Changing Lives For Christ

Middle Creek was recently blessed with the opportunity to hear from a representative of Gideons International. He shared with us the story of a man whose life was forever changed by the work of the Gideons. 

Let’s call this man Jimmy. 

Jimmy was thief. As a young man, he began picking pockets. Time passed and Jimmy's thievery evolved. He began breaking into homes and hotel rooms to steal. One day, he had broken into a local hotel room while its occupant was away. He removed the pillow from its case and began filling the pillowcase with any valuables he could find - everything from jewelry to credit cards to the book in the nightstand drawer.

Mid-robbery, the occupant of the hotel room - a tall, burly man - returned, catching Jimmy in the act. Jimmy ran to the balcony and jumped over the railing to escape. Well, unfortunately for Jimmy, he had forgotten that he was on the fourth floor.

With two broken ankles, of course Jimmy was caught and taken to the hospital. While laying in his hospital bed recovering, he searched the bedside table and found a book. Jimmy thought to himself that this book looked just like the one he took from the hotel room. He opened to book to find one particular verse staring back at him in capital letters: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS (Matthew 27:37). He kept reading about this Jesus person and learned he was crucified between two thieves and that he died for the sins of the world.

Of course, Jimmy still had to serve his punishment for what he had done, but he left that hospital room a changed man. He continued to read the Bible and grow in his faith. His sentence was shortened by his good behavior and he now serves in ministry. 

This is just one small example of the impact made by the work of the Gideons.

Founded in 1899, the Gideons International has distributed over 2 billion copies of God’s word and have over 3000 members worldwide. They have a presence in over 200 countries and distribute bibles in over 95 different languages. They've even developed an app to make the bible even more accessible in today's tech-centric society.

These bibles are distributed two ways: First, as we learned from Jimmy’s story, scriptures are placed in many locations, including hotels, motels, hospitals, medical offices, shelters, and prisons. Pocket-sized bibles are also distributed personally to individuals whenever possible.

The work of the Gideons is truly incredible and has been changing lives and bringing people to Christ for many years.

So, how can you support this ministry with us?

Well first, as our speaker put it to our congregation, “If we could buy bibles with dirt, I’d be standing up here talking about dirt.” But the fact of the matter is, it costs money to buy bibles. Hotel room bibles cost $5 and personal bibles range from $1.25 to $1.40. Every dollar donated goes directly toward the purchase of a bible that will impact someone’s life for Christ. If you feel so inclined, donations can be made online: https://www2.gideons.org/donate

You can also support the Gideon’s in prayer - prayer for open doors to share their message, safety for those ministering in dangerous parts of the world, and prayer for funding that their ministry may continue to grow. 

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…” (Col. 4:3)

Giving To God

If you think for a moment, I’m sure you can think of a time (maybe even today) that you’ve given something. We give all kinds of things like time, love, attention, and money… The list goes on and on.

As Christians, it’s easy to lose sight of the purpose behind our giving. We are taught almost from the moment we accept our Savior that giving is part of the Christian life. But do we really understand why that is? Let’s look together at what the Bible tells us about how and why we should give.

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
– Matthew 6:1-4

There are plenty of Bible verses about giving, but this passage stands out to me. In just four verses, we are reminded of the most significant principle behind Christian giving.

  1. We are expected and required to give
    Reread the passage. Notice that Jesus said to His disciple “when you give” not “if you give.” Jesus is telling us that, as Christians, giving is a requirement. It is an expected part of our daily walk with God.

  2. Our motives for giving matter
    Immediately, Jesus warns against “practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them.” He later goes so far as to say that your giving should be done in secret. This means that we should not give for our own glory, recognition, or praise. Jesus states that those who do “have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.” As Christians, we give to honor God and bring glory to His kingdom.

  3. Ultimately, we are giving directly to God
    Of course, you aren’t literally placing your tithe or offering into God’s hands, but as mentioned previously, Christian giving is done to bring glory to God and His kingdom. When you give you are doing more than just padding the church’s budget – you are giving and offering directly to the Lord and He sees and rewards your gift.

The bottom line? When you give, do it for the right reasons – for God’s kingdom and glory.

A New Tradition: Celebrating God This Valentine's Day

It’s that time again…

Valentine’s Day is upon us. The gifts are bought, the flowers are sent, and the reservations are made. Today is the day that everything we see is red or pink and covered in hearts. This is tradition, right?

But what if we were to start a new tradition? What if, in addition to celebrating and loving the special people in our lives, we spend some time celebrating and reflecting our love for God?

This Valentine’s Day, let us have a heart like David’s. In Psalm 63, David writes about the love and satisfaction he finds in God:

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you for sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.” – Psalm 63:1-2

A powerful testimony, isn't it? David w as devoted to being a man after God's own heart. An we are called to do the same. On a day dedicated to love, let's take a moment and remember our love for God and what that means.

To love God is…… to know Him, to worship Him, to praise Him, to put Him first, to desire Him, to obey Him.

Today, amidst the gifts and plans, I challenge you to set aside some quiet time to talk with God and reflect on your love for Him – your true Valentine.