Day 7: A Christmas Miracle

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” —Isaiah 11:1

“It’s a Christmas miracle!” This is exclaimed in nearly every Christmas movie when the unexpected happens in circumstances that appeared hopeless. Perhaps the common usage of this exclamation demonstrates that most people believe this is a miraculous time of year. To be sure, Christmas is inherently miraculous—what could be more miraculous than God taking on flesh, being born as a man to a virgin?

Many years before Christ came to earth, God promised that His arrival would be miraculous. Through the prophet Isaiah, God told the Jews that a shoot was coming from Jesse’s stump. Mentioning Jesse is another way of referring to David’s royal lineage, since Jesse was his father. But at this point, David’s royal lineage looked like a stump—the tree of his family line had been cut down to a stump, only to rot away. What’s worse, with the wasting away of David’s family, there appeared no hope of a Messiah coming to bring salvation, since the Messiah was prophesied elsewhere to be David’s son.

But a miracle was coming—a shoot, a twig, would grow out of this stump. This royal lineage would bear fruit again with the coming of a king greater than David. Many years later, “Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Matthew 1:1) was born—and His birth happened miraculously. God is good at causing the unexpected to happen in situations that seem bleak or hopeless. Though life may appear to be a stump, God still works miracles. And the coming of Christ at Christmas was truly a Christmas miracle and He is worthy of praise for it.


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 6: A Greater Price for a Greater Gift

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31).

Christmas gifts seem to get more expensive every year. In fact, it’s estimated that the average American will spend $920 per person on presents this year.[1] But no matter how much you shell out buying gifts for your loved ones this year, it’s likely that you are a receiver of gifts just as much as a giver of them. That’s the great thing about Christmas—we all get something new. And that’s good, because we all like new things—we like to give and receive new things. The glee and bliss felt by a child when getting a toy truck or Barbie resonates through adulthood.

Such glee was surely felt by the Israelites when God promised them a gift was coming that was new, free, and exceedingly greater than anything physical or even earthly: the salvation of the new covenant which Jesus would bring by His advent. Long ago in Jeremiah 31, the Lord God promised that a new covenant was coming—a new way of experiencing Him, a new way of doing things. This new covenant would include a personal relationship with Him, the total forgiveness of sins, and the ability to obey God from the heart (vv. 33-34). And while this new covenant was free to them and is free to you, it was very expensive to God because He paid for it with the blood of His Son, Jesus. As Christ Himself said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).

When Jesus was born Christmas Day, He was already on His way to purchase this great gift of new covenant salvation for you. And remember, when Christmas presents start to get expensive, God paid a greater price for a greater gift—the gracious gift of salvation in the new covenant. No gift you give or receive could compare with the immeasurable gift of salvation that God gave through Christ. “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” (2 Cor. 9:15, NLT).


[1] https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1112/average-cost-of-an-american-christmas.aspx


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 5: Let It Snow!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” —Isaiah 1:18

Nothing is more enchanting and pleasant than waking up on Christmas morning to a blanket of snow covering the neighborhood. Nearly everyone dreams of a white Christmas because it just feels like Christmas when there is snow on the ground. Without snow, there are no snowmen, snowball fights, or dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Snow and Christmas pair together like hot cocoa and marshmallows.

Snow is also a biblical symbol for purity and righteousness. To the Jews, snow was the purest form of white. It appears pure, clean, and perfect when it falls from the sky. It even covers the filth and dirt of the earth. It is no wonder that people in the Bible desired to be as pure as snow, like David who prayed: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). The prophet Daniel also used this imagery in describing his vision of God on His throne, as One who is uncompromisingly pure and righteous: “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow” (Daniel 7:9a).

In Isaiah 1:18, the Lord told His people that their sins were undeniably noticeable—as red as red can be—like scarlet. Their lives were stained, filthy, and impure. They needed to be cleansed and scrubbed of the sin that colored their lives. God assured them that they could be made white like snow if they turned to Him (vv. 19-20). Though they were covered in filth, they could be snow-white through the Lord’s thorough washing.

You are also in need of such cleansing from the Lord. Ironically, the only way to receive cleansing from the red stain of your sins is through the blood of Jesus. As John the apostle said, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b). His death makes you whiter than snow in the sight of God because He clothed Himself in the filthy rags of your sin and in exchange gives you the white robes of His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). You receive this cleansing when you turn away from your sins and express faith in Christ alone (Acts 17:30; Ephesians 2:8-9).

What’s more ironic is that it snows during the Christmas season—the time when you remember and celebrate Christ’s coming into the world to save you from your sin. Is it possible that it snows this time of year as a sign from God that Christ came on Christmas day to make you whiter than snow?


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 4: Go, Tell It on the Mountain

“And when they [the shepherds] saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.” —Luke 2:17

Shepherds were the first Christian preachers in history. Before the message of salvation in Christ was announced by John the Baptist and the apostles (John 1:29-34; Acts 2:22-36; 4:12), lowly shepherds declared the good news of the coming of Christ. The shepherds told others of His arrival even before Jesus did (Mark 1:14-15). Luke explains that they reported to everyone what they had experienced. They made known to others what the Lord had made known to them (Luke 2:15), namely, that a Savior had been born in the city of David (v. 10).

Notice what they didn’t do. They didn’t keep the good news to themselves. They didn’t stay quiet for fear that no one would believe them. They didn’t wait until the right time to share the message—they went with haste to proclaim it (v. 16). In one night, they went from being recipients to deliverers of the good news of Christ’s coming.

Their preaching of the gospel of Christ is worthy of imitation. This is an excellent example for you to follow as one who has also received the good news of Jesus. What they did with the gospel is what you are to do with it: proclaim it to everyone. This is the point of the Christmas classic, Go, Tell It on the Mountain:

“Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and everywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain,

That Jesus Christ is born.”

Do not keep the gospel to yourself or fear others won’t believe you. Do not wait until the time and conditions are right. Go with haste and publish the greatest news in the world to your family, friends, and neighbors. And do not think you are unqualified to share the good news of the gospel—poor, uneducated, and lowly shepherds were the first evangelists. The power is in the message, not the messenger. Therefore, unashamedly tell the world that the gospel is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

Bro. John Baker – Pastor, Mentor, and Friend

“He never said it would be easy. He did say it would be worth it.”

That was one of Bro. John’s many idioms and I never forgot it. He maintained a biblical perspective no matter his personal pain or ministry hardships. And anytime difficulty arises in my life, I hear him say it.

But far more than his words of wisdom, I remember the life he lived. He was the most biblical, godly, and sacrificial pastor I have ever known. When I sift through the memories I have of him, I constantly think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Bro. John was truly all things to all people. He made a memorable impact on everyone he knew and he certainly made an impact on me.

His influence on me began in high school. He was my bus driver during my final years at Ballard Memorial High School. In no time, we were having daily conversations on the bus about preaching and the Bible. He sacrificed precious time befriending me and he did so because that’s just the kind of person he was.

Then came the invitation to preach at his church, Ohio Valley Baptist, which would become my place of ministry for five years. They were hosting a large youth rally and he graciously invited me to preach—at 17 years of age, with no formal theological training, and little pulpit experience. But he trusted the Lord and he believed in me.

A few months later, my relationship with Bro. John deepened as I accepted the call to be the minister of youth at Ohio Valley. He poured into me in ways that have made an eternal impact. His influence and leadership are the reason I’m in the ministry today. Every day, I aspire to be the kind of pastor and Christian that he was. In our relationship, he faithfully applied 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Throughout the entirety of my time serving in ministry with him, he mentored me for pastoral ministry.

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I’ll never forget the day he shook my hand and presented me with my license to preach. I preached a bummer sermon that morning, but he knew the Lord had called me to preach and on November 25, 2012 he and Ohio Valley confirmed so by licensing me to preach the gospel. He also conducted my ordination on December 15, 2013 and I’ll never forget what he said: “I’m gonna tell you what the apostle Paul told Timothy and how I believe he said it: PREACH. THE. WORD!”

They say faithfulness in ministry is both taught and caught. That is, you learn to be a faithful pastor through instruction, example, and experience. He provided me with the right combination of all three. He wisely counseled me in matters of life and ministry, but he simultaneously provided the best example for me to follow and gave me plenty of opportunities to serve the Lord (and even make mistakes).

318311_4771256193513_2126824425_nI remember vividly when he taught me how to baptize new believers. He insisted that I join him in the baptistery to watch and learn. He even assisted me as I baptized one of my best friends. He knew I needed the experience for when I would become the pastor of my own church.

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Bro. John is also the reason I went to Bible college. After graduating high school, I didn’t want to do anymore schooling. But he continued to encourage me to pursue some kind of formal theological training. Recently, I graduated from Boyce College with an Associates of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. I just received my diploma in the mail and I wish I could have shown it to him and expressed my deepest gratitude for his encouraging me to pursue it (I have a feeling he knows now).

414627_4004776351996_1691435617_oHe was a man who “walked slowly through the people.” That is, he made a real effort to spend time with people. He would listen to you—not just to reply, but to show that he loved you. He was the most relational pastor that I’ve ever known. He was there anytime he was needed. He was at every event. He had fun during church events and always made them more lively.

I remember the times he rushed to the hospital to visit people in need. Many of those times, he brought me with him. Whether it was a routine surgery, a sudden illness, or a tragic death—he was there to love and lead people who were hurting. He taught me that a pastor ought to be seen outside the church as much as inside the church. 

1223121212And he always did more than what was required of him. He was a faithful pastor who always exceeded his job description. Even before he came to Ohio Valley, I am told that he got on his rubber boots and helped one of the families move things out of their house before it flooded. When there was something that needed to be done, he did it—no matter how mundane. In fact, another idiom of his was, “Sometimes if it’s not done by the pastor, it won’t get done.” 

622411_3910863644237_1265532537_oBro. John also exemplified Paul’s command to always be ready to preach (2 Tim. 4:2). Everywhere was his pulpit. He preached outdoors on the church lawn and at the public parks. He preached at weddings and funerals. He even preached to the folks down at the nursing home. He was always ready. No matter how busy he was, he was always prepared to open and explain the word of God.

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He was also instrumental in the relationship that me and my wife share. We both distinctly remember how he tenderly counseled us as we prepared for marriage. When the wedding day arrived, she and I were shaking like leaves on a tree, but he was calm and composed—which really helped ease our tensions. 

Words can never express how much he means to me. There is so much more that I want to say. But all in all, Bro. John taught me how to be a faithful pastor, a devoted Christian, and a loving husband. I’m going to miss his wise counsel and quirks. I am going to miss calling him on the phone for advice regarding issues in ministry. But I am anticipating the day when we will be reunited in glory.

I love you, Bro. John. You did so much for me that you didn’t have to do. I am who I am today because you befriended and mentored the young man on your school bus.

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Day 3: A Savior Better Than Santa

“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them.” —Luke 2:8-9a

Santa is not very inclusive—he only brings gifts for good boys and girls. He even puts you on the naughty list if you’ve been behaving badly. Those who receive presents from Santa are children most qualified to receive them. The Lord Jesus, by contrast, gives the greatest gift to those who are the least qualified to receive it. He came to earth to grant eternal life to undeserving sinners.

The mission of Christ to save the least likely people is seen in the fact that shepherds were the first to hear the good news of His coming. The advent of Jesus was not announced to kings or emperors, but to some of the most insignificant persons in Judean society. Although shepherds were important, the culture viewed them as minuscule. In fact, they couldn’t even testify in court. Yet, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and they became the first recipients of the news that the Savior had been born.

The Gospels reinforce the idea that He cares for the low-ranking people of the world. The first disciples were fishermen. The kind of people He healed were lepers, paralytics, and those possessed by demons. He ate with tax collectors and sinners. He cared for widows and the sexually immoral. Jesus came for the least qualified—as He Himself said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

The good news of Jesus is for you, too. You don’t have to be outstandingly qualified to receive His gift of eternal life. The Lord Jesus will grant salvation to you, no matter who you are or what you have done. By repentance and faith (Acts 17:30; Eph. 2:8-9), eternal life can be yours even if you are sexually immoral, idolatrous, adulterous, greedy, or addicted (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Jesus is a significant Savior who came for insignificant people—that’s another reason why Jesus is better than Santa.


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 2: Extraordinary in the Ordinary

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered . . . And all went to be registered, each to his own town.” —Luke 2:1, 3

There is nothing unusual about filing and paying taxes, except when you receive a generous refund. Likewise, paying taxes in New Testament times was completely normal. Luke explains that it was tax time for the Jews as Caesar issued a decree for the purpose of assessing taxes. This was business as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary was occurring—or so it seemed.

Amazingly, this decree is what God used to bring Joseph and Mary to the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah. The prophet Micah foretold that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem:

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days (Micah 5:2).

There’s just one problem—Mary was not in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4). Thankfully, this taxation would take them there because, in order to comply, every Jew had to travel back to their hometown. For Joseph, this was Bethlehem, the city of David. Luke says that Mary and Joseph proceeded to Bethlehem (v. 4) and it is there that Mary, “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths” (v. 7).

God sovereignly moved in the heart of Caesar (Prov. 21:1) to fulfill His word concerning Jesus. The Sovereign Lord of the universe used an ordinary taxation for an extraordinary purpose. Even today, God uses ordinary people and events for extraordinary purposes. God didn’t create the world and then abandon it—He is actively involved in the creation at each moment to accomplish His sovereign will. He will use whatever it takes to fulfill His perfect plan—even things that are completely normal.

Right now, God is active in the ordinary things of your life—the day-to-day happenings that appear humdrum. As John Piper has said, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”[1] So, take heart if you have an ordinary life because God used a standard taxation to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Who knows what He will do through the ordinary things in your life? To be sure, whatever He does is always for your good and His glory (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28; 11:36).


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.


[1] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-is-always-doing-10000-things-in-your-life

Day 1: When Heaven Had Christmas

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.” —Luke 2:13a

Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year with its own decorations, symbols, music, traditions, foods, and even colors. However, because some elements of this season have their roots in ancient pagan festivals, many do not celebrate Christmas. And while it is true that many Christmas practices began in paganism, the pagan meanings were lost long ago. Besides, Christians through the centuries have celebrated Christmas and we have consistently out-celebrated the pagans. This is because the birth of Christ is worth celebrating.

In fact, heaven itself celebrated Christmas—heaven erupted in acclamation and praise when Jesus was born. One angel made the announcement that Christ had come (Luke 2:9-12), but he was immediately joined by thousands of others. As Luke says, a multitude of the heavenly host suddenly appeared and accompanied the angel with exuberant praise to God. The angels in heaven were so thrilled at the arrival of the Messiah that they came alongside the one angel in glorifying God for the good news. Someone once said, “Heaven’s choir came down to sing when heaven’s King came down to save.”

The angels in heaven saw the first advent of Jesus as reason for rejoicing, gladness, and cheer. Do you see it that way? If Christ’s coming was celebrated in heaven, why wouldn’t you celebrate it on earth? Christmas is worth celebrating because Jesus is worth celebrating. John Wesley’s hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing invites you to joyfully celebrate with the heavenly host:

“Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King!”


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.