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 23



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Luke 2:1-3:19

We are celebrating the birth of our Savior in the Christ Stream. Christmas in June! We are reading from The Message this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

The Savior is born today!  Thank you Lord for caring so much to send the best of heaven and the whole universe; for sending yourself, so that we may know You, follow You, and be saved.   Amen.

2 – The time had come for Mary to deliver the Savior and the political circumstances required Joseph/Mary to go to Bethlehem. Notice that they went up to Bethlehem from Nazareth in Galilee.  It was a 90-100 mile walk with a 1300 foot rise. The KJV says that Mary was “great with child”; the Greek actually words it to read “Mary had a ‘mega-tummy’ ” – it’s true folks.
-The first outsiders invited to see the newborn king were shepherds. The significance of this as told by Luke is that Luke is writing this gospel with the intent of evangelizing the Greek speaking world. Greeks LOVE sheep/mutton (mutton gyros)/wool/lamb-skin-leather; this whole culture of shepherding. And God tells shepherds –> first!  And He does so by an astonishing sign in the sky –  God’s angel speaking to them. Light, a message, then a choir that filled the sky, good heavens, It was overwhelming!  Another way this pierces to the heart of a Greek citizen is that they had in their legends that Alexander-the-Great was born and the arrival was announced by the greatest lightning storm that ever struck upon earth in history. So a Greek mind would read this and think, “oh my! this is even greater than when Alexander was born!”  Luke is saying to them [between the lines] that though their heritage takes them back to Alexander and Philip of Macedon, their personal king was a greater one to follow; sent from God and He outdoes Alexander.  So follow this Jesus. By doing this, Luke had the Greeks’ attention from the start.  And notice that the shepherds left their flocks (it was night and this kind of thing is not done – y’don’t leave your sheep at night especially). But the shepherds RAN to find Jesus. [Is this Jesus really worth abandoning everything for? Is He really more important than- everything- that- is- important? –Really?  Listen to Luke and hear the whole story.
-Then Jesus is brought to the Temple for dedication and for his circumcision – only Luke, being a doctor, includes this detail.  The story of Simeon and Anna are legendary parts that further signify that this Jesus is long awaited and that He is well worth waiting for.  This even more deeply asserted into Joseph and Marys’ hearts that they were entrusted with an assignment that carried the weight of the world upon them. It was a holy and wholly magnificent task they had to parent Jesus.  Mary took all this to heart, and it never left her.
The next story has us jumping 12 years ahead to when Jesus was in the Temple as a child and He is astonishing the Teachers and leaders and the doctors of the Law.  Now never forget that Luke is telling this story to Greeks and Greek was the language of the Empire – the way English is the language of the commercial world today. Greeks muse about Socrates born 470 B.C. in Athens /& Plato /& Aristotle and they wistfully discuss their books and ideas as they had for several hundred years. These were fascinating men with brilliant minds meandering about the Acropolis offering wisdom and leadership as to how to manage an Empire along with all the matters and thinking entailed therein. Well, Luke is saying, “you guys admire this?!?! Well here’s a youngster who is more enamoring and He is wowing the greatest minds for thousands of miles … and He does so at 12 years old !!”  Give it 18 years and see if He isn’t the most fascinating speaker/miracle worker / healer / leader EVERRRRRRR.
3 – jumps up 18 years and John the Baptist begins preaching in the Jordan area just north of the Dead Sea and near Jericho.  His preaching is so powerful and so poignant that people were coming from far away to hear him and to be baptized for forgiveness of sins.  The rebuke John launched into wasn’t a wild mood swing where he suddenly went ugly on everyone. He noticed that the duplicitous leaders were starting to show up.  They were there because they were upset that people were not in their normal worship services and they were thinking, “where is everyone? why are offerings down?” And this bothered them. Well rumor had spread and soon the countryside and everyone knew what was going on and where everyone was. The people had come to hear John and get right with God. But, the leaders had come to “straighten things out” and to deal with this loudmouth John/Baptist if they needed to.  That’s where the surprising “brood of snakes” comment factors in.
John/Baptist tells of what God requires: be honest, share, stop manipulating and threatening and stealing, be content, clean up your act, etc. [Luke hits on this theme of financial honesty, fairness, and caring throughout his book.]  John/Bpt is preparing them to meet Jesus so that Jesus would imminently arrive to a mood of “WOW, He’s Here!” v.s. “hey, who are you?” ; an atmosphere of oblivious.  It worked.

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June 22



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Amos 1-2

We are in the Exile Stream starting the book of Amos. Yes, he’s famous! We are reading from The Message this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord of Heaven: It is numbing to see how bad and profane and sinful and willful people can be. May we be agents who operate against such darkness and call sinners to you.  Amen.

Amos’ prophecy is right around 750 B.C.  Isaiah is beginning his writings right on the heels of Amos. Amos was young as Jonah was in his twilight years – Amos could well have heard first hand of Jonah’s revival in Nineveh that shook the known world.   Amos was among the earlier of the 17 OT prophets. He was a contemporary of Elisha, but young to have met Elijah.  Hosea was younger than Amos and would have continued upon Amos’ departure.  Micah was also younger than Amos and would have some right after (as with Isaiah).

For some historical perspective, the very first stones are being laid in a new area that would be called “Rome” following Romulus’ celebration of their first military victory. [ There is about 30 years until the Northern Kingdom of Israel would be terrorized and cleaned OUT by Assyria, ]

The Ionian Greeks founded the city of Naples on the Gulf of Naples about as Amos starts writing. Uzziah was king in Judah and Jeroboam II was king of Israel. For what it’s worth, II Chronicles 26 is a contemporary chapter with Amos. It is of the years when King Uzziah was ‘going askew”.

Amos 1 – 2: The word commences two years before “the BIG earthquake”. It was terribly traumatizing for all in the land as it was talked about still, 200 years later, by the Prophet Zechariah as he compared the Amos 1:1 earthquake to the earth’s final judgment which became mentioned by John in Revelation 16:18.
Amos is reading ‘the dirty lowdown’ about and to the whole region: Syria, Gaza, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel.  Amos uses the same literative tactic employed in Proverbs 30: “there are three things, actually four…”   This adds intrigue as Amos drops the gavel on the rabble-rousing attitude of the leaders and people in the whole region east of the Mediterranean Sea that scholars call “The Levant” [luh-VAUNT]
Damascus in Syria will be burned and busted, Gaza of the Philistines will be burned, devoured, cut off and killed.  Tyre will be burned flat as will Edom with her cities, along with the Ammonites as the Ammonite King and princes get exiled. Fire will consume Moab as God sees to it that the entire Royal family dies. Judah and Israel are none the less guilty.  They were given a covenant before God. They knew better and disobeyed with robust disgust!  So guess what… you guessed right –> Judah will be burned to the ground (much later than Israel, however)
The judgment against Israel in much more “at hand” so it is detailed and stinging.
Israel is oppressing its own people, prostitution is rampant, along with drunkenness, the Prophets are shunned.  Israel is slapping God in the face and doubly-arrogant about it.  So God is on the verge of crushing them. It will be a bludgeoning like they’ve never known – and they will not recover from it.