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oscow's Kremlin, a walled fortress and political center of the atheistic USSR, is filled Cathedrals and churches. Three Cathedrals set off what is known, appropriately as Cathedral Square. The Cathedral of the Dormition; the Annunciation Cathedral and Cathedral of the Archangel as well as the Church of the Twelve Apostles seem to ring this area of the Kremlin. When taken in light of the well known towers of St. Basil it would be impossible to miss the "spiritual significance" of this area.

Yet from 1917 till 1990 leaders from Lenin and Stalin to Khrushchev and Gorbachev passed those buildings without a second thought. How could they have been so blind to the truth depicted on the murals, and the icons within? How could they miss the importance and truth? In the same way every town in the U.S. have churches, steeples and crosses which are passed by, ignored, and simply not thought of by those on their way to work, shopping or elsewhere equally important.

A lady from the "Children's Relief Nursery" in St. Johns stopped by to visit about the need for volunteers and a seemingly lack of interest from the faith community. She mentioned how many churches there are in the area and why there wasn't more involvement. I pointed out that Mt. Olivet was the closest thing we had to a big church.

Let me suggest it is easy to treat God's Word the same way as those Cathedrals and our churches. We can pass over, go around, and simply step on Scripture because we refuse to be grasped by its truth. The passages today are marvelous words of hope and instruction if we allow them to be. Consider the Old Testament instruction to be committed to God's commands. We are to repeat them over and over again to our kids. They are to be the source of conversation wherever and whenever we are. They are to become so much a part of us that they become part of our clothing that make us as people of God's word. Likewise, they are to mark our homes as places that remember and honor God.

Why does God tell us to do such things? It's because He's going to bring them into a place they've waited for and things are going to be good. God knows that when things go well for us we tend to forget Him. We think we know better than He does. We end up worshipping our God and the other gods side-by-side and see nothing wrong with it.

In Acts, it had been a tough time for Paul. He'd followed God's leading into Greece. In Philippi there weren't enough Jewish men for a synagogue so he has a group of mostly women meeting. He then ends up in jail for healing a slave girl. Leaving there and going to Thessalonica where he upsets some of the Jews who form a mob to arrest him again.

Whenever you put yourself out for Jesus and don’t seem to see the results you think you should see it can become tiring. That's true for us and it was true for Paul. So he leaves there and in Berea he comes across something totally different. Here's a group of people who check out what Paul says by looking at God's word.

They diligently looked at, studied and mulled over what Paul and Silas taught. They weren't doing it to find fault. They were doing it to make sure it squared with what God's Word said. It is easy today, to become so caught up in what we feel that what is true takes a back seat.

In a couple of weeks when we start reading through the Bible many of us will hit a time crunch. It will be hard because we will have to carve out time from our already busy schedules to make it happen. But what can be more important?

Vietnam POW's tell of how prisoners valued God's Word. They shared verses they remembered. Spending 20 hours a day locked in our cells. "those Bible verses became rays of light, constant assurances of God's love and care" writes James Ray.

 He wrote, "We made ink from brick dust and water or precious drops of medicine. We wrote verses on bits of toilet paper and slipped them to others, dropping them behind a loose brick at the toilets."

"One night I lay with my ear pressed up against the rough wooden wall of my cell to hear thump... thumpety-thump as somewhere, cells away, a fellow POW tapped out in Morse code: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help" (Psalm 121:1).[1]

To believe God's Word, to hold it close, to study it and memorize it so when tried and tested it becomes a ray of light takes commitment to do it.

I want to end with a couple of comments from George Barna who makes a living researching faith questions. The first deals with the contradiction between what Christians in the US say about truth.

"Almost everyone in the U.S. believes that truth exists. However, a large majority of both adults and teenagers, Christian and non-Christian, contends that there is no absolute moral truth. More than two out of three adults and more than four out of five teenagers argue that truth is always relative to the individual and the circumstances. While most of these people describe themselves as followers of Christ and say that the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings, they nevertheless believe that truth is based on feelings, experience or emotion.

"This is one of the great deceptions of our age," Barna pointed out. "By claiming the authority to determine right from wrong, we crown ourselves the kings and queens of reality, yet we have no such authority and we constantly pay the price for the arrogance of believing and acting like we are in control of our destiny and experience. What an affront it is to God for us to claim His name and protection but to resist His moral truths on the basis of human feelings."

His second statement is about a contradiction between our statements and our actions.

More than four out of five Americans claim to be Christian and half as many can be classified as born again Christians. Nine out of ten adults own a Bible. Most adults read the Bible during the year and a huge majority claims they know all of the basic teachings of the Bible. How, then, can most people say Satan does not exist, that the Holy Spirit is merely a symbol, that eternal peace with God can be earned through good works, and that truth can only be understood through the lens of reason and experience? How can a plurality of our citizens contend that Jesus committed sins and that the Bible, Koran and Book of Mormon all teach the same truths?

"In a sound bite society you get sound bite theology," Barna lamented. "Americans are more likely to buy simple sayings than a system of truth that takes time and concentration to grasp. People are more prone to embrace diversity, tolerance and feeling good than judgment, discernment, righteousness and limitations. People are more focused on temporal security than eternal security and its temporal implications." He then closes this by reminding his readers of Galatians which tells us "God will not be mocked".[2]

I can't tell you how much you'll grow if you take on the task of seriously reading and reflecting on God's Word. I can only tell you that it will make a difference in your life you won't believe.


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[1] http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/1804/p/msi.html#4 accessed January 18, 2008

[2] http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=128 accessed January 18, 2008

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