May 6



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Romans 13-16

We are finishing the letter from the Apostle Paul to the Romans today. We are in the Living Bible translation this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Rom. 13  is being written by a man who is going to be executed by the pathological government’s Caesar in a little over a decade.  If he can take this with an upstanding attitude, we can too. Paul does not want Christians to be known as the “rebels of the nations” everywhere they go. . . . We are a growing movement that is blessed so to redeem [not start skirmishes] everywhere we go. Cheerful obedience and civil behavior are powerful tools in starting a wave that has Christians being perceived, “gee, they are awfully nice and friendly and giving.people!”

We are urged anew by Paul to be content people, our main trait is that we are loving, and our heart is to be eagerly awaiting the Return of Our Lord.  This will be the trademark of a vast charitable “army” of people who will embody the largest movement the world has ever seen.
14 – Paul knew that as people came to Christ Jesus and joined in the Kingdom and joined church fellowships, and worshiped together, and dined together (Paul knew) that these people would be coming from numerous backgrounds and the natural tendency to unify would be jilted by prior habits and vows and commitments from former beliefs.  People dining together would encounter either the commitment to or revulsion of certain foods. People of Jewish descent had the kosher laws that were superseded once Peter had his vision in Acts 10:9-16.  Others had secular backgrounds and were oblivious to religions that were either sacred or profane. Others had cultic backgrounds and, now being a redeemed Believer, they would be sickened by how they once lived and did not want to eat anything that reminds them of their past. Well here they were together at “church potlucks” and some brought kosher “manna/matzoh” [ok, ok!], others brought pickled shrimp, others – vegan bread and/or (unkosher!)–> cheeseburgers, and … you could see the squabbles that erupted over diet rules to which there was no resolution except to love eachother more than their former laws, or vows, or regrets of the past. The Jewish Sabbath v.s. new Believers honoring Sunday as more important was another needless argument that needed to be put to rest too.. It was vital that they all NOT insist that everyone else adhere to / or live by their own personal preferences, hankerings, or idiosyncrasies. Christian community was more important.  That meant they were not to be criticizing others.
15 – The onus was upon the more mature Christians to be accepting and welcoming, nurturing and even to be gently tutoring younger/newer/less mature Christians.  They were to be exceedingly welcoming and warm to one another.  Paul also wants Jews and Gentiles to get along.  From 15:20, through chapter 16; to the end of the book, Paul is talking of preparations, further journeys and travels and his desire to keep the gospel spreading. He’ll be taking a trip through Jerusalem first before coming to see his Roman friends and Believers. Remember that being held back in Israel by the Sanhedrin and the Herod-family only caused the three years of anticipation to see Paul only become more pronounced. You can hear Paul’s impassioned concern that the church grow and grow in all ways everywhere.
16 – is a great listing of the people Paul wanted to remember. A case study dedicated to each of the names in this chapter is as entrancing as poring over the 58,000 names upon the Vietnam memorial wall. We should not become fickle and skip these over. Each one shined like a reflection of Christ in the first century church. Some of the names of these people can still be seen upon the homes and structures they occupied back when Paul came through ca. 1,965 years ago. Paul revered each of these.  We ought also revere and welcome and honor each who visit our fellowships today … as Paul has been urging us to do for a few chapters now.
The week has been a colorful one going through each of the seven streams of Scripture. The thread throughout we’ll call, “Be Attentive. God is Moving. Move With Him, and Let Yourself Be Instructed.”   After the Exodus, there was water-as-medicine that needed to be ingested, a new diet pattern (failproof food from the sky for 40 years!), Sabbath rules, battles to uphold, a “no whining” law and these would remain for the rest of YOUR lives – catch this!           In II Sam. we are going to regroup in Jerusalem with the Ark for the first time (don’t get too close Uzzah!), it’s time to worship (Michal!) and David would have done better to keep his mind on the war v.s. the girl next door, eh?!  Everyone would have been better off if they had moved with God wouldn’t they??           In Psalms, David is in pain from his sin and the results of it. God is moving him through it however and David learns from it. Come Psalm 40-41 he is finding relief in his God. David does right by his faith again.     Jeremiah laments that Israel/Judahs’ love for God has grown cold. She has become a “queen” of prostitutes in many ways. God moves over them with an offering of repentance. They should move with God’s offer . . . but sadly they don’t let themselves be instructed.  .         Hosea brings a second antithetical story in a row as Israel is vapid/stupid and idolatrous, wretched to the core and refuses to be attentive and learn from God. So God is going to move a vicious army in their direction.        Everything Jesus taught them in Mark this week were very moving and dramatic lessons loaded with vital instruction. Jesus used each “teachable moment” to the full and the disciples caught it eventually.          Paul’s instruction to the Roman church was straight from the Holy Spirit.  God was moving people from all ~walks of life and ~regions and ~refined faith and ~pagan faiths —> right into His Kingdom and the teaching he gave this week was a perfect application to help them understand the moving of God anew .  Let’s let ourselves be instructed by God’s Spirit also so we do not miss what He has for us.

May 5



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Mark 6:45-8:26

We are in the Christ Stream reading more about the miracles of Jesus. We are reading from The Living Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus – you certainly show your wonderful deeds for us.  You feed and heal and instruct and love and welcome all who will come.  Thank you for being so marvelous and so loving. We wholeheartedly thank you. Amen.

Jesus is now into his second full year of ministry.  From the feeding of the 5,000 (last story we read last week), to the final story today, (the healing of the blind man) this is an 8-month period. It is spent much in Galilee, Herod’s jurisdiction, and the wonders of Jesus are making an eternal impression on many Greeks and Greek-speaking people as well. 

6:45ff The theme of Mark is “Jesus the Wonderful” and we certainly read of this today.  His walking on water is universal proof that this is God’s message bearer to us even to those who can’t bring themselves to surrender to Him as of yet. Walking on water is deity in action. He enters the boat and the storm calms immediately. Remember, that Jesus sent them on ahead and they are caught in contrary winds that have them basically rowing in place through most of the night.  Jesus comes, all is calm and they proceed. Perhaps this is a good place to make a devotional point –> in evaluation of this story, “if we try to go on ahead without Jesus, we will likely find ourselves in a storm that we cannot deal with, and wasting our energy.” We don’t want to parse that illustration in a myriad of ways but it seems to be a helpful dab of wisdom.  They soon land on shore and Jesus is healing EVERYONE he touches. Imagine the joy that was raging through the countryside like a wind of happiness!
Perhaps the day ended and the disciples -part elated, part in shock- and by nightfall they’re thinking, “uh, let’s stay with Jesus, avoid the storms, and watch all the wonders, eh?”
7 –  The Pharisees confront Jesus about how his disciples weren’t washing their hands properly before eating. The full explanation of this tradition could easily be a half day lecture /discussion so we’ll just ask this: “if you ran into Jesus personally do you ask Him to touch your life too or do you ask him about the sanitary status of His disciples hands?” Really! Jesus lets ’em have it over this one. He points out the real issue – the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and he details the matter. It’s a lesson that angered them to the point of no return.  Jesus does two more prominent healings in this chapter. [Remember there were thousands of other healings that we are not told of.] He heals a young girl of demon possession out west near the coast. The area was Phoenician. The area was cultic – thus the encounter, the mother’s reasoning and persistence, Jesus agreement and the blessing is all quite a story.  We can take away from this that we are to encourage people of any background that if they can’t get through to Jesus, keep pressing until you do – because you will.         Next he heals a deaf/mute man. Last story the request for healing came from the mother. This time it comes from everyone who knew him. What a great way to have the witness of Jesus’ power explode.  And everyone marveled.

8 – Jesus does another huge and miraculous feeding. The numbers are slightly different than the last time, but the lessons again are manifold and are to be taken to heart.  The disciples are worried about food when they should be ingesting the deeper lessons that were unfolding in front of them. The power that Jesus has is because of His deity. Notice that seven loaves becomes enough for everyone. The bread was broken in Jesus hands but it multiplied in the disciples’ hands. Seven = The Holy Spirit at work, and it happened in the hands of the disciples.  Memo to the Disciples is a memo to us today: “let the Holy Spirit use YOUR hands to do His work. Get in the Holy Spirit and stop worrying so to take part in the wonders of God.”

Next the Pharisees arrive and demand a sign and Jesus just walks away from them. I mean who’s got time for these jokers who have no intention of following Him?  He then heals a blind man from Bethsaida. This is a town that Jesus cursed for their unbelief. [Mt. 11:21 -It’s now a deserted archaeological dig with a sun god carving that’s visible even today, btw!] So Jesus takes him outside Bethsaida to heal him. Jesus heals him in his second “attempt” [2nd demonstration, actually]. The first gesture to heal has a comical result. Memo to the disciples and to us: “when you endeavor to minister healing and the immediate result is not the desired result – persist. Pray again. Reach out again. Be like the Syro-Phoenician woman and plead. With the deaf man, the whole town showed up to ask.  Get more people involved in healing ministry. Don’t go it alone. P.U.S.H. [Pray UntilSomething Happens] I mean, do you like to pray with quitters? Why would God ever want us to be quitters?

May 4



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Hosea 8:1-9:9

We are in the Exile Stream reading from The Living Bible.

7streamsmethod.com | @7StreamsMethod | @serenatravis | #7Streams

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord Jesus, make our lives significant like yours and the prophets were meaningful and still are as what was spoken still speaks today.  None of us want to come to the end of our lives only to hear that we have inherited a whirlwind. Help us live lives that count for the kingdom and for good for your Kingdom. Amen.

8 – We are back in the north and Hosea is speaking to a nation that is going to fall in 722 B.C. It’s about 130-135 years earlier than what was read yesterday in Jeremiah.  Hosea reminds them that they have set up their entire government apart from God’s leading. These are the people who erected a golden calf exactly like in Exodus 32 (500 years prior) just to make sure the people were deliberately disobedient and not going to Jerusalem to worship properly. This establishing of this idol is described as it happened in I Kings 12-13.  And Hosea is hitting the issue right between the eyes almost two centuries later.  They have been worshiping this calf so long that they may not even be hearing Hosea as he rebukes them.  The reference, “… sown to the wind and reap a whirlwind” is a motif in literature.  Well  Hosea said it first!  Israel has “boxed herself in”. She thinks Assyria is a friend.  But they’ll be the ones who “turn them into mince meat!”.  The reference of “returning to Egypt”, Hos. 8:13 is a metaphor for returning to slavery.  The nation is on the verge of being burnt to the ground and any survivors hauled away.
9 – For running from God and sacrificing to others, their idolatry will even affect the land and their crops.  At this point, every offering they bring to God is a stench to him; it’s polluted. The bondage and poverty they have “earned” is upon them.  Hosea has been speaking to them, trying to avert ‘judgment day’ but he is labeled a crazy man.  Israel is NOT listening. The “depraved as in Gibeah…” verse is in reference to the horrid rape situation in Judges 19 and the hideous aftermath of it all.  Hosea reminds them that Israel is just as bad as this now.  For this, their children will be hauled away, their sons are doomed, pregnant women will be treated in ways that are too disturbing to describe.  Why is all this going to happen? because Israel will not listen or obey.  I would say “God help them” but they don’t want his help.