The Power of the Cross: 125th Edition, April 5, 2020


Mike Cleveland
 

The Power of the Cross: 125th Edition, April 5, 2020

Greetings friends,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining us. This weekly 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: During this time of the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, many people have questions about salvation. How can I escape judgment and punishment for my sins? How can I be right with God? And how can putting faith in Jesus - His death on the cross and resurrection - remove my fear during this pandemic? We have recorded a podcast addressing these questions; you can access it here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/salvation.

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Teaching

A Supernatural Rescue

Have you ever longed for a supernatural rescue? This article explains what it is, where to get it, and how it happens.

There are times in our lives when we feel that we are in darkness, unable to see what's coming, we don't know what to do, we think that the winds of providence are against us, and our efforts aren't producing results. 

Sometimes we create these dark and desperate times through our choices. We stop walking by the Spirit and yield to the lusts of our flesh. We become trapped in a sin storm, darkness surrounds us, we're unable to break free, and we feel a real lack of God's presence.

And there are times when, by no fault of our own, a storm in life overtakes us. We find ourselves in dire circumstances, and we feel a great sense of doom. The Coronavirus pandemic is this type of situation for most of the world today. Indeed, there is no guarantee that any of us will see tomorrow, and many feel the storm of this virus might capsize the world as we knew it.  Many are asking, where is God in all of this chaos?

If you’ve identified with any of the above, this message is for you!

A Terrible Storm


“When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17 where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. 18 A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough.” John 6:16-18 (NIV) 

Notice the wording here:

  1. They went down to the lake (John 6:16). The lake mentioned here is also called the Sea of Galilee. It is nearly 700 feet below sea level, so they definitely went down.
  2. It was dark (John 6:17). The sun had set, night had overtaken them, and it was dark.
  3. It was dangerous (John 6:18). A strong wind was blowing, and the waters grew rough, it was a challenging time in this storm.
  4. They might have felt deserted (John 6:17) as “Jesus had not yet joined them.” They had just witnessed Jesus’ miracle of feeding the multitude, now here they were in a dangerous storm without Jesus.

Maybe you've experienced life like this before. You've gone down, descended into something that feels like a hole. You've been overtaken by darkness, either physical or spiritual, and you can't see your way out. 

Then a storm arises, your circumstances are rough, they threaten to capsize you, and the threatening events of your life feel all-consuming. You wonder where Jesus is. He promised never to leave you nor forsake you, yet you feel very alone, isolated like He doesn't see you.

A Supernatural Rescue


“When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened.” John 6:19 (NIV) 

Jesus was walking on top of that, which caused His disciples much distress. And as they watched Jesus treading on the waves of the sea, it should have told them exactly who was walking toward them because the Old Testament writer Job reveals that God, alone, can walk on water:

“He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. 8 He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” Job 9:7-8 (NIV) 

But instead of being comforted by the presence of God in the Person of Jesus, the disciples were frightened. Notice what Jesus says to his fearful disciples: “‘It is I; don't be afraid.’” (John 6:20).

A more accurate translation of the Greek is, “Don’t be afraid, the I AM is here.” Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples as God, the only One who can walk on water. But by announcing Himself as the “I Am,” it would remind the disciples of the first time God revealed Himself as the “I Am” to Moses. God revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush, and Moses asked who He was, God said: “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). 

And what was the purpose that God came to Moses? To accomplish a rescue! Exodus 3:7-8 is a powerful passage:

“The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Exodus 3:7-8 (NIV) 

Yes, God saw and heard and was concerned about His people, so He came down to rescue them, to bring them up to a spacious land. The Great “I Am” came down to bring them up.

And in the story of the disciples in the storm, once again, the “I Am” came down to rescue His disciples.

“Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” John 6:21 (NIV) 

Another Supernatural Rescue


The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that God has seen your misery in sin, He has heard your cries for deliverance from bondage, He cares deeply about you, so He came down to earth in a human body, went to a cross to remove your sin and guilt, to bring you up out of sin, clear to heaven. His death on the cross breaks our chains by freeing us from guilt and the power of sin and putting us (our old sinful selves) to death with Jesus. “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).

Jesus then rose from the dead, victorious over sin that held us in bondage, over death that kept us in fear, over everything that terrifies us. Jesus rose victorious, having supernaturally rescued us from darkness and purchased our freedom and forgiveness through His death on the cross. “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). 

Application:

Turn and look at the cross, and see Jesus, the Great I Am, coming down to rescue you and bring you up out of sin. His suffering is your healing, His punishment your peace, His death your life. And this rescue at the cross gives us tremendous confidence that He will rescue us from all troubles and perils of this life:

“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us!” 2 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV) 

And what is your role and my role? John 6:21 tells us:

“Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” John 6:21 (NIV) 

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Testimonies:

The joy I have in ministering with Setting Captives Free is that nearly every day we get to see lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Below is one such example of a couple who has learned to come to the cross together:

Kwabena writes: 

I was involved in sexual impurity at an early age before age 7 and then picked up from softcore movies on TV, and then when I had access to the internet, I started to immerse myself in pornography which had a hook on my life for over 20 years.

I had no hope of breaking free. Pornography had a hook and an intense one of persistence. I went deeper and deeper into it and didn't know what to do. I tried filters, accountability partners (but I was not totally honest with them) and then even tried exorcism from pastors to be free from this sin. I could only go for a month without self-gratification or pornography. I was so hopeless and thought I should just give in and live with this sin as part of my being as a flaw of my life.

I found Setting Captives Free 1.0 and started taking it. But I was not finding freedom with the Radical amputation, because my heart was still not right. I installed filters on people's computers, yet I would find ways to go around them when my slave master, porn, came calling. The progression was taking me down the wrong path, and I knew that this was going to be my life.  I knew that eventually, there would be a scandal due to this secret sin.

But Setting Captives Free 2.0 came around, and I started to take it, I was shocked that it was talking about grace and the cross. I was like, "please skip this cross stuff and tell me what I need to DO to be free." But it kept talking about the cross and what has been done for me. I had to pray that this "gospel" (Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection) and the cross will be "internalized/penetrated" in my heart. I found freedom but then started to drift from the cross; hence, I started living in bondage again.

My mentor encouraged me to retake the course which I did, and God has really ministered to my heart. I used to count the days of freedom, but now I've stopped because I want to know Christ, who has ransomed me, and it is now changing my heart. First, I used to feel like "I had to watch porn" or "It's Friday, so go and watch porn." But now God through the cross has broken this stronghold and set me free.

Brethren, if you knew who I was, how far into sexual sin, I went. I was contemplating sleeping with animals at a point. By God's grace, I didn't get there. Now pornography and sexual sin have lost its hold on me because Jesus has healed and will continue to heal my heart.

I don't know where you might be, I was at the bottom of the pit with no hope, but Jesus stretched his hands and reached out to me.

I know the devil will come at an opportune time to tempt me and enslave me. But with me standing in the power of the might of God at the cross, I shall prevail. Even if I should fall, I know I'm not a slave to sin anymore.

Glory be to God for what He's done in my life. My fiance wanted to break up with me because of this sin, but God granted her grace, and she took the Setting Captives Free course A United Front. We are now married. Find below my wife's testimony.”

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Nana writes, It’s been a month since Kwabena and I got married. It’s been a time of loving, learning and growing. Before we were married I saw evidence of Kwabena’s heart changes and rejoiced with him. After getting married and seeing him everyday, I thank God for the man he is and the one he is becoming. His love for God and commitment to Him is very evident. His dependence on God for purity, growth, love, financial blessing, etc. is really encouraging to me.

I learn from him everyday. I have my own struggles and weaknesses and I am grateful that I have a husband who teaches me (with his life) to go to God with EVERYTHING and to truly trust Him to come through.

I used to live in fear everyday, thinking “what will I do if he falls?” “Where’s my hope?” And although I prayed for my husband (then fiancé), sometimes the fear was greater than the hope and trust in God. Seeing God work so mightily and powerfully in Kwabena’s life and therefore in my life, has given me greater hope for the future. I know that nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Somewhere last year, God showed me in His word that if a brother sins in a way that doesn’t lead to death and we pray for that person that God would give him life (1 John 5:16). Through what we went through, God has shown me His faithfulness to do what He says He will do. I know for a fact that God can restore our relationships with Him; He has the power to change even the most “hopeless” situations.

I am not perfect and I know I need my husband’s love and forgiveness every day.

I pray that my husband and I both learn to pray for and love each other, so that God will continue cleansing us and giving us life.

I rejoice with my beloved husband for this new life he is living in Christ and I trust God to keep us both in faith, hope, love and purity.


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Friend, if you find you agree 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. www.settingcaptivesfree.com/donate. Thank you in advance.



Sincerely,

Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free