community

Carly Spear

Prayer: Authority and Intimacy

Chris Spear Carly Spear (Sun, 18 Jun 2017)

Chris and Carly continued our series on prayer, looking at Ephesians 2: 1-7.

Chris shared his story of how God has been revealing to him the position he has as a child of God through a series of pictures. His story follows the line of the verses from Ephesians, describing the journey of us all when we were dead in our sin then made alive in Christ. The ‘But God…’ verse.

If you weren't there Sunday morning, hopefully the main points of his testimony can be remembered and shared between you!

The development of understanding has been in the areas of our authority from and with God, and how this comes out of a place of intimacy with the Father.

Questions

1. Why do some people feel like they are not worthy to live on the ‘41st floor’? (Do you?)

2. What does it look like to pray with authority?

3. How do we develop intimacy with the Father, both individually and corporately?

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Encouragement

Carly Spear (Sun, 15 Jan 2017)

Carly continued our Spiritual Gifts series looking at Encouragement.

To view Carly's slides (in PDF format), click here.

The amazing, gentle and powerful gift of Encouragement

To encourage someone is to give support, confidence and hope. Looking at it from a Biblical perspective the use of the gift is to point or draw someone into a more intimate relationship with Father God, to turn to God and to seek Him.

In the Old Testament the refrain ‘Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go’ is found repeatedly in Deuteronomy, Joshua and both books of Chronicles.
The Prophets were encouragers constantly urging the people to turn to the Lord, turn from their idolatries, to seek the Lord and repent.
Samuel encouraged the people to not ‘turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart’
Look at 2 Kings 17:13
There is purpose in the encouragement, turn and seek the Lord.

In the New Testament we see letters full of encouragement.
They are letters full of teaching, instruction, admonition amongst other things but the essence is always the forward, eternal perspective of ‘turn to God, seek Jesus’
Look at James and Paul in 1 Thess 5:14-24

We look to the Lord for our example of how to encourage. The Holy Spirit is the greatest encourager of all, his voice is easy to hear throughout Scripture. He always points and draws us to Jesus.

We need encouragement to follow the Lord, remember who we are in Him and to stick to what we are called to.
We need someone to run alongside us when it feels all uphill, reminding us to keep seeking and trusting Jesus when we feel discouraged.

The gifts God gives are for us, for each other and for everyone as we use them to demonstrate the heart of God. However and whenever we encourage people we are demonstrating the love, passion and joy of God. He is for us! To encourage someone is to reveal the nature of God. It is powerful!
The gift of encouragement is all about nurturing people towards a place of seeking and trusting the Lord.
ENCOURAGE ON PURPOSE FOR PURPOSE

Suggestions for application:

If you feel discouraged, do you know why? Ask someone to run up that hill with you in prayer.

Pray truth over each other, prophecy over each other to hear how the Holy Spirit wants to help you seek and trust Jesus.

How have you or could you use the gift of encouragement? It might help to remember a time when someone encouraged you and it made a real difference to your life?

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Zacchaeus

Carly Spear (Sun, 10 Jul 2016)

Carly spoke about Zacchaeus. Luke 19:1-10

Zaccheus, a little man meets a big God!

Zaccheus had a curiosity to see Jesus and made the most of the opportunity by climbing a tree to catch even a glimpse of this Jesus that he had heard something about.

As Jesus walks past he calls Zaccheus by name and insists that he comes to his house. Very publically Jesus offers acceptance, welcome and grace to a lonely and lost man so used to rejection. His open heart and curiosity made him exactly the sort of person Jesus came to seek.

Zaccheus is a transformed man and one can only imagine the positive shock waves that went through the community. The rich man got through the eye of the needle and became a member of the family of God through his faith. There are lots of curious people up sycamore trees looking for Jesus amongst our friends and in our community. They might not realise they are looking for Jesus but they are searching for love, peace, acceptance, security, rescue, healing, help and purpose.

We can be deceived into thinking that the gospel is weak and that people are doing just fine as they are. The gospel is powerful and totally relevant. We need to tell them the good news! The Holy Spirit makes us bold, brave and courageous.

How can we be ordinary people looking for curious people up sycamore trees?

PRACTICAL conversation pointers can be helpful in starting to tell people the gospel taken from Chris’ video message:

TWO truths
Did you know that God loves you & Do you know he has an amazing plan for your life?

ONE question
If you were to die today would you be absolutely certain that you would be with God in heaven?

THREE truths
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
- The wages of that sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus
- Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Questions

1: Read Isaiah 61 to see that what Jesus was doing in Jericho the day Zaccheus was saved is perfectly in line with what he said he was going to do in Luke 4:18. This is now our mandate too. How does that make you feel particularly when considering going out into the streets of Matlock on Sunday 17th July?
Practice Chris’ conversation starters – Remember, 3-2-1 or rather 2-1-3

2: Is your heart a bit harder than you would like it to be when considering the lost & lonely? How do you know when your heart is hard? Even a tiny measure of the compassion God feels for the lost can soften your heart in a moment. Just ask Him.

3: Do you feel unashamed and brave? Bravo! If not, then why do you think that is?
Paul could say ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes’

If you want courage and boldness to look up those sycamore trees for the lonely and lost then ask. He is the one that makes us brave!

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My Family - The Fellowship Of Believers

Carly Spear (Sun, 07 Feb 2016)

Carly continued our series looking at the book of Acts, focusing on our life together as a family of believers.

Acts 2:42-47

We looked at the blueprint for church life in Acts 2 and considered how it relates to us and how we could respond to the example we are given.

Who gathered? All sorts! Believers from every walk of life, sharing a commonality through their salvation in Jesus.

When did they get together? All the time, in large groups and in homes.

Why? A worship response to the new relationship they have with God and a sense of belonging to His family.

They devoted themselves to learning, loving and liturgy. The study of Scripture and the Apostles teaching was their first priority. They were a loving community, really sharing their lives. They were a group of worshipful believers, regularly sharing in the breaking of bread. Out of the overspill of this family community many saw the love of God and came to know Him for themselves.

Questions

1. Did anything shared through the testimonies or in the talk aid your understanding of church as family?

2. Could you relate to any of the challenges that make living in community difficult for you?

3. What practical steps could you take to demonstrate your devotion to the fellowship of believers?

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From Control To Freedom

Carly Spear (Sun, 22 Feb 2015)

Carly continued our series on "Sustainable Power", looking at the joy released when we move from control to freedom.

This week as part of our teaching series on 'Sustainable Power' we looked at how we can move from control to freedom. I wasn't the only one in the room who confessed to being a control freak!

I suggested that rather than allowing God to sit in the passenger seat of our lives we should let him drive and see where it takes us, trusting him even when the ride gets scary, the road gets bumpy and you start to feel travel sick.

Control is the counterfeit to self control, listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians. Good healthy boundaries bring freedom, control produces rebellion or servitude.

Looked at Mark 8:11-21 to see how Jesus challenged control, some of the symptoms and then some of the remedies:

1: Control is like yeast.

The Pharisees response to Jesus miraculous provision of food to thousands was unbelief and cynicism. Show us something more impressive! A little bit of yeast goes a long way. Beware the yeast of the Pharisees. How we respond to the wonderful things God does amongst us reveals something in our hearts. We need to celebrate!

2: Control never produces freedom.

It produces an attitude of servitude and slavery or rebellion. Adam and Eve created with incredible freedom to make really good and really bad decisions! Love cannot grow in the absence of choices. We are created for sonship not servitude and are changed through partnership and friendship with God. It is a mystery that the most powerful being in the whole universe is the least forceful.

Religious Control:

1.The Pharisees were attempting to control Jesus and men by imposing external rules and regulations that was beyond what was required or even possible. Control says 'behave like this, say this, wear this then you are in the club' and makes you feel like this 'unless I tow the line I will be rejected and not accepted; unless I do what they say and do what I want I will be rejected'

It is not the way Jesus feels about you!

Romans 15:7

'Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God' We need to accept creativity and diversity to fully reflect the character of God and more effectively expand the Kingdom of God.

2.The Pharisees limited their study of God to intellectual thought and study alone. Knowing about God was never meant to be separated from encounter with God. God can never be fully understood, but he can be known and enjoyed forever. Alongside your study and enjoyment of the Bible, an open heart and simple prayer of "Holy Spirit, what are you doing today and can I partner with you?" keeps the door for the encounter open.

3.Self righteous behaviour...ouch! The Pharisees thought that external things mattered more than what was going on in the heart. Self righteousness treats others with contempt who don't have the same standard of holiness as themselves. We can do that so easily. God's response to this attitude is in Titus 3:5 'He saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness but according to his own mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

Gifts are given to each one of us that we can make other people great! Use them to build up, encourage and spur each other on.

4.Religious control characterised by a lack of accountability.

We have been placed in a family called the church so that people who really love you can tell you how things really are. A true test of freedom would be our ability to submit our lives to others. You might need to eat some humble pie, but this is how radical covenant relationships are made.

We are pursuing freedom in God so that we can be ourselves, dance with freedom even if it looks ridiculous, pick each other up when we fall and win others to following our God. Our God who loves and accepts us AND those around us completely as we are and is waiting for us to hand over the reins.

We also watched a few bits from the movie Hitch!

[1] The Dance Lesson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bH0OXsmsbQ

[2] The Wedding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inPnVL41N_c

Questions!

1. Do you recognise in yourself cynicism, unbelief and the desire to be in control? Do you celebrate amazing things that happen amongst us?

2. How would being in a controlling environment affect your ability to be yourself? (Think about the difference between the first and second dance clips from the film.)

3. How would you look?/our church look?/our community look if we choose to hand over the reins and move away from control towards a position of freedom?

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Christmas Carol Service

Carly Spear (Sun, 21 Dec 2014)

Our Christmas Carol service had readings, carols, videos, work done by the children, giving and Carly speaking.

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The Bible

Carly Spear (Sun, 27 Apr 2014)

Carly continued our series on the basics of Christianity looking at why and how we should read the Bible.

God continually speaks to his people - primarily through the Bible.
Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 that "Man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God"
Physical hunger is satisfied with bread, spiritual hunger is satisfied by the word of God The Word of God nourishes us, feeds us.

Christianity is a revealed faith. We cannot find out about God unless God reveals himself to us.
God revealed himself in a person - Jesus.
He is God's ultimate revelation.
Mainly we know about Jesus through God's revelation recorded in the Bible

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Scripture is God speaking through human agents.
100% Human and 100% God
Just like St Paul's Cathedral in London. If I asked you who built it you would say Sir Christopher Wren and he was the architect but craftsmen and labourers actually put it together stone by stone.
God is the architect of the Bible and the divine origin of Scripture is the reason for its power and authority.

A step of faith to believe that the Bible is inspired by God.
If we take that step then it becomes our supreme authority for what we believe and how we act.

Bible not just a manual for life, much more
A love letter to us from God
What is the main point of the whole Bible?
To show us how to enter into a relationship with God through Christ Jesus

Relationship with God is 2 way
We speak to him in prayer, he speaks to us in many ways but especially through the Bible

Proverbs 4:20-23
We are encouraged to make God's word a part of our lives:

My son be attentive to my words
Incline your ear to my sayings
Let them not escape from your sight
Keep them within your heart
For they are life to those who find them
And healing to all their flesh
Keep your heart with all vigilance
For from it flow the springs of life

Heart: the essence of who you are. So important to allow truth to settle into your heart. Out of your heart flows choices, feelings, words, thoughts.
How do we hear God speak through the Bible?
Read it! Hear it!
Ask God to speak to you through the passage you are reading.
He is the author, ask him to explain it to you.
What does it say?
What does it mean? To those who first received it and to us now.
How does it apply to me, my family, my work, where I live?
See the relevance to our own lives..exciting!
Chance to hear God's voice
Put into practise what we hear from God.

D.L.Moody said "The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge. It was given to change lives"
The Bible has changed my life, it changes my life. Every time I read it I expect to hear the voice of God.

Confusing? Even Peter says in 2 Peter 3 of Paul's letters "there are some things in them that are hard to understand" Helps to know that!

Rick Warren: Reading the Bible generates life, it produces change, it heals hurts, it builds character, it transforms circumstances, it imparts joy, it overcomes adversity, it defeats temptation, it infuses hope, it releases power, it cleanses the mind, it's spiritual food.

Questions:

1: Do you find reading the Bible difficult? What are the obstacles for you? (Try not to give too much space to the difficulties but steer conversation to possible solutions/encouragement!) Do you feel more inclined to open it up after Sunday?

2: Can you see that the word of God is bread to nourish your spiritual hunger? Is that a new thought for you? Are you hungry?

3: Would you agree with my quotation from Rick Warren? Maybe you could discuss how you will be more 'attentive to God's words and incline your ear towards his sayings' going forward.

I mentioned ESV Study Bible/ESV Student Study Bible/Jesus Storybook Bible/Bible Gateway app for reading plans and audio Bible/Community Bible Study.

For information we will be beginning a new course in September at CBSI: 'Servants of God' looking through the OT. Encourage people to get in touch with myself or Rosie Isherwood if interested.

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Mother's Day

Carly Spear (Sun, 30 Mar 2014)

Carly spoke at our special Mother's Day service about "A family you can belong to".

We looked at the roller coaster ride that family life can be, more 'Eastenders' than 'The Waltons' at times.
Family life can be complicated and difficult as well as wonderful and precious.

The language of family is all over Scripture. God relates to us as Father, Jesus as our brother and in Christ we have brothers and sisters.
Looked at Jesus family tree as shown in Matt 1:1-17, full of Heroes and villains! Genealogies show us that each family, each name is special to God. We are called individually, by name, known.
Jesus came to us as part of family, raised by Joseph and Mary so understands family life. He grew up!

Church is a family, not a business or a club.
When we are in restored relationship with God he weaves us into a new family, the church.
We might get on each others nerves at times but we love and care for each other. Need to forgive each other.
We considered 2 different meal tables, the restaurant and the family table. One you are served at, the other you serve each other.
At a restaurant you click your fingers for service, in a family you raise your hand to help.
In family you do stuff together, get stuck in, serving each other and our wider community.
When you get stuck in you feel like you belong.
Not a private family but one with a wide open door.

Family life includes celebrating together but also going through the stuff that's tough! In this church we are not a perfect but a family full of people who have recognised our need of Jesus.
Anyone can join that kind of family!
Let others in our family here see your rosette days and the days when you have dropped the cake, be open and real.
Remember, parenting at home and in our community is neither a spectator sport nor a performance.

Questions:

1. Do you feel like you belong to a family at CITP? (Be honest!)
2. How could you cultivate community life at CITP both within your community groups and across the church as a whole? Be practical, think of things you might actually initiate or do. It will be interesting to see what ideas you come up with.
3. Recognising the value of spiritual Mothers and Fathers in our community who could you get alongside to encourage or learn from? Be intentional about your parenting at home and within our family at CITP. We all have something to learn and something to give.

Perhaps you could pray for each others families, remembering to pray also for those around us. We want our family to grow!

if you have 25mins then it may help to listen to it if you weren't there.

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Evangelism - Part 3

Carly Spear (Sun, 05 May 2013)

In the third part of our series on evangelism, Carly suggested ways of explaining the gospel to others.

We hope you have enjoyed the last 3 weeks material and more importantly we hope you have been encouraged and equipped to 'share your faith'.

Keep on chatting through your stories so that everyone in the group, however reluctant they may be, gets their story straight. We are happy to help tweak! Let us know if anyone is happy to give their story, we want to keep them going on a Sunday morning!

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

This time we looked at sharing God's story and how you can do that simply and clearly. We considered the position of being an 'avoider' or an 'eruptor', looked at 3 illustrations to help explain the gospel and then considered the bigger picture of God winning a people for His Son.

Questions!

1. Did you recognise yourself in the description of 'avoider' or 'eruptor'? Did anything Carly mention help you into the middle ground?
(How to handle tricky questions, don't have to know everything, make it relevant to people not talking in abstract.)

2. Can you remember the illustrations? Could you see yourself using them and explaining God's good news to someone with them?
(The Bridge, do/done, Morality Ladder)
Bare minimum to remember: Jesus came to Earth, and whoever crosses that bridge will live with God forever Essentially that is John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life'

To see a copy of the three illustrations that Carly used, please click here.

3. Does it help to remember the bigger picture? Did the explanation of 'small tasks in the house contribute to the running of the whole household' help? As you tell your story and God's story you are involved in Kingdom business!
Isaiah 52:10
'the Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the Earth shall see the salvation of our God.'

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Evangelism - Part 1

Carly Spear Dave Watmore (Sun, 21 Apr 2013)

Carly and Dave started a three week series looking at ways we can share our faith without putting people off!

Questions for Community Groups. 'Sharing your faith' Part 1.

Look at Mark 5:18-20.

• We are witnesses to what Jesus has done for us in our lives! This man is amazed and grateful for what Jesus has done for him. His life had been returned to him. He has gone from a place of death to a place of life. What does Jesus tell him to do? Go home, tell your friends, tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.

• His experience of meeting Jesus now defines who he is. Your experience of meeting Jesus now defines who you are. What did he have to say? What was his message? What was his story? "I've met Jesus, he is amazing, he rescued, saved and healed me, I was dead but now I am alive. You have to meet him to...you will love him!"

• Using the questions below. Start to write down your story.

• When you have written your story, take a few minutes to read it to each other.

• Don’t be long winded – tell the time not how to make a watch. Don’t use jargon, try to keep to 120 words. You may well start at 300 words and then cut it down to 120 but be brief, stay focused and make it easy to understand. Convey your story with a humble and honest heart.

• When you write the 'after you became a Christian' try to mirror the points you made at the beginning. For instance, if you used to be anxious you could say you are now at peace.

• Don't lie. Be honest about what Jesus has done for you. Don't exaggerate but be bold. As you write your story, let the Holy Spirit remind you of how far you have come.

This is something that will take few weeks in your groups as you kick it about together. You can't possibly do everyones in one evening, maybe work on just a couple?Den and Suzanne's stories on Sunday took three re-writes so don’t feel that you can't do it. Someone else's perspective is always helpful.

We would really like to have some stories every week. Can you pick one from your group to send to us that we could use this Sunday. Be brave!

The pointers below help for the purposes of framework:

Where was I?
What the central focus of my life was before I was saved?
What happened?
Why I decided to become a Christian?
Where I am now?
The most important thing Jesus has done for me?

Below are Dave W and Cathy's stories for example.

Dave

No Longer an Ostrich

Up until the age of 33, Christianity for me was the target for ridicule, the name of Jesus Christ a swear word, the existence of God as remote as the moon and the thought of eternal life – far fetched.

Working in sales, selling machinery, since the age of 19, I considered my life reasonably successful. I enjoyed sport, meeting with my friends, drinking beer and having a loving wife and family.

Like everyone else, life gave me my share of kicks in the teeth; broken relationships, redundancy and the death of my much loved mother. Adopting the ostrich position or joking my way through things generally worked but when my wife became a Christian and I saw a new joy in her life, I knew something was going to change.

It was not, however, until God spoke to me that I ever doubted my atheist views. After six months of resisting God, I gave up running from His love. I asked God to forgive me for the many things I had done wrong and to take charge of my life, not knowing what would happen.

I met Jesus Christ for the first time and He changed my life wonderfully – the past hurts dealt with, a new joy and intimacy with my wife, Lesley, renewed self confidence and best of all experiencing the love of Jesus Christ.

No longer do I curse Jesus but I thank Him for His free gift of eternal life, His friendship and new hope for the future. To know the Creator of the universe is the greatest privilege of all.

Cathy

In 2008, although externally confident, I was lonely, hurting and drinking too much. When a friend told me he went to church I thought he just went for the company and was shocked when he told me he believed in God. I started asking God if he was there and he revealed himself to me. He caused me to look at the world in a completely different way – everything was brighter! I was invited to church, heard about Jesus and gave myself to him. Life has totally changed, drinking is no longer a problem. He has healed me of past hurts and depression, shown me how to love, given me hope, a new church family and a desire for others to know this amazing love.

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