Cedar Community Church - Sermons Online http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org en-us ©2019 Cedar Community Church Razorplanet Feed Generator 0.1.2 Sun, 03 Feb 2019 11:00:00 -0800 Sun, 03 Feb 2019 11:00:00 -0800   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 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 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 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 Pushing Ahead in Faith Introductory remarks:  I could have titled my message something about a reality check . . . I’ve talked to a lot of folks who were deathly afraid of facing the truth around their lives – sometimes, in their attempt to deflect the truth, they make up stories about how they weren’t really all that bad.  And I have to say I’ve spent my share of time not wanting to honestly face some things about myself.  Broad-daylight reality is sometimes down-right embarrassing . . . sometimes frightening . . . sometimes I want to ignore the truth and hope it’ll go away . . . but truth never just goes away, no matter how much we ignore it.  What I’ve found is that if I’ll face my life as honestly as possible, and then accept God’s grace toward me, and then push ahead in the faith I have toward Him, that I can push past the fear or regret or embarrassment, and I find that the process isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Let’s talk about it for a bit . . .   1.  I was dead.   2.  I am alive.   3.  I will die.  Romans 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 2 Timothy 1:8-12   4.  I will live.   Text:  Ephesians 2:1-10; Hebrews 9:27-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 & 15:1-22; John 10:10 & 20:30-31; Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:4-13; 2 Peter 2:17-22   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, 09 Sep 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51912.mp300:39:43 Looking Back Through Faith Introductory remarks:  A couple of things about a rear-view mirror:  It gives us some limited view of where we’ve been; it helps give some alert – if we’re paying attention – to what might be overtaking us; and it helps give a perspective and some help when we have to back up.  And it’s interesting to note that the rear-view mirror is only a small fraction of the size of a windshield . . . and, when we’re driving, we pay about a proportionate attention to them – i.e. when we’re driving, it’s much more important to pay attention to where we’re going than where we’ve been.  No, we can’t afford to pay no attention to what’s behind us . . . or what we’ve left behind . . . but neither can we afford to pay too much attention to it.   Ok!  Enough of that!  Come take a short reconnaissance with me in a little glance over our shoulder, so-to-speak . . .  I’m not all that . . . but I’m all that!  I’m not as bad as I might think I am and I’m not as good as I might think I am.   I’m so much worse than I might think I am and I’m so much better than I might think I am.  Text:  Ephesians 2:1-10; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 12:3   For further study, application and discussion:  So here’s what I want you to do with this stuff today:  I want you to trust God for your today, and for your tomorrow, and for your yesterday – let God bless your today, and let God guide your tomorrow, and let God both redeem your yesterdays and bring fruit from your yesterdays, as is needed and as He is able.    Oh!  And if you’ve never given your life to God so He can bless you – for His glory – the way He wants to, today is a good day to quit fighting with your Heavenly Father and give yourself to Him – answer His calling and say “Yes.” to God today.    Now – what have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 02 Sep 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51812.mp300:33:58 An Alignment in Faith Introductory remarks:  I read an article this week in which the writer counseled, in essence, that if I’ll establish Godly values, and live by them, all the time, I’ll avoid falling into sin – he was specifically addressing the sexual immorality issues in the news today.  Simply stated, if I’ll live my life in alignment with God’s Word, I’ll live a life above reproach.  That’ what I want!   My message today is around a faith alignment that I can integrate into how I live, that will help keep me pointed in God’s direction, accomplishing what He wants me to be accomplishing.  Come take a walk with me and let’s see what we can find in our text for today . . .   So as I begin today, I assert that the Father wants to do good for us who believe – let’s remember His “kind intention” of verses 5 & 9 [and insert from Luke 12:32 where Jesus says to His disciples:  “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (ASV)]  Allow me to assert that this “in accordance” – this alignment phrase – is with His kind intention/good pleasure toward us . . . is all the good He has imagined toward us . . .   1.  Missional alignment. v. 19 - In accordance with the working of the strength of His might . . .   2.  Person-al alignment.  V. 20 – “ . . . which He brought about in Christ . . .”    3.  Process alignment.  V. 20 - “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and . . .”   4.  Authority alignment.  V. 20 – 21 – “. . . seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion . . .”    5.  Recognition alignment.  V. 22 - 23 – “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”   I’m wrapping up this first chapter with this final word – it is the Father’s good pleasure to place Jesus in this position, and to recognize it to the whole universe, and it’s my good pleasure to follow suit to His model to me, and recognize and submit and confess and live in the “fullness of Him who fills all in all.”   Honestly?  No, I don’t understand what that fullness is, or what it’s all about as it works itself out, but I’m willing to put my faith in that fullness and confess to living there, no matter what it means to me, in my life on this side of heaven, before the total fullness is accomplished.   And that’s my faith alignment for today . . .   Text:  Ephesians 1:18-23   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, 26 Aug 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51763.mp300:36:04 Plumbing the Depths of Prayer Part B Introductory remarks:  I’m continuing with my teaching from last Sunday, where I identified some specifics around prayer, and today I want to move into the substance of Paul’s prayer – what was he praying for?  What did he want for the Ephesian Christians?    1.  Identify the petition – “. . . my prayers . . .”  V. 16   2.  Identify the source – the Father.  V. 17   3.  Identify the process – may give.  V. 17   4.  Identify the parameters – the Godly purposing.  V. 17   a. A spirit of wisdom  .    b. A spirit of revelation  .    c. A spirit of knowledge  .    My prayer for you last week was that you open your heart to God-inspired knowledge under God-inspired revelation so that you can have true God-inspired wisdom with which to navigate through the sea of foolishness our culture revels in.    5.  Identify the target– the Father.  V. 17 And I finished last week with my point that all the good that comes to us is intended to bring glory to the Father – it is from Him, through us, and back to Himself.   This week let’s . . .   6.  Identify the substance– the prayer is for:  V. 18 & 19 V. 18  --  “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened . . .”   An enlightened heart.  Into . . . a.  Knowledge of His hope.  V. 18  --  “. . . so that you will know what is the hope of His calling . . .” Into . . . b.  Knowledge of His riches.  V. 18  --  “. . . what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints . . .”   Into . . . c.  Knowledge of His power.  V. 19  --  “. . . and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”    It is not the intent to clearly see the components of this hope, and the depth and value of the objects – let alone what all the objects are – of His riches toward us, and the clear comprehension of this incomprehensible power toward us . . .   . . . but to first and simply see, as clearly as possible, that I am one of those who believe, and, as a result of seeing and knowing this, I accept and embrace that this hope and richness and power is for me and toward me, for my good.  Now I’m on board for wherever and whatever this journey of faith may take me.  Are you coming with me?    Text:  Ephesians 1:15-19   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, 19 Aug 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51711.mp300:45:34 Plumbing The Depths of Prayer Introductory remarks:  My teaching time last Sunday, from verses 15 & 16, was intended to challenge us to have a faith that can be seen, a love that is pointed toward specific individuals, a gratefulness that just keeps on going, and prayers that we put on external speaker – they can be heard.  Today I want to examine the pieces of Paul’s prayer for his friends in Ephesus – come along with me for a rather extensive, and I hope helpful, exploration . . .   “making mention – remembering you – in my prayers –   1.  Identify the petition – “. . . my prayers . . .”  V. 16   2.  Identify the source – the Father.  V. 17   3.  Identify the process – may give.  V. 17   4.  Identify the parameters – the Godly purposing.  V. 17   a. A spirit of wisdom.    b. A spirit of revelation.    c. A spirit of knowledge.    5.  Identify the target – the Father.  V. 17   Text:  Ephesians 1:15-19;   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?   Mon, 13 Aug 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51614.mp300:38:31 Living It Out Introductory remarks:  My tag-line for the little book of Ephesian is “Treatise to Christian Community” and that theme is no more evident in this little book than in our section for today.  I’ve heard Christian people excuse their lack of confession of faith and their unwillingness to have conversation around their faith by saying, “my faith is a very private matter to me.”  Faith that is not held in and lived out in community might not be faith at all.  When we get together like this in our regular Sunday morning appointment, or when two or five eight of us get together for coffee or a meal, we will inevitably communicate about our faith, in some form or another, and that’s just a small part of living out our faith.  I have four notes to make today about living it out . . .   1.  Faith is   observable  .  V. 15 James 2:14-19; 26   2.  Love is   objectifyable  .  V. 15 John 13:34-35; Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13-17   3.  Gratitude is   durable  .  V. 16 Matthew 26:27-30; Mark 14:23-26; Luke 22:14-23; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Romans 8:28-29   4.  Prayer is   audible  .  V. 16 Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18;   Text:  Ephesians 1:15-23;   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, 05 Aug 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51576.mp300:40:06 Proactive Faithful Confessions Introductory remarks:  I’ve titled my sermon “Proactive Faithful Confessions” because our first hint of direction in how we intend to live our life is in what we confess . . . what comes out of our mouth – for, out of the mouth comes the abundance of our heart.  This is not to say that if we say it we’re living it, because plenty of people talk a good line but don’t live their talk – don’t forget the old saying about “Don’t just talk the talk, walk the talk.”  When we say one thing but live another, it’s simply a sure sign we’re living as a hypocrite – which Jesus took great pains to warn His disciples (us) about.  It’s not my intent to call out hypocrites, but to encourage us toward integrity – which is when our words and life align, which would be the opposite of hypocrite!  What I’m digging at today is that since our level of faith and confidence is directly related to what and how we’re confessing – what we’re saying and talking about – because our confessions reflect on our inner thought processes, let’s look at some proactive confessions from our Ephesians text today . . .   1.  I am a first hoper. – v. 12 – “. . . to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”   2.  I am a good listener. – v. 13 – “. . . after listening to the message of truth . . .” Romans 10:17 -- So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.  NASU   3.  I am a truth believer. – v. 13 – “. . . after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed . . .”   4.  I am a Holy Spirit receiver. – v. 13 & 14 – “. . . you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption . . .”   5.  I am a possession submitter. – v. 14 – “. . .a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession . . .”   6.  I am a glory giver. – v. 12 & 14 – We hope in Christ to the praise of His glory, & we are redeemed to His possession to the praise of His glory.   Text:  Ephesians 1:7-14; Romans 10:17; Matthew 12:34   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, 22 Jul 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51370.mp300:48:56 Encourage Into Faith Introductory remarks:  The overall theme I see in Ephesians is the impact of our faith in community – or, how my personal life of faith effects, impacts, interacts, merges with you as you live out your personal life of faith, and how that is the commonality of our community – i.e. I’m part of your life and you’re part of mine and we’re learning to find the beauty in our connections.  So as we wander along, I have some thoughts for you, my flock-mates.  And my belief is that as we individually get a grip on this stuff, we’ll not only be personally stronger, but we’ll be better together than we were before.   My hope is that, as we study what amounts to doctrinal teaching, we’ll not just take in more information and feel good about having good doctrine, but that we’ll make it our life-style of faith, far beyond just believing what we think is a good faith structure and doctrinal position . . .   1.  Through His blood we find redemption.  V. 7   2.  From His riches we receive forgiveness.  V. 7 & 8   3.  Through His vision we gain knowledge.  V. 8 & 9   4.  In His kindness we are given insight.  V. 9 & 10   5.  In Him I have predetermined  inheritance.  V. 11 & 12   Text:  Ephesians 1:7-12   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, 15 Jul 2018 11:45:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51320.mp300:38:58 Building Some Faith Introductory remarks:  I intend to make some strong statements today, with the intent to give you some building material for your personal faith structure.  I’ve done some work on shaping some of the blocks, and I offer them to you to help you construct you own solid faith . . . or more solid faith.  One of my conclusions, after all these years, is that I’m not sure any of us - even the best of our attempts at understanding God and how He interacts with His creation - have it all figured out, or even well figured out, but that God honors our honest heart as we want to follow Him, and how I hold Him is enough for now, and I’m neither all wrong nor all right, and He knows it, and just because I believe it doesn’t make it true, just as not believing it doesn’t make it untrue . . . and He loves me as I stumble my way along.  God is, and I can’t change that, no matter what I believe or don’t believe, and one day He will reveal Himself in all His fullness, and I will understand Him completely and well.  “And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”   1.  I am chosen. – v. 4   2.  God is kind. – v. 5 & 9   3.  I am forgiven. – v. 7   4.  Holy Spirit is my brand/signet. – v. 5 & 9 Philippians 1:6   Bonus point – and it’s all to the praise of His glory.    Text:  Ephesians 1:3-14; Philippians 1:6   For further study, application and discussion:  Do I accept that God has proactively chosen me to follow Him?  Am I good with the reality that God has good intentions toward me?  Why or why not?  Am I learning to walk and live in the freedom from the condemnation of my sinful choices and actions?  Or do I still live under that condemnation?  Why or why not?  Have I accepted the Holy Spirit’s branding on my life to walk and live as His eternal inheritance?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?   Sun, 08 Jul 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51280.mp300:51:44 Faith Unto Doctrine Introductory remarks:  Our Ephesians text for today is often considered a doctrinal text – meaning it’s used to establish official statements of belief for a church or denomination, and then it’s intended to extend to the individual in community and the community faith structure.  My intent for today is to use this text as an insight into the heart of God . . . so what I’m saying is I want to use this text to talk about what I see as or in the heart of God, rather than to establish a doctrinal position.  So while I want to show you a little bit of what I think I see, I also want to leave your personal faith building process to you – i.e. I want to talk about what I’m seeing and believing, not what you should or must see and believe.   My overarching term for today is doctrine – and I’m suggesting that this term has been hijacked by the religious community (which we’re part of, whether we like it or not) and forced to serve in or as some narrow parameters.  Doctrine has come to indicate the collection of tightly held belief statements that a church or denomination holds to, as their non-negotiable ‘This we believe’ statement.  And this kind of doctrine often becomes something we argue vehemently about, draw battle lines around, and get to the place we’d die for it . . . or at least separate family and friends over it.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t have firmly held beliefs, but I will suggest we need to learn how to hold them more gently, even as we hold firmly.  Incidentally, while we have what we call a doctrinal statement for Cedar . . . in light of what I’m preaching today, I’m challenged to examine what I’m holding so tightly to, to see if I’m holding up my end of this doctrinal discussion.  . . . come explore some stuff with me . . .   1.  Doctrine – 2 Timothy 3:16     2.  Chosen – Ephesians 1:4     3.  Completion – Ephesians 1:10     4.  Promises/Rights – Ephesians 1:11   Text:  Ephesians 1:1-23; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:18-19     For further study, application and discussion: - Considerations - what kind of learner am I? – which would actually mean, am I willing to apply myself to learning?  And, if “yes”, then, how diligent am I to hearing and learning?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 01 Jul 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51174.mp300:40:20 One Brother to Another Introductory remarks:  Last week, my sermon “One Father to Another” – A Father’s Personal Pentecost, was my Father’s Day focus on the application of Holy Spirit-empowerment to us fathers, from our Heavenly Father.  Today, as a fellow traveler on this journey of following Jesus, I want to offer some personal thoughts . . .   My impetus for today is my celebration yesterday (thank you to all of you that partied with me . . . most specifically to those that were here in body as well as spirit, but I don’t leave out those who could not be here).  And I’m asking you to indulge me, again, as I capitalize on an important personal event, and what it’s opening up to me.  My hope is that you will take my story and move the lesson learning process over into your life to build your own growth experience, and tell your own stories.  Come on a little walk with me . . .   I remember that . . .   1.  . . . God has been faithful.   2.  . . . my family has been faithful.   3.  . . . my church family has been faithful.   4.   . . . my friends have been faithful.    Bonus point –  . . . even my enemies have a faithful element to them . . .   Text:  Ephesians 1:15-23; Joshua 4:1-24; 1 Samuel 7:12-14   For further study, application and discussion:  Are you building reminders into your personal life to remind you, and those close to you, that God has been faithful to you?  What does that look like in your life?  What do you need to do to make that more real for you?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 24 Jun 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51147.mp300:35:17 One Father to Another Introductory remarks:  I want to explore a connection between the gifting of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as the gift of the Father, which Jesus proclaimed to His disciples in Luke’s gospel, and the need we have as fathers – as men – for empowerment to be good at – better at – fathering in/to our family.  And I want to suggest to you that, just as my Mother’s Day message was not only for women who have birthed their own children, my Father’s Day message is not limited to men who have biologically fathered their own children, but is intended to challenge and encourage all us men in the task/calling of fathering.  I suggest that fathering is a service, a ministry, an assignment to be taken up and fulfilled by a man, whether or not he will ever biologically father children.  Come with me on a little mind-walk exploration this Father’s Day morning . . .   1.  Empowered as a son.   2.  Empowered as a father.   3.  Empowered in community.   4.  Empowered in solitude.    Text:  Ephesians 1:17; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; John 14:1, 26 & 27   For further study, application and discussion:  While this is Father’s Day and I speak primarily to the men who are fathers . . . family influencers . . . the principles of this message are applicable to each of us . . . to women and mothers as well as the men and fathers.  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 17 Jun 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/51042.mp300:45:24 Say It Like It Is Introductory remarks: Today I want to jump ahead a little bit to Ephesians 5. God has put this stuff on my heart for some time, a couple of years actually, as has been our kind of unofficial theme this year. I want to focus on the good stuff Paul has to say to us. There is some nasty negative stuff here, but we’re not going to look so much at that. That being said, that doesn’t mean it’s all going to be nice.    Avoid the darkness. Live in the light.   Woman respect your man.   Man love your woman.   Text:  Ephesians 5; James 4:7; John 13:34   What are you hearing the Holy Spirit saying to you, and what are you doing about it?   Sun, 10 Jun 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50997.mp300:19:34 What Papa Says Introductory remarks:  We’ve been hovering over the first several lines of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus, written about 35 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. I don’t know about you, but I have noticed that…well, to be honest, Paul has a lot of words! I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone else with as many words as Paul.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a lot of words, but, sometimes, people’s eyes just start to glaze over and they suddenly find themselves thinking of what they’ll have for dinner. I must confess - I caught myself just that a few weeks ago while preparing for this sermon. I had to keep praying for forgiveness and grabbing my mind, pulling it back to the text. It was during one of those cycles that I finally started seeing some incredible statements here that I hadn’t seen before. So, today, I invite you to brave the water with me and wade in and we discover together some pretty encouraging words straight from heart of our Papa…   So, What’s the Big Idea?   “Believe, retrieve, and cleave to what your Papa says about you!”     God, our “Abba (Papa) Father”:   1. Speaks   good     words   over us.   2. Proclaims   his     fatherhood   to us.   3. Glories in   his     choice   of us.   4. Declares   our     freedom   in Jesus.   Ephesians 1:3-12 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. 4 Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. 5 Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) 6 He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.   7 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people — free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! 8 He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, 9 letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, 10 a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.   11 It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, 12 part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.   (from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)   Text:  Ephesians 1:3-12; Romans 8:15; Zephaniah 3:17; Romans 5:6-11; Philippians 2:5-11; Deuteronomy 30:15, 19-20; John 14:21, 23   For further study, application and discussion:  Today we heard Papa’s good words to us.  Have you allowed Him to come into your life? What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 03 Jun 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50944.mp300:41:13 Faith Unto Faithfulness Introductory remarks:  I’m taking just one more look at Paul’s greeting to the Ephesian Christians – I want to make a big deal out of how he identified these saints as the “faithful in Christ Jesus” by applying how this could look for me, and for us.  My single point could be that I want to be one of the “faithful in Christ Jesus”, and I invite you to be this kind of Jesus followers as well, so I invite you come along with me on an examination of what this “faithful in Christ Jesus” could mean to us and look like in our lives . . .   First of all, what is faith, and what is faithful?   ‘Faith’ is what we have and do – I conclude that Jesus Christ is Lord and I hold that truth in my heart – and ‘faithful’ is what we are – I live faithful to Him by living faithfully in Him, which means I live faithfully to everything around me.  So I suggest ‘faithful’ is how I live out my ‘faith’ – if I’m faithful in Christ Jesus, I’m living out my faith in Christ Jesus.    Let’s further acknowledge that these brothers and sisters were addressed for their faithfulness in Christ Jesus, not their successfulness in Christ Jesus.  If our life is graded and valuated by our success in life, there are a lot of folks who seemed to live an unsuccessful life, who, upon further examination, lived an incredibly faithful life, and therefore should be considered successful based on their faithfulness.  And this evaluation starts with our own Jesus the Christ, Who claimed to be the Son of God, and the delivering Messiah, but His life came to an abrupt end in a religious lynching, in which He was taunted by His tormentors that if He was truly the Messiah He should deliver Himself.  Of course He didn’t, which means He faithfully finished His mission, which means He was also successful!  Let’s just get it stuck in our brains/hearts that faithfulness equates to success, and not visa versa.  i.e. some people appear successful that have not been faithful, while others have been faithful and do not appear successful, by cultural standards – let’s be careful on how we assess this stuff.   My faithfulness in Jesus is lived like this:  I’m faithful to . . .   * Fellowship – is a sharing of life – in NT koinonia refers to financial offerings, communion, meals, worship gatherings . . .   * Worship – My faithfulness to fellowship with God is lived out in worship, as I properly value Him and submit to His authority in my life.  This worship which includes prayer, fellowship with each other, our financial offerings, and, literally, everything we do in our following Jesus, both in our religious stuff and our most daily stuff as well.   * Friendship – I form comradeship relationships with folks in my life.  Friendships take a lot of work but if we don’t do the work and remain faithful to our friendships, we suffer for it, in every area of our life!   Proverbs 17:17  --  A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.  NASU   Proverbs 27:6  --  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.  NASU   * Lordship – He hasn’t just saved me, He is Lord of every area of my life!   Philippians 2:11  --  . . . every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  NASU   * Stewardship – we not only trade Gods, (see Lordship above) as we abandon one or several gods that we had formerly served, for the One true and living God, but we also trade jobs – we abandon our several demanding but meaningless (do not count for eternal benefit) tasks as we faithfully serve our new Master.    1 Corinthians 4:2  --  Moreover it is required in stewards, (home manager, caretaker, overseer) that a man be found faithful.  KJV   Stewardship is when we give careful attention and caretaking of the gifts and callings God has put in us.   Text:  Ephesians 1:1-2; Hebrews 11; James 2; Proverbs 27:6;   For further study, application and discussion:  My encouragement to you would be to ask some hard questions of how you’re living out your faith – are you faithfully living out your confession that Jesus Christ is Lord?  How are you living that out in all the areas of your life, beyond the four walls of our gathering place and times?  What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?      Mon, 28 May 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50894.mp300:44:15 Pentecost Sunday Introductory remarks:  Today is Pentecost Sunday – the term simply means 50, or 50th, and the day is implied.  Pentecost is one of the three holy day celebrations commanded by God for His Jewish people.  The first is Passover, which celebrated God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt’s bondage, and has come into Christianity as resurrection Sunday that we call Easter, which celebrates the resurrection from the dead of the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, and it becomes our celebration of deliverance and new birth.  Pentecost followed Passover by 50 days, and was instituted first to celebrate the giving of the law at Mt. Sanai – the miraculous intervention of God to give direction to His people for how they live their lives both in and outside their prescribed worship gatherings.  Take a little walk with me today as I explore the implications of the first Christian Pentecost . . .   Pentecost has:   1.  Benefits – personal & corporate.    2.  Results – power & performance.   3.  Purpose – honor God & encourage us.    Text:  Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-47; John 14:16-17; 14:25-27   For further study, application and discussion:  Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit.  Have you allowed Him to come into your life? What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 20 May 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50793.mp300:40:01 Remember Who You Are Mom Introductory remarks:  Today is Mothers’ Day, and I say “Happy Mothers’ Day!” to all our moms, young and old, and to the wanna-be/wish-u-coulda-been/glad-u-didn’t-ever-give-birth . . . and to any and all of you who fall somewhere on this spectrum of some sort of motherhood – because one thing I’ve observed with women is that they all seem to have been born with the ability to cuddle a baby and pull off a mother’s role with some kid (young or old) that needs a mother’s words, whether encouraging or instructional or critical and disciplinary . . . and I honor the mother’s heart in you ladies, and wish to speak some encouraging and challenging words to you on this Mothers’ Day 2018.  Travel with me on a little excursion, not far from our exploration of Ephesians, and let’s see what we can find . . .   My focus story today is around Timothy, and his mama and his gramma.    Dear Mom –   1.  Live purposefully in your faith.    2.  Live honorably to your heritage.    3.  Live confidently with your influence.   Text:  Acts 16:1-5; 1 Timothy 1:2-7; 2 Timothy 1:2-7; Galatians 6:11;    For further study, application and discussion:  Have you been encouraged, Mom?  In what ways, and . . . What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?   Sun, 13 May 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50735.mp300:41:21 Family Matters Introductory remarks:  My title today is Family Matters and no I am not referring to the 90’s sitcom featuring the Winslow family and their nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel.  Ephesians is a book about God’s church and His purpose for me and you and his family.  In the beginning of this letter I see Paul telling us about what it means to be part of the “Family” and the benefits that come with it.  My hope is that in our study of Ephesians we find ourselves closer to the Father and each other. Family Matters to God.   #1  Start with Praise & Thanksgiving.  When we begin with praise and thanksgiving to the Father it helps us clear the noise of this world and focus on the eternal.   #2  Know who you are.  You are chosen sons and daughters of God through Christ.   #3  Claim your birthright. Through Christ we are redeemed and forgiven.  He has given us the Holy Spirit and promises us wisdom, understanding, knowledge and eternal life with him.   #4  Rest in his peace. The Peace of God will surpass all understanding and will guard your heart and mind. (Phil. 4:4-7)   Text: Ephesians 1:1-14, Philippians 4:4-7   What is the Holy Spirit Saying you today and what are you going to do about it?   Sun, 06 May 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50700.mp300:28:47 Guardrails: The Consumption Assumption Introductory remarks:  This is a 5th Sunday, and I’m continuing with my tradition of bringing in a special 5th Sunday event, so today I’m welcoming our somewhat regular Pastor/Teacher guest, Andy Stanley, to bring part five of his Guardrails series.  Let’s open our heart as Andy challenge us on some very personal, down-home stuff . . .To hear Andy's message please click here.   For this series, a Guardrail is: A standard of personal behavior that becomes a matter of conscience.   Most of our worst crises in life and most of our greatest regrets have to do with either sex or money.  Yet, our culture usually dismisses anything Scripture has to say about these topics.   We looked earlier at one of those tough issues; now let’s tackle the other.  What do yu need to be on your guard about when it comes to finances?   The Bible has a great deal to say on this topic.  And it all comes back to one simple thing.   The reason God says so much about it actually has nothing to do with money; it has everything to do with devotion.  God knows that His chief competition for our hearts and our devotion – for our loyalty, our fellowship, and our service – is not the devil, but rather our wealth and consumption.   God knows that if He can control your money, He has your heart- because (as Jesus taught), where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is also.   When it comes to your finances, what needs guarding is not your cash, but your heart.   DISCUSSION STARTER In your approach to finances, do you think of yourself as more of a saver or a spender?  If you’re married, how would you categorize your spouse?    DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1.  In your own life, in what ways do you see money and the pursuit of wealth (or whatever wealth promises to buy, such as security or pleasure) as competitors to your devotion to God?   2.  Do you sense a tension between your approach to finances and your love of God?  If so, how would you describe it?   3.  In practical terms, what’s your understanding of greed?  What’s at the root of it?   4.  In what ways (if any) are finances a major, ongoing concern in your life?   5.  How would you say your approach to finances affects your desire to know God’s purpose and will?   6.  How would you say your approach to finances affects your openness to understanding God’s values and standards?    MILEPOSTS Our urgent need for guardrails in the area of our finances is reflected in the fact that God has so much to say in the Bible about the role of money in our lives. Money is the leading competitor in our hearts to our devotion to God.  Jesus makes it clear that none of us can be devoted to both God and money.  Our tendency to be greedy is deep-rooted.  To counter our tendency toward greed, the most practical guardrail in the area of our finances is to develop the habit of give, save, live as our system of financial priorities.  MOVING FORWARD How conscious are you of the fact that God fully knows all your needs (including your financial needs), and that He completely cares for you and is entirely committed to meeting all your true needs?  Is this something you have already affirmed to Him in prayer?  Is that something you need to do now?    CHANGING YOUR MIND The words of Jesus in this passage are well known for their liberating power and perspective.  Take them to heart as they relate to your own financial needs. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteous, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33   The forgoing questions are from Andy’s group discussion book, and I’m including them to help us with our every-Sunday question:  “What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today, and what are you going to do about it?”  This is our ‘So what?’  So, what did you hear today . . .   Sun, 29 Apr 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50453.mp300:00:02 Faith that Leads to Blessing Introductory remarks:  Today we move into the book of Ephesians – Paul’s letter to the band of Christ followers in Ephesus, an ancient Asian city in what is now known as Turkey.  Incidentally, this ‘Christian Church’ is also referenced in Revelation 2:1 as the first of the ‘Seven Churches’ to be addressed by Jesus.  While I see Paul’s theme in his tome to the Galatians as learning to live in freedom on a personal level, which then certainly bleeds into and influences all of our relationships, what I think I see in Ephesians is a broader discussion on our community relationship – a strong emphasis on our personal lives, to be sure, but with a constant implication of how our life effects our community around us.  Come along with me on an extended exploration of Ephesians, and let’s see what we can find as we’re challenged to better relationships . . .   1.  Paul establishes his authenticity and authority.   “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . .”   2.  Paul identifies and qualifies his listeners.  “To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:  . . .” 3.  Paul invokes a blessing for his listeners.   “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”   For further study, Text:  Ephesians 1:1 & 2   Application and discussion:  I suggest to you today that Christianity could be described as God’s attempt to heal community.  The success of His attempt is clearly in the hands of the individual Christian as agents of His grace and peace.  My question to you today is if you believe you have a responsibility to the Father as an agent of His grace and peace . . . how are you doing in receiving His grace and peace . . . how are you doing in giving out His grace and peace?    What have you heard the Holy Spirit saying to you today and what are you going to do about it?    Sun, 22 Apr 2018 11:00:00 -0700 http://www.cedarcommunitychurch.org/_getmedia/50421.mp300:44:34