He creates faith and hope where we can only see reason for despair.  He raises the dead.

Jesus is in the dangerous places.  He wants to get to work there in the midst of chaos, and He always works through means.  He works through the words and actions of ordinary people that He calls to do His extraordinary work.

So we step out of the boat and onto the waves.  We venture farther than we have ever gone before.  We dare to open our mouths and speak where others shut up and hide.  We take a risk for the sake of the Gospel.

But the reason we can walk on the water is that He is there first.  The reason we are not consumed by the chaos of the world is that He goes with us.  We dare not go alone, for then we will fall.  We dare not take our eyes off Jesus, for then we will sink like the rock.

Jesus calls us, He leads, us, He goes with us, He never leaves us.  The one who has suffered and died to make us right with God is trustworthy.  He will do just as He has promised.

Friday, June 27, 2014

"The Fair Singer"

To make a final conquest of all me,
Love did compose so sweet an Enemy,
In whom both Beauties to my death agree,
Joyning themselves in fatal Harmony;
That while she with her Eyes my Heart does bind,
She with her Voice might captivate my Mind.

I could have fled from One but singly fair:
My dis-intangled Soul it self might save,
Breaking the curled trammels of her hair.
But how should I avoid to be her Slave,
Whose subtle Art invisible can wreath
My fetters of the very Air I breath?

It had been easie fighting in some plain,
Where Victory might hang in equal choice,
But all resistance against her is vain,
Who has th'advantage both of Eyes and Voice,
And all my Forces needs must be undone,
She having gained both the Wind and Sun.

        --Andrew Marvell

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A New Song to Sing

What is hidden will be revealed.  What is said in the dark will be spoken in the light.  What is whispered…shall be proclaimed from the rooftops!

                In the Gospel lesson Jesus is sending his 12 disciples out as missionaries, as apostles, ambassadors, to carry his message throughout all the towns of Israel.  After warning them about the viscous opposition that they will face, Jesus goes on to comfort them, to embolden their witness, with His promises. 
                Praise and thanks be to God that He did, for if He had not, we would not be here.  We would be tree-worshipping pagans, slaves to lawlessness, impurity, sin, and death.  Without the sending of the Apostles, there is no Christian Church, there is no salvation, there is no hope.

                Jesus sends His apostles out as sheep amidst the wolves, but He does not send them unarmed, or unprotected.  He equips them with an intrepid faith that will allow them to stand and speak where others would run or remain silent.

                First, Jesus warns them about the opposition.  This is not to scare them, but to prepare them.  They will not be caught off guard when other hate or revile them.  They will not be found unawares when others try to kill them for the words that they speak.

                Armed with a knowledge of what is to come, Jesus then promises that these trials and persecutions are not signs of God’s wrath, but rather birthmarks handed down from one generation to the next.  Jesus was tortured and executed.  He was the most despised human on the planet.  His disciples should not despair when they receive the same treatment.  Rather, they should see it as a mark that they are of the household of Jesus Christ.  They are Jesus’ students, His servants, His brothers.

                Fortified with the promise that they are of the household of God, the Apostles are then told to have no fear of the world.  But it is not because the world is not dangerous.  The world can kill the body!

                Yet God is more powerful than all the combined evil of the world.  The only person they really need to fear is God, who can kill both body and soul.  Yet He will not.  The only person they need to fear is the one person upon whom they can completely depend for help and protection.  He is their heavenly Father.  If He cares for the cheaply bought and sold sparrows, how much more will He care for men made in His image and called into His household?

                Shielded as they now are from the assaults of fear and persecution the Apostles are ready to confess Jesus Christ before men.  They are prepared to acknowledge Jesus, to profess Him as the Savior of the world from sin and death.

                And this is all before Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  If they were ready to face hardship and persecution based on these simple promises, how much more was their faith confirmed, emboldened, galvanized in their hearts knowing full well that death had been taken out of the equation?!  

Following the resurrection of Jesus and the day of Pentecost the Apostles were armed and ready to carry the Gospel of Jesus, not only to the lost sheep of Israel, but to the ends of the earth.  They set out, undaunted by the threats of lawless men and satanic foes, and proclaimed from the rooftops that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!   

And thank God that it is so.  For now the story turns to us, and we are pulled in.  We are not the Apostles, but the men and women to whom they speak.  We are the receivers of their testimony, the beneficiaries of their bold proclamation.

We are not the missionaries tasked with spreading the Gospel in a foreign land.  We are the foreigners and strangers whom the words of the Apostles call to acknowledge Jesus before the world.  

The Apostles had a heavy hand in every page of the New Testament.  They either wrote or powerfully influenced each letter, each story, each glimpse of God’s grace.  Jesus chose these men, He fortified their faith, He sent them out, so that God’s Word, the very Word of Christ, could change dead hearts from denial to acknowledgement, from rejection to confession.  That is exactly what we need.

It is easy for us to think of ourselves as “Christian people” because the vast majority of us have been raised in the Church.  We were baptized at a young age.  We have never known life outside the influence of the congregation.

But each of us must admit that within, often hidden from the eyes of the world, perhaps restrained by the threat of punishment or embarrassment, lurks a pagan, a tree-worshiping, blood-drinking barbarian who has completely rejected the Christ who suffered and died for him.

Hidden from the good Christian people all around us is the denial of Christ that is our many sins that we keep stashed away, that we do in the dark, that we only dare to whisper about to a certain few, if that.

This is why the message of the Apostles was centered on and grounded in repentance and forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The denial of the barbaric pagan is called out of us, seen for what it is, and replaced.  There is forgiveness for our denial at the foot of the cross.  

And there Jesus places a new song in our hearts and on our lips.  It is the song of faith, the song of trust, the song of confession and acknowledgement of the new life that is ours in Him, the new and never ending life.  

"Lord, gives us lips to sing Thy glory, tongues Thy mercy to proclaim, throats that shout the hope that fills us, mouths to speak Thy holy name!"   

Jesus Christ chose Apostles and sent them to the ends of the earth, fortified with His word and promise, empowered by faith in His resurrection to trounce the denial of our hearts and to replace it with proclamation.  

He has gone to great lengths to ensure that the message they proclaimed would be preserved in the New Testament, so that generation after generation may be filled with this new song.  And when we forget the lyrics, His word reminds us.  

The message of the Apostles gives us the words to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God.  It opens our mouths to confess the wonder and power of His empty tomb.

Jesus instructed His 12 Apostles and sent them out to the lost sheep of Israel, then to the ends of the earth, to find you and me, to rid us of our pagan influence and barbaric denial, and to put the song of salvation in our hearts.  May His Spirit fill us to sing it without end. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Perfect Day for Imperfect Nuptials

It was a perfect day for imperfect nuptials.

The sky was clear and bright.  The Sun was warm, but not oppressive.  A gentle breeze cooled the wedding party as the army of photographers snapped away, cautiously respectful of the worship atmosphere.  The families were warm and kind to each other.

The groom stood tall and straight, exuding a leader's nobility, as he eagerly awaited the procession of his bride.  The bride was exquisite in white, a true beauty gracefully walking down the aisle on her loving father's arm.

Even if you had not counseled them for several months before the day of their union, you could easily tell from their excitement, from the look of sheer delight in their eyes, that they were, in the best sense, in love.

It was a perfect day.

But it is just one day.  It will not last.

The bridegroom will not always have the strength of nobility.  The bride will not always be an untarnished beauty.  Storms will darken the sky.  Families will quarrel.  The heat of the argument will beat down upon them.

Yet love can endure.  It can endure, not because love is so powerful of an emotion, but because it is not an emotion at all.

Love is a commitment that one makes to another.  And it expresses itself in acts of service, great and small, throughout the length of a long and enduring marriage.

This commitment is strengthened, however, when the two who have now become one are the continual recipients of the Lord Jesus and His undying love.  When they receive the forgiveness of their many sins, purchased and won on the cross of Calvary, on a regular basis they are inclined and empowered to forgive each other.

And forgiveness is love in action. This perfect couple will have to humble themselves when their imperfections finally show.  They will have to show love when it really counts.  They will forgive one another in the name of Jesus.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:1-5)  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"A Hymne to God the Father"

Wilt thou forgive that sinne where I begunne,
     Which is my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive those sinnes through which I runne,
     And doe them still: though still I doe deplore?
          When thou hast done, thou hast not done,
                         For, I have more.

Wilt thou forgive that sinne by which I wonne
     Others to sinne? and made my sinne their doore?
Wilt thou forgive that sinne which I did shunne
     A yeare, or two: but wallowed in, a score?
          When thou hast done, thous hast not done.
                         For, I have more.

I have a sinne of fear, that when I have spunne
     My last thred, I shall perish on the shore;
Sweare by thy selfe, that at my death thy Sunne
     Shall shine as it shine now, and heretofore;
          And, having done that, Thou hast done,
                     I have no more.

  -- "A Hymne to God the Father," John Donne

Monday, June 16, 2014

Don't Hesitate

“When [the eleven disciples] saw [Jesus] they worshiped Him, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17)  The word translated there as “doubt” can also have the meaning of “hesitate”.  I think this make sense.  It is not that they were doubting the resurrection.  They could see Jesus.  At this point He had already appeared to them several times and even Thomas had seen and believed.

                Rather, the disciples of Jesus, at least some of them, hesitate.  “When they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some hesitated.”  Why would they hesitate to worship Jesus?  

                They would hesitate for the same reason that you and I might hesitate to worship another human being: there is only one God, and Him ALONE shall you worship!  For as much love and respect and awe that they had at the sight of Jesus risen from the dead, some of the disciples wonder if they should worship Him.  Is that a bridge too far, a line they dare not cross?

                It is not.  Jesus takes away their fear.  He calms their doubt.  While they may hesitate to worship Him, the disciples do trust His word.  

So when Jesus says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” they know what that means.  When Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age,” they know what that means.  It means that Jesus is God.

Because it is Trinity Sunday the temptation is to jump all over the baptismal formula as proof of the doctrine of the Trinity.  And it is, plain and simple.  But the Trinity is all over this passage, not just in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  

Jesus Christ is telling them that they need not hesitate to worship Him, just as they worship the Father, because He too is God.  

You see, there cannot be two beings with “all authority in heaven and on earth”.  There can only be one with all authority.  Just as there cannot be two world’s strongest man, or two world’s most powerful woman.  Someone is going to win out.  One must be stronger or more powerful than the other.  

So if Jesus has all authority, then either God does not have all authority, or Jesus is God.  And there you have it, the Son of God is God.  He is worthy of worship.  Do not hesitate to worship Him.

Yet some do to this day.  You and I, we sometimes hesitate to worship Jesus.  Why is that?

I do not mean here, in the divine service.  Here we are not really gathered to worship God so much as we are to receive the benefits of His death and resurrection.  

Worship, Saint Paul tells us, happens every day of our lives.  Worship occurs as we become living, walking sacrifices to Jesus Christ.  Worship is in the nitty, gritty, details of daily existence as we struggle to obey God’s commands and trust His promises.

It is not so much in here that we hesitate, but out there.  And he who hesitates is lost.

We hesitate, perhaps, for the same reason that the disciples did: we doubt Jesus’ divinity.  O, sure, we say that we believe Jesus is God, but when it comes down to it we treat Him like something far less. 

Jesus was an interesting teacher, a spiritual adviser, a coach, a mentor, an inspiration.  But at the end of the day, He was only human, so I don’t really have to do what He says if I don’t want to.  

If I don’t want to be baptized, then I don’t have to be.  If I don’t want to go to church, then I will just skip it, no big deal.  If I desire sex before marriage, well then I guess Jesus was just wrong on that point.  I can hate, cheat, gossip, or lie, when I need to, because what is Jesus really going to do about it.

We hesitate to worship Jesus every moment of our lives because we don’t really believe that He is who He said He is.

I mean, really, God tells you something, the being who created the world, who has all authority, and you are going to ignore Him, or disobey Him, or neglect even the teensiest, tiniest part of His Word?  Really?  Does that make any sense to you?

Christians hesitate to worship Jesus in the world because we doubt His divinity.  We hesitate because we are not quite sure that we need to do everything that He says.

This is why the doctrine of the Trinity is necessary.  This is why we need to know for sure that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, because it removes all hesitation.

It was not a guru who died on the cross.  It was not a mere teacher or inspirational leader who made atonement for your sins.  It was not a spiritual coach who rose from the dead.  It was God.

Only the blood of God Himself could remove the stain of our hesitation.  Only the sacrifice of the divine being could remove the curse of our sin.  If Jesus is not God then we are still in our sins, and we are headed straight for hell.  

Jesus is divine.  He reassures His disciples of this fact.  He reassures us.  He has all authority.  He is with us always.  He is God.

In baptism, in the Lord’s Supper, in every syllable of His Word, Jesus Christ is there, always.  He is forgiving our hesitation with the power of the cross and transforming it into faith.

The disciples hesitated to worship Jesus, but He reassured them with His Word.  We too have hesitated to worship Jesus, to be the spiritual sacrifice that He calls us to be.  And to us as well He speaks: “I am your God.  I have died and risen for you.  You need not hesitate to worship Me.  You are forgiven.” 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hold Nothing Back

"I never saved anything for the swim back."

Vincent challenges his brother Anton to a swimming contest.  They will swim through the ocean waves until one of them relents, until one stops and turns back.

Anton is genetically superior to his brother.  Vincent was conceived "the old fashioned way," one man and one woman united in one flesh.  Anton was conceived in a test tube to be stronger, to live longer.  Vincent, it is predicted, will not live much past the age of 30.

Yet it is Vincent who pulls ahead.  Against all odds he swims farther than his physically enhanced sibling, while Anton's heart fills with fear and his lungs with salt water.  Not only does Vincent defeat his brother in the swim, he also saves his life, dragging him back to shore.

When Anton demands to know how Vincent is doing this, how he is living and thriving when he is supposed to be dead, Vincent responds, "I never saved anything for the swim back."

Vincent had been told from the time that he was born that he was inferior to his brother, that he would never amount to anything, and that he would die young.  And so he had nothing to lose.  Why should he bother fearing death if death was his destiny?

And so Vincent channels every ounce of energy that he has into achieving something great with his life.  He wishes to be a space explorer, and he succeeds.

It strikes me that in today's world there are so many people who think that death is their destiny.  There is only this life, a short blip on the screen of universal history, and then there is nothing.

Yet rather than make the most of their life, they make very little of it indeed.  Rather than throwing themselves into the fray, rather than striving toward some worthy achievement, they squander the little time they have in this life on fleeting pleasures that leave them feeling empty and cold; until, that is, they find the next cheap thrill.  Rather than saving nothing for the swim back, they aren't even bothering to enter the water.  They are just getting drunk on the beach.

This all hit me the other day as I was out running.  I usually try to run two miles on Saturday, one out and one back.  And I want to run them as hard as I can.  But because I want to give a strong finish, I never put everything I have into the first mile.  I am always saving energy for the return journey.

But what if things were different?  What if I had confidence that I would make it back?  What if I knew that after putting everything I had into that first mile I would find myself, not in the middle of nowhere, but at home?

This is what makes life in Christ different from all of the joyless partying that goes on these days.  The Christian does not need to fear putting everything he has into the work God has given him to do.  He does not need to fear death.  He does not need to save anything for the return trip, because when he is done running the race he will certainly find himself at home.

That is the promise of Jesus.  He gives you abundant forgiveness, so you need not fear that you have forgiven too much.  He burns with unquenchable love, so you cannot burn out your love.

With His death He takes away our need to fear death.  With His resurrection He promises that the grave is not our end.  He will call us out of the tomb and into life that knows no end.

There is no need to save anything for the swim back.  God has taken care of that in Christ.  And that gives us confidence to press forward, to jump into the fray, to strive for something great, to put it all out there, knowing full well that Jesus will be there to gather us up on that Last Day, to give us rest from our labors.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Two Lessons from Two Parents

It is well past Mother's Day, but tomorrow is Father's Day.  Maybe this post can count for both.

The two most valuable spiritual lessons concerning church attendance that I have learned in my life have come from my parents, one lesson from each.

My father tells the story of attending Confirmation classes with Pastor Jording.  The class was talking about going to church, and so the good reverend asked, "How many of you have to go to church?"  Every child in the room raised their hand.  Then Pastor Jording replied, "No, you don't have to go to church.  You want to go to church."

Attending worship, receiving God's gifts, these things are a privilege.  They are a blessing, not a curse.  My father taught me that.

One summer Sunday, as our family of four drove to the early 8:00am worship service, I asked my mother, "Since we don't have to go to school in the summer, when can we stop going to church?"

Without missing a beat she replied, "When God stops loving us."

She does not remember saying that, but I remember it over 20 years later.  We go to church because God loves us, and He will never stop.  He has proven that with the death and resurrection of His Son.

Thanks Mom and Dad for teaching me to want to go to church because God will never stop loving me in Jesus.

Happy Father's Day!  Happy belated Mother's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Last Corinthians 31

"Hate is impatient and cruel, hate is envious and boastful, it is arrogant and rude.  It insists on its own way.  It is both irritable and resentful; it rejoices in wrongdoing, and scoffs at the truth.  Hate gives up easily, believes nothing, hopes nothing, endures through nothing.

"Hate ends everything."

In life there are these two: hate and love.  You either love God or hate God.  You love your neighbor, spouse, child, parent, employee, boss, and friends or you despise them.  You cannot be neutral.

There is not middle ground.

There is no fence to ride.

Hate is not something that bigots do.  It is not something that fascists do.  Hate is something that husbands do, something that fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, and relatives do.  It is something that I do.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Anything less is hate.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

One without the other

 "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."  (Acts 2:36)

With these words Peter brings to conclusion the first Christian sermon.  

And he drops a bomb: "You killed God."

But the thing is, the people Peter is preaching to probably did not kill Jesus, at least not literally.  Jesus had died nearly two months earlier.  Perhaps there were some of the priests hanging around and listening to Peter.  We are told, however, that there are 3000 baptized that day.  Most of those people had nothing to do with the death of Jesus.  

Except that they did.  The crowds gathered to hear Peter preach in their own native tongues were the cause of Jesus' death, not because they drove in the nails, but because they were enemies of God.

They were sinners.  It was their fault.

You see, we cannot have one without the other.  We cannot receive from the hand of God forgiveness, life, and salvation, grace and every blessing, without first admitting that we are responsible for the death of Christ.

Those of us who are Gentiles must especially remember this.  It is easy to blame "the Jews" for the death of Jesus.  But salvation is through the Jews.  

This means that if we want the salvation that Peter proclaims to the Jews in Acts 2:38-39 we must first enter through the door of their collective guilt.  We must first admit that we too are responsible for the death of Jesus.

This Jesus whom I crucified. 

This Jesus dies, rises, ascends, lives, for me

This Jesus whom you crucified.

This Jesus dies, rises, ascends, lives, for you.

You cannot have one without the other.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spirit Gift

Moses was sick to death of the children of Israel.  That is almost literally true.  They had complained, and moaned, and groaned.  Nothing was ever enough for them.  

                God gave them freedom from slavery.  They wanted food and water.  God gave them manna and water from a rock.  They wanted meat and vegetables.  And when they wanted more, where did they go?  To Moses.

                “Why can’t we have more meat?  Why don’t we have any vegetables?  How much farther is it?  Are we there yet?”

                And Moses can’t take it.  So where does Moses go when he needs to complain?  He goes to God.  “God, I am done.  These people are too big of a burden.”  Moses compares the people of God to this great, big, heavy, load of stuff that he is lugging around on his back.  They are too heavy.  They are too big.  He can’t carry them anymore. 
God, if I have found favor in your eyes, just kill me now.  He really says that. Moses is so oppressed by the complaints of Israel that he wants God to put him out of his misery. 

While the Lord does get angry with the people for complaining about all the gifts that He has given them (we should all take that to heart), He does not grow angry with Moses’ complaint.  Rather, He hears Moses’ cry for mercy and God answers.

70 elders are chosen from among the people.  70 men are picked to be leaders along with Moses, and they are brought into the Tabernacle, the tent of worship, where God is going to come to them.  God appears to these men and He places His Spirit on them.  

The Spirit was already on Moses, but God now takes it and places it on all 70 elders, and they prophesy.  We don’t know what they said.  They could have been praising God, speaking in foreign languages as on Pentecost, predicting the future—we just don’t know.  

What we do know is that now there are 70, where before there was only one.  Now there are 70 men to assist Moses, to hear complains, to judge disputes, to administer the affairs of this mass of people moving through the wilderness.  The burden of God’s people is lightened for Moses.

Then comes Joshua.  Joshua is worried because two men in the camp, two stragglers who were supposed to be at the Tabernacle but didn’t make it, they also received the Spirit of God, and they too started prophesying.  

The seventy were hidden in the tent, but these two guys were right out in the open.  What would the people think?  Would they want to follow them rather than Moses?  Joshua tells Moses about Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp and Moses’ response is, “So what?!  I am glad.  Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit on them!  

Moses had received a gift from God.  He had his burden lightened.  He has been given 70 assistants.  But He wants more.  He is not complaining.  He is simply praying, longing for the day when all of God’s people will be filled with His Spirit, not just a select few.

Well, it took almost 1500 years for God to answer the prayer of Moses, but it happened.  The reason it took so long is that God does not simply pour out His Spirit on people.  They must be consecrated first.  They must be made holy. 

The 70 elders had to go through a stringent process of ceremonial cleansing.  And even then they do not continue to prophesy.  It is as if the Spirit comes upon them, marking them as leaders, but then He leaves again.  

Jesus is the one upon whom John the Baptist tells us the Spirit of God descends and remains.  Jesus does not prophesy once and then quit.  Every word that pours forth from His mouth is the life giving Word of God.  And Jesus carries that Spirit with Him, and the Spirit carries Jesus along.

They go to the cross together.  On the cross of Calvary Jesus Christ sheds His holy blood to make the world holy.  He sacrifices His flesh so that He might remove every barrier, every stain, that makes a person unworthy of God’s Spirit.  He washes away the whining and unjustified complaining of all people.  He forgives ungrateful and selfish hearts. 
Jesus dies, and in doing so He unleashes the Spirit of God onto the world, a world cleansed from sin and made holy to receive the Spirit of God.  The Spirit lays low until Jesus ascends in power and glory, but He reveals Himself fully at Pentecost.

Moses’ prayer is answered at Pentecost as the Spirit comes with fire and the people of God open their mouths and utter forth the Word of Christ, the Gospel that leads to salvation.

The first thing that Peter says in his Pentecost Day sermon is to reassure the people that this is not some form of depraved drunkenness, but the fulfillment of Moses’ prayer and God’s plan: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

The Holy Spirit has been unleashed upon a world redeemed from its sins.  He is poured out that people would prophesy, that they would call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.  The Spirit is let loose on the earth to produce faith in Jesus Christ.

And it continues to this day.  Each one of us has received the Spirit of God.  How do you know?  Are you baptized?  Have you received the Lord’s Supper?  Have you heard the Gospel?  Then you have received the Spirit.  And He is working in you, calling to life faith, calling you to call on Jesus, calling you to prophesy.

Prophesying is, in this sense, not something that predicts the future, or is even proclaimed from a pulpit.  It is spoken from the lips of a Christian.  It is calling on Jesus for salvation, trusting in Him as your Redeemer, confessing Him as the only one who gives life to the dead.  

And it happens in two places: the heart and the lips.  The heart of the Christian cries out to Jesus Christ in repentance, asking for and receiving forgiveness and the assurance of life everlasting.  It is called faith.  No one else may ever see it.  In fact no one else can see it or hear it.  God alone sees and hears the faith in our hearts.

Yet faith also speaks through our lips.  We raise our voices praising God in songs and hymns for Christ’s sacrifice.  Faith confesses before the whole world that God raised Him from the dead.  The faith in our hearts produces prophecy on our lips so that all people may come to know Jesus Christ as God and Savior.

When a child is baptized, we have no idea what he may become.  He may very well become a pastor, preaching the gospel to hundreds, thousands week after week.  The baptized one may be a teacher, or nurse, or farmer, or secretary, or politician, or custodian.  

We can know one thing, however.  By the power of the Holy Spirit that baptized child will be a prophet.  They will call on Jesus, with the heart, and with the mouth, just like you.  

Moses’ prayer has been answered.  The burden of God’s people no longer rests on the shoulders of one mere mortal.  It no longer rest on the shoulders of 70 men.  It rests on the sturdy shoulders of Jesus Christ and His Spirit.

Jesus bears our burdens.  He fills our hearts with the Holy Spirit.  He opens our mouths to prophesy, to call on Him by name.