Topics

The Power of the Cross: 116th Edition, February 2nd, 2020


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 116th Edition, February 2nd, 2020


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: How To Live In Ongoing Freedom


To experience the power of God, and find lasting freedom from any and all habit patterns of sin, requires remembering and focusing on the cross and resurrection of Jesus.


In this week’s teaching, I want us to look at a story in the Bible that illustrates this point. Let’s read it together:


“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:1-8 (NIV)


These women loved Jesus and were taking spices with them to His tomb to anoint Jesus’ dead body. It was common practice in those days, the purpose of which was to minimize the stench of the dead body.


But as these women got to the tomb of Jesus, three surprising things happened. 1) The stone was rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, 2) the body of Jesus was missing, and 3) two men (angels) suddenly appeared to the women.


Note: when you are looking for Jesus, expect there to be surprises waiting for you and occurrences you can’t explain. He meets you in unexpected ways.


These two angel-messengers of God ask the women a very important question, and then state an essential truth: “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!


Pause and ponder the question that the angels asked the women: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” And then consider this question: what does it have to do with our freedom?


The angel-messengers give us a clue why these women were looking for the living among the dead: “Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.


These women went to the tomb because they had forgotten Jesus’ words to them. They had forgotten the message He told them, and so they were looking for the living among the dead. And what was the message that Jesus told them earlier?


It was the message of the entire Bible, the focal point of every Scripture: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.


These women had forgotten the gospel! They had forgotten that Jesus would die for their sin and rise again for their salvation. They had forgotten Jesus’ words that He would give them life through His death, provide freedom through the cross, and of His upcoming resurrection in power.


And so because they lost their focus and forgot this message, they were looking for the living among the dead.


Friend, consider this: when we get distracted, upset, anxious, bored, etc. and turn to food, alcohol, pornography, sex, drugs, or anything else, we are trying to find more life! We want to be comforted, to be filled up, to experience a thrill, to get a rush - to find life! And yet in doing so, we are looking for life among dead things. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?


And why do we look for the living among the dead? We, like the women in this story, may not know the power of the gospel, or may have forgotten the gospel! We may have forgotten the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus! “But whoever does not have them (the qualities of Christ) is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Peter 1:9).


Note: when we forget the cleansing power of the cross, we stop growing in Christlike qualities.


And so what is the antidote? What will keep us from looking for life among the dead? It is to remember the gospel again! “Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:8).


Oh, friend, remember this good news today and focus on it! Remember that Jesus climbed the hill of Calvary with your sin on His back, that He was then pierced for your transgressions and crushed for your iniquities (Isaiah 53:5), as He took your place and your punishment. “...the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).


Look at the cross and see Jesus enduring separation from His Father (Matthew 27:46), being cursed by God (Galatians 3:13), being baptized in God’s wrath (Luke 12:50), so that you would be accepted by God, united to God, and blessed by God!


As you look there, once again, let it break your heart and cause you to mourn (see Amos 8:10). “Grieve, mourn, and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:9-10).


Let the message of this One who gave up His last drop of blood and His last breath of air for you, pierce and wound you, hurt and humble you, even as it did Peter when he remembered the words Jesus spoke to Him: “Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).


But don’t stop there! Keep looking! Look long enough that your broken heart begins to mend! Look until your hurting heart becomes healed (Isaiah 61:1)! Let the dawning realization that Jesus’ death in your place was because of His overwhelming love for you! Let the knowledge that He loved you unto death raise you, encourage you, mend you, bless you, and satisfy you. Let the knowledge that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day raise you as well. Let it lift you to heaven, where your new heart and new life will soar with Jesus! “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” (Colossians 3:1-3).


Keep looking, keep remembering! Look until you begin to rejoice that you are pardoned. “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). Look at the cross and remember that Jesus’ death set you free: “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).Look at the cross, and remember the message until you sing, worship, dance, shout, praise, and laugh. For you are accepted in Jesus (Ephesians 1:6), you are holy and righteous and pure and spotless because Jesus removed your sin, your guilt, and your shame (Hebrews 10:10-14).


Look at the cross, and remember the message until you sing, worship, dance, shout, praise, and laugh. For you are accepted in Jesus (Ephesians 1:6), you are holy and righteous and pure and spotless because Jesus removed your sin, your guilt, and your shame (Hebrews 10:10-14). Let this powerful message sink deeply into your heart, so that you see yourself now as right with God, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus, spotless as the Lamb of God Himself with no blemish and free from all accusation (Colossians 1:22-23). Find your identity in Jesus, not in your past sin. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).


Friend, if you look at the cross and resurrection of Jesus often enough, if you remember the words of Jesus, the message of forgiveness and pardon and rescue and redemption, it will keep you from looking for the living among the dead, preventing you from looking for life among dead things.

----------


Testimony:


Anna writes, I found this course in February 2018. At that time, I was busy with a betrayal trauma support group, so I decided I didn't need this material. Fast forward to Dec. 2019, and in pain and anger, I said to my husband, "There is no way out of this for me. I will be trapped in this pain forever. You should have thought this through and thought about me before deciding to go down this path. There is no healing from this. I just have to learn to survive it and live the rest of my life in pain." That is where I was when I started A United Front 30 days ago. I was angry, bitter, and filled with hate. I was lost in my pain and was losing hope of it ever getting better.


I learned through this course that I was focusing on the wrong thing - my pain. My focus needed to be where true hope and healing are found - Jesus Christ. I started this course with a huge weight. Little by little, the beauty of Christ and His work on the cross was revealed to me. I was learning how I betrayed Christ, and how He loved me so much He rescued me. I was learning lessons on forgiveness, humility, patience, and taking my thoughts captive. There were so many practical and powerful lessons. At each stop on the way, I was able to drop a little bit of the pain I was feeling. Each day the weight was getting lighter and lighter as I was learning the truth of Jesus Christ and who I was in Him. I was able to see myself and my husband accurately. I was no longer the "good one," and he the "bad one." We were both sinners in a battle fighting together for our marriage. And I can clearly see my husband is not my enemy.


Thirty days ago, I started this course a bitter, angry woman being crushed under the weight of pain, but I'm leaving this course a kinder, more compassionate woman filled with the love and hope of Christ. My husband said it best the other day when he said, "it's so nice to see you smile and laugh again."


Yes, I recommend this course. If you are considering this course, please know that hope is not lost. This course will help. I had tried trauma groups, counseling, and was no better off, but the Gospel is powerful and life-changing. Who better to go to for help and healing than the One who created you."


---------------


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