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The Power of the Cross: 99th Edition, September 29, 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:

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” — John 8:12

When I was in bondage to sin I walked in darkness. In fact, I was in the dominion, or kingdom of darkness and under the power of darkness. Spiritual darkness is a reality in the lives of many people. In darkness, we feel trapped and captive to the power of temptation, we feel powerless to overcome the cravings of our flesh, and darkness descends on us like a cloud threatening to choke out all hope.

The world is full today of people looking for a little light on their path. Some kind of insight that will give them a new way of thinking, a different way of viewing their circumstances, something that will inspire hope and show them a way out. They may turn to the world for insights on behavior or to a psychiatrist for drugs, anything to give them some light on their problems and rescue them from prison of hopelessness.

And all the while Jesus proclaims that He is the Light of the world, and promises all who follow Him will have so much light that they will never walk in darkness.

This is the same Jesus, the Light of the world, who, on the cross, entered the darkness for 3 hours. He was entering our world, assuming our sins, being swallowed up in the human condition of darkness. As He hung on the cross He literally became sin for us, and that darkness choked out His very life, just as it does ours.

But in Jesus’ entering the darkness that day 2,000 years ago, He rescued us out of it. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13).

Now what is our identity as believers, and what are we to do about it?

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14-16.

God has made us the light of the world, because Jesus is living in us. We have been rescued from darkness to declare God’s praise and to rejoice in the mercy He purchased for us at the cross: "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).

You’ve been rescued at the cross. You’ve been brought from darkness to light at the cross, all by God’s mercy. Your mission now is the same that God gave to Paul: "I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18).

Yes, we’ve been rescued to rescue others. How do we do that? We point them to the cross, invite them to come and look up at the spectacle before them, see the God-Man crucified, suffering for their healing, bleeding to atone for their wrongs, dying that they might live. Show them that Jesus was transformed into their sin that they might be transformed into the image of God. We call them to believe this message of a suffering Savior, the bleeding Lamb who took away the sin of the world, and in believing they find life in His Name (John 20:31).

Jesus is the Light that all people need. He is the Light of the world. He is the Wonderful Counselor, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). If you need some light on your path, to be rescued from darkness, made to be light yourself, come to Jesus and receive it.

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Testimonies:

Rita writes, "The biblical principles taught in the Setting Captives Free Weight Loss course are very helpful.  Remembering what Christ has done for me is most beneficial.  It helps me get to the next stomach growl.

Since I started this Bible study, I have lost 10 lbs just by waiting to eat until I am hungry.  I am so grateful for how these lessons showed me how God loves me and how Christ paid for my sin and teaching me how to respond to what He did on the cross for me.  I do not want to sin by making food or some diet an idol.
I love this life change; however, I am still struggling with the weekends, when everyone sits down at the table to have what looks like a wonderful meal, and I am not hungry.  In those moments, I have to remind myself why I am not eating.   I am hoping it will become much easier in the future.

I was at the market the other day and walked down an aisle where there was nothing but diet food, and I was so excited to pass this aisle all together.  It is so freeing.  I have so many friends that are dieting as it seems like a lifelong goal to lose ten more pounds, and when I mention Setting Captives Free, they look at me as if I am crazy.  My prayer is that God will enable me to continue walking in obedience to Him so that over time, my friends will see what the LORD can do regarding losing excess weight.

So, with a big Thank You, I look forward to continuing to study God's Word and apply it to my life.”


Anthony writes, "The principles in the Purity Boot Camp course are essential to fighting against the temptations of all sin, not just in the sexual arena.  Most of all, these are effective principles because they are rooted in the truth of the Scriptures.  By washing the cross, I was able to reconnect with my condition before God. Walking in the Spirit helped me to reestablish my walk with God.  My prayer life has taken a new shape. Lastly, it has been essential to me to establish some new patterns of behavior and thinking to create an effective battle plan of dealing with temptation when it comes.

When I started this course, the overwhelming feeling I got was that my relationship with God needed an overhaul, and this began to take place a few days into the study.  I was not changed right away.  God did, however, slowly began to shift my focus from me to Him.

At first, I did not make an effort to maintain daily contact with my mentor or complete the lessons.  However, when I began to be more consistent, I noticed little by little a transformation happening in my life.  I saw how coming to and staying at the foot of the cross is so necessary to remain close to God.  I needed daily reminders of my helpless condition in my sin. Pornography, self-gratification, and immoral fantasies had wreaked havoc on my walk with God.  These sinful activities prevented any intimacy with God and kept me from seeing God's amazing work in my life and the lives of others.

Then I began to wash at the cross, and  I began to see Jesus instead of myself.  I was reminded of the great sacrifice that Jesus made, and my heart began to soften toward the message of the cross.  I began to see the need to stay at the foot of the cross, to not think of myself more highly than I ought to, but consider Jesus and the great love He has for me so that I could turn from the sin that hindered me.

I spent so much time over the years in sin, 35 of them as a disciple of Jesus.  I had to realize that while I did not have the answers myself as to how to get free from sexual sin, God did.  God designed the nature of His relationship to us for reconciliation to Him through the cross.  He knew I would need it and offered help freely to come back to Him.

Over the past few weeks, I have been much more in tune with the Spirit's will for my life.  I have been reading and meditating more on the Scriptures than I have in the past.   My faith still needs a lot of work.  I still need to meditate more and more on the Word of God and live by the truth that it reveals to me.
For the past six months, I have not seen any porn.  I have not attempted to view it and have been open when the temptations to do so came.  This represents a significant shift in my behavior patterns.  I used to view pornography on my phone habitually during the day; I was so out of control that I would even watch it while driving.  It took me to some of the darkest places, but now, it is no longer a burning temptation in my heart and mind.

Of any of the changes that have occurred over the past couple of months, though, the most essential change is that my relationship with God has been renewed.  This has had the most impact on my life.  I wake up in the morning desiring time with God.  For a long time, my priority in the morning was to go to the gym at 4:45, then go straight to work.  I would lie to myself, telling myself that I would spend time later in the Scriptures and praying.  Of course, this would never happen.  I may be a little less fit physically than when I first started taking my spiritual life more seriously, but I am in a much better place spiritually.
I appreciated more than anything how deep-rooted the lessons were in scriptural truths.  The power of the Word of God to change the heart supersedes any program man can devise.”


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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
Volunteer for Setting Captives Free