Date   
The Power of the Cross: 103rd Edition, October 27, 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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Announcement: Setting Captives Free has released a new course in a devotional format. It is called “Looking to Jesus: A 30-Day Devotional for Transformation.” The purpose is to apply the message of the cross to the various struggles of life. This course can be used as a follow-up to any of our courses, or as a stand-alone study. It will also be available in print shortly. To access the course online, at no cost, go to https://settingcaptivesfree.com/course/looktoJesus

Teaching:

Freedom to Live Differently


What does it take to change the way we live? To be free from habitual sin? To live rightly?

We get an understanding of the answer to these questions when we examine a parable Jesus told in Matthew chapter 25. The parable is about ten virgins, all of whom were invited to a wedding banquet. In the middle Eastern culture it was common to have a “welcoming party” who met the groom as he came to the wedding banquet, to provide for his needs as he officiated at the ceremony and welcomed all the guests.

All ten virgins were invited to the wedding banquet, all ten went out to meet the bridegroom, all ten brought lamps with which to light the path for the bridegroom to enter the banquet. But only five of the ten brought additional oil in jars, in case the bridegroom was late to the banquet.

When the bridegroom was a long time in coming all ten virgins fell asleep until the announcement came, “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (Matthew 25:6). All ten virgins awoke and trimmed their lamps, but the five foolish virgins did not have enough oil, and had to leave to go and purchase more. While they were gone, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went in with him to the banquet, “and the door was shut” (Matthew 25:10).

When the five foolish virgins returned, they discovered that they were unable to enter the banquet, for the door was shut. When they knocked on the door and asked to come in, the bridegroom said, “I don’t know you”.

What does this parable teach us? Why were five of the virgins foolish? Why did they not prepare properly and come with enough oil so that they could be part of the wedding banquet?

The answer to this question is given to us in the text:

Matthew 25:11-12 (NIV) 11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

It’s clear that the virgins owned the bridegroom as their master, they called him “Lord” twice. But why were the virgins foolish? Why had they not prepared properly for the banquet? Why were they unable to enter? The answer from the text is, the bridegroom did not know them. They had no relationship with him and he would only let into the banquet those he knew.

The teaching is clear: people who are known by the Lord, who have a relationship with the Lord, live differently. It is the relationship with the Lord that makes the difference in knowing how to avoid sin, knowing how to be wise in the way we live, knowing how to spend our time today, and knowing how to prepare properly for the future. Knowing the Lord is what keeps our lamps burning brightly, as the Holy Spirit continually renews us in the Lord.

The implication of the parable is this: if we have a relationship with the Lord, He will direct our paths. Through seeking Him in prayer and His Word He will instruct us on how to live, He will teach us how to avoid sin traps, how to live so as to always be prepared to meet Him.

We also understand from this passage what it means to “keep watch”:

Matthew 25:13 (NIV) “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

To “keep watch” means to keep our relationship with the Lord alive and healthy, so that we can hear Him, follow His instructions and avoid sin traps. To “keep watch” means to have a vibrant and growing relationship with Jesus so that we are learning from His Word and growing in wisdom, avoiding a foolish lifestyle and are always prepared for the future.

Dear friend, maybe from reading this today, you’ve come to understand that you have been like the foolish virgins, you have neglected a relationship with the Lord and you fear hearing the words from Jesus, the Bridegroom, “Truly, I tell you, I don’t know you.” Maybe you understand now that you are stuck in a sin trap due to neglect of God’s Word, having no prayer life, and by living in disobedience to God and His Word. Maybe you see that your lamp is not burning. Maybe now you are sensing the need to know the Lord and for Him to know you. How does this happen?

All people come to know God through the forgiveness of their sins, which happens at the cross:

Hebrews 8:11-12 (NIV) No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

When Jesus died on the cross He took your sins on Himself, thereby removing them from you. He hung on the cross as if He were guilty of your sins and suffered the punishment of your sins, so that you could be free. As He hung there His blood poured out of Him from the wounds all over His body, and this blood makes atonement for your sins (Romans 3:25). As He hung there He felt separation from God, as if He were deserted by His own Father, as if He heard His Father say, “Truly I tell You, I don’t know You." All this for you, that you would know God through the forgiveness and removal of your every sin.

This forgiveness and freedom comes as you look at the cross and are cut in your heart over your sins, and you repent, and by faith receive the message of pardon and freedom. The Holy Spirit, who flows out of the cross of Jesus, now lives in you to actuate you and move you to holiness and a life of obedience. God knows you as one who, by faith, has received His free gift of pardon, complete forgiveness of every sin.  And while He now knows you, He does not know your sin, for He has chosen to remember them no more.

Acts 13:39 (NIV) Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.

Now, having no sin on you, you are free to enjoy a relationship with the Lord. In this relationship God instructs you in His Word, and you have a heart to follow and obey. You listen carefully and follow closely. He teaches you and guides you:

Psalms 32:8 (NIV) I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Friend, there is a way to escape a life of foolishness and sin, a way to live wisely in the Lord. It is by knowing God through the forgiveness of your sin. It is by experiencing the pardon that Jesus died to give you. It is by looking at the cross so long that you are smitten in your heart in humility over Jesus’ love for you, and lifted up out of your sins in resurrection power. In so doing, the Holy Spirit leads you into all truth. Jesus rescued you from sin traps on the cross, the Holy Spirit guides you around them in the future.

Are you looking at the cross today and knowing God through forgiveness of your sins that was purchased at the cross?

*The mentors of Setting Captives Free are on a communication platform called “Flock”, and we always post this newsletter a day in advance on Flock. When one of our mentors, Kelly, read it, she wrote, "On the cross, the Father treated Jesus as the foolish virgins. He shut the door on Him, saying, "depart from me" because of the foolishness of all my sins. Now in Christ the Father says to me, "I know you, but I don't know your sins" Hallelujah!”*

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Testimonies:

Darrell writes:
"During my time in the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, I have learned to seek the Lord's word daily in prayer and conversation with my spiritual partner, my wife of 32 years. I have re-learned the meaning of dying and being born again. I have humbled myself in accepting the responsibilities of sin I have committed throughout my life. I learned to be a student again, which at age 63, was a hard thing to do. Jesus has taken my sin burden from me; I am enjoying freedom.

To anyone suffering from any types of habitual sin in their life, please take this course and study it. It makes sense! You will be a new person after completing the course.


Lisa writes, "Life is a journey & sanctification a continual process throughout our lives. I have experienced this in my life over the past year, and I am so grateful to the Lord for it. I know HE led to me Setting Captives Free. The Purity Boot Camp course has taught me so much about how to APPLY the gospel to my life.

I was raised in a Christian home and have always been taught the truth. I am amazed and horrified at how Satan works to destroy. Looking back, I see myself at a young, innocent age with no knowledge of sexual immorality, and yet Satan and my flesh cooperated to lead me into sin under the guise of curiosity about my body.

Sexual sin has been present in my life from the age of 8, at times, stronger and more prominent than others. Sometimes more of a struggle and other times not so much. It grieves me that I choose to sin, but I am very thankful for this course because it has taught me that the gospel is for ME; there IS power to overcome the world, my flesh, and the devil, and it lies at the heart of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

I AM victorious. I AM forgiven. I want to destroy sin in every area and form and live righteously before God. I want no hypocrisy in my life but to be pure before the Father. I give my life to the Lord and seek Him daily. I commit to meditating on His Word and using the biblical principles taught in the Purity Boot Camp course to view the cross, walk by the spirit, and to fight my flesh.

Glory be to God! I pray He seals me by His Spirit until the day of judgment where I will stand in Christ alone and be accepted by Him into eternal life.

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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.ioand then responding back to the email.

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 102nd Edition, October 20, 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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Announcement: Several volunteers have come forward to transcribe the Setting Captives Free podcasts, and make them available in print. Thanks to their loving ministry, the first transcription is now available, which you can see here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/podcast 

Teaching:

The Pitfall of Partial Crucifixion

Often times when we struggle with life-dominating sins we think that if we can just stop the troublesome behavior everything will be fine. We need to stop watching pornography, stop overeating, stop lying, stop wrong use of media, or stop being depressed, and on and on the list goes of things we struggle with and want to stop.

The world is full of solutions that give “proof” that we can do exactly that. People lose hundreds of pounds on this diet or that one. Filters on computers block access to porn, or meetings and sponsors enable sobriety, etc. “Success” stories like these abound.

But this kind of stopping one behavior is like the Romans of Jesus’ day attempting to put a criminal to death with partial crucifixion. If he committed a crime using his hands then they must be nailed to the cross. Or if he used his feet to go somewhere bad, his feet must be pierced through and nailed to the tree. He’s partially crucified. Not dead, but not free. 

In this condition, the person partially crucified is unable to get to his previous sin struggles, but he is not free because his heart is unchanged and his desires are the same. Given the opportunity, he would do the same things again. This is the pitfall of partial crucifixion.

What must happen to truly be free is we must truly die. Full crucifixion. This is because sin is pervasive. Depravity invades our entire mind, body, emotions, heart, will and desires. If sin and depravity were pictured physically, it would look like this: "Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil” (Isaiah 1:5-6). 

Because of the all pervasive nature of sin, because of its destructiveness and the death it brings, Jesus was crucified until He died. He willingly endured physical torture and extreme mental and spiritual anguish for you. Jesus was struck on the face with a rod (Micah 5:1), His back was striped and furrowed like a farmer’s field (Psalm 129:3), His head was crowned with thorns, His hands and feet were nailed to a tree, His heart was pierced. Even His soul, His inner self, was made an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10). Our sin covered the Lord Jesus from head to toe. "From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness— only wounds and welts and open sores...” He was entirely disfigured: "Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14). 

Never forget, friend, Jesus suffered all this to save you. He endured it all to set you free. Every wound, every blow, every stripe, every nail He received was because He had you in mind and His heart loved you (Revelation 1:5). He went to the cross, to the grave, to hell and back, because of His love for you, to pay the price for your sin, to rescue you from darkness, ransom you from sin’s power, release you from Satan’s kingdom. Never has anyone loved so much, suffered so much, or paid such a costly price, to take you to be with them, like Jesus did.

And when it comes to freedom, nothing apart from full crucifixion will suffice. Our minds were defiled, our hearts polluted, our wills in bondage to our flesh, our emotions tied to our sin. Therefore, our entire self needed to die. And so because God loves us, and because of His grace, God put us to death with Jesus, and in so doing, He set us free. "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). 

Romans 6:6-7 teaches us three things:
  1. Our sinful nature was fully put to death at the cross. "Our old self was crucified."
  2. We are no longer ruled by sin. "Our body ruled by sin was done away with."
  3. We are freed from sin’s mastery over us. "We are no longer slaves to sin."
As you look at the cross, what does it do for your heart and your experience in life? When you see Jesus’ love poured out, along with His blood, does it break your heart? Does it draw you close? Does it begin to change you? If you look at the cross long enough, and often enough, it will lead you to turn your back on the world, renounce your pride and self-sufficiency, count your greatest gain as loss, and embrace the cross with your whole heart: “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my greatest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride."

Friend, our condition is much worse than the world would tell us. It’s not merely that we need to lose weight or stop pornography or cease sexual impurity; we’re far worse than that. Partial crucifixion will never do. God knew that our sins deserved capital punishment, so in His great love for us He put us to death at the cross of Christ (Galatians 2:20). In putting us to death, He freed us from the law, put us under grace, and set us free from slavery to sin. "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). This is freedom by grace, freedom through love, freedom at the cross. And to see it all happen there at the cross can soften the hardest heart, indeed it will replace your stony heart with a soft heart of flesh (Romans 2:25-29).

On the third day Jesus rose from the dead, and we rose with Him. As people risen from the dead we have new hearts, new hopes, new desires. We now are spiritual people, taught to walk by the Spirit and live by faith, rather than living by sight and according to the flesh. Our resurrection with Jesus teaches us to have a new focus, looking to Jesus and setting our hearts and minds on Him. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1).

Now that’s how to be free! Full crucifixion and death! Full resurrection and new life! Oh sure it might make us feel better to listen to the world, that we’re not so bad, that we just need to get a handle on our weight issues or simply stop over-drinking, etc. And yet while it may feel better to think of ourselves this way, if we want to be free we must submit to the cross and die to sin, and rise to new life. All by looking at the cross and believing it’s good news.

Don’t fall for the pitfall of partial crucifixion.

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Testimonies:

Kevin writes,The principles I’ve learned in the weight loss course have helped me very much. I've learned so much over the last 30 days and will continue to learn and grow the rest of my life. I have experienced Jesus more intimately and have lost nearly 10 pounds so far and have more to go, but have gained so much insight in this course.

I share this with course with everyone, as it is a way of sharing the gospel which is what the world needs. This is more than just about weightloss. This is about my need for Jesus. This course can help with anything you are dealing with in life."

Robyn writes: "My husband found the Setting Captives Free site for me. He had been living in a prolonged pattern of pursuing lusts and had found help through the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, and he thought the A United Front course would help me.

The study was like an oasis in the middle of a desolate place. I found such peace as I came to the course and found lessons addressing a different attribute of Christ to reflect on or an area I needed to challenge my own heart.

It was an excellent exercise for me to daily start the morning with a lesson reminding me of what Christ has done FOR me, so I could allow Him to work THROUGH me. When I see how I ve been forgiven, it is impossible to keep that gratitude buried in the hard shell of bitterness and revenge. When Jesus transforms us, we become a new creation to be used for His amazing purpose.

This daily encouragement, coupled with local counsel, helped reinforce the process of reconciliation for our marriage. The course brought much hope and assurance. It was a real blessing to our union to spend a whole month actively working towards a deeper understanding of who we are in Christ because it showed us how He is making all things new.

Steven writes, "I've found the principles taught in the Purity Boot Camp course more than helpful; they have set me free. My life has totally changed since starting this course. I am free from sexual sin and much closer to Jesus. I now understand what Jesus did for me at the cross and am eternally grateful. 


I definitely recommend this course! I started it thinking, "here we go...another chance to try and fail, but I finished the course, thinking, "Thank you, Jesus, for everything.”


Cody writes, "The Purity Boot Camp course at Setting Captives Free taught me the foundational principles that I need for freedom in Christ. I learned how to fight from a place of victory at the cross, to rely on God's power, not my own, and to make war against my flesh every day.

These lessons have reminded me that my identity is not in my sin but Christ; I am dead to sin and alive to God because of all Jesus accomplished at the cross and through His resurrection. My victory is through the cross of Christ. I've also learned that I am weak and helpless on my own.  I need the Holy Spirit every second of every day.  His power is my only power.  When I am weak, He is strong.

I've learned that I will have to fight this battle all my life.  There are no days off.  As soon as I let my guard down, my flesh, the world, and the devil will conspire to feed me lies.  I must remain on guard, abiding in Christ, and stuffing myself full of His Word.

I recommend this course because it is more helpful than any other resource I've found.  I would commit to completing it no matter what you feel going through the course.


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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.ioand then responding back to the email.

----------

Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 101st Edition, October 13, 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:

Transformation is by Free Grace, and Comes by Washing at the Cross

In 2 Kings chapter 5 we have the story of Naaman, a very important man from Aram, who had been used by the Lord to bring great victory to his country. But he had leprosy. His servant girl, from Israel, stated that if he went to Israel to see God’s prophet he could be healed of leprosy, so he loaded up with silver, gold and clothing to take to the prophet, and went to be healed. 

Naaman, not knowing any different, sought to purchase his healing with money and clothing. He did not understand that God will not be a debtor to any person, and that healing comes by free grace. It also comes through humility.

See Naaman was somebody, a wealthy and important man, and he thought his status and money would be sufficient to purchase his healing. But the prophet of God was dismissive of Naaman, didn’t even come out to meet him but instead sent a servant out to tell Naaman to go wash in the Jordan river seven times to be healed.

Naaman was incensed! He was enraged! He expected to be well-received, to be honored and to purchase his healing. And what did he discover? His status and his money would not merit his healing. He had to learn that all healing is by free grace, and includes us humbling ourselves.

See the Jordan river was known to be muddy, and Naaman objects to it and states he could just as easily have washed in the rivers of Damascus, which were known to be better than the Jordan. In stating this, Naaman misses the point. The point is that when we desire to be cleansed and healed, we do not get to dictate the terms, nor the means used in our healing. We must humble ourselves to receive free grace, and we must learn that to be clean there must be a washing.

Just as Naaman didn’t understand the value of washing in the Jordan, so today there are those who don’t understand the value of washing at the cross. That is, of coming to the cross as unclean, seeing Jesus shedding His blood to forgive and remove our sin, and receiving, by faith, our cleansing and healing at the cross. And doing this over and over, even as Naaman had to dip seven times in the Jordan.

Yet, this humbling ourselves at the fountain of the cross is exactly what is needed to cleanse us from sin and to free us from its power. 

"On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.” (Zechariah 13:1-2).

Oh friend, look at the cross of Jesus Christ just now and see it as a cleansing fountain that will wash you from both impurity and idolatry, and humble yourself to wash there. Let the cleansing fountain wash over you, seeing that Jesus has taken your sin and guilt off of you, that He has removed your shame and is dying your death. This is the fountain that is despised by the world but loved by believers, for there we are cleansed and healed of sin-sickness, and freed from sin’s shackles.

When Naaman accepted that he could not buy his healing, when he understood that he could not dictate the terms of his healing, and when he humbled himself to wash in the Jordan, he was transformed:

"So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy” (2 Kings 5:14). 

Friend, the cross is the place of salvation and transformation. It is the place of sanctification and growth. Come to it today, and experience its transforming power, and be cleansed and be free.

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Testimonies:

Brad writes, "I thought this was going to be another one of those self-help courses, but lesson one proved me wrong. The Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course has gotten me into some very good habits. I now seek Jesus daily. I feel a lot more freedom now. I no longer have anything to hide from my wife. I don't get worried when she asks to look through my phone. I have an excellent accountability system in place.

I feel like Peter after Jesus called him out of the boat to walk on water. When Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he cried for help, and Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed Peter out of the water. I feel like Jesus has grabbed me out of my sin and darkness and is helping me back to the boat.

Daily washing at the cross keeps me walking in the Spirit. I have good days and bad days, but I can say that thanks to learning to wash at the cross and walk in the Spirit, I am pornography free for the last 30 days. The cross makes warring against the flesh so much easier once you're continually washing at it.

Jesus has set me free over these last 30 days. It has been an amazing and challenging experience. I still stumble, but I feel Jesus keeping me up. This course has brought me so much closer to Him.

I most definitely recommend this course to ANYBODY that is struggling with sexual sin. This course has walked me through how and why we wash at the cross, walk in the Spirit, and war against the flesh. To anyone that thinks they have messed this up so bad that it can't be fixed, I have wonderful news. Jesus can and will fix your situation with His grace and mercy. As Christians, we serve an amazing God.

If you're struggling, do not give up! Be aggressive with your prayers! Go big! If you pray, according to God's will, He will make it happen! Also, be vigilant. Satan lurks behind every corner. He will throw things at you to trip you up and try to make you fall. Gaining freedom requires discipline. You're going to have to make a lot of changes, but it is going to be worth it.”

Christina writes, "Praise the Lord Jesus! Before taking the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course, I didn't realize to what extent I had been in bondage to and obsessing over food. Sin is so deceitful.

I learned that eating when not hungry is gluttony, and it's ok to wait until belly pangs and hunger sets in to eat.

At the end of this course, I feel closer and more intimate with the Lord Jesus, and I enjoy the taste of food more. I got to goal weight, which I couldn't do when I was tracking my diet and exercise for more than a year before this course. My clothes feel great, and I no longer have a fear of food. The scales do not stress me, which is impressive because, in the past, seeing them brought about a defeated attitude.

I want to retake this course as I can't say I'm always in touch with the stomach pangs but would like to suffer more for Christ and grow even more in savoring Him and walking in the Spirit.

I highly recommend this course to everyone even if you're not overweight. Society pushes food as the answer to comfort and pleasure and finding satisfaction to the point of savoring food. This course teaches us to savor Christ and will completely change your mindset about food to where you have the freedom to enjoy food even more as you put it in its proper place and grow in a deeper intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ."

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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.ioand then responding back to the email.

----------

Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 100th Edition, October 6, 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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Announcement: We are excited to announce that the Purity Bootcamp course is now live in the Hungarian language of Magyar. Thanks so much to our volunteer translator Tamás Varga for all his hard work in completing this course in Hungarian. He has worked tirelessly and consistently to offer this ministry to all who speak and write Magyar. 

Additionally, Purity Bootcamp is now finished in Dutch, and will be made live within 2 weeks, Lord willing. Thanks so much to Petrus Zijlstra and Theo van Son who have translated both the Purity Bootcamp and Purity Follow-Up into Dutch.

Purity Bootcamp is now available in English, Russian, Dutch and Hungarian language of Magyar. It is currently being translated into Spanish, German, Slovak, Chinese, and French. 

Colossians 1:6...In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world--just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God's grace.

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Teaching:


The Penalty of Sin and the Power of Sin


Jesus said, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). When desiring freedom from slavery to sin, there is one vital truth to understand, without which we cannot be free. To be free we must understand that our sin debt has been completely paid and therefore our guilt is entirely removed. In other words, to be free of sin’s power we must know and embrace that we are free of sin’s penalty. To be free from sin’s slavery, we must have our debt paid!


Illustration:


In 2 Kings 4, the widow of a prophet is left with nothing upon the death of her husband. Worse than nothing, he left her a debt to pay with nothing to pay the debt except for one jar of oil. Further, the creditor was coming to take this poor widow’s two sons captive, to be his slaves in exchange for her inability to pay the debt.


In desperation, the widow goes to the prophet, Elisha, and explains the situation, and Elisha tells her to go and get some empty jars, and get many of them. After she did so, he told her to go inside and shut the door, take the one bottle of oil that she had left and begin pouring it into the empty jars. She began filling those empty jars until she ran out of them, every single one being full of oil. God performed a miracle! Then she was told to sell those jars of oil to pay off the debt and keep her children out of slavery. Wow, what love God showed this widow!


We can learn from this that whatever you lack God will provide. When Jesus came He did a similar miracle in multiplying loaves and fishes to feed multitudes of people. God cares for His people and supplies what they need.


But is this story in the Bible to show that God cares about widows and provides for their needs? Certainly, that is part of it. Is it to show that God can perform miracles to provide for His children? Partially, yes. Is it to assure us that God has miraculous ways to provide for our needs for the rest of our lives? Yes, somewhat. We as believers have every confidence that “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19).


But is that all the story is in the Bible for? To tell us to go to God when we have needs?


No, we must view every little story in the Bible in light of the one big story, just as Jesus taught us to do in His own Bible study with the disciples walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27).


When studying the Bible we must always keep in mind the message of freedom through Jesus’ death, reconciliation by the cross, atonement provided by the sacrifice of Jesus, our debt paid off at the cross of Calvary. We do this so that we do not misinterpret the Bible by leaving out that which God says is “of first (primary) importance” (1 Corinthians 15:1-6). Let us not be like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, blind to “the sufferings and glories of the Messiah!"


So in the story of God’s miracle of filling empty oil jars in order to pay off a debt, what are we to see?


First, wasn’t that a very strange way to pay off her debt and ward off slavery for her sons? When she was first told to gather empty jars, unbelief would have doubted any good thing could come out of it. “No, I don’t need empty jars, I need my debt paid off, and I doubt the creditor has much need for empty jars. No Elisha, I need you to ask God for money: shekels, silver, something!” The solution didn’t seem to match the need.


Isn’t that so with the payment of the debt that you and I have? We have been in bondage to sin, enslaved to sin, with all its resulting debt toward God and guilt for us. And we read that we are to come to a cross to see our debt being paid off? A cross is where criminals die, the lowest of the low, those covered in shame and exposed to public ridicule. A criminal paying off my debt? “No God, I need to know what to do to get myself out of this mess, how to live so as to be righteous before you! I need to clean up what I messed up.” The solution doesn’t seem to match the need.


Second, the jars had to be empty, not filled with something. What could the widow possible use empty jars for in the payment of the debt? If Elisha had told her to ask her neighbors for jars of gold pieces, or even jars of food, that would at least go a little way toward paying off the debt. But empty jars? They are not good for much.


Even so, on the cross Jesus emptied Himself to pay off our debt of sin: “...who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7). An empty man on a cross? It doesn’t seem that he is good for much.


Finally, the empty jars were filled with oil and then used to pay off the debt. The filling of the jars was a miracle, done by God as He multiplied the oil in the one jar to fill all the jars. Jesus Christ was “anointed to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). Jesus was anointed with oil, filled with the Holy Spirit as He came to bind up our broken hearts and set captives free.


Application: in order to be free from sin’s slavery, our debt of sin must be paid off. Like this widow, you and I had absolutely nothing with which to pay off our debt, and the creditor was coming for us. Death is the wages of sin, and it is just around the corner for all of us.


But God devised a way to pay off your debt before you were born, a way that is absolutely miraculous. He took your sins off of you, He took your guilt off of you, put them on the empty Messiah and hung Him up on a tree for all to see. There He hung with your sins and guilt on Him, having emptied Himself to fill you, and dying your death to keep you out of debtors’ prison and set you free from slavery. And miracle of miracles, the cross made you to be righteous and holy, spotless and flawless before God (Colossians 1:22). The cross is God’s performing of the greatest miracle, meeting the greatest need, freeing the most number of people from slavery.


And good news: the oil of the Holy Spirit will never run out, as long as there is a guilty and empty sinner to fill. His power to transform us goes on and on, for the rest of our lives. For as many people come to the cross of Jesus we will watch Him remove their sin and fill them with His Spirit and use them in His kingdom. What a miracle!



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Testimonies:

Depression course

Susan writes, "I have found peace & Joy again. I turn to Christ quickly when my thoughts spiral down, I have hope again & all the glory is to God the father God the son and God the spirit!!! I see the cross before me the ultimate sacrifice!!! I share Jesus’s unconditional Love and desire to minister to those in need ❤️❤️❤️!

I have shared with many about the cross gospel and Setting Captives Free. I share the help prayers and encouragement as my faith has gown and how I have found joy again!!! I have found the peace and joy that I had lost I am now focused on turning to Christ right away when the trials begin."

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Connie writes, "I completed the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course. I lost approximately 11 pounds. My clothes are fitting looser. I have found much freedom!"

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Ron writes, "During the past 30 lessons of the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course,  I have seen real change in my life.  Several years ago, I was part of Setting Captives Free (1.0) both as a student and as a mentor, but then I allowed myself to become so busy with life that I stopped seeking God through Bible study and prayer like I once was.  As I drifted farther from God, I slowly but steadily headed back into my old ways of sin.  Eventually, my sexual immorality became big while God seemed small.
I found myself right back where I was before my Setting Captives Free years.  My heart had grown cold toward God, and my sinful sexual passion was burning hot. But God in His mercy showed me that I was in a dangerous place and invited me to return to my Father in Heaven and return from the far country where I had been living.  I had been living like the prodigal son that Jesus spoke of in Luke 15.  I knew I need to go back to where I had first found real help, and that was Setting Captives Free (now 2.0).
During the 30 lessons of Purity Boot Camp course, I was reminded once again of the need for washing at the cross, walking with the Spirit, and warring against the flesh.  I am not yet where I want to be, but I am also not where I was before doing this course.  I am now getting back into my Bible and going to God in prayer.  I am learning to make this the highest priority in my day.  I have also been reminded again of the need to walk with the Spirit by seeking God's grace to apply in my life what I learn from His word - walking in obedience to His Word by the power of the Spirit.
These are, once again, baby steps for me, but I am thankful for some real change in my life in this area!  I now see that warring against the flesh can be a painful and bloody battle against my desires and temptations, but it is part of what it means to take up my cross and follow Jesus.
Even my wife says she sees the changes in me.  I have been more at peace, and this had greatly improved the quality of our marriage.  My wife has more than once asked, "Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?"  Wow, that has been so amazing and encouraging to me. Our love and intimacy for each other are growing and growing.
I am once again seeking to make being part of my local church a high weekly priority.  I need to be part of my local body, serving in it, and fellowshipping with it.  Prayer, Bible study, and real fellowship with other believers are once again exciting to me.  I have even started to help co-lead a weekly Bible study group.  My whole mindset is shifting from being focused on the things and pleasures of this earth to be more focused on those things which are above where Christ is.  Praise His name!
If you want to find freedom from impurity and to enjoy intimacy with Christ, I recommend that you take this course."

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 99th Edition, September 29, 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:

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12

When I was in bondage to sin I walked in darkness. In fact, I was in the dominion, or kingdom of darkness and under the power of darkness. Spiritual darkness is a reality in the lives of many people. In darkness, we feel trapped and captive to the power of temptation, we feel powerless to overcome the cravings of our flesh, and darkness descends on us like a cloud threatening to choke out all hope.

The world is full today of people looking for a little light on their path. Some kind of insight that will give them a new way of thinking, a different way of viewing their circumstances, something that will inspire hope and show them a way out. They may turn to the world for insights on behavior or to a psychiatrist for drugs, anything to give them some light on their problems and rescue them from prison of hopelessness.

And all the while Jesus proclaims that He is the Light of the world, and promises all who follow Him will have so much light that they will never walk in darkness.

This is the same Jesus, the Light of the world, who, on the cross, entered the darkness for 3 hours. He was entering our world, assuming our sins, being swallowed up in the human condition of darkness. As He hung on the cross He literally became sin for us, and that darkness choked out His very life, just as it does ours.

But in Jesus’ entering the darkness that day 2,000 years ago, He rescued us out of it. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13).

Now what is our identity as believers, and what are we to do about it?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14-16.

God has made us the light of the world, because Jesus is living in us. We have been rescued from darkness to declare God’s praise and to rejoice in the mercy He purchased for us at the cross: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

You’ve been rescued at the cross. You’ve been brought from darkness to light at the cross, all by God’s mercy. Your mission now is the same that God gave to Paul: "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18).

Yes, we’ve been rescued to rescue others. How do we do that? We point them to the cross, invite them to come and look up at the spectacle before them, see the God-Man crucified, suffering for their healing, bleeding to atone for their wrongs, dying that they might live. Show them that Jesus was transformed into their sin that they might be transformed into the image of God. We call them to believe this message of a suffering Savior, the bleeding Lamb who took away the sin of the world, and in believing they find life in His Name (John 20:31).

Jesus is the Light that all people need. He is the Light of the world. He is the Wonderful Counselor, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If you need some light on your path, to be rescued from darkness, made to be light yourself, come to Jesus and receive it.

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Testimonies:

Rita writes, "The biblical principles taught in the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course are very helpful.  Remembering what Christ has done for me is most beneficial.  It helps me get to the next stomach growl.

Since I started this Bible study, I have lost 10 lbs just by waiting to eat until I am hungry.  I am so grateful for how these lessons showed me how God loves me and how Christ paid for my sin and teaching me how to respond to what He did on the cross for me.  I do not want to sin by making food or some diet an idol.
I love this life change; however, I am still struggling with the weekends, when everyone sits down at the table to have what looks like a wonderful meal, and I am not hungry.  In those moments, I have to remind myself why I am not eating.   I am hoping it will become much easier in the future.

I was at the market the other day and walked down an aisle where there was nothing but diet food, and I was so excited to pass this aisle all together.  It is so freeing.  I have so many friends that are dieting as it seems like a lifelong goal to lose ten more pounds, and when I mention Setting Captives Free, they look at me as if I am crazy.  My prayer is that God will enable me to continue walking in obedience to Him so that over time, my friends will see what the LORD can do regarding losing excess weight.

So, with a big Thank You, I look forward to continuing to study God's Word and apply it to my life.”


Anthony writes, "The principles in the Purity Boot Camp course are essential to fighting against the temptations of all sin, not just in the sexual arena.  Most of all, these are effective principles because they are rooted in the truth of the Scriptures.  By washing the cross, I was able to reconnect with my condition before God. Walking in the Spirit helped me to reestablish my walk with God.  My prayer life has taken a new shape. Lastly, it has been essential to me to establish some new patterns of behavior and thinking to create an effective battle plan of dealing with temptation when it comes.

When I started this course, the overwhelming feeling I got was that my relationship with God needed an overhaul, and this began to take place a few days into the study.  I was not changed right away.  God did, however, slowly began to shift my focus from me to Him.

At first, I did not make an effort to maintain daily contact with my mentor or complete the lessons.  However, when I began to be more consistent, I noticed little by little a transformation happening in my life.  I saw how coming to and staying at the foot of the cross is so necessary to remain close to God.  I needed daily reminders of my helpless condition in my sin. Pornography, self-gratification, and immoral fantasies had wreaked havoc on my walk with God.  These sinful activities prevented any intimacy with God and kept me from seeing God's amazing work in my life and the lives of others.

Then I began to wash at the cross, and  I began to see Jesus instead of myself.  I was reminded of the great sacrifice that Jesus made, and my heart began to soften toward the message of the cross.  I began to see the need to stay at the foot of the cross, to not think of myself more highly than I ought to, but consider Jesus and the great love He has for me so that I could turn from the sin that hindered me.

I spent so much time over the years in sin, 35 of them as a disciple of Jesus.  I had to realize that while I did not have the answers myself as to how to get free from sexual sin, God did.  God designed the nature of His relationship to us for reconciliation to Him through the cross.  He knew I would need it and offered help freely to come back to Him.

Over the past few weeks, I have been much more in tune with the Spirit's will for my life.  I have been reading and meditating more on the Scriptures than I have in the past.   My faith still needs a lot of work.  I still need to meditate more and more on the Word of God and live by the truth that it reveals to me.
For the past six months, I have not seen any porn.  I have not attempted to view it and have been open when the temptations to do so came.  This represents a significant shift in my behavior patterns.  I used to view pornography on my phone habitually during the day; I was so out of control that I would even watch it while driving.  It took me to some of the darkest places, but now, it is no longer a burning temptation in my heart and mind.

Of any of the changes that have occurred over the past couple of months, though, the most essential change is that my relationship with God has been renewed.  This has had the most impact on my life.  I wake up in the morning desiring time with God.  For a long time, my priority in the morning was to go to the gym at 4:45, then go straight to work.  I would lie to myself, telling myself that I would spend time later in the Scriptures and praying.  Of course, this would never happen.  I may be a little less fit physically than when I first started taking my spiritual life more seriously, but I am in a much better place spiritually.
I appreciated more than anything how deep-rooted the lessons were in scriptural truths.  The power of the Word of God to change the heart supersedes any program man can devise.”


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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.ioand then responding back to the email.

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

The Power of the Cross: 98th Edition, September 22, 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:

To find freedom from the chains of sin, from the demands of our flesh, from the powerful dominion of Satan, we must get to the cross and stay there. Here is a wonderful article written by Pastor David Mathis on this subject: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/get-to-the-cross-and-never-leave

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Testimonies:

Wende writes, "I took the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course to maintain my weight loss, which I did. But the most significant thing I experienced was growth in my relationship with Christ.

I can see that I am less defensive, consciously denying my flesh more, and experiencing much more peace in my life. Especially peace with food. One morning I was astounded to notice at 10 am that I hadn't eaten and had not even thought about food at all.

I recommend this course so much that I got the Leader's guide and started leading a small group.”

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Have you considered starting a Setting Captives Free weight loss course for your friends, neighbors or brothers and sisters at church? We have books and leader guides ready for you, which you can see here. 

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Michael writes, "The biggest change that has happened since starting the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course is that I am now able to war against my flesh. I can now say "No" to my body when it wants to sin, and I can resist and prevent sinful thought strongholds from lodging in my mind because I am now walking by the Spirit.

I've joined the purity ministry at my church and have been more open about purity than ever before.

There is an old hymn that says, "There's a fountain free,' tis for you and me: Let us haste, O haste to its brink;' Tis the fount of love from the source above, And He bids us all freely drink...There's a rock that's cleft, and no soul is left, That may not its pure waters share;' Tis for you and me, and its stream I see: Let us hasten joyfully there."

Brothers and sisters, there's a fountain free, free for us to come to, drink, and find life and satisfaction for our souls. Jesus is the water that flows out of this fountain, and He offers us all a chance to be free and to truly live. There is a way out! There can be an end! Come to Christ, let Him transform your heart and mind, and set you free from impurity.”

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Laura writes, "A lot of changes have taken place in my heart while taking the A United Front course. Almost nothing has changed in my situation, but I'm in a much better state of mind. I feel like my focus has been taken off of my circumstances, and put onto Jesus. My expectations of my husband have drastically decreased as I've looked to Jesus to meet my needs.  Being reminded regularly of who Jesus is, and what He did for me has transformed my mind and thinking. Fear doesn't have a hold on me because I know that in Jesus, I have nothing to fear. He's always faithful and true."

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Giles writes, "I am almost 60 and TV has been a part of my life since I was a little boy. It became my comforter and escape. When I came to Christ, I initially separated from it mainly because it was not accessible where I was living. But it slowly crept back into my life, and I used it as a substitute for relationships and avoiding God.

Television is the one idol or "high place" that has remained in my life all these years. I see a way out now, and by His grace, I'm taking it. Setting Captives Free's Media Addiction course has been the tool God is using. Thank You!”

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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io and then responding back to the email.

----------

Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 97th Edition, September 15, 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.

----------

Teaching:

Bitterness! It is an insidious freedom-stealer!

Bitterness keeps us in bondage to sin because when we are bitter our hearts are poisoned, even as water that is bitter is poisoned water. It affects our thinking, makes us negative people, and defiles many others around us.

“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” Hebrews 12:15

We have all tasted the bitter waters of life in some way. Violations, injustice, false accusations, abuse, and a myriad of other offenses wound us and produce pain in our lives. No one escapes betrayal.

Some respond to the betrayals of life by hiding their pain, pretending they are immune to it. They bury their pain deep down, not realizing that eventually, it will erupt out of them in a bitter, destructive, and defiling way. Others broadcast their betrayal; they talk about it to anyone who will listen. These are at high risk for bitterness because they are always thinking about and reliving their injury. A few will immediately respond in bitterness by seeking revenge, desiring to inflict as much pain as they have felt on their offender, and more if possible.

Bitterness is what happens when we remember the offenses against us but forget the gospel that is for us. As believers in Jesus, God has given us a way to process our pain and anger without sinning. We have a heavenly hospital to which we can come, have our pain addressed, and receive healing. This place is the cross of Christ.

It is true. The place of Christ’s ultimate betrayal is where we find our complete healing. When we experience the pain of betrayal, we can find relief through the cross of Christ. We look to Jesus and His cross and see that God is a God of justice. He does not ignore sin. He crucified it. He sent His Son to endure the agony of affliction, the full weight of every sin and offense, so that not only would we be justified before Him but also that we would be assured of justice for ourselves. Jesus’ death pays not only for your sinful offenses but also the offenses of others against you. He died on the cross and rose to bring healing, reconciliation, and restoration to our lives.

Illustration:

As the Israelites traveled through the desert on their way to the Promised Land, they went through many barren places. At one point in their journey, after three days without finding any water, they came to an area with water only to discover that the water was bitter. “When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter” (Exodus 15:23).

By this time, the people were very thirsty and distressed, and when they found the bitter water, they reacted badly. They grumbled to Moses, who then cried out to the Lord for help. God answered with an unusual solution:

“Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink” (Exodus 15:25).

Isn’t that a unique solution? Boiling and filtering the water sounds more logical than chucking a piece of wood into it, but God’s ways are not like ours. His peculiar solution was intentional and for our benefit.

Every story in the Bible, in some way, points forward to the main story of the Bible - that Jesus would suffer, die, and rise again to save His people from their sins, and to transform us into His image. We, humans, are in a desperate situation because of our sin, but God loved us, so He gave us Jesus who died on the cross to save us, rescue us, heal us and deliver us, and in this case, transform our bitterness into sweetness.

Just as God came to the aid of the Israelites, transforming their bitter water into sweet with a piece of wood, so God came to our rescue by sending His beloved Son to die on a piece of wood. But unlike the Israelites who experienced the transformation of bitter waters only once through the wood, Jesus’ cross would be the means of life transformation for people from every tribe and nation eternally. The cross is the Solution for the bitterness of your life.

Application:

Are you struggling with feelings of sorrow for a deep betrayal? Are you disillusioned or disheartened by the circumstances of life? Have you been maligned or mistreated? Come to the cross and behold your Lord, experiencing your betrayal, enduring the agony of defeat for you. Now see Him reaching out to you in eternal love, offering to make an exchange with you. Your sorrow, for His joy. The death of your dream, for the resurrection power of the living Christ.

Are you living in bitterness? Trapped by the pain of old and new offenses, and weary of the burden they are to you? Come to the cross of Christ and receive Jesus’ sacrificial love and healing into the bitter waters of your heart. Look to Jesus and see that He bore your sorrow and the offense against you on the cross. The debt has been paid.

You can release your offender, even if they are not sorry for what they have done or you think they don’t deserve forgiveness, because you aren’t extending forgiveness based on the worthiness of your offender, but based upon the worthiness of your Savior. Further, justice has been served at the cross, or God will bring it at the proper time. You can, like Jesus, entrust yourself to the One that judges justly (1 Peter 2:23) and experience the sweetness of freedom that flows from Christ’s death and resurrection.

Are you grumbling to God about the bitter waters of your life? Angry about your sin struggles, bitter that you didn’t get what you wanted or thought you needed? Come to the cross of Christ and receive God’s Solution. Jesus alone can satisfy your thirst. He alone can set you free from sin traps and the defiling bitterness that they bring. Look to Jesus and receive the peace that His wounds speak to you. You have not been denied what you need; you have been blessed beyond measure in Christ. He has clothed you in His robes of righteousness. Look today to the cross of wood on which Jesus died to experience the transformation of your bitter, sin bound heart into a sweet, Spirit-filled one that is overflowing with His love.

How does remembering Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross transform your bitter thoughts into sweet ones?

Testimonies:

Deidre writes,When I came to the Setting Captives Free A United Front course, I was bitter, angry, and had zero desire to forgive or pray for my husband. I wanted my husband to suffer.

Through this course, I have come to know Jesus more deeply as my compassionate Savior. Even though Jesus was falsely accused and mistreated, His heart remained focused on doing the will of the Father.

Focusing on Christ, His death on the cross and His victorious resurrection has brought so much love and comfort to my heart.

And this experience of deeper intimacy with Jesus at the cross is spilling out towards my husband. I am now honestly and humbly able to love, forgive, and pray for my husband.

Now, when I am tempted to be bitter, instead, I take my thoughts captive and give them to Jesus. Jesus is helping me to pursue what He wants to me pursue for HIM and the unity of our marriage that is to reflect the ultimate covenant between Christ and His church.

I am thankful for Setting Captives Free, and the A United Front course. I pray that God will bless it.”


Adam writes: "Before taking the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, I was consumed with sexual sin for about 35 years, even throughout 17 years as a born again Christian and 18 years of marriage.

The sin has caused much damage in my life - mentally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. It has attacked my marriage and threatened my children; it has threatened relationships with relatives and friends. It has impacted my schooling, social life, and work and even my finances. It has kept me on the first rung of the ladder when it comes to Christian maturity and growth. It has hardened my heart to the conviction of the Spirit; made me callous to the grievousness of sin; and robbed me of the ability to love. It blinded me to the Word of God and revealed my pride, hypocrisy, and depravity. This devastation is what sexual sin has done to me most of my life. I was in bondage, thinking there was no way out.

I tried everything I could think of to break free: will-power, psychological counseling, books, videos, internet blockers, filters, and accountability software. I even physically destroyed laptops and computers and cut off internet services. I also prayed and promised God that I would stop. I even went to a place to be 'exorcised' from the 'demon of porn. I confessed to everyone, privately and publicly in church. I even prayed that the LORD would kill me if I continued in the sin. I thank the LORD that He spared my life, but everything I did was futile.

I thank the LORD He did not leave me nor forsake me, but rather He led me to Setting Captives Free. At Setting Captives Free 1.0, I did not complete the course because when I fell into sin, I was so ashamed and tired of falling again, that I just stopped - regardless of some mentors that tried to encourage me. Then Setting Captives Free went offline for a time. I was sad, but last year the LORD prompted me to look again for the free Setting Captives Free materials, and I found Setting Captives Free 2.0. I immediately enrolled in the purity courses.

For the first time, I saw what the gospel is. For the first time, I saw Jesus and Him crucified, and that he did this to save me. For the first time, I understood what it means to be crucified with Christ, and that He died so I can live through the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith. For the first time, I understood what it means to be in Him; buried with Him, and also resurrected with Him, translated from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of LIGHT, who is Jesus. For the first time, I understand what it means that Christ did it all on the cross, and I could not and did not do anything to save myself, except cry out, Lord Jesus, save me!

Jesus saved me, and He is saving me! Now, I am being consumed by the cross; being sensitive to the Spirit, and looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith and the Captain of my Soul, who put Satan to shame publicly by defeating death and sin, and who is now encouraging and strengthening me to make war against sin. My motivation is no longer freedom and happiness, but to do the will of Jesus because I love Him who loved me first. Thank you, Setting Captives Free and mentors, for being useful in the hands of our LORD, and pointing me to the cross.”

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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io and then responding back to the email.

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

The Power Of The Cross: 96th Edition, September 8, 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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SCF Men’s Group

We are starting a Setting Captives Free men’s group on the app Marco Polo. The idea is we can message the group when in need of encouragement, when tempted, or when we want to encourage others, etc.

The only request for joining the group is that we help keep each other focused on the gospel; that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and how it applies in our lives as we desire to walk in freedom from habitual sin.

So if you would like to join, simply download the Marco Polo app on your phone (https://www.marcopolo.me/) then contact Mike Cleveland THROUGH THE APP to be added the group. Contact information is mike@... and phone 360-362-0268.

Please allow 24 hours to be added to the group.

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Teaching:

How to Experience Rest and Freedom!

All people experience unrest. They have no internal rest, no peace and quiet, and so they look for it in external things: emptying one’s mind, meditation, breathing exercises, calming music, etc.

And all people experience slavery. They can't control certain behaviors, they find themselves driven to do certain things, as if they had a slave master requiring them to do these things. Whether it's drugs and alcohol, lust and sexual impurity, food and laziness, or binge watching TV. Slavery is the natural condition of all mankind by birth (Job 51:5, John 8:34).

In the book of Job, Job has experienced many hardships all at once: loss of family, destruction of homes, flocks and herds, and total decimation of his livelihood. This is Satan's activity in his life.

And he longs for rest and freedom, wishing he had never been born so that he might be free of his circumstances. But notice what Job says about how to be free, as he cries out to God:

Job 3:16-19 (NIV) Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day? 17 There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. 18 Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout. 19 The small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners.

Did you notice that in death "the wicked cease from turmoil, the weary are at rest”, "captives no longer hear their slave driver's shout” and “slaves are freed from their owners”? 

Yes, death brings rest and freedom, the ceasing of turmoil and the silencing of the slave driver's shout. Through death, captives are set free! As Paul says in Romans 6:7, “...anyone who has died has been set free from sin."

Many people commit suicide because they long for rest and freedom. Oh, if only there was a way to experience these benefits of death while still living! Don't you find your heart crying out for rest and freedom? Job did! And so do we!

And here is where the good news of the gospel becomes great news for us today. The gospel tells us that not only did Jesus die for our sins, but we also died in Him. That not only was Jesus risen from the dead, but that we were risen in Him. And if we died, we are freed from sin, and if we have risen, we have a new life (Acts 5:20). 

Read these two passages slowly and see what they say to you about freedom:

Galatians 2:20 (NIV) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Romans 6:1-4 (NIV) What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.


Oh friend, rejoice today that when Jesus died, you died. The cross of Christ was your cross. His burial was your burial. His death your death. His resurrection your new life. Relish this truth that your old self that loved to sin, that obsessed over wrong things, that tried to make good things the ultimate thing, has died with Christ and was buried with Christ. And in death, captives are set free!

This means that right now, in your life as you live it today, you can experience rest and peace and freedom from slavery. After all, in death captives are set free. It is wonderfully good news to know that dead people cannot hear the slave driver's shout. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

We are not to commit suicide to experience these marvelous results, we are to believe the good news that we have already died and have risen with Christ! This faith in, and personal experience of the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection makes Jesus precious to us who believe (1 Peter 2:7). Oh how freeing and peaceful it is. We are at rest in Him and we are free in Him (John 8:36). 

Truly, what Job said later applies to us, too: "The blessing of a perishing man came upon me” (Job 29:13). Thank you Jesus that in your perishing on the cross you blessed us with sweet rest, and real freedom! Thank you for letting us experience this freedom not through our hard work, but through Your finished work! 

As you think about your previous slavery to sin, hear the words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished!” When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30). And so did you!

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Testimonies:

Ann writes, "Since taking the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, I have realized in a fresh new way the extent of what Christ did for me on the cross. I have realized that Jesus has not only forgiven me but removed the stains of my past. From the Old Testament, all through to the New, the completeness of that forgiveness is seen and relevant for us today. "Whom the Son sets free is free indeed" has taken on a whole new meaning. 
 
This study is helping me look more closely at God's word and see how He has revealed from the beginning His wonderful plan of redemption and grace. Salvation happens the moment we trust Jesus to save us when we admit our sins and stop blaming anyone else. But how glorious is what He continues to do for us every day by His Spirit. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing and being in His Word; we learn more every day about how great that is and how awesome He is! There is none like Jesus!!!

I have recommended this course to almost everyone I talk to because this course isn't just for those enslaved to pornography. These truths apply to everyone who needs a Savior, every believer that struggles with their past failures and freedom from their own flesh patterns now. I am grateful that God showed me what I needed to learn about His Amazing Grace.”

Michael writes, "I found the principles taught in the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course to be very profitable. I now make time every day to spend time with God and His word. I know I am hopeless, but with Jesus, I find hope and a Way out of temptations.  


I have not viewed pornography or even wanted to since I started this course.  I find my former sin distasteful and disgusting. I see how in the dark I was and do not want to go there again. I have experienced a change like never before. I never thought that an online course could have such an impact on my life, but it has. I highly recommend this course.”


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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io and then responding back to the email.


----------


Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 95th Edition, September 1, 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:

Perfection Precedes Performance

One of the problems in life that can keep us in bondage to sin is the feeling of not measuring up. Of falling short. Of not performing well.

Our twin daughters both had interviews at medical facilities this week, and one expressed concern that she wouldn’t get the job. It made her nervous. But her mom and I both knew she would be hired as there is a real need for nursing assistants there, and she is a bright and energetic young lady. We knew she was hired even before the interview, and that she would be offered the job. Which she was.

Think about something: as a Christian, you are hired before the interview, you won the race before it started, and you got an A+ before you took the test and you won the battle before you picked up a weapon to fight. You are declared perfect before you perform!

Hebrews 10:14 (NIV) For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

Yes, through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ your sins were removed and you are declared to be perfect. Why? Because you are “in Christ” who lived perfectly, never failed once, and is holy, spotless and pure. His performance counts for your performance, His righteousness is credited to your account (2 Corinthians 5:21) and His life is substituted for your life. His sacrifice has removed your sin and made you “perfect forever.”

Think of how this affects the way we live our lives. Think of how my daughter would have felt if the interviewer called her before the interview and said, “Congratulations, you’re hired! Come see me tomorrow for the interview so that we can find out what hours you can work and what shifts you want.” Wouldn’t that have removed all pressure of performance? All interview anxiety? Don’t you think she would have bounced into that interview without a care, happy to have been accepted, eager to start?

That’s how the understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ should affect our lives. We have been declared righteous when we believed the message of Christ crucified and risen (Galatians 3:6-9), so now we live with the understanding of our total acceptance with the Father and of His complete approval of our lives. We have stepped up to the starting line of our Christian race and have heard, “On your mark, get set, it is finished!” We can bounce throughout our days knowing we are holy, perfect and pure, and this is true whether we are measuring up well, or failing miserably. This is because the cross is our beginning, the end of all our striving!

Colossians 1:21-22 (NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

Next time you feel that you have fallen short, remind yourself that God looks at Jesus’ performance, not yours. Remind yourself that Jesus removed your sin and made you perfect forever, and that now He is making you holy.

Let this understanding keep you from both pride and discouragement. Jesus' life counts for your life, and His death as your death, and you are now raised with Him. Let that encourage you to set your heart and mind on Him. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

How does it feel to have aced the test before you took it, won the race before you started, got the job before you interviewed and won the battle before you fought? The cross is your beginning and Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness (Romans 10:4). 

To hear this same thought in song form, listen to this wonderful song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEiFSrBwIjk 

Testimonies:

Amy writes, "Since taking the Weight Loss course at Setting Captives Free, I have been able to connect more to the Holy Spirit.
Physically, I have been able to control my impulses when it comes to food. Jesus has set me free from the chains of having food dominate my every thought and action! I have found a new love for God's word; I now feel as though it covers and protects me throughout the day."

Jason writes, I find all the biblical principles taught in the Purity Boot Camp course very helpful, but the one I love the most is washing at the cross. If I keep reminded of what Jesus Christ has done for me and keep it in the forefront of my mind, I find Christ is a shield for me against my lust and my flesh.

Taking this course has helped my marriage tremendously. Staying closer to Jesus Christ has helped me with my mind and my temper towards other people. It has calmed me to hear what it is that God is trying to tell me. Now I only look towards my wife for those needs that I used to satisfy in sinful ways.

Yes, I stumble and fall sometimes, but I turn quickly to look back to the cross, which has given me the opportunity to learn more grace and forgiveness. I really have struggled in this department, but the story of Lott s wife was eye-opening: learning not to look back on what I have done but look ahead to the future with Jesus and also with my shield of armor made by the love of Jesus Christ. This study has truly opened my eyes to the Lord and the gifts He has provided for us at the cross.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus on that tree because when we are at the cross, we stay connected to the Lord. His love and mercy endure forever, so it is our job to take up his cross and share the good news of Jesus Christ so that we might help others.

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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io and then responding back to the email.

----------

Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

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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Is there someone you could forward this email to, that might need gospel encouragement in their lives? Anyone can subscribe to this weekly newsletter by sending a blank email to main+subscribe@SettingCaptivesFree.groups.io and then responding back to the email.

Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 93rd Edition, August 18, 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:

Recovery or Resurrection

The world teaches that those who live in habitual sin are "addicts" and that they need to be "in recovery," but for believers, these terms are not according to the gospel, and are not true.

The Scriptures teach that what the world calls "addiction" is actually "slavery," and that the adage "once an addict, always an addict" is a blatant lie (John 8:36 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

But what about the world's teaching of "recovery" which some of the church has adapted?

The problem with the teaching of recovery is that it separates the believer from Christ. But the Scriptures teach us that believers are inextricably connected with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-10). We are one with Him; we cannot be separated.

To believe in the "recovery" model, we would have to be able to apply the teaching of "recovery" to Jesus first, since we are one with Him. To do this, we would have to say that Jesus didn't die on the cross because it is impossible to “recover" from death.

So did Jesus merely "swoon," or faint, on the cross, was then taken down and laid in a tomb so that He could rest, and then Sunday morning He started feeling better? He fainted on Friday but began to recover on Sunday? No! To say that Jesus didn't die would be heresy.

Jesus died and then rose again from the dead:

Romans 4:25 (NIV) 'He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification."

Jesus was not/is not "in recovery," and neither is any believer. A believer in Jesus has died with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and has risen to a new life (Acts 5:20). Death and resurrection. Not fainting and recovery.

And just as the world's term "addiction" carries with it substantial errors as a concept, so it is with the word "recovery." Unbelievers and some Christians too, teach that a person is "in recovery" when they are "working the program" and "getting better" concerning their sin struggles. But this belief holds us back from the victory that is ours through Christ's death and resurrection; it denies the power of the cross and the resurrection.

The truth is that we are not getting better or recovering. No, we have been raised from the dead and are living out our Christian life in sanctification. We have a new life, a new heart, and a new power source. We have abundant life, eternal life, resurrection life. We don't need to recover; we need to learn to live in the victory that Christ has purchased for us with His own blood.

How about you? Do you believe that you "swooned" with Jesus and are recovering with Him? Or do you believe the truth of God's Word, that the old you was put to death with Christ, buried with Him in a tomb, and the new you rose from the dead with Jesus on the third day? He died for you, and you died in Him. He rose for you, and you rose in Him:

Colossians 3:1-3 (NIV) "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

When I posted this teaching on our communication group, “Flock”, Kelly wrote:

"Mike there is nothing! about my past life that I want to “recover”. That is always where my mind goes when I hear the concept of recovery. I think of recovering something that was lost. Getting back to your old self. Going back to the beginning. What a sad and despairing idea. My old self was dead in my trespassing and sins, separated from the life of God and without hope in the world. My beginning started with sin and was shaped in iniquity:

Psalm 51:5
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

So to recovery I say “thanks but no thanks” I didn’t need to recover I needed to die and be born again;”


Amen, Kelly!

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Testimonies:

Robyn writes: "My husband found the Setting Captives Free site for me. He had been living in a prolonged pattern of pursuing lusts and had found help through the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, and he thought the A United Front course would help me.

The study was like an oasis in the middle of a desolate place. I found such peace as I came to the course and found lessons addressing a different attribute of Christ to reflect on or an area I needed to challenge my own heart.

It was an excellent exercise for me to daily start the morning with a lesson reminding me of what Christ has done FOR me, so I could allow Him to work THROUGH me. When I see how I ve been forgiven, it is impossible to keep that gratitude buried in the hard shell of bitterness and revenge. When Jesus transforms us, we become a new creation to be used for His amazing purpose.

This daily encouragement, coupled with local counsel, helped reinforce the process of reconciliation for our marriage. The course brought much hope and assurance. It was a real blessing to our union to spend a whole month actively working towards a deeper understanding of who we are in Christ because it showed us how He is making all things new.”


Ted writes, "I appreciated going through the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course since it gave me the tools I needed to move forward in freedom.  I am a Veteran, so I found the language/scripture used in the boot camp relatable.

Since enrolling in this course, I have reunited with my Bible Study group and am experiencing freedom from sexual impurity.
The important thing I have learned is to be CONSISTENT!  Like a soldier preparing for battle, we too must train daily and guard our minds so as not to be tripped up by the snares the enemy presents to us in this world.  It definitely is a battle of the mind, and with God's help, I win those daily battles.

Brothers/Sisters in Christ, if you are tired of the burden of sexual impurity, I highly encourage you to enroll into Purity Boot Camp.”

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

The Power of the Cross: 92nd Edition, August 11, 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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You are invited to a group weight loss study using the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss material. Here is the information:


Location:

Providence Bible Church, 

17211 Greens Corner Rd, 

Culpeper, VA 22701


Dates: September 3, 2019


Contact Information: 

Contact Lesley at 1ofhislamb@....


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Have you checked out Setting Captives Free’s newest study called “The Gospel and the Church”? This is a powerful course, written by Erick Hurt, and is receiving great reviews, such as this:


"I am so impressed with the simplicity, sincerity and profound nature of this material. Very well done! Please pass this along to others in this ministry. I am excited to see us use this as a tool to equip our people and train them in righteousness." -- Peter Ernst, Pastor/Teacher Family Bible Church, Kingman, Arizona


The above church is using this material to train their leaders for ministry. Would you want to encourage your church to consider this as well? Why not suggest it to your pastor or elders as a resource for training future servant/leaders? 

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Teaching:


To be free from habitual sin requires the help of the Lord; this is obvious to many of us who have tried to break free by our own efforts, or through the programs of man. 


This is the lesson the nation of Israel learned as well, and the Psalmist wrote:


Psalms 124:1-5 (NIV) If the Lord had not been on our side—let Israel say —2 if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, 3 they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us; 4 the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, 5 the raging waters would have swept us away.


Isn’t this the experience of all who have tried to escape the trap of sin on their own? For years I was attacked and “swallowed alive”, engulfed in the torrent of temptation that swept over me, carried away in the raging waters of unbelief and pride, lust and impurity, gluttony and laziness and so many more. I could not escape any more than one who is overcome by a tidal wave. Sin’s power was too strong for me.


But that is because I was living in bitterness, having turned away from the Lord and rebelled against Him. I made sure that “the Lord was not on my side” through living in open defiance of His revealed will, living to gratify the lusts of my flesh, in complete disobedience to what I knew was right. 


But then I saw the cross! In God’s timing God opened my eyes to the suffering of Jesus for my pardon, His death on the cross to set me free, and His resurrection from the dead to justify me before God. I saw that Jesus was attacked by both God and man, falsely accused of my sin, and then hung up on the cross to rescue me. I saw that He was engulfed by the waters of God’s wrath against sin, and as He hung on the cross He was overcome and baptized by the raging waters of sin, all that I might be ransomed from sin’s penalty and sin’s power. Then He was taken down from the cross and swallowed up by the grave, buried because of my wrong doing! Finally He rose on the third day, the payment He made for my sin having been accepted by God. He rose in power, having defeated sin and Satan at the cross, and death at the resurrection.


This scene came before my eyes and cut me to the core of my being. It hurt my heart and humbled me. I saw that it was out of love that Jesus suffered death and the shedding of His blood to forgive me. And further, I saw the cross as proof positive that God was now on my side. Keeping this scene before me and being actuated by its truth, I began walking out of my own tomb of sin. 


Oh friend, have you been to the cross and watched the scene play out? Have you seen the innocent and holy Son of God be treated as a sinner that you would be declared “not guilty” and go free? Have you seen your sin hanging on the cross, dying with Jesus? Have you seen your guilt nailed to the tree? Has it cut your heart, hurt and humbled you, then healed and raised you? If so, then know that God is on your side now, for Jesus has removed His wrath from you and taken your punishment. Rise up from the tomb of sin and walk out! 


Romans 8:31-32 (NIV) What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?


And if God is now on your side, note how the Psalmist finishes his writing:


Psalms 124:6-7 (NIV) Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.


Freedom is the result of God being for us, not against us. God has not let sin’s teeth tear us to shreds, but instead Jesus was torn to shreds for our healing. We have escaped the trap of sin, like a bird from the fowler’s snare, because Jesus was trapped in it and nailed to the cross. The snare of sin was broken when Jesus’ body was broken, and we escaped when He died!


This is the power of the cross! The power of the resurrection! The power of the Holy Spirit! It sets captives free, like a bird being released from the trap of the fowler. 


The Psalmist summarizes like this:


Psalms 124:8 (NIV) Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.


Yes, God came to our rescue and in Jesus’ name, and through His substitutionary death we are set free! Will you see the scene of the cross and believe this message today? Will you accept your freedom purchased at such a high price? Will you believe God has rescued and redeemed you through the blood of His Son? Set you free by putting His Son to death in your place?


May I encourage you to watch this song and pay close attention to the words? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS1IsA7y3JY 


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Testimonies:


Mike writes: "When I started the Purity Boot Camp course, I wasn't able to resist the temptation to view pornography most of the time; Not anymore. The power in my salvation was almost zero; now, I am excited about what Jesus' death did for me. The time I spent learning about the Word of God was limited to less than an hour Sunday mornings, but that has also changed. If I don't spend more than an hour a daily studying and learning what the Word has for me, I miss it. I also have a new understanding of the value of prayer in my life.


I have learned to wash at the Cross, which reminds me of the reason for Jesus dying on the Cross - to pay the penalty for my sins. I've learned to walk by the Spirit; the Spirit guides me in the way I should go. He teaches me how to resist temptation and how to live a life honoring to my Heavenly Father. And I've learned to war against my flesh.  I have received my battle plan from the Lord on how to fight for a life free from habitual sin. I now know how to put on the full armor of God, and I do it.


This study course is for you if you would like to start a new life in which you will be set free from impurity. You will learn how to live a life honoring to our Heavenly Father, a life that reflects the Love Jesus Christ has for you and me. You will have the ability to resist the temptation to sin because of the Power of the Holy Spirit in you. Most importantly, you will have an assurance of salvation and be made sin-free before God."


Merry writes, "I was enslaved to lust and self-gratification for several years. I felt locked into it. It was something I was very ashamed of as a Christian. I fell into deep despair and depression. My sin made me feel so dirty. I went through Setting Captives Free 1.0 s Way of Purity course, and my chains were broken, praise God. I walked in freedom for several years. I felt light and free and was fruitful in my walk with God.

But then, I joined an online dating site and got involved with a man bound by sexual lust. Although at first, I resisted the temptation, I eventually fell into sin with him online. I was deeply grieved and repented. I immediately came to Setting Captives Free and enrolled in the new purity course because I didn t want to stay in the sin that I knew led only to darkness and despair. I ended the relationship with the man but gave him the link to The Setting Captives Free course. I don t know if he ever looked into it. 

Setting Captives Free 2.0 was more wonderful than ever with the focus primarily on the cross of Jesus Christ. I realized why I had fallen into sin and the reason I became bitter against God: there was a relationship with a Christian man previously that did not work out. I took my eyes off Jesus. In going through the Setting Captives Free course again, I fell deeper in love with Jesus and had an understanding of His redemption work like never before. As I meditated on the lessons and fed upon them, my eyes were fixed on the cross, and what Jesus did for me, my heart was set free. 

I have come to realize that no matter how life may disappoint me, it is never enough to turn my heart away and forget the sacrifice Jesus made for me. Even though I do not deserve it, He forgave my sins and freed me from the chains of sin and darkness. His love will never fail me. He is always there for me. I plan to sit at the foot of the cross daily and keep my eyes fixed on my beautiful and wonderful Savior."

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

The Power of the Cross: 91st Edition, August 3, 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:

All people are hungering, yearning and longing for deep intimacy and love. They may not know it, may not understand it, yet in turning to drugs, illicit sex, food, forbidden relationships and many other things they evidence that their heart is in need of love and joy and intimacy. 

This is indeed what God has designed us for, and when we turn to sinful things we discover they are empty and broken, unable to quench our thirst nor satisfy our desire for love and intimacy.

Jeremiah 2:13 (NCV) My people have done two evils:
They have turned away from me,
the spring of living water.
And they have dug their own wells,
which are broken wells that cannot hold water.

The majority of commentators recognize the book of Song of Solomon as not only a love story between a man and his beloved, but that it also depicts Christ’s love for the church. He is our Lover who came to us when we ran from Him, who loved us when we were in rebellion, who died for us while we were sinners. 

Today, look with me at what our response to His love can be, when viewing this outpouring of Jesus’ love on the cross. Let’s read what “she”, the beloved, says to Solomon, and in her response to his love we can see how to fulfill our own longings:

Song of Songs 7:9-13 (NCV) Let this wine go down sweetly for my lover; may it flow gently past the lips and teeth. 10 I belong to my lover, and he desires only me. 11 Come, my lover, let's go out into the country and spend the night in the fields. 12 Let's go early to the vineyards and see if the buds are on the vines. Let's see if the blossoms have already opened and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love. 13 The mandrake flowers give their sweet smell, and all the best fruits are at our gates. I have saved them for you, my lover, the old delights and the new.

Here the beloved evidences her strong desire to experience the love of her king. She states that she belongs to him and that he desires only her. She expresses her desire to go away with him that she might give him her love, and that they might remember old delights and experience new ones together.

My friend, have you ever expressed to Jesus your need for His love? Have you ever said to Him, “lets get away alone together, that we might give and receive love?” Were you aware that this deep intimacy, this love relationship is the very reason Jesus died for you? His desire was to remove your sin, to make you holy and righteous, that you and He might interact in a sweet and intimate way, that He might pour Himself into you and that you might give your love back to Him!

To experience this passionate love relationship, where the Holy Spirit literally pours out the love of Jesus in cascading wave after wave over your heart (see Romans 5:5) is the point of Christ’s suffering death in your place. God said it in the beginning that it was not good for man to be alone, so He put Adam into a deep sleep, opened his side and fashioned a bride from his rib. Likewise, it was not good for Jesus to be alone, so He was put into the deep sleep of death, had His side opened by a Roman soldier, so that the blood and water would forgive and cleanse all who come to Him, so that they might be His bride.

Oh friend, come to Him just now won’t you? Come and tell Him you’re sorry for turning to other lovers, for giving your heart to the enemy. Tell Him you want to get away privately with Him and experience love like you may never have known before. Come and kneel at the cross and look up! See the suffering Savior loving you unto death! "He had always loved those who were his own in the world, and he loved them all the way to the end” (John 13:1). Receive the love He is pouring out for you! 

Living in this kind of a love relationship with Jesus transforms every area of life, for now you are living your life and interacting with others from a heart full of love. It will transform your marriage, your relationships at work, your family interactions, everything!

This kind of loving intimacy is what you were purchased at the cross for, and what Jesus gave you His Holy Spirit for. Enjoy it to the max, and tell others about how He is loving your heart out of sin, and loving you to freedom! Write back to me here, just reply to this email, if this is indeed happening to you at the cross, and I will rejoice and pray with you!

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Testimonies:

Elzelien writes, "The Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course offers what no other program or diet offers: FREEDOM IN CHRIST!
I never realized how good it is to suffer for Christ by denying my flesh instead of gratifying it. I now know the importance of having Jesus fill my heart instead of food!

When I stay close to Jesus and savor Him, then He fills, cleans, and satisfies my heart again and again. The Spirit keeps me close to Jesus, and if I stay in tune with Him and walk with Him then He will guide me! My relationship with the Lord has undoubtedly increased.

I have lost weight. I know because my belt is much looser, and so are my pants!”

Nathan writes, "The biblical principles taught in the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course have been helpful to me.
Right now, Washing at the cross has become a major thing for me each day.  Remembering the work of Christ on the cross and how He took my punishment is a huge part of my day.  I am also learning to walk consciously with the Spirit remembering that God is with me.  Warring against the flesh by praying God's Word's back to Him is something I am seeking to increase in my life.
I recommend this powerful and biblical course to everyone.”


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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

The Power of the Cross: 90th Edition, July 28, 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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Special Announcement: I’m so very excited to introduce to you our newest course called “The Gospel and the Church”, written by Erick Hurt to help the church rediscover the power of the gospel. This is a powerful course, focused like a laser on the message of the cross, its effects in people’s hearts and lives, and is a clear call to the church to return to it! Check it out when you can. You’ll find it here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/course/gospelchurch


Teaching:

Are you finding freedom through believing the message of the cross and implementing in to your daily life? Then if so you want to tell this message to others; it’s a natural outflow of what you are taking in. May I encourage you to pray about becoming a mentor with Setting Captives Free? It’s something you can do to share the amazing power of the cross with others, taking on one student or one hundred, however God leads you. 

This week I wanted to share with you our weekly teaching for mentors. Every Saturday one person on our board of directors sends out a teaching and our mentor groups interact with the teaching. The following is the teaching for this week. Feel free to respond to me with the answer to the question below, and if I have time I will get back with you on your answer.

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It’s my turn for the check-in this week, and just as a quick reminder, our message to our students is the gospel of Jesus Christ, because the gospel is the power of God for both salvation (Romans 1:16-17) and sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:18).

And so we put the gospel in every single sentence if we can, every time we “add a response”, every time we answer a multiple choice question, every time we respond to a fill in the blank or free text answer—we tell our student the good news of Christ’s death for them, of His burial and resurrection for them.

It would not be right to keep this good news to ourselves and not share it with our students. The lepers who found the great treasure knew they should share it! "Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves...” (2 Kings 7:9).

This message is so powerful, we want to give it out over and over and over again. Through the death of Jesus we are saved from God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10), set free from sin’s power (Romans 6:10) and established and strengthened in our daily lives (Romans 16:25). This is the power of the message of the cross!

We are here to call people simply to “turn and look at the cross” (Galatians 3:1), for one sight of that mighty cross explodes our entire world apart, as the gospel is the power “dynamos/dynamite” of God. Just as Jesus died on the cross, even so our sin and self-sufficiency die there! Even as Jesus was crucified on the cross, the cross crucifies us to the world and the world to us, so we should boast about it (Galatians 6:14).

The message of the cross is accompanied by the power of the Spirit to work miracles in people’s hearts and lives (Galatians 3:1-5). Looking at the cross cuts their hearts and heals their hearts. It crucifies their old self and raises them as a new creation. This is why we look at the cross ourselves and why we constantly point others to it—it has miracle working power!

Do you want to see your students hearts and lives exploded by gospel power? Focus your message to the crucified Christ, the suffering Savior, the dead and risen King. Make His cross the subject of your every waking moment, your every sentence, your every thought, and your every answer.

1 Corinthians 2:2-4 (NIV) For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

Question 1. According to 1 Corinthians 2:2-4, the message of the cross is united with what?

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Testimonies:


Anna writes, "Since taking the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course, I have noticed some definite changes with my clothes being looser, and my belt going tighter! 


More importantly, the Bible study helped me to grow spiritually. I have learned the importance of suffering with Christ, savoring Christ, and walking with the Spirit, which has helped me develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ! 


Diets fail, and they don't change the heart. But God does. It is through the strength I receive by walking with the Spirit that I can deny the cravings of my flesh and instead turn to Jesus and His Word for filling! 


This course is an amazing Bible study focusing on Jesus, the cross, and the gospel all while helping you lose weight! I love that you don't need to eliminate certain foods from your diet and how the focus is on denying our fleshly desires by walking in step with the Spirit, suffering with Christ, and savoring Christ! I have thoroughly enjoyed this course, and I highly recommend it! "


John writes, "I found the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course when I was desperately seeking help after an arrest revealed my deep-seated roots of impurity and sexual sin. God has been transforming my heart over the last 30 days. I am grateful for this ministry and for the many people who are serving our Saviour through mentoring.

God is restoring my marriage, I am finding new truths in His word, and He is killing the impure desires that have always been a part of my life.

Now, when I feel the weight of my sin, and the guilt and shame that comes with it, I go to the cleansing fountain at the cross. God is faithful every time I approach that He reminds me of His cleansing.

I'm still in a time of preparing for battle, as I feel like the temptation holds little allure right now since the discovery of my sin is so recent. I pray this desire stays dead, but I am preparing my battle plans and putting defense measures in place. My secrets are no longer hidden, and I now have men I can seek for help when the temptations come.

I am learning to walk in the Spirit as well. I've had so many years of quenching and grieving the Spirit's presence in my life, but by God's grace He hasn't given up on me, and I'm starting to sense His leading again.
Thank you, Lord!”


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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 89th Edition, July 21, 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:

Sin makes us tired and weary, exhausted in the battle. I remember trying to fight sin in my own strength for years and ending up exhausted, for everything I tried failed. Simply put, my sin was stronger than I was. 

Do you know what I mean? Do you get weary of fighting the same battle over and over, of succumbing to the pull of sin when what you want to do is be successful in the battle? If so, look at this passage with me, written to a weary nation that was presently captive:

Jeremiah 31:23-25 (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks.
25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. 

Freedom to this weary nation of Israel, who were currently captive to the nation of Babylon, meant that not only would there be God’s blessing in the nation again but that they would be refreshed and satisfied. God Himself would refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Freedom, blessing refreshment and satisfaction would replace captivity, cursing, weariness and fainting.

Jesus Christ invites all who are weary to come to Him. He extends an invitation to those weary in sin and burdened down by their attempts at law-keeping and righteous living. The promise is that as we come to Him we will find rest for our souls:

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The reason Jesus’ yoke for us is easy, and His burden is light, is because on the cross He broke the bars of our yoke and He lifted our sin burden off of us. "I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13). While on the cross He sank under the burden of your sin and He worked for six hours on the cross until He exclaimed with a loud voice, “It is finished!” At that time, the curtain that divided the Most Holy Place from the inner court was torn in two from top to bottom,  indicating that all are now invited to come freely into God’s presence, and as we come to Him and believe the message of the cross we find rest. “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

Oh friend, come to the cross and look up, and as you do you see Jeremiah 31:23-25 being fulfilled in every sense. At the cross Jesus took your curse and purchased God’s blessing for you (Galatians 3:13-14), He “made the two one” so that all believers can live in community with one another (Ephesians 2:14), no matter their race, background or previous enmity. At the cross, we are released from captivity to sin through believing the good news. At the cross we finally experience rest and refreshment, as we see Jesus has removed our burden of sin, nailed it to the cross and buried it in a grave. “As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

To close this teaching session, I encourage you to read this wonderful writing from Joce, one of our mentors here at Setting Captives Free. It is called “Kept Safe in the Arms of Jesus”, and you can find it here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/forum/topic/1104/kept-safe-in-the-arms-of-christ

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Testimonies:

Joe writes, “I was baptized and raised in a Christian household. I went to weekly services and was part of Sunday school, becoming a teacher myself when in high school. I was a founding member of the church's youth group and involved as its leading membership serving two years as its president. I then went off to a Christian college, continuing my involvement with various groups joining the only fraternity that was Christian and had outreach service as its primary mission. After school, I continued to be involved with the church. 

All through this time, though, there was a huge problem, a very dark secret sin I was hiding. I discovered during my adolescence the sin of pornography and self-gratification, and it became a daily habit. I was putting on a good front outwardly, but completely under the control of my lustful desires inwardly. And it never stopped, it only grew worse with each passing year. 


For years, I wasted much time viewing immoral content and feeding the lust of my flesh, which escalated into immoral sexual acts with prostitutes. Throughout these years, I frequently confessed my sins during altar calls and pleaded for mercy from God, but I would not tell anyone my specific sin struggle because I was ashamed. I thought I was the only one who struggled with this sin.


Jump forward a few years of this lifestyle; I was depressed, lonely, and bankrupt--financially, emotionally, morally, and spiritually. My time in sin devastated my life; I felt hopeless. I didn't like the person I had become at all. I was living a double life, and it was tearing me apart. 


Then one night, I was sitting at my computer crying. I needed and wanted to stop the insanity but didn't know how to do it. I had tried so many things to get free but had never gone more than a day or two without sexual sin. So, I searched "pornography addiction" to see what would come up. There were tons of groups and programs offered, but none were appealing to me. One reason was money. I didn't have any extra, and some programs wanted cash up front. Some were public groups like SA and wanted me to come to a meeting. 


But one got my attention, Setting Captives Free. The course was free, and I didn't have to go public.


When I first came to Setting Captives Free things did start to change for the good. While I was doing the original course work (Setting Captives Free 1.0), I was following the directions of really cleaning up my house. I threw out all objects of sin, and I believed I was set free. But after I finished the purity course work, I slowly went back to my old ways. Never quite as deep as before, but still sinful. I was back in the enemy's prison.


Then I received an email from God (through Setting Captives Free) that there was a new purity course. My heart skipped, and I wondered, is it possible that it will be any different than the last time?  The evil one tried to tell me:  "This isn't going to work. You've tried all this before. You will never gain freedom. Just keep living the way you are." But I didn't listen to him.


I started the coursework immediately, and I saw that the course had indeed changed for the better. The new material pointed to Jesus and His cross, and I began a new journey of hope. I was set free by the saving gracing of the cross of Christ. I have learned to wash at the cross, walk by the Spirit, and war against my flesh. What a gift!


I no longer live serving the wrong master, but only serving Christ! My body is no longer used to worship Satan, but only to worship God. My life has changed. I no longer waste my time and money on things that were hurting and killing me but instead spend my time going deeper with the Lord. My life has been changed forever!”


Gerrie writes, "The Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course is helpful both spiritually and physically. Even though I am a student of the Bible, the course has given me new insights into how I should lead my life.

I have long been a faithful and actively involved believer in Christ's death on the cross for me. That has not changed; however, I now know a deeper way to walk the Christian life. I am only just now starting to feel that my clothes are looser because it took me a while to learn how to apply the principles well.

One of the things I am appreciating is the freedom to eat regular food. Just this morning I worked at our Community Prayer Breakfast and ate some cinnamon coffee cake. I had denied this kind of food forever (or so it seems), and it sure felt good to enjoy its delicious taste.

The foundational principles taught in this course are the foundation of the Christian walk. I have longed to know a better way to truly "live in Jesus," and this study has shown me the way."

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 88th Edition, July 14, 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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Correction: In the previous newsletter I mentioned Exodus 21 but meant Numbers 21. Thanks to Gary for bringing it to my attention.

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Teaching:


Humans get “want” and “need” confused quite often. When “wants” are made into “needs” spiritual slavery (what the world calls “addiction”) develops, for whatever we think we “need” captures us. We can’t see life without it. We crave it. We yearn after it. We “need” it and can’t see living without it.


This need can make us bitter toward others, and bitter toward God, if we don’t get what we “need”, as we have the expectation that “they” will meet out “need.” And so we become disappointed when our “need” is not met, and we blame others and ultimately blame God. 


The issue here is that our “want” has morphed into a “need”, but has become far more than even a “need”, it has become an “idol.” We know something has become an idol in our hearts and lives when we sin to get it, or we sin if we cannot have it. 


So how do we escape from this spiritual slavery, this idolatry where our wants have become “needs” and have now morphed into “idols.” 


The answer is to be cleansed at the cross of Jesus Christ, for the cross has the power to break our idols into pieces and set us free from them. Notice how the following passage connects the fountain of the cross with the removal of idols:


Zechariah 13:1-2 (NIV) “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. 2 “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land.”


It is clear that the “day” when the fountain would be opened, is the day of the cross (read Zechariah 13:1-2 in light of Zechariah 12:10 through 13:7). The cross is a fountain of cleansing that you may go to and wash and be free from sin and guilt. And as you wash in the cleansing blood of Jesus, rejoicing in your forgiveness and freedom, you discover that idols are banished as is the spirit of impurity. 


This is how to be free! Notice this very thing in the lives of some of the Corinthians, who were mired in sin, trapped in idolatry, but then they were washed:


1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV) Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


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Testimonies:


Micah writes, "While taking the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course, the Lord showed me that the battle I had been fighting against impurity was already won by Jesus through His death on the cross and resurrection. There is no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus. I believe this with my whole heart. 


And, now, since I have been crucified with Christ and baptized into his death and resurrected with Him, I am dead to sin and alive to Him. God helping me, I will continue to wash at the cross and walk by the Spirit so that I can fight the good fight, run the race, remain in Him, and walk in freedom by His grace."


Yinka writes, "The Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course is life changing. It is not some form of magic program that promises fast weight loss. It is a course about building our relationship with God and finding liberation along the way.

To succeed, you have to be willing to lay aside all your previous conceptions of weight loss. You must be willing to trust God and have faith in Him. You must come with an open mind ready to be filled up by the Word of God through the help of the Holy Spirit. If you do this, your life will never be the same again.

I have followed the biblical principles taught in the course for the past 26 days. Yes, I crammed the first few days together. Now, I feel liberated from the power of food and empowered to live without fear. I try to adopt these principles in all areas of my daily living, and I am sure, by the special grace of God, I will succeed.

I lost 7 pounds this month and have not had to restrict the type of food I eat. I am encouraged to keep going, knowing that as long as I savor Christ through the power of the Cross by the walking in the Spirit, I cannot go wrong.

I now find comfort in the Lord rather than in food. Food definitely has no more power over me. This is my story. I know it will only get better. “

Laura writes, "At the beginning of the A United Front course, I was angry and bitter. I couldn't see a way forward in my marriage, but now I have learned so much about biblical forgiveness and humility. 


God has made a lot of changes in my heart and life, though I still have far to go. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I now have hope.


I am so grateful that this course was available as it gave me practical biblical things to do and think about rather than hours of fruitless internet searching trying to find answers that weren't where I was looking.”


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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free

The Power of the Cross: 87th Edition, July 7, 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.

Teaching: 

Exodus chapter 21 describes in detail what it takes to be free from all forms of sinful captivity. It begins with a story of the Israelites complaining and murmuring against God and Israel’s leaders and Moses lifting up a pole with a snake on it, continues with a song about a “well”, and ends with victory over two kings, Sihon and Og. How does this apply to us today?

The Israelites were bitten by fiery snakes and were all dying. We have been bitten by the serpent of sin and are all dying. God told Moses to erect a pole with a snake on it, and commanded all the snake-bitten Israelites to look and live. God erected a cross-like pole and hung a Savior on it, and commands us to believe and live. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

This is indeed how we find freedom, by looking at our Savior who was hung on a tree, thereby removing our curse and purchasing our blessing (Galatians 3:13-14). We need to look and see Jesus dying to make atonement for our sins, dying to remove God’s wrath from us and dying to reconcile us to God, then rising to justify us before God so that we are now free from sin’s guilt and are being freed from sin’s power.

Then, the Israelites, after looking at the uplifted pole were led to a “well”, that quenched and satisfied their thirst. The very next thing that happens when a believer comes to the cross is that he or she receives the Spirit of God, who is described as “rivers of living water":

John 7:37-39 (ESV) “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The Spirit of God, the “rivers of Living Water”, that satisfies the heart of every believer, is to be found at the cross, even as the Israelites drinking of the “well” immediately followed the curing of snakebite by the uplifted snake on a pole. At the cross we learn to “drink in” our forgiveness, quench our thirst in Christ’s reconciling love, satisfy our hearts in God who “justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5).

And finally, the Israelites defeated two kings of the Amorites, their greatest enemies. Even so, victory follows anyone who comes to the cross and finds healing for their snakebite of sin, and who begins drinking of the Holy Spirit. 

Numbers 21: healing and health at the uplifted pole, quenching and satisfaction at the “well”, victory and overcoming! 

In the Purity Bootcamp course we focus on three principles: washing at the cross, walking by the Spirit, warring against the flesh. In Numbers 21 we see those three principles clearly. The uplifted pole points to the cross where we may wash and be cleansed from all sin. The well points to the Spirit of God and when we walk by the Spirit we do not gratify the lusts of the flesh. The victory over the two Amorite kings: Sihon and Og point to the ongoing warring against our own flesh that needs to happen in the life of every believer, and the victory we have in Christ.

Friend, if you are struggling with habitual sin, come to the cross of Jesus Christ and look up to Him. See His love, experience His grace, receive the forgiveness He is dying to give you. Let His love and grace, and the power of His resurrection crucify your sin, indeed crucify the world to you (Galatians 6:14). Then begin drinking in the Spirit of God, experience His thirst-quenching power, receive the love He sheds abroad in your heart (Romans 5:5). Finally, go on to defeat the sin that has defeated you for so long, as you now have the love of Jesus in dying for you, the power of Jesus in rising for you and the power of the Holy Spirit working in you!

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Testimonies:

Eamonn writes, "The Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course has been used by Jesus Christ to set me free from complete bondage to impurity.

What I've mainly learned is to look at our wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ on the cross taking all my punishment, dying for my sin, and rising for my justification and righteousness. I've learned to wash at the cross continually, fellowship with Jesus, walk in the Spirit, and war against my flesh to glorify Christ. I also learned I'm not condemned and that I'm not my sin and that the law of the Spirit of life has set me from the law of sin and death.

The biblical principles taught in this course have changed my life. I've seen the truth about Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection.

I've learned intimacy with the Lord and now love the Lord because I truly believe that He first loved me by dying for me on the cross. I've mainly kept my eyes on the cross, and the snakebites of sin are being eradicated through Christ. I've learned to worship Father God in Christ without fear.”



Ronald writes, "I have found the biblical principles in the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course helpful in my walk with Christ. When I wash at the cross, I am cleansed and put back into the enjoyment of fellowship with God. This enables me to walk in the Spirit, which then, in turn, helps me to war against my flesh, since if I walk in the Spirit, I will not fulfill the lust of my flesh. I am implementing my finalized battle plan, and it is working.”

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 86th Edition, June 30, 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.

Teaching:

Guilt and weakness, the two go together. When we have guilt for sin we have no power to overcome. This is why human programs are powerless to change our hearts and set us free from habitual sin. They leave us in our guilt, therefore we are powerless to overcome. 

You know what it’s like right? You sense your guilt before God, that you’ve fallen short, that you’ve offended a holy and righteous God. And you feel as though you can’t escape it, that nothing you could ever do could make up for your sin. And you despair, and you feel hopeless and it leads right back to more sin. Guilt=power of sin.

Before the Bible speaks about overcoming sin in Romans 6, it first talks about what happened when we were powerless under guilt:

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Ah, that’s how you're set free: Jesus died to remove your guilt, and in so doing He broke the power of cancelled sin, and set the captive free. We have double power at the cross of Christ, power that crucified guilt and power that cleanses us from sin: the result is, we are free! 

All because Jesus became your guilt offering!

Isaiah 53:10 (ESV) Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

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Testimonies:

Carla writes, "Since taking the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course, I feel like I am now experiencing a greater level of freedom than I ever have before. Weight loss and healthy eating were a preoccupation of mine, but now I no longer feel controlled by it. Now, I eat what I want when I am hungry. I listen to my body and eat foods that make me feel healthy and strong, and I hear God speaking His love over me in the process. I feel so much gratitude and joy in Christ and how He has worked in my life!

These past 30 lessons have been especially amazing because I’ve been walking this journey with my husband, and I see huge changes in him (both physically and spiritually)!

When I started this course, I had about 15 lbs to lose, and I’m still in the process to reach my goal, but my clothes are looser, I’m more confident, and I feel great! I am so thankful for freedom through Christ!"

Her husband, Kenny wrote, "I would say that the most significant spiritual change I experienced while taking the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course is that I now see the value in putting this struggle with weight, food, and health in the hands of Jesus.
In the past, I fought through my issues with food on my own almost as if I was hiding it from God. Physically, I was already so far from where I started (350 lbs), but before taking this course, I have never felt freedom from my addiction to food.

This course has helped me IMMENSELY, and I have such great hope that I have never experienced in this area of bondage. I have lost about 28 pounds (I weigh 220 lbs currently), and I completely agree that this process has taken all of the EFFORT out and simplified things to make space for healing and progress.”

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 85th Edition, June 23, 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.

Teaching:

The power of the cross, alone, sets captives free from sin and shame, from guilt and condemnation. Every believer down through history has experienced the power of the cross. Notice Moses:

Hebrews 11:24-26 (ESV) By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

Moses turned away from both the treasures of Egypt and the pleasures of sin. Why? He considered the “reproach of Christ” greater wealth. What is the “reproach of Christ?” The reproach (shame, disgrace) of Christ is a subtle reference to the cross of Jesus Christ. This is what had value for Moses. The estimation of the cross, the reproach Christ would endure for him, the shame and suffering Jesus would experience as He hung on the tree, was worth more than all the treasures of Egypt and all the pleasures of sin. 

And so Moses would gladly take up his own cross, bearing its shame and disgrace, associating with God’s people rather than grow up in a palace and be heir to all the world. He knew that to embrace the cross is to receive a crown.

Moses could have written these words:

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true
Its shame and reproach gladly bear
And they'll call me some day to my home far away
Where His glory forever I'll share


And I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown


Friend, sin is pleasurable, and this world has treasures that can capture our attention. It is easy to become trapped in pleasure or captive to this world. And only the cross, the “reproach of Christ” has the power to extricate us from it. See the cross in all it’s terrible beauty, in all of it’s painful glory, and by faith it will set you free!

I encourage you to take just a few minutes and watch this, and let the words really sink in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQy4NUZKIeM 

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Testimonies:

Brian writes, "The past 30 lessons of the Purity Boot Camp course have helped me think in a new way and to experience transformation by the renewing of my mind with God's Word. The main way this has changed my mind is through the first part - washing at the cross. Jesus waits for me to come to Him to be forgiven and cleansed, and the work has truly already been done by Jesus on the cross. This boot camp has helped me to experience and realize that God’s grace is sufficient for my sins, and He already knows them (even before they happen). Grace is the opposite of law, so there is no condemnation if we walk in The Spirit. The last piece, warring against the flesh, is the hardest for me...but with the Lord’s help, my battle plan for purity in covenanting my eyes to Him, and looking to His work in me as the source of freedom (not of myself - Eph. 2:8-9) is the key to walking it out.”

Ann writes, "So much has changed in my life since I began the Setting Captives Free A United Front course. My marriage was in a complete shambles after my husband confessed his unfaithfulness, but now, it has improved significantly. We are both in the process of growing together and growing in our walk with the Lord. God is mending our marriage day by day.


This study has been beneficial at generating conversation between us to help us to heal. This study has pointed me to the truth of the Gospel and reminded me of the promises of God, who He is and why Jesus came - the work that He has done and is doing in and through each of us. The lessons helped reorient my focus off of myself, my pain, and my husband's sin and onto the Lord and His love, provision, calling on my life, strength, sovereignty."

Claudia writes, "I was helpless and hopeless when I first found the Setting Captives Free A United Front course. My head was full of confusion, I saw how my husband broke in repentance and took full responsibility for his actions, and at the same time I saw "brothers and sisters in the faith" who did not want me to forgive him "so quick and easy." Living among Christians is no guarantee that everyone will advise you in a Christ-like way. 


In the middle of despair, this course not only gave me help and hope but also made me focus on the Only One I should be honoring with my behavior and decisions: Christ. After being aware of what He did at the cross for me, I have no excuses to be bitter, resentful, and angry. My goal now is to be Christ-like, and do unto others as the Lord has done unto me.”


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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.


Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 84th Edition, June 16, 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.

Teaching: The Gospel Changes Our Spiritual Tastebuds

When we are captive to sin’s delights and pleasures our spiritual “tastebuds” are fleshly; physical, earthly, sensual. Somehow our tastebuds have to be changed, so that the physical and temporary no longer appeals to us, but instead we have a taste for the spiritual and eternal. 

But how does this happen? 

We can see how it happens by comparing the following passages of Scripture:

Psalm 34:8 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

In the Old Testament passage (Psalm 34:8) we are given a command to “taste and see” that the Lord is good, the New Testament passage shows that we already have, past tense, tasted that the Lord is good. 

What happened between these two passages? 

Well, the cross happened, and the resurrection happened! The good news happened! Believing this good news actually changes our tastebuds, making us very hungry for God. 

We read the good news that Jesus Christ came to this earth and went to the cross, like a Lamb led to the slaughter, to forgive you, reconcile you to the Father, rescue you from the power of darkness, redeem you from Satan’s kingdom, put your old self to death and raise you up a new person. 

When we see this happening in the eyes of our heart we are so touched, so hurt, so healed, so cast down and so lifted up, that we continually want more and more of it. This “acquired taste” of the cross grows and grows, to where we begin to desire that “food” more than the fleshly, natural and sensual food. 

Pretty soon we are discovering that we are having a steady diet of gospel food, continually feeding on the good news of the cross:

John 6:35 (NIV) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

John 6:54-56 (NIV) Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them.

And THAT is how we go from the command to taste and see that the Lord is good, to the statement, “now that you HAVE tasted and seen that the Lord is good.” The cross tells us of the goodness of God, the love of Jesus, the joy and peace He fills us with through believing. What an amazing change in our spiritual tastebuds that happens right at the cross as we look up!

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Testimonies:

Ces writes, "The Biblical principles in the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course showed me my focus should be on Jesus, obeying Him and loving Him. Diets are the way to frustration, and God is helping me to renounce them. 


After taking this course, I am more focused on God. I have realized that my focus on Him and His Word was missing from all my life. The key is to delight in Him! Yes, I will. 


Only God can change our thoughts and attitudes about food and our bodies. Having issues with weight and food showed me my need for Jesus and the need to keep my focus on Him continually.


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Mark writes: "The most profound change I have experienced since taking the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course is that I have learned to go to the Cross and wash in the blood of Jesus daily. I see Christ within me now. I understand what faith means in a personal sense. I have not returned to pornography at all, and I do not desire it. My relationships with other people are improving too. I have landed in the right place and the right Solution for me. I recommend this course to anyone that is held prisoner to sexual impurity in any of its forms.

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Friend if you find you are in agreement with the mission of Setting Captives Free, to see the gospel of Jesus Christ change hearts and lives, would you please consider helping us to continue reaching people with the gospel? Please pray for us, and also consider setting up a monthly tax-deductible donation of any amount. https://settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland