Rejoice! The Curse-Breaker has Come

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By Pastor Glem Melo

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“Misery Painting” by Michael Anthony

If you are like me, there are areas in your heart and life that need deeper cleansing, healing, and renewal.  The same is true of my family and yours, and the churches that we are members of.  There is a great deal of fixing and, if you and I would get real and be honest about it all, a lot of “rotten bones coming to life” kind of change that still needs to happen in many areas, specially the heart.

But there is hope.  The gospel of Christmas says that you and I… All of us!  We can rejoice.  Despite of, in spite of.  Because the promised Curse-Breaker for all bound-up and bleeding people, like you and I, has come!

Dr. Luke tells “most excellent Theophilus” (Luke 1:3-4), who was most probably a high-ranking government official, and us that God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (verses 26-27).

Theophilus would have been familiar with the history of the royal lineage of David, and the specified reference to Joseph as one who was “of the house of David” (“of the house and lineage of David” in 2:4) would have reminded him of God’s great covenant promise to Old Testament Israel’s greatest king — that the Lord “will raise up [his] offspring after [him], who shall come from [his] body” and that He “will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… ” (2 Samuel 7:12-13).  Indeed, God assured in Jeremiah 33:17 that “David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.”  His “house and [his] kingdom shall be made sure forever before [the Lord],” and his offspring’s “throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

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Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordier in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

In Psalm 45, we read about the immediate fulfillment of God’s promise to David.  Ultimately, it speaks of Christ, who is “God,” whose “throne… is forever and ever” (verse 6).  But aside from that verse, the Psalm also describes the blessedness, glory, and military might of a king in David’s line in the Old Testament.

In Psalm 89, God’s promise to David is recalled (verses 3-4 and 19-37).  But beginning in verse 38, the writer laments, “But now you have cast off and rejected; you are full of wrath against your anointed.  You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.”  In just judgment of their sin and wickedness, God destroyed Israel’s defenses (40-41), increased her enemies’ power and strength (42), “cast [David’s] throne to the ground” (44), and “covered him with shame” (45).

In 2 Kings 23:31-25:30, we read that, because they “did what was evil in the eyes of the Lord” (23:32, 37; 24:9, 19), God sent the armies of pagan nations to destroy Judah and its kings in David’s throne and lineage (23:34; 24:2, 12; also 17:13-20).  Worst of all was His judgment on Zedekiah.  We read that the Babylonians “slaughtered [his] sons… before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon” (25:7).  In holy retribution, of which they have been adequately and abundantly warned (17:13), the Lord sent David’s royal family into exile, back to Babylon where Abraham came from.  But not as free men!  Fearsomely, the “God of gods and Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17) sent them there as captives of pagan kings.

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Historic photo of Mary’s Well

In the gospel of Luke, we read that the curse and spiritual exile of David’s royal family continued.  Instead of living in “the city of David, which is called Bethlehem” (2:4), “Joseph, of the house of David,” and Mary, whom the angel alludes to as also being in the line of David (1:32), were both from Nazareth in Galilee (1:26; 2:4), of which it was commonly and sarcastically asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  In fact, the word of God itself, in both the Old and the New Testament, calls their region “Galilee of the gentiles,” of “the people dwelling in darkness,” and of “those dwelling in the region and shadow of death” (Matthew 4:15-16; Isaiah 9: 1-2).

Now darkness and death are symbols of God’s judgment (Job 10:21-22; Psalm 107:10-14; Jeremiah 13:16).  Therefore, the residence of Joseph, Mary, and other descendants of David in Galilee, and especially in Nazareth, speaks to us of the fact that the curse of sin and exile on the royal family has not yet been broken.

Secondly, “Joseph, of the house of David,” was not a businessman or a man of even just a considerable socio-economic status in Nazareth.  Instead, he was a carpenter who was looked down upon and deemed insignificant (Matthew 13:55).

Thirdly, their forced, arduous, 70-mile travel for the Roman census despite Mary’s delicate and precarious condition speaks of the Davidic line’s total loss of the favor and influence that we read about in Psalm 45.  The same is true of Joseph’s helplessness in securing a suitable place for the Lord Jesus to be born at (Luke 2:7).

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Photo credit: The Ballestero Blog

Finally, Christ’s birth in a muddy, filthy, and smelly animal shelter is a far cry from “the oil of gladness,” “robes [that] are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia,” and “ivory palaces” that the Davidic king of Old Testament Israel was blessed with (Psalm 45:7-15).

What does this all mean?

An infinitely glorious, deeply comforting, and most soul-enriching truth for all people!  Christ identified and united himself with the fallen line of David in order to fulfill the Father’s promise of redemption, restoration, and glory for them.  He was not just born in poverty and humility.  Indeed, our Lord and Savior was born in exile, under Yahweh’s terrible judgment and wrath.  And even as a fetus, our eternal King and complete Redeemer bore the sins of and God’s curse upon David’s wicked and evil descendants.

But not just for David’s children!  We are all evil and wicked transgressors in exile, under God’s judgment and wrath (Romans 1:18-3:20), enslaved to sin, satan, and the world (Ephesians 2:1-3).  But from the womb to the cross, Christ bore our sins and broke the curse (Isaiah 53; Hebrew 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; Galatians 3:13-14; Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 37).  And through faith in Him, we are set free (Romans 8:1-2) and made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

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Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

This is the heart, core, and depth of what Christmas is all about.  And if you do not know Jesus, this is the time for you to call on Him and ask for forgiveness for your sins, salvation from the curse, and renewal of life by His Spirit and word.  And he will do it.  Christ promises to you that He will do it (Matthew 7:7-11), if you call on Him by faith (Romans 10:13).

Now if you are a believer in Christ, this is a time for a deeper and greater assurance.  At the same time, this is also a season for sincere, honest self-examination.  As stated above… If you are like me, there are areas in your heart and life that need deeper cleansing, healing, and renewal.  The same is true of my family and yours, and the churches that we are members of.  We must ask the Lord for forgiveness and cry out to him for the deliverance and “rotten bones coming to life” kind of change that we all need still.  And He will answer us, because He is the Promised One whom God sent to pay for our sins and save us from the curse.

Hallelujah!  Let us rejoice.  The Curse-Breaker has come.

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Apologetics 101

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2016-11-28-13-01-04-1By Pastor Glem Melo

Classroom #11, 3rd Floor, First Church PCA, Lansing, IL
Sundays, 11:15 am to 12:00 pm

Session #1

What is reality?

This is the question of worldview — “a philosophical view of the world—and not just of our planet, but of all of reality…an all-encompassing perspective on everything that exists and matters to us” (Dr. James N. Anderson, Reformed Theological Seminary).  It is the “lense” by which we view the world.

2016-12-11-12-10-48How do we know what we know?

This is the question of epistemology — “the study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge” (Encyclopaedia Brittanica).

Four worldviews examined in “True U 01.1 Does God Exist: Building the Scientific Case”

1. Atheism — no God

2. Deism — God exists but like a divine watchmaker: absolutely transcendent (above and independent of all things) and not immanent (not directly involved in the world)

3. Theism — God exists; He is both transcendent (above and independent of all things) and immanent (directly involved in the world)

4. Pantheism — God is everything and everyone, and everyone and everything is God

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What is reality for us, Christians?

God! Before the universe became real, He already existed. He is the ultimate, eternal, unchanging reality.

Atheists view the world, scientific data, reality, the origin of life, etc. through their “no God” lens.

We, Christians, view the world, scientific data, reality, the origin of life, etc. through the lens of God’s word, the Bible.

How confident are you about the authority and reliability of the Bible?

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#PrayForThePhilippines #PrayPH

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By Pastor Glem Melo

We must all view the pictures and videos, and read the articles in the New York Times’ interactive webpage, “They are Slaughtering Us Like Animals.”

screenshot-2016-12-08-15-01-03For 35 days, NYT photojournalist Daniel Berehulak documented 57 victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) that have become extremely rampant since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office and launched his “war on drugs.”  Berehulak writes,

I HAVE WORKED IN 60 COUNTRIES, covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and spent much of 2014 living inside West Africa’s Ebola zone, a place gripped by fear and death.  What I experienced in the Philippines felt like a new level of ruthlessness: police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to “slaughter them all.”

screenshot-2016-12-08-15-06-02I witnessed bloody scenes just about everywhere imaginable — on the sidewalk, on train tracks, in front of a girls’ school, outside 7-Eleven stores and a McDonald’s restaurant, across bedroom mattresses and living-room sofas. I watched as a woman in red peeked at one of those grisly sites through fingers held over her eyes, at once trying to protect herself and permit herself one last glance at a man killed in the middle of a busy road.

Today, the number of reported EJKs in the Philippines is at the 5,800 mark.  A friend and mission adviser wrote to me in an e-mail, “This is extremely frightening. It seems very close to a precipice of anarchy on the one hand or totalitarianism on the other.  It is a crucial time to pray.”

screenshot-2016-12-08-14-57-43Lord Jesus, please stop the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.

To President Duterte and those working with him, this is what the word of God says:

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

This is what the LORD Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

Christians, pray.

CREDITS: All photos are by Daniel Berehulak.

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Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA), Pella, IA

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By Pastor Glem Melo

Morning service:

Creator, Re-Creator
Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5
Listen to the sermon here.

  1. 2016-11-20-10-22-13The Aloneness of Our Creator and Re-Creator
  2. The “Everythingness” of Our Creator and Re-Creator
  3. The “Out-of-nothingness” of Both Creation and New Creation

Evening Service:

Creation, New Creation
Genesis 1:2-3; Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23; Matthew 3:1-17; Acts 2
Listen to the sermon here.

  1. 2016-11-20-10-26-21The Omnipotent’s Heart and Focus
  2. The Impotence of What the Omnipotent’s Heart and Focus is On
  3. The Lighting, Forming, and Filling Work of the Omnipotent for the Impotent
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Dutton United Reformed Church, Calcedonia, MI

15000643_10211783194960429_6638448841402824741_oscreenshot-2016-11-27-22-51-18By Pastor Glem Melo

Last November 6, I had the honor and pleasure of preaching Christ to the congregation of Dutton United Reformed Church in Calcedonia, MI.  You can listen to my sermon here.

Dutton URC is “a congregation convinced of the absolute authority of God’s Word. We seek to know His Word for in it is the message about Him who gives eternal life.  God is knowable.  He has revealed Himself in His Word which points to His Son, Jesus Christ.  To know Christ is to know Him who gave His life to ransom believing sinners from the wrath of God against sin.  God tells us in the Bible that all people deserve to die because all have sinned against Him.  But the Bible also tells us that the one who believes in Jesus Christ is no longer under the judgment of death for sin.  He has crossed over from death to life.  And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ (John 17:3).

Praise the Lord!

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Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Trenton, NJ

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By Pastor Glem Melo

14925777_10211697785305241_8825340709991154059_nIn the evening of Mid-America Reformed Seminary’s Seminary Sunday, I was honored, privileged and blessed to serve another feast of the gospel of God with another precious congregation of Christ in New Jersey—Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Hamilton Township.
  • In Genesis 1, our sole Creator is Elohim (plural)—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, infinitely greater and more powerful than all the gods (elohim) of Egypt and all pagan nations combined.
  • In John 1, Christ is God, Elohim, infinite in greatness and power, God of salvation, healing, provision and all things in heaven and on earth.
  • In Christ, who is God, Elohim, infinite in greatness and power, the new creation has begun and is guaranteed to be consummately fulfilled.

After the service, congregation member Patricia Knight Carr posted on her Facebook page, “Pastor from the Philippines at church tonight was very good.”

I am humbled and encouraged to know that, despite of my many weaknesses and failures, the Lord still uses me to build up His people through the preaching and ministry of His word.

May the Lord continue to nurture and grow this church family for His kingdom and glory.

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United Reformed Church in Newton, NJ

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By Pastor Glem Melo

Glem MeloI was requested by my professors at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, to preach in two (2) of the institution’s partner churches in New Jersey as part of its annual Seminary Sunday project.  One of them was at Newton Covenant Reformed Church, the congregation of the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA) in Newton, NJ.  It was such a joy and privilege for me to have been given the opportunity to preach Christ and minister His Gospel to the brothers and sisters there.

Creator, Re-Creator, New Creation

Genesis 1

Where is hope?  The Holy Spirit prods us to look up.  God is the answer.  He is our hope.  He is both the Creator and the New Creator.  And we fix our eyes on Him.

Genesis 1 speaks of how creation was mission impossible, and that it was only possible because of God with whom nothing is impossible.  And this is how he created all things.

1. God created all things out of nothing.

2. God created all things by His Spirit.

3. God created all things by His word.

Please pray for the precious congregation of Christ in Newton, New Jersey.

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