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The Power of the Cross: 89th Edition, July 21, 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.

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Teaching:

Sin makes us tired and weary, exhausted in the battle. I remember trying to fight sin in my own strength for years and ending up exhausted, for everything I tried failed. Simply put, my sin was stronger than I was. 

Do you know what I mean? Do you get weary of fighting the same battle over and over, of succumbing to the pull of sin when what you want to do is be successful in the battle? If so, look at this passage with me, written to a weary nation that was presently captive:

Jeremiah 31:23-25 (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: ‘The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.’ 24 People will live together in Judah and all its towns—farmers and those who move about with their flocks.
25 I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. 

Freedom to this weary nation of Israel, who were currently captive to the nation of Babylon, meant that not only would there be God’s blessing in the nation again but that they would be refreshed and satisfied. God Himself would refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Freedom, blessing refreshment and satisfaction would replace captivity, cursing, weariness and fainting.

Jesus Christ invites all who are weary to come to Him. He extends an invitation to those weary in sin and burdened down by their attempts at law-keeping and righteous living. The promise is that as we come to Him we will find rest for our souls:

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The reason Jesus’ yoke for us is easy, and His burden is light, is because on the cross He broke the bars of our yoke and He lifted our sin burden off of us. "I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high” (Leviticus 26:13). While on the cross He sank under the burden of your sin and He worked for six hours on the cross until He exclaimed with a loud voice, “It is finished!” At that time, the curtain that divided the Most Holy Place from the inner court was torn in two from top to bottom,  indicating that all are now invited to come freely into God’s presence, and as we come to Him and believe the message of the cross we find rest. “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

Oh friend, come to the cross and look up, and as you do you see Jeremiah 31:23-25 being fulfilled in every sense. At the cross Jesus took your curse and purchased God’s blessing for you (Galatians 3:13-14), He “made the two one” so that all believers can live in community with one another (Ephesians 2:14), no matter their race, background or previous enmity. At the cross, we are released from captivity to sin through believing the good news. At the cross we finally experience rest and refreshment, as we see Jesus has removed our burden of sin, nailed it to the cross and buried it in a grave. “As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

To close this teaching session, I encourage you to read this wonderful writing from Joce, one of our mentors here at Setting Captives Free. It is called “Kept Safe in the Arms of Jesus”, and you can find it here: https://settingcaptivesfree.com/forum/topic/1104/kept-safe-in-the-arms-of-christ

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Testimonies:

Joe writes, “I was baptized and raised in a Christian household. I went to weekly services and was part of Sunday school, becoming a teacher myself when in high school. I was a founding member of the church's youth group and involved as its leading membership serving two years as its president. I then went off to a Christian college, continuing my involvement with various groups joining the only fraternity that was Christian and had outreach service as its primary mission. After school, I continued to be involved with the church. 

All through this time, though, there was a huge problem, a very dark secret sin I was hiding. I discovered during my adolescence the sin of pornography and self-gratification, and it became a daily habit. I was putting on a good front outwardly, but completely under the control of my lustful desires inwardly. And it never stopped, it only grew worse with each passing year. 


For years, I wasted much time viewing immoral content and feeding the lust of my flesh, which escalated into immoral sexual acts with prostitutes. Throughout these years, I frequently confessed my sins during altar calls and pleaded for mercy from God, but I would not tell anyone my specific sin struggle because I was ashamed. I thought I was the only one who struggled with this sin.


Jump forward a few years of this lifestyle; I was depressed, lonely, and bankrupt--financially, emotionally, morally, and spiritually. My time in sin devastated my life; I felt hopeless. I didn't like the person I had become at all. I was living a double life, and it was tearing me apart. 


Then one night, I was sitting at my computer crying. I needed and wanted to stop the insanity but didn't know how to do it. I had tried so many things to get free but had never gone more than a day or two without sexual sin. So, I searched "pornography addiction" to see what would come up. There were tons of groups and programs offered, but none were appealing to me. One reason was money. I didn't have any extra, and some programs wanted cash up front. Some were public groups like SA and wanted me to come to a meeting. 


But one got my attention, Setting Captives Free. The course was free, and I didn't have to go public.


When I first came to Setting Captives Free things did start to change for the good. While I was doing the original course work (Setting Captives Free 1.0), I was following the directions of really cleaning up my house. I threw out all objects of sin, and I believed I was set free. But after I finished the purity course work, I slowly went back to my old ways. Never quite as deep as before, but still sinful. I was back in the enemy's prison.


Then I received an email from God (through Setting Captives Free) that there was a new purity course. My heart skipped, and I wondered, is it possible that it will be any different than the last time?  The evil one tried to tell me:  "This isn't going to work. You've tried all this before. You will never gain freedom. Just keep living the way you are." But I didn't listen to him.


I started the coursework immediately, and I saw that the course had indeed changed for the better. The new material pointed to Jesus and His cross, and I began a new journey of hope. I was set free by the saving gracing of the cross of Christ. I have learned to wash at the cross, walk by the Spirit, and war against my flesh. What a gift!


I no longer live serving the wrong master, but only serving Christ! My body is no longer used to worship Satan, but only to worship God. My life has changed. I no longer waste my time and money on things that were hurting and killing me but instead spend my time going deeper with the Lord. My life has been changed forever!”


Gerrie writes, "The Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course is helpful both spiritually and physically. Even though I am a student of the Bible, the course has given me new insights into how I should lead my life.

I have long been a faithful and actively involved believer in Christ's death on the cross for me. That has not changed; however, I now know a deeper way to walk the Christian life. I am only just now starting to feel that my clothes are looser because it took me a while to learn how to apply the principles well.

One of the things I am appreciating is the freedom to eat regular food. Just this morning I worked at our Community Prayer Breakfast and ate some cinnamon coffee cake. I had denied this kind of food forever (or so it seems), and it sure felt good to enjoy its delicious taste.

The foundational principles taught in this course are the foundation of the Christian walk. I have longed to know a better way to truly "live in Jesus," and this study has shown me the way."

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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