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The Gospel

While the whole Bible is the message of the gospel (good news) of God, there is a central core that lies at its heart.

This is what we want to share with family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours.

1) The Gospel Begins With God

  • This is the most difficult and important part of our attempt to explain the gospel message.
  • Some people do not believe in God at all, so we need to begin by establishing that GOD IS!
    • The argument from design (Acts 17:24-26)
    • The argument from conscience (Romans 2:14&15)
    • The argument from “the search for happiness” – the “God-shaped hole” in our lives (Acts 17:27&28)
  • Many more do believe in God, but have no idea what He is really like
    • He is holy, meaning that He is not at all like us and infinitely high above us in his splendour and glory (Isaiah 6:1-5)
    • He is pure, so that there is no imperfection or weakness or flaw in Him – He cannot possibly accept anything that is not absolutely perfect (I John 1:5)
    • He is love, proven in the fact that He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, eternally united in perfect commitment and mutual devotion – He IS love (I John 4:7-10)
  • Others know a bit about God, but do not accept His personal interest in them: they use the argument that “God is not interested in me” to explain why they are not interested in God!
    • God made humanity for fellowship and relationship (Genesis 1:26&3:8)
    • God has never given up on his personal interest in humanity (Acts 17:27&28)
    • God’s interest extends to a full record of every person’s entire life (Hebrews 4:13)
  • If we cannot establish the reality of God from the beginning of our conversation, we can move to points 2 and 3 and seek to prove His reality from there:
  • 2) The Gospel Explains The Problem

    • There is clearly a problem! God made everything perfect and glorious, yet it is not so today. Pick out any number of proofs particularly relevant to the person you are speaking with:
      • Warfare, divorce, hatred, bullying, abuse, murder, unfaithfulness, deception…
      • Choose something big that the person could not really argue with!
    • Then seek to demonstrate that each of us is guilty of causing the problem. We have all contributed and none of us is without blame.
      • We have all broken God’s laws. Use any one or more of the commandments in Exodus 20 to prove this. You can also refer to Jesus’ probing application of the commandments in Matthew 5 to press your point home.
      • We are all guilty before God. Not that we are guilty to the same degree (it is a mistake to try and argue that a murderer is equally guilty as a tax-evader), but that we are all guilty before a holy God to some degree, hence there is no essential difference (Romans 3:21-23).
      • None of us can fix the problem, because it lies in our own hearts. Challenge the person if they could be perfect for a single day… Refer to Jeremiah 17:9&10.
    • If you can establish both points 1&2, then the conclusion is inevitable: there must be a day of judgment upon which we will have to give account to God (Romans 14:12).
    • For most of us, this day will come following our death (Hebrews 9:27), and will lead to the obvious and inevitable separation from God that we deserve (Matthew 7:23).
    • In all of this, remember that the problem of sin is not primarily in relation to other people, but before the God who made us and will hold us to account (Psalm 51).

    3) The Gospel Points To Christ As The Only Solution

    • Christ Jesus is the only solution to the problem of our sin and the judgment to follow because:
      • He alone was born without any inclination to sin (Matthew 1:23)
      • He alone lived a perfectly holy, pure and loving life, so that he alone is worthy never to die or to be judged (Hebrews 7:26). Spend as much time here as you can (and if you ever get bogged down on any of the other points, try to come back to this one). Use any number of the incidents from Jesus’ life to prove that He was perfect and beautiful and righteous before God in every way. Become very familiar with the gospel accounts so that the stories of His life are at hand. The events leading up to the cross are especially powerful, for example the way that he loved His enemies and prayed for them.
      • He alone has the power and the authority to face the forces of evil and to defeat them, because He alone is fully God and fully human, (John 14:6-11). Note that understanding and believing in the deity of Christ is essential for any person’s salvation. This is not a secondary matter, but absolutely fundamental. It is the reason why the “gospel” message of the cults (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons) cannot save from sin.
      • He alone died to pay the price for sin, taking the full consequences of all humanity’s rebellion against God in those three hours on the cross (II Corinthians 5:21). Note that Jesus only died for the sins of those who repent and believe, so while we can say, “Jesus died for sinners like us”, we must never say to an individual person, “Jesus has died for your sins.” That is not the case, unless they repent of sin and trust in Him for forgiveness (see point 4). We must be careful not to say what can be misunderstood.
      • He alone has conquered death by rising again to live forever (II Timothy 1:10)
      • He will return in glory to finish His work in His people, (I John 3:2)

    4) The Gospel Demands A Response

    • We are heralds of God’s gospel, not sharers of our own ideas for discussion.
    • Therefore, the gospel demands a response, and “no response” is the same as rejection.
    • What response is required?
      • Repent, which means admit, confess and turn around (Acts 2:38)
      • Believe, which means trust in Christ alone for forgiveness (Acts 16:31)
      • Embrace Christ as the Lord of your life and commit yourself to live to His glory with His people in the church from this day forward (Romans 10:9)

      TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY

    Leslie Yates - The Grace of God and MS

    The Grace of God and MS

    Les Yates has written a book called “The Grace of God and Multiple Sclerosis”. It is available from Christian bookshops and online from the publisher.

    Click here to read about Les’s book

    William Gadsby

    Listen to our talk on William Gadsby ‘Brought to the blessings of salvation’.

    Click here to see our William Gadsby page

    Trinity Grace Edtions

    Trinity Grace Editions

    Our Trinity Grace Editions page is a resource for downloading our books and we are committed to making such literature accessible to the widest possible readership

    Click here to see the Trinity Grace Editions page


    Honest Answers – Pt.III – Isn’t morality relative?

    The Third in a series of short films giving honest answers to sincere questions: Isn’t morality relative?

    “Morality is not just a social construct – it is rooted in the eternal character of God Himself” – Vaughan Roberts.

    You can also join in the discussion on our Youtube channel here.
    Click here to see our page Honest Answers – Isn’t morality relative?


    Honest Answers – Pt.II – Does God believe in all religions?

    The second in a series of short films giving honest answers to sincere questions: Does God believe in all Religions?

    “No religion is pleasing to God unless founded on truth” – John Calvin

    You can also join in the discussion on our Youtube channel here.
    Click here to see our page Honest Answers – Does God belive in all religions?


    Honest Answers – Pt.I – Is there a God?

    The first in a series of short films giving honest answers to sincere questions: Is There A God?

    C.S. Lewis said “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

    You can also join in the discussion on our Youtube channel here.
    Click here to see our page Honest Answers – Is there a God?


    Eric Liddell – Running for God.

    Eric Liddell is an inspiring Christian figure who was notably the inspiration for the film ‘Chariots of Fire.’ ‘The Flying Scotsman’ was an Olympic gold medal winner who refused to race on the Sabbath in his best event. His principles and belief in Christ helped develop him into the extraordinary man that we profile in this video.

    Click here to view our Eric Liddell page


    The Family Education Trust.

    Our friends at the Family Education Trust do sterling work in keeping us informed of the trends in our society that relate to marriage and family life. In so doing, they warn us, direct us and encourage us through many of the challenges that we face.

    Please click on this link to see their latest bulletin, and browse the website more extensively to find out more about their work.

    www.familyeducationtrust.org.uk


    An Aid to Witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    The main purpose in writing this booklet is to give a brief summary of the Jehovah’s Witness Organisation, information which I hope will be helpful for those who want to reach out to many who have been ensnared by this erroneous and false cult.

    The problems in trying to share the gospel with Jehovah’s Witnesses are complex and extremely difficult.

    Click here to read the Jehovah’s Witness booklet summary


    God’s Glory Our Joy

    Many of us have found Alec Taylor’s Bible Notes to be a great blessing over the years. We warmly commend them to all our readers. We print a number of copies for our own church members and would be happy to send you hard copies – just email us using the contact button on the homepage and we’ll let you know the cost.

    Alternatively, you can access present, past and future notes on the God’s Glory Our Joy website at http://ggoj.org.uk/pilgrim-bible-notes/download

    We pray that God will bless you as you study His word daily with the guidance of these helpful notes.


    Children

    Sam the Dog – 23rd March 2008

    Sam The Dog
    Sam really hates Michelle’s Dog Parlour. He has got to go there, because if he didn’t his hair would grow too long and cover his eyes, and his nails would grow too long making him trip over them, yes – he would be in a right mess. He also has to have a wash in a special shampoo. This is because he has eczema and this eczema makes Sam feel really uncomfortably, but this shampoo helps.

    Sam sleeps in a basket beside our bed and this stops him wandering around at night; because we have wooden floors any movement is easily heard; especially early in the morning when someone is trying to stay asleep. So we keep him in the bedroom. Sam lies out on my side on the floor, in his lovely basket, where he sleeps and snores so peacefully and quietly, just loving every minute. Overlooking him is a mirror with tiffany leaded glass all around it, into which little cards can be placed. These little cards tell us when my preaching dates are. Besides this we put other appointment cards in there, appointments, such as, the dentist. One special card is there – yes you have guess it, it is for Sam, and it is an appointment for Sam to go to – Michelle’s Dog Parlour. Now I know about it, I have already made plans: I will get up early on Tuesday morning, make sure Sam has gone for a walk and he has been fed early, so that he is ready to be picked up at 08.15am outside our house. I know about it, but Sam does not! I don’t know if Sam knows there is a mirror there, probably not, and he certainly does not know there is a card there which says Michelle’s Dog Parlour – because dogs cannot read. So just three feet away from him is the card, and Sam is happy to sleep contented, unaware that it says the dreaded words – Michelle’s Dog Parlour.

    Sam is unaware that the writing’s on the wall, and he will not find out until the day, because I am really very kind. Although I do not always give that impression, for we do not want Sam to have unnecessary pain and worry since then he would not be able to relax. Every time he came into the room he would be shivering because he would be thinking, “Oh No! Michelle’s Dog Parlour,” so we keep it from him and that is a good thing to do. Actually, it’s not really about my kindness, for however much I wave the card in front of Sam, however much I laugh at him and say: “Ha Ha you are going to Michelle’s Dog Parlour” he would just not understand – you see, he only lives for the moment. In the church we have sung a hymn over the years, and the first few words are:
    “God holds the key to all unknown” and then it goes on to say, “And I am glad;” Another verse says:

    “What if to-morrow’s cares were here,
    Without its rest!
    I’d rather he unlocked the day,
    And, as the hours swing open, say,
    My will is best.

    We live in a very uncertain world: we do not know what the future holds for us, do we? Thankfully, we are not allowed to know the future. We can only live a day at a time, because we live in a world of trouble, we live in a world spoiled by sin, we live in a world with unexpected problems, and difficulties. The heavy snow that has just come to Ramsbottom was, for me, an unexpected problem. Living on a hill, I was concerned trying to work out, however do I get my car down?
    Sam had his own unexpected problem on Saturday morning, he went into Louise’s car thinking he was going to the park, and instead he went to the vets. We all have unexpected problem – even Sam. We just do not know what is around the corner. Events come out of the blue.

    Yet, as Christians we have the sure and certain knowledge that God is in charge of our future. Whatever, events have for me today, whatever the events are tomorrow, and during the year; I can be sure that God as his hand on my future. That too, is true for you; if you are a Christian this morning you can be absolutely confident that God has is hand on your future.

    The bible, as a verse we all should know well, for it is a comfort, and if we learn this verse and other verses in the bible; God can speak to us any time bringing into our mind verses that are just right for what is happening to us, right at the time we need the verse. This verse I have learned is from Romans 8:28 and it says: “and we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
    That is a fantastic verse, it is a real comfort as I face the future, and I can know that all things work together for good. We know as Christians that God is in charge of every part of our lives. Even the things that happen to us that are not nice: like trouble, pain, or difficulties, and even things that happen to us that we do not understand; as Christians God works them for our good, and that is a promise to us all.

    Jesus said, at the Sermon on the Mount these wonderful words, words that we should get into our minds:
    “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6 v.25 – 33)

    So as Christians, young, old and in-between, let us trust our future to God because he knows the end from the beginning, there is no surprises with God. God is not going to wake up, like we did, and be surprised at all the snow. God knows the end from the beginning; he never loses control of this universe. God has never been out of control for one second; He is in complete control and as a Christian God loves you with this wonderful everlasting love, a love which will never ever end: which will never ever fail.

    God cares for you and knows the situation you are in, He knows your future and as Christians we need to trust Him. We really need to trust God because He works all things together for good. Now, whatever you are doing, wherever you are, you can commit your life to God for He His faithful.
    Amen

     

    Sam the Dog – 27th April 2008

    Sam has been having a lot of problems with his ears lately. Spaniels have very long ears: they are so long they almost touch the floor. Recently, Sam has started to shake his head violently; he shakes his head on the wooden floor in the bedroom when we are asleep, and it sounds really very loud. He has also been scratching his ears with his back paws. So, Sam had a surprise visit to the vets. On examination the vet had to hold Sam very still, and wrap the lead around his mouth so that he could not suddenly snap. The vet then looked into his ears with the special light, “yes,” he said, “they look quite sore. I can see some infection there and possible ear mites present”. So, the vet gave him some antibiotic drops, saying, “see how you go on, and call again if there is still a problem.”

    Sam The DogUnfortunately, there was another problem, because Sam has become deaf. I had to warn our next door neighbour; just in case he thought I was shouting at my wife Louise, when I was in fact shouting at a deaf Sam. Sam is so deaf, that you can now go right up to him with the noisy vacuum cleaner, and he does not bat an eye: he just does not hear it. This is very dangerous for Sam for when he goes outside on to the road, a car may approach, and he cannot hear it; nor can he hear you warning him. So my daughter Rachel has us all out on dog watch, one of us needs to be watching the dog every minute. When you take him down to the park, it is very difficult, because when I let him off the lead he cannot hear me call him back. I end up going one way, and Sam another; Sam is lost in his own world. Joanne, my eldest daughter, came the other day, and called Sam in her own affectionate way – ‘babe’ she said; this normally causes Sam to go barking and screeching into the hall, but now with his deafness he had to be woken up. Even when Aunty Louise arrived with her magic bag of dog treats last week, he stayed upstairs on the landing. This had never been known before – Sam in a world of his own! Not knowing what is going on means he misses out on so many things. Yet, this is a very dangerous world for Sam; it really is so we had a second visit to the vets.

    The Vet looked into his ears again and noticed that the swelling and infection had gone down but, there was a massive amount of black ear wax in the bottom of his ears. The vet assured me that this would explain his deafness. This black wax had probably been caused because of the ear mites. The vet gave us the remedy: we have another two bottles of ear drops, one for the first week of treatment to make sure the ear mites have been completely obliterated, and one for second, a very big one; this is an ear cleaning wash, which is to be poured in and should ensure that the black wax comes out of his ears. Sam will be healed, and once again he should have listening ears. Sam will be back to normal.

    Now, consider yourself: are you in your own little world, cut off from the listening voice of God? When I am at the front of the church speaking to you all, I can see that you have all got two ears; there is nobody in here with three ears, everybody has two ears, but there are two types of ears in this room.

    The first type, are the ears that are open to God’s word, and to God’s voice; ears that want to listen to what God is saying; ears open by the Holy Spirit; ears that have heard the words of life; ears cleared from all worldly distractions, from selfishness; ears that do not listen to the devil; ears, and this is the main point, that listen to God. They listen to God guiding them all the time, and they obey His commandments. They are ears that have heard the gospel: God’s good news telling these listening ears about His Son the Lord Jesus Christ who came down from heaven; who died in their place for all the sins committed, and that if they believe and accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord then eternity with God will be their everlasting gift. These ears are the best type of ears to have. I wonder if you have this type of ear? Some of us, reading this, may not have those types of ears but have another type.

    The second type of ears are closed to God: ears that do not listen to God. People with these ears do not really want to listen to God, they just want to listen to things about the world, maybe things that please them and do not challenge them. When we are at church and should be listening to things about God, do we just shut our ears and count the minutes until the sermon is over? When my wife Louise was a little girl, before she became a Christian, she made the time pass when listening to sermons by watching the clock every seven minutes. I wonder if you are a little bit like that, always waiting for the last “Amen”? If you are like that, then it is like wax that builds up in your ears, growing thicker and thicker until you become completely deaf, and cannot hear anything of God’s word. That is a very sad thing; it is very dangerous to have this sort of ear, for they will get you into everlasting trouble.

    When Jesus started to go around the land of Israel, preaching and healing people, the religious leaders did not like it; they did not like who He was, what He did, and what He said. Speaking amongst themselves they said: “Why should we listen to this man, we do not want to listen to him. Who does He think He is?” So, they closed their ears and they refused to listen to Jesus, and they put themselves in a really dangerous position. When they stopped listening to Jesus, Jesus began to speak to them in parables.

    Parables are stories told with truths hidden. Listen to these words from Matthew Chapter 13:13 – 15;
    “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand, and in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.'”

    Terrible words from Jesus: because they would not listen to God, Jesus made sure that they would not hear. Yet, for everyone reading this, there is hope, even if you have not listened to God in the past. God is still speaking to you now, in words we can all understand. The bible says; “He, who has an ear, let him hear.” (Revelation 2:7a)

    Maybe for the first time you have actually heard God’s voice, and God has said to you – “Listen! Believe!” – “Trust Jesus my Son as your Saviour.” I wonder if while you are reading this, God is speaking to you, or God spoke to you before and you put your hands on your ears, saying; “I do not want to listen to that.” And you shut out the voice of God. Let today be different; forget that you shut your ears in the past, God is here now, speaking to you. Do not close your ears to God’s voice, it is the voice that will guide you for the rest of your life, it is the voice that will lead you to everlasting life. What a fantastic thing it is to know that God will always be there for you, speaking to you, guiding you, encouraging you, strengthening you. We need those spiritual ears. Jesus said to his disciples; “blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear;” (Matthew 13:16)

    May that be true for each one of us! The prophet Samuel when God spoke to him said; “Speak for Your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:10b).
    Finally then, what shall we say to sum up? Just three words – Listen to God! Amen

    Sam the Dog – 22nd June 2008
    Sam The Dog
    Sam is getting really old now. He has to be pushed into doing things. I take him with me to work every day. At lunch time I would say to Sam in a normal voice, “Come on Sam”, but now I have to shout “COME ON SAM” because he has gone very deaf. So, here I am at work swinging his lead, and shouting: “COME ON SAM”, normally when I swing Sam’s lead he runs around like mad, excited about what is to happen next, but now Sam will not move. “COME ON, COME ON”; I continue to shout, but Sam just looks up, and thinks “No thanks Maurice, I am quite happy just lying here. You go and find yourself another dog, and go on your walk without me” but we cannot take this attitude from Sam, for his own good we have just got to make him take a walk.

    We are going on holiday very soon, and Sam is coming with us; when it is time to go, I will have to shout Sam, “COME ON SAM”, I will say, but what if Sam turns around and says, “No, I am not coming, I can’t be bothered” and as he waves his paw, he continues: “see you later, I am going back to sleep, you carry on, you go, I can’t be bothered”. Then what if I replied: “Alright Sam, you stay there, see you soon, bye”, would that be good for him? No! it would not be good for him at all: within a couple of hours he would need the toilet, then a little later he would want a drink, and the large water bowl would soon become empty, because he drinks a lot. Then he would run out of food and as the days went by it would get worse and worse, becoming lonely, then hungry and thirsty, he would be a real mess, in real serious trouble. Then when we come back in about 9 days he would probably be dead. So, we have to make him come with us, and if he will not come when we shout to him; “COME ON SAM”, we will have to drag him to the car and lift him up into his seat, and despite the fact that Sam is quite heavy we will just have to do what to Sam may seem nasty and a unfriendly thing to do.

    Then when we are all settled in the car, we can go to Anglesey. Sam will chill out after about half-an-hour, because he will have realised by then, that he is not going to the vets, and that he is on a long journey and so that will be good for him.

    In the wilderness, when the children of Israel were leaving Egypt, going to the land of Canaan; God gave them many promises he said, “I will take you to a wonderful place and I will be with you at all times”, and he was; in a special cloud over the camp by day, it was God’s cloud, and at night it turned into a pillar of fire, and so they knew at all times that God was with them. It was great for them, and this would make them feel special, they would think to themselves, “Wow, we are different from other peoples; we are great because our God is with us.” If they had any concerns or worries, why God was only a look away, lift up their heads, and they would see a pillar of Cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night. This would make them feel secure: under God’s protection and God’s provision. For God was with them and provided for them. When it was time to move, the cloud would set off and they knew to follow, no fancy satellite navigation system was needed, they had God to guide them. The cloud would move at a pace they could easily keep up with. When the cloud stopped, then they would set up camp again. So, God was with them at all times. Just think, if one of the Israelites’ families said: “I can’t be bothered to move. The clouds moving but I am not, I like it here, it is good, I am going to stay, I am not going to go God’s way, I am going to go my way.” Or even some might have said: “If the clouds going that way, then I am going to go in the direct opposite way.” What word comes to mind about people who would think like that? The word that comes to my mind is – Stupid. They would be in the wilderness alone, in a desert, a wasteland, a barren land – what a terrible place to be in on your own. They would be away from God; away from His people; away from God’s protection and blessing; away from the water God provided; away from the food He sent to them: manna and quails. Just going away from God would mean they would just not survive.

    We have one lesson from this Sam story for all Christians, both young and old; and that is you need to stay close to God in all your Christian life. You must not say “God is moving on, but I am not, I am staying here”; or, “God is staying here, but I am not, I am moving on.” We must always stay close to God, stay in, what Christians call ‘Fellowship’ and that is closeness with God all the time.

    We need to be where God is, but where is that? God is in the Bible, so we should be reading the Bible every day. The Bible is our guide, inspired by God; it is our pillar of cloud and pillar of fire. The bible instructs us, keeps us, and encourages us. Keep close to God by reading the Bible. We need to be close to God in pray, that is our lifeline to God, what a marvellous thing it is to be able to talk to the Creator God, the God who said: “Let there be” and it was. The God who is the Supreme Being without beginning or end, and we can speak to Him, one to one, we would be daft or stupid not to.

    We need to be meeting with God at Church, not the building but the people who come into the building, the saints of God they are the church and we meet with them and fellowship together and God is in the midst, for he promised to be so, and he always keeps his promise. Just think, if as a Christian, you said: “I believe that Jesus died for my sins, but I am all right now, I can live my life just as I want”, if you did that you would die. You need to be fed by God, you need to grow, and you need to spend time close to God. If you do not, you will not survive. The Bible says: “But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Mark 13:13

    Well here it is then, just one simple, but very important thought – Stay Close to God. Will Sam come with us, will he get off his mat and come, despite Sam’s reluctance, his kind owner will ensure he comes. Yet, this kind owner as a really important message for all young and old Christians – Stay close to God and walk with Him all your life.

    Amen

    Sam the Dog – 24th August, 2008

    Sam is a cocker spaniel, nearly 14 years old, he is now in is old age. Sam, as had problems with little lumps and cysts that grow on various parts of his body. Some come up like pink cauliflowers and are really strange to look at. If Sam was here this morning and you said: “Hiya Sam” and patted his head, you would think there is some rice crispies underneath his skin, and if you stroke his back, well it’s like putting your hand over a bowl of muesli. On several occasions he has been to the vets to have these growths and cysts surgical removed, very expensive, that is why I will be working for another 10 years.

    Anyway we went to the vets with this latest thing, and the vet keeps saying: “Look, if you take these things off, another one will just grow up and, in addition to this, because he is an old dog, the aesthetic might just finish him off” So, we did not take him for an operation, but recently one flared up on his back and it seems to grow every day. Each morning when we inspect Sam, it seems to be bigger and now it has started to irritate him. We tried all the antiseptic creams;

    I use to search all the supermarket shelves to try and find a different cream. We tried: Germolene; we tried spray on savlon; we tried tcp, I use to smell of tcp all day long – awful phew; we tried this anti-fungal powder; and we tried many other remedies. All seem to work for a while, but then Sam would scratch it, and it would start to bleed. So we would cover it over with a very big plaster. We were using two full packs every week. Expensive, yes, but at least it would look better. When we take him for a walk, the plaster brings out the sympathy in passers-by. I use to have to get up 15 minutes early to bathe it, clean it, and generally try to keep it looking something like decent. It would seem to heal, and you would think: “Wow! It is going alright”, then next thing he would be rolling on his back, especially when my daughter Rachel came home. This required 24 hour dog watch, stopping Sam from scratching it. When you think it is under control you hear Sam scratching it again and you are back to square one again. When we come to church, we have to leave Sam with a bandage wrapped round and round him; in order to stop him from scratching it. This did not work very well and you can imagine the mess he would leave around everywhere.

    When we were on holiday a few weeks ago, Rachel had had enough of this so she said: “I am taking him to the vets.” The vet said: “I do not want to perform surgery; however Rachel, your dad has been doing the wrong things. For a start you should never cover it over, and any ointment like savlon, or tcp is going to irritate him; making him want to scratch it more.” Now it has become affected and the only way to get rid of it is to heal it from the inside with antibiotics and special steroid cream. This will make the growth dry up from the inside and outside. So that is what we have done, and it is now nearly three weeks in which Sam has not scratched it. It is still not a pretty site, but at least it is drying up, so progress has been made.

    The bible says: “There is a way that seems right unto man, but its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12. Now, as we all consider this verse, here are some questions about you and God. Does God accept me? Am I acceptable to God? Am I okay with God? Can I have a relationship with God?

    When Jesus was here on earth, He said many things about himself; and all he said was true. Jesus spoke the truth at all times; Jesus never said a wrong word; Jesus never had a wicked thought; Jesus was completely perfect. Jesus was God the Son ‘come down’ in the flesh, he took on our humanity. Jesus did this, to perform a mission of Salvation for men, women, boys and girls. The perfect Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6. Jesus made enemies while He was here on earth; especially with the Jewish leaders: the Pharisees, and the religious people. The reason was, that Jesus told them the truth, he told them they were sinful, that they had broken God’s law, making them unacceptable to God. The Jewish leaders thought that because they were Jewish, Gods chosen people; keeping the law, doing good works; being religious; having Moses as their Prophet, that all these things meant they were acceptable to God. In fact, all they were doing was covering over the sores. Just like Sam, with the plaster covering over the growth. Their religion was just a great big cover up.

    Now consider this, have you got something covering your sores? Do you believe you are a sinner? “A sinner” you say, “what is a sinner?” A sinner is someone who has broken God’s law. A sinner his someone who lives their life for themselves and not for God; God expects us to live our lives completely keeping His law. If we break His law in any way: a wicked thought; being selfish; stealing; telling lies; doing terrible things – just doing any of those things mean we have broken God’s law and we are a sinner. The bible says; “There is none righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. So, you need to have your sins dealt with properly, and the Good News (Gospel) is that you can. Yours sins can be dealt with once and for all; and when your sins have been dealt with, God will consider your sins are as far from you as the east is from the west. What you need to do is – nothing! Stop putting plasters on your sores. Stop trying to cure yourself. The removing of your sin can only be done by one person – Jesus Christ.

    Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he became a man, and came to this world as a Saviour – to save you by dying in your place on the cross. You must confess you are a sinner before him; you must turn from your sins, and take Jesus as your own personal Saviour. Believe that when he died, he suffered the penalty, and the punishment that your sins deserve. Jesus gives a complete cure. Jesus completely changed my life, and he can change your life too. I know that I am acceptable to God, not because I am a good person; I am so far from being that. I am accepted by God because Jesus satisfied God’s wrath for my sin. Jesus as completely cured me, both inside and outside, completely made me acceptable to God, and it is fantastic. I am a new person. Do not be like I was with Sam, Sam would have been a lot better off if I had gone to the vet earlier. Yes, we know that Sam will one day die and in that sense it is a poor illustration; but being a Christian and knowing my sins are forgiven means I will live forever. This body is becoming older by the week, but one day I will receive a new body, I will live forever in heaven with my Saviour and that can be true for you.

    Amen

    Sam the Dog – 16th November, 2008

    Sam is a cocker spaniel, nearly 14 years old, he is now in is old age.
    Sometimes I look at Sam, and wonder why he does the things he does: because he makes life difficult for himself. I now take him to work nearly every day, and he sleeps most of the day on a blanket in the office. It is quite a hard floor, a concrete floor with a carpet on it; so, we have a warm wool rug for him to lay on, and now he is getting older and thinner; with his bones exposed and his joints stiffening up. Louise, my wife, decided that Sam was not being looked after well enough; so, when Louise decided to change our cushions, which happens quite often now, I found a great big discarded cushion in the Garage: “That will be great for Sam” I thought, and so I took it to work for Sam. This will make him more comfortable, being able to lay his head on it, and snore away. However, we have not reckoned on Sam’s opinion of the matter – Sam does not like it! Sam just pushed the cushion to one side. One day he laid his head on a cardboard box with sharp corners instead of the lovely large soft cushion. “You silly dog, whatever are you doing?” I thought; another day he was not even on his blanket, I found him lying on the hard floor.

    Recently, when he was at home, Sam was lying on a switched on four gang trailing socket, fast asleep, with me thinking how shall I get him off the socket without him dribbling on it. I look at Sam and think: “you silly dog”.

    Another instance, quite often when we go out for a walk, Sam does not really want to come, but he has to come for exercise. When we need to cross the dual carriageway in Nelson near our shop, Sam is pulling with all his might the other way making it hard for me to cross the road with him, and you end up trying to pull his head to make him go, but when we are heading home he is quite the opposite straining with all his might to go home always pulling on the lead. I have to shout to him: “calm down” for he is choking with the collar pulling into his neck, exasperated l shake my head and say: “you silly dog”. If only he would just walk properly.

    There are times at home when he feels a bit playful, and will follow Sausage the cat around the lounge and dining room and he pretends to bite the cat, which is not a good thing, for cats do not have a sense of humour, and in the end Sausage annoyed at Sam’s antics will just lash out and Sam will get scratched, and I think: “you silly dog”. Just three little instances where you want to say to Sam: “you silly dog”.

    Now in Proverbs 3:5-8: we have a very wise instruction: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.” Those are wonderful and true words, yet, how often in our own lives, are we just like Sam and we could say of ourselves: “Oh you silly, silly person”.

    Now consider something about Christians. Firstly are you a Christian? To be a Christian you need to know Jesus as your personal Saviour, we are only Christians if we have trusted that Jesus died on the cross and paid the punishment for our sins. We are not Christians just because our Mums and Dads are Christians. Mums and Dads need to trust Jesus in a personal way and so do we.

    As Christians we have this wonderful privilege of knowing God as our Father, and having this fantastic relationship with Him: in which he loves us; cares for us; guides us; and He even lives inside us by The Holy Spirit.

    Yet like Sam, we can be silly, and do things our way and not God’s way. God provides everything for us and what God provides for us is always the best: because God knows everything and He knows just what is right for us. God loves us so much that He cares for every aspect, every part of our life, providing all we need. Sometimes we can say: “I do not want this”, like Sam who chose a cardboard box with sharp corners instead of a deep luxurious cushion; we choose something different to what God wants for us; we say we know better than God. Our thinking and doing can be that we chose our own way instead of God’s way. God looks at us and thinks: “You fool” “You silly person” God always leads us in the right way, the right path, paths of righteousness the bible calls it: we see this in psalm 23: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness” Psalm 23:3, the paths of righteousness is a way that keeps us safe in this wicked world. This way will one day take us safely to our home in heaven.

    God’s way: is a way of peace; a way of security; a way of comfort. Despite this, how often do we want to go our own way? Like Sam, we strain and pull at the lead, imagine in your mind Sam straining on his lead. It looks silly doesn’t it? Now consider yourself, straining away from God, silly and laughable is not the word, this is more serious, this attitude as eternal consequences. We can be like Sam, instead of walking next to God: trusting Him; following Him; going in His path and following His steps. God looks at us and thinks: “you fool” “you silly person” How often does God warn us about danger?

    The bible is full of warnings of danger, things that will cause us to fall into trouble. Things like: playing in the world; making friends with worldly people; enjoying sinful behaviour. So easily we can be like this, not listening to God. Just like Sam when he is told stop messing with that cat: “Sam, stop it, you will get hurt”. How often we are like that with God? Not listening to God: not listening to the bible. We seem to be so happy seemingly enjoying ourselves in the world, yet all of a sudden the world’s claws are out and we are deeply hurt. God looks at us and says: “You fool, you silly person”.

    In every part of our life we need to trust God with all our heart, and with our mind, because He knows what is best for us. Consider another very important verse from the bible: Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.” That is a very serious thought for us all to consider: our way or Gods way; which way will you choose? Our way – death; Gods way – eternal life, we need to firstly trust God for our salvation, then trust God for every part of our life.

    Amen