It seemed a mainly 'black and white' day at the bus stop today. There were those who compressed their lips as they indicated they were not in a talkative mood - mainly older citizens. But also. there were teens who confessed to be Biblically ignorant but took tracts and seemed to accept the challenge to take the Bible seriously for it deals with God's way to eternal life or an eternity of personal misery. Pray that they do 'check it out'.
One young man reckoned that he was too bad to be saved. However he heard God's good news. While he seemed unchanged, we pray that as God's word does its work, Is. 55:11; Heb. 4:12, so his conscience is awakened so that he breaks free from his current fatalistic stance.
We thank God for conversations had, tracts distributed and all our imperfect works with all our imperfect prayers made acceptable through the offices of our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the praise of God's glorious grace.
On arriving, I spotted a young lady with a portable tract stand but facing away from me. Suspecting she was a J.W., I asked the Lord to send her to me if He wanted me to speak to her. He did. Nadia from Denmark, a pleasant lass who had multiple Bible translations on her phone, including the J.W. 2013 updated 'new world' version. We agreed that the only source of absolute Truth is the Bible.
- We discussed their addition to Scripture, Col. 1:16 "For by Him all other things were created..." and how this changes the meaning of what God had said and requires Jesus to be categorized as a creature. Of course this is heresy and invokes the curses for adding to Scripture.
- We agreed that Rom. 1 condemns the exchanging of God's truth for a lie and the worship of creatures instead of the Creator. Since I worship Jesus as God and she believes that Jesus is a creature, then I should be sent to hell? She rejects hell as not justice but cruelty from God who is loving. I asked her: If I reject Jesus whom God says "This is My beloved Son. Listen (listen so as to obey Him) to Him, then I, a finite creature have offended the God who is infinite. Surely I can never pay off my debt of sin and so must spend eternity in God's prison?
- The positive challenge came from Jn. 5:23 "that all may honour the Son just as they do the Father..." Nadia stated that she would look into this verse that calls for equal honouring of the Father and the Son. Pray that she does, and although she might do so in order to have an answer for the future, ask our sovereign Lord to overrule this and be pleased to draw her to the Saviour.
There was a young lad whom Ryan saw reading a tract as he approached (none of us had given him one and we had just started but God has His way of getting His word where He wants it). Following a lengthy chat for the lad was full of questions, his bus arrived. Pray the Lord stirs Him to check out the good news.
What will the Lord do with the tracts handed out and the conversations had, even the one Lee-Anne had with a vegan who burst out ranting when she would not accept that she needed to stop killing animals ( he thought her vinyl handbag was leather) or maybe he did not like the challenge of God's good news? God alone does what is righteous in every encounter. We praise Him for using us in our frailties and we delight in ascribing all glory to Him alone.
God is building His Church and when the last of the elect is welcomed into the everlasting kingdom, then...? Glory!
Today there were some people who professed saving faith but struggled to explain why they thought God would welcome them into His presence. So we handed them tracts and explained how Jesus satisfies God's legal requirements on behalf of His people so that as one comes to seek mercy from God, trusting in Christ and His perfect saving work, God is pleased to glorify His Son by granting the mercy of the remission of all one's sins and bestowing the gift of everlasting life.
The idea of not depending in some way on one's own efforts to please God is just as difficult today as it was 500 years ago. The only remedy for one's old nature is the regeneration that God the Holy Spirit alone bestows.
Please pray for Ruth, a SDA lady to whom Lee-Anne spoke last week, asked for prayer. She needs a firm grasp on the gospel.
There were some usual question marks,
- like the satanist who stated that nothing would change her unbelieving mind;
or - like the atheist who did not want anyone controlling him but himself!
God granted us another day in which He went before, and with us, and after us, doing His glorious work and to Him alone we ascribe all honor and praise along with our thanks for using weak vessels such as we are. (p.s. When He has completed His work in us, we shall be spotless, blameless. Wow!)
Another interesting foray into the Lord's harvest field.
- A man of 25 years, Luke, needs our prayers that he would accept God's terms of reconciliation today. He was last seen reading his copy of John's gospel. His response was at the conclusion of a long chat that included many important things that he came to understand besides the way of salvation, e.g. the reliability of the Bible.
- a middle-aged man, Mr. A, who seemed hazy about why God should let him into His heaven. After some well-directed questions, Mr. A said that he did not deserve to go to hell for his sins. Why flee to the Saviour if you do not think God's wrath is upon you? His minister is being contacted to follow up.
- Karen, got the double treatment from two different team members. She claims to have received Jesus 18 years ago but does not understand God's Self-revelation, the Bible. Pray she acts upon the challenges put to her to ask God to enlighten her understanding and/or to see her pastor about joining a beginner's Bible study.
- a few religious types of the ABJs ( anything bur Jesus ) variety. For these and other who received tracts or had chats, please pray that God would stir those whom He is dealing with at this time, to pursue salvation seriously from now on.
Again we thank God for the privilege and pleasure of serving Him as we render all glory honour and praise to Him alone.
School holidays continue but our great God is always at His glorious work, Ps. 127:1 "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it." His house is unmistakable - bullet-proof and glorious as He Himself is.
Quite a few tracts were received today; many people were not 'our regulars'. Then there were a few scoffers, a few listeners, and a few who could not, or would not, agree with God's Way to reconciliation with Himself. To think that the Son of God willingly bore the wrath of God and so many seem disinterested!
We work. We and you pray and God always has the last word and He is always right. We, by nature, are sinners and if God had not dealt with us in His grace, we would have still been rebels at heart. Praise God for each one He saves and may we join with the angels rejoicing over one sinner who repents.
Praying always, we thank God for using us in our weaknesses and to Him alone be the glory. He is worthy.
It was an encouraging outreach yesterday at Capalaba. The team went from one gospel conversation to the next, with some disinterested people (as expected) in-between.
One conversation we had was with two young people, one initially responded to the question of whether they thought they would go to heaven with, "Oh I'm gay". But by the end of the conversation they were both considering the message of the gospel, and were happy to take a gospel of John to start reading.
Another person we spoke with, Alex, said that he reads the Bible every night but he wasn't sure of whether God would let him into Heaven. He did think he was a good person though. So we went through some of God's commandments, and he began to see his sinfulness and asked what he could do. I explained that Jesus was able to pay our fine for us on the cross 2000 years ago.
At the end of the chat I asked him, "So now, what do you have to do to get to Heaven?" He said, "Trust in Jesus". I urged him to do that today, and make sure he counts the cost of following Jesus, for Jesus doesn't want half-hearted followers.
To God be all the glory!
This afternoon in Capalaba it was a little tougher to evangelise because there were less people around and a more people were vocal regarding their hatred of God and His Gospel. None the less there were still many valuable conversations had by the team!
In this tense time regarding the same sex marriage plebiscite, I asked a man, named Jamie, who was just walking by the bus stop if he thought he was a good person. Jamie responded and said he thought he was a decent guy and then inquired as to why I was asking.
I simply explained that Operation 513 is a Christian group existing specifically for the purpose of engaging with people to share the Gospel. Jamie's response was simply, "I'm probably not your kind of guy, I'm not religious and I'm gay."
I asked, "Why don't you think I would be interested in engaging with you?" He said, "Because churches usually are grossed out by and hate people like me."
This was my opportunity, to share with this man that Christians are still sinners. I started by saying, "Christians aren't a group of people who think they're good, rather they're a group of people who know they're not. We as Christians are united by the very fact that we desperatly need a Saviour."
He said, "Oh ok." He seemed very taken a back that I hadn't even flinched despite what he thought was an "unforgivable" sin. I went on to explain, that Christians are often plagued by self-righteousness. We are still prone to thinking we're better than someone else because they sin differently than us and even stronger every person, Christians included, are plagued with broken sexuality, broken identity and broken relationships.
I went on to explain that, every single person is sinful, proud and selfish to the core. We have all made ourselves enemies of God. We are all rebels against our Creator and that wickedness deserves Hell.
Jamie said, "How do we know we're not living in Hell now?" in reply I simply said, "Hell is a place where God removes all His good gifts, intimacy, relationships, pleasure and comfort and instead pours out His justice and wrath on those who are rebels and will rebel against Him eternally. The very fact that we can stand here talking means we are not in Hell."
That seemed sufficient. So I finished explaining, "Even though we deserve Hell and it is God who should punish us, God Himself made a way of salvation." I explained that God came into this world, in the form of a man, as a servant, in the person of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Jesus willingly volunteered. He is perfect and sinless and went to the cross to suffer the full fury and wrath of God for sin. On that cross Jesus was punished as if He were you and I so that if we turn in surrender to Him we can be redeemed. We can have our sin forgiven. We can have our relationship with God and others restored and we can have our true humanity repaired.
With these last sentences, Jamie seemed to be holding back some tears and was keen to take a tract and said, "I am quite interested, I shall definitely have a read when I get home and consider it."
During our outreach in Capalaba, we spoke with an Aussie bloke in his 20s named Kyle. He said he used to not believe in God, but then he was at a low point in his life and he found a Bible at a caravan park he was staying at. He read various parts of it, but thought he couldn't take the Bible with him because it was not his.
So he said to me that he has been wanting to get a Bible of his own for a long time now. I then ran to my car and gave him a full Bible. He was overjoyed. He said, "My heart is beating so fast right now. You have made my day. Thank you!"
He recognised that he had done lots of things wrong in life, but had no idea of how to get his sins forgiven. And he knew that simply improving his life wouldn't get rid of his past. He took a while though to understand the message of grace, and how we need to trust in Jesus' death alone for our forgiveness. But in the end, he understood it and is going to be counting the cost of trusting in Christ.
We also referred him to a good local church in the area. Please pray for his salvation and for all the others who got to hear the gospel today. To God be the glory!
At the outreach at Capalaba Bus Station on Monday afternoon there were 4 team members out and a whole host of conversations were had!
Capalaba is a very interesting place, some people are incredibly hostile, they will often yell, "Don't you dare talk to me" and yet the person sitting right beside them will be happy and open to hear about what God has done to save sinners.
An early conversation was with a woman named Chloe, she had no hostility but was completely open. It was a scary conversation in some respects because this woman who was in her early twenties had never heard of Jesus. You read that right, she had no idea who He is, who He claimed to be, when He had lived or what He had done. The only thing she knew about Him was His name, Jesus Christ.
There was great pleasure taken in explaining what sin is, who God is, the resulting penalty for sin and yet that God, through Christ had provided a way of salvation. Chloe left with a Gospel of John and said she would have to consider it that night.
Another man the team talked to was named Jordan, who is also in his mid twenties, at the beginning of the conversation he was saying that he was pretty sure Heaven and Hell didn't exist but after only 15 minutes of discussion he was asking how a sinner could be forgiven and be right with God.
This was probably the most encouraging discussion of the afternoon, he hopped on the bus pondering the question, "Will I continue to live for myself and suffer God's justice in Hell, or will I acknowledge that I am a sinner in desperate need of salvation and surrender in trust to the God who punished Himself on my behalf?"
There were a whole host of other conversations, so please take the time to come before the Lord in prayer pleading on behalf of these people and all those talked to that God would graciously grant them repentance!
Please also ask God to bring back these same people next week for follow up conversations and discussions! And finally may you lift up the team in prayer that God may equip and empower them by His Spirit to keep boldly proclaiming the gospel.
When I returned home, my wife said that she had asked the Lord to give me an encouraging conversation. God had graciously answered in the affirmative:
I spoke with a young man, Darren, who has some Christian friends but was not familiar with the Bible. He listened intently. Following the pattern of Paul speaking to Gentiles in Acts, I went through God creating, particularly mankind in His image so that one might enjoy God as one obeyed Him. Proceeding through Adam's rebellion (and this against only one external law) to God's judicial curse, I showed how this explains our problems with relationships today, especially with God but also with our fellow man and with nature.
Darren was quite sure that no one could meet God's moral standard (10 external laws) and he did not know anyone who is perfect who could aid him. Going through the sinlessness of Jesus, I explained that His submission to the judicial wrath of God was as Substitute for His people. God's raising Jesus from the dead proved that God was pleased with Jesus sacrifice.
So now to the one who turns from his rebellion against God and trusts in Jesus alone to save him, can ask God for mercy and God will grant this as this is His stipulated way for anyone to become a Christian. I pointed out some of the means of grace by which God empowers Christians to begin and to continue living for His glory. I encouraged him to make a serious reflection and ask questions from us, most Monday afternoons, or via the web site. He says he is going to. May God lead him in the everlasting Way, Jer. 6:16.
Praise God triune for His gospel which is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes, first to the Jews, and also to the Gentiles and for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that glorifies our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.