This week we will have the great privilege of hearing from The Gideons International, a remarkable ministry which has faithfully distributed the Word of God throughout the world for over 100 years! Here are some highlight from their website:
Founded in 1899, The Gideons International serves as an extended missionary arm of the church and is the oldest Association of Christian business and professional men in the United States of America.
In the autumn of 1898, John H. Nicholson of Janesville, Wisconsin, arrived at the Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, for the night. The hotel was crowded, but he was offered a bed in a double room with Samuel E. Hill of Beloit, Wisconsin. The two men soon discovered they shared a common belief in Christ, and they decided to have their evening devotions together. During their prayer time, both felt the call to begin developing an Association.
On May 31, 1899, the two men met again at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where they decided the purpose of their Association would be to band Christian commercial travelers together for mutual recognition, personal evangelism, and united service for the Lord. They decided to call a meeting in Janesville, Wisconsin, on July 1, 1899, in the Y.M.C.A.
Only three men were present at the meeting in Janesville: John H. Nicholson, Samuel E. Hill, and Will J. Knights. They organized with Hill as president, Knights as vice president, and Nicholson as secretary and treasurer. When it came time to decide the name of the Association, the men held a special prayer time to ask that God might lead them to select the proper name. After, Mr. Knights arose from his knees and said simply, "We shall be called Gideons." He then proceeded to read the story of Gideon from the sixth and seventh chapters of Judges.
In light of the fact that nearly all of the Gideons in the early years of the Association were traveling men, the question naturally arose as to how they might be more effective witnesses in hotels. One trustee went so far as to suggest that The Gideons supply a Bible for each bedroom of the hotels in the United States. He commented, "In my opinion, this would not only stimulate the activities of the rank and file of the membership, but would be a gracious act, wholly in keeping with the divine mission of the Gideon Association." This plan, which they called "The Bible Project" was adopted at Louisville, Kentucky, in 1908.
The Gideons International began distributing the Word of God in 1908. Today, there are more than 270,000 Gideons and Auxiliary - and an untold number of supporters - in 200 countries, territories, and possessions across the globe. These dedicated individuals have given their time and money to make it possible for others to learn about the love of God by giving them access to His Word. We have placed and distributed more than 2 billion Bibles and New Testaments around the world.
In preparation for the ministry of the Gideons this Sunday, let's reflect on the marvelous gift of God's Word.
1. Let's begin in the very beginning! Read Genesis 1:24-31. How is man created differently that all other creatures and in what ways is man's relationship with God unique among all the creatures of the earth?
2. What do the texts listed below tell us about our relationship to the Word of God?
* Deuteronomy 8:4
* Deuteronomy 32:44-47
* Matthew 7:24-27
* John 8:31; 17:16-17
* II Timothy 3:16-17
* II Peter 1:3-4
3. What do the following texts teach us about God's Word?
* Deuteronomy 4:2, 6-8
* Deuteronomy 6:4-9
* Joshua 1:8
* Psalm 1
* Psalm 19:7-11
* Psalm 119:44-45, 105, 165 (every verse in this psalm is about the Word of God!)
* Isaiah 40:6-8
* Isaiah 55:10-11
* Jeremiah 23:28-29
* Luke 24:27, 44-47
* Gal. 1:6-9; II Thess. 2:13-15 (II Pet. 3:16)
* I Peter 1:23
* Hebrews 4:12
4. After looking at all these texts of Scripture, why do you think the Gideons are so eager to see that people throughout the world have a copy in their own language?
5. There is so much more we could ponder about the Word of God, but let's stop here. What do you take away from this survey of texts on the Bible? What should our response be to this Book and what do we do with it?
Hope to see you on Sunday! God be with you,