May 26



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Mark 12-13

We are in the Christ Stream and reading from the New International Version this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord Jesus, just as you ARE the revelation of God, your words are revelation to us. You just simply tell us what we need to know.  As you told your disciples in John, “i call you friends”, we are assured that there is no truer friend than you.  We are grateful.  Amen.

12 – The parable of the vineyard, wherein the tenants who were entrusted to care for it, figures prominently since Matthew/Mark/Luke all include this parable. When the Son comes on behalf of the owner and they kill Him too, it’s a “dead” giveaway that Jesus is talking about the leaders of Jerusalem who have been entrusted to be the ones to spiritually care for Israel and her people. For the Israeli Nation were the Light to the Gentiles. This “vineyard” figures in religious history to heal and refresh the nations. The leaders are in charge and they are derelict and they know it and this story hits them in the heart; “ka-zing!” and they don’t like it.  If it was false, they wouldn’t care, but since it’s true, they want Him arrested. Notice that they don’t arrest Him however because, like Saul 1000 years ago, they care about public opinion – and this is their chief concern.

-Know that the question about paying taxes to Caesar is coming from people who detest Caesar. Again, it was another trick question.  They forget who they are fooling with, don’t they? He throws it right back at them and they at least have the courtesy to be amazed with everyone else.  A subtle hint that reflects to today in a not so gentle manner is the clear insinuation that the government is not to be making dictates about religion, religious activity, or the religious convictions of people.
-The “Marriage at the Resurrection” question serves a few purposes in Jesus’ bloc of teaching here. There are a few “faiths gone awry” in this world that have man made ideas about family on earth and what family in heaven is and they project the lust-driven opinions of earth onto what life in heaven is going to be.  This is wrong.  When Jesus replies that we will be like the angels in heaven, it is a comment that eternally echoes both forward and backward in time.  The Sadducees asked this question about marriage in the resurrection when they flatly did not believe in the resurrection!!  The construction of the question is absurd to begin with: A widow marrying the next brother and then the next brother working through a whole family of seven brothers … come on guys, eeeesh! They needed to get their act together and try following Jesus instead of trying to frustrate Jesus. They were in GREAT error.
-Just a tip here: when someone asks “which commandment is the greatest?” it’s a clear clue that they likely aren’t obeying the commandments nor do they care to. Though this particular inquisitor may have asked with a clear conscience.  But in general, it’s as dumb as asking which holes in the boat should we patch before we launch? the ones in the front or the rear?…or portside? which?  Either ALL the holes are patched or the boat is going to the ocean floor, ding-bat!  What kind of question is this?  Jesus constructed a rather cordial and pertinent reply and after that –> no one  d a r e d  ask him any more questions. Their plans were revealing their bleak hearts and not getting Jesus in any trouble like they had hoped.
-the remainder of ch. 12 was further revelation of the teachers of the law and their dubious agenda, their hypocrisy, their arrogance, selfishness, crime and cruelty. Jesus nailed them. And He was telling this to the whole crowd.  Pretty gutsy of Jesus.
13 – Jesus gave signs and told us what was going to happen: imminently in Jerusalem and eschatalogically [End Times matters] for the earth and in history.  Jesus warns of deceivers, false messiahs,  wars, earthquakes, famines, persecution, worldwide evangelism along with family strife, distress like the world has never known, there will be signs in the skies, and the Return of Christ Jesus will be a giant event.  Amid all the cataclysmic events, know that the Word of the Lord will stand fast and hold true.    And finally be reminded that no one knows or even can know the day or hour that Christ will return.  So pay attention. And like the occupation of a watchman whose job is to WATCH. We too must watch for the Return of Christ.   Come Lord Jesus.

May 25



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Hosea 13-14

Today we finish the book of Hosea in the Exile Stream. We are reading from the New International Version this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord we hear your heart today in this – Hosea’s finale~  You so long to bless and heal and be with and shower good upon your own.  May we be a people who hear and obey and let you touch our lives.  Amen.
We finished the words of Hosea today.  He began his ministry around 760 B.C. and prophesied to the northern Kingdom until it’s final end in 722 B.C.   He lived in the north and, by God’s command, lived in and among the Israelites; a nation turned completely pagan.  Hosea knew the pain that this paganism was causing God. The adultery hit home even for him as his wife was committed to adultery as a lifestyle.  He had seen seven kings come and go. All were wretched.

13 – The people of the north had been so regal (until rebelling). Ephraim was a noteworthy place – once upon a time it was noteworthy for a good reason – now it is noteworthy for a bad reason. The Kingdom splitting was the occasion for calf worship to be instituted. [This was ca. 160 years before Hosea showed up.]  Jeroboam wanted all loyalty to be up north and away from the Temple. <–[This was the late 900’s B.C.] About two generations later, King Ahab added Baal worship to the calf worship. The calf worship started the spiritual bleeding whereas with the Baal worship, an artery had been “nicked”.  The story of Ahab doing this is told in I Kings 16:30-33. Ahab had been gone for just over a century now and Israel was about to bleed out and be a lifeless place. The death of a nation is at hand. And this is what Hosea is speaking to to begin the reading today.  They will be pounced as if by a wild animal, the wells will go dry, even the babies will draw no compassion from the hoards that will pour in to kill everything they see.

14 – It has been a terrible 200 years for Israel.  “The curtain” is about to be drawn. Not much good at all if any has come out of a land that has dedicated itself to being rebellious to the Lord, to the south, to the Temple and all else that God stands for. The Assyrians are coming. Israel will be decimated. This is where rebellion ends up 100% of the time when God is being rebelled against.  Does that make God mean? Not at all. Listen to the beauty of what God wants to do with His people. Were His people to repent, all would be forgiven. And He still beckons them to repent!  Their gracious God would heal them and their wayward hearts. They would be loved and know love.  Wow, were they to listen to God -the wonders and rejuvenation, the communication with God, the fruitfulness – good heavens what can happen at the hands of a loving God!  God wants them to walk again; walk with Him. This invitation stands for all of us.

May 24



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Jeremiah 11-14
We are in the Prophetic Stream reading from the New International Version.

 

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus, we feel pressed to pray for Jeremiah and provide hospitality or give him a break somehow. Let us take that same sentiment and provide it as support to those who serve you today. Increase our faith and service Lord.  Amen
Come this chapter, Josiah has recently died and the reforms he instituted are reverting fast as the people are diving back into idolatry.  It’s not good.  The first wave of the Babylonian invasion is less than five years out and the false prophets are crooning about security and riches and that all is well while they are hypocritical and two-faced as a hyena wearing three halloween costumes.

11 – The title of this chapter -from any angle you view it- is basically, “The Covenant is Broken”.  To put it in today’s terms. Your daddy has given you a vehicle, it has a lifetime warranty, bumper to bumper 100% insurance coverage ‘forever’. You’ve been granted a gas card to swipe at any station in the world. Maintenance is also “on the house”. It’s the most beautiful car you ever saw. It is far beyond better than what you were hoping to get. All that’s required is that you drive sensibly, safely, share rides with those who need it as time affords and go to church on Sunday.  Easy enough? Well in chapter 11 of Jeremiah, you’ve been pulled over for driving 85 is a 35 mph zone [AGAIN!], you are inebriated, it’s a 7 passenger car and you have 12 people in it -no one has a seatbelt on, music is blaring and you can’t even hear the policeman trying to ask for your license and registration. You think you should be let off because your daddeo is mayor and you insist you be allowed to drive on and instead you are forced to get out for a DUI test. The others in the car start plotting that they should burn the police car because their “fun” has been interrupted. btw, this is the 60th time you have been pulled over in similar fashion.

[Jeremiah is the policeman here and the people in the car are the residents of Jerusalem about 610-609 B.C.  Make sense?!]
12 – Jeremiah’s prophetic heart for ministry is being tested here as he notes the disparaging difference between his situation [as he is loathed for speaking while he serves God] against the way the wicked are thriving and prospering.  It’s a legitimate question. These same people who are smack-mouthed about God since they don’t mean their vows and their hearts are far gone astray,–> these same people are also wanting to kill Jeremiah for exhorting them. God’s reply is sobering and … well, it is what it is.  No one is going to get away for their turning away from God in a cavalier manner.
13 – The story is told straight-forward and it is easy to interpret. The linen belt is Jerusalem and Judah. They were beautiful, decorative and helpful – but are now soiled, ugly and useless.  Also,
Judah is going to be smashed the way a loud-mouthed drunk late on a weekend night gets pummeled for shooting off his mouth.   Captivity is coming for these people.  It’s like the whole nation is going to jail !  Apparently they are virtually impossible to “scare straight” so they will be “doing time” in the Babylonian Big House.

14 – There is a drought. The famine is going to get worse. The enemy is armed and is coming.  It is awful and it will be more awful before Jerusalem falls silent!  Still Jeremiah prays for this people.  He cares for them in this manner and in the continuing prayer (that goes into ch. 15).  Jeremiah is sounding sort of like Jesus languishing that he would like to gather Jerusalem in his arms but they wouldn’t.  Jeremiah’s prayer here is spot-on accurate theology.  He has the wherewithall to utter, “Oh Lord Our God … our hope is in you.  He may have been the only one in the city praying this but Jeremiah is stallwart in heart to articulate his prayer as he does.

Jeremiah is committed beyond what most all Christians today understand commitment.

May 23



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Psalms 55-61

We are in the Wisdom Stream and using the New International Version this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Thank you Lord for being with us, for hearing us, for stepping in for us and defending us even and especially when things are at their worst. You truly are our Savior.  Amen
Today’s run of Psalms is like trouncing through a jungle, escaping the lion to encounter the huge snake, then running into an angry gorilla, and then the demented explorer who sic’s the blood-thirsty warriors on you so you run to a “Tarzan vine” that allows you to swing over and narrowly escape across the pirhana-infested river so you can have a moments rest with … the Lord!  “whew”  Somehow the Lord brought David through harrowing times like this for years on end.
55 – David is pleading for a reply and some relief. He is in anguish, and distraught with terror and worse. Things are bad. Oh, would he love to fly away. David longs to flee back to the desert – probably because it reminds him of peaceful sheep tending during his youth. His prayer for the destruction of his enemies is warranted. And what is compounding matters is that the enemy in this case was once a close companion and believer along with David as they worshiped together – that was then. Now he’s turned on David.  Honestly it sounds like Ahithophel the wretch whom we [red] read about last week. This cut David deep. II Samuel 15 is the narrative that triggered this particular prayer from David.  Amazing that David ends this Psalm, “cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain … as for me, I trust in you.”
56 – This Psalm corresponds with the story from I Sam. 21 when David was being “held” in Gath.  He is being resourceful, thinking quickly on his feet so to speak. And it is of note that his most intense interaction during this time in Gath is with his God.  The timing is intriguing (since you asked!), David is frightened in Gath; I Samuel 21:10-15. He prays this Ps. 56 here, then he escapes unscathed and then prays Psalm 34 to give thanks for delivery.  He is walking with God whatever “jungle” he finds himself in, doesn’t he?
57 – David is hiding in a cave when he writes this Psalm – I Sam. 22 coincides with this prayer. I Sam 24 and 26 are similarly tense for David and David is saying in so many words, “God all I have is you. I cannot count on anyone else.”  Interesting that David killed a lion and a bear perhaps in this same region and he likens those who are chasing him now to lions and ravenous beasts [MEN this time!] whose teeth are actual spears and arrows.  Still David’s heart is steadfast on God, he is praising, knows of God’s great love and David is in worship.
58 – David is especially bothered that the judges and rulers of this era are akin to poison on the land. He wishes that they would befallen upon their own wickedness and things would change quickly. He wants them to have no descendants to carry on the wrong doing.  They were as dangerous for the country of Israel as a lion prowling through a village with children playing outside. David just wants all the rulers who have a corrupted soul to vanish and David uses colorful illustrations to portray the depth of his desire to see them gone.
59 – This Psalm and I Sam.19 is the concurrent literature.  Saul tried to drill David through with a spear (for Saul, btw, this was an “indoor sport” that he was quite unsuccessful at).  Again, the spear stuck in the wall and David fled for his life.  So Saul sent soldiers after David. It was a recurring game of tag where ‘winner takes all’. We remember the crazed excitement of playing tag as children, don’t we?  Well this is just as exciting and it is gone way past being a game. Losing/getting caught was not an option. Yet David is very much on the run and very much filled with faith and trust.  David prays for deliverance and that is what happens.  The “howling dogs” are not victorious. David is victorious because his God is.
60 – was written during a moment when the battles David was embroiled in were not going so well. Thankfully it was a brief enough stint and God responded quickly to David’s discouraged cry.  II Sam. 8 -somewhere during this chapter- was the setting of the prayer of David here. And God responded as we can see in II Sam. 8:14 wherein God granted victory to David wherever he went.
61 – The Psalm opens with a song that is sung even today. You probably remember the melody. .It is most likely that David wrote this when he was “in flight”, far from home, and running from the pesky Absalom who had gone evil as a maniac.  David longed to be home in the house of God and in worship there again.  It would come. David’s faith was anchored forever.  It’s interesting, whether we realize day to day or not, but our prayers and the Psalms are basically assisting us to walk with God like David did.  He is a sterling example for this. We need to be spending our lives in the Psalms.

May 22



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II Samuel 21-24

We are in The Nation Stream and finishing the book of II Samuel. We are reading from the New International Version.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Dear Lord, we see the greatest of Kings in essence getting his house or rather his soul in order as he is preparing to depart and “be gathered to his people”. May we be souls who have the wisdom to number our days and make sure they count for Christ and His Kingdom.  Amen.

21 – This chapter wraps up the 9 chapters straight of troubles that sprung up in David’s life since the Bathsheba incident. Virtually all of this is in-house trouble.  It’s painful problems that were at an anguish level for David. Life was always turbulent for David since he defeated Goliath. That is the price of leadership. But this last 9 chapters hit close to home since his since was within his own home, among his own home and against his own. One might call the long season of David’s life “when pain hits home.”  The incident of the Gibeonites and avenging the wrong done to them to end the famine was simply awful stuff. That’s one thing about the Bible – it doesn’t gloss over how bad things can get as consequence of breaking a treaty before God or from breaking faith with God. The Philistines took one last swipe at David and his kingdom. It’s legendary as giants came forth and Davids’ army struck and finished them all off.

22 – David is sharing one of his last Psalms as he looks back on his life. God has always been faithful. Though David has erred on occasion – David, however, always had unfailing trust in God’s care and David was always grateful knowing that God always took care of him.  It’s placement here has us looking back over David’s life which is among the richest of lives ever lived.  The adventure, the battles and struggles, the triumphs and devotion, the dark nights his soul walked through, the worship and exultation – this life is what has comprised the best of children’s stories that inspire all ages for 3,000 years.
23 – This is David’s last Psalm and it is an epochal rendition of God’s majestic work of making the Kingdom of Israel.  God has been just. His Covenant is righteous. And God’s Kingdom will grow eternally.  The list of names of great men and their deeds is like an all=star cast of the superhero movie to end all debates about who is the greatest. It’s really quite something!
24 – The census that was taken at the end of David’s life is an issue of puzzlement and discussion that will go on long after today.  To add to a sense of understanding of this reading I Chronicles 21 is the parallel story of this event.  All David’s life he trusted in God alone. This seemed to indicate that, since he was in war much of his life, it was his thinking and orientation so he calculated that he needed some numbers to be assured that the kingdom that had expanded under his reign was sufficient. Satan had urged this census be taken and David complied. Joab was right to question the deed but David prevailed. He got his numbers but there was a plague that swept through in exchange for this faithless deed done with fleshly intent.
The reaction of David and the stopping of the plague was classic David  – though his action was not right initially, his reaction was proper; to commemorate and remember and build an altar to God. Solomon later built the Temple in this same place (II Chr. 3:1)!  It’s marvelous to step back and ponder this, the hand of God that oversees even during and through unfortunate events.