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The Power of the Cross: 75th Edition, April 14, 2019

Mike Cleveland
 

Greetings friends,

Welcome to the new subscribers just joining us. We publish once per week on Sunday. The newsletter shares short gospel writings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.

This week for our teaching, let me ask you a question: what does the creation of the world have to do with our freedom from habitual sin? Read the following short writing by Setting Captives Free board member Erick Hurt for the answer:

Genesis 1:1-5 ESV In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Our lives were just like the earth, in fact, we could say, “In the beginning” our lives were without form and in an uninhabitable state, void and buried in the darkness of the deep. But when God said, “let there be light” everything changed and the uninhabitable became habitable, took on form, was no longer void and darkness was separated from the light. And this light that God saw as “good” became Good News to us! “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2). The darkness you and I have walked in for so many years which made our lives worthless, formless and void of anything good and powerless to do anything about, God did something about by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3). So that our crucified and risen Christ could be formed in us (Galatians 4:19). Our lives would no longer be void, but filled with the Spirit and we would see “light shining out of darkness.”

So we look to the cross where we see Jesus who “carried our sorrows”, was “stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted”, left for dead, separated from His Father, hanging on the cross without form, void and empty of human or heavenly help. The place where His blood poured out like water, nailed there to die in the darkness of death (Psalm 22:14). Then Jesus went even deeper into the darkness of the grave, into “the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40) He lay for three days, so He could go down to the depths of death for all of us and raise us up with Him. And notice this all happened on the “first day” of creation as if God would call the light of the gospel that shined out of the darkness and into our hearts of “first importance.” Showing the work of the cross where a “new creation” purchased with the blood of Christ which makes the uninhabitable, habitable, separates light from darkness, raises us up from the deepest darkness, forms us into the image of Christ and fills our empty hearts with His Spirit!

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).


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Colleen writes, "The change in me over the last 30 days while taking the Setting Captives Free - Weight Loss course has been tremendous, both spiritually and physically.

I took the old "Lord's Table "course back in 2011 and lost 50 pounds, but over time I gained back nearly every pound and was miserable. I thought my misery was based on the weight gain but found that it was because I was not savoring Christ, not suffering with Him, and walking in the flesh...all while playing Christian.

The new Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course is so much better than the old because it centers on what happened when Jesus died on the Cross and how that changes lives, on God's supernatural grace and power, and His great love. It took away what I call 'the watchdog' aspect of the former course and keeps bringing you back to the cross, the only place of change. I thought I wanted the structure of the old course but found that using the principles taught in the new course are much better.

Through this course, I developed an appetite for my time with God. He wakes me before my responsibilities begin each morning to ensure we have time together. He brings Scripture to mind throughout the day to guide and comfort. He's replaced my lazy, apathetic habits and attitudes with a desire to do more for Him and my family. He reminds me often of my enemy who wants to lure me into sin and how important my time of savoring Him is. He made it easy to wait to eat and to stop when satisfied. But He also shed light on other pitfalls that were separating me from Him and has helped me use the same principles to begin to overcome them. He's shown me some of my attitudes that are downright ugly when viewed from His perspective. Attitudes that I was using as a shield to protect my pride when I needed to run to Him and confess and let HIM be my shield. Bottom line: This course has grown in me a love for my Savior that I did not have. It's given me the tools to continue in that loving relationship and to change as I endeavor to be like Him.

My physical changes are also encouraging. I've shed 12 pounds, and my clothes are fitting again. I was slowly losing stamina, range of motion in my shoulders after some injuries, and strength in my lower extremities after six months of dealing with a cyst behind my left knee. All are improved! I'm able to add more movement and low impact exercise and look forward to even more. I'm going to lead this course in my church and have opened it up to the community. I am very excited to share this good news!

This course has changed my life. I am grateful for your ministry and passion to see others set free from bondage.


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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