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The Power of the Cross: 113th Edition, January 12, 2020

Mike Cleveland
 
Edited

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:
 
Do You Believe the Facts, or Do You Live By Faith?
 
This past week in our Setting Captives Free men's Marco Polo groups, we discussed Romans 4:16-21, and found much joy in the truth of it. 
 

Do You Believe the Facts, or Do You Live By Faith?

 

This past week in our Setting Captives Free men's Marco Polo groups, we discussed Romans 4:16-21 and found much joy in the truth of it.

 

"Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, "That's how many descendants you will have!" 19 And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah's womb." Romans 4:18-19 (NLT) 

 

God came to Abraham and Sarah and said, "this time next year, you will have a son" (Genesis 18:10). Abraham had a dilemma: would he believe the facts, or would he put faith in what God said?

 

What were the facts in his case?

 

• Abraham was 100 years old

• His body was as good as dead

• Sarah's womb was dead as well

 

Those were the facts. So how can people who are past the age of child-bearing bear children?

 

In spite of the facts, Abraham put faith in what God said, he hoped against hope, he believed by faith that God could raise the dead and give them a son, which is exactly what happened. "This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing" (Romans 4:17).

 

Abraham knew the facts: he and his wife had old bodies; they were past the age of child-bearing, and Sarah's womb was dead. But Abraham believed that God could raise the dead, and his faith did not weaken in light of the facts.

 

And, as we all know, Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac. Faith changed the facts!

 

And how is it with you, friend? Are you looking at the facts, or do you believe by faith? The world and the devil always want you to see the facts large in front of your eyes, that you might remain weak and enslaved.

 

God does not operate this way; instead, He calls things that are not as though they were, as He said to Abraham, "I have made you the father of many nations." As Abraham believed the truth of God's Word, over the facts, he was not weak and enslaved; instead, he "grew strong in faith" (Romans 4:20) and received the promise!

 

The facts are that by birth and by nature, we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-4), just like Sarah's womb. But are we doomed to live and die in our sin and death? No, God raises the dead! Jesus died on the cross for your sins, then He took your old dead self to the grave with Him, and then He rose victorious over sin and death. And through His resurrection from the dead, you rose in Him a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you look at the cross, you see your old self dying, and if you look at Jesus' rising from the dead, you see your new self rising with Him! Do you believe that God can raise the dead?

 

Today, God says to us: "I have rescued you from power of darkness" (Colossians 1:13), set you free from the power of sin through the death of Jesus (Romans 6:7), given you a new heart and a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17), made you "more than a conqueror through Him who loves you" (Romans 8:37), and I will keep you firm to the end!" "He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns." (1 Corinthians 1:8).

 

So which do you believe? The facts? Or do you put faith in God's Word? If you believe the facts, repeat them to yourself and others, live in the light of them, you will remain in bondage, always weak and fearful and defeated. Like Peter, looking at the "facts" (winds and waves) will make you sink!

 

But if you exercise faith in God's Word, repeat the truth to yourself and others, you will experience Holy-Spirit energy and live in the light of the truth and will experience real and lasting freedom. Faith will change your facts!

 

So, in reality, it's not whether we believe the facts or have faith, but rather, do we believe God's facts or our facts? Believing God's facts, as centered in the cross of Jesus, is "foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18), but to us who are being saved the cross is the power of God. The power to save us from God's wrath, the power to deliver us from temptation, and the power to rescue us from sin.

 

An exercise that is very helpful to do is to list out your facts as they currently are and then find a Scripture to believe. For example:

 

Fact 1: I am an addict and "once an addict always an addict," and I never measure up.

 

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

 

Fact 2: I am unclean and enslaved, impure, and defiled. My sins and faults loom large before me.

 

Faith: "Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into His presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault" (Colossians 1:22 NLT).

 

Fact 3: I am so alive to sin, I hear it's temptations in my ear all day long, and my body reacts and responds to Satan's call to sin.

 

Faith: "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NLT).

 

Fact 4: Sin has such power over me; I am a slave to it. I know that by faith in Christ, I'm made right with God, but I'm talking about being so weak to sin's power.

 

Faith: "We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin" (Romans 6:6-7 NLT).

 

Fact 5: I am a captive to sin and defeated in every area of my life; my life smells of death and defeat!

 

Faith: "But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume" (2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT).

 

This is powerful faith, and works with anything you are going through, even facing death itself:

 

Fact 6: I have terminal cancer, I've been given six weeks to live, I'm going to die!

 

Faith: "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NIV).

Now, how about if you add number seven to the above list? Just reply to this email, send me your “fact!” and then show me what God says and how you are putting “faith” in God’s facts, rather than your own!
 
----------
 
Testimonies:
 
Veronica writes, "I used to mentally browse our kitchen contents while I was eating to see what I would eat next. Now, I don't even think about food; mostly, I'm looking forward to my stomach growling! It's something I truly enjoy now! Then, when I do eat, I don't overeat like I used to. I eat till I'm satisfied and then I am done! I'm not perfect at it; I do occasionally eat before I'm hungry because I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom, so I am used to our schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a 3 pm snack. But for the most part, I stick with it! My daughter noticed what I was doing and said she wanted to start trying it, too!
 
This experience has caused me to draw closer to Christ, also! We just started fostering children, and it has been a lot tougher than I expected! But with these lessons, it has caused me to view it as Suffering with Christ and an opportunity to Walk in the Spirit rather than my flesh! When I began this journey of Setting Captives Free, I planned on the boys we have being the first and last children we take, but now, we plan to continue and draw into and trust God in the journey!
 
We just had Thanksgiving, and I used to be the first one in line for the meal, after grazing all day, but this time, I waited for everyone else to make their plates and for my stomach to growl before making my own!!!

I definitely recommend this course! I've done so many of the fad diets and always felt like it was the addiction to food that I couldn't break free from, but since that's not an addiction that our culture acknowledges, I felt hopeless. The only options out there were the "eat this, not that" or the "do this workout while drinking these shakes and eating only these foods" options. This program gets to the root of the problem, and the freedom is so exhilarating that I don't really care how fast or slow the weight comes off! I’M FREE!!!
"
 
Nicklas writes, "Since taking the Setting Captives Free Purity Follow Up course, what has changed in my walk with God is the insight that I need to wash at the cross every day. It all starts with me realizing that I have already won (Rom 8:35) and that nothing can change God's love for me (Rom 8:29-30). This insight has changed everything and helped with Warring at the flesh.

My relationship with God has changed dramatically and this course has a big part of that. Up til now, my picture of God was of someone that is very disappointed with me and only loves me because He has promised to do so. I have been struggling with me loving God for several years without realizing that love needs to be started with me feeling loved by God (1 John 4:19).

By turning to the cross and realizing that not only are my sins forgiven but also I am no longer a slave of sin has created an intimate relationship between God and me. Another big difference is that I now long to study the Bible and pray each day. I am feeling much more secure in my faith compared to earlier when my faith could go up and down.

By the victory God has given me through me not being a slave to sin anymore, I feel loved by God, and I am no longer running away from" bad" feelings. I have been able to deal with the sorrow from my father's death and also the loss of a close friend of mine that committed suicide by focusing on the love of Jesus displayed for me on the cross. I have also grown in intimacy with my wife and children while taking this course.

I highly recommend this course; it is by far the best help I have had when it comes to understanding God, how much He loves me and what He has done for me. I have been struggling with impurity all my time as a Christian, but this course has really changed the game by helping me understand that God has set me free, and I am no longer a slave of sin. I have had the best period of my Christian life so far!”
 
Ron writes, "I find the principles taught at Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course helpful and not just for food addiction. I now have a different, more godly perspective on my relationship with food since I began. I learned that I can be free from calorie counting and other plans, which can weigh me down in legalism. At the same time, I learned that I can still enjoy food! God doesn't want me not to enjoy the foods that He made.
 
Physically, I've lost about 12 pounds, and I feel good! My arthritis doesn't bother me as much as it used to, and there are other benefits as well. I recommend the Setting Captives Free weight loss course and would encourage anyone taking it to stay the course for its entirety and beyond. It is SO worth it."

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland

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:

Do You Believe the Facts, or Do You Live By Faith?

This past week in our Setting Captives Free men's Marco Polo groups, we discussed Romans 4:16-21, and found much joy in the truth of it. 

Romans 4:18-19 (NLT) Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” 19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.

God came to Abraham and Sarah and said, “this time next year you will have a son” (Genesis 18:10). Abraham was then faced with a dilemma: do I believe the facts or do I put faith in what God said?

What were the facts in his case? 
  • Abraham was 100 years old
  • His body was as good as dead
  • Sarah’s womb was dead as well 
Those were the facts. So how can people who are past the age of child-bearing bear children? 

In spite of the facts, Abraham put faith in what God said, he hoped against hope, he believed by faith that God could raise the dead and give them a son, which is exactly what happened. "This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing" (Romans 4:17). 

Abraham knew the facts, that he and his wife had old bodies, they were past the age of child-bearing, Sarah’s womb was dead. But Abraham believed that God could raise the dead, and his faith did not weaken in light of the facts. 

And, as we all know, Abraham and Sarah had a son named Isaac. Faith changed the facts!

And how is it with you, friend? Are you looking at the facts or are you believing by faith? The world and the devil always want you to see the facts large in front of your eyes, that you might remain weak and enslaved.

God does not operate this way, instead He calls things that are not as though they were, as He said to Abraham, “I have made you the father of many nations”. As Abraham believed the truth of God’s Word, over the facts, he was not weak and enslaved, rather he “grew strong in faith” (Romans 4:20) and received the promise!

The facts are that by birth and by nature we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-4). But are we doomed to live and die in our sin? No, God raises the dead! Jesus died on the cross for your sins, then He took your old dead self to the grave with Him, and then He rose victorious over sin and death. And through His resurrection fro the dead, you rose in Him a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you look at the cross you see your old self dying, and if you look at Jesus’ rising from the dead, you see your new person alive and well! Do you believe that God can raise the dead?

Today, God says to us: “I have rescued you from power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), set you free from the power of sin through the death of Jesus (Romans 6:7), given you a new heart and a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17), made you to be "more than a conqueror through Him who loves you" (Romans 8:37) and I will keep you firm to the end: "He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns” (1 Corinthians 1:8). 

So which do you believe? The facts? Or do you put faith in God’s Word? If you believe the facts, repeat them to yourself and others, live in the light of them, you will remain in bondage, always weak and fearful and defeated. Like Peter, looking at the “facts” (winds and waves) will make you sink! 

But if you exercise faith in God’s Word, repeat the truth to yourself and others, live in light of it, you will experience Holy-Spirit energy, and will begin to live in real and lasting freedom. Faith will change your facts!

So in reality it’s not whether we believe the facts or have faith, but rather, do we believe God’s facts or our own facts? Believing God’s facts, as centered in the cross of Jesus, is “foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18), but to us who are being saved the cross is the power of God.

An exercise that is very helpful to do, is to list out your facts as they currently are, and then find a Scripture to believe. For example:

Fact 1: I am an addict and “once an addict always an addict", and I just never measure up.

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

Fact 2: I am unclean and enslaved, impure and defiled. My sins and faults loom large before me.

Faith:  "Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault” (Colossians 1:22 NLT).

Fact 3: I am so alive to sin, I hear it’s temptations in my ear all day long and my body reacts and responds to Satan’s call to sin.

Faith: "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NLT). 

Fact 4: Sin has such power over me, I am a slave to it. I know that by faith in Christ I’m made right with God, but I’m talking about being so weak to sin’s power.

Faith:  "We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:6-7 NLT).

Fact 5: I am a captive to sin and defeated in every area of my life; my life just smells of death and defeat!

Faith: "But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume” (2 Corinthians 2:14 NLT).

This is powerful faith, and works with anything you are going through, even facing death itself:

Fact 6: I have terminal cancer, I’ve been given six weeks to live, I’m going to die!

Faith: "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV).

Now, how about if you add number seven to the above list? Just reply to this email, send me your “fact!” and then show me what God says and how you are putting “faith” in it!

----------

Testimonies:

Veronica writes, "I used to mentally browse our kitchen contents while I was eating to see what I would eat next. Now, I don't even think about food; mostly, I'm looking forward to my stomach growling! It's something I truly enjoy now! Then, when I do eat, I don't overeat like I used to. I eat till I'm satisfied and then I am done! I'm not perfect at it; I do occasionally eat before I'm hungry because I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom, so I am used to our schedule of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a 3 pm snack. But for the most part, I stick with it! My daughter noticed what I was doing and said she wanted to start trying it, too!
 
This experience has caused me to draw closer to Christ, also! We just started fostering children, and it has been a lot tougher than I expected! But with these lessons, it has caused me to view it as Suffering with Christ and an opportunity to Walk in the Spirit rather than my flesh! When I began this journey of Setting Captives Free, I planned on the boys we have being the first and last children we take, but now, we plan to continue and draw into and trust God in the journey!
 
We just had Thanksgiving, and I used to be the first one in line for the meal, after grazing all day, but this time, I waited for everyone else to make their plates and for my stomach to growl before making my own!!!

I definitely recommend this course! I've done so many of the fad diets and always felt like it was the addiction to food that I couldn't break free from, but since that's not an addiction that our culture acknowledges, I felt hopeless. The only options out there were the "eat this, not that" or the "do this workout while drinking these shakes and eating only these foods" options. This program gets to the root of the problem, and the freedom is so exhilarating that I don't really care how fast or slow the weight comes off! I’M FREE!!!
"

Nicklas writes, "Since taking the Setting Captives Free Purity Follow Up course, what has changed in my walk with God is the insight that I need to wash at the cross every day. It all starts with me realizing that I have already won (Rom 8:35) and that nothing can change God's love for me (Rom 8:29-30). This insight has changed everything and helped with Warring at the flesh.

My relationship with God has changed dramatically and this course has a big part of that. Up til now, my picture of God was of someone that is very disappointed with me and only loves me because He has promised to do so. I have been struggling with me loving God for several years without realizing that love needs to be started with me feeling loved by God (1 John 4:19).

By turning to the cross and realizing that not only are my sins forgiven, but also I am no longer a slave of sin has created an intimate relationship between God and me. Another big difference is that I now long to study the Bible and pray each day. I am feeling much more secure in my faith compared to earlier when my faith could go up and down.

By the victory God has given me through me not being a slave to sin anymore, I feel loved by God, and I am no longer running away from" bad" feelings. I have been able to deal with the sorrow from my father's death and also the loss of a close friend of mine that committed suicide by focusing on the love of Jesus displayed for me on the cross. I have also grown in intimacy with my wife and children while taking this course.

I highly recommend this course; it is by far the best help I have had when it comes to understanding God, how much He loves me and what He has done for me. I have been struggling with impurity all my time as a Christian, but this course has really changed the game by helping me understand that God has set me free, and I am no longer a slave of sin. I have had the best period of my Christian life so far!”

Ron writes, "I find the principles taught at Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course helpful and not just for food addiction. I now have a different, more godly perspective on my relationship with food since I began. I learned that I can be free from calorie counting and other plans, which can weigh me down in legalism. At the same time, I learned that I can still enjoy food! God doesn't want me not to enjoy the foods that He made.

Physically, I've lost about 12 pounds, and I feel good! My arthritis doesn't bother me as much as it used to, and there are other benefits as well.
I would recommend the Setting Captives Free weight loss course and would encourage anyone taking it to stay the course for its entirety and beyond. It is SO worth it.
"

Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland