Power in the Blood | Bible Gleanings September 12-13, 2020

Power in the Blood

Dr. Benjamin Planer, a 58-year-old doctor in New Jersey, has blood like no one else, according to an article in April published by the New York Times. He is known as the “superdonor” at Hackensack University Medical Center because his blood is rich with antibodies—proteins made by the immune system to fight infections which help to ward off future infections. His blood is especially valuable in today’s war against the coronavirus. He contracted the virus himself, along with his wife and 17-year-old son. Antibodies formed specifically to combat the coronavirus and helped him recover from it.

Dr. Planer remarked, “My body obviously had it. My body responded. My immunity worked. And I hear that I made a lot of antibodies. I was very happy to hear that—and very happy to share.” Because he beat the coronavirus, his blood now has the power to save lives—and he’s giving it away to help others beat the virus. He prevailed over the coronavirus and his blood has what it takes to enable others to prevail over it as well.

Dr. Planer is not the only man whose blood saves lives. The Bible says of another man, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). This man has, “freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5b). If you are a part of the church of God, this man has “obtained [you] with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). This man has blood like no one else, which is why we sing, “Would you be free from your passion and pride? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood. Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide, there’s wonderful power in the blood.”

This man is Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, who conquered the disease of sin and whose blood has the power to ensure your own victory over it. Christ triumphed over sin and gave His blood to help you triumph over it as well. Because Jesus gave His life, His blood is life-giving. That is why the apostle Peter exclaimed, “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24b). If you have been covered by the blood of Jesus by trusting only in His finished work for your salvation, you have been justified (Rom. 5:9), reconciled to God (Eph. 2:13; Col. 1:20), purified (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 7:14), forgiven (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:22), and ransomed (1 Peter 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).

His blood is the only thing sufficient to save from the virus of sin. Have you been washed and healed by the blood of Jesus?

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).

Taking Out the Trash | Bible Gleanings September 5-6, 2020

Taking Out the Trash

Anything can happen in 2020—even the transformation of a landfill to a recreational park. An article in the New York Times titled Huge Landfill’s Long Road to Renewal, documents how Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island went from a garbage dump to a grassy landscape, and is set to open as a park by next spring. Fresh Kills was once an ecological eyesore due to the tons of trash that arrived there every day by barge. In the late 1970s, an estimated 28,000 tons of garbage were unloaded daily. The waste at Fresh Kills is so massive that giant trash hills formed over time and were named as though they were natural landmarks. In 2001, however, the dumping ceased and the process of renewal began.

They compacted waste, flushed out harmful chemicals, and capped the garbage mounts with plastic. After they essentially “took out the trash,” they brought in soil and seeds, and let nature do its thing. Now the landfill once dominated by repugnant filth is characterized by life and beauty. Looking at Fresh Kills today, you’d never know it was once a literal wasteland. It is still a work-in-progress, but it is far more useful and beautiful than ever before.

Did you know this is what God has been doing in you since you were first saved by grace? On the day of your conversion, God started the process of beautifying you by taking the garbage out of your heart and life. As an unbeliever, your life was a landfill of sin. You were characterized by the garbage and filth of sinful desires and deeds (Romans 1:18-32). In fact, your iniquities formed mounts which reached to the heavens (Ezra 9:6).

Now, God is taking out the trash and transforming you into something useful and beautiful. To be sure, this is an ongoing process that requires your obedience. That is why Paul said, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry . . . Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:5, 12). The old has to be removed so the new can take its place. Old earthly desires and deeds, the garbage of your former life, must be put to death so that your life can be identified by new virtues. God calls you to kill off your old inclinations and actions so that He can plant new things in your life. He wants you to be characterized by new and beautiful virtues so that old and repulsive vices are out of sight. Will you yield to the Spirit and walk with the Lord so He can continue taking out the trash?

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.

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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).

Start With Prayer | Bible Gleanings August 29-30, 2020

Start With Prayer

Without question, science and experience affirm that how you start your day is vitally important. What you do or don’t do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. According to several mental health studies, the first twenty minutes of the day are the most crucial. An article by the Entrepreneur confirms this, saying, “whether you get out of bed at 5 a.m. or 3 p.m., it’s the first 20 minutes of your day that can set you up for success.” Most people don’t take the time to get mornings right and waste a great opportunity to get started on the right foot.

One man who always started His day on the right foot was Jesus Christ, the Lord. He would begin His long days of preaching and healing on His knees. As John Mark tells us in his Gospel, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

There are several elements of Jesus’ “morning routine” that, if incorporated into our own lives, would set up each day for the blessing of God. Here are a few things about Jesus’ prayer that will set the right tone for the rest of your day, if you imitate His example.

(1) Jesus prayed even when exhausted. Granted, Mark doesn’t say Jesus was tired. However, we know from the context that Jesus couldn’t have enjoyed a full night of sleep. On the previous day, He was healing the sick and casting out demons—beginning at evening and ending possibly until midnight (Mark 1:32-34). Although He was tired, He woke up early and prayed anyway. You will pray when you hunger for God’s presence, no matter how tired you are or how busy you are. Learn to pray when you are tired—even if it’s only for a few minutes. God will grant you spiritual and emotional rest that is far greater than physical rest.

(2) Jesus prayed early. When Christ prayed, it was so early that the sun hadn’t yet risen. He knew prayer was the best way to start the day. Practically speaking, given Jesus’ busy life in ministry, this may have been His only opportunity to spend alone time with His Father. We should learn to pray early as well. While the mind is refreshed and the world is still waking up, we should wake up with prayer.

(3) Jesus prayed alone. Jesus often prayed in public and with His disciples, but He also prayed in desolate places so He could talk to the Father free of distraction or disturbance. In our prayer lives, we also need to pray as often as we can alone, one-on-one with the Father.

How will you spend the first twenty minutes of the day tomorrow? Remember—the best way to start the day is to start to pray!

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.

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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).

Actor Portrayal | BIBLE GLEANINGS AUGUST 22-23, 2020

Actor Portrayal

Many commercials on television promote new products and services with personal testimony from people who have benefited from the product themselves. When a new gadget hits the market, you’ll see someone in the commercial rave about how it has changed their lives for the better. When a new medicine is developed, the person in the commercial is seen enjoying their lives like never before. However, if you pay close attention you will often see the words ACTOR PORTRAYAL in tiny print near the bottom of the screen. That signals that the individual in the advertisement hasn’t actually used the product or service for themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I immediately question the effectiveness of whatever they’re advertising if the company has to hire an actor to promote it. In fact, it makes me think the product or service doesn’t work at all! The actors are real and so is their enthusiasm, but their claim about the proficiency of a product or service is repudiated when there is no real evidence that they themselves have been changed by it. It’s all acting.

The Bible talks about actor portrayal. The Lord Jesus sternly warned that it is possible to offer lip service to God while your heart is far from Him: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8). You can be enthusiastic about God and the gospel without actually being changed by the gospel or encountering God for yourself. Reading the Bible, going to church, singing hymns, and doing good works are just an actor portrayal if you haven’t experienced the life-changing power of the gospel firsthand. Even if you have genuinely trusted in Christ and believed the gospel, people will question the effectiveness of the gospel if you show little to no evidence that you’ve been changed by it. If you don’t practice what you preach, people will wonder whether or not the gospel works at all. When we live no differently than anyone else, it is as though “actor portrayal” has been visibly labeled upon our lives.

Hypocrisy always kills the appeal of the gospel. God doesn’t call you to act before men, but to live a genuinely righteous life before Him: “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). Obviously, no Christian is perfect and there’ll even be times when you live hypocritically—it happens to all of us. The issue is not with occasional falls into the sin of hypocrisy. The issue is if you promote the effectiveness of the gospel but contradict that claim by living the same as everyone else. Have you been changed by the gospel or is your life an actor portrayal?

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.

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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 Fiery Tongue | Bible Gleanings August 15-16, 2020

The Fiery Tongue

“Only you can prevent forest fires.” We are all familiar with this stern warning from Smokey Bear. The Forest Service created this advertising icon in the 1940’s to encourage the prevention of wildfires, since over 85% are caused by the neglect and carelessness of human beings. His famous catch phrase reminds us that we must never underestimate the destructive potential of fire. Even the smallest flame can consume an entire forest in a matter of days. As recently as 2016, thousands of acres in the Smoky Mountains went up in flames because of a fire started by two minors. To this day, wildfires continue to ravage our beautiful country, often because of unattended campfires, discarded cigarettes, and the burning of garbage and debris. The point is, you can never be too careful when it comes to fire safety in the outdoors. That’s what Smokey’s warning is all about.

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:5b-6). Are we as familiar with this austere warning about the calamitous capability of the flame that lies caged behind our teeth? James the apostle said the tongue is like a small spark or flame that can set an entire forest ablaze. Although the tongue is small, it has the potential to burn down your life or the life of others. An ill-spoken word, a false rumor, a white lie, a crude joke, or any other sin of the tongue may bring destruction and damage that is irreparable. Your words can easily ignite a fire that will burn out of control.

How can you prevent a fire from breaking out of your mouth? (1) Think carefully about your words before you say them: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). (2) Pray for God’s help and yield to His Spirit: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3). (3) By God’s grace, learn to use your tongue for good instead of evil: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). (4) Understand that without God’s power, you can never tame your tongue: “But no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:8a).

Let the Lord have control of your words so He may extinguish the smallest spark before it grows. Only He can prevent a fire from breaking out of your mouth.

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.

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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).

Too Close! | Bible Gleanings August 8-9, 2020

Too Close!

Like most people, you probably enjoy the comfort and security of a hotel room when on vacation. A quality room with a plush bed and coffee maker are the closest you can get to home when you’re away from home. However, if you get a kick out of getting as close to danger as possible, there are plenty of options out there. If you’re vacationing in Zambia, you can sleep in a glass igloo surrounded by elephants, giraffes, and wild dogs. Mfuwe Lodge in Zambia is just the place. They offer eighteen chalets in the exotic thicket of South Luangwa National Park. If you like tree houses, you can book your stay in a transparent capsule on the side of a mountain in Peru. Thanks to Skylodge Adventure Suites, you can sleep on a cliff in a see-through capsule which is accessible only by zipline. Maybe you’re the type that loves water. No problem! You can reserve your own bubble room sixteen feet below sea level at Manta Resort in Zanzibar. At this resort, guests are guaranteed a private underwater room complete with a butler who comes to you by boat. Yes, for a hefty price, you can forfeit all safety and security and turn your next vacation into a near-death experience!

Some people like to live on the edge—it’s inherent in their nature. As a matter of fact, inherent in your nature is a desire to get close to the edge—the edge of sin. As sinners, we try to bend the rules and camp on the cliff when it comes to violating God’s commands. More often than not, we flirt around with sin and see how close we can get when we should be getting as far away as possible. Because of our sin nature, we love to play with fire and come as close as we can to the fiery dangers of sin.

Think about all the biblical characters who destroyed themselves by coming too close to the edge. Adam and Eve lingered near the tree which God forbade before eating its forbidden fruit. Lot camped on the border of the detestable city of Sodom before going full speed down a path that wrecked his life. Samson dilly dallied in Gaza before going into a prostitute which defaced his once-honorable legacy. David watched from his palace as Bathsheba bathed before committing adultery with her.

No matter how thrilling it may be to our sinful nature, coming close to the edge always leads to destruction. The bill for sin always comes due. Instead of testing the limits, God calls you to flee from sin as fast as possible. “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14). Flee from sin and its danger. Don’t make your reservations in places that’ll get you closest to it (1 Cor. 6:18; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22).


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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).

Don’t Slip!

“My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped” (Psalm 17:5).

When hiking, it is best to avoid things that might make you fall. I have found that 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, even if it’s only a little grime. Walking on beaten dirt paths is preferable to muddy hills and slopes.

The psalmist David certainly understood the importance of avoiding slippery and unstable surfaces while keeping your feet on the right path. Of course, David wasn’t talking about hiking – he’s talking about living. The Christian should long to attain the kind of life David exalts in this verse. Believers should walk on the righteous path of life and avert things that might cause a damaging fall.

Your feet should be fixed to the path of obedience and you must turn aside from slippery and unstable ground. You must bypass tempting situations which threaten to sweep you under. It’s best to keep your feet on the solid path of righteousness. Your feet will only slip if you take the wrong steps and venture off the right path. Thankfully, even if you do fall, God doesn’t leave you on the ground. God will catch and hold you up: “When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up” (Psalm 94:18).

Watch where you put your feet as you walk the dangerous terrain of life, and don’t slip!

For further study, see Psalm 18:36; 37:31; 38:16; 66:9; 73:2.


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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).

Shelter from Storms

“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by” (Psalm 57:1).

A flimsy tent won’t cut it when you’re sleeping in the outdoors, especially when the weather is unpredictable. Being protected from the elements and enjoying a good night’s sleep on the trail is critical, so it’s important to have the right shelter. This is yet another lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

Years ago, my friends and I decided to camp in the summertime at Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest, located in southern Illinois. The tent I packed was the saddest excuse for a tent that I’ve ever seen. I’m not even sure why it qualified as a tent. The material was as thin as wax paper. It was so small that my nose could touch the top while laying down. The two tent stakes were so fluid and brittle that Twizzlers would have worked better.

Nevertheless, I pitched it up and attempted to sleep comfortably. It was bearable until a nasty thunderstorm rolled through the area. Twigs were flying, sky-bullets of rain were coming down, and the wind gusts were overwhelming me and the other campers. I couldn’t take it anymore—I had to get out of that “tent.”

So, I sheltered underneath a giant rock formation (pictured) and enjoyed a level of security and protection I never could have gotten from that cheap tent. Thankfully, I had easy access to a shelter that was reliable.

Life has storms, too. Trouble rains down on us like a monsoon. Gusts of pain and sorrow throw us all over the place. We desperately need the right shelter so we can make it through the unpredictable weather of life. Fortunately, for those of us who know the Lord, He Himself is our shelter. You can count on God to be a reliable and trustworthy place of refuge from life’s storms. He isn’t going to fail you like a flimsy tent. He is a rock of protection for you, a fortress of defense, a shield of safety, a shelter that will withstand the strongest winds, rain, and lightning.

The question is: what kind of shelter will you remain in during the tempests of life?


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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).

Light on the Path

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Any hiker knows that night comes quicker on the trail. Because of the density of trees and the constant change between hills and valleys, the sun seems to disappear faster—almost as if God turns the light off with a switch. I’ve observed this while backpacking and I’ve also observed that you rarely reach your campsite before dark, so you have to continue hiking in the strange and unknown world of the night-time wilderness.

Thankfully, light is available from flashlights and headlamps (as long as you take them with you). With light shining on the trail ahead, I know I am going the right way as I can see trail markers that are otherwise hidden in the darkness. With light, I can avoid dangers I couldn’t see without light—creek crossings, holes, drop-offs, and even critters that would rather be undisturbed. With light, I can provide guidance to others who may be hiking with me in the night. Without light, I would be lost on the trail, trembling with fear, and wandering into danger without even knowing it.

The psalmist who penned the verse above wasn’t a hiker or backpacker, but he knew the value of having light to guide his steps on a path. That light is the word of God, he said. The light is the holy Scriptures and they provide guidance and protection as you travel on the path of life which is often dark. With the light of God’s word, you can walk wisely and have assurance that you’re on the right path. His word will show you the “trail markers.” With the light of Scripture, God will help you avoid spiritual danger—temptation, deception, and all sorts of things you couldn’t see on your own. And with the bright light of His word, you can show others the way. It’s a dark world out there—let the light of His word shine on your path to guide your feet.


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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).

Biblical Resources From Nine Years of Ministry