The Power of the Cross: 160th Edition, December 6th, 2020

Mike Cleveland

The Power of the Cross: 160th Edition, December 6th, 2020

Greetings friends,


Welcome, new subscribers! This weekly newsletter shares short gospel teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find it helpful and encouraging.




Setting Captives Free has approximately 65 active mentors, and today, I wanted to highlight the ministry of two of them.

First, Dean is a mentor who is very passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus and His gospel rescued Dean, delivered him, released him, and set him free to proclaim the glories of Calvary. I asked him to write the weekly encouragement for our mentors this week, and though I knew him to be extremely gospel-centered, I was not prepared for the powerful writing that followed. It blessed my heart, brought tears of joy to my eyes, and caused repentance and worship to flow!

Dean maintains a powerful gospel blog that we encourage you to follow. This week’s teaching is one of the writings from his blog. 

The second mentor we want to highlight is Sara, who has come to value and prize the message of the cross above all else. You will hear her heart’s praise for the One who rescued her at the cross as you read her mentoring of a student below in the testimony section.

So, here is the writing by Dean. Read it slowly, digest it, and you’ll come away having seen Jesus!

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.” Exodus 6:6
I love the account we are given in Exodus as the dramatic and heroic work of God delivered His people across the waters of judgment at the Red Sea by the hand of a man! I have often read these passages. But in my quiet time recently, the Holy Spirit has illuminated a profound picture of Jesus Christ crucified, as the words, “Dry Ground” leaped off the page and pierced my heart! Immediately, I received a new understanding of the beautifully divine shadow we see of our magnificent Savior in the man, Moses, who, in the shadow of Jesus, delivered many sons to glory from the land of Egypt.
Please note: It is with reserved caution I highlight Moses as the shadow of Christ because it is not about the man, but all about the work our Conquering King, Jesus Christ, on the Hill of intercessory bloodshed for a generation of once-lost dark and hardened hearts – you and me! However, I give honorable mention of Moses because this account of deliverance is our heritage, and it paints a glorious picture of divine departure from our own Egypt across a Red sea…on Dry Ground.

The Shadow of Christ as Shepherd
Moses – “Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.” Exodus 3:1
Jesus – “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
The Shadow of Christ as Deliverer
Moses – “This Moses, whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’—this man God sent as both ruler and redeemer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.” Acts 7:35
Jesus – “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
The Shadow of Christ as Commissioned by God
Moses – “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:10
Jesus –  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
By these verses, we can certainly see that Moses was indeed a shadow and type of Christ as we see in the following passage:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen…” Deuteronomy 18:15

However, as we look upon Moses in this reading, we can see, though merely man, he was mightily used by God. And as we read the following, let us pivot our gaze from the humanity of Moses to the Holiness of Jesus and the glorious power by which He rescued us from Egypt! Let’s look together…
God commanded Moses to lift up his staff.  
The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”  Exodus 14:15-16
God commanded the waters to part
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” Exodus 14:21
God commanded Israel to cross through the waters
“And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” Exodus 14:22 
I’m certain as we glance at these few verses (a mere small-screen observation by comparison to the bigger Imax view), by now the picture of Jesus Christ has already come into our scope. We can see that as Moses lifted up the pole, on the authority of God, Israel crossed through the Red Sea to their freedom from their oppressor, the king of Egypt. We read, “And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonder.” Deuteronomy 26:8
But then, look, did God command the Israelites to “Swim hard and fast to the other side?” No, He commanded Moses to stretch out his hand and then THE LORD drove back the waters. God parted the sea for the Israelites to cross THROUGH the sea. Not around, not over, but through!
And lastly we see that the Israelites indeed went through the darkness of the sea to their right and to their left, on dry ground, to the other side, entering into their deliverance as they trusted God to lead them through the form of the man, who was Moses. (The Holy Spirit is taking us somewhere with all of these keynotes.)
Fast forward about a thousand years or so and we see vivid connections from God’s deliverance of Israel and our own deliverance from bondage to sin. We shift now from the man, Moses, to the Son of Man, the Beloved Savior of our souls, our Risen King, Jesus Christ!
God commanded Jesus to be lifted up on a staff – for us!
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” John 12:32-33
As an obedient Son, Jesus went to the cross on the command and authority of God. Yes, in His humanity, He petitioned before His Father to deliver Him from the cross, but in His holiness and divine obedience, we see that He preferred to become the deliverer for you and for me! And the way He died for us was joyfully humble to sacrifice Himself up on a lifted pole, where His tormented body was crushed by the will of the Father (Isaiah 53:10)! See then, as Moses lifted up the authority of God – by the wooden staff of God – Jesus was lifted up for us all on a wooden staff by the authority and pleasure of God to deliver us from bondage to sin!
God commanded the judgment to part – from us! We look again, and we see the waters, the dark and foreboding waters to the right and to the left, as the entire nation of Israel crossed through to the other side. They heard the command to “Go,” and so they believed. Even though fear and panic, natural ramifications of such a sight must have quickened many hearts, they trusted, and went, as the LORD delivered them through the waters to their destiny of freedom! But what is happening here?
As Jesus was nailed to the tree of curses, He was stretched out as Moses’ arms were stretched out at the Red Sea. Jesus’ arms were stretched to the point where they could not be stretched any further. We see that as his hands reached their limits, His fingers were pointing – each hand pointing in completely different directions – figuratively from east to west. What does this mean?
It means for us, brothers and sisters, that God commanded us, a nation in bondage to wickedness and evil, to walk by faith through the waters – indeed the waters of judgement – that HE held back, that HE stopped up, that HE commanded to part, so that, just as Israel crossed through the sea with waters on either side, you and I could walk by faith to our deliverance with the waters of judgment held back – therefore destroying the works of the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us by the condemning waters on either side!
But what about our Savior pointing to the east and west? We know that we were delivered from condemnation as our Beloved Jesus, the lover of our souls, held back the sea of judgment, and indeed ALL of our condemnation for us as far as the east is from the west! Then, you and I walked victoriously THROUGH the waters of condemnation to our deliverance ON THE OTHER SIDE! Oh, hallelujah!! What a Savior!
God commanded a Red Sea crossing – by us! The very sea by which the enemy counted on for the defeat of Israel, God used to deliver Israel. Likewise, what the enemy believed he would accomplish IN the death of Jesus, became the very purpose FOR the death of Jesus! We look now at the cross of our Savior. He is lifted up and hung there to die. Bleeding out of His body from countless wounds and piercings. He is risen up and pouring himself out and down…blood streaking His brow, His face, His hands, his feet – His very bosom. His body saturated with crimson flow. And there, in the sea of red, in the depths of the greatest love-purchased triumph, we crossed through. As Jesus held back the seas of judgment, we were transferred through the judgment of our failures and pride over to the other side! Jesus commanded our destiny!
God commanded a Dry Ground crossing – FOR HIS GLORY And if that were not enough to cut your heart. If that were the end, it would surely be glorious enough. But that’s not all! Just like the nation of Israel, who crossed through the Red Sea of judgement – we too crossed through the sea of red, the blood of Jesus Christ by Whom the sea of judgment was held back. And as that sea of condemnation was stopped by the outstretched hands of our Lord, He poured out His blood of mercy, compassion, grace…His bosom of love for us! And the flow of that precious love of God never ceased that day – until Jesus was poured OUT COMPLETELY. The NKJV of Titus 3:6 expresses beautifully just how much Jesus loved you and me, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
The measure by which Jesus saved us as He was “poured out abundantly” speaks to the fact that He was poured out in “full measure.” Now, I’m no math genius, but I believe “full measure” denotes a completeness, an entirety. That would tell us that as Jesus gushed out His blood, in full and complete measure, that he was emptied entirely of his salvation-rendering grace. Jesus was poured and emptied. And to ensure that He was indeed poured out fully, He received a Roman spear into his side to accomplish the endeavor. And, as He drained completely on that cross, Jesus’ body was dried up. His bones and flesh were all that was left of our loving Lamb – Who was slain completely and dried out fully for us – to fulfill the shadow of our ancestors – who crossed THROUGH the RED SEA of judgment which was removed from us as FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST on the poured out fully, DRY GROUND of our oh, so dear and precious SAVIOR!

My friend, you can be assured of your personal deliverance from the bondage that once held you captive in “Egypt,” the land of your oppression and agonizing torment. At the cross of Jesus, with His hands and arms outstretched wide by Roman spikes, His body bleeding – wounded and pouring out from the top of His pierced brow down to his disfigured feet crushed by the blows of hammered nails, He is gasping for breath and dying – in your place! He is bound to the tree so you could be delivered and set free; His body crushed under the judgment of God so that you could be made whole and free from condemnation!

But right now, you might not feel like it; you might be sensing condemnation all around you from every side. You might be walking through life with a heavily-burdened heart from depression, hopelessness, fear, and anxiety. Perhaps you are experiencing bitterness and anger from past rejections, abandonments, or other significant losses. Or maybe, even, you are suffering in the bondage to a sinful lifestyle and cannot see an end to it because you feel stuck in a muddy bog with seemingly no way out.

My friend, if you are walking in this life and all you see is the walls of condemnation and judgment looming large on both sides of you, I’m here to tell you that there is hope, there is freedom on the dry ground of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who poured out all His life – to give you new life in Him! There is deliverance ahead of you as you press forward to your deliverance on the other side.

If you are feeling lost and alone today, I want to tell you all about Who I have found – Jesus Christ – and Him crucified for all our sin, hopelessness, condemnation, judgment, failure, despair, and much more! At the cross of our Savior, Whose arms are open wide to receive you just as you are, He beckons you, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” If you are so burdened and weary, I would highly recommend visiting my friends at Setting Captives Free, a very real resource for very real life challenges.
Come to the cross and be set free, dear reader, you are not alone in whatever you are going through, but take heart, we have a Great High Priest Who knows exactly what you are experiencing right now. And He is able to empathize with your hurt and your fears. Call upon the name of Jesus today, and He will answer your cries with sincere compassion through mercy and grace to help in your time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 Call upon Him now, run to Him – and He promises He will be for you a strong tower and refuge from every fear, every lie, every condemnation, every hopeless thought – indeed, He will shelter you from every enemy of your soul. (Psalm 61:3) He is waiting for you – go ahead, lay it all down at his feet, all your cares and worries and He will bring you joy, hope and peace Romans 15:13 – in Jesus name, amen!
The below is our mentor, Sara, walking with and instructing a student of hers. It is placed in this “testimony” section because she includes much of her own story in her mentoring. Here it is:
Sara writes to her student: “And that's exactly the reason why JESUS came to earth to pay the price for our sins. Because He knew that we never could. Never.
Isn't that freeing to realize?
(Student’s name), we can just stop striving to free us ourselves. By our own efforts and strength. Lets just stop trying. Because we will never be able to do it.
That's where I was, when my heart grew so proud and all of a sudden I realized in what a MESS I was in, and had to admit that I was utterly ENSLAVED and TRAPPED by the devils schemes and traps he set out for me, here's what I did. I was striving soooo hard to get out MYSELF.
I was trying harder.
More determined.
Tried with more force and more determination, more "self control" more striving.... and FAILED MISERABLY!!!
It wasn't until I realized that I simply could NOT do anything to free myself that JESUS started freeing me.
I looked to the cross. Long and hard.... and....
I stopped striving.
My heart became calm. My soul became peaceful as I started to BELIEVE that my JESUS had FINISHED it ALL for ME!! Yes even me!:sob::hearts: I only needed to believe it and to accept it.
(Student’s name), take a moment just now and think about this truth.
And you don't have to. (Because you can't)
JESUS did.
And now YOU can rest in the FINISHED work of JESUS, YOUR SAVIOR because of what HE did at the cross.
Isn't that glorious?
Tell me, how's your heart reading this good news tonight?
This gospel truth continues to break my heart into thousands of pieces so to say.
And this gospel truth fuels the FIRE deep inside of me to just SHARE it with others. In fact, I can't keep it to myself, it bursts OUT of me!!”
Sara’s student responded in this way:
“"There really are no words to describe how I feel right now. I don’t know what to say. My whole life I’ve been living in the lie that no one loves me and that I had to take care of myself when the cross of Christ proves that this couldn’t be further from the truth! Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for taking my sin and my shame and bearing the weight of God’s wrath that I deserved. Realizing what Christ did on the cross for ME makes me what to give him everything. I withhold nothing from my Lord who died so that I could be set free. In a very real sense, I was running to lust and pornography to feel loved but Christ’s love is so much better and so much greater that I don’t see any reason to turn from his glorious love to a worn out worthless counterfeit. Sara the way you explain what Christ did for me is so beautiful, simple and powerful that I can’t help but fall at the cross of Christ and pour my heart out to him in brokenness and gratitude as he hangs there dying for ME! May God bless you greatly my dear sister in Christ!"
Yes, this is the power of the cross!
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. Thank you in advance. 

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Mike Cleveland
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free