April 8



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Romans 1:1-3:20

We are in the Church Stream and we commence on the book of Romans. The Apostle Paul explains so many details to the believers in Rome. We are reading from the World English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Paul’s assignment in history is to provide a clear explanation of the gospel that would be shared to all the Believers in Rome.  Remember that when Jesus died and rose, people weren’t prancing and celebrating, “oh goodie, goodie. Now we are saved. The perfect sacrifice has been made, my sins have been cancelled by Christ Jesus on the Cross, yippee, now I know God really loves me … ” No, they were devastated by His death, and shocked by His coming back from the dead.  WE, on the other hand, understand Jesus’ death because Paul explained what it all meant.  That is why the Church of the first century were so enamored with Paul, eager beyond description; eager as school kids at an ice cream shop to welcome him and sobbing sad tears when he departed.  It was melodrama with meaning.  Keep this in mind: explain the gospel to people and you will be revered in a way that perhaps, in many ways, only missionaries understand being revered.

Paul wrote Romans from Corinth late in his 3rd Missionary Journey. The year is 57-58 A.D. [not for nothin’ the Olympics were held in Corinth a few years prior so Paul is using suitable words throughout his books, “run the race, finish the course, I buffet my body, I don’t box like I’m just punching the air…]. Imagine the ominous sentiment when Paul finished his “Book to The Romans”, rolls it up, hands it to Phoebe [“FEE-bee”] of Cenchreae and says, “here, take this to the Believers Rome … !”  Do we realize what hung upon this journey, of a lady traversing through a world that was not altogether safe for anyone to be traveling through; foreign places, encountering pagans, scungy cultic people were everywhere, there were bandits, warriors, brothels, taverns, ad infinitum? She arrived in Rome at least three years ahead of Paul. These are much of the same three+ years he is being held under guard in Caesarea.  This gave plenty of time for his letter to the Romans to circulate.  In God’s timing, Paul was being held for a purpose.  This delay is why Paul arrives to such a hero’s homecoming welcome in Acts 28:14-17.  They had read his letter and were thrilled to know what he told them. Plus he told them he was ‘on his way’ to see them.
Almost 1,960 years later, the Book of Romans has been published in nearly 3,000 languages, 50.000.000 more copies of it get published in the USA alone EACH year! Billions and billions of copies of Romans have been published. Perhaps Phoebe was [while carrying this letter on rolled up leather] was thinking, “wow, I hope they read this. They really need to read this!”  [She did now know the immensity of what was in her hands.] We need to read it too.
Another peculiar fact comes to us about Romans from the entire enterprise of smuggling Bibles and those involved.  When Bibles were smuggled into the old Soviet Union the stakes were high. Penalty of execution loomed over those who were caught with Scripture. So when things became more dicey, only the New Testament was snuck in.  When the intensity rose yet further, the cargo was reduced to take in only The Book of Romans. When certain life or death was on the line, they only brought in Romans ch. 3. The Communists knew that they would never succeed in their plans if the population understood that they were justified and saved by grace in Jesus Christ. [not the State]  So today we read/”red” Romans 1-3:20.  I think the Devil himself shudders over such truth. Listen again if you need to.
WE say all that to say this: do not read Romans and shrug, “ok, we’re saved, cool, whatever.”  Our destinies – ALL of our destinies hang upon our understanding of the Book of Romans!  Read Romans again and again.  And read it to the whole world.
An encouraging projection is that “if the gospel can ‘fly’ in Rome, it will fly in any city.
Romans 1 – opens with a single long sentence that covers seven verses. All that is to say: It’s from Paul. It’s about Jesus Christ. It’s to Rome.  THAT is what this letter is about.  And it would change the capitol of the world.   The whole chapter asserts that sin is everywhere and everyone is involved in sin. If there was ever dark activity going on in the world at the time, it was going on in Rome. The verses speak to a dark world and a dark leadership careening the world into ever horrendous behavior.  Even today, governments and lurid interest groups are offended by Paul’s assertions in chapter one.  It’s because they are true.  The “not ashamed of the gospel” verse in the middle is added because people were questioning him about Jesus’ crucifixion. It was a shameful thing to them. No one follows a leader who was a criminal that was executed.  Only false Messiahs and leaders die as crooks.  False movements were revealed by leaders who turned out to be false, got discovered and were executed. Paul should be ashamed of this (in some people’s minds). Paul wasn’t. Thus we have the famous Romans 1:16 in the middle of the opening chapter.
2 – The new ethic under Jesus applies to everyone. People of Jewish Heritage included. Many in Rome who were Jews that had come there thought they had inside track with God, and thought they had a say in who is saved and who is not.  Paul was telling them, along with the rest, “uh, you need this grace in Christ too! Quit acting like you’re better than the newcomers.”  Think that God justified Abraham simply for believing and worshiping. That is it. And Abraham is justified 600 years before Moses wrote up any law. This is a reality check.  Paul doesn’t explain that here but it certainly applies to the assumptions the “old guard” in the new church are living by as they are looking down on new comers who are justified by Christ alone. Perhaps they were scoffing that it shouldn’t be this easy for them. Judgment is coming. No one will be excused. All secrets will be laid open before God.  And only this who are IN CHRIST will be justified.
3 – the significance of the Jews is a beautiful picture here. God needed to come to us via a race. He couldn’t have just splattered his gospel to all 6000 cultures at once. It would have been interpreted as diversely as the gods of India where there are millions of them.  A people needed to be shouldered with the responsibility of maintaining the Scriptures. The Jewish people embraced this assignment and became “the people of The Book.”  There assignment was something to be revered – it was not something to be haughty about. For they had practiced the Law for 1450 years only to prove that the Law cannot be humanly upheld. A Savior and an ultimate one at that was needed for all.  For no one is righteous, no one. And no one is justified by The Law.  The Law only proves there is a problem to be solved.
The theme for this week distills out to be “things have changed. now, what are you going to do?”  Jacob and then Joseph die at the end of Genesis, years pass, The friendly Egyptians pass, invaders come in, New Egyptians arise who are mean, who enslave and kill. Are you going to be whipped forever? what are you going to do?   David in I Sam. 17ff faces a killer of a giant. Will he be a giant-killer? -or run away? Then King Saul wants him dead, then the whole army is looking for him. He is the anointed King, for heaven’s sake and has to play the fugitive. Really? Now what!?  Later, David writes Psalm 18 and the following praises right after he is crowned king (the seven years running from Saul had ended). And he is praising God. Not a word of complaint or whining, no “hey God what was that all about? Y’Trying to scare me?!” He’s completely in charge and his attitude is, basically, “with malice toward none. With charity for all…”  Isaiah talks of and walks them through some very serious matters. It’s what is coming for them. So what are they going to do? Amid this Isaiah talks of a suffering servant Savior … will they reject Him too? What will they do ??!  Hosea is in pain. He approaches his adulterous wife who’s in another man’s home. Will she come home? Hosea’s heart is broken.  Will she do this to him forever? [will we break God’s heart forever?].  Matthew walks us through the arrest, trial and crucifixion.  Our teacher/leader/Messiah is dead. Now what? Woo, he’s back and wants us to go to all the world …. and associate with pagans? all our life? really? Oh, you are going to be WITH US?!  My oh my things are changing.  The Romans receive the best explanation of the gospel in the world.  It has some rattling parts to it, though. You are justified by what Jesus has done – not what you have done; bragging is overwith. To the Jews, you are still the chosen, not the favorite, but still the chosen and the first.  Will you help others grow in God?
Lord, we can count on you and you only. Thank you for salvation and for your faithfulness. Amen.

April 7



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Matthew 27-28

Today we are in the Christ Stream and we will finish the book of Matthew. We will cover our first reading of the crucifixion and resurrection as we read from the World English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Today we read of what the world has been waiting thousands of years for.  History builds to this event.  The remainder of history reflects back on this event and draws inspiration to finish our call of Destiny.

27  – is the trial, crucifixion, and burial.  We are going to look at some of the distinctions of the other gospels compared to Matthew this time through.  If you wish to reference some of this, they are Mk 15, Lk 23, Jn. 18
Matthew says the chief priests and elders took counsel.  They had already met with Annas and Caiaphas and been convinced that it was better for one man to die instead of the whole nation…wrong intentions but they did supply the right answer.  They want him dead but they want Pilate to drop the gavel. Only Matthew gives detail of Judas here. Keep in mind that Matthew was a government worker prior to being a disciple -and the only one of the 12 to be so. Legal matters are more of an issue to him than to Mark, Luke and John.  All the disciples were from Galilee in the north except one; Judas.  Interesting that Matthew is possibly making an insinuation here about where “faithful ones” come from and vice versa.  When Matthew tells of him before the governor, John is describing this scene in much greater detail as being before Pilate, the discourse, the back and forth, and the frustration of all involved. From here Matthew tells the most in describing Barabbas, while John merely mentions him. Only Luke describes the scene of him in front of Herod. Matthew tells of the crown of thorns and the mocking as does Mk and John.  Lk doesn’t have that part.  At this point only John tells of Pilate being practically desperate to release Jesus as he addresses the crowd and then Jesus, back and forth. Finally Pilate delivers Jesus to them and washes his hands [only in Matthew] to symbolize that the guilt of killing Jesus is not on him. Only Matthew and Mk reference Jesus being scourged/whipped, but all four gospels say that Pilate then handed him over to be crucified.  Luke gives the most dialogue from when Jesus is going from Pilate to Golgotha (the Hebrew word for “skull”).  “Calvary” comes from a Latin derivative; a translation that plays out later.

Jesus is offered wine mixed with gall -Mark calls the gall–> myrrh.  And then He is crucified

The sign “This is Jesus, King of the Jews” is placed above him.  Mk /Lk only reference
“… King of the Jews”.  Matthew describes the whole sign for his gospel is written specifically to tell Jesus story to the Jews living in Israel/Jerusalem. [Mark writes to Jews everywhere, Luke write to Greeks, John writes to the whole world (Jn.3:16, “God so loved …the what?”  John [alone] describes the bantering over Jesus’ outfit. Mt, Mk, Lk all tell of Jesus being scoffed at; while Matthew tells the most about the derision. The thieves beside Jesus are merely mentioned by Mt./Mk.  Luke is the one who fully describes the dialogue between the two thieves and their contrasting attitudes. And Luke is the only one who describes the beautiful dialogue between Jesus and the penitent thief.  “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” is one of the most beautiful things ever spoken.  It is also a marvelous testament to “being saved by grace”.
The death of Jesus is told by all four who focus and highlight various things distinctively.  Matthew gives the greatest description of the natural phenomenon: curtain tearing, earthquake, ground splitting, tombs breaking open, and multiple resurrections!  Only John tells of Jesus’ side being pierced. Matthew gives the least detail about Jesus’ burial, but he is the only one to tell of the issue of guards at the tomb and more guards being added.
28 – Looking only through Matthew for the finale~ here, He tells of the women going to the tomb, the earthquake (more nature detail), and the angels informing them of Jesus Resurrection.  Now they must also go tell the others. Then Jesus appears to them! and also tells them to tell the disciples that He’s alive and they must go to Galilee to meet Him there.  Hey, what better assignment to give to a group of ladies? What do they love better than spreading good news with no other agenda but to be spreading good news.  God knows how to spread the word around, eh?!
Meanwhile there’s a scheme afloat back among the chief priests to spread false rumors about the Resurrection being faked.  — good luck with that.
Jesus had other appearances, but Matthew focuses on the Galilee scene next to highlight the Great Commission mainly.  He tells them to take this gospel to the whole world and to obey all His commands and assures them that He will be with them always until the End of the Age.   These words have motivated more action than any other sentence ever spoken.  Hundreds of thousands come to Christ daily even today because of this word from Jesus.  It triggers more missions and publishing and evangelism and salvations and related activity of ministry than any other single thing ever … ONE SENTENCE.  Matthew is so focused on making this the finale~ of his book that he ends with it.  ‘doesn’t even mention Jesus going up and ascending back to God.  Good Heavens.  We need to obey this verse here.
Lord, you went through it all so we would have all of you and take all of you to all of the world.  Thank you for being with us still and that you always will.  Amen

April 6



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Hosea 1-2

We are in the Exile Stream starting a new book – Hosea. We are reading from the World English Bible this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

What we read of Hosea the Prophet is found almost solely in this book.  There is precious little written about Hosea elsewhere.  He came on the scene just before Isaiah and Micah, and was younger than Amos.  His work of living and prophesying to the north was right around 760 B.C. – 720 B.C.  For what it’s worth, the first stones of the city of Rome were being laid and the first columns and colonnades were being erected as Hosea was beginning his painful years of ministry.  When he began, the northern Kingdom had been split from the south for about 200 years and was at it’s height of power and wealth.  During Hosea’s lifetime it went from it’s height under King Jeroboam II to being decimated as the Assyrian Army ransacked the nation under Israel’s King Hoshea. God had sent Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, and Amos to the north. All four had come from the south. Now he was sending Hosea into ministry – he was from the north. So they may have referred to him as “a local”. Hosea is addressing the nations rampant problem of adultery. They had worshiped an idol of a calf for two centuries and that had long morphed into a horrendous mess. The population in the north was utterly degraded. Hardly a child, nor a home, nor a marriage was intact. Chastity was not valued or protected.  At the rate they were going, it would not be long before God would “vacuum up” THESE particular people and throw them it into the dustbin of history.

Hosea 1 – notice the kings listed here are the same kings listed in Isaiah 1.  From the start, Hosea is ordered to ‘do as the locals’: have children with a prostitute. SHE will be your wife. God had been true to these people all through their history, and yet they go about “whoring” – to use KJV term.  Imagine the pain that adultery causes God. We are called to one God and to live it out with one spouse.  But humans want a dark version of “freedom” from this…and from God. Hosea, under God’s orders, has three children with Gomer the prostitute. Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi.
Jezreel is the first son’s name because the House of Israel would finally end here (722BC) The bloody mess that Jehu responded to would be avenged (see II Kings 10:1ff)  Son; Jezreel’s birth was a statement that retribution was on its way. The decapitations in
 II Kings 10 would be repeated by the Assyrians swarming in (II Kings 17:5 ca. a century later).  It would be a horror show sequel to put it lightly.  Only the death scale would rise “1000” times over.
Lo-Ruhamah, a daughter is born and her name means “not loved”. The love and mercy from God is soon overwith for Israel. They had smacked God in the face for two centuries. He had had enough of the Northern Kingdom.
Lo-Ammi another son is born and his name means “not my people”.  It’s sad symbolism, isn’t it?!  The death of a people was imminent
Still God’s goodness comes forth in the final two verses as God tells of his intention to grow his people and to unite them.
Hosea 2 – The 2nd and 3rd children are referenced in the first verse here.  Mr. “not my people” and Miss “not loved (no mercy)” are to be told, “you ARE my people, You ARE loved.”  Mother is to stop the prostitution.  All are to come home again to where she was truly cared for and not just offered gifts and luxuries at a pimp’s place – though soon to be deserted by this liar.  God wants to call them home like parents call children for supper.   But they won’t come. but He still loves them, still they won’t come. But He still loves…  So God’s love will be opened up (Hosea 1:10) to whosoever will (Romans 9:24-26). The Romans’ reference is worth checking before the day passes.  God is certainly good to us, regardless how we dismiss, ignore, or swat away his love.
Lord make us like you, please make us like you. Your goodness, even in the face of being treated treacherously by your own children, is nearly unfathomable. May we be infused with your relentless love. Amen