Daily Archives: April 18, 2018

April 18: Operating Standards

Deuteronomy 33:1–34:12; 2 Corinthians 8:16–24; Psalm 46

Sometimes I operate on the premise that if I’m honoring God and following Him, I don’t have to be concerned with what other people think. But carrying this too far is just as faulty as basing my identity on the approval of others. One leads to foolish pride and independence, and the other results in idolatry.

Paul, upon receiving a generous gift from believers in Jerusalem, felt called to explain his actions to the Corinthian church. He was intentional about how he would accept the gift, “lest anyone should find fault with us in this abundant gift that is being administered by us” (2 Cor 8:20). He explains why he is so concerned: “For we are taking into consideration what is honorable not only before the Lord, but also before people” (2 Cor 8:21).

In his ministry, Paul considered how his actions would be interpreted by observers. Since he experienced opposition in the community, he wanted to communicate how he would receive the gift—to be above reproach. The gospel was primary, and he wanted to avoid accusations that would impede the message of salvation.

Daily, we face situations where we can be governed by others’ opinions. We also can offend them. When are we too vigilant? How do we keep from becoming a robot, motivated by other people’s desires instead of love for God? When do we challenge other people’s faith, instead of tiptoeing around them? Answering these questions takes incredible wisdom.

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul draws from Proverbs 3: “May loyal love and truth not forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them upon your heart. And you shall find favor and good sense in the eyes of God and humankind” (Prov 3:3–4). Acting out of love, with a foundation of truth, can help us learn to honor God and love people. Being human, we will not always carry this out successfully. But operating on both love and truth and seeking wisdom and guidance for every situation, we can trust God to work out those places where we fail.

When it comes to relationships, what is your basis for operation?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

April 18 Entering the Kingdom

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).


There are basically only two kinds of religion in the world: those based on human achievement and those based on divine accomplishment.

Religion comes in many forms. Almost every conceivable belief or behavior has been incorporated into some religious system at some point in time. But really there are only two kinds of religion. One says you can earn your way to Heaven; the other says you must trust in Jesus Christ alone. One is the religion of human achievement; the other is the religion of divine accomplishment.

Those who rely on their achievements tend to compare themselves to others. But that’s a relative, self-justifying standard because you can always find someone worse than yourself on which to base the comparison.

Jesus eliminated all human standards when He said, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Even the Jewish religious leaders, who were generally thought to be the epitome of righteousness, didn’t qualify according to that standard. In fact, Jesus told the people that their righteousness had to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if they wanted to enter Heaven (Matt. 5:20). That must have shocked them, but Jesus wasn’t speaking of conformity to external religious ceremonies. He was calling for pure hearts.

God doesn’t compare you to liars, thieves, cheaters, child abusers, or murderers. He compares you to Himself. His absolute holy character is the standard by which He measures your suitability for Heaven. Apart from Christ, everyone fails that standard because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But the glorious truth of salvation is that Jesus Christ came to earth to purify our hearts. He took our sin upon Himself, paid its penalty, then bestowed His own righteousness upon us (Rom. 4:24). He keeps us pure by continually cleansing our sin and empowering us to do His will.

Your faith in Christ—not your personal achievements—is what makes you pure. Let that truth bring joy to your heart and praise to your lips!


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for accomplishing salvation on your behalf and for granting you saving faith. ✧ Pray that your thoughts and actions today will evidence a pure heart.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 24:1–5 and Ezekiel 36:25–29. ✧ Who is acceptable to God? ✧ How does God purify the hearts of His people?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 121). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Israel sees an Iranian ‘air force’ assembling in Syria — and looks ready to deal it a knockout blow

REUTERS/Amir Cohen

  • Israel is letting on that it sees an Iranian “air force” forming in Syria and that it may destroy it if it seeks to harm Israel.
  • Russia, Syria, and Iran have accused Israel of killing Iranian troops in an airstrike on a Syrian air base earlier this month.
  • Iran has announced plans to retaliate.
  • But experts say Iran’s forces in Syria are exposed to Israel’s air force and are being warned that they could get knocked out if they cross a line.

Israel’s military on Tuesday apparently let leak a series of news reports indicating that it sees an Iranian air force forming in Syria and hinting that it may be willing to deal it a knockout blow.

Iran and Israel have clashed in the air recently, with Israel downing an Iranian drone it said flew over its territory with explosives in February and amid suspected Israeli airstrikes designed to punish Iranian forces in Syria.

Earlier this month, Russia, Syria, and Iran accused Israel of carrying out a strike on an air base in Syria known as T-4 that left at least 14 dead, including Iranian troops, and Israel made no effort to deny it.

The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman quoted a senior Israeli official as saying Iran had opened up a new front in the long-simmering conflict by trying a direct drone attack on Israel.

Friedman said the strike in April killed the Iranian colonel who led the drone unit. Iran threatened to retaliate but has not.

Iran’s growing forces in Syria

REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

On Tuesday, an Israeli security official told Reuters that “the Israeli defense establishment” saw an Iranian “air force” in Syria “as the entity that will try to attack Israel, based on Iranian threats to respond to the strike on T-4.”

Though Israel doesn’t comment on its air incursions into Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that it is willing to do whatever necessary to prevent Iranian forces there from creeping closer to its borders or seeking to arm aligned anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“The Iranians have been exploiting the chaos of the Syrian civil war to build up military assets there that target Israel, all the while sending advanced weaponry to Lebanon by way of Damascus, also under the fog of war,” Tony Badran and Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote in The Wall Street Journal in February.

But while Iran has used “the fog of war” in Syria to cover its moving as many as 70,000 fighters and tons of military equipment through the country, Israel could crush its forces under that fog too.

Israel is positioned to knock out exposed Iranian forces

The Aviationist

According to Reuters, Roni Daniel, the military editor for the Israeli TV station Mako, said Israel was signaling to Iran that its forces in Syria were “totally exposed to us, and if you take action against us to avenge [the T-4 strike], these targets will be very severely harmed.”

Badran previously described Iran’s military presence in Syria as “vulnerable.”

“It’s exposed to direct US fire, just like it’s exposed to direct Israeli fire,” he told Business Insider.

If Israel were to enter Iranian airspace to strike its military, it could cause a massive international incident and meet backlash from the UN and Arab countries alike.

But with Iranian forces far from home in Syria, where more than 70 countries have bombed or contributed to fighting, an Israeli strike could get lost in the noise.

“Israel is headed for escalation,” Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, told a Tel Aviv radio station, according to Reuters. “There could be a very big belligerent incident with Iran and Hezbollah.”

In an indication of the possible extent of fighting between Israel and Iran, Israel chose to keep its F-15 air superiority fighters home and on alert instead of sending them to the coming Red Flag military exercises, one of the world’s best jet-fighter-training programs, as planned.

With Syria’s air defenses apparently a pushover target for Israel, and exposed Iranian forces openly posturing against the Jewish state, it seems a small retaliation from Iran could launch a much bigger conflict.

See Also:

SEE ALSO: Israeli intelligence reportedly says Trump’s Syria strike failed, didn’t take out much of anything

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Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Matthew 28:20

Do not try to short-circuit God’s plans for your discipleship and spiritual maturity here. If you and I were already prepared for heaven in the moment of our conversion, God would have taken us home instantly!

We must remember that God exists in Himself. His holy nature is such that we cannot comprehend Him with our minds. He is of a substance not shared by any other being. Hence, God can be known only as He reveals Himself!

I have found this to be a fact: Every redeemed human being needs the humility of spirit that can only be brought about by the manifest presence of God.

This mysterious yet gracious Presence is the air of life eternal. It is the music of existence, the poetry of the Christian life. It is the beauty and wonder of being one of Christ’s own—a sinner born again, regenerated, created anew to bring glory to God!

To live surrounded by this sense of God is not only beautiful and desirable, but it is imperative!

Lord, I am so grateful that You have revealed some of Your nature to Your children. But I want to know You even more![1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.