Nurturing What is Fake | Bible Gleanings, October 24-25, 2020

Nurturing What Is Fake

Caelie Wilkes felt accomplished and proud. For two years, she successfully nurtured and cared for a succulent given to her by a friend. Her other house plants had shriveled and died, so she was feeling particularly gratified, considering she did not have a green thumb.

Things were different for this little succulent. Caelie carefully watered it when necessary. She read articles online on how to properly tend to succulents. And when friends tried to help the plant, she became protective like a mama bear. The leaves were firm, waxy, and green—all indicators of vibrant health. The succulent emitted joy as it sat in the kitchen window, illuminating the area.

One day, she determined it was time to repot the lucky plant. And it was then that she made a shattering discovery—the succulent she had religiously fostered was plastic! Beneath the surface was artificial sand and Styrofoam. USA Today covered this true story and Caelie remarked, “I put so much love into this plant! I washed it’s leaves. Tried my hardest to keep it looking its best, and it’s completely plastic!” She expended a considerable amount of time and strength to nurture what was fake all along.

Albeit an amusing story, what is quite tragic is that we can each do this in our spiritual lives. Like Caelie, we can spend time and effort in nurturing what is fake—tending to a hypocritical life that is as fake as plastic. You can give the impression that you are righteous while your heart is full of unrighteousness. God said to the Israelites, “[These] people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13). Mere lip service while your heart is distant from the Lord is a plastic succulent in His sight.

Jesus sternly warns about nurturing a fake-succulent-kind-of-life: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). A day is coming when God will reveal the “roots” of all people, and it will become clear who is genuinely righteous and only righteous by appearance (2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, nurture authenticity instead of hypocrisy. Tend to and maintain an authentic, genuine life of righteousness.

You can begin by first trusting wholly in Christ as your Savior and Lord. If you have already done that, then strive to live righteously in order to be seen only by the Lord. Be more concerned with the inward condition of your heart than the outward appearance of your life. Be honest about your faults and shortcomings. Depend daily on God’s real grace to live a real righteous life. And don’t worry about watering the “plastic succulent.”


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 will 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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

The Record of Sin | Bible Gleanings – October 17-18, 2020

The Record of Sin

There was a hardworking Englishman who was due for a holiday (or a vacation, as we call it). He loaded his car, a 1940’s Rolls-Royce, on a steady boat and set out across the continent to enjoy some rest from work. While he drove around Europe to experience its sights and sounds, he heard something rather unpleasant—an unusual ticking coming from the engine. He immediately contacted Rolls-Royce back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Since Rolls-Royce valued excellency, they flew a mechanic to his location. That’s what I call customer service! The mechanic examined the engine and presumably made necessary repairs, then flew back to England to let the man continue his holiday.

As the story is told, the man began to question, “How much is this going to cost me?” When his holiday concluded, he wrote them a letter asking how much he owed. In no time he received a letter from their office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.”

There is a letter from God’s office that says the same thing about you, if you are a believer in Christ: “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14). The Lord God cancelled and cleared the record of debt that stood against you by nailing it through the hands of His Son. Because of this, there is no record anywhere that you ever did anything wrong. On the cross, a marvelous exchange took place so that the record of your sins could be canceled. Namely, God credited your sin to Jesus and credited His righteousness to you. At Calvary, the Son of God made your record His own and gave you His perfect record in exchange.

Paul said it like this: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Similarly, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13a). The registry of your sin and guilt is gone. The only record that remains is the Book that contains the names of all those who are covered by the blood of Christ, the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27).

The question is: what is God’s file on you? Does God have a full record of your sin? Or have you had your record of sin removed by trusting in Jesus Christ?


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 will 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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

A Fish Fight | Bible Gleanings – October 10-11, 2020

A Fish Fight

In Russia earlier this year, a disastrous “fish fight” transpired over who truly possesses the rights to the fish that abound in the Amur River. The Amur is the world’s tenth longest river which forms the boundary between Russia and northeastern China, and it is a wild salmon goldmine. For years, local families and business owners have filled their bellies and pockets with its riches.

Nowadays, this is not the case. Moscow loosened restrictions on commercial businesses and tightened restrictions on recreational fishing, as the New York Times reported, and now local folks can’t catch enough to put on the table. Commercial enterprises have drained local fishing communities, for instance, by stringing enormous nets across the river’s mouth. Thousands of fish swimming with the current unknowingly become caught and entangled by these gargantuan nets. Unless local residents get to the fish first, they will inevitably be caught by the bigger nets of the “big guys.”

A much more important spiritual fish fight has raged for centuries and continues fervently today. The church and the world are both trying to catch people like fish. Jesus calls His followers, the church, to fish for people: “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). If you follow Christ, you are to use the gospel as the net to deliver unbelievers from drowning in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). The world, on the other hand, is using the allurement and appeal of sin and idolatry to keep unbelievers entangled in its net.

Scores of people are going with the flow of the world and are hopelessly ensnared by the deadly net of sin. Scripture says, “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin” (Proverbs 5:22). Similarly, God tells us, “An evil man is ensnared in his transgression” (Proverbs 29:6). The false gods carved by the world  entangle men and lead to eternal condemnation from God (Deuteronomy 7:25). The world’s net is big and is dragging thousands to hell.

And unless you get in your boat and fish for the unsaved in the world, they will remain caught by the world’s net. In order for unbelievers to be delivered, you have to do some fishing. The gospel “net” is thankfully strong enough to snatch a man from the world’s fast-flowing stream, and it can save those strangled by the world’s net. Think about the unbelievers that you know—whose net will catch them? What will you do to prevent them from remaining caught by the world?

A word of caution: watch yourself and bear in mind that, although you are a fisher of men, you are still a fish and you can, “learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (Proverbs 22:25).


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 will 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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Sin’s Stench | Bible Gleanings – October 3-4, 2020

Sin’s Stench

He darted like lightning towards the house, retreating from a battle apparently lost—my dog, that is. One night a few weeks ago, as my dog went out to relieve himself, he encountered a skunk that had defended itself and won. The putrid odor that enthralled him was more nauseating than anything I’ve ever smelled before. It would not surprise me to find out that the biblical writers accidentally left out the part about hell reeking of skunk spray.

Needless to say, we broke out the big guns. We used the most potent dog shampoo in our arsenal and gave him a rigorous bath. Most of nature’s tear gas was on his face, so we had to flush his eyes and massage his snout with suds to eliminate the offensive odor. The skunk was still winning, however, for the foul stench remained. “Cover it with something that smells better,” I thought. I thought wrong.

Out of options, we purchased some skunk odor eliminator and applied it as well. The repulsive tang lingered for days, so the bathing and cleaning had to carry on. The dog hated the whole cleansing process, of course. Many times he tried to jump out of the tub to escape. Sometimes it was difficult or unpleasant, but it had to be done. He had to be cleaned up for his own good (and for ours).

As sinners, we carry a stench far worse than the sulfuric fumes of a skunk—namely, the odor of sin. The Lord God smells sin from heaven and it is described in Scripture as an unpleasantly-smelling smoke in His nostrils (Isaiah 65:5). However, on the day of your conversion God gave you a bath. He washed you by the cleansing blood of Christ and the spiritual washing of the Spirit (1 John 1:7; Titus 3:5).

Since you are not in your final state, the scent of sin will stick around. Therefore, God’s process of cleansing will continue until you wear a robe of white in glory. Sometimes it is unpleasant or hard to bear when God scrubs you of sin’s smell, but that’s the only way it can be eliminated—you cannot wash yourself or cover the smell of sin. Sometimes He uses means of cleansing us that are undesirable: discipline, trials, rebuke, correction, and so on.

But don’t jump out of the tub, friend. God always cleanses you for your good. Let God cleanse you each day and even ask Him to do so (Psalm 51:2). Yield to His continual cleansing so that you may spread a pleasing fragrance to those around you, “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). And rest assured that, no matter how many times you get sprayed by sin’s stench, the Lord will wash you every time you come to Him.


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 will 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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).