Branch News

Pastor’s Word

14
Mar

So at what point does the old, old story of Jesus become too old and worn to matter?

I have sung that old Gospel song I Love to Tell the Story for most of my life. It has been a part of the fabric of my understanding for about as long as I have had any (no wisecracks at this point, please). But let’s examine this question. How long should we keep on telling this old story? Is it time for something new? Something better?

In order to really think this question through we will have to look at the story then and the story now. Let’s start with the story then. The Bible clearly defines it for us. God sent His Son into this world – the Creator became a part of His creation. That is an amazing thought in itself. Jesus created this universe with a word of His power (John 1:3) and then He became the living, tangible expression of God’s identity and image and being as the Logos (logos), the eternal Word become flesh (John 1:14). So there is in this old story this element – the eternal. What is the expiration date on eternal? Hmm. There isn’t one?

Then let’s think about the time in which Jesus was born. God’s Word says “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman…” (Galatians 4:4). When the time was right God sent Jesus. The original word here has the idea of time becoming full just as when we are pouring a glass of water until suddenly the glass is full and brimming and threatening to spill over.

That is the moment Jesus stepped into time and into this world. The very moment when He was most needed. The timing was perfect.

The element that made Jesus birth and life and His death on a cross for our sins so essential is the vast need of an entire race of people. The Old Testament records the unwelcome news that every person who crossed its pages was a sinner. David, Moses, Abraham, Rahab, Sarah, and Ruth – all were sinners in need of forgiveness. God also made it clear from the Garden of Eden onward that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.

This is the entire reason for the sacrifices of lambs and goats and bulls – the life of the innocent to cover the sin of the guilty. Over and over again they came to make atonement for their sin with the blood of a substitute. Yet while this temporarily covered their problem it did not settle the issue. It could not. The blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).

So that was then. What about now? What has changed?

The human race hasn’t changed. We are all sinners and we all need someone to save us.

This is the reason that Jesus became a man – so that He could be our substitute. Because He was without sin He could die and pay the price for my sin and for yours. That sacrifice is timeless and it is forever. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many…” (Hebrews 10:28a). He paid the price for all people throughout history as well as all who live today and He did it ONCE. It never has to be repeated and it never can be.

So is the old, old story still relevant today? YES! A thousand times, YES! And for all of eternity we will sing some variation of I Love to Tell the Story! It will never grow old and it will never be out of date because it is the greatest expression of love that has ever been or ever will be.

“So sing with me. I dare you to! Cause there’s an empty cross! There’s an empty tomb!”*

Forever grateful to Jesus,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

P.S. Join us in telling the story of Jesus this Easter! Everyone needs to hear it. Some have never heard…

*from Empty, The Glory of Easter 2016

05
Feb

Saturation Praying!

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Turning the Tide in America

There is an uneasy feeling in our land today. We see it reflected in racial issues and in political debates and in terrorist attacks and in many of the headlines in our news. There is a lot of talk but there is very little action that is meaningful. I think that is a reflection that for the most part people don’t know how to respond. The whole thing is overwhelming. But God is still on His throne…

I want to share with you some thoughts on how we begin to turn the tide of affairs in our nation and in our communities. I believe that it starts with us – the people of God. It begins with all of those who profess the name of Christ. “For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, HCSB)

In the Old Testament we see a pattern of judgment and mercy. God’s people would forget the Lord who had blessed them and helped them and been so faithful to them. They would turn to other gods and then God would begin to send judgment and affliction. Finally, they would begin to cry out to God for relief and He would raise up a deliverer. I believe that we have turned away from God in some key areas and we need to begin to cry out to Him.

The short answer of how to turn the tide is that we need to begin to pray. We need to pray for our church, our pastor, our youth ministry, our ladies ministry, our children’s ministry, etc. We need to begin to pray for the Gospel to become real and the presence of God to be so powerful within our church family that we truly experience revival.

But we need to go beyond our walls. Some of you are already laboring in prayer for our Body. We also need to pray for the people all around us. It is my burden that we need to pray for EVERYONE in our family, our neighborhood, our community. We need to pray without ceasing. We need to pray fervently. We need to pray with love and with the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray in faith.

So look around you. You see that house you drive by every day? Pray for those people. Some may say, “But I don’t know who they are or what their spiritual needs are.” Doesn’t matter. Pray that God will work in their hearts.

“But they already go to another church.” Pray for them anyway.

“But they aren’t very nice to my children.” Pray for them especially!

“But they are different than I am…” They need prayer. You need the practice. What’s the problem?

Make it a point that you pray for every home on your street or neighborhood. We need to saturate this country with prayer. We need to ask God to pour out revival on our church and on ALL the churches!

Can we turn the tide in a country that has sunk so low as ours? It is in God’s hands. But He told us to pray and to ask and to seek and to knock. Let’s start with seven days of concentrated prayer. On Monday, Feb. 1, we will begin.  February 1 – 7 will be our beginning point. After one week we will evaluate and go from there.

Who is with me? You don’t need to sign up somewhere! You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission! Just get down on your knees and begin to cry out to God for your family, your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your enemies… well, you get the picture.

May God visit us with an outpouring of His love and grace. May we never be the same.

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.” (James 5:17–18, HCSB)

 

18
Dec

The Day Star Dawns

The Day Star Dawns

“So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19 (HCSB)

The prophecies pointed to the Messiah coming to Israel. But hundreds of years had gone by with not even a word from the Lord. That makes the moment even more dramatic. In a dark and dismal place a pinpoint of light appeared. An angel spoke to a young Israeli woman.

Her name was Mary and even though she was descended from the royal line of the kings of Israel, she was insignificant in the world’s eyes. God doesn’t look on the outward appearance but on the heart.

When the angel spoke, Mary wondered what sort of greeting this was.

“Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.”

She was deeply troubled by this and the angel immediately reassured her.

“Do not be afraid, Mary…”

God knew Mary. He knew her heart. He knew her faith. He knew her name. He knew everything about her. And so there is just this marvelous mystery as to why it was this girl? Why in this little town?

And the answer comes back to us. Why not here? Why not now? The time is fulfilled and all is right for God to send His Son to be born of a woman. The world is dark and the night is growing but this announcement is the beginning of the end of darkness.

And so it began. In a little backwoods town called Nazareth where a young woman lived in hope and anticipation of the day she would marry her betrothed, Joseph.

It was an unlikely place. It was an unlikely choice. It was an unlikely scenario for the Son of God to make His entrance. And it only got more unlikely from there.

But that is the way that our God loves to work. He chooses the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. He loves to work in unlikely places and with unlikely people. Does that mean that God could even use you and me?

When the angel spoke to Joseph it was to reassure him.

“Joseph, Son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

And so the light has come – deep within the womb of a young virgin girl from backwoods Nazareth. She has a carpenter who is pledged to her in marriage. Joseph was a righteous man. Humble. Strong. Poor. They were perfect.

Their job was to bring the Messiah, the Son of God, safely into the world and to raise Him as their own. In return He would die on a rugged cross for their sins and for ours. Mary was the opposite of Eve. Eve brought sin to all men but Mary brought salvation to all men.

The lamp is shining. The world continues in its darkness but for all those who are willing to turn from their darkness to the Light of Christ can be rescued from their plight. Christ is able to bring His light into our darkness. Our darkness? It is the darkness that causes us to turn to a bottle of pills or a bottle of whiskey or a one night stand or a desperate moment of anger and hatred that results in pain and suffering to those on the receiving end. It is a darkness that suffocates and strangles and consumes all who live in it. Hell is the home of ultimate darkness.

But in heaven we won’t need the sun or the moon or the stars. There, Christ will be the light of that place. There will be no darkness on the inside or on the outside.

That’s what Christmas is about. The real Light of Bethlehem was not the star in the sky. It was a baby in a manger. The darkness… is ending. It has to end because the Day Star has dawned. His light is shining and growing. He will vanquish every kind of darkness from us.

I pray that you have experienced His marvelous light. I pray that you know Him and that your entire soul is filled with His light. Merry CHRISTmas!

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

07
Nov

From the Pastor’s Desk

The Seal of God

A cattleman often uses a branding iron to mark and identify his cows. The brand they carry indicates who owns them. The brand might consist of initials or an abbreviation of the ranch name. Circle T or Lazy S or  Bar K – every brand is registered to its owner.

Traditional branding is done with an iron that is heated in the fire and when it is applied it immediately burns and singes the hair and skin producing a permanent scar that will always indicate ownership. Today some use a freezing process, tattoos, or ear tags.

I’m thankful the Lord doesn’t use a branding iron on His children. One of my favorite Far Side cartoons pictured a cowboy heating up his branding iron in the fire. Close behind him, cows inside a corral watch with very big eyes. Then you look at the branding iron. It is enormous. It says, “This cow belongs to Daryl Jones so hands off.”

Yet the Lord does have an identifying mark that defines His own. His “brand” on us though is on the inside. Some might want it to be an external thing – our haircut, our clothing, our bumper sticker on our car. No. It’s in the inner man. Here is the way that God identifies those who are His.

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30, AV)

God seals His children with the Holy Spirit. This seal  is a permanent work of God in our lives that will last until the day of our redemption. In other words, it will be there until the day God calls us to heaven.

You are sealed. What does that mean? This seal indicates three things: your identity as a believer, God’s unique role as your Lord and the sign of your security in Christ. 1) We are His children. 2) He is our Father and Friend, Savior and Lord, Master and Owner. 3) He is our security – He keeps us saved. We are sealed because we are His.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13–14, AV)

The seal of God is your mark of authenticity. Yet it is inside of you. It is not something you can wear on your sleeve. It is something that will be seen and discovered by the joy and happiness that Christ brings to those who are His own. It will be seen by your faithfulness to Jesus and your willingness to lay down your life for your Lord.

So what brand are you wearing? What is it in your life that identifies you? If you are following the devil, then know that he has put his stamp on you. If you are following the world (and ultimately the devil) then know that the world has pressed and squeezed you into its mold. But this is not to be true of God’s people.

We have been called to something that is greater and higher and better. We have been called to be His.

I am just grateful to be included in His herd.

Your pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

 

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19, AV)

03
Oct

It’s Your Turn

Your Turn…

Having stood in my share of lines, I can well remember what it’s like. You stand there and you’re tired of waiting. You’re watching everyone else go ahead of you and wondering when it will be your turn. Then it comes.

“Okay, buddy, you’re up. Hey what are you waiting for? It’s YOUR turn!”

Suddenly what you’ve been waiting is here and now you feel a little queasy. Your hands feel a little sweaty and you wonder why you were so anxious to get here.

If only you could find out what it’s like from someone who had already gone. But they’re not coming back this way. You take an uncertain step and now you’re at the door. Nervously you reach for the door handle just as it flies open.

There are a lot of times when we have to wait for our turn – at the dentist’s office or at the Revenue Office or at Outlaw Run. When your name (or your number) is called it immediately evokes a response.

“Am I really ready for this?”

After riding Outlaw Run (at Silver Dollar City) I would have to say I probably wasn’t prepared. I don’t really care for rides where you go upside down. Some of you are laughing at me right now. But let’s call your name and let you stand up in front of a large crowd of folks and give them a speech or a talk or a sermon about something. Now who’s laughing?

Okay, so we all have some things that make us nervous. Let’s get to the big one.

Are you ready to die?

If suddenly you were ordered to stand to your feet and answer if you were a Christian and all this time you had a gun being shoved into your face, then what? Could you do it? Are you ready? It’s your turn…

I know we talk about eternal life like its way out there somewhere but in reality if you are saved you have eternal life now. Still, there is some fear associated with death because we haven’t been there before. But wait…

There is one who has been there and who has returned to the land of the living. His name is Jesus and He is the King of Life and the Lord over death and the grave and hell itself. He is the eternal God who came in the flesh and personally devastated and decimated the grave. He tore it up. He finished it. Like the Ultimate Boss.

So there is at least one person we can go to find out what it’s like to die. We have One who has already walked the long dark valley of the shadow of death and has defeated every foe. This is good news! If there is even one who can assure us that there is something beyond the grave and that in fact the words of Scripture are absolute truth then that is the best news I’ve ever had.

So there it is. Life is so clear and certain and long that death seems so far away and yet we also know that it could come at any moment. Our challenge is not to live for that moment and give Christ our life then – it is to live for this moment and give Christ our life now.

You may have been waiting a long time. But… it’s your turn.

Your Pastor,

Bro. Tim Hobbs

 

“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.“ Proverbs 14:27 (KJV)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.“  John 5:24 (KJV)

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:4 (KJV)

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 (KJV)

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”  2 Timothy 1:10 (KJV)

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”  1 John 3:14 (KJV)

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (KJV)