Cedar Community Church - Sermons Online http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org en-us ©2019 Cedar Community Church Razorplanet Feed Generator 0.1.2 Sun, 14 Apr 2019 11:00:00 -0700 Sun, 14 Apr 2019 11:00:00 -0700   Cedar Community Church   No Cedar Community Church mlimanni@cedarcommunitychurch.org http://media1.razorplanet.com/share/510604-2131/resources/1529698216_1363670_BookofEphesiansicon.jpg Cedar Community Church http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org 600 600 Then Came Jesus... Text:  Matthew 20:29-21:27; Mark 10:46-11:33; Luke 19:28-20:8; John 12:1-19   Introductory remarks:  Today is Palm Sunday. This is the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd and the fulfilment of prophesy.  Today Jesus starts His final count-down to the crucifixion, which will be followed three days later by the most powerful day in all of the history of mankind – the resurrection of the Son of God!  In preparation for next week’s Easter Day celebration, I want to take a look at a few of the encounters Jesus had on this powerful day.  When Jesus comes to town, it’s always a day filled with adventure.  Come explore with me for a little while . . .   So, when Jesus shows up . . .   1.  Expect divine   revelation   – Matthew 21:8-11 An exposure, a disclosure, a shared discovery of eternal significance.  When Jesus shows up eternal values are revealed to folks.   2.  Expect aggressive   reordering   – Matthew 21:12-13   3.  Expect supernatural   intervention   – Matthew 20:29-34 & 21:14   4.  Expect logical   questioning   – Matthew 21:23-27   5.  Expect a bitter   clash   – Matthew 21:14-17 & 45-46   For further study, application and discussion:  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 14 Apr 2019 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53766.mp300:37:26 Servant Leadership Gifts (Part II) Text:  Ephesians 4:11-32; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45; Luke 22:20-32; Acts 1:12-26   Introductory remarks:  Submission isn’t easy.  Purposefully placing myself under the authority of another person is a decision I do not take lightly.  And the same moment I know it’s not easy, I also recognize that it’s necessary for a healthy life, because walking on my own without a submission to others an unhealthy lifestyle, and I have plenty of folks to point at to prove the point that walking alone is not good.  Today we explore what I believe would go a long way in helping the church of Jesus Christ today be more effective in our God-given mission.  Come explore with me a bit . . .   Authority is the personal or corporate mandate or commission to lead, administrate, exercise control – govern, or rule.  Healthy respect for authority and the healthy exercise of authority is the basis for freedom and power.    1.  Authority is        God’s         idea.   2.  Authority is     necessary     .   3.  Authority is       serving      .    What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 07 Apr 2019 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53705.mp300:24:36 Find Breathing Room (Dollars & Sense) We live in a culture that continually tells us to pursue a higher standard of living in order to improve our quality of life. But "standard of living" and "quality of life" aren't the same thing. One has to do with the stuff we accumulate. The other is about the peace we experience regardless of our circumstances. What if your pursuit of a standard of living is undermining your quality of life? Today we welcome our semi-regular guest-speaker- Andy Stanley.  Let's open our heart as Andy challeges us on some very personal, down-home stuff...   To listen to Andy, click  here. Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53686.mp300:00:02 Servant Leadership Gifts (Part I) Text:  Ephesians 4:11-16; Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:35-45; Luke 22:20-32 Introductory remarks:  An integral segment to Joe’s message last week had to do with serving, ministry.  Part of his point was that the ministry gifts of v. 11 – the ministry offices of Spiritual authority – are not just resident as a ministry gift in people, but are resident as people who are the ministry gift, and among God’s people.  And these gifts have the purpose of causing even more ministry/serving to happen, both inside the church and outside the church, with the purpose of getting people who are outside on the inside.  Today I reach back to make that ‘service’ a touchstone for our continued exploration into these ministry offices of Spiritual authority.  Come walk with me . . . The Authority Grid: Q 1 – HA  To Have Authority - Commission, inherent, comes from within, endowment, bestowment, gift, ordination.  Not everyone who has authority is in a position of authority.   Q 2 – AA  Is An Authority - Information, knowledge, experience, understanding.  No need for position or gifting.  They know their stuff and are usually happy to give it out upon request.    Q 3 – IA  To Be In Authority - Position, from the outside, election, appointment.  Not everyone is qualified to be in an influential position, and being in position is no guarantee of qualification . . .   Q 4 – BA  To Be Authoritative - Posture, personality/temperament, external appearance.  This person wants to talk about it and/or throw their weight around whether or not they know about the subject or have any position.  Not everyone who is authoritative knows what they’re talking about.    HA/AA = Contributes to Influence - Quadrants 1 & 2   IA/BA = Contributes to Control - Quadrants 3 & 4   HA/IA = Contributes to Abuse - Quadrants 1 & 3   AA/BA = Contributes to Manipulation - Quadrants 2 & 4   HA/IA/AA/BA = a person of power and wisdom who can change their world  -  All 4 Quadrants   For further study, application and discussion:  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 24 Mar 2019 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53161.mp300:00:15 The Abundance Cycle Text:  Ephesians 4:11-13, Matthew 25: 14-30   Introductory remarks:  Over the last several weeks, as we have been studying Ephesians 4, we see Paul calling us to recognize the grace given to us through Jesus and to live a life as believers united by Christ. Today I want to look at the road map Paul has laid out for us in verses 11-13 to achieve this abundant life the Father has for us.   1)  He gave, we share. (Eph 4:11)   2) As we share, He prepares us  and others for service. (Eph 4:12)   3) As we serve, He grows and builds. (Eph 4:12)   4) As we grow, He fills us up. (Eph 4:13)   5) As we are filled with Christ, we have more to share. (Eph 4:11-13)   For further study application and discussion: What has God given me?  Am I taking in good stuff?  Am I sharing/investing His gifts in others?  What has the Holy Spirit been saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?   Sun, 17 Mar 2019 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53603.mp300:37:56 In The Middle of Grace Text:  Ephesians 4:7-12; 1 Peter 3:19 & 4:6; 1 Corinthians 1:21   Introductory remarks:  So let’s begin by acknowledging that God’s grace – His goodness toward us that has nothing to do with what we can ever do to earn or deserve it (good works/behavior), or what we can do or not do to not earn or deserve it (poor or bad or evil behavior) – is in response to our relationship to the measurement of the gift of Christ.  How about we recognize that the gift of Christ – He Himself and everything He came to do and did do – is the measurement standard of the grace that’s extended to me?  And when I come to realize that this Christ, this anointed One, is Himself God, Who has come in human form, I have to recognize that this grace – this all things good for us – is without human limitation and measurement.  It’s on a different playing field than I’m used to.    And this grace thing is that God has all good pointed toward us – toward me, for me in particular.  And this grace thing is that God has all good pointed toward us – toward you, for you, you in particular.  This grace – all good, which cannot be earned, and which we do not deserve – is for us, and for me in particular, and for you in particular, and it’s measured out in God sized measurements, not human sized or deserved measurements.  It’s measured out in Jesus sized gift measurements.    Jesus owns captivity, and the possibility of making captives, and He has chosen rather to give freedom. You don’t have to live as a captive to anything.  You can learn to live as a free man or woman.   Jesus has the ability to move between heaven and hell, and anything in between, and take with Him whatever He chooses and leave gifts of whatever with whomever He chooses.  And what we’ve been told is that His gifts are gracious – all good!  So His captivating the bad stuff and leaving only the good stuff seems to be God’s propensity.    For further study, application and discussion:  What I want you to take away today is that God is up to good stuff, and He’s up to good stuff for you, and all you have to do to get in on His good stuff (grace) is say yes to Him and cooperate with Him in His good stuff and let Him do what He wants to do in and through your life.  Note:  I have absolutely no idea where saying “Yes” to God is going to take you, but I’m betting my life that it’s gonna end up good.    So first I want you to take home with you a new sense of release from bondage and constriction.  Whether or not you ever figure out how to walk in release, accept and weave into your understanding that what captures and enslaves you has been captured and hauled off by Jesus.  I don’t have to understand this to just accept it.   Secondly, I want you to take home with you that Jesus is still coming and going and moving and proclaiming His goodness to us for today.  He started moving outside the box 2000 years ago, and He’s been ascending and descending, by and in the Holy Spirit, ever since, and His moving and coming and going is for you today.    What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?      Sun, 10 Mar 2019 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53602.mp300:46:12 Then Came Grace Text:  Ephesians 4:7-8; Review:  “If I can get   ‘one’  , I can have it   ‘all’  .” Introductory remarks:  Last week I wrapped up the package deal of the ‘one’ and the ‘all’, of verses 4-6.  Today I start there with a review to launch me into these next ‘grace’ verses.  And I’ll suggest that all-things-God seem to run counter intuitive to all-things-human.  And while I’m not saying I have it all figured out, I am working diligently on renewing my mind, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, so this God stuff looks and feels more natural to me.  Let’s do a little review, and then let’s look at the most powerful word in our Christian vocabulary – grace.  Powerful why?  Because, according to what Paul says, God’s grace is the only avenue upon which salvation and the presence of God can be found, and my faith – my acceptance that what God says is the way it is – is my only access point to that salvation and the presence of God in my life.  So, this is me, exploring some of the stuff God has for me. 1.  Grace is a   gift  .   2.  Grace can be   withheld  .   3.  Grace is   accepted  .   4.  Grace can be   rejected  .     For further study, application and discussion:  Question:  If Jesus has something for me – like He has a gift for me – why wouldn’t I want to just reach out and receive it?  Think about it . . .  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 03 Mar 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53601.mp300:57:21 The Greatest Number Text:  Ephesians 4:1-6; Introductory remarks:  “One” and “all” are important to God.  I’m drawing our attention to the fact that the Apostle Paul makes a big deal out of this one and all thing for us today . . . actually he made a big deal out of it nearly 2,000 years ago, and I’m owning it for today.  Join me as I finish my exploration of these first 6 verses of Ephesians 4 . . .   There is . . . 1.  One   body   –     2.  One   Spirit   –     3.  One   hope   –     4.  One   Lord   –     5.  One   faith   –     6.  One   baptism   –     7.  One   God & Father   – a.  God & Father    of   all –     b.  In Authority   over   all –     c.  Working   through   all –     d.  Residing   in   all –     What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?   Sun, 24 Feb 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53600.mp300:28:44 Feb 10, 2019 Sun, 10 Feb 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53714.mp300:00:15 So This Is the Deal... Text:  Ephesians 4:1-6   Two weeks ago we explored submitting-  “. . . to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called . . .”  Last week we explored a bit more of the how-to in that Spirit walk- and today I want to dig a bit deeper in some application of that how-to.  Word 4 for last week was ‘tolerance’, and we’re gonna spend just a little time on that segment of verse 2 today.  Come along with me for a little exploration and expansion . . .   1.  I will stand   against   you when I must.  . . . bearing with one another in love.  NIV   2.  I will stand   with   you when I can.    3.  Love will always be my   guide.  Let’s understand that love means I want only what’s best for you. And let’s further establish that love means I will find the beauty in you . . .      because I live in hope that there is beauty to be found;      and in faith that it is meant to be found;      and that beauty is in you and I will find it in you.    --What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?--        Sun, 03 Feb 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53219.mp300:38:42 How Then Shall I Walk? Text:  Ephesians 4:1-5 Last week my word was ‘submit’, and I had 6 points to consider that we need to submit to.  My last word was parameters, and I concluded by telling you that we would explore these parameters today.  So here we are, and let’s recognize that what I’m putting the tag on as parameters simply means guide-lines or trip markers, or perhaps limitations or challenges or boundaries.  So my title is the how-to question I probe for today – “How Then Shall I Walk?” - . . . as I walk this journey, what does this appropriate or worthy manner look like?  . . . how will I know if I’m walking that way?  What are my boundaries; my limitations; my constraints?  For the record, I’m not assuming that you’ve decided you even want to walk in a manner worthy of a calling, or even that you even think you have a calling, but I do assume that since we’re all here today, sipping some coffee and nibbling on a cookie that we’re at least interested in exploring what’s going on in this Jesus walk thing.  So, here we go on a little exploration of what the Spirit walk itself looks like . . . thanks for joining me today . . .   Walking like this is important to God:  Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, . . . 1.  God values   humility   – . . . with all humility . . . Functionally, humility is a proper, honest, authentic self-evaluation, as opposed to a high self-evaluation that’s too high and out of reach.  Humility is neither arrogance nor depreciating 2.  God values   gentleness   – . . . and gentleness . . . Gentleness is mild, even, settled 3.  God values   patience   – . . . with patience . . . The idea with patience is that we don’t let our passions/emotions/anger flair out of control. 4.  God values   tolerance   – . . . showing tolerance for one another . . . Tolerance is literally to hold up or hold with or along with or by.  So tolerance hangs in there with or by folks, even when we’d rather abandon or desert or give up on someone.  5.  God values   love   – . . . in love . . . Love is looking for the best, finding the best, seeing the best, wanting the best.  6.  God values   diligence   – . . . being diligent . . . This diligence is giving speed or using speed.  (And this is where we’ll pick up again next week . . .) For further study, application and discussion:  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?     Sun, 27 Jan 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53160.mp300:43:40 The Spirit Walk Text:  Ephesians 4:1-5; Exodus 21:5-6; Deuteronomy 15:16-17 The opening word of our text today is ‘therefore’; and the rule of thumb is, whenever you run across a ‘therefore’, you should take the time to figure out what it’s ‘there for’ – i.e. what is the writer or speaker referring back to as reason for the current statement?  And I suggest that, as Paul launches into the last half of his epistle to the Christians at Ephesus, his call to commitment is based in his own commitment, which has its roots deeply embedded in the closing two verses of the last chapter:  “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”   “So it only follows that, due to the unsurpassed power of the heavenly Father Himself, and the fact that He works that power through us, bringing glory to Himself through the function of the church and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, I have submitted myself to a life of perpetual servitude to the Lord Jesus, and it’s only natural that I would further call out to you to come along on this journey of shared mutual servitude, both to God and to one another.  And here’s some practical how-to for you to get a grip on as we move along.”    1.  Submit to the   Lord   – prisoner of the Lord . . .   2.  Submit to the   calling   – I implore you . . .   3.  Submit to the   journey   – walk in a manner . . .   4.  Submit to the   priority   – in a manner worthy . . .   5.  Submit to my   calling   – of the calling with which you have been called . . .   6.  Submit to the   parameters   – with all humility and gentleness, with patience . . . and he goes on a little more . . .     Sun, 20 Jan 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53120.mp300:44:53 Look at This (Part 2) Text: Ephesians 3:20-4:3; Luke 19:1-10; John 12:20-23; Mark 6:53-56; Acts 4:13-22; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1 We start our little journey of exploration today from our text of last week – Ephesians 3:20 & 21 – where Paul makes his dynamic mid-book regroup and launch, by declaring . . . sort of . . . that everything is always all about The Father, and that’s all there is, end of the story, period!  And part of his ‘end of the story, period’ is wrapped up in the explosive power of God, and the manifestation of that power in us – “He (God Himself) is able/empowered to do so far above and beyond what we can imagine, and that power works effectively and exponentially in us, as individuals but within the community of Church, for His glory in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, into all generations of mankind ever yet to come.”  Hold that and come with me . . .    1.  People will follow their   curiosity  .  Luke 19:1-10   2.  People will make intentional   inquiry  .  John 12:20-23   3.  When Jesus shows up, people   recognize   Him.  Mark 6:53-56   4.  When I’ve been with Jesus, people   know   it.  Acts 4:13-22   5.  When we spend time with Jesus,   imitation   comes natural.  1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1   For further study, application and discussion:  My message to fellow Jesus followers is “Come walk with me – it’s a great journey!”  And to non-Jesus-followers it’s “Come walk with me – it’s the best journey!” What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 13 Jan 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53078.mp300:49:28 Look at This (Part 1) Text:  Ephesians 3:20-4:3 Today is the first Sunday of 2019, and as I’m finishing the 3rd chapter of Ephesians, I want to use it as an encouraging, motivating focus for this new year – consider this our New Year’s challenge.  While these last two verses of chapter three feel as if they're an end-of-a-book closer, it’s actually only a mid-point recalibration as he launches into some of the biggest, boldest, richest, meatiest instruction portions of this letter to his brothers and sisters in Ephesus.  So while we’ll explore some issues that are a struggle for many Christians today (including many Church leaders), I’m suggesting that it will all hinge on this statement Paul makes as he transitions from chapter 3 into the last half of his instructive letter.  Come explore with me for a little while . . .   1.  The   focus   piece. “Now to Him who is able . . .” – He is our Lord Jesus Christ.    So the first focus is on the   Person   of the Lord Jesus.   And the second focus is on the   power  , or ability, of the Lord Jesus.   And the third focus is on the   process   or working of that power.    2.  The   balance   piece.   3.  The   challenge   piece.    For further study, application and discussion:  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 06 Jan 2019 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53077.mp300:32:15 Find Breathing Room (Time) This is a 5th Sunday, and we're continuing with our tradition of bringing in a special 5th Suday event.  So today we're welcoming our somewhat regular Pastor/Teacher guest- Andy Stanley, as he begins a brand new four-part series.  Let's open our heart as Andy challeges us on some very personal, down-home stuff... To listen to Andy, click Here Sun, 30 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52891.mp300:00:03 A Christmas Sunday Story "A Sunday Christmas Story" Sun, 23 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52840.mp300:44:54 Get Real Text:  Ephesians 3:11-21 Introductory remarks:  I do not believe we have been studying Galatians and now Ephesians by some chance.  There is some important stuff Paul is saying that we need to get a grasp on not only individually but collectively as his church. God is on mission and will accomplish that mission.  He has a plan for us here in Buckley, WA and the questions is will we get on board with him.  Not just dip our toe in, not wade in a little and test the water but fully jump in.  God's vision for you and our church is bigger than ours.  We need to expand our vision and open our hearts to go where He is leading us.  Today I want to look at the end of Chapter 3 as Paul prays for the Ephesian church and see if we can't take hold of this prayer and make it our own.  Get Real and Recognize who God  is. (v.11-16,20) Get Real and Recognize who We are. (v.12)   Get Real and let God's Spirit fill you up. (V. 17-19) Get Real and  Love like God. (V.20-21)   What has the Holy Spirit been saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?  Can I accept that Jesus loves me?  Will I make Paul's prayer my own?  Will you pray Paul's prayer for our church?    Ephesians 3:11-21 New International Version (NIV) 1 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. A Prayer for the Ephesians 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.     Sun, 16 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52828.mp300:41:30 Points to Ponder (Part 2) Text:  Ephesians 3:1-10   Introductory remarks:  The first point I want to make, as I continue and complete what I started last week, is that my title is intended to convey the concept of taking some appropriate time to reflect and consider and mull over – to meditate, ruminate, cogitate, contemplate, muse . . . Paul is a brilliant and skilled word-smith, and his Lord Jesus was more than equally gifted before him.  And whether or not we like what the New Testament writers/recorders might be saying is immaterial in the face of, and in the discussion of, whether or not they said what they meant and meant what they said.  My statement of faith is that they were gifted, and inspired of the Holy Spirit, to write down some Divine Ancient-Of-Days (Daniel 7) thinking processes for our present benefit, and my hope is that we’ve poured our cup of coffee, or tea, or whatever, and are taking some appropriate moments to ponder what Paul is attempting to convey to us . . . Let’s review from last week that Paul implied to the Ephesian Christians that he was, first of all, “A willing sacrifice” (v. 1) for the process of sharing the gospel with them; and that he unwaveringly maintained “A focus on grace” (v. 2) – God’s grace toward both Paul and his readers – in his gospel message; and he reiterated “An acknowledgment of the supernatural” (v.3) in his ministry calling and function; underscored his “understanding of partnership” (v. 4 & 5) – that while yes, God has supernaturally intervened, yet his partnership with God is necessary, for God chooses to work through us to get done what He wants to get done; and then that he had “An understanding of timing” (v. 5) – that God has a timetable He works off of, as He works with us to get His gracious gospel message to those who need to hear it.    v. 6 – Submission to inclusion.  As opposed to viewing this inclusion as an intrusion, an invasion, an infringement, an interference So this brings us to . . . v. 6 where I suggest Paul displays a submission to inclusion – i.e. that he fully acknowledges that God has kept His intent all wrapped up, in Christmas wrapping, if you will – before the revelation, first by the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and then in His life and ministry, and then the revelation transfer, by the Holy Spirit, to the apostles and prophets, who then and now carry that message:  Specifically to the gentiles, and, bigger than that, that this message was intended, specifically, to convey that the gentiles are co/fellow heirs to the historic Abrahamic birthright, and the same kind of co/fellow physical members, and co/fellow partakers of the promise that is held in Christ Jesus, and revealed through/in/by the gospel – the message of God’s gracious gifting of life to Us.    Humor me just a bit . . . allow me to crawl up on my soapbox and rant for a minute . . . I contend that the mystery of Christ (v. 4) that has been made known to us gentiles, (v. 6) is not that God is so mad at us that He sent Jesus to keep us from going to hell – if we’ll pray the sinner’s prayer – nor is it the promise of eternity in heaven – if we’ve said that prayer – but rather, it’s a message of grace, that we have a divine inheritance and divine membership in a divine body and a divine promise to partake in the unfathomable riches of Christ!   I’ve run into many well-meaning Christians – I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they meant well, even while I know that God condemns their attitude – who express some for-real dissatisfaction with the idea that Jesus might save some true, card-carrying reprobates before it’s all over.  I’m afraid that God is way more inclusive that we want him to be.  And Paul was so well versed in the ancient writings of his Jewish faith that for him to make this kind of move is both amazing and encouraging.  Because if Paul could get his attitude in alignment with God’s great grace and mercy toward the gentiles, I can get my attitude realigned as well.   v. 7 – A total cooperation with God. I was made a minister – servant – deacon As a logical result of the gift of God’s grace in me Which was the efficient product of His power in me   In essence, Paul says:  “So, God wanted to and was working in me, and I wanted Him to work in me and I cooperated with Him to work in me, and His stuff got done!”     I know I come around to this from time to time, because I find it so often in our holy writings, that God chooses to work in and through us to get His work done, and we choose to do our part in working with Him as He works in and through us to get His work done.    One thing I’ve seen in Bible stories is that when folks tell God they don’t want to work with Him or don’t want Him to work in them that it never goes as well in their alternate plans as they think it’s gonna go.  It appears to me that when people have delusions of resisting God and then doing what they want to do that life just does not bring a peace to them.  And I say, “Hmmmm . . .?”   v. 8 – A realistic personal evaluation. Paul recognized that he should have never qualified to receive this grace and preach the unfathomable riches of Christ to the Gentiles, but he was tapped to do it, and he did it!   Resident within a cooperative heart must also be a clear recognition of exactly who and what we are left to our own natural causes, and without God’s calling and gifting and empowerment.    Joe and I were having coffee this week and kicking around the subject of what effectiveness in ministry looks like – how do we judge or evaluate success.  We came to a couple of conclusions – one is that God has gifted each of us uniquely and isn’t in the business of forming us into anyone else other than in the image of Jesus; and then that there are always a dozen opinions from well-meaning folks who have their idea of what we should be accomplishing in our calling, without ever consulting God on what He’s doing either in our personal life or in our little world around us.  And while it can get highly subjective, we need to consistently go back to God to check in and see if we’re on track with Him.  I need God’s Spirit, God’s Word and Godly men around me to help me stay on track with where God wants me to be, and when I’m where God wants me to be, I’m effective and successful.  End of story.  Paul knew where he came from, and that it wasn’t first of all a logical fit for what God was doing in him, but he also knew that God had sovereignly confronted his life and fingered him for a specific ministry, and he also knew that he was doing that exact work that God had called him to do.   v. 9 – An openness to change. Change is hard . . . and we resist change, not just because it’s hard, but, mostly, because it’s different, and we just don’t like different.  Change wouldn’t be half bad if it wasn’t different from what we’ve gotten used to.  The Jews were used to what they were used to – a really exclusive club that was ordained by God and tightly controlled by God in His personally prescribed rules for religious practice – and this new openness was a bizarre shift, and Paul says it was always planned, but kept under wraps until the appointed time, and that time had come, and Paul was open to it!   As a Sunday School boy, I came to understand that there was a pretty tight and exclusive way we served God, and while we claimed it was serving Jesus as He had prescribed in The Book, I grew to learn, from that Book, that we had clearly missed Jesus’ main points as we pursued the little sub-points we made up as extractions from the main points – I learned this stuff wasn’t legitimate, which forced me to make some major adjustments.    I learned that God’s love and grace was conspicuously grander and more far-reaching than I had been previously taught, and I had to open my heart to be more gracious to folks, for whom Christ died, but who acted like they didn’t care and lived completely outside of God’s specified Spirit life.  Today I enjoy hanging with the kind of folks I was deathly afraid of 40 years ago, and find great joy in living my Christ-life around them!  That’s a change I had to embrace!  That’s a change I’ve come to love and find exhilarating!   v. 10 – An acknowledgment of divine influence. “And then there’s that.”  A number of months ago, at our Friday Consortium,   So Paul goes through his litany, his recital, that because of what God had done in him, and his obedience to that divine calling, he’s in prison, and the folks in Ephesus are living proof that he’s been faithful to his divine call, and God has been faithful to those folks in Ephesus,  and yet, this stuff is gonna reach out even further, having even greater impact – the wisdom of God, through the church, is destined to have a powerful impact on supernatural powers and authority in the heavenly realms.  I would say that’s some powerful, far-reaching influence!     And we’re part of it!  “And then there’s that!”  Our life together in the church doesn’t only impact you and me, and have positive influence in the individual lives of folks who live in our community, and in various little pockets around the world where we have some missionary influence by way of financial support and prayer, but there is an unseen spiritual realm that is somehow impacted and influenced by how we’re being impacted and influenced and live out the grace of God among us.   Paul doesn’t say this influence is because of the revelation process of v. 3, or the apostles and prophets of v. 5, but in, through and by the church – that would be because of all us normal people, which undoubtedly exist in response to the revelation to the early apostles and prophets, but, none the less, Paul says this divine influence is because of God’s incredible wisdom, played out in the church.    I’m not suggesting our business as a church – the church – is either simple or easy, but I’m seeing that it’s of unbelievable importance and is having far-reaching effects!  Let us not be weary in well doing!!   Spiritual powers in the heavenly realm have had a hey-day in this community over the years – I submit to you that I’ve had pastoral predecessors who gave in to the evil influence of those powers and authorities, to the detriment of both the Church of Jesus Christ and our community, and I further submit to you that a present result of our shifting to a message of God’s wisdom, played out in His grace and love, and a rejecting of the evil powers and authorities, that our community is becoming more open to God’s grace and mercy and love.  No, I don’t understand how it all works, and I don’t know how it’s gonna play out, but I’m witnessing positive change in our community, and I intend to continue to embrace the change that the Holy Spirit is initiating in and through us, as a church in this community, and in the lives of folks who need His grace and mercy and love.    And I’m encouraging you to step down through these points, and ponder just how you’re doing under each one.  And the last point to ponder is the powerful possibility of just how our church family is impacting the universe around us, and that we’re willing to be that power influence.    For further study, application and discussion:  So, as you ponder, what are you thinking and feeling about each of these points that I’m suggesting Paul raises for us?  What kind of buy-in are you willing to have in this revelation of the kingdom business of Jesus?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?                    Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52748.mp300:51:17 Points to Ponder (Part 1) Text:  Ephesians 3:1-10   We’re moving into Ephesians 3 today, which is sort of a transition chapter between the specific and powerful instructions in the first two chapters and the even more pointed instructions in the last three chapters.  In this chapter Paul is making some statements that are intended to further corroborate and substantiate his authority to speak to us, and our need to listen up.  So I want to wander along and take note of what seemed to be some important points to Paul . . .   v. 1 - A willing sacrifice. The epistle to the Ephesians is one of four letters Paul wrote from prison in Rome, in the early AD 60s, which made Paul around age 60.  We also know Paul was executed during a later imprisonment in Rome, probably within about 5 years after this epistle is written, when he was most likely at least 65 years old.   While Paul wouldn’t have known exactly what his future held, we know he was at least willing to die for his faith in Jesus.  And, indeed, he is gona die in much the same way as Jesus did – at the hands of the romans, because his own Jewish brothers were jealous of him and wanted him dead, to put him out of their misery – i.e. he was in their way, because he was preaching/proclaiming a new and less complicated way, and it flew in the face of their religious traditions.   So Paul, like Jesus, was run over and killed by a Roman bus, under which he was thrown by His own Jewish brothers.    v. 2 – A focus on grace. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the other apostles also had a good understanding of grace, but I’m supposing that none of them had quite the same grip on just how gracious God was in His reaching out toward us as Paul had.  And Paul considered it his divine calling and mandate to carry the message of God’s out-of-the-blue, this-is-for-you, there’s-nothing-you-can-do message to the totally undeserving Gentiles all over the then-known world.    And I’m a recipient of this good news, nearly 2,000 years later, and just so happen to be one of those excluded gentiles who needed God’s grace for and in my life.  I am a product of Paul’s faithful, unwavering focus on God’s grace – he called it a stewardship – an assignment of responsibility to take care of an estate, or economy, if you will.   So Paul’s caretaking of the grace was what we might call a fiduciary responsibility, which would hold both moral and legal ramifications, and I’m sitting alongside those Ephesian Christians, thankful that Paul took his responsibilities seriously.   v. 3 – An acknowledgment of the supernatural. Within his responsibility, Paul acknowledges that he didn’t dream it up, or find it alongside the road on a stormy night, or that he purchased it, or inherited it, but that God had supernaturally dropped the assignment on him.  And part of his message at this point is pointing out that the grace is to the benefit of his listeners, not to the speaker.  i.e. it wasn’t because Paul was gonna get such benefit, but that God had provided a benefit to the gentiles, and Paul was there to let them know about the great benefit God has for them.  “This didn’t come from me, it came from God, and it’s all about you, and it’s not about me, so here you go.”   v. 4 & 5 – An understanding of partnership.  And within that supernatural delivery, Paul recognizes and understands his personal involvement with God’s plan.  You see, God almost never does His projects alone, but solicits our cooperation with Him in His project.  Paul is sharing his insights – or knowledge – into the mysteries of God, and that he is a willing partner with God in the delivery of information on this mystery of God   Might I suggest that at this Christmas season we prepare our hearts to be willing partners in sharing about this most wonderful gift of God’s grace to us, which started in the stable in Bethlehem, 2,000 years ago.  Don’t be too bodacious to say too much, but be willing to step in when the Holy Spirit nudges you to share a word about this mystery of God’s grace to us   v. 5 – An understanding of timing. Because we, like Paul need to understand God’s timing.  There have been times I wanted to jump in and get the ball rolling, only to recognize it wasn’t yet in God’s timing.  Paul had an understanding of divine timing, and spoke to it.  I’m on board with God in His timing.    It’s not that the message of grace isn’t an important and urgent message that literally means life or death to folks, but God isn’t in such a hurry that He pushes folks away from the very thing He wants them to receive.    My conviction is that all too often zealous Christians push too hard on the outside rather than practicing their own preaching and pushing a little harder on the inside, to step into the gift of God’s grace in their own lives.  It seems to go without exception that the very folks who push so hard to get others to come to walk in grace do not themselves rest peacefully and walk in that same abundant grace.  If it’s time for someone else in your life, then it’s past time for you.   For further study, application and discussion:  So, as you ponder, what are you thinking and feeling about each of these points that I’m suggesting Paul raises for us?  What kind of buy-in are you willing to have in this revelation of the kingdom business of Jesus?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?      Sun, 02 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53124.mp300:18:54 ...And Stay There! Text:  Ephesians 2:13-22; 1 Timothy 1:3-7   It’s Thanksgiving Sunday, and there’s a lot to be thankful for, and my greatest appreciation goes to Jesus, for what He did for me 2,000 years ago.  What I’m also realizing is that I’ve spent a lot of time jumping back and forth across a spiritual line, thinking first that I was living in grace and freedom, only to recognize I hadn’t yet put down the old rules I’d been living by, and which Jesus wasn’t one little bit impressed that I was doing so well keeping them . . . or thinking I was doing a good job of keeping them.  I want to dig around just a bit more in chapter two before I move into three . . .   1.  There is an   enemy  . Vs. 15 & 16 Enmity is the condition that exists between enemies.  It’s conflict, division and separation – an enemy lives to foment hostility and set up opposition – stir up trouble and cause division.  If you want to determine who the enemy is, look around and identify who’s stirring the pot of hostility and opposition, to bring about a divisiveness between friends or family or even God.     Paul acknowledges that there is a conflict – a struggle going on in God’s purposes, and He has actively intervened to totally disrupt that conflict to set up a new way of being.    And it’s displayed in exclusion – v. 12 And separation – v. 13   2.  There is a    unity  . Vs. 13 & 17 Unity is the condition that results from ceasing the divisive conflict.   Paul points out that a union has occurred, and is an on-going reality, that Jesus engineered on the cross.  This includes being brought near – v. 13   And reconciliation – v. 16 And accessibility – v. 18   3.  There is   community  . Vs. 21 & 22 Community is the result of facilitating and nurturing the conditions under which unity can be achieved – i.e. by abolishing/eradicating/terminating enmity, thereby eliminating its consequences, which gives place to unity and the formation/structuring of community.   This is where Paul reinforces the purpose of the building process – that a building is being erected/constructed, and it’s purpose is to be inhabited/made a residence/dwelt in/lived in, not just standing there to look pretty or impressive.    And this is community with one another – v. 19-22 And community with the Holy Spirit – v. 18 & 22   For further study, application and discussion:  What am I being built into?  Am I ok with God’s purpose to end separation and bring together?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?      Sun, 25 Nov 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53123.mp300:44:12 The Standard Text:  Ephesians 2:8-9; Jeremiah 29:4-14; 1 Timothy 1:3-7 A couple of weeks ago, Carol Rogers made a firm observation that I had not yet spent time on this Ephesians 2:8-9 text.  While I did tell her that I’d spent a little time on it in one of my teaching times, several weeks ago, and possibly when she was home sick, . . . I had to realize that I had not spent sufficient time on it and needed to return to this text.  She said something to the effect that this is too important to skip over . . . and I had to agree with her.  Come with me on a more comprehensive exploration of one of the most important pieces of doctrinal teaching that Paul put forth – this is foundational to our faith.   Exhibit A:  It is God’s   intention   to do good stuff with me, and for me.  Exhibit B:  It is my Spirit-empowered   intention   to do this good stuff for Him, in Christ Jesus, because He has intended that for me. Ephesians 2:8-10  --  For by grace – this is a gift, totally the result of His desire to give... ...you have been saved – delivered, protected, healed, preserved, made safe, made whole.  ...through faith – the studied, attentive, thoughtful persuasion/conviction on an issue – “Yep, it’s true!” ...that not of yourselves – absolutely not originating in ourselves ...it is the gift of God – a gift or offering, even a sacrifice ...not as a result – product or effect or natural cause ...of works – any labor or performance which should naturally earn a benefit ...so that no one may boast – when I’ve done a good job and earned my pay, I have a right to brag!  For further study, application and discussion:  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?      Sun, 18 Nov 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/53084.mp300:44:13 A Solid Foundation The foundation work is first dependent on good dirt excavation work, and then the rest of the home building project rests on the quality of the foundation work.  Suffice it to say that the kitchen cabinets and counter tops will look better if the foundation work is done right; and the bathroom door will close better if the foundation work was done right.  Everything in the finished project will reflect the quality of work in the foundation.    The solidity of my Spiritual life is dependent on the quality of the foundation work I do – or submit to – in the early stages of my Spiritual formation.  Paul has something to say about foundations in our text for today, and I want to draw our attention to what he’s saying, and what it means to me.  Thanks for joining me on a little Spiritual exploration project . . .   In our text for today, Paul tells us that – I’m taking it personally, so he’s telling me that – the foundation for my Spiritual life is made up of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ . . . what does it look like?    1.  A specific   messenger  .  (Check out 2 Samuel 18:19-23) Built upon the foundation of the apostles . . .   2.  A specific   message  . And of the prophets . . .   3.  A specific   mission  . And of Christ Jesus Himself, the Chief Cornerstone . . .   2 Peter 3:18  --  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Let’s first recognize that – His mission is a mission of growth   And of grace   And of knowledge   While I don’t want to make a huge deal out of these words for us as individuals, I do want to be so bold as to suggest that each one of us as a follower of Jesus has a Godly commission to someone, and a Holy Spirit message just for them, and we’ve been anointed by the Holy Spirit to go to them, in His timing and with His words and His demeanor to faithfully deliver the message.  Let’s be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us, as an individual Jesus follower.   Text:  Ephesians 2:17-22; 2 Peter 3:14-18   For further study, application and discussion:  Who are we listening to?  The apostles and prophets of the first century church, and Christ Jesus Himself, are the most significant.  Are the others that we listen to legitimate?  Let’s pay attention!  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today, and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 11 Nov 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52504.mp300:48:24 Partner With God Text:  Ephesians 2:10-22; Mathew 16:13-20 Three weeks ago I looked at three scripture texts that speak to the metaphor of building our lives.  Two weeks ago, I looked at some personal stories of experience on the importance of engaging in quality building processes.  Last week, Mike underscored the importance of living our lives by God’s two life rules.  And today, I’m taking us back into this second chapter to explore God’s plan a bit, as what I see Paul laying out for us.  Come explore with me for a while . . . and be challenged . . .    1.  Divine   intention  .  God has purposed us for good works.   2.  Christ Jesus   provision  .  Jesus is our process for accomplishing these good works.   3.  Personal   cooperation  .  I must cooperate by submitting to my divine calling and/or Holy Spirit gifting and natural abilities and life circumstances.   4.  Holy Spirit   intervention  . I can’t do it alone!  I need the Holy Spirit proactively and actively interjecting Himself – His presence and indwelling and empowerment and gifting and fruit productivity.    Text:  Ephesians 2:10-22; Matthew 16:13-20   For further study, application and discussion:  The questions I’d like for you to grapple with today – and come to some conclusion on – is if you buy into God’s intentions for us and for you?  Can you own that for you?  Can you buy into and own that it’s all because of Jesus, and we must work in and through Him?  Can you then buy into the fact that we have to do our part in this working process, in order for God to get His work done?  And can you buy into and submit to the inner-working of the Holy Spirit, to empower you to do your good works in Christ Jesus?   What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?          Sun, 04 Nov 2018 11:00:00 -0800 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52441.mp300:41:06 Something New Introductory Remarks:  As we have been exploring the Apostle Paul’s ‘little books’, we are seeing some common themes develop among them – themes around what it means to live in our communities as Christians – things like escaping bondage to live in freedom, building a solid life in Jesus’ teaching, learning to accept just how fierce God’s love for us is, and loving one another as Jesus loved us. Last time we were together, I challenged you to “Recognize how fiercely God has loved you and dare to live in the reality of it!” Today, I find myself being led to bring that challenge forward and expand it to its next logical application. Let’s take a look…                                          So, What’s the Big Idea?                                “Recognize how    fiercely    God has    loved    the world                          and dare to    love    those He    loves    as    He    loves them!”   1. Break      from     the old     Covenant    .   2. Break    down    the old   antagonism    .   3. Break    out    the new    ethic   .   Source Text:  Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 John 2:1-2; John 3:16-17; Hebrews 9; Exodus 32:15-16; Deuteronomy 4:10-14; Deuteronomy 9:7-12; 2 Corinthians 3:6-11; Galatians 5:2-6; Psalms 133; 2 Corinthians 5:16-20; John 13:34-35; 1 John 2:2; 2 Chronicles 36:17-21; Matthew 9:35-38     For further study, application and discussion:  The people of our community need to be “one anothered” – they need the love of God in their lives. What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 28 Oct 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52390.mp300:49:53 A Closer Look I will build my life into something – the only question is what I’ll build myself into, and how I’ll go about building and what materials I’ll use.  As I move along, I need to be asking myself . . . checking in with myself to see if I’m satisfied with what I’m building my life into.   1.  Commit to   comply  .     2.  Commit to   integrity  .    3.  Commit to   maintenance  .    And speaking of work . . . 4.  Commit to   work  .  While I don’t work for my salvation, there definitely is a pay-off to the quality of my relationship with God when I put the good work into constructing my Spiritual house.      Text:  Ephesians 2:19-22; (& 4:11-16; 6:10-12); Proverbs 24:3-4; Philippians 2:12-13; 1 Timothy 1:1-7; Matthew 7:21-29; Luke 6:47-49; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 1 Peter 2:4-8; James 2:14-26   For further study, application and discussion:  I’m in it for the long-haul, so I have a couple of questions to pose . . . How is my project going and what do I need to do to make sure it keeps going well?  Or what adjustments do I need to make to ensure I get my project back on track?    What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 21 Oct 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52338.mp300:45:50 A Good Home I was attempting to catch up on my devotional reading while I was enjoying meditation time by the fire at camp . . . and my teaching time today gained focus in my meditation time on one of those quiet mornings, coffee in hand . . .   First I’ll explore some words from Jesus in Matthew, and then go to our Ephesians text for today, and then I’ll take us to that text in Proverbs that got my attention by the fire.  Got yer coffee?  Let’s go . . .     1.    Jesus   said build.  Matthew 7 & Luke 6 Personally, individually – right information leading to right actions.   2.    Paul   said build.  Ephesians 2 Corporately, communally – right mentors leading in the right direction.   3.    Solomon   said build.  Proverbs 24 & 9 Conceptual, process – the right and best materials leading to the right and best product/building/home.     Text:  Ephesians 2:19-22; Matthew 7:21-29; Luke 6:47-49; Proverbs 24:3-4 & 9:1-6; 1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 1 Peter 2:4-8; James 2:14-26   For further study, application and discussion:  I will build my life into something – the only question is what I’ll build myself into, and how I’ll go about building and what materials I’ll use.  As I move along, I need to be asking myself . . . checking in with myself to see if I’m satisfied with what I’m building my life into?  How is my project going and what do I need to do to make sure it keeps going well?  Or what adjustments do I need to make to ensure I get my project back on track?    What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 14 Oct 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52337.mp300:40:31 Jesus Christ: Zombie Saver Text: Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 6:22-23; Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 11:25-29 I remember from the time I was little, people asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up. We are asked this question when we are in preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and for some of us slow learners- even into our 40's. Today I want to look at one of my favorite scriptures in Ephesians 2:8-10.  Here, Paul explains what it was that God had planned for the Ephesian Christians and what He has planned for us today.  My hope for you is that before you leave today, is that you will be able to answer today’s big question.  (Oh, and I will get to the zombie thing- just hold on...) Today’s big question:  What does God want me to do? (Pause audio at 24:10:00 and navigate to the link below to watch the music video "Flawless" by MercyMe) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjLlLPZderk Christ... There is no hope without Jesus. Grace is our only hope.  It has never been about being good enough. Path...  Get in step Jesus. Following Christ requires we love. Rest...  Walking with Jesus will bring you Peace.  There is no true peace without him. What has the Holy Spirit been saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?  Can I accept that Jesus loves me?  Can I accept that Jesus loves others I find hard to love?  What shifts in my life do I need to make to better love people?    Sun, 07 Oct 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52309.mp300:31:17 Find Breathing Room (Ex-Squeeze Yourself) This is a 5th Sunday, and I'm continuing with my tradition of bringing in a special 5th Suday event.  So today I'm welcoming our somewhat regular Pastor/Teacher guest, Andy Stanley, as he begins a brand new four-part series.  Let's open our heart as Andy challeges us on some very personal, down-home stuff... To listen to Andy, click Here Sun, 30 Sep 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52080.mp300:00:02 At What Cost? We’re often willing to pay for what we get, it’s just that often we don’t like the price tag… I’m willing to pay, just not that much—I think the price is too high or I’m simply unable to afford the level of quality or amount I want.  And then there are those other weird situations when we think the price should be much higher, and we just can’t bring ourselves to settle for the asking/going price.  In the former, we need to check our attitude to make sure we’re not stingy and cheap and attempting to rip people off; and in the latter we need to check our attitude to make sure we’re not limiting grace and attempting to ro someone of a blessing by putting a price on their gift.  Our problem with God is that we often don’t want to give Him what He demands, while, at the same moment, we feel like we have to raise the price far above what He’s demanding.  Ephesians 2:11-22 1.  Law separates. 2.  Faith integrates. 3  Integration heals. 4.  Healing unifies. 5.  Unity solidifies. 6.  Solidity is spiritual. For further study and application: The conclusion I'm hoping you come to today is that the cost attached to our inclusion in God's plans -- anything God has going -- has been covered by Jesus.  The entrance fee has already been paid and all we have to do is get in His game.  All we have to do is hear Jesus calling us to follow Him, and simply get up and follow Him, and the rest is history.  If you'll just follow Jesus, the rest of the details will work themselves out as you walk along.   What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?     Sun, 23 Sep 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/52052.mp300:52:59 How He Loves Introductory remarks:  We’ve been rooting around in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians for a few months now. I was listening to the teaching last week and something Dale read in Ephesians just caught me by surprise - I had never quite seen it the same way before. Like I said last time, Paul has a LOT of words, and so our brains can sometimes just check out, but here was a little statement that just reached out and grabbed me by the heart and I just had to stop right then and say to God, “God…you’re truly amazing. Amazing and wonderful. Amazing, wonderful, and full of love for us. God, you are way too cool. Thank you. I love you!” What was it I saw? The David Crowder video I played during break gives you a bit of a hint, but let me read it to you and take you on a little journey around the ramifications of what God says to us through our brother Paul…   So, What’s the Big Idea?   “Recognize how fiercely God has loved you and dare to live in the reality of it!”   How does God love us?   1. He dreams .   2. He schemes.   3. He teams.   4. He redeems.   Ephesians 2:1-10   Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.   4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.   8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)   Text:  Ephesians 2:4-5; Romans 5:6-7; Joel 2:28-32; Ephesians 2:11-20; 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 8:26-39; Matthew 18:12-14; 2 Kings 5:1-19; Acts 9:1-31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-11   For further study, application and discussion:  What have you seen of yourself in these stories? What similar experiences have you had with God? What are some of the ways you can now see that God has lovingly and fiercely come after you? What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?   Sun, 16 Sep 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51940.mp300:44:53