The Power of the Cross: 94th Edition, August 25, 2019

Mike Cleveland
 

Greetings friends,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining us. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.

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Teaching:

Have you ever looked at your circumstances and despaired of finding a way through them? Have you ever felt that your circumstances were about to crush you, that you seemingly had no way out and that you just wanted to escape what you were going through? 

This type of fear over oppressing trials, over extremely difficult circumstances, leads many of us to despair and we want to just “throw in the towel” and escape. We might turn to food to comfort ourselves or to alcohol to drown out the world, or to TV to escape from our desperate circumstances. We might turn to sexual impurity for a thrill, to try to escape the dark cloud descending upon us. 

The situation described above is the very thing the Israelites were facing as they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. They left Egypt but ran right into the Red Sea. It blocked their way, and then turning around they noticed Pharaoh’s army chasing them. Red Sea ahead, angry, abusive, vengeful army behind. What do they do? Where can they go? "As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord” (Exodus 14:10).

This is the very situation God brings all His people into: a fearful, terrifying, almost hopeless feeling of having no way out, no good solution, as the oppressive, dark cloud of realization of their dire circumstances descends upon them. We’re trapped! And we’re terrified! 

God does this for a reason! 

Notice what God does:

Exodus 14:19-20 (NIV) Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

When facing extreme difficulty, we have only two options: put our circumstances between God and ourselves, letting these horribly difficult circumstances eclipse our view of God. Or, learn to put God between ourselves and our circumstances.

How about you? Are you seeing your circumstances as bigger than God, that your slavery to sin is beyond His power to free you? Or has God assured you that He is between you and your circumstances, and that the power of the cross and the power of His Spirit are more than enough to free you from sinful captivity?

The Israelites at first looked at their circumstances and put these circumstances between God and themselves: "Were there no graves in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die?" There is the Red Sea in front and the enraged army behind. What could God possibly do?

But God put Himself between them and their circumstances. Likewise, we should always see the Lord between us and every problem, between us and every circumstance that appears to be threatening. 

And did you notice specifically who was between the Israelites and their enemies? Look at it again:

Exodus 14:19-20 (NIV) Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

This "Angel of God" was the Lord Jesus Christ (as Stephen said in Acts 7:38). Jesus always goes between us and our enemies. 

Never was this more obvious and evident than at the cross! There Jesus put Himself between us and the condemnation of the Law. He put Himself between us and the wrath of God. He put Himself between us and hell.  And He also put Himself between us and a life lived in slavery to sin, as He hung on the cross to take sin’s penalty (Romans 6:23) and to break sin’s power (Romans 6:6-7). 

Let THAT be your promise that He will always come between you and every enemy, between you and all threats, that He will be on your side and fight your battles and secure your victory. He promised it in blood and secured it by resurrection power. He is for you not against you. 

Now you don’t have to turn to false saviors to try to escape your circumstances, now you have seen Jesus suffering and dying in your place to rescue you, and rising from the dead to defend you forever. He is between you and your worst enemies, and He promises to stay there!

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Testimonies:

Marilyn writes, "The Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course was completely unknown to me until a "fluke" moment when I happened to see it on an email signature. God wanted me to go through this course because He wanted me to know His Son more and to develop a relationship with Him. I feel like a new person!

For several years, I was battling weight loss. I used to be a competitive strength athlete and power lifter, and I never had issues keeping within my weight class. For years, I was obsessed with my image - it (and the scale) was a measure of my worth. But then due to trauma and other life changes, my body rebelled. I gained 20+ pounds in less than a year, and I couldn't get it off. I tried other expensive programs and nutritionists, but not an ounce would come off. I was angry and frustrated, and that resentment bled into my relationships with others. The only way I knew to suppress the anger was by stuffing my face with food and alcohol. My body and how I saw it became a cause of anxiety and depression. It was a vicious cycle!

Suffering with and savoring Jesus, along with walking by the Spirit, has turned my life around. I have a Father who loves me unconditionally, and His love drives me towards Jesus and not to food. My anger issues (which I used to suppress with food and alcohol) have been extinguished. I am bolder in speaking Truth, and I am able to love not only others, but I'm beginning to appreciate the woman in the mirror a little more.

Setting Captives Free not only helped me get control of my eating and drinking habits, but it opened my heart and eyes to see that I have a Savior who loves me regardless of my size. He encourages me to live as He lived and to love as He loved. I no longer obsess about my calories or macros. Instead, I let Jesus lead me in the way I should go.

I encourage all of my brothers and sisters in Christ to go on this adventure with our Lord. See and hear what He wants to share with you by taking the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course!

Christian (graduate of the Media Addiction course) writes, "Jesus has become more important to me than the fantasy world that was once my refuge and hiding place from the Problems of life. With the Lord I can face reality and overcome the Problems in my life with his help step by step, one day at a time. I want him to become more important to me every day so the things of this world will continue to lose their appeal for me more and more.

Thank you Lord for dying for the multitude of my sins. I do not deserve such enormous love, grace and mercy.

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Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

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