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The Power of the Cross: 83rd Edition, June 9, 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 teachings and testimonies from Setting Captives Free students. We hope you will find the newsletter helpful and encouraging.

Exciting News: The Purity Bootcamp course is now live in Russian, and the Purity Follow-Up course is now live in Dutch. Thanks to God, the many donors, prayer warriors and volunteer translators who made this possible. Special thanks to Mike Chirkov for his work on the Russian Purity Bootcamp and Petrus Zijlstra and Theo Van-Son for their work on the Dutch Purity course.

This Week’s Teaching: Why did we name this newsletter “The Power of the Cross”? Why do we show testimonies every week of lives being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ? It is because the one leads to the other: the power of the cross is not just for the saving of lives, wonderful as that is, but also for the transforming of lives. The power of the cross leads to victory over sin in our lives. We can see that from looking to the beginning of 1 Corinthians 15, and comparing it with the end:

Beginning: 1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (NIV) For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.

End: 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NIV) When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The cross is the foundation and the power of all victory, of all transformation of lives. I lived in bondage to sin’s power, and tried for years to be free of it and failed, but can tell you from my own experience that the cross of Jesus has greater power than the deception and pull of sin. When we look at it, really examine it, and put faith in it, we experience it’s power and find freedom.

Please take a moment and read this article from Billy Graham: https://billygraham.org/decision-magazine/april-2007/the-power-of-the-cross/ 

This week’s Testimonies:

Cindy writes, "The Setting Captives Free - Weight Loss study has been life-changing for me! I have learned to truly appreciate in concrete ways how deep the gospel river flows! I have always had a deep appreciation for what Jesus did on that cursed tree, but savoring it each morning is revealing His ever-increasing presence in my life. The more I think of Him and the gospel, the nearer He draws to me. As I reach out to Him, He consumes me with His love. This is exactly what I needed. I thought I had a good relationship with Jesus before, but now I know intimacy with Him that I had no idea was possible.

I always prayed for the Holy Spirit to change me so I could be pleasing to my precious savior, but down deep, I knew I could not possibly please Him because of my flaws. I am a perfectionist; therefore, I know I am very critical of myself. I wish I were more humble, more caring, more giving, more loving, more disciplined, just more in general for Him. I have finally buried those critical thoughts at the foot of the cross. I will not dwell on what I am not anymore; instead, I will dwell on WHO He is and WHAT He did for me. Now, I know that I am pleasing to God, greatly loved, and cherished in Him. And now, I truly believe it!

For years, I was obsessed with food, my weight, and diets. There was always a plan for what I would or would not eat. Even when I did lose the extra weight, it was a struggle to keep it off. Since taking this course, I have been able to stop thinking about food for extended periods for the first time in years. I see a gradual breaking of the unhealthy role food has played in my life. I have lost six to seven pounds, and I can see a big difference in how my clothes fit. I am confident that as I continue to focus on spiritual food to soothe my soul instead of my giving in to my fleshy gratification, I will continue to move toward a healthy weight.

By savoring and feasting on Christ and the gospel and by suffering with Christ in little ways each day, I can exercise my authority over sin and use that power from the Lord Jesus to live free from the guilt of the obsessive eating of my past. My new life is one of strength, power, and freedom from the flesh that used to control me.

I love my new, deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. I feel Him coaxing me to leave my worldly comforts, my old life, my food addictions, my obsessions, and walk by faith with Him. He is transforming me, so I am ready for eternity. He fills my heart with everything good and true and teaches me to love Jesus.

Finally, I have recommended this study to no less than a dozen people already. I know so many people who have been in counseling for years to try to work out problems with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, food issues, and they are still stuck in the muck! All because they are turning to the wrong authority! I am excited to tell them about this study so that they can have an encounter with Jesus as I have and find true freedom.”

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Joe writes, "God has used the Setting Captives Free Purity Boot Camp course to open my eyes and show me how to use the biblical principles in my daily life. I have seen strongholds lose their grip in my life as I've applied these principles and received Christ's completed work in my life. 


I took the old Setting Captives Free "Way of Purity" course about eight years ago. I had even spoken on the topic in various church settings. I walked in victory for a while, but then my heart began to get haughty. I forgot the main thing that set me free - the Cross of Jesus Christ. I was relying on only the guidelines and principles of accountability, filters, etc. Like some of the Galatians, I had turned "again to the weak and beggarly elements" (Galatians 4:9) and was again in bondage rather than continuing to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). When I began the new Purity Boot Camp course, I knew that I couldn't fight the battle on my own anymore.


This course reminded me of the reality that I live by faith in the complete work of Christ on the cross. He sets me free and "whom the Son sets free is free indeed." (John 8:36). I received the cleansing of Jesus over my past sins, and my conscience (Hebrews 9:14, Romans 8:1), and I  was awakened to a renewed love for God and His Word, by His Spirit which I also received at the cross!


I have enjoyed working through these lessons and meditating on God's Word and being washed by it every day! (Ephesians 5:26). I am now learning to "trust in the Lord with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5). 


As a part of having God direct my steps (Proverbs 3:6), I have asked God to give me wisdom in coming up with a battle plan for continued victory. Part of that is to seek His face every day for how to go forward in the war that day. I have also rid myself of my smartphone and bought a flip phone. I have enjoyed the freedom from social media, time wasting, etc., as well as the removal of a major source of temptation. My wife has become my ally instead of a source of bitterness and frustration. She checks up on me regularly, and I have partnered with her in sharing my struggles and fighting our war together as a team. 


God has restored me in so many ways as I have walked with Him through this course and applied His Word to my life. I am humbled and amazed at how simple the Gospel is yet how powerful to set captives free! "The foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1:25). By God's grace, I will humble myself before God every day and let His righteousness and grace keep me free by faith. I will "abide in Him and let His Words abide in me... (John 15:7)."


The Purity Boot Camp course points you to the Gospel, which is "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Romans 1:16)." This study is not another self-help course; it is God's Word pointing you to Jesus, His cross, and His Holy Spirit to fight against the flesh successfully, be washed, and to walk in the Spirit. I highly recommend this course for anyone who struggles with pornography and sexual sin, and I love how these truths apply to every area of our lives, not just sexual sins!


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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