His Flaming Fury | Bible Gleanings – April 23-24, 2022

The clanging of coins could be heard outside the doors. The fluttering of pigeon wings echoed through the halls. The wooden tables creaked and crackled as they crashed to the floor. And a thundering voice was heard that seized the bustling multitudes: “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

The blazing indignation of the Lord Jesus was ignited. The One called “meek and lowly” boiled with righteous wrath (Matt. 11:29). His Father’s house had been defiled by filthy lucre, and He was determined to clean it up (Mark 11:15). Jesus flipped tables that day in Jerusalem, and He will flip the world upside down by His glorious appearance when He comes again. He will drive out all evildoers from His Father’s world with the whip of judgment, and He will clean house fully and finally.

The apostle John described it like this:

“The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:14-17)

Wails of despair will pierce the air because there will be no place to hide from the dreadful storm of holy retribution. Every haven and hideaway will be incinerated by the flaming fury of the Lord Jesus so that no one may escape divine justice. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,” wrote Peter, “and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10). The earth and vainglory of worldly things will be smashed to smithereens with one swing of Christ’s gavel of judgment. And everyone with an unpaid sin debt will pay their dues. 

Running to His open arms of grace is the only way to prevent falling into His hands of wrath (Heb. 10:31). Therefore, hide your soul in the Cleft of the Rock, or you will vainly call out to the rocks to hide you. Kneel before Christ in faith, or you will kneel before Him in fear (Phil. 2:9-11). Embrace Him now or face Him later—the choice is yours: “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12).

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 Empty Tomb | Bible Gleanings – April 16-17, 2022

There are many iconic tombs around the world, each one famous for what it contains. Egypt’s towering pyramids are notorious for housing the mummified bodies of ancient pharaohs and their treasures. The royal tombs of Westminster Abbey are renowned because they are the resting place of English nobles. The Green Dome in Saudi Arabia is distinguished because it holds the body of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. The legendary Ming Tombs in China contain the bodies of thirteen emperors who reigned during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.).

The stone tomb of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is remarkable as well—not because of what is inside, but because it is empty! Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb after His brutal crucifixion and He rose victorious from the grave three days later. The Bible tells the story: 

“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:1-7).

The female followers of Christ expected to find a lifeless body after what they witnessed on Calvary’s hill. The remaining disciples fled into hiding, fearing that the Jews would also execute them (John 20:19). Even Peter, the most outspoken disciple, had fled for his life after three times denying Christ (Luke 22:54-62). None of Jesus’ disciples waited by the tomb for His triumphal resurrection. Their doubt and fear, however, had no effect on reality: Jesus had indeed risen bodily, defeating the power of sin and death.

Do you believe that Christ arose from the dead as Lord? Believing that He is the risen Lord is the only belief that saves. The apostle Paul wrote, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). If you have believed, are you telling others about Him? “Go quickly and tell,” the risen Lord commands (Matt. 28:7a). Spread the news that the tomb is empty, and that all who believe in Christ have everlasting life.

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).

Iron Your Shirt | Bible Gleanings – April 9-10, 2022

It’s a bad habit. I’m trying to quit. But, like many suit-wearers, I find myself doing it almost every Sunday morning: ironing only the front of my shirt. What you see, then, is a five-star dress shirt—sleek and spruce without a single flaw. The suit coat conceals the wrinkles on the sleeves and yoke, so why not?

Even so, I don’t recommend this trick because there is one teensy drawback: you can never take the coat off! Thus, it is always better to iron the whole shirt. There is nothing to hide when the pleats and plackets are crisp and clean. You don’t have to hide wrinkles if there aren’t any. You can take the suit off without embarrassment when the inside looks as good as the outside. 

This is what the Bible calls integrity. It’s when the shirt looks as good as the suit—when your character matches your appearance. It is living in such a way that you have nothing to hide. Integrity is being the same person behind closed doors as you are on the stage of public life. Integrity irons the wrinkles on your character, freeing you to throw off the suits of pretense, falsehood, and hypocrisy.

There is no security in the sparkling tuxedo of false piety because it will eventually come off. Solomon thus warned, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out” (Prov. 10:9). And when the shirt of your inner self is ironed by integrity, people who try to point out your “wrinkles” will be embarrassed. That’s why Peter said,

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Iron your shirt. Keep your character wrinkle-free like the Man whose character was perfect:

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Obviously, your character will always have a few wrinkles. Perfection can only be attained in glory when you wear robes of white (Rev. 3:5). But, you can plug into the outlet of God’s sanctifying power to heat up the iron of integrity so the Lord may smoothen your character to look like His (2 Cor. 3:18).

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).

Honor the Name | Bible Gleanings – April 2-3, 2022

Younger me could tell you all about the best roads for bike riding, the deepest water holes for fishing, and the perfect crevices and crannies for hiding from irate neighbors. The one-horse town of Bandana, Kentucky, had it all. The friendly folks of Bandana knew it all, too. As I burned rubber on the block and waged stick-gun wars with neighborhood kids, people would say to me, “You’re a Bramlett, ain’t ya boy? Yeah—Greg and Connie’s son!” They knew who I was simply because of my last name.

Growing up in a close-knit town, I learned that my name mattered, and how I honored (or dishonored) that name mattered even more. I had to keep an eye on myself because everyone else had their eye on me. Unfortunately, I was frequently first in line for shenanigans and the trail of mischief often led to “that kid on Allen Street.” But, I always knew that I had a name to uphold. What I did mattered because of the family I belonged to.

Likewise, all who claim the name Christian have an obligation to honor the exalted and hallowed name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The choices you make and the words you speak are immensely consequential if you belong to the family of God. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” said Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20. We are His official representatives in a foreign world that is not our home (John 15:19; 1 John 2:15-17). Therefore, we must watch ourselves closely because the world is watching us (cf. 1 Thess. 4:12).

The world is continuously forming a judgment about Christ and the gospel based on whatever they see in you. They aren’t reading the Bible to discover who Jesus is; they are reading you. They aren’t studying theology to understand Christianity; they are studying you. As the evangelist Billy Graham once preached, “We are the Bibles the world is reading; we are the creeds the world is needing; we are the sermons the world is heeding.”

You may preach the gospel a thousand times to those around you—and you should. But your life-witness preaches a thousand times louder. Your life is a visible sermon about the One whose name you claim to represent. Lamentably, we often preach the wrong message. It’s no surprise, then, that we often hear reproof like Mahatma Gandhi’s famous remark, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”[1]

That is why Jesus commanded, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Shine the light and honor the Father’s glorious name by your character, conduct, and conversation. And when you do, the Lord will honor you: “If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26b).


[1] Obviously, as an Indian lawyer and anti-colonialist politician, Gandhi was no expert on Christianity. Nevertheless, his rebuke is unfortunately true.

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).

Christ Alone | Bible Gleanings – March 26-27, 2022

We can only be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). And here are seven reasons why:

(1) The chasm between man and God is too wide to be crossed by good works: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The cross of Calvary is the only bridge across the canyon of separation: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18a).

(2) The distance between sinful man and holy God is too long to be climbed by the ladder of law-keeping (Psalm 113:5-6). Only the God-man who can bring man to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

(3) The stain on man’s heart is too black to be scrubbed by self-righteousness: “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD” (Jer. 2:22). The blood of Christ is the only fountain that washes off sin’s stain (1 John 1:7).

(4) The contamination of iniquity is too unremitting to be washed off by the waters of baptism: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). Sinners need a grace-bought spiritual bath administered by God’s Spirit, “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5b).

(5) The weight of sin is too heavy to be outweighed by righteous deeds: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4). The nail-scarred hands are the only hands that can cast your sins into the sea depths: “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

(6) The shackles of sin-bondage are too strong to be broken by “trying harder.” Only the Lord Jesus can “open the eyes that are blind, [and] bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:1).

(7) The gargantuan debt of sin is too great to be paid off by an offering: “For our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Only the offering of Christ Himself is sufficient to pay your sin debt: “[He canceled] the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

Friend, Christ alone saves—we come to Him empty-handed.

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).

Heart Transplant | Bible Gleanings – March 19-20, 2022

I am a walking miracle. I should not be alive today. Most people with my condition never pull through. Fortunately, I am one of the few people jerked away from death’s door thanks to a heart transplant that occurred at just the right time.

Impairments and limitations have plagued my life since the day I was born—all because of a bad heart. I couldn’t see or think clearly. My steps were always crooked. My diseased heart wrecked everything about me—and a new heart was what I needed above all.

The life-saving procedure happened in August of 2009, when I was just fifteen years-old. But it wasn’t in an operating room, and the operation was not performed by a surgeon. It was behind the shabby shed in my parents’ backyard, and the Savior of sinners executed the procedure. After hearing the gospel preached, I suddenly realized that my desperately wicked heart required conversion only Jesus Christ could provide. Kneeling in the dirt and in my soul, I turned to Christ in repentance and faith. “I have been wrong about everything,” I prayed. “Lord, forgive me. Please forgive me. I give my life to You.” And God’s promise came to pass: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Every sinner needs a spiritual heart transplant. The Lord must take His scalpel of grace to remove your old heart and implant a new one that loves Him (Jeremiah 24:7). Why? Because the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. It is utterly infected by evil: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). The heart is responsible for all of your spiritual health problems. As Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

This soul-saving spiritual surgery is what God performs for every sinner saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Every Christian has a heart transplant story. Every believer in Christ is a walking miracle. Every follower of Jesus sings the words of Myron LeFevre’s hymn in their heart:

“Without Him, I could be dying,

Without Him, I’d be enslaved;

Without Him, life would be hopeless,

But with Jesus, thank God, I’m saved.”

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).

Hold the Fort | Bible Gleanings – March 5-6, 2022

The frightening thunder of artillery fire rattled slumbering Union soldiers at daybreak on October 5, 1864. The march of Confederate soldiers shook the ground as they rallied to seize the Union supply depot at Allatoona Pass. General Samuel G. French ordered his men to pound the Union fort with a hailstorm of shells and a merciless spray of gunfire while he moved north to enclose the garrison. Convinced he had the upper hand, French sent a note to John M. Corse, the Union general commanding the sought-after fort: “To avoid a needless effusion of blood, I call on you to surrender your forces at once and unconditionally. Five minutes will be allowed you to decide.” And before the clock ran out, Corse gave his answer: “Bring it on.”

French moved in to tighten the noose and unleash hell. Bullets smacked the dirt and Union soldiers knelt for cover. The crack of rifles grew louder as Confederate soldiers drew nearer.  And as pressure to surrender mounted, Union General William T. Sherman sent a message to Corse that read, “Hold the fort; for I am coming!” French withdrew by four o’clock, unable to break the stouthearted resolve of the Union soldiers and the fortitude of Sherman’s reinforcements.[1] This left the Union in possession of the rations and ammunition the Confederates desperately needed to tip the scales of the Civil War in their favor.

The Commander of heaven’s armies, the Lord Jesus Christ, sends the same message to all of His beleaguered and faithful saints: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (Rev. 3:11). The devil’s bombardments may cause us to flee for cover (Eph. 6:16). The increasing number of those abandoning the Lord’s faithful army may cause us to feel outnumbered (1 Tim. 4:1). Trials and tribulations may hedge us in, causing us to despair for victory and relief (Psalm 13:1-2). But Jesus calls us to “hold the fort,” because He is coming soon to bring reinforcements.

Stay on the battlefield, for Jesus is coming to vanquish Satan and the kingdom of darkness (Rev. 20:10). Wield the sword of Scripture against false teaching, for the Truth is coming to send the “father of lies” scurrying in hopeless retreat (John 8:44; 14:6; Rev. 19:11). Stand firm in this hostile world, for the King is coming to subdue His enemies by the mere appearance of His glorious presence (2 Thess. 2:8). Fight for faith in your trials, for Christ is coming to trample pain, tears, and death once and for all (Rev. 21:4).

It is no wonder that Phillip P. Bliss wrote in 1870:

“Ho, my comrades, see the signal, waving in the sky!

Reinforcements now appearing, victory is nigh.

“Hold the fort, for I am coming,” Jesus signals still;

Wave the answer back to heaven, “By thy grace we will.”[2]



[1] Historians disagree on the timing of General Sherman’s reinforcements, but agree that Union victory at Allatoona would likely have been impossible without them—no matter when they arrived.

[2] Hymn-writer Phillip P. Bliss composed this chorus in the hymn Hold the Fort, which was inspired by the events that transpired at the Battle of Allatoona Pass during the Civil War.

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).

Heaven Is Not About You | Bible Gleanings – Feb 26-27, 2022

The mounting pile of books on heaven sold online and in bookstores is nearly as high as heaven itself. Books written by people who claim to have visited heaven during a near-death or out-of-body experience are adding to the soaring heap. In these popular works, authors describe their blissful voyage to heaven, brought about by either serious medical issues or psychedelic mushrooms. There are more than a hundred such best-selling books, many of which are offered by evangelical retailers like LifeWay or Christianbook. Among the most popular are 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey (yes, that name is real). 

All of these books have one common theme: heaven is all about you and the fulfillment of your greatest desires. They talk about having the ability to fly like an angel, conversing with God in an eternal question-and-answer session, seeing all of your friends and loved ones (even those who didn’t believe), and enjoying an eternal dream home filled with every conceivable luxury. There’s only one problem: heaven is not all about you. According to the apostle John—the man who actually visited heaven by a spiritual vision—heaven is all about God and extolling His glory in Christ.

John saw a glimpse of heaven’s glory through “a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1), and he did not see people floating on clouds or sliding down rainbows. Instead, he saw a place where God is exalted and creation is humbled. His magnificent throne is at the center (Rev. 4:2-3). He is surrounded by unceasing angelic praise (Rev. 4:6-11). And the Lord Jesus is encircled by an everlasting chorus that says, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).

Heaven is God’s house, the place where His glory dwells (Psalm 26:8). Fortunately, the door to His immortal abode stands open to anyone who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). You may walk through heaven’s door if you are dressed in the white garments of Christ’s righteousness (Rev. 3:5). But you must do so now while the door remains open, for one day it will shut. As Jesus said,

“And while they [the foolish virgins] were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:10-13).

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 Lord Blesses an Evangelistic Church

“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21).

Any church whose members offer their hands to labor in preaching the gospel will have God’s hand of favor resting upon them. He blesses churches who “bring in the sheaves.” His blessing will come inside the church when believers go outside the church with the gospel of grace. He fills the barn with wheat when laborers work the field for a harvest.

We often experience a shortage of God’s blessing on our churches because of a shortage of gospel-laborers gleaning in the field. There is no undersupply of gospel seed. There is no lack of fields ripe for planting. What is in short measure are grace-empowered, Spirit-compelled believers sowing the gospel seed in fertile fields. That is precisely why Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

The gospel harvest was abundant in the city of Antioch, according to St. Luke in the passage above. Believers fleeing persecution in Jerusalem took the gospel seed with them, scattering it in the soil of many unsaved hearts (cf. Acts 8:1, 4). As a result, multitudes came to Christ, eventually forming a large church in the city.

As the scattered saints sounded the saving message of Christ, they experienced the spectacular blessing of God, for, “the hand of the Lord was with them.” You can’t stifle the outstandingly powerful hand of God Almighty. The Scripture declares, “None can stay his hand” (Daniel 4:35b). His hand of grace can lift any sinner drowning in the mire pit of iniquity. His hand of salvation can reach the farthest wandering soul, no matter how vehemently they run hellbound on the broad road to destruction. His hand of mercy can pry open the most impenetrable prison cell to liberate even the most enslaved sinner.

By God’s hand of blessing and grace, a growing church was born without seminary training, strategic planning, or the spending of money. Believers preached. God saved souls. Membership skyrocketed. That’s it.

The hand of the Lord—that’s what it takes. Of course, offering your hands to sow the gospel seed in evangelism is essential, too. God does the saving, but no one can be saved unless they first hear the gospel—from you (cf. Romans 10:14-17). Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.

Moreover, we would be foolish to try to channel growth into our churches any other way. Solomon warned, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1a). And God’s chosen means of building His house, the church, is evangelism, where we take the gospel to the unsaved in faith that God will save them, and lay them as living stones in His ever-growing spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). Let’s stick to it.

Wake From Sleep | Bible Gleanings – Feb 19-20, 2022

The German theologian and reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) once told a sobering legend about what makes the devil happy:

“The devil once held a great anniversary,” he explained, “at which his emissaries were convened to report the results of their several missions.”

One minion remarked, “I let loose the wild beasts on a caravan of Christians, and their bones are now bleaching on the sands.”

“What of that?” the devil scolded. “Their souls were all saved!”

“I drove the east wind against a ship freighted with Christians,” said another, “and they were all drowned.”

“What of that? Their souls were all saved!” the devil chastised once more.

But said another, “For ten years I tried to get a single Christian asleep, and I succeded and left him so.”

“Then the devil shouted, and the night stars of hell sang for joy,” Luther concluded.

Luther was correct: nothing delights the devil more than a sleeping Christian. If you are a believer, Satan isn’t gratified by your death. But he exults and makes merry when you slumber on the bed of apathy and lukewarm spirituality. Those who snooze on the couch of indifference pose no threat to the savage kingdom of darkness (Eph. 2:2; Col. 1:13; 1 John 5:19). Those who catnap on the recliner of spiritual lethargy are unsuspecting prey to the roaring lion’s ferocious attacks (1 Pet. 5:8).

The Lord calls you to keep your eyes peeled for spiritual danger like a soldier on nightwatch, no matter how tempting it may be to catch a wink. That is why Paul wrote, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:6-8). Don’t doze off. Remain vigilant. You can’t afford to sleep when you are fighting a deadly war (Eph. 6:10-20; 1 Pet. 2:11).

One dependable way to stay awake is to remain active in the Lord’s service. You are less likely to drift into the coma of moral carelessness and laxity when you are engaged in activity that is pleasing to the Lord. Idleness, on the other hand, will quickly lull you to sleep. Stay awake, and you’ll stay alive: “Give your eyes no sleep and your eyelids no slumber; save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Prov. 6:4-5). Wake from sleep, dear Christian, and rob the devil of his delight!

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