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The Power of the Cross: 114th Edition, January 19, 2020

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:

No Comfort Without Trouble and Suffering

Dear friend,

One thing we hear from students occasionally is this: "I WANT to feel close to Jesus, I WANT to have that intimacy back, but I'm just not seeming to find it."

And these students usually have one thing in common. Through further discussion, they admit that they are turning to false saviors and false comforts, idols really, to pamper and coddle their flesh. Now, we all lived that way at one time. "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts" (Ephesians 2:3). Indulging the flesh is simply the natural way of living, with our flesh in control, as we serve its lusts.

But we must understand that if there is no experience of the power of the cross in our lives, there will be no intimacy with Jesus. We cannot gratify our flesh and also fellowship with Christ in His sufferings at the same time. If we want intimacy with Jesus, we must embrace the cross of Christ.

We can see the necessary connection between troubles/sufferings and the comforts of Christ in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV):

 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ."

Notice that we "share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ." As believers, we are privileged to share in the precious and intimate sufferings of Christ! This is how to know Christ in a real and intimate way, and this is why Paul wrote:

"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."  Philippians 3:10 (NIV)

As we look at Jesus' suffering, we see that He denied His flesh and went purposefully and with great resolution to His death, as our Substitute. He chose us over His own life, over His own body. His love for us drew Him onward up Calvary's hill and laid Him out flat on the cross beams, and He laid there waiting for nails to be driven through His flesh, wearing thorns around His head that dug into His scalp, having already been beaten nearly to death. This is the kind of love Jesus exhibited for us, as He denied His own flesh and poured out His blood unto death for us. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28).

Why don't we experience closeness and intimacy with Jesus? Most of the time, it is because we are coddling our flesh rather than crucifying it, pampering it rather than pummeling it (1 Corinthians 9:27). It is because we know so little of suffering that we know so little of Christ's comforting.

But that can all change TODAY! "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." (Hebrews 3:15). Come to Calvary's mountain and look! See the Lamb of God taking away your sin, and let Him have it all! Don't hang on to your sin with both arms when Jesus' arms were nailed open for you. Open yours, too, and let your sin go to the cross. As you see Jesus' passion displayed in 3-D full color, turn from your sin, and die to it so that you might experience abundant life in Jesus! "The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God" (Romans 6:10).

Yes, knowing Christ is connected with participating in His sufferings and becoming like Him in His death. In other words, it is by denying our flesh rather than gratifying it that we come to know Christ and experience His comfort. It is in turning from false saviors and comforts to the real Savior and Comforter that we find closeness and intimacy with Him. As we shift from gratifying our flesh with food, sexual impurity, drunkenness, and lust, as we die to our flesh and run to God for comfort, then "our comfort abounds through Christ!"

Oh, friend, you'll have Spirit-imparted comfort, Christ-given comfort and intimacy if you die to your flesh rather than live for it. Yes, you'll share in the sufferings that the body of Christ experiences all throughout the world as they die to sin, but you'll also share in their comfort, which is so precious!

"And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."  2 Corinthians 1:7 (NIV)

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Testimonies:

Timothy writes, "I have taken a whole year to complete the lessons in the Purity Follow Up course at Setting Captives Free because I wanted to marinate on the concepts and make sure I understood them at a personal level.

The most significant change for me is the concept that the cross is always the answer to my sin and temptations. The cross exposes Satan for who he is and what his goal is - to destroy me. The cross gives me a safe and secure place to find refuge from the shame of my sin. At the cross, I see my Lord at his very best. He draws me to him by dying for me.

I ALWAYS recommend the Setting Captives Free Purity corses to others. I lead a worldwide ministry for people to overcome their sins, and I often speak of Setting Captives Free as the very best study I've found.


Felicia writes, "I needed the Purity Boot Camp course so much. I feel like I had come to a point in my life where the fires of my faith in Jesus needed refueling. Apart from the desperate need to be set free from sexual impurity, there was also, accompanying that, a need for a complete spiritual renewal. I feel that this course was a tremendous source of help for that.

Now, I feel drawn to making time to read the Bible and pray more. I also feel the urgings of the Holy Spirit, prompting me to behave differently towards others - with more love and less negativity. Most importantly, I feel I have the tools now to be free indeed from sexual impurity - it's all about Jesus Christ, my Lord, and my God - starting and finishing with Him.

This course has given me a new appreciation of my faith. As part of my faith, I wear a crucifix, and I make the sign of the Cross and see crucifixes in the churches so often, but this symbol has taken on a whole new meaning for me - I get it now - we are so Cross centered because the Cross represents freedom! By the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, by His Most Precious Blood shed on the Cross, by His choice to lay his life down and pay the price for my sins, I am set free indeed. Jesus is all I need.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen. Thanks be to God, and God bless you!”

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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