F.M. Sciutto III

By His Free Grace Alone, To Be Treasured Alone, & For His Glory Alone

Posts Tagged ‘sacrifice

More Than Just a Birthday Celebration

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While on break, an older woman with whom I work was talking to me about a Christmas tradition that her and her family do each year. She explained how she has a nativity scene, which was described as a nativity scene you could find in the majority of American homes around this time of year. However, the only piece missing in the scene is Jesus in the manger. He is left out until Christmas Eve, which then one her grandchildren carries Him out and places Him between Mary and Joseph.

So far, none of this sounds strange or out of the ordinary, does it? That is because it is not strange or out of the ordinary. Well, not yet anyway.

After Jesus is placed into the scene, she proceeded to tell me that her and her family then begin to sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. That is what struck me as very odd. A song that is usually song during a child’s birthday celebration is sung at the time the celebration of the birth of Jesus takes place. After that, I just nodded my head and smiled. I had nothing to say to that. I was perplexed just as much as I was shocked.

Now, this is not a rant against the traditions that one may preform during Christmastime. My hope is to have people reflect on what they are celebrating during this time of the year and why. Christmas with no attention to the God who sent His Son into this fallen world to be an atoning sacrifice is shallow and, frankly, meaningless.

Christmas is more than just a birthday celebration for Jesus (considering He probably was not even born around this time of the year). A lot more. Yes, Christmas is a time in which family and friends are brought closer together, and those things are great, but that is not the reason and purpose of Christmas.

We should not forget the reason why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. It is because God the Father, in eternity past, made a plan with God the Son to redeem His fallen creation by taking on flesh because of His immense grace and love toward His creation. The Son then took on flesh by being conceived by God the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Being born of a virgin, a sin-nature was never passed to Jesus, and being conceived by the Holy Spirit, God the Son took on flesh. Jesus had to remain sinless in order to accomplish full atonement for His people’s sin by sacrificing Himself on the cross for His people’ sin; raising from the dead, thereby defeating sin and death; delivering His people from the bondage of sin, death, and hell; and presenting them as righteous before the Father. We must remember how the glory of the incarnation of the Son leads to the glorious cross where our innocent Savior was crucified for our crimes against God’s holiness, and then praise God for it!

We should not forget the purpose of Christmas, which is to look forward to Christ’s second-coming to Earth, His judgment and redemption of this fallen world, and when we, who are His, dwell with Him in the New Heavens and New Earth for an infinitely joyful eternity.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

(2 Peter 3:8-13 ESV)

It can be so easy to get swallowed up in the consumerism of the holiday and forget about the God who sent His Son to save us. We need to be deliberate in how we celebrate during Christmastime.

Praise God for sending His Son to satisfy God’s just wrath against our sin! Praise God for promising to send Christ again to finally bring His sons and daughters to glory and have them dwell with Him forever!

This Christmas, we need to share the wonderful Truth of the Gospel by presenting it with our words and deeds to our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

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Written by sciuttfm

December 24, 2010 at 2:12 AM

“Boasting Only in the Cross”

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A great man in my life has recently moved him and his family across the country to plant a church. He and his family have many difficulties ahead of them with hoping their house sells, working full-time, and planting a church. However, what is most inspiring and encouraging is his Gospel-saturated view on everything. He is fully aware of the goodness of God and His unfailing mercy towards him. With difficult trials ahead of them, his boast is only in Christ crucified!

With seemingly insurmountable difficulties, he sees that God will work good for those who trust in Him and will make much of Christ even in the midst of suffering .

John Piper explains well how every good and bad thing shows God’s ultimate goodness, and without it, we would have nothing but condemnation:

For redeemed sinners, every good thing -indeed every bad thing that God turns for good – was obtained for us by the cross of Christ. Apart from the death of Christ, sinners get nothing but judgment. Apart from the cross of Christ, there is only condemnation. Therefore, everything that you enjoy in Christ – everything you boast in, everything you exult in – is owing to the death of Christ. And all your exultation in other things is to be an exultation in the cross where all your blessings were purchased for you at the cost of Christ’s life.

Christ died for our sins on the cross and took away the wrath of God from us and secured for us, even though we don’t deserve it, God’s omnipotent grace that works everything together for our good (“Boasting Only in the Cross“, 20 May 2000).

My prayer is that they (and myself) continue to magnify the cross of Christ and that “His death becomes your death and His life becomes your life.” Only by faith in what Christ has done for us can we be crucified to the desires of the world and the desires of the world be crucified to us.

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

Written by sciuttfm

November 14, 2010 at 4:17 PM

“Withheld love vs. expressed love – Ray Ortlund”

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Withheld love vs. expressed love – Ray Ortlund.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”  Proverbs 3:27

The alternative translation in the ESV margin is “Do not withhold good from its owners.”  If I have good I can do for somebody, then legally I own it but morally they own it.  The state has no right to force me to be generous.  And no one can walk into my house and start taking my things and say, “The Bible says I own it.”  What the Bible says to them is “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15).  But what the Bible says to me is “You shall not withhold.”

We tell ourselves, “I’m not doing anybody any harm.”  Okay.  But another question is, What good are we withholding?  Withheld love is a life-depleting social environment where beautiful things don’t happen.  But church is a culture of life is where people love each other openly and eagerly, with a sense of responsibility.

If I have the ability, then in God’s sight you have the ownership.

Written by sciuttfm

May 31, 2010 at 10:04 PM

“More from Francis Chan – Justin Taylor”

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More from Francis Chan – Justin Taylor.

Wow! I just finished leading, with my good friend, Kelly, a group from my church in Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love. It was a great opportunity to learn and grow with my relationship with Jesus and those He’s told me to be in community with as followers of Him. God showed me, and I hope everyone else over the past 10 weeks, what a loving, reverent, and obedient relationship with Him looks like and how to love my neighbor, my enemies, those that the world just loves to hate, the broken, the abandoned, the the poor, the lonely, the awkward, and those who persecute me for the Gospel of Jesus Christ as myself.

With that and everything that has been happening at my church over the past month, Chan’s announcement of leaving his church in Simi Valley to continue sharing the Gospel in a different part of the world exemplifies more of how God constantly wants us to sacrifice for Him, how we need to trust in His sovereignty in everything, and that through everything that happens, we need to glorify Him. These announcements seem to always come unexpectedly, which does not give us license to forget that God is in control.

During times when those we love “leave” us to go somewhere because of God’s leading and to further His Kingdom, we need to keep our sight on Him and how His glory is shown in this circumstance, however painful it may be for us. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, said, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28 ESV).  His grace is sufficient for us to get through these times (2 Cor. 12:9).

God gave us His only Son to suffer and die for us. How can we not trust Him with our lives and everything that they contain? We need to trust Him with our relationships, finances, kids, jobs, etc.

As Chan put it on Sunday, “He’s so worth it.”

Our goal is to glorify Him in all we do, and when those whom we love and have had such a tremendous influence on us move somewhere else, we too need to be open to His leading in our own lives and believe that He is worthy for us to sacrifice all we have to follow Him.

Written by sciuttfm

April 20, 2010 at 11:11 PM