Dave Smith

The Easter story doesn’t stop at the resurrection

I wish I didn’t lose the passion and excitement about the resurrection so quickly after Easter. It’s not like I forget about the significance of the resurrection, but I don’t really think about it much after Easter Sunday.

The Easter weekend is filled with the promise of resurrection, sermons bursting with hope, Easter egg hunts, social gatherings making the most of the long weekend and if you’re lucky some sunshine to enjoy while you eat your hot cross buns. But, when I return to work thinking about how I don’t actually like crème eggs I find the excitement about Jesus’s resurrection begins to fade.

I think this is because I box the Easter message into a neat 4 days weekend package all too easily and don’t let the life-transforming, eternal consequences affect my daily life enough. The Easter message isn’t just a one off event that happened 2,000 and something years ago. It keeps affecting us from the first time we realise how incredible it is that Jesus died for us, to the things that we face daily through to our future. The Easter story doesn’t stop at the resurrection. The story just gets better and better. All the promises and prophecies that have been made about Jesus leading up to His death become more real as they are fulfilled in His resurrection.

40 days with Jesus is a small group resource that has helped me see Easter as more than Good Friday to Sunday. The book takes the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and invites you to meet the risen Jesus through the people who had face to face encounters with Him while He was still on earth. The encounters that people had with Jesus can teach us so much about our own relationship with Him.

Use 40 Days with Jesus in your small group to be inspired by the persistence and devotion of Mary who was first to witness the risen Jesus. Remind people in your small group who are doubting the resurrection, how incredible it is. Perhaps there are people in your small group who need a fresh revelation of Jesus and could use 40 Days with Jesus to invite Him into their lives again. Be encouraged by how Jesus restores us in our present struggles and also heals us from our past failures. Get motivated as you read about Jesus’ true purpose for us and be confident that Jesus is alive and transforming lives today.

40 Days with Jesus is more than just a book, there are small group Bible studies, videos to watch and even sermons if you want to get the whole church involved.

Find out more about 40 Days with Jesus.

 

By Emily Owen

Emily dreams of travelling the world and writing about the great things she sees God doing along the way. Whilst waiting for dreams to come true, she happily works for CWR, plays a lot of netball and is trying to learn Spanish.

Introducing Transformed Living

We may know who we are in Christ, but how do we live this out every day? What does a transformed life look like in practice?

In the second half of his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul focuses on the unity and purity of God’s people. He shows us how living in relationship with Jesus can help us stand firm during spiritual warfare, find our unique place in the Church, and strengthen our relationships at home and in the workplace.

Building on the amazing truths found in Ephesians 1-3, this next 50-day journey unpacks how you can live in the light of what Christ has done for you. Explore Ephesians 4-6, verse by verse, and begin truly living out your transformed life.

Individuals, small groups and churches can all find extra resources online for free, such as sermon outlines, small group studies and more.

Find out more about Transformed Living here.

 

About Dave Smith

Dave is the Senior Pastor at KingsGate Community Church in Peterborough, Cambridge, Leicester and London. Dave became a Christian while studying at Oxford University and went on to complete a Doctorate. He and his wife Karen planted KingsGate in 1988, a lively and thriving church, which has obtained national profile on Songs of Praise and BBC Radio 1.

 

Why 40 Days with Jesus?

40 Days with Jesus can be used at any point during the year, but it was originally run as a post-Easter teaching series. Launched In 2014, many churches, including KingsGate Community Church where it originated, chose to start the series on Easter Sunday, enabling them to invite Easter guests to explore the accounts of the risen Jesus for themselves. With Easter approaching once more, we thought this would be a great post-Easter resource for you and your small groups to get involved with. Take a look at what Dave Smith, author of 40 Days with Jesus, says about the programme…

 

What is 40 Days with Jesus?

Over these 40 days, we focus on the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, from His appearing to Mary Magdalene on that first Resurrection Sunday morning through to His ascension to heaven nearly six weeks later.

 

These final days before Jesus ascended back to heaven were of such importance that all four Gospel writers included them in the conclusion of their account of Jesus’ life. Over the course of these 40 days, Jesus appeared to over 500 followers on at least 11 different occasions. Although it took the disciples some time to believe and embrace the full significance of Jesus’ resurrection, ultimately, their personal encounters with the risen Christ completely changed their lives. This same message has the power to change our lives today in the following three ways:

  1. We can be convinced of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus

The primary purpose of the 40 days, then and now, was to provide vital evidence that Jesus really was and is alive, as Luke makes clear: ‘After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave them many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God’ (Acts 1:3).

  1. We can be transformed by encounters with the risen Christ

The disciples encountered Christ physically during the 40 days; we can now do so spiritually. Since the ascension and the Day of Pentecost, Jesus is now present with His people in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

  1. We can receive a foretaste of our glorious future in Christ

The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus provide the most comprehensive picture of what life will be like for us in our resurrected state. If we look at the risen Jesus we see the foretaste of a life that is not a disembodied, purely spiritual existence, but rather a transformed physical life, with a glorified, resurrected body, in the new heavens and on the new earth!

If you would like to find out more about 40 Days with Jesus, you can go to the website or to take part, you can sign up here.

 

About Charlotte Moore
Charlotte is a recent graduate, working to build her career in digital marketing and web design. When she isn’t working at CWR, she is getting involved with her church or planning her wedding taking place later on in the year.

Resource of the Month: Transformed Living Church Programme

An invitation to explore how to live out the Christian life through Ephesians 4–6

We’re excited to bring you a brand new resource that small groups and your whole church can do together.

Transformed Living is a seven-week church programme that helps you and your church explore what it looks like in practice to live life ‘in Christ’. Ideal as a stand-alone programme, it can also be used as the second part of a series with Transformed Life, which focuses on questions of identity, purpose and belonging using Ephesians 1–3.

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What does a transformed life look like in practice?

Unite your church as you learn and grow together. Strengthen your relationships at home and in the workplace, and discover how to stand firm under pressure. Find your unique place in the Church, and explore why the unity of God’s people is a key element for living a transformed life.

The church programme is underpinned by the 50-day devotional book, Transformed Living (currently on offer with £2 off until 31 March 2017) by Senior Pastor Dave Smith (Kingsgate Community Church). The book includes daily readings, reflections and questions to help you apply the teaching to your life.

Individuals, small groups and churches can all find extra resources online for free, such as sermon outlines, small group studies and more. Using all of the available resources will unite a small group or the whole congregation, enabling everyone involved to grow together. Visit www.transformed-living.info/home to find out more.

What to do next

You can sign up for Transformed Living here. If you have recently signed up on the Transformed Living website, you’ll have access to all the free online resources and we’ll keep you up-to-date with news and information via email. If you have already taken part in Transformed Life, we would love to hear your feedback, so please let us know how you got along at hello@transformed-life.info

Watch Dave Smith explain more about Transformed Living.

Find out more about our other church-wide initiatives here.

‘As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’ (Ephesians 4:1–6)

Resource of the Month: Transformed Life church programme

An invitation to discover your identity, belonging and purpose through Ephesians 13

As we move into the autumn term perhaps your small group or even whole church is seeking a new programme to study together up until Christmas.

Transformed Life is based around a successful teaching series created by Dave Smith and road-tested by KingsGate Community Church. As a Senior Pastor, Dave has become more and more aware that questions concerning identity, belonging and purpose are key for everyone. When we do not clearly understand who we are in Christ, all other areas of our spiritual growth are undermined and our purpose is lost. Watch the video above to see Dave Smith introduce Transformed Life.

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Underpinning the whole programme is the Transformed Life 50 day devotional book, written by Dave Smith. It is suitable for both individuals and small groups. Full-colour 16-page children’s activity books are available for Early and Primary Years.

If you have recently signed up on the Transformed Life website, we will be sending you emails during the autumn term to help and encourage you and your small group. And if you have already taken part in Transformed Life, we would love to hear your feedback, so please let us know how you got along at hello@transformed-life.info

Individuals, small groups and churches can all find extra resources online for free, such as sermon outlines, small group studies and more. Using all of the available resources will unite a small group or the whole congregation, enabling everyone involved to grow together and be renewed, challenged and transformed as they deepen their understanding of who they are in Christ. Visit www.transformed-life.info/home to find out more.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:11–12, NIV)

Find out more about our other Church wide initiatives here.

Introducing Transformed Life

Following on from the extremely well-received 40 Days with Jesus, Dave Smith’s exciting new resource, Transformed Life, explores the themes of identity, belonging and purpose found in Ephesians 1–3, which can transform our lives. Watch the video above to see Dave Smith introduce Transformed Life.

Individuals, small groups and churches can all find extra resources online for free, such as sermon outlines, small group studies and more.

Find out more about Transformed Life here.

Find out more about our other Church wide initiatives here.

 

Transformed Life: Summary Week

In this series of posts, we’re looking at the eight weeks of the Transformed Life church programme. This final update is the Transformed Life Summary Day.

As we reach the end of the Transformed Life programme, Dave Smith encourages us to reflect on the revelation of our new identity, belonging and purpose in Christ and apply these truths to our everyday lives. He provides for us a list of declarations for the promises, truths and prayers covered through Ephesians 1–3. You could list some of these in various places – on the fridge, on your computer, at work – as daily reminders to yourself about your own identity, belonging and purpose.

Here at Small Group Central, we hope you have enjoyed and been encouraged as you have worked through the Transformed Life programme.

Your feedback

If you would like to share your experience of Transformed Life, then we would love to hear from you – contact us or send an email to hello@transformed-life.info

Spread the word

If you have already completed Transformed Life, we would love you to encourage others to take part this year. Transformed Life can be started at any time during the year, so please spread the word and let others know about this church programme.

What next? Transformed Living …

We are working with Dave Smith once again to produce a follow-on programme called Transformed Living. This will continue to explore Ephesians, looking at chapters 4–6, and is currently due to be released in 2017. We will keep in touch with updates!

We also have a number of other CWR church programmes that you may be interested in. Click below to find out more …
 

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40 Days with Jesus: What we love!

Week 1

We love persistence and devotion … particularly Mary’s persistence and devotion to Jesus on that first Easter Sunday morning. In Day 1 of the devotional, Dave writes:

Mary was clearly so devoted to Jesus that at the earliest opportunity after the Sabbath, she got up to visit the tomb. Then, as we shall see, having witnessed the empty tomb, she was determined to find the body of Jesus, in contrast to the male disciples, who went home. Although Jesus eventually took the initiative and appeared to her, it seems as if this is in direct response to her loving, persistent seeking of Him.’

Week 2

We love revelation … and how the scriptures reveal the true identity of Christ and the hope that we have in Him! On Day 11 of the devotional, Dave writes:

‘Just as Jesus first revealed Himself to these disciples on the Emmaus Road, so He wants to reveal Himself to you and me as we daily and diligently read and reflect upon the Scriptures. As we do, we can be assured that the risen Christ will Himself come to us, and by the Holy Spirit will Himself become our Bible teacher.’

Week 3

We love hope … and the new hope that Christ brought to His fearful disciples and still brings to us today. On Day 16 of the devotional, Dave writes:

‘The reality of the physical resurrection of Jesus is at the very heart of the new hope that is at the centre of the Christian message. Hence, after having declared ‘Peace’, Jesus sought to give the startled disciples clear and convincing proofs that He was really, physically alive … The great news of Christianity is that … whatever challenges and trials we face in this life, we can be assured that there is a glorious hope that will far outweigh all of this. Because Jesus conquered death, and is alive, we no longer need to fear death.’

Week 4

We love restoration … not only does Jesus help us in our present struggles, but He also comes to heal us from our past failures. On Day 26 of the devotional, Dave writes:

‘The habit of God asking us to face our shortcomings with a question rather than directly accusing us is frequent in Scripture … At the root of our greatest failures is our ultimate failure to fulfil the greatest commandment to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart … soul … mind and … strength’ (Mark 12:30) … God made you, has a plan for you and sent Christ to restore you – from both self-inflicted damage and from hurts caused by others. The wonderful news is that when He restores, He makes all things new!’

Week 5

We love purpose … and that Jesus not only gave us our true purpose but promised to be with us every step of the way. On Day 31 of the devotional, Dave writes:

‘Until I became a Christian, I had no real understanding of my life purpose, other than a vague desire to be ‘happy’. Yet as soon as I invited Christ into my life, I had deep and abiding sense that I was made on purpose and for a purpose. I quickly realised that this purpose involved being loved by, and in return loving, the God who had made me and saved me, and that this love was to overflow in making a difference in other people’s lives.’

Week 6

We love confidence … the confidence we can have that Jesus really is alive and is still transforming lives today. As we look back over the evidence from the last six weeks, Dave writes on Day 37:

‘All of this points to a stunning conclusion: the Jesus who had been crucified and lain dead in a tomb for three days, had come back to life. The testimony of the New Testament letters and the book of Revelation, as well as nearly 2,000 years of subsequent Christian history, is that Jesus remains alive today!’

Transformed Life: Tap in to the power

In this series of posts, we’re looking at the eight weeks of the Transformed Life church programme. This week Ben shares his thoughts about Transformed Life Week Seven.

We’ve recently bought our first house, it was a bit of a fixer upper to say the least. We’ve had to completely gut the place. One of the main problems we urgently needed to sort out was to change the switchboard. Placing your hand on the wrong area was liable to give you a bit of a shock.

Last weekend an electrician friend from my small group came over to fix it. He only had a short amount of time and we were expecting visitors that evening.

He fixed it and it worked! Until the evening. Everyone arrived and from then on every ten minutes the electrics tripped.

It’s crazy how dependent we are on power. The lights would go out, the music would turn off. We couldn’t even make a cup of tea because any attempt at that would automatically trip the electrics again.

Last week in Transformed Life we looked at our purpose. This week we looked at our power. As a small group leader I am always praying for my small group to catch a sense of their purpose or calling in God. I want them to know that they have a particular calling, that they are created just the way they are for a reason. But I know that these callings can never be achieved or lived out without the power that comes from God.

We need this power to achieve our purpose just as my house needs power to achieve its purpose.

But how do we tap in to this power?

Through week 7 Dave gives some amazing insights and practical tips on how to do this. In the first few days he talks about how prayer must be a priority. He shares testimonies from some old saints on the power they experience in their prayer life. These insights are both touching and motivating.

Dave reminds us in Day 45 that, ‘The great news is that this dynamic and intimate experience of Christ is not just for great leaders but for all believers.’

He goes on to share a quote from Martyn Lloyd-Jones where he says, ‘So you begin to pray, and you go on praying in faith until some marvellous moment comes and suddenly you find yourself knowing Christ. He will have manifested himself to you. … He will have taken up his abode in you, and settled down in your heart.’

Isn’t that encouraging?! Great men and women of God experienced power in their ministry that came from a personal and experiential relationship with Jesus. A personal and experiential relationship that we can have too.

Find out more about the Transformed Life church programme here.

About Ben Knight
Ben is a youth leader and children’s worker at New Life Christian Church, Emsworth. He has been running small groups for lads for ten years and is passionate about seeing them step into their identity in Christ.

 

Transformed Life: It’s no big secret…

In this series of posts, we’re looking at the eight weeks of the Transformed Life church programme. This week Mark Baker shares his thoughts about Transformed Life Week Six.

OK, so we’re really getting stuck into the ‘purpose’ part of the book now, with Dave Smith writing about our calling and gifting from God and being a servant of the gospel, the Church and even God’s eternal purposes! Pretty deep stuff! And the last day of Week 6 is entitled: ‘Suffering and Glory’… wow – heavy!

But as I’ve found with the whole book, Dave puts it all in a way that I really get. I mean, he opens the ‘Suffering and Glory’ day by talking about the movie Rocky! You can’t get much more down-to-earth than that!

But going back a bit to earlier in the week, I like the link between our purpose and what God has gifted us with to serve. It makes sense that God would give us the skills, personality and experience we need to serve in the way He wants us to serve.

Dave says, ‘As I look back to before I became a Christian, I would characterise my life as lacking a sense of overall and ultimate purpose.’ Check. Been there, felt like that. I can’t say that for me personally I suddenly got a sense of purpose as soon as I became a Christian, but like my journey to becoming a Christian, my sense of purpose has developed over time and with experience.

The book mentions that although we each have our own gifts and purposes, we do all share the common purpose of sharing Jesus with others. I think we can all learn something from the B.L.E.S.S. acronym on Day 39. Begin in prayer. Listen. Eat. Serve. Share the story. Evangelism made easy! But as Dave points out – it’s right there in the Bible. It’s just following the pattern set out for us by Jesus. There’s no big secret to it, no need to perform strange rituals or follow complicated instructions – it’s just sharing our lives and our stories with people, just like Jesus and the disciples did.

Find out more about the Transformed Life church programme here.

About Mark Baker
markMark works for CWR and is trying to figure out what God has in store for his life. He enjoys reading, writing, small group ministry, watching England and Bath rugby, and helping out at Alpha.