Message From Matt| June 8, 2018

No Rewards Today…”

 I wasn’t planning on mentioning Panera two weeks in a row, but the cashier said something during my weekly visit that really caught my attention.  As I gave my order and swiped my rewards card, she saw my information on the screen and said, “looks like you don’t have any rewards today Matt” and continued on with the transaction.  Although I was “bummed” that I didn’t get a $1 off my drink, that phrase was worth much more than the discount.  It was worth more because it got me thinking that even though many things that we do during our daily routine seem unrewarding, we shouldn’t let that distract us from living godly, excellent lives! 

We live in an “instant gratification” culture, but as Christians, we are called to live above the negative aspects of this world (Romans 12:1-2) and press on (Philippians 3:13-14) day in and day out for the high calling of God whether we get rewarded now or not! For the believer, there will be rewards (or loss of rewards) at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Romans 14:10-12) and the eternal inheritance of being with God for eternity (Revelation 21-22), but we can easily get distracted from this and only focus on being rewarded now, but that mindset comes with a cost. 
The cost of putting priority on rewards now is that this life doesn’t always go as you plan for it to go and we can feel empty because our expectations of rewards are not met!  
This is where spiritual and physical fathers, mothers, mentors and teachers are very important!  They are needed to encourage us to keep going during hard times!  They are needed to help keep us on track!   They are needed to pray for us to live excellent lives…no matter the benefits now!  This is what Paul was praying for the Church at Philippi in Philippians 1:9-11.  He prayed that their love would increase in knowledge and judgment.  That they would “approve” (do) things that were excellent.  That they would show the fruits of righteousness in their lives!  They were already doing good things in their church, but Paul wanted them to get better each day at displaying these things.

I feel like our church is similar to the church of Philippi!  We have love towards one another and work together for the common cause of  spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but I pray that we continually get better (“abound”) in these things! 

Let us love one another better!

Let us serve one another more excellently!

Let us greet one another more sincerely!

Let us teach with more passion!

Let us show the fruits of righteousness more openly! 

This is my prayer for you today!  This is my encouragement and motivational speech for you today…keep on pressing on!  Keep on moving forward in your faith!  Keep on living an excellent life!  You are more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ and you can be assured that He will never leave you or forsake you!  

If you do all of this and nobody seems to notice and you get no earthly rewards, don’t worry about it!   Just know that God sees and will reward you one day! 
Matt Roller

Message From Matt | June 1, 2018

Lessons learned at Panera…

If I am not studying at home, I am often at a local Panera to study for an upcoming message.  I like coming here for several reasons.  One, I love their almond milk hot chocolate!  Two, during certain times of the day it is a fairly quiet place to be.  Three, I oftentimes get inspiration for message illustrations or these email messages from the people that I observe.  Yes, I am one of those…a people watcher! 

I try not to be one of those “creepy” people watchers and feel that I have developed a stealth-like ability to do this without being noticed; at least I hope I am not noticed. If you are a people watcher as well, you’ll agree with me that we often feel like we can figure out what is going on in people’s lives by just observing them, but in reality we probably don’t have them figured out at all.  Yet, I still watch, I oftentimes make judgments, but always I am looking to learn.

For example, I learned by observing people at Panera that if you scream at your two year old because he is screaming, that the two year old will only scream  louder and you will look silly.  I learned that having the appropriate amount of clothing on is always a  good idea no matter what your body type is!  I learned that if you are a big burly guy with a big booming voice that you should learn to use your inside voice….especially if your table is next to mine.  I learned that if you are a young married couple that you should keep your PDA’s (public displays of affections) at normal levels.  But maybe the best thing that I learned is that there is beauty in learning from the older what love and sacrifice looks like.  

I learned this from an elderly couple that walked in a few minutes before I was going to leave.  They might have looked like a normal couple, but something caught my attention and I decided to stay around a little longer to observe.  The couple, who I assume were in their late eighties or early nineties, walked slowly together to a table close to me.  She was blind and completely dependent on him for guidance, protection and care.  With their food in front of them, he would cut hers in small portions and feed her.  If she needed a drink, he would bring the cup and straw close to her so she could drink.  If she made a mess, he would clean it up.  When it was time to leave, he would be there to help her up and walk her to the car.  This guy modeled service and as a couple you can tell that they loved and depended on each other!

Watching them gave me a good glimpse of what love is…it’s sacrifice!  It’s devotion!  It’s service!  It’s preferring someone more than yourself!  

Although I have learned these traits before,  it was good to see them modeled again!  From watching them, I was encouraged to sacrifice and serve my bride, family and friends in greater ways.  I was challenged to be a man that modeled Christlikeness!  

I realized once more how good it is that we see people doing what Christ established (see Ephesians 5:21-33) for the church.  It is good for us to learn from the older what is important in life and where our focus and attention should be.  When we are younger and full of energy we oftentimes think that we have things figured out, or at least can easily figure things out, but I have learned in my  life that I really don’t have things figured out.  I am still learning, still growing, and still in need of mentors!  I learned that I need the older people to share their life experiences…to do life with us that are younger.  
So with that being said,  I want to remind us all that we need each other!  As we are going through this life together, we will have times of great joys and great sorrows,  and we can learn from those who have “been there and done that” on how to process all that is happening (see Titus 2).  Look for ways to pour your lives into others, especially those that are younger in age and in faith.
Matt Roller

Message From Matt | May 25, 2018

More than you Deserve?
A funny thing happened to me this morning that made me think about Sunday’s message topic and it had to do with my breakfast!  When I came to the kitchen, Bekah asked me “do you want oatmeal or eggs?”  I am not a huge fan of oatmeal unless it’s sweetened with some brown sugar, but since we are trying to eat healthier our substitute for the sugar is usually fruit or just having it plain…I chose the egg!  

She began to make it and I sat down at the dining room table to start to read.  In a couple of minutes,  Bekah brought the egg to me in a bowl with a napkin covering it!  I didn’t look into the bowl right away and just assumed that it was just an egg in the bowl.  I waited a couple of minutes to let it cool down before eating but once I took the napkin off, I was surprised to see that Bekah actually made more than an egg for me!  She included a couple sausage patties to go along with the egg!  The funny part of this is that I really was surprised and felt like I was in “sausage and egg heaven”!  Eggs are a good breakfast, but if eggs are the only thing on the menu, then I am not overly excited about it!  However, if you add sausage patties to it, then you have my attention!  

I know that it might seem a little silly to compare sausage and eggs to anything spiritual, but then again, maybe it’s not silly at all as God reveals truth to us in everyday ways if we are listening to Him.  It was after eating the breakfast that God gave me the thought that “He gives us better than what we deserve and oftentimes when we don’t expect it!”  After all, just getting up today is something that we don’t deserve but how often do we think of it that way?  Unfortunately, it is only at times when God gives us sausage to go with our eggs (more than we deserve) that we realize how blessed we are to have the God that we have! (see Ephesians 3:20)

Are you satisfied with God?

Even though God gives us more than we deserve, we oftentimes can be blinded to this truth and desire the things of this world more than godly things. If that is you right now, you are not alone!  There are many times all of us can be that way, but God is patient and instructs us in His way, to be satisfied with Him instead!  Hebrews 13:5 states, “Let your conversation be without covetousness: and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” 

The main point that I get out of this is that our way of life (conversation) should be one that is marked with satisfaction with God!  That He fulfills you!  That His Word fulfills you! That the Spirit fills you and you want more of Him! 

What happens when you desire more of Him?  You get more of Him!  

What happens when you have more of Him?  It changes everything in your life!

After reading the Hebrews passage, I could see that contentment/satisfaction in God really does affect everything and everyone around you:

  • It affects the church (Hebrews 13:1,7)
  • It affects strangers that you might meet (Hebrews 13:2)
  • It affects those in bad situations (Hebrews 13:3)
  • It affects your marriage (Hebrews 13:4)
  • It affects your faith (Hebrews 13:6)

Being satisfied with God really does affect every aspect of your life!  So the question is…are you satisfied with Him?  Is He your “all and all”?  If everyone is against you, but God is for you, is that enough?  

We learn contentment!

Paul says that we are to learn contentment…“ Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11).  How did Paul learn this?  By going through life with God always taking care of him.  He knew that no matter what situation would arise, that God would never leave him or forsake him!  Paul learned throughout His life that God is always with him!  It’s a promise and when Paul became weak, Christ was there to strengthen him (Philippians 4:13).
If you are not content today or if you are living in fear  – ask God to help you!  Remember all that He has done for you and have faith that He will see you through any problem in His time!  Your satisfaction in God really makes a difference in your daily walk – choose the abundant life that comes from Him!
Matt Roller