I traveled with Dan Hanselman from Highland Congregational Church to the Pastor’s appreciation luncheon sponsored by the Gideon’s. I heard two remarkable stories.
On a remote island in the Philippines during the Second World War, a life raft drifted ashore. It was empty, the occupants having perished. A group of natives rifled through it looking for anything of use and came across a small New Testament. It was a Gideon Bible that had been part of a distribution to American sailors. The book was a curiosity to the tribesmen who could not read. There was one who could read and the book was brought to him. He was immediately intrigued and moved by the message of the Gospel. On his own he gave his life to Christ and began to make changes in the way he spoke and behaved. The changes were noted by his neighbors and they began to ask him why. He was then forced to try and explain the message from this book that had drifted in from the sea. The islanders were hooked and demanded the man share with them each day from the book.
After the war, Christian missionaries arrived on the island and were stunned to discover a church. All because one man read the New Testament. The Word of God is powerful.
A prison chaplain was distributing New Testaments. One inmate was so enthusiastic he pushed to get to the front of the line. When he got his copy he shouted with glee and ran to a bench on the side. The man tore out the first page, sprinkled tobacco on it and rolled a cigarette! Through the weeks he smoked his way through Matthew, Mark and Luke. But at John, something prompted him to read the first page before he burned it. He got hooked. He got the message that God loved him. No one had ever told him that he was loved. He could hardly believe it. He read on. By the time he finished he had decided to give his life to Christ. The Gospel is power for salvation!
Is it not time that you reacquainted yourself with this power? There are 261 weekdays in the year. There are 260 chapters in the entire New Testament. What would happen if we all dedicated ourselves to reading one chapter each week day for a year? What would happen if parents read these chapters to their children at home before bed? What if husbands and wives read them together each day? What if small groups gathered weekly to discuss and explore the lessons of the Gospel? I know what would happen: families would be united, marriages would strengthen, and our church would grow in spirit and truth. God’s word is powerful and such an effort would release His power among us.
We’re going to do it in 2018! In December we will distribute a handy card with the entire reading plan on it. Tuck it in your Bible and beginning on January 1, join in an all-church journey through the New Testament. Consider forming a small group to meet weekly to discuss the readings. I’ll be holding a leader training meeting in December, details TBA. Discussion guides will be provided. Each week, the sermon will focus on the readings from the previous week. My guarantee is this: if you commit to this and follow through, your life will be changed for the better. If not, you can have your old life back!
Connect, Grow, Serve
Pastor Tom Anderson
October 20, 2017