Hallelujah Trail

 
 
 
 
 

The Thanksgiving Joy of Harvest

At Thanksgiving, the imagery of harvest frames our nation’s history, inspiring us with things reflective of Early America. Yet Thanksgiving is about more than that. It is a call for us to celebrate not only God’s provision and restoration, but also His promise and presence – even amid delays, problems, and tears. We have all seen pictures of the ancient method of sowing – huge bags slung over the shoulder of the person in the field. They’re reaching in and scattering the seed. Though the wind blows, though the work is long and hard, though the harvest seems improbable, and even though their seed is getting blown away, they just keep sowing. In the midst of those trying events, the Psalmist (126:5-6) reminds us,

“Those who sow in tears

shall reap in joy.

He who continually goes forth weeping,

bearing seed for sowing,

shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,

bringing his sheaves with him.”

This is a song of celebration of God’s purpose through and beyond trial. It reminds us that triumph ultimately outlasts trial – and the triumph is en route. Even if we can’t see what God is doing, there is evidence in our hearts that He will be faithful. When we finally see the harvest, it no longer matters how tough things were, how much time they took, or how heavy the pressures were. The Thanksgiving joy of harvest makes everything else a minor consequence.

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday at 9:00 AM

You Are Welcome!

 

Thanksgiving Honors God

The holiday is called Thanksgiving. Whom should we thank? According to George Washington (1789) we should thank “…that great and glorious Being, who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country…” The event that we commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings” – days of prayer thanking God for blessings. The booklet “Mourt’s Relation,” published and sold in 1622 describes in detail what happened from the landing of the Mayflower, up to what is commonly called the first Thanksgiving. The author says, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.” And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863 in the midst of the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens” to be held each November. True thankfulness recognizes our total dependence on God. True Thanksgiving stems from realizing that everything going on in our lives and all that we have is the product of God’s sovereign control.

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday at 9:00 AM

You Are Welcome!

 

Holy War?

Don’t you love to hear about the love of God? Don’t you love to sing about His mercy, His grace, His compassion? But what about the other side of God? What about His holiness, what about His righteousness, what about His righteous indignation and anger? What about His judgment of sin? Do you like to hear about that? If you want the truth about God, you have to get the whole picture. In Deuteronomy 20:16-18 Moses said: “… of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.” God Himself was the Supreme Commander in Holy War (a specific and limited mission prescribed by God within the larger context of salvation history). He either gave the initial order to fight or was consulted regularly to make certain that it was in keeping with His will.  His presence among them was symbolized by the Ark of the covenant, which went into battle with them. It’s important to know, the Hebrew term ‘destroy’ refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them. It disturbs us that the Old Testament tells of so much willful damage, violence and killings carried on in the name of the Lord. It seems to be that these battles are an all-out struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. There can be no compromise with evil. We must remember, our task is not to decide what God ought to be like, but to study the ways in which He has revealed Himself to us.  

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday at 9:00 AM

You Are Welcome!

What Ultimate Good is an Enemy?

The enemy causes you to stop and evaluate what is right and what is wrong. The enemy will offer you an alternative saying, ‘You can have something better.’ In Proverbs 7:10-27 we see an adulterous relationship. A strange woman is saying ‘come over here and I will reward you, I will delight you.’ With her flattering lips and enticing speech she causes him to yield and she seduced him. Then the last verse says,

“Her house is the way to hell,

Descending to the chambers of death.”

The enemy causes you to evaluate what is truth, and what is a lie. He causes you to consider what he is saying and what God is saying. The enemy challenges your faith. Will you compromise? Where is your loyalty? Will you settle for temporal reward instead of waiting for an eternal reward? When you compromise and give the enemy a little finger, the enemy will get the whole hand, and with your whole hand the enemy will get you. The enemy challenges your knowledge of God’s Word. Pay attention – study well. Everyone who claims to be from God is not from God. Some are just talking ‘god talk’. Sometimes those words are used to manipulate you. Sometimes those words are used to get you to become a follower and sub-servant and a giver to that ministry. Sometimes the enemies are within. In Matthew 4:6 Jesus is being tempted by the devil and the devil quotes Scripture, but he takes it out of context. If you’re going to have victory over your enemy, you’ve got to know that when the challenge comes you know the whole counsel of God. That’s your sword against the enemy.

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday at 9:00 AM

You Are Welcome!


Three Views of Jesus

What About Angels?

The author of Hebrews writes “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (13:2) Angels are mostly invisible, sometimes though, angels show up in Scripture as ordinary human form. When three angels came to Abraham, they sat down and ate supper with him and told him he was going to have a son. They looked like ordinary men (Genesis 18:1-10). Gideon at first, didn’t seem to recognize the person standing before him as an angel (Judges 6:1-22), but Daniel was certain about what he saw. His report of the awesome figure on the riverbank has been called Scripture’s most detailed description of an angel’s appearance. Daniel says, “I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.” (Daniel 10:5-6) There are lots of scriptures where angles appear in various degrees of light and fire and glory. Notice for example after Jesus had risen from the dead, what Matthew recorded about the color of the angel’s clothing: “His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.” (28:3) Mark says various women came, “And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe…” (16:5) John says, “… she saw two angels in white…” (20:12). Luke says, “… two men stood by them in shining garments.” (24:4). In the book of Revelation Jesus says, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (3:5)

 

Life Begins at Conception

As Psalm 139 opens, the complete, intimate knowledge of us may seem a little overwhelming, even a little threatening. David couldn’t comprehend it either. But he warmed to the idea of God’s omnipresence as he went along. Omnipresence is a truth as vast as the universe, but also as private as a mother’s womb. Just as God is everywhere in space, so He’s everywhere in time (Jeremiah 23:24). He was personally involved in David’s creation, and had written the story of his life before one day of it had come to be. He’s done the same for each one of us.

“…You formed my inward parts,

You covered me in my mother’s womb.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Marvelous are Your works,

And that my soul knows very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.

And in Your book they all were written,

The days fashioned for me,

When as yet there were none of them.”

Psalm 139 is among the strongest biblical affirmations of the divine origin and sanctity of human life. Given the abortion tragedy that has engulfed our nation, and the horror of the growing planned movements, it goes without saying that our theology of human origins matters. It makes a life-or-death difference.

 
“I Cry out to the LORD with my voice;

With my voice to the LORD I make my supplication.

I pour out my complaint before Him;

I declare before Him my trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,

Then You knew my path.

In the way in which I walk

They have secretly set a snare for me.

Look on my right hand and see,

For there is no one who acknowledges me;

Refuge has failed me;

No one cares for my soul.

I cried out to You, O LORD:

I said, ‘You are my refuge,

My portion in the land of the living.

Attend to my cry,

For I am brought very low;

Deliver me from my persecutors,

For they are stronger than I.

Bring my soul out of prison,

That I may praise Your name;

The righteous shall surround me,

For You shall deal bountifully with me.’”

(Psalm 142) David was in distress. He was hiding from his enemies in a cave. It was a great disgrace to so great a soldier to be put in such a difficult situation; and a great terror to be so hotly pursued and expecting death at every moment. Yet, David had the presence of mind to talk to God. If you are in trouble, tell God. There is no cave so deep, so dark, that you can’t send up your prayer.

 
Pray

We should avoid any teaching that undermines our faith in Gods willingness to respond to our prayers for His intervention in our lives and that of others. One such teaching is the concept of “fate,” the pagan notion that everything we do and everything that happens to us is fixed unchangeably in advance, long before it occurs. Belief in fate is contrary to Scripture and causes one to assume that both good and bad are absolutely determined and unalterable, and that nothing is really changed by fervent, believing prayer. Scripture teaches that God deals with His children, not through absolute determinism, but by divine providence, whereby He interacts with and responds to the prayers of the righteous. Our prayers and faith in God do cause many good things to happen that would otherwise not occur. An example of this is found in Exodus 32:9-14 when God spoke to Moses saying, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them…” Then Moses pleaded with the Lord and He relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people. Most Christians fail to give serious attention to the significance of God in their daily lives. Prayer is normally reserved for times when we thank Him for blessings like food and family, or in desperate situations. Do you think your daily problems are too trivial for God? The Bible indicates that God cares very much about details. Jesus said that our hairs are numbered and a single bird does not die without the Father knowing about it. The most difficult prayers for God to answer are the ones that never get asked.

 

Healthy and Wealthy

Daniel’s three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.  When the king told them the consequences of not obeying his command, they said “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace… (Daniel 3:17)  Nebuchadnezzar was not amused.  In a rage, he commanded his mighty men to bind them and cast them into the fire.  But they did not burn up – they stood up!  The only thing burned was the ropes that tied them.  Equally amazing – there were no longer three men in there – but now four!  The king said look, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (3:25)  Jesus was with them in the midst of the fiery furnace.  (We must never forget that.)  When King Nebuchadnezzar called Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego to come out of the furnace; he also blessed God.  These three men had been faithful to the Lord, and righteous in their walk.  As a result they prospered (3:30).  Although the Scripture does not teach that every faithful Christian will be healthy and wealthy, we are told in Psalm 1:1-3:  “Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree

Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper.”

 

The Language of Faith

If you’re having negative thoughts, don’t have a silent battle in your mind.  Open your mouth up and take authority over your thoughts with words.

How do you take authority over negative thoughts?  The story of David and Goliath found in the seventeenth chapter of First Samuel is a good example.

Goliath was a thirteen foot tall man armed with a javelin, a sword and a spear.  He was a champion man of war.  Imagine what kind of voice a man that size would have.  Not only was he intimidating to hear, he was spectacular to see, dressed in bronze armor from his head to his feet.  The army of Israel along with their king, watched the giant draw near.  Morning and evening he presented himself before them for forty days.  Day-by-day as they listened and watched, they became more and more afraid.  He made fun of the people.  He insulted their religion and their God.  Yet, they watched and listened and allowed their hearts to be infected with fear.  And they believed all that the giant declared to them.  Yet when David, who was only a teenager, heard the giant’s abusive words, his heart was prepared.  He took authority over negative thoughts with words.  His declaration was, “I’ll go out and kill this guy.”  “You come to me with a sword…  But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts… I will strike you and take your head from you. (1Samuel 17:45-46)  When David spoke to the giant, he wasn’t carrying a weapon that would cut his head off.  After he killed the giant, he drew the giant’s sword and cut his head from his body.  The very same thing David said would happen, happened.  David threw that rock and the Bible says it sank into his forehead.  It was not a little lick that made Goliath say ‘oh, that hurt.’  No, this rock sank into his head and it killed him.  Your words produce action that will change your life.  The key is to take the negative thought and transform it to positive spoken words.

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday at 9:00 AM

You Are Welcome!

The Conversation

In Jerusalem at the time of the Passover feast, Jesus came in contact with a certain ruler of the Jews whose name was Nicodemus.  His conversation with this religious leader was so important that it is recorded in full in the Gospel of John.  It was so fundamental in its teaching that it has become the very base of the gospel itself.  The conversation which Jesus had with this man contained two great texts which have been used by gospel preachers possibly more often than any others.  They are found in John 3:3: “…Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  Then follows the golden text of the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)  This is the gospel in a nutshell.  In this statement Jesus presents His Father as not only a God of power, far removed from His creatures, but also a God of love that impelled Him to give the life of His only Son to effect the salvation of men.  Next Jesus assured Nicodemus (and all of us) that His mission on the earth was not to condemn the world but rather to save it.  Men were already on the way to eternal death, but He had come to save them and to give them everlasting life. Condemnation already rested upon unbelievers but would be lifted from those who believed in Him.  Now a new feature was introduced.  Instead of the condemnation being because of their inherent evil or their having broken the ten commandments, it was because they refused to believe on Him who came to save them. 

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday at 9:00 AM

You Are Welcome!

 

Thirteen Books Bear His Name

The date of Saul’s conversion, when Jesus Christ speaks to him on the road to Damascus, has been placed from one to four years after the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus occurred.  Paul was the greatest worker among the apostles, not only as a missionary, but also as a writer.  Through Paul alone we know that the church is not an organization, but an organism, the body of Christ.  Through him alone we know how to organize local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings.  Through him alone we know that “we shall not all sleep,”  that “the dead in Christ shall rise first,” and that living saints shall be “changed” and caught up to meet the Lord in the air at His return.  We have from him thirteen Epistles.  These Pauline Epistles are pastoral addresses to congregations of his own founding (except that of Rome, and probably also that of Colossae, which were founded by his pupils), or to individuals (Timothy, Titus, Philemon).  At least four of them hail from prison, but breathe the same spirit of faith, hope, and joy as the others.  Paul led them from the darkness of heathen idolatry and Jewish bigotry to the light of Christian truth and freedom, and raised them from the slime of depravity to the pure height of saving grace and holy living.  His Epistles touch on every important truth and duty of the Christian religion, and illuminate them from the heights of knowledge and experience.  They furnish the best material for a doctrine concerning faith and ethics.  Paul looks back to the remotest beginning before the creation, and looks out into the farthest future beyond death and the resurrection.  He writes with the authority of a commissioned apostle and inspired teacher.  He is never dry and dull, and never wastes words.  His writings exhibit the force and fire of his mind and the tender affections of his heart.

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

First and Last Sunday @ 9:00 AM

 

The Book of Acts

When Luke wrote this book, he did not call it Acts.  About AD 150 believers began to call Luke’s book The Acts of the Apostles.  Most of Acts tells of the ministries of the apostles Peter and Paul.  Although Acts 1:13 lists all the apostles’ names, most are never mentioned again.  After the first chapter, only Peter, James, John and Paul are called by name.  In truth, the Holy Spirit is referred to more than 50 times and emphasized more than any of the apostles.  The opening statement of Acts notifies readers at the outset, that Acts is the sequel to the Gospels.  The story of the church is a marvelous continuation of the unique and glorious story of Jesus’ earthly life.  In addition, Acts provides the key for a more complete understanding of the epistles that follow Acts and interpret the gospel that Jesus lived and preached.  Acts is not just a history book of the early church, it is a handbook for the Christian life and for a Spirit-filled church.  Believers ought to desire and expect, as the norm for today’s church, all elements in the New Testament church’s ministry and experience (except the writing of NT Scripture).  These are attainable when the church moves in the full power of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing in Acts or the New Testament indicates that signs, wonders, miracles, spiritual gifts, or the apostolic standard for the church’s life and ministry generally were to cease suddenly or permanently at the end of the apostolic age.  Acts records what the church must be and do in any generation as it continues Jesus’ ministry in the Pentecostal power of the Holy Spirit.  The baptism in the Spirit is intended for all who profess faith in Christ, have been born again and thereby have received the indwelling of the Spirit.  One of Christ’s key goals in His earthly mission was to baptize His followers in the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11; John 1:33).

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study

The Revelation VersebyVerse

First and Last Sunday @ 9:00 AM

 

From the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – we visualize Jesus Christ the Man: He who came to save the lost. Millions of church people know Jesus only as Savior. From the Epistles, particularly those written by the Apostle Paul, we visualize Jesus as the Head of the Church. We see Him as He relates daily with His followers. Many believers know the Christ of the Gospels and the Epistles. The Revelation gives us the third dimension to complete our view of the Lord. From this book, we visualize Jesus as the triumphant Lord. We learn that, as King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus will rule over His unending Kingdom on earth. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is divided into two events: His appearing and His return. The first occurs when Jesus departs the throne of God and appears in the heavens above the earth to resurrect the dead in Christ. Then the living and resurrected saints are caught up together in the clouds and rise to meet the Lord in the air. Only the true Church will be aware of Jesus’ appearing. The rest of the world will not know about it until after the saints are gone. We call this “the catching up of the church” or “the Rapture.” Revelation 1:7 describes Jesus’ return to earth, when He takes control of all governments in order to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah 9:6. When Jesus returns to take over all government, every eye shall see Him. The Revelation particularly discloses the events during the last seven years preceding Christ’s second coming – that God will prevail and vindicate the saints by pouring out His wrath on Satan’s kingdom. Knowing Jesus in His fullness is very exciting.

Hallelujah Trail Adult Bible Study will begin a verse-by-verse study 
of God’s Book of Revelation on the first Sunday in January, 2013,
and You are Welcome!