An Unusual Noise | Bible Gleanings – August 13-14, 2022

During the American Civil War, an officer reportedly complained to his general that some of the troops in their camp were making too much racket as they prepared for combat. “What are they doing?” asked the general. “They are praying now, but they have been singing,” the officer said. “And is that a crime?” he asked. “Well,” said the complainer, “the articles of war order punishment for such an unusual noise.” And the general famously replied, “God forbid that praying should be an unusual noise in the camp!”

Prayer should never be an unusual noise, especially among those in the camp of the Lord’s army. Most of the time, our prayers resemble a quick voicemail, an occasional drive-thru order, or a brief pleasantry exchanged with an acquaintance. However, prayer ought to be a saint’s steady song. Believers are called to “pray without ceasing,” and to fill heaven’s golden censer with the “incense” of our prayers to the point of overflowing (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Revelation 8:3-4). And, we are commanded to “pray at all times” as we march to war against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:18).

The Lord welcomes and blesses such praying. As James assured, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). The “I’m-not-giving-up-no-matter-what” kind of praying is what God rewards. Unfortunately, we frequently miss out on the rain of God’s blessing because we haven’t rattled heaven’s windows open with the reverberation of constant prayer. God stands ready to answer our prayers, but we must stand ready to offer them. 

Soldiers of the Lord, we must fill our camps with the constant anthem of desperate and bold prayer, or we shall have no chance of victory in our warfare against the flesh, the world, and the devil. We must say with the psalmist, “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2). And may infrequent and irregular prayer be what is truly unusual to us!

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Prisoners of Sin | Bible Gleanings – August 6-7, 2022

Reginald was a prisoner of his own appetite. Instead of eating to live, he lived to eat. He couldn’t put down the fork even when his freedom depended on it. According to historians, Reginald III (1333-1371), former Duke of Guelders (also known as “The Fat”) was imprisoned in the castle of Nijenbeek by his younger brother and held in a cell that a normal-sized person could easily escape from. Reginald only had to fight his appetite and diet his way out of prison.

Instead, Reginald ate high on the hog. Each day, his brother sent a range of the most delectable dishes to his cell because he knew that overindulgence consumed him. Reginald only grew fatter. He was imprisoned because he was enslaved by his belly. And because he was powerless to conquer his lust, he died behind bars as a slave to gluttony. 

As sinners, we are just like Reginald. We cannot escape from sin’s prison cell because we don’t want to stop eating sin’s rotten fruit. Our corrupted nature tells us that sin is as scrumptious as a shiny apple, and we believe it (Genesis 3:6). We are born incarcerated by depravity, shackled by a heinous hunger for evildoing, and enslaved to sin. As Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34, NKJV).

The good news is that Jesus came into the world to set sinners free from spiritual slavery. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,” said Jesus, “because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus wields the sword of the gospel and He shatters the chains of iniquity to set captives free. He is the Bread of Life, and those who receive Him will hunger for the will of God (John 4:31-34; 6:35).

You have been liberated from slavery to sin if you have believed the gospel. For Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). And you won’t die behind the bars of wickedness. As Paul assured,

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Open and Closed Doors | Bible Gleanings – July 30-31, 2022

The Lord God is the mighty doorkeeper who opens doors that cannot be closed. He is “the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut” (Revelation 3:7a). The golden key that unlocks every door is in His sovereign hands. Thus, every situation you face, every event you experience, and every opportunity you seize is a God-opened door through which you enter and access His sovereign will for your life. And behind those doors may be blessings or burdens, but God opens them both as part of His plan to work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The Lord God is also the master locksmith who locks doors that no one can get through. Revelation 3:7 says that He “shuts and no one opens.” Because of His divine providence, there are some doors you will never pass through. Some opportunities will never be yours because God has closed the door. Some circumstances will never befall or bless you because God has sealed the door shut. 

There are some doors you probably wish you could walk through. Your life might even seem like a long corridor of nothing but closed doors at every turn. You may earnestly desire a better job, a healthier body, a happier marriage, a normal life, a bigger church, or even an answer to prayer. But, the immovable bar of God’s sovereignty may be blocking the door for the time being. And you may knock until your knuckles are bruised, kick until your feet are sore, or rattle the handle until your hands are weak, but you’ll never pass through a door God has bolted shut. 

In the mystery of His providence, God often closes doors because He has already opened many others for you. When the Lord locks a door, it is because He has a better one waiting for you to pass through. Many others are sealed shut because you do not truly need what lies behind them. And while God may shut a thousand doors before He opens one, you can rest assured that His will is always good, His timing is always right, and His grace is always sufficient (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Isaiah 40:31; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Put your faith in Him, and He will lead you through opened doors and guide you away from the ones that are closed: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Enchanting But Deadly | Bible Gleanings – July 23-24, 2022

“The snow danced in August,” he said. Former steelworker Joe Gutierrez recalls the summer snowstorms in his tell-all book, The Heat: Steelworkers’ Lives and Legends,” which documents the pains and pleasures of working in a steel mill. According to Gutierrez, silvery dust flakes floated gracefully to the ground, forming a beguiling blanket of snow. The pretty particles fell from a section of the plant where steel bars rolled over pads in a cooling tower. And the enchanting scene lured both workers and visitors to the mill to witness the mysterious phenomenon.

The delightful dust turned out to be asbestos, a fibrous mineral that causes cancer and pulmonary disease. It was dazzling to the eyes, but deathly to the lungs. “Everybody breathed it,” wrote Gutierrez, who suffered from the slow stranglehold of asbestosis. “Can’t walk too far now. I get tired real fast and it hurts when I breathe, sometimes. And to think we used to fight over that job.” Sometimes, things that are fascinating and gorgeous may be fatal and grim. 

The Book that God inspired, the Bible, says the same thing about sin. Wickedness disguises itself as harmless as fluttering snowflakes, but it is the mother of death for all who dance in its drizzle (James 1:14-15). Iniquity pretends to be a friend, but it is an enemy that wages war against our soul (1 Peter 2:11). Sin masquerades as a scrumptious fruit that will satisfy our taste, but it is the rotten root attached to the bitter tree of wormwood (Proverbs 5:4). Evil is attractive to the hungry eyes of our flesh, but it is always dangerous to the spiritual health of our heart.

Therefore, we must continually look outward, inward, and upward to avoid looking onward at the false beauty of sin. We must look outward and diligently watch out for spiritual danger (Matthew 26:41). We must glance inward, and pray that God would continually cleanse our wicked heart (Psalm 51:10; Jeremiah 17:9). And we must gaze upward, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Let Them Hear | Bible Gleanings – July 16-17, 2022

The violin’s strings became an angel’s vocal cords when Fritz Kreisler played them. Kreisler (1875—1962) was a world-famous Austrian violinist and an officer in the Third Army Corps during World War I. And the sweetly soothing symphony of a violin was more appealing to him than the chaotic cacophony of conflict. Thus, he dedicated himself entirely to playing the violin and amassed a tremendous fortune performing at prestigious venues in Paris, New York City, and Berlin. But, one day his fortune ran dry at a particularly inopportune moment. 

As he was touring, a stunningly spectacular violin tugged the strings of his heart. But, his pockets were empty because he had given away most of his money. Time passed, and he eventually saved enough money to meet the asking price, but when he returned to the seller, he learned that it had been sold to an antiques collector. Kreisler then hastily traveled to the new owner’s home and made a bid to purchase it. Unfortunately, Kreisler’s string of misfortune persisted because the collector refused to part with it.

Kreisler then tried to pull some strings. “Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?” he asked. The collector then gave the magnificent musician permission, and the room filled with a melody so marvelous that the man was moved to tears. “I have no right to keep that to myself,” he exclaimed. “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it.” 

Likewise, the One who purchased redemption with His blood has commanded His people to fill the world with the sweet song of salvation: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Jesus has called His followers to “sing the LORD’s song in a strange land” so that sinners will be moved to tears of godly sorrow (Psalm 137:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10). The gospel is the most charming carol that has ever graced the ears of fallen sinners. It is the terrific tune that causes the heart’s broken chords to vibrate with everlasting joy. And disciples of Christ are to play the “gospel violin” for all the world to hear; we have no right to keep it to ourselves. 

This is well-expressed in “Jesus Saves,” the hymn written by Priscilla Owens (1829-1907):

“We have heard the joyful sound: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around: Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Bear the news to ev’ry land, climb the steeps and cross the waves;

Onward! ‘Tis our Lord’s command; Jesus saves! Jesus saves!”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

He Knows | Bible Gleanings – July 9-10, 2022

He glanced at the x-ray and said, “It’s not good, Mr. Bramlett, but we can fix it.” According to the verdict of my dentist, I had significantly more dental issues than I had suspected. I visited the dentist because of pain in my upper left jaw, but I quickly discovered that I was in for a lot more pain. Extensive examinations and x-rays revealed problems I could not identify or detect, such as cavities, tooth decay, and two wisdom teeth stacked upon each other (a rare occurrence). The truth was truly a kick in the teeth.

But thank goodness I trusted the professionals. Orthodontists possess the experience, expertise, and equipment that I do not. What I know about teeth is as scarce as hen’s teeth! Placing myself under their care was certainly daunting because I feared that they would find and expose problems I was oblivious to, but it was the right decision because only they had the tools to fix them. Knowing that they knew more than I knew was simultaneously frightening and comforting.

Now, sink your teeth in this: God knows you better than you know yourself. He is the all-knowing Creator whose “understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5). He needs no counsel, instruction, or schooling (Isaiah 40:13-14). Your knowledge is limited; His is limitless. And His understanding of your sins and struggles is greater than yours. 

The omniscience of God is terrifying. His vision is more precise than an x-ray, because His eyes “are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). Nothing is a secret to Him, and He knows exactly who you are behind closed doors. His penetrating sight burns through all masks of pretense and falsehood (Revelation 1:14). As God Himself once asked, “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:24). 

But His all-knowingness is also greatly encouraging, for no one knows what you need better than He does. As Jesus promised, “For your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8b). You may think you need more money, and God may grant you more contentment. You may believe that God should take your pain away, but He may instead give you more grace to endure it. You might pray that God would cleanse your tongue of cursing, and He might instead cool the burning rage in your heart.

When you entrust yourself to the Lord, He will reveal problems you were previously unaware of. But you can be certain that He has all the grace and power required to repair them. Expect Him to convict you of sin and tell you, “This is not good.” But don’t be discouraged; He will always say, “But I can fix it.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Get Rid of the Rags | Bible Gleanings – July 1-2, 2022

He calls it “trashion.” Daniel Silverstein, a ragpicker from Brooklyn, creates designer outfits from clothing scraps and old garments that have been discarded. According to the New York Times, Silverstein only “works with the fabrics that other designers and costume departments and factories would normally throw out.” The old idiom that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is the guiding proverb for his fashion line. Now, the closets of happy customers are fuller and landfills are a little emptier.

Christians are sometimes ragpickers, too. We have a tendency to pull the old clothes of sin from the bin of death and wear them again. The tattered garments of “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk” occasionally appear as treasure to the eyes of our flesh (Col. 3:8). However, such old clothes do not fit a new person (Col. 3:10). Therefore, the Scripture calls believers to jettison old sinful ways, like throwing away old clothes that no longer fit: “So then let us cast off the works of darkness” (Romans 13:12b).

God wants His children to “take out the trash.” Put them in the garbage can and walk away with the lid closed. Don’t hang the sins of your former life in the closet of your life. Tear off the old rags because one day, you shall walk in white: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment” (Rev. 3:5a, KJV).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

The Potter | Bible Gleanings – June 25-26, 2022

The coffee mug in your cabinet was not always shiny and smooth. It began as a wet lump of shapeless mud that was formed and fashioned into a cup. It was held in the hands of a proficient potter before it held your morning joe. He carefully sculpted the clay until it was just right. And because of his handiwork, the once-useless and deformed clay was transformed into something meaningful and beautiful. 

To achieve the desired shape, the potter adds and takes away from the clay chunk at times. The things it doesn’t need are removed, and the things it does need are added. The potter also spins his wheel at various speeds to get the splodge of dirt precisely perfect. Finally, the clay is polished and perfected by being heated in a fiery kiln. The clay needs time, fire, and the wisdom of a potter to become useful—there is no product without the process. 

And such is the precious metaphor in the Scripture describing the work that God is always doing within His children. “But now,” said Isaiah, “O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). The Potter shapes His people on the wheel of sanctification, molding them into vessels that are “useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). He gives His saints what they need for the process of maturation to Christlikeness. Sometimes, He pinches off the besetting ways of the old life, and other times, He adds the water of His word to smooth away imperfections.

But the process cannot be rushed. It takes time to be shaped into a God-pleasing vessel. As the Scripture says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The fiery furnace of tribulation is also required to make one a beautiful masterpiece in God’s sight (1 Peter 1:6-7). The best thing believers can do is trust the wisdom of the Potter and, with humble submission, let Him work. “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9)

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Don’t Slip | Bible Gleanings – June 18-19, 2022

It is best to avoid things that might make you fall when hiking. Going around creeks with a strong current is better than going through them. It is safer to step on dry rocks rather than grimy ones. Walking on beaten dirt paths is preferable to muddy hills and slopes. Too much weight in a backpack can cause you to topple over, too.

David the psalmist certainly understood the importance of walking on stable and non-slippery ground: “My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped” (Psalm 17:5). Of course, David wasn’t talking about hiking—he was talking about living. And what he meant is crystal clear: walking the righteous path of obedience is the way to avoid things that might cause a damaging fall.

You must keep your feet fixed to the path of righteousness and turn aside from the slippery and unstable ground of sin. You must bypass the strong current of temptations that threaten to sweep you under. Your feet will be caught in the snares of deception and you will fall into the pits of guilt if you venture off the Godward road to glory and walk the easy road. And you will surely fall carrying around the heavy backpack of unconfessed sin and unprayed-for-burdens.

Unfortunately, sometimes we do fall. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave His people on the ground. He will catch and hold you up: “When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up” (Psalm 94:18).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Don’t Give Up on Saul | Bible Gleanings – June 11-12, 2022

You could tell from the evil glint in his eyes that violence entertained him. A mob of murderers once smashed a man to death with boulders, and he stood beside them with a villainous grin on his face. Like a member of the Gestapo, he violently dragged innocent people from their homes. He furiously detained and imprisoned individuals who were not guilty of any crime. And worst of all, he saw himself as a hero instead of a monster. 

He intended to continue his rampage of carnage, but he was arrested on the road to a city called Damascus. One credible source described it like this: “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-6).

The man was Saul of Tarsus, and Jesus of Nazareth captured and converted him. In one moment, the eyes that once burned with lust for bloodshed were filled with tears of repentance. Saul’s hardened heart was shattered by conviction and mended by grace. The Spirit of God dragged him away from sin toward salvation. After one meeting with Jesus, Saul became a preacher instead of a persecutor, an apostle instead of an adversary, and a servant of Christ instead of a slanderer of the church. 

God loved Saul, and He loves all the Sauls of the world. And He can save them, too. Saul’s salvation shows that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for even the evilest evildoer. As Saul himself testified, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:13b-15).

There is mercy for Saul, so don’t give up. Keep praying for the Saul(s) in your life. Keep preaching the gospel to them. Grace is still enough, the gospel is still effective, and God can still transform a Saul into a Paul. As John Piper encouraged, “Look on your adversaries with the eyes of faith—that someday, by the power of God they could experience a turn-around as amazing and unexpected as Saul’s.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Resources from the Ministry of Pastor Brandon G. Bramlett