May 13

Pentecost, Campbell Town Hotel, May 15th, 2016

We are gathering in Campbell Town to celebrate Pentecost again this year.

Time: 11am, Sunday May 15th, 2016

Location: Meeting Room, upstairs, Campbell Town Hotel, 117 Midland Highway, Campbell Town.

Campbell Town Hotel

 

Lunch: We will be having lunch in the meeting room.  Please pre-order your meal if possible, or buy it on the day.

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Oct 29

What is Love?

What is love?

Quite naturally, people search for love. In 2012, What is love? was the most searched-for phrase on Rembrandt_Harmensz._van_Rijn_-_The_Return_of_the_Prodigal_Son_-_Detail_Father_SonGoogle. People define love in different ways: an emotion, action, state of mind, or a combination of these. Though some define it as nothing more than our biochemistry at work, most say love is much more than that, yet they struggle to find an adequate definition. Only God can accurately define what love is. Thankfully he has done so through the apostle John, who wrote, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). It’s important to note here that John is not saying “love is God”—we don’t worship love and we don’t define what love is then apply those definitions to God. In writing that God is love, John is indicating that God’s nature and character—his very being—is loving. All God does is loving, and his will is loving. God’s agape love—his holy love—is what true love is all about. In knowing that, false views of love are exposed and ruled out.

There is a strong note of truth in the song, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. People look for love in family, friends and in romantic relationships, but as important as these relationship are, true love (holy, agape love) is found only when a person knows its true source—our triune God. God, who is love, created us for loving relationships, including the male-female relationship that is unique to marriage. Sadly, the deeper nature of God’s agape love often is forgotten when people, searching for romantic relationships, turn love into a search for merely satisfying their erotic desires. But when we ground our thinking on the sure foundation that love is the revelation of God, everything else we think about love, and the way we go about seeking after it, will align with reality and lead to our true fulfilment.

Who is God?

Much in our secular western society reflects the sad reality that, as a people, we have not retained God in our thinking. As a result, many struggle with the question, “Who is God?” As noted above, we know that God is love as a triune communion of holy, agape love—Father, Son and Spirit. Were he not triune, God would need creation or something other than himself in order to be love, because authentic love does not exist in isolation. The stunning truth is that God, who exists eternally in a tri-personal, loving relationship, has called us to share in both his love and life through his Son Jesus, by his Spirit. In that relationship, because we understand that God is love, we trust him to be loving—we trust his plan to bring us into relationship with himself and thus to fulfill his purpose for creating us. We also trust him to be faithful, and we trust the fact that even though we don’t understand everything he does (or allows) we know that his purposes are always good, flowing from who he is and expressing his love for us.

God’s revelation

We see that God is love most clearly, powerfully and directly in the incarnation, life and self-giving of the whole God through the Son of God on the cross. Jesus is God’s love in flesh and blood, in time and space, in Person. To know God that way is far more than “head knowledge”—it’s about a relationship with God, through Jesus, by the Spirit. In and through that relationship we experience God’s love “up close and personal”—much like we do in a truly loving friendship with another human. As C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity,“ God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” Because he loves us, God has given us himself.

Scripture tells us that the revelation of who God is involves the work of the Father, Son and Spirit. The apostle Paul tells us that as God’s adopted children we are heirs with Jesus. He tells us that the Holy Spirit both leads us into this understanding and into a loving relationship with our Father in heaven. As a fruit of that relationship, we are enabled to have loving relationships with other people, loving our enemies as Jesus did, and seeking reconciliation and right relationship whenever we encounter alienation. The apostle Peter tells us God loves us so completely and profoundly that he includes us in his life:

[God’s] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV).

Let us think carefully about these things so that all we think and do (including our evangelism) is grounded fully in the revelation of who God is: love.

Sharing the revelation of God with others,
Joseph Tkach

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Apr 28

Pentecost, Campbell Town – May 24th, 2015

We are gathering in Campbell Town to celebrate Pentecost this year.

Time: 11am, Sunday May 24th, 2015

Location: Meeting Room, upstairs, Campbell Town Hotel, 117 Midland Highway, Campbell Town.

Campbell Town Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special guest speaker: John McLean, Mission Director, Grace Communion International, Australia

Lunch: We will be having lunch in the meeting room supplied by JJ’s Bakery (downstairs).  Please pre-order your meal if possible, or buy it on the day from the counter at JJ’s.

 

 

 

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Jan 29

New Sermons added

Sermons on Colossians, the role of religious observances in our Christian identity, baptism, and the kingdom of God, among others, have been added.  Just go to the Sermons section to read them.  We are planning to add audio and at some stage, video sermons as well.

We hope you find them helpful!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://hobart.gci.org.au/?p=342

Dec 25

Jesus: Double Agent

Christmas, the traditional day for celebrating the birth of Jesus, provides the church its focal point for gratefully acknowledging the Incarnation of the Son of God. In response to this historic event, the angels joyfully praised God (Luke 2:13) as they watched God’s master plan unfold. I believe this is significant to notice. The angels rejoiced because they knew it was God’s desire to be reconciled to his children, and that in Jesus, the children would be reconciled to their Father. The Incarnation is not only for humanity and our reconciliation to God; it is also for the Father whose purpose has always been to be reconciled to his children.

 

Angels Announcing Christ's Bith to the Shepherds by Govert Flinck

 Angels Announcing Christ’s Birth to the Shepherds by Govert Flinck

As fully God, Jesus acts in the role of the reconciler, and as fully human, he acts in the role of the one reconciled. Because he worked for both God and humanity, I fondly refer to Jesus as a “double agent.” But unlike other double agents, Jesus was loyal to both parties. One of my favourite secret agents, James Bond, temporarily saved the UK and the world from terror and ruin as he awaited his next assignment. But Jesus, through his one assignment, redeems and saves the whole world for eternity.

Whether or not the birth of Jesus occurred on December 25 is not important; what is important is that it did occur and is a real event to be celebrated. In Christmas celebrations, Christians honour the reality of the one plan of redemption throughout history—a plan brought about by Jesus Christ, who fulfils the promise to Abraham: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:27-29 ESV). As the one true son of Israel, Jesus is the answer to and fulfilment of all of God’s promises. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory” (2 Corinthians 1:20 ESV).

As you know, God made a covenant with Israel: “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). Unfortunately, Israel as a nation was not faithful to the covenant as the prophets repeatedly warned: “They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, who refused to hear my words. They have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant that I made with their fathers” (Jeremiah 11:10 ESV).

It is only in Jesus’ total obedience as a human son of Israel that the covenant is fulfilled. He is the true Israel of God. He inherits the Abrahamic promises on behalf of of all Israel. And that’s good news for all people because the eternal Son of God, through his Incarnation, became the second Adam—the representative for all humanity. Therefore we rest on his perfect obedience. As our great High Priest Jesus acts in our place and on our behalf. In this way, all who “belong to him” are included in God’s “Yes.” “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’” (Galatians 3:7-8 ESV).

In his book, Incarnation, T. F. Torrance makes the point that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies:

If it is the historical factuality of Jesus that is of controlling importance, then that Jesus must be presented as really embedded in history, embedded therefore in the hard stubborn history of Israel. That is precisely the case with Jesus (p. 16).

Jesus is God in the flesh. He is Israel in his humanity so that in him God and humanity are brought together in flesh and blood, in time and space, in person.

As I said before, Jesus is a true double agent—always for us, always on our side, the only one who has redeemed and saved all. And also like a double agent, not everything is transparent. Jesus’ mortal humanity concealed his divine identity. In commenting on Paul’s thoughts to the Philippians, Karl Barth says the following:

[Jesus] puts himself in a position where only he himself knows himself in the way that the Father knows him. In the unknowability into which he enters, it is now certainly the Father’s part to reveal him. But the step that brings him into that unrecognizable condition, into the incognito, is grounded entirely in himself alone… He exists in such a way that to any direct, immediate way of regarding him—e.g. to the historical and psychological approach—he does not present the picture of his proper, original, divine Being, but solely the picture of a human being (The Epistle to the Philippians, p. 63).

What becomes revealed in Jesus is that the Triune God cannot be known in a true and saving way by mere mortals. So God the Father in the person of Jesus, reveals the divinity of his Son by the Spirit. And that revelation can only come about by grace which, at the same time, reconciles and redeems us. Knowing God in Jesus the incarnate Son transforms us in every way. That is why Jesus said, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). The early church put it this way: “Only God knows God and only God reveals God.”

Here’s a related quote I much enjoy from N. K. Gupta:

Christ by becoming a mortal, accepted slavery to those cosmological forces that lord over humanity. But, like a true “double agent” of popular espionage, he never forsook his true allegiance to God or his status as Son of God… Christ is ingeniously able to nullify their own power through the ultimate act of eschatological reversal: his own death and resurrection that is capable of being shared by others” (Horizons in Biblical Theology, 32.1, pp. 1-16).

At Christmas we rejoice along with the angels in this great reversal. We celebrate Jesus’ perfect obedience, which fulfilled the covenant on our behalf. We celebrate that Jesus is the one true son of Israel, and because we are in him, by faith we share with him in the covenant promises. We celebrate that Jesus never forsook his allegiance to God nor his allegiance to humanity. We celebrate the redemption we have in Christ our Savior. We celebrate the Incarnation.

Merry Christmas!
Joseph Tkach

PS: For a parody of the rock anthem “Bohemian Rhapsody” that powerfully recounts the Nativity story, watch the video at http://youtu.be/pW1pbuyGlQ0.

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Dec 12

Christmas Carol Service – December 21st, 10am

Christmas-CarolsCome and join in our Christmas Carol service on Sunday, December 21st at 10am. We will be singing and reading our way through the joy filled story of Christmas.

Location: Warrane Seniors Centre, 10 Binnalong Road, Mornington.

 

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Aug 27

Feeling Lonely?

Jesus Went With Him

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” This quotation by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe captured my imagination during my inward-looking, emotion-laden teen years. I had friends and a loving family but I often felt no one understood me, not deep down inside. I didn’t even understand myself at that point, but most teenagers don’t, and it doesn’t always change as we become adults.

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The desire to know someone who is close to us in spirit is a universal one. We all want to be known, understood, accepted and loved just as we are, no strings attached. But this world can be a lonely place. Most of us feel alienated at one time or another, either from friends, family or the world in general. Even with lots of loving support, which is vital to our well-being, we have to do many things on our own ‒ job interviews, driving tests, surgery. No one can help or even hold our hands.

I imagine Jairus was feeling quite alone as he faced the pending death of his daughter (Mark 5). The family was no doubt gathered around to share the burden, but ultimately the pain of losing a loved one takes place in each individual mind and heart. Jairus carried that pain with him as he approached Jesus in the midst of the crowd. When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded with him to come and heal his daughter (verse 23). Then something amazing happened – Jesus went with him (verse 24).

Many must have wanted his attention that day, including the sick woman who touched his robe. The crowd was full of people with diseases and problems, some perhaps as severe as Jairus’ daughter’s illness. But Jesus, without any discussion or excuses, simply went with him. That act alone must have given Jairus encouragement and strength to face what he would find at home, especially when messengers came to tell him his daughter had already died. Jesus didn’t desert him at the news, but continued to walk with him to the house.

Jesus has not changed. He still has his Father’s loving heart, which is always turned toward our hearts, thinking and feeling with us, knowing and understanding our suffering. He goes with us into those situations we must face alone and doesn’t turn back when the going gets tough.

During those times when you feel most alone, remember Jesus is with you. He walks with you down the lonely, difficult paths, even the steep, rocky ones with no flowers or trees to brighten the way. He is close to us in the Spirit and he is the one who makes the earth an inhabited garden for us.

Tammy Tkach

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Aug 26

What is Truth? Sermon series

New Sermon Series; What is truth?  

3d white people lying on a question mark

Pontius Pilate wasn’t the first or last to ask this question of the ages.  Truth impacts every aspect of life.  But we so often focus on factual truth and ignore the greater realities of life.  Ironically the truth was standing right in front of Pilate.  The truth ultimately isn’t a “what”.  The truth is a “who”.  In this message we explore Jesus’ statement, “I am the truth”, and the Christian belief that the ultimate truth and reality is God himself.

In this new sermon series, we will also look at the role of the Scriptures.  Are they the manual for life, full of truths that we can mine and utilise to live better, happier lives?  Or are we to read them for a different purpose–for a larger and more important truth?

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May 28

Pentecost Service at Ross, June 1st, 2014

Our three Tasmanian congregations of Grace Communion International will be combining for a Pentecost celebration, worship and lunch in the Supper Room, at the Ross Community Hall on Sunday June 1st starting at 11am.  All are welcome.

We realize we are a week early for “Pentecost”, but this weekend worked out for the hall availability.

Lunch is a “potluck”.

As a consequence, no local services will be held in Hobart or Launceston that day.

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Jan 11

What Are Your Goals in 2014?

The Right Premise 

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An old saying tells us if we don’t know where we’re going, we won’t get there. It’s also true if we don’t look where we’re going, we’ll go where we look. I guess that’s why many of us see January as a good time to either make new goals or renew our commitment to accomplish goals we let slip from previous years. Goals help us know where we want to go and help us stay focused in the right direction.

We all need to set goals and stick to habits and routines that help us live good, productive lives. Otherwise we can let life distract us. This is one of the reasons people get to the end of their lives and wonder why they didn’t accomplish as much as they wanted to when they were young and idealistic.

Goals are only as good as the premise from which we operate. If someone lives from the premise that wealth is the only important objective, the steps taken to reach that goal may land him or her in jail, or stuck in a lonely, frustrating life. The right premise produces good goals and the success that leads to contentment and joy.

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So what is the best premise from which to live? Opinions about this are many and varied, depending on the age, gender, culture or religion of the one you’re asking. Even Christians, who all read the same Bible, offer differing viewpoints. Some operate from the premise that the body is evil so everything they do is geared toward punishing and keeping the body in submission. Others believe in predestination, which colours how they live, either as one of the chosen, one of the damned or one who doesn’t know and can’t do anything about it, so let’s eat, drink and be merry. Some are preoccupied with bringing others to Christ and some live as monks, with any and everything in between.

The Bible does give an answer and it’s found in 1 John 4:8: God is love. This is the starting place for learning who God is. If we don’t start there, reading the Bible can be confusing and lead us down wrong paths about his nature and his intentions toward humanity. Without this basic premise about God, life doesn’t make sense. Difficult circumstances and crushing trials can turn us against him and others. If we don’t believe he loves us, what’s the point? Life can seem futile.

God is love is also the best starting point for daily life. Waking up each morning knowing we are loved and that he is always for us changes our whole outlook on what’s ahead in the day. We see everyone else as loved by God too, which changes how we treat them. With God’s love as the basic premise of life, any goal we set will be for our own good and the good of others.

Make God is love your starting point for the new year – for each new day – and watch what happens to your goals, your relationships and your life. It’s the right and best premise and the only way to live.

Tammy Tkach

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