Rejoice! The Curse-Breaker has Come

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“Misery Painting” by Michael Anthony

By Pastor Glem Melo

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, he 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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Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Trenton, NJ

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

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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First Church PCA, Lansing, IL

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By Pastor Glem Melo

I am blessed, honored and pleased to belong to, serve as pastoral intern and have regular opportunities to preach and minister Christ’s word to our First Church PCA family in Lansing, Illinois.

2016-10-23-18-05-26Last October 23, during the evening service at our new home church, I was privileged to preach Jesus and his ministry to the people of Samaria in John 4. You can listen to the sermon here. Following is my outline.

“Casting In” the Outcasts

John 4:1-42

Christ majors (1) in seeking and saving outcasts and (2) in using saved outcasts to to seek and save other outcasts.

  1. The Witness of Christ to the Outcast

a. Christ was rejected and resisted by those who were “in” but received by outcasts. (1-2)

b. Christ left the resistant and focused on evangelizing outcasts. (3)

c. Christ was intentional in his mission to the Samaritans. (4)

d. Christ is the Son of Abraham who came to seek and save His bride, the church. (5-6; see Genesis 29, also 24)

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e. Christ’s heart is for the outcasts. (John 4:7-9; see chapter 3)

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f. Christ broke man-made barriers to evangelize outcasts. (9, 27)

g. Christ offers the Holy Spirit to outcasts. (10-11)

– The greatest gift is God Himself—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

– The Father sent Christ to pay for our sins by His death and sacrifice on the cross.

– The Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to regenerate and convert us.

– Through the saving work of God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—we are saved and reconciled to Him.

– We know Him, and that is eternal life!

– The knowledge of and relationship with Himself that God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—gives us is eternally satisfying.

h. Christ was patient and persevering in evangelizing and teaching. (11-14, also 40-42)

i. Christ pointed out sin and dealt with it. (15-18)

j. Christ is omniscient. (16-18)

k. Christ was patient and persevering in overcoming resistance, correcting errors and  teaching the truth. (19-24, also 40-42)

l. Christ was full of knowledge and wisdom. (21-24)

m. Christ proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah. (25-26)

n. Christ was nourished, strengthened, energized and fulfilled by the work of evangelism and missions. (31-34)

o. Christ was staunchly focused, passionate and dedicated to the work of evangelism and missions. (33-34)

p. Christ taught, trained, mentored and sent out witnesses of Himself and for Himself. (35-38)

firstchurchpca2. The Witness for Christ by the Outcast

a. The Witness (27-29)

i. “Left her jar” (28)

ii. A simple witness. (29, 39, 42)

– She was a woman.

– She was immoral.

– She still needed a lot of doctrinal instruction and discipleship.

– She had faith but it was weak.

b. The Harvest (30, 39-42)

What was the secret of her success?

– The Lord was with her.

– Christ at work (39-42)

APPLICATION

  1. Know.
  2. Work.
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Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Holland, MI

By Pastor Glem Melo

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I am thankful and blessed to have been given the opportunity to preach Christ from Genesis 1:1-3 to the Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) family in Holland, MI.

  • On the cross, Christ became nothing. He suffered the curse of desolation, emptiness, and deep, pervasive darkness to pay for our sins and to give us the Holy Spirit.
  • The Holy Spirit uses God’s Word in His work of lighting, forming, and filling.
  • Jesus is the Word of God, and the whole Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) is about Him.
 Please pray for this precious congregation of the Lord.  May He continue to bless, keep and grow them in the faith, life and service of Christ.  May He continue to use them to lead people to Himself and to nurture both new and old believers in and through His powerful word.
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Trinity PCA, DeMotte, IN

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By Pastor Glem Melo

A cosmic coupleI have been honored and pleased to preach Christ during both the morning and evening services of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in DeMotte, IN, last Sunday.

Morning Service
BY GOD ALONE
Genesis 1:1

Evening Service
BY GOD’S SPIRIT AND WORD
Genesis 1:2-3

  • God’s work (in Christ by His Spirit and word) of creation and new creation are both out of nothing.  Let us give Him all the glory in all things.
  • The total completion of creation guarantees the total accomplishment of God’s covenant promise and plan of salvation and new creation in Christ.  Let us stand on His word of promise with unshakable faith and assurance
  • Believe in the Holy Spirit and His life-giving power, and yield to His full control.
  • Be filled with God’s word.  Be filled with Christ.

May the Lord sustain and grow this dear congregation of Christ. May He bless and prosper their evangelism and disciple-making plans.

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Pray for the Philippines

 

Drug killings

LAMENTATION A weeping Jennelyn Olaires hugs partner Michael Siaron, 30, a pedicab driver and alleged drug pusher, who was shot and killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen near Pasay Rotonda on Edsa. He was one of six killed in drug-related incidents in Pasay and Manila yesterday. RAFFY LERMA, Philippine Daily Inquirer

by Pastor Glem Melo

“Asia’s ‘shoot-to-kill’ republic? The rising body count of the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs.’”

Screenshot 2016-07-22 08.51.08So goes an news article from The Conversation.

ABS-CBN News puts the “number of drug-related fatalities” from May 10 to July 22, 2016 at 544 — 358 in police operations, 14o by unidentified gunmen, and 46 “as salvage” victims.

Human Rights Watch Asia Deputy Director Phelim Kine  calls it “the surge of extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals and drug offenders” in the Philippines.

Screenshot 2016-07-22 08.52.51Edre Olalia, secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said in an interview,

keys“The drug menace must stop … Yet the apparent serial summary executions of alleged street drug users or petty drug lords which appear sudden, too contrived and predictable must also stop.The two are not incompatible.”

I agree.  And and so with the Human Rights Watch that “a credible and independent inquiry into the alarming increase in police killings is urgently needed, and the findings made public.”

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Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1662–1669 (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg)

Most of all, I plead with professing Christians worldwide.  Pray for the Philippines.

“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)

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