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April 6: A Letter of Recommendation
Deuteronomy 9:1–10:22; 2 Corinthians 3:1–8; Psalm 35:1–11
We file letters of recommendation from pastors, past supervisors, and teachers that highlight our skills, attitude, and work ethic. They present us as ideal candidates, glossing over the things we lack and the ways in which we’ve failed. But Paul’s letter of recommendation tells another story:
“You are our letter, inscribed on our hearts, known and read by all people, revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:2–3).
Paul saw the work God was doing in the lives of the Corinthians. Through the work of the Spirit, they were drawn together as a community. Their response to the gospel testified that Paul was fulfilling the task that he was called to do.
But Paul doesn’t stay focused on himself in this passage. He switches the focus to the Spirit: “Now we possess such confidence through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2 Cor 3:4–5). Ultimately, Paul’s confidence finds itself in Christ’s work and the life-giving work of the Spirit.
Our successes and failures are put into a proper context when we read Paul’s message. All the good we do attests to the Spirit’s work in our lives; it is a testimony of a life redeemed by Christ. And the bad isn’t glossed over by God—it is paid for. It’s His letter of recommendation that really matters, for He knows who we really are.
How are you living a life that attests to God’s power in you, not your own qualities or traits?
Rebecca Van Noord
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, April 6 Go To Evening Reading
“Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp.”
Jesus, bearing his cross, went forth to suffer without the gate. The Christian’s reason for leaving the camp of the world’s sin and religion is not because he loves to be singular, but because Jesus did so, and the disciple must follow his Master. Christ was “not of the world:” [His] life and his testimony were a constant protest against conformity with the world. Never was such overflowing affection for men as you find in him, but still, he was separate from sinners. In like manner, Christ’s people must “go forth unto him.” They must take their position “without the camp,” as witness-bearers for the truth. They must be prepared to tread the straight and narrow path. They must have bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, and [His] truth next, and Christ and his truth beyond all the world. Jesus would have his people “go forth without the camp” for their own sanctification. You cannot grow in grace to any high degree while you are conformed to the world. The life of separation may be a path of sorrow, but it is the highway of safety, and though the separated life may cost you many pangs, and make every day a battle, yet it is a happy life after all. No joy can excel that of the soldier of Christ: Jesus reveals himself so graciously and gives such sweet refreshment, that the warrior feels [calmer] and peace in his daily strife than others in their hours of rest. The highway of holiness is the highway of communion. It is thus we shall hope to win the crown if we are enabled by divine grace faithfully to follow Christ “without the camp.” The crown of glory will follow the cross of separation. A moment’s shame will be well recompensed by eternal [honor]; a little while of witness-bearing will seem nothing when we are “forever with the Lord.”
Go To Morning Reading Evening, April 6
“In the name of the Lord I will destroy them.”
Our Lord Jesus, by his death, did not purchase a right to a part of us only, but to the entire man. He contemplated in his passion the sanctification of us wholly, spirit, soul, and body; that in this triple kingdom he himself might reign supreme without a rival. It is the business of the newborn nature which God has given to the regenerate to assert the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ. My soul, so far as thou art a child of God, thou must conquer all the rest of thyself which yet remains unblest; thou must subdue all thy powers and passions to the silver [scepter] of Jesus’ gracious reign, and thou must never be satisfied till he who is King by purchase becomes also King by [the] gracious coronation and reigns in [me] supreme. Seeing, then, that sin has no right to any part of us, we go about good and lawful warfare when we seek, in the name of God, to drive it out. O my body, thou art a member of Christ: shall I tolerate thy subjection to the prince of darkness? O, my soul, Christ has suffered for thy sins, and redeemed thee with [His] most precious blood: shall I suffer thy memory to become a storehouse of evil or thy passions to be firebrands of iniquity? Shall I surrender my judgment to be perverted by error, or my will to be led in fetters of iniquity? No, my soul, thou art Christ’s, and sin hath no right to thee.
Be courageous concerning this, O Christian! be not dispirited, as though your spiritual enemies could never be destroyed. You are able to overcome them—not in your own strength—the weakest of them would be too much for you in that, but you can and shall overcome them through the blood of the Lamb. Do not ask, “How shall I dispossess them, for they are greater and mightier than I?” but go to the strong for strength, wait humbly upon God, and the mighty God of Jacob will surely come to the rescue, and you shall sing of victory through his grace.
Spurgeon, C. H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896. Print.
The collision of God and sin
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. 1 Peter 2:24.
The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.
The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the [center] of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.
The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.
The [center] of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is [that] it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened—but the crash is on the heart of God.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
They made me [the] keeper of the vineyards, but [my] own vineyard have I not kept
Song of Sol. 1:6
Our attention is here drawn to a danger which is preeminently one of this day: the intense activity of our times may lead to zeal in service to the neglect of personal communion, but such neglect will not only lessen the value of the service but tend to incapacitate us for the highest service.
J. Hudson Taylor
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.