June 24



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II Corinthians 1-4

We are starting a new book in the Church Stream. The Apostle Paul is addressing the church of Corinth in a 2nd letter. We are reading from The Message this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus we thank you for the gift you give us that fills our lives with joy and purpose and gracious mercy that saves us. Amen.

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth a second time. This time he is addressing the believers in the Achaia region also. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church he was instructing a splintered body of believers. They were disorderly.  Unsanctification/sexual matters/immorality and ebullience were problems, They were even suing eachother, and their competitions regarding the Communion were silly; just wrong (?who brought the most elaborate food to the event?! -yeesh). Simply put, they were a bustling church but they were divided and had not been loving.  Many were duplicitous as there was debate and tension over how to conduct their lives in a city where paganism had been the rule for centuries.
Titus had caught up with Paul during his third missionary journey. The purpose was to relay that Paul’s ‘year-and-a-half’ in Corinth had done much good. There was however a faction in Corinth (imagine that!) that was raising the question whether Paul was authentically one of the Apostles of Christ. The latter was a slickly calculated attempt to discredit Paul since he had spoken to issues ‘spot on’ in his first letter.  The naysayers knew there were things that needed to be remedied and they preferred to deride Paul v.s. grow in their faith. For them it was more natural to act like hucksters, change the subject – turning the focus to Paul being an illicit source of leadership. So Paul goes right at this topic in his second letter.  He had founded the church in Corinth and he knew what he was doing since he was getting direction from the Holy Spirit.
1 – Paul’s greeting is rich and warm as he had met with Titus after escaping a brush with death in Ephesus. And despite notable unsavory matters in Corinth, they were a loyal group who in many ways wanted to know Jesus better. Paul is realizing more-so all the time, the suffering that accompanies mission work and Christian service. He is relieved to meet up with Titus but there had been anxiety involved from his hearing of situations in Corinth. All in all, the time with Titus was of a comfort that strengthened Paul.  He needed to remind the Corinthians that he was delayed because of hardship along the way, not because he was fickle. Paul is not like that.
2 – the chapter opens with talk of discipline. The scalliwag who had a “relationship” with his stepmom [he was exhorted in I Cor. 5] was a painful mess that called for discipline.  Apparently that discipline had been administered come the time Paul is writing II Cor. so Paul is sounding conciliatory by now. It had been a painful pilgrimage, but prayerfully it is dealt with and over by now.  Paul had been so embroiled, hoping this matter would get settled that he had scuttled right past an evangelistic opportunity in Troas to tend to the trouble.  Be that as it may, Paul experienced triumph in Christ and the Providence that walking with Christ had brought him everywhere Paul traversed. Yes, some men violently rejected Paul’s message but that came with the territory and Paul was content regardless.
3 – the opening issue here is most likely Paul refuting the n’ere-do-wells traveling from Jerusalem that trolled the Empire and insisted that the new Christians adhere to the Law of Moses namely to circumcision [along with the rest of the Law!]. And as they traveled they always touted their reference letters from the Sanhedrin who sent them along with their resumes hoping that would enhance reverence for them as they traveled … to cause trouble for Paul! Paul smacks ’em pretty soundly here. These Judaizers were proud of their resumes, while Paul was gratified by the Church he planted; the Corinthians themselves who were testament to his anointing by God Himself.  The Law of Moses was the last word on righteousness in the former era but Jesus is the one we are to look to now. He is the Light. Only Jesus can bring us into the Presence of God. Following the Law only has one … following a set of laws that do not save.
4 – Paul’s calling and mission in entirely consuming joyful assignment. Persecutions at any and/or all levels are not going to intimidate or sway him in the least. The joy of following God is that great for him. Paul noted that there were souls who were blinded to God’s Love – that’s the only explanation for people rejecting God.
Paul’s analogy of clay pots has become a timeless illustration.  Valuable documents were preserved in clay pots. These pots weren’t necessarily much to look at but the value of the contents altered history. With the Spirit of Christ living in us; as “jars of clay”, we then become lives that transport, transmit and divulge value that translates into eternal wonder and also blesses the clay pot in a glorious way.  The joy of the whole process blossoms into a beauty that overtakes everything as we follow Paul’s instruction and immerse ourselves in Jesus’ grace.
The theme that reoccurred each day this week surfaced to be “what are we going to do with the sin?” In Leviticus 1-6, most of the offerings brought to God were for sin; accidental or deliberate, simply bring it to God and therein it is redemptive.  In I Kings 11-14 the matter came home for Solomon. He had gathered foreign/pagan women like people collect anything collectible. What would Solomon do with this sin? He was king and he did it because he could and he wouldn’t put this matter away. It altered and corrupted the nation forever.  Psalm 78-79 was a litany of God’s faithfulness contrasted against the Israelites’ sinfulness. Would God’s love ever get them to turn from their shameful sin? Their sin had caused them to be routed. When will this obvious memo ever ‘sink in’?  Jeremiah brought up their sin as a nation and –> they attacked Jeremiah, not the sin. They would be sent into exile for this. Also ignoring the lesson from the yoke Jeremiah put on would end up being costly. We’ll read about that next week.  Amos bellowed that the whole region was living sinfully. And all were impenitent as well.  They would burn for it.
John/Baptist, in Luke, was preaching powerfully against sin. People repented and were baptized. It was marvelous.  In Corinth, Paul was doing some follow up regarding a man in the church who was living in terrible sin and … it turned out that by then the matter was rectified and propriety had been restored.  The memo this week is that sin shall be dealt with God’s way or it will only continue to get worse – and more so until things are handled God’s way.

June 17



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I Corinthians 15-16

We are in the Church Stream finishing the book of I Corinthians today. We are using the New American Standard Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

15 – The theme, in case anyone missed it, is: THE RESURRECTION.  Christ Jesus raised from the dead and we who are His and with Him shall raise from the dead too.  Paul belabors that Jesus rose, appeared to hundreds, plus the 12, and more times to the chosen ones in Jesus’ inner circle. I mean really folks (reading between the lines) do you think all these people were hallucinating in unison? ‘can’t happen!  Jesus ROSE from the dead.  Believe it for real / forever.
Paul explains the order of the Resurrection, the logic of it and the importance of it. Instead of reciting, or rather repeating again what Paul said, it’s important to realize what he was encountering as he was traveling through Greece, and Asia Minor:   – – – Paul would periodically have a person in the congregation interject while he/Paul was teaching and preaching.  They would blurt out, “yeah, but He died. They killed Him. Was He a crook? and He let them kill him?…was this because He felt guilty?” The pattern of this century was that when a self proclaimed Messiah came on the scene, He either took over and then He would reign, or he was killed. and between 50 BC and 50 AD scores of “Messiahs” came forth and they were all executed along with their followers. Jesus appeared to be one of them.  The shame associated with following a false Messiah often never left someone who was duped by their false messiah. Jesus’ and the events of his last week looked too similar to the false messiahs and so some were puzzled as to how seriously to take Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, to a virgin, ad infinitum. So Paul takes this entire ch. 15 to explain to full orb’ of the Resurrection of Jesus; it’s veracity and the comprehensive logic behind it.  We remember Paul asserting that he was not ashamed of the gospel in Rom. 1:16.  Well he wasn’t – and he wanted all others to feel the same way.
-The description and Paul making a clear distinction between our bodies here and our bodies in the Resurrection is poignant and necessary. REmember that Corinth is in Greece. The Greeks were obsessed with strength, and bodies, and training and health – the muscle statues all over the empire attest to this.  And along with this, the Greek/Roman perplexity of aging was a mental embarrassment or conundrum of the heart to most all the pagan world.  Why did it have to be that we aged, and weakened and died and were then just … gone?  The Gospel solved this situation!!.
And how quickly will this change be to our new bodies? as fast as one can bat their eye.
16 – The collection of names and concepts listed here is a description of Paul’s warm heart for those he is discipling as well as those he is talking about.  He is gathering an offering for Jerusalem Believers.  The instruction and tips that he gives of how to treat each person is wonderful.  He says to thank such and such, honor so and so, care for so and so.  His word for how to treat Timothy was because Timothy was a great teacher yet was insecure regarding his family; a Greek parent and a Jewish parent and Timothy was getting “looked at sideways” in some places and Paul wanted that to stop.  The particulars are a little bit amusing/ /perhaps entertaining in that they give personal insight to the settings and persons back then.  Many of us know what it’s like to leave a note for a baby sitter. It says things like, “be sure and make certain that Joey drinks all his milk.  Remember that Jill is afraid of heights so when you do the walk, take the lower path.  Timmy prefers to be read to first thing in the morning as well as at bedtime so be sure to do this. He will miss it if you forget.  Etc.  Paul  just outright cares about all these people and … He gets it from Jesus.  We should too.

We have seen all this week that “completion invites visitation”

The Tabernacle was finished at the end of Exodus and God showed up gloriously and the whole nation was is awe – in a way that stuck with them permanently
When the Temple is completed in I Kings, the ark is brought in and there is a regal ceremony, prayer and dedication and sacrifices and God appeared to Solomon!! oh my word!
In the Psalms this week, especially 76 and 77, we see a completion of a mind going full circle from complaining to enjoying the triumph of God as God’s victories and great deeds are recalled. Gratitude brings on the visitation for that is the main thing God wants in our heart.
Jeremiah tells of a punishment that is going to be walked through, Jerusalem will fall a remnant will be preserved, just complete the Babylon time and in Jer. 23, he tells us that the Savior will visit…
Joel 3 tells that the nations will be judged. Once this is completed there will be a visitation [on the Day of the Lord ] that will be blessings that flow like streams down mountsides and it will be more than just sweet water
Luke1 tells of the completion of all the years and preparation coming up to the arrival of the greatest visitation of all time.  It will happen in Luke 2 but by the end of Luke 1 all items and preparation have been completed after 4,000 years since exiting Eden. Angels are visiting – more than once and once all this is completed, the Main Visitation of all time happens [next week!]
I Cor. 15 explains the completion of the explanation of the Gospel.  Christ Arose, haleluia.  Paul wanted them to understand this.  And he wanted to visit them again soon.

June 10


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I Corinthians 13-14

We are in the Church Stream reading the Apostle Paul’s direction to the Corinthians. We are in the New Living Translation.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

“Lord, let love be our main characteristic.  Amen.”

13 – The Corinthian Church had many colorful characteristics.  They were gifted. The fellowship was boisterous. They had faith. They had affect in Corinth.  Their feasts were impressive . . .
But they were not loving.  Paul needed to remind them to be loving. They needed to be patient and kind with each other.  The rudeness needed to stop, et cetera.  You know the passage and it bears daily repeating.  It was time for the church to grow up, quit the games and be loving. The school-yard-like competition and posturing and tab-keeping needed to stop now – make that immediately.
14 – The Corinthians had forgotten the purpose of Pentecost – to reach out and edify a person that normally could not be communicated with. The speaking in tongues was reducing to a contest in Corinth that edified no one.  Prophesying was more important since it blessed whole bodies of people. The matter of speaking in tongues is dealt with rather comprehensively by Paul here in this chapter. Some churches today need to brush this over so to quell some squabbling that becomes unnecessary and distracting to the good of the Kingdom.

Paul gives a hearty paragraph of instruction next about how to conduct an orderly worship service. Just like “Robert’s Rules of Order” is needed to keep meetings on track, Paul needed to write this to keep worship services edifying. The Kingdom couldn’t afford for worship services to fray off in dozens of needless directions. People from many other cultures were pouring in to worship services and structure was needed.  Who should speak, in what order, the evaluation that should take place.  There shouldn’t be a peanut gallery of cat-callers to question the speaker during service.  And interestingly enough, Paul was concerned that the new comers not be stunned by the babbling in foreign tongues, hence get the impression that church was for weirdos, and then they’d leave and be gone.  This would not be a good pattern.

  Paul wanted church to be orderly and edifying.  We need to want the same.
The theme or the thread that ran through this week distilled out to be “Let’s Build Something for God”  The Exodus passage with the Tabernacle actually going up is an inspiration in the desert for sure!  In I Kings 4ff, Solomon is laying out the framework of a glorious Kingdom and he gets to building the Temple and His Palace and many other beautiful structures.  David in Psalm 69:9 declared to God, “passion for your house has consumed me,”! [need to be passionate about something before it can be built]  and Psalm 72 rings with an overtone of Christ returning to reign supremely. In Jeremiah 18/19 the illustration of the potter, the clay and the broken pottery, God is asserting that the people of God must be built up a certain way. And if they won’t allow God to build His way, then they must be smashed and God will start over after some seriously severe buffeting and discipline.  Joel portrays a huge cycle of locust coming through to clean them out. It will be complete devastation. God urges prayer, mourning, fasting and restoration so that he can, … [you’re right]—> restore and build them up again, for He promises to send HIs Spirit.    Mark 15-16 has Jesus tried (falsely), tortured, crucified, dead, buried, risen and His followers are told to take the message to the whole world [to build the Kingdom!}  Paul is reminding the Corinthian church to build one another up and be loving in doing so.  There’s a lot of whining about churches and persnickety judging that goes on. Well, this is a misperception.  Church is where people are built up because they can learn and grow and thrive because they find acceptance.  Hooray for God as He builds His Kingdom.