Author Archives: mmattix

Numbers 15-18; Psalms 113; Colossians 3

Billy Graham went to be with the Lord this past week.  He spent many decades using his calling to bring people to Christ.  He truly lived out the Great Commission.

So those of us in Christ, should heed the words in Colossians:

          “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on

          Earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

          When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with

          Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4 ESV)

Rev. Graham made people realize that they were sinners and the only cure for that was to accept Christ’s sacrifice.  We need to repent and turn to God.

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality,

          impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

          on account of these, the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5-6)

Rev. Graham and his ministry showed the world what God’s love looks like by the words he used, but more importantly, the way he lived his life to the end.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Thank you for leaders like Billy Graham who take the Gospel to all the world and are not willing to compromise on Your Truth. As believers, help us all be as bold and uncompromising.





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Leviticus 15-18; Psalms 31; Hebrews 6

Our reading in Leviticus is all about laws about bodily functions, sexual relations and animal sacrifices.  It also maps out the day of atonement.  They had to atone for their sins each year and Aaron was the high priest to do it.

He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the

          impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their

          transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall

          do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the

          midst of their impurities.” (Leviticus 16:16 ESV)

Hebrews ends with the certainty of God’s promise.  A promise of what we have now that Christ has paid the price.  He has atoned for our sins so we no longer have to.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul,

          a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,

          where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having

         become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

(Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV)

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’” (Psalms 31:14 ESV)



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Exodus 22-24; Psalm 109; Ephesians 6

We read about the laws given to the Israelites in Exodus.  But my favorite part of this passage is when the Lord’s glory was revealed.

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered

          the mountain.  The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai,

          and the cloud covered it six days.  And on the seventh day he

          called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the

          appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring

          fire on top of the mountain in the sight of the people of

          Israel.” (Ex 24:15-17 ESV)

Psalm 109 is David’s cry to God against his false accusers.  But ends with a vow of praise.

With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the Lord;

          and in the midst of many I will praise Him.

          for He stands at the right hand of the needy,

          to save him from those who judge his soul.”

          (Psalm 109:30-31 ESV)

Ephesians talks about how to take on the armor of God when enemies come against us.

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be

          able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to

          stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth,

          and having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

          And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel

          of peace; In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you

          will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil

          One.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit,

          which is the word of God.  With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit,

          and with this view, be on alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

         (Ephesians 6:13-18 ESV)

Help us to focus on Your glory and on praising You in times of trials, when our enemies come against us, when the Evil One attacks us.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we have all we need.  Help us to remember this.




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Genesis 45-46; Psalm 108; Galatians 2

Genesis 45-46; Psalm 108; Galatians 2

By mmattix

I see a theme of grace in today’s selections.  Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit, told their father he was eaten by a wild animal, then was sold into slavery.  Although he was completely wronged by his siblings, with God’s help Joseph forgave them and saved them from the famine.  He showed grace.

“So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘come near to me please.’  And they came near.  And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.  And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing or harvest.  And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God.  He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all this house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4-8 ESV)

In our faith, we are saved by grace, not by anything we have done.

“I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:20-21)

And when we see the gracious threads of God’s hand in our lives, we can sing with the psalmist:

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;

I will sing praises to you among the nations.

For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!

Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalm 108:3-5)


Let us see your gracious handiwork in all of our circumstances. There is nothing we can do to earn it.  You just love us so much to lavish love on Your children.  May we be forever grateful.




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2 Chronicles 30; Revelation 16; Zechariah 12-13:1; John 15

I noticed when the writing assignments were distributed late last year that I had been assigned to make a post on Christmas day.  That’s remained in the back of my mind through the past twelve months.  I never took the time to examine the reading assignment for December 25.  I simply assumed I’d be writing something ‘Christmasy’.  Maybe the reading plan would be arranged in such a way that we’d get to spend time in one of the first chapters of Matthew.  Better yet, maybe the second chapter of Luke.  I imagined writing something about God with us, or of God’s declaration of peace with men.  The very last thing I expected to face was a description of God’s wrath…

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

17 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” 18 And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. 19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.

Revelation 16:1, 8-11, 17-19

This isn’t a description of Christmas. This is the very opposite of Christmas.  This is an image of the fate I earned the moment I first sinned against my Creator, a fate I’m escaping only because He chose to deliver me from His justice and wrath.  The description of these and the other judgments in Revelation 16 are breathtaking.  It amazes and grieves me that so many people plan to face God standing on a foundation of their own merit.  Even more incomprehensible is the idea of some of those same people, suffering the opening rounds of God’s wrath, actually cursing Him rather than repenting.  Silent Night?  Hardly.

22 And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the LORD. So they ate the food of the festival for seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD, the God of their fathers.  23 Then the whole assembly agreed together to keep the feast for another seven days. So they kept it for another seven days with gladness. 24 For Hezekiah king of Judah gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep for offerings, and the princes gave the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep. And the priests consecrated themselves in great numbers. 25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced.    2 Chronicles 30:22-25

Here we have a scene reminiscent of many others from ancient Israel.  The people described here are, at least momentarily, trying to please God.  They are rejoicing in Him and for the deliverance He’s provided their ancestors.  But, look at the cost required to make the celebration possible.  How much blood was spilled that day to satisfactorily consecrate those involved?  This isn’t even a description of the Day of Atonement!  It’s simply the Passover celebration.

No, this isn’t a scene of Christmas either, but at least it’s a scene made possible through the promise of Christmas a few centuries to come.  This is O Come O Come Emmanuel.  This is progress.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.  John 15:12-17

This is Christmas fully revealed.  This is God unilaterally declaring peace with His creation.  This is the God we’ve so grievously offended through absolute rebellion stepping down from His throne, departing His palace, descending to the dust with us, experiencing our suffering, and lighting within our hearts the flame of His love.  Here, God Himself declares that we are not His enemies.  Nor are we His pets, nor His subjects, nor His servants.  Here He calls us friends.  Earlier in John He called us children of God.  He makes it clear that this was His doing, not ours.  He chose us, not the other way around.  He came to meet us because we were incapable of reaching up to Him.  The Christ is born.  Go Tell it On the Mountain!

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.   Zechariah 12:10

This is Christmas missed.  So much of Biblical truth is hard to fathom.  I count the chosen nation’s rejection of their long-awaited Messiah as one of the prime examples.  There wasn’t any mystery about when or where He would arrive.  Magi from another realm showed up at the right place and only slightly behind schedule due to the distance they had to travel.  They probably knew the who, when, and where based on an ancient institutional memory of Daniel’s teachings.  If they found the Christ child, what is the excuse of the scholars of scripture sleeping within sight of Bethlehem?  How could men who knew Psalm 22 and Isaiah’s prophecies by heart not recognize their Messiah even when He hung on the cross?  I know, they were expecting a conquering hero, but why were they expecting that when the scriptural truth was so plain?  Sadly, their blindness continues to this day.  This blindness is going to end though.  The descendents of Israel have missed the last 2000 Christmases, and they may miss 2000 more, but one day, at the time of the Father’s choosing, they will see the Son.  Then, even as they mourn, it will truly be Joy to the World.

You know, maybe today’s reading selection is appropriate for the occasion after all.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you this year, and Merry Christmas!!!

Michael  (mmattix)



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2 Chronicles 11,12; Revelation 2; Zephaniah 3; John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.   John 1:1-5

The opening of John’s gospel has quickly become one of my favorite Bible passages.  I’d largely ignored it in the past, but that changed last year when my daughter had to memorize the first 13 verses to deliver for her school’s annual speech competition.  I practiced it with her so often that I learned it myself, and with every repetition I saw more of the riches of meaning packed into the words.

  • The mystery of the Trinity both compounded and clarified
  • The confirmation of Christ’s timelessness
  • The declaration of Christ as our Creator
  • The revelation of Christ as the source of all life and light (knowledge, wisdom, grace,  TRUTH!) that darkness cannot overcome

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.                    John 1:9-13

The Light came into this world.  In doing so He gave up EVERYTHING, doing the very thing He later demanded of the rich young ruler.  He stepped down from His eternal throne, willingly giving up control of His divine abilities to the will of His Father.  In the truest sense He was never outside the plan of His Father, yet in another sense the True Light put Himself at the mercy of the helplessly blind.  As the world, we were so blind that we could not even recognize Light when we saw it.  We didn’t know our Maker when we met Him.  How incredible!

Yet, the Third Person of the Trinity worked in the hearts of some, just as He more recently worked within my own.  We were given sight, we saw the True Light, and we were given (unearned!) the right to become a child of God!  Reborn not from our own will, but of God’s alone.

Heavenly Father, as we continue into the Christmas season, I thank you for the revelation and reminder of who your Son truly is.  I renew my admission that I could never have broken through my blindness to recognize Him on my own.  I am a new man because of You and You alone.  Please mature me and pull me deeper into the Light with each passing day, and please use me to spread this Light to the blind I encounter every day!  Amen.

Michael    (mmattix)


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1 Chronicles 23; 1Peter 4; Micah 2; Luke 11

Luke 11 has a lot to say about prayer.  It begins with the Lord’s Prayer.  It continues with the story of a man making a persistent request of someone in no mood to grant it.  Its final teaching on prayer uses the analogy of a human parent granting a child’s request to help us understand God’s desire to answer ours.

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;  for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.    Luke 11:5-8

I can easily relate to this image, especially since my firstborn arrived on the scene.  Persistence is not something she needs to learn.  If there is something she wants from me, she’ll keep asking until I either give in or I manage to convince her that my mind is set and it would no longer be wise to keep pressing the matter. (I’m embarrassed to admit how often I’ve gone with the former, reinforcing her instincts.)  Therefore, I can certainly picture the truth expressed here with a man who reaches the point where he will give a neighbor anything asked of him just to make him go away!

The thing I don’t like about this picture is that it leaves the obvious impression of God answering our requests simply so we’ll stop bothering Him.  I know God is bothered by some of the things I do and say and think, but I don’t like to think He’s ever bothered by me.

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”   Luke 11:11-13

I’ve heard more than one sermon on verses 5 through 8 before, though I hope I never again hear it discussed in isolation from verses 11 through 13 as I have in the past.  Here, the image of God trying to get us to leave Him alone is destroyed.  He is far more than a tired friend annoyed with our requests; He is a loving Father who delights in providing for our needs and any desire that fits into His plan.  He delights in giving His children gifts, and the Holy Spirit is His best gift of all.  If persistence will make a friend grant a request, how much more will persistence make a father listen?  If an evil father desires to give good gifts to his children, how much more might we expect from our Good Heavenly Father?

I might take exception to the fact that this passage calls me an evil father, but I ironically proved Jesus’ point with my earlier admission that I sometimes treat my children’s’ requests like the man in verse 8.  Thank God that He, however, is Good.

Michael   (mmattix)


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