Tag Archives: forgiveness

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 widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

A Free Offer | Bible Gleanings – Feb 12-13, 2022

In addition to receiving monthly bills in the mail, I also get a half-pound bundle of useless vouchers and coupons I never redeem. Limited-time cable and internet bargains, special fast-food discounts, and a membership form for AARP are all included in the colorful paper clump. The real prize lies buried within: a slew of slips emblazoned with the words, “FREE OFFER INSIDE.” And the offers are absolutely irresistible: a $100,000 life insurance policy for only $3 a month, a $200 gift card for a cable service that goes out when a raindrop hits the roof, and a free tank of gas when you purchase a truck with the low price tag of $50,000! 

However, if you read the fine print, you’ll find that the “free” offers aren’t actually free. There are always caveats and strings attached. And besides, none of the offers truly deliver on their claims. Fortunately, there is one free offer that is truly free. It always delivers on its promises, and it is clear of any belying fine print. It is not found in the mailboxes of every street, but it is offered to the heart of every sinner. And I found it, not when I opened a discount mailer, but when I opened my Bible, which says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

God’s offer of everlasting life is free for all. You cannot buy it with an offering and you cannot earn it through good works (cf. Acts 8:20). Jesus purchased it in full by His atoning death, so you don’t have to (Eph. 1:7). That is why Paul declared, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

Furthermore, there is no small print excluding anyone from the offer of forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation is for every tongue, class, and culture. God doesn’t pass you by because of how you look or where you come from. Every person of every race stands condemned before the bench of His righteousness, and every person is invited and commanded to be made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Romans 3:22-23; 10:12-13).

Friend, this is an offer you can’t refuse. Reach out your hands and accept it by repenting of your sins and trusting wholly in Christ for your salvation (Acts 17:30; Gal. 2:16). And do so now while the offer still stands: “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

When You Steal the Turkey | Bible Gleanings – Oct 30-31, 2021

I could hear the plate being nudged and licked from the next room. Instantly, I knew who produced the eating noises because the suspect was a repeat offender. “Hey! Are you back on the counter again?!” Knowing she was caught red-handed, the guilty beagle hurried forward with her head bowed in shame. The little scalawag had swiped my entire turkey sandwich off the counter.

I have often wondered why she behaves this way. I understand the theft of my turkey club, but why does she always run to me in servility when she’s in trouble? Apparently, dogs do this as a sign of submission. According to zoological research, dogs will frequently lie down, lower their gaze, and bow with guilty eyes to convey, “I was wrong, and I am sorry.” Such humility is an innate habit that dates back to their wolf ancestors. They are demonstrating that they have transgressed the leader of the pack—you.

Mark that down as yet another reason why dogs are better than humans, because we do precisely the opposite when we steal the turkey. When we sin against God, our wicked instinct is to flee from Him rather than run to Him. We seldom ever confess our wrongdoing immediately after grasping something that God has purposely placed out of our reach.

We all suffer from “Jonah syndrome,” in which we strive to stay as far away from God as possible. If there’s a Tarshish-bound ship rowing away from His presence, we’ll pay the ticket and come aboard (Jonah 1:3). Such rebellion and resistance dates back to our human ancestors, Adam and Eve. When they sinned in the Garden, they made a hasty exit from the presence of the Lord: “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8). 

However, the right response to transgressing God’s divine law ought to be submission to His authority and confession of wrongdoing. We ought to rush into God’s presence saying, “I was wrong, and I am sorry,” especially if we possess a new nature through faith in the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). When we “steal the turkey,” we ought to pray with King David:

“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment” (Psalm 51:3-4).


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 (beagle).

Pardon Me | Bible Gleanings – Oct 9-10, 2021

Proper punctuation saves lives—just ask Maria Fedorovna. She was the wife of one of Russia’s vilest emperors, Alexander III (1845–1894). He ruled as Tsar of Russia in the late 1800s, centralizing power, castigating Jews, and condemning Western ideals. Maria, on the other hand, was sympathetic and sensitive, proving the old idiom that opposites attract. According to legend, Alexander signed an executive order deporting an alleged traitor to exile. The order simply read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent away to Siberia.” Maria, driven by kindness, moved the comma, making the order read, “Pardon, impossible to be sent away to Siberia.” The charges were dismissed, and the man was released, all because of a change in punctuation.

All who are justified by faith in Christ have experienced the same thing (Romans 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16). If you are saved by grace through faith, God moved the comma for you (Eph. 2:8-9). The Judge of all sinners has pardoned those whose hope is in Christ alone. The divine dictum for your trespasses once read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent away to eternal destruction” (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:7). Because of Christ, it now reads, “Pardon, impossible to be sent away to eternal destruction” (John 5:24; 10:28; Jude 1:24).

As a matter of fact, the penal prescript for your punishment has been completely scrapped. As Paul said,

“[God has] 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” (Col. 2:14-15).

Your hell-sentence was not commuted, as if it were shortened or lessened; instead, it was obliterated. You will never be exiled from the presence of God. You will never spend even a minute paying for your sins in hell.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

Guilty Stains | Bible Gleanings – May 29-30, 2021

Guilty Stains

Once you are in the chair, they bring out the laser, pull the trigger, and a barrage of sizzling beams penetrate your skin. Remain calm—this is not what happens when aliens abduct you—they have to fight Tom Cruise first. This is the experience of thousands of people who have undergone the procedure of laser tattoo removal in order to eliminate unwanted tattoos. Since the commercialization of “Q-switched lasers” in the 1990s, dermatologists have made a fortune from people willing to foot the bill to have tattoos removed that they regret.

According to one study, 78% of tattooed individuals regret at least one of their tattoos. 31% regret getting inked because the tattoo is no longer relevant. An ex-girlfriend’s name was dotted on their chest, or a blue horseshoe was stamped on their arm when they were superfans of the Indianapolis Colts. About 5% are annoyed with their tattoos because they have a negative effect on their professional life. And 40% shake their heads because their tattoos were poorly done. Ironically, one fellow got a tattoo that read, “No Regerts.”

This is why many have turned to the laser to get them removed. After the scorching laser drills into the skin, the tattoo ink absorbs the heat and shatters into tiny fragments that eventually flush away with time. However, every dermatologist will admit that some tattoos will never fully disappear, even with multiple laser treatments. In many cases, the laser is only powerful enough to fade or lighten tattoos. Some marks will never go away no matter how hard you try.

Whether or not you have tattoos, you are marked from head to toe by something that nothing on earth can remove: the guilty stain of sin. Because of the Fall, your heart and hands are blotched by the black ink of evil. And no amount of human effort can expunge the guilty imprint of sin upon you. A million-dollar offering to your church won’t burn it off. A fifty-year membership at the biggest church in town won’t eliminate it. A thousand gallons of baptism waters won’t wash it away. A hundred hours a year at the food pantry won’t erase the stain of sin on your soul either. As God Himself says, “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the LORD GOD” (Jeremiah 2:22).

The blood of Jesus is the only efficient stain remover for sin. The word of God declares, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b, KJV). As William Cowper wrote in 1771, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Plunge in by faith (Eph. 2:8-9), and receive total purification for your sins—you won’t regret it.


Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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

Let It Go, Monkey | Bible Gleanings – April 24-25, 2021

Let It Go, Monkey

Monkeys may be smart but they are also selfish. That’s what African poachers have observed as they’ve lured and captured hundreds of unsuspecting primates in order to smuggle and sell them illegally. According to one wildlife conservation organization, about three-thousand chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans are unlawfully seized or killed every year. And from Cameroon to Zimbabwe, these criminal hunters have discovered one fail proof method for snatching a monkey: taking advantage of the monkey’s greed.

Colorful and appealing items like bananas are placed inside the cages that poachers litter across monkey-populous rainforests and grasslands. Of course, this entices the monkeys, but they have become smart enough over time to know better than to enter the cages. Instead, they try to steal the bait from the outside. They reach inside through the bars, tighten their grip, and try everything from chewing to screaming in an attempt to seize the enticing object. However, trappers hiding nearby are well aware that their gnawing and squealing leads only to their capture, as the bait object is intentionally too large to pass through. The monkey is then hopelessly trapped by his refusal to let go. He remains enslaved as long as he has a death grip on the bait. If the monkey would learn to let go, he could avoid captivity and happily roam the jungle.

Unfortunately, it is our sinner-tendency to act like a monkey when it comes to forgiving others of their trespasses against us. Although Jesus directs us to forgive those who have wronged us (Matt. 6:14-15), our natural impulse is to clamp down on their offenses. We think to ourselves, “Until I feel you have repaid me for the wrong you’ve done, I will never let this go!” The worst part about it is we actually become sin’s monkey when we refuse to forgive. If you are withholding forgiveness from a wrongdoer in your life, you are the one in captivity. As long as you have a relentless grip on someone’s offense or debt, you will remain captured by the prison of unforgiveness. And what God wants you to do, for your own benefit, is let go. 

You might be thinking, “But I can’t forgive—I just can’t.” Can I tell you something surprising? You are absolutely right. The first step in forgiving someone is recognizing that you can’t do it on your own. Unforgiveness is part of your nature as sin’s monkey—forgiveness is contrary to it.

Therefore, what you need in order to forgive is something divine: the grace of God. It’s no surprise, then, that when Paul wrote to Philemon about forgiving his wrongdoer, Onesimus, he prayed first that God would grant him the grace to forgive: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 3).

Forgiveness is not something to monkey around with. If you don’t let go by God’s grace, unforgiveness will never let you go.


Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

Cleaning the Old Battlefield | Bible Gleanings – April 17-18, 2021

Cleaning the Old Battlefield

It had become a war zone all over again. Acres of once-luscious pine forests had turned to ash. Four hundred homes were obliterated or rendered uninhabitable by the scorching blaze. Peals of crackling thunder echoed through the country as landmines detonated. Bullets popped back and forth for hours on end. A dense cloud of sulfuric smoke loomed over the land. And as always, people ultimately paid the price—a significant number were injured, some went missing, and worst of all, seven people died. 

This was no ordinary war, however, since the bearer of blame was an act of nature. This war zone was created by a wildfire. According to the New York Times, a wildfire burned out of control in Ukraine last October, and as it burned through green hills and dry woodland, remnants of an old conflict reignited. Because of the heat, thousands of lost bullets, unexploded artillery shells, and anti-tank mines erupted. The fires of war rekindled because the fragments of an old war were never properly removed. The rump and remains of past battles that were forgotten and neglected eventually reignited and started another kind of war.

And the same thing will happen to us when we fail to clean up old battlefields of our past by forgiving those who have trespassed against us. You’ve had bullets of harsh words and hurtful comments fired at you before, haven’t you? I’ll bet a few grenades of slander and malice have been tossed towards your trench a time or two. If you’re like me, then you’ve also had landmines of betrayal scattered on your path by those you thought you could trust. We all have an old battlefield with someone that we need to clear up—and the way you do is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not forgetting the battle ever happened and it’s not pretending as though it didn’t. Forgiveness is looking at someone who has wronged you and saying, “What you did was wrong—these bullets and landmines are yours—but I am clearing it up. I am not holding this against you. I am absolving you of what you’ve done. And I’m cleaning up this old battlefield so it doesn’t reignite in the future.”

The Lord Jesus commands you to do this. He stated that you should forgive your trespassers every time you pray (Matt. 6:15; Mark 11:25). He even said that you should forgive someone four-hundred and ninety times if you have to (Matt. 18:21-22). But here’s the hard truth: if you refuse to forgive a person, the remnants of your past conflict will eventually rekindle. The longer you withhold forgiveness, the more you will end up hurting yourself. Forgiveness is certainly hard but unforgiveness is even harder in the long haul. By the grace of God, do the right thing and clean up the old battlefield. You’ll be glad you did.


Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

Forgiven but Unforgiving | Bible Gleanings – April 10-11, 2021

Forgiven but Unforgiving

“My lord, please, I don’t have any money. Is there another way?” he begged, as he prostrated himself before the king. The poverty-stricken man was penniless and poor. Bankrupt and beggarly, he owned only the shabby and moth-eaten clothes on his back. He had run out of money and could not outrun justice, for the king of his country had come to collect a debt. “Then you leave me no choice,” thundered the king. “Guards—seize the man, his family, and his possessions—prison shall be his home until payment is made.”

Sapped of strength at this awful verdict, the man dropped to the ground, hugged the king’s feet, and implored him while tears rushed down his dusty cheeks. “O, noble king, this mammoth debt is mine to pay, down to the last penny. But my pockets are depleted. I beg you for mercy.” The sight of his misfortune and suffering made the king’s heart quiver with compassion. “Then it is done—I shall have pity on you, my servant. The entire debt is forgiven,” the king assured. The man, overcome with joy, sprouted from the dirt and kissed his family, overwhelmed by the mercy that had been shown to him.

The following morning, a familiar fellow passed by his home and he rushed out to stop him. “I know you, and you owe me money! Pay up right now!” Then said the fellow, “Alas! Sir, I am meager and moneyless. Please, have patience and when I am able, I will pay every cent of this small debt.” But the man shook the passerby and even began to choke him. “If you can’t pay me, then you will pay in prison,” he said, and he ordered the authorities to put him away.

The townspeople chattered about this damnable hypocrisy until it reached the king. Infuriated with the man’s double-dealing, he sent for him to be brought before the throne. “What have you done?” he roared. “I forgave you because you pleaded with me, and you showed no mercy to your neighbor who owed only a little? Be gone and live the rest of your days in chains!”

I wish this story were an original, but this is actually a parable Jesus told in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). Obviously, I have added details for emphasis, but the point is clear: because the man was forgiven a gargantuan debt, it should have been easy for him to forgive one who owed him a smaller debt. Likewise, if God forgave the multitude of your sins against Him, you ought to forgive others when they trespass against you. Dire consequences await if you don’t (see v. 35). Therefore, forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32). If God has given you mercy, give mercy to others.


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).

You Are Redeemed (Eph. 1:7-8)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 9th day of September 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian 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 two dogs, Susie and Aries.

The Fundamentals of Forgiveness – Part 1 (Philemon 1a)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 4th day of November 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian 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 two dogs, Susie and Aries.