The Beausejour Pulpit Blog: 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #12 – Our Gift to Jesus

12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #12 – Our Gift to Jesus:

Christmas gift

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him. When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him…Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.” (Matthew 2:1-3,9-12).

So far, we have looked at 11 Christmas gifts from Heaven—Jesus, His presence (Emmanuel, God with us), great joy, wonderful counsel, transformation (changed lives), adoption, peace, hope, love & acceptance, salvation and Heaven. Today, we’re going to consider a different kind of gift—our gift to Jesus, to say thanks for all of the wonderful gifts that He has given to us.

The wise men are aptly named, because in their actions that they show to us in this Christmas story, they portray to us a wise response to God’s wonderful love for us. When they discovered the Christ-child, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they saw Jesus, they fell down and worshipped Him, and they presented gifts to Him. Here is wisdom! What should be our gift to Jesus? Worship. “And so, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?” (Romans 12:1). Our gift of worship to Jesus is our response to what He has done for us—His great gifts and awesome love that He has showered upon us.

When you read through the Christmas story, you find that this is the response of all of those who were impacted by the Christ-child, not just the wise men. After the shepherds encountered the baby Jesus in the manger, “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.” (Luke 2:20).

This Christmas, I want to challenge you to reflect upon all of the wonderful Christmas gifts from Heaven that our Father God has freely given to us. And as you do, may they motivate you to give to Jesus the greatest gift that you possibly can—the gift of your heart of worship. Allow me to close with the words to a familiar Christmas carol. May this be the prayer of your heart both now and as we head into the New Year…

  • O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant, Oh come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
  • Come and behold him, born the King of angels; O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
  • Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation, sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
  • Glory to God in the highest: O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
  • Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be glory given;
  • Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing: O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Pastor Chris Jordan

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12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #11 – Heaven

12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #11 – Heaven:

pretty smiling little girl on balcony, look from window

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).

It doesn’t matter what time we get the kids in bed on Christmas Eve – they are usually awake for long after that time. Why? The excitement and anticipation of Christmas morning, when they would get to open all of their presents. Sure, they sometimes get to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but the rest of them had to wait until morning. Do you remember as a child the excitement and anticipation of waking up Christmas morning to open all of your presents? So far, we have looked at 10 Christmas gifts from Heaven: Jesus, His presence (Emmanuel, God with us), great joy, wonderful counsel, transformation (changed lives), adoption, peace, hope, love & acceptance, and salvation. However, as good and as wonderful as those gifts are, the best is yet to come.

Do you remember the old Bing Crosby song, I’ll be home for Christmas? “I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. Please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents under the tree. Christmas Eve will find me where the love light gleams. I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.” One day, all of God’s children are going to be Home for Christmas.

“Really home. All the way home. Home in Heaven with our Lord Jesus. Home with the Christ of Christmas to celebrate His day with Him. How I anticipate that time! I find myself feeling homesick for a heavenly home I’ve never even seen…Being a believer makes life here on earth about as good as it can be. In His love, God has found a way to bring us salvation, help, hope, counsel, joy—and more blessings than we can count. But the best is yet to come. We will live with Him, walk with Him, speak with Him…forever and ever.” (Ron Mehl, Love Found a Way).

Allow me to close today with a story from Ron Mehl’s excellent book of Stories of Christmas. “Recently I read about an incident in the life of Bud Wood, the founder of what has become one of the finest homes for mentally challenged children and adults. It’s called Shepherd’s Home and is in Union Grove, Wisconsin. In that facility, they care and minister to many children with Down’s syndrome.

The staff at Shepherd’s Home makes a concentrated effort to present the gospel to their residents. As a result, many of those at the home have come to faith in Jesus Christ. They have learned how deeply Jesus loves them and that He wants to make them whole and be with them forever. In fact, He has prepared a place for them in His home in heaven and could return from the sky at any moment to take them there.

On a tour of the home with a friend, Bud happened to remark that one of the greatest daily maintenance problems the staff faces is smudged windows. “Smudged windows?” his friend asked, “Why is that?”

Bud smiled and said, “You can walk through Shepherd’s Home any time of day, and you will see some of those children standing with their hands, noses and faces pressed to the glass.” Looking over at his perplexed friend, Bud added, ‘They’re watching for Jesus. They keep checking to see if Christ is coming back yet—to take them to Heaven.” The simple minds and hearts of these brothers and sisters ought to teach you and me to glance up once in a while…to see if Jesus might be on His way to take us home.”

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, and a blessed and prosperous New Year!

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12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #10 – Salvation

12 Chritmas Gifts from Heaven #10 – Salvation:

Bethlehem

“And she shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).

Perhaps the greatest Christmas gift that our Heavenly Father has given to us is the thing that we needed most—salvation. The most familiar verse in the Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). This is the gift of salvation—everlasting life to all who will call upon the name of the Lord. “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). The reason Christmas is about good tidings of great joy is that, because of Jesus, we can have peace with God through the forgiveness of sins. This Christmas Season, let our festive cry be, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15).

Today, I want to share with you the lyrics to some of my favourite Christmas carols, with the prayer that as you think about the meaning to the words of these songs, it will encourage your hearts with a wonderful revelation of this greatest Christmas gift from Heaven—Jesus, the Saviour of the world, and the free gift of salvation He offers to us all.

* * *

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine! O night, O holy night, O night divine!

  • O come, all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
  • Come and behold him, Born the King of angels;
  • O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
  • O Come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to men, From heaven’s all-gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing Glory to the new-born King!

Pastor Chris Jordan

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12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #9 – Love and Acceptance

12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #9 – Love and Acceptance:

heart

“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:6-8).

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” (1 John 4:9).

All of the Christmas gifts from Heaven that God has given to us are priceless beyond measure, but perhaps this is one of the most wonderful of all. Love and acceptance. God showed us how much He loved us by His gift of His Son, Jesus. His only begotten Son. Wow! “When you read the Gospels, every time you see the Lord reaching out to help, bless, heal, comfort or deliver someone, you’re seeing the very heart of God. God loves people. His heart is deeply concerned for men and women and children…God so loved that He gave. That’s what happened at Christmas. It was a gift of love. Some say the tradition of gift-giving started with the gifts of the wise men. But the truth is, gift-giving began when God gave Jesus, His Son, to save us.” (Ron Mehl, Love Found a Way).

For today’s devotional, I want to share with you some thoughts from Brennan Manning. These quotes are taken from his book, “The Relentless Love of Jesus” and are reflections on Christ. My prayer as you read through them is, “that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

I come to the stable just as I am, not as I should be (since I’m never going to be as I should be), a poor, weak, sinful man with easy rationalizations for my inconsistent behaviour…the little Child looks at me, smiles, and says, “Don’t be afraid. I am with you. I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself. Peace is my gift to you. Live this day in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.

God entered into our world, not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability, and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant Jesus was a humble, naked, helpless God who allowed us to get close to Him.

You could more easily catch a hurricane in a shrimp net than you can understand the wild, relentless, passionate, uncompromising, pursuing love of God made present in the manger.

The parables of Jesus reveal a God who is consistently overgenerous with his forgiveness and grace. He portrays God as the lender magnanimously cancelling a debt, as the shepherd seeking a strayed sheep, as the judge hearing the prayer of the tax collector. In Jesus’ stories, divine forgiveness does not depend upon our repentance, or on our ability to love our enemies, or our doing heroic, virtuous deeds. God’s forgiveness depends only on the love out of which he fashioned the human race.”

The ninth Christmas gift from Heaven that God has given to us is that of unconditional love and acceptance. God loves you! God accepts you! This Christmas Season, pray, have fun, drink eggnog, eat banana bread, exchange presents, go caroling, feed the hungry, comfort the lonely, and do all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #8 – Adoption

12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #8 – Adoption:

father hug son

“And His name will be called…Everlasting Father…” (Isaiah 9:6c).

One of my fondest memories of Christmas as a young child was spending Christmas morning with my family at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Early in the morning, everyone would gather together around the Christmas tree to open presents. To me, two of the indispensable elements of Christmas are family and presents. That’s what the original Christmas story was all about, too: Our Heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts. Today, we are going to behold the eighth Christmas present from Heaven—adoption.

The Bible tells us of Jesus, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12). When we become Christians by putting our faith in Jesus Christ and calling on His name, we are adopted into God’s family. What a wonderful gift this is! “So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family – calling him “Father, dear Father.” (Romans 8:15, NLT). Perhaps this is the greatest Christmas present of all! To be adopted into God’s family—what does this mean? If God is our Father—our Everlasting Father—then what do we have to be afraid of? Our Heavenly Father is a Dad who takes care of His children!

As our Heavenly Father, God is the greatest gift-giver of all. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17). “How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.” (Matthew 7:11). So often when the Bible speaks of God as our Father, it also tells us that He is the one who delights to give good and perfect gifts to His children.

Every Christmas, my wife Liza and I buy good gifts for our children. Why? Because we love them and we want to bless them. What parent wouldn’t want to give good gifts to their children, if they had the power to do so? And that’s one of the greatest blessings of having God as our Father. We have already learned that He is the Wonderful Counselor, so He knows what gifts are best for us, and He is the Mighty God, so He has the power and resources to give us those gifts. What are some of the gifts that God has for His children? “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2-5).

The greatest gift of all is the precious gift of salvation, the forgiveness of sins made available to us. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). If you have never believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, then won’t you make room for Him in your heart this Christmas, and receive the greatest Christmas present of all? This is the eighth Christmas present from Heaven—adoption.

Pastor Chris Jordan

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12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #7 – Hope

12 Christmas Gifts from Heaven #7 – Hope:

hope

“And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope…Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13).

  • “Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie,
  • Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
  • Yet in the dark streets shineth, the everlasting light,
  • The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

In the words of this classic Christmas Carol, we see into the old dark streets of the little town of Bethlehem. With the arrival of the Christ-child, came the one would in whom we would put our hope—the God of hope Himself. This is the eighth Christmas gift from Heaven—hope.

“When we talk about the kind of hope Jesus brings to us because of Christmas, we’re not talking about some lightweight, frail, and flimsy emotional feeling that gets tossed with the discarded wrapping paper. No, the Bible’s brand of hope is very different. This is a hope shot through with confidence. This is hope so muscular it can pull you out of a deep pit. This is hope so powerful it can anchor your life—keeping you secure in the highest waves and strongest storms. This is hope stronger than death—a hope upon which you’d stake your life…and your eternity.” (Ron Mehl, Love Found a Way).

When we speak of the hope of Christmas, we are not speaking of an emotional longing or a wishing for something that we don’t know whether or not we’ll get. It’s not merely a, “I hope I get such-and-such for Christmas.” Rather, it is an absolute confidence in the promises of a faithful God! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” (Hebrews 6:19). Ron Mehl says that, “Hope tells us that no matter what our situation, we can rest in the hands of a sovereign God who loves us very much.” What is the hope we have in God? We have hope that He has a plan for our lives. We have hope that He answers our prayers, and we have hope that He knows exactly what we need!

The Bible tells us that God has promised us many things that we hope for. He has given us the promise of the hope of salvation and eternal life, we look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, and we have Christ IN US, the hope of glory. Hope is a powerful force. We don’t have to worry or wonder what the future holds, because we know the One who holds the future in His hands! Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God. The eighth Christmas gift from Heaven that God has given to us is that of hope. This Christmas Season, put your hope in the Lord, for He is your helper, your hiding place, and your shield.

Pastor Chris Jordan

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