A man may sacrifice the lasting things for the cheap things. It is always easier to have a cheap success. An author may sacrifice that which would be really great for the cheap success of a moment. A musician may produce ephemeral trifles when he might be producing something real and lasting. A man may choose a job which will bring him more money and more comfort, and turn his back on one where he could render more service to his fellow-men. A man may spend his life in little things and let the big things go. A woman may prefer a life of pleasure and of so-called freedom to the service of her home and the upbringing of a family.

But life has a way of revealing the true values and condemning the false as the years pass on. A cheap thing never lasts.

William Barclay, on Mark 11.37 (seen first in my printed volume)

And a church may sacrifice the truth of the gospel for theatrics and emotion, in order to promote numerical growth. But in time God will reveal the shallowness and futility of such an approach.

There are hundreds of denominations/sects out there all contradicting each other. It’s impossible for them all to be right. We cannot all be on different roads going to the same place. We cannot all be pleasing God if we decide opposing things please him.

We can never rely on what someone else says just because they look and act holy and say all the right holy words and phrases and pray such holy-sounding prayers. We must never rely on our religious leaders to tell us what to believe. Shall we take their opinion or God’s opinion? —Katheryn Haddad

The writer has it right:

A church relying on human wisdom, wealth or resources ceases to be the body of Christ and becomes an earthly society.

Ironically the writer belonged to a denomination that had no existence in the New Testament and no basis for its doctrine in Scripture. Let us not be self-deceived. Among us are churches relying on their own resources, working only as far as their eye can see.

In his devotional for Jan. 2, Ed Mathews reminds us of how things work in God’s kingdom:

An uncommon control. Delays, setbacks, and detours are routine in the affairs of the kingdom. Yet His cause will succeed, His Church will endure, Matthew 16:18. God knows our struggles. He cares for our situation. His plan will not fail, Joshua 21:45; 23:14; Nehemiah 9:7,8. There will always be troubling developments. Our faith will be tested. Our souls will be tried. But God is “faithful,” I Corinthians 1:9. He did not leave His Son in the grave. Neither will He abandon His people, Psalms 16:7-11.

Let’s ask God to help us be faithful in the midst of testing and troubles.

Focus question: What false hopes or unrealistic expectations cause me to be discouraged? What biblical truths will carry us through these?

This saddens the reader who finds his fullness in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the word well communicated in any number of Bible versions:

She began to read different bible versions, but was not satisfied until she discovered William Tyndale’s New Testament. She knew she had found the fullness of truth in this work.

She has likely produced a good work in her “gently updated” edition of Tyndale, but the “fullness of truth” is not to be found in a work of man, but in the gentle truth of Jesus Christ which may be understood and obeyed by reading most of the major translations.

How not to be contentious, but to hold up the truth while following Eph 5 in exposing the works of darkness and Titus 1 in silencing “rebellious people, idle talkers, and deceivers”? Here are my suggestions, slightly edited, given to a friend who asked, as we discussed the issue by email.

1. Don’t give them room or space to speak. If somebody’s teaching false doctrine, don’t let them speak at all, on any subject, for they’ll get their point of view in somehow.
2. Don’t sound mad or irritated. Make sure love for truth and people come across.
3. Don’t make it personal. It’s not who, but what is being taught.
4. Be direct about it. We (speaking generically) tend to beat around the bush.
5. Nip it in the bud. It’s easier to do when there’s a few. When it’s the majority or a large number, it’s harder.

What ideas might you share?