Tag Archives: God

The Death to End the Duel | Bible Gleanings – Sept 11-12, 2021

According to plan, both men appeared on the plains of Weehawken to settle their squabble in a duel. The first shot rang vociferously. Alexander Hamilton fired his custom-made pistol and missed Aaron Burr, trimming off a nearby branch. The second shot produced two sounds: one was gunfire, the second was a thud from Hamilton’s body collapsing to the ground. The physician darted toward him, but there was nothing he could do, for as Hamilton declared, “This is a mortal wound, Doctor.” The bullet struck him above his hip, bounced off his rib, cut through his liver, and cracked his lower spine. Hamilton died the following day on July 12, 1804.

Hamilton’s death was not according to plan, however. Neither Burr nor Hamilton expected to walk away as the last man standing. They both intended to simply wound—to make a statement with a bullet—rather than kill. The resulting public humiliation forced Burr to flee to Georgia, which proved to be a saving grace for our fledgling nation. A conspiracy was afoot for the northeastern region of New England to secede from the rest of the country, with Burr as president. Hightailing it to the south destroyed those plans. You could say that Hamilton’s death, albeit accidental, saved the entire nation in its fragile infancy.1 

The political salvation obtained by Hamilton’s blood pales in comparison, however, to the spiritual salvation purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, whose grim death also saved an entire nation—the nation of God’s people. Jesus of Nazareth achingly ascended the hill of Golgotha, bloodied and bruised from Roman whips, but He had not come to duel. He came to end the greatest duel of all: the war between God and man. As Jesus drank the whole cup of God’s wrath against sinners, the sound from the cross was not a gunshot, but a piercing cry of anguish: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). And His death was not an accident; it was according to God’s plan. “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him,” said Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 53:10).

Although Burr’s story ended in humiliation, the story of Jesus Christ did not. God raised Him from the dead, exalting Him at His right hand (Acts 2:32-33). We are saved, then, not only by His humiliation on the cross, but by His exaltation from the tomb. As Paul perfectly stated,

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:9-10).

The duel is over if you have believed in Christ for your eternal salvation. The fight died when Christ died; now you are God’s friend.

  1. No one narrates the famous story of Hamilton vs. Burr like Joseph J. Ellis in Founding Brothers (New York: Random House, Inc., 2000).

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).

Hold the Flashlight | Bible Gleanings – Aug 7-8, 2021

Holding the flashlight made me feel like a real big shot. I spent many nights with my dad under the hood of an old Pontiac Bonneville, while he changed the oil or replaced the spark plugs. He’d say, “Shine that over here,” and I would swing that five-pound Maglite over to where he pointed. I almost never got it right, and I never fully understood what he was doing. But I was convinced that finishing the job was impossible without me and my flashlight. 

Now that I think about it, he didn’t really need me to hold the flashlight. He could have worn a headlamp or attached a magnetic light to the hood’s underside. In retrospect, I know he wanted me to observe his work so I could learn from him and spend time with him. He used me even though he didn’t need me. And he still used me, despite the fact that I did a poor job.

Friend, God doesn’t need you to do His work. God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). He is the sovereign Creator, the sufficient Sustainer, and the supreme Lord of the universe. He can do anything at any time without help from anyone or anything. He doesn’t need you and He doesn’t need me. 

The good news is, however, God wants to use you to do His work. Even though He doesn’t need you and you sometimes mess up, He still wants to use you as an expression and extension of His grace in this world. He wants you to hold the flashlight of the gospel, so that its saving message may shine for those who are lost in darkness (Matt. 4:16; Rom. 2:19). It may not seem like much—it may not seem like enough—to hold the flashlight and do your small part. But it is just enough for God to show you that He is enough.

Remember the feeding of the five-thousand? What the disciples offered the Lord was puny and insufficient—five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:38). However, Jesus didn’t criticize them for having only enough food to feed a handful of people. He used what they could offer, albeit small, and fed five thousand people. Additionally, since He miraculously multiplied the fish and the loaves, He did not need the disciples to distribute it among the people—surely He had the power to do it Himself. Yet, “[He] gave them to the disciples to set before the people” (v. 41b).

The Lord will use you as you are with what you already have. If all you can do is hold a flashlight, then do that.


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).

Beat the Heat | Bible Gleanings – June 5-6, 2021

Beat the Heat

I would say we were crying for relief, but our bodies were too dehydrated to produce tears. The scorching sun spewed its wrath upon us as we hiked on trails desolate of shade. We sizzled like bacon in an iron skillet with every step on the preheated rocks. Although we guzzled water and paused for a break every half hour, the blistering heat convinced us that we had a fever.

We couldn’t sleep. We couldn’t eat. The boiling humidity evaporated every ounce of our strength, and all we wanted was one moment of cold refreshment. Fortunately for us, a nippy swimming hole lay only a few miles away. We dove into the rejuvenating oasis, rested on the surface a while, and swore off camping in the angry mid-July heat. 

You know how we felt if you’ve ever camped in the peak of summer or pushed yourself too hard in sultry weather. One man knew exactly how we felt: king David. He once wrote in the Psalms,

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:1-4).

There is one difference between us and David, however. He wasn’t parched by summer’s searing heat waves because of a poorly planned camping trip. Instead, he felt the heat of God’s discipline sapping him of strength because he dealt poorly with his sin. 

He celebrates the blessedness and freedom of forgiveness, but acknowledges that he forfeited the enjoyment of such forgiveness because he failed to confess his sin. He kept quiet about it. He hid it inside. And his unconfessed sin caused the heavy hand of God’s fatherly discipline to come down upon him and drain him of all his vigor and joy, just as the torrid heat of summer dries up all your energy. 

I have felt the heat of God’s discipline. David felt the heat of God’s discipline. Have you?

The good news is that the discipline of the Lord is evidence that you truly belong to Him (Hebrews 12:7). However, the hand of the Lord will dry up your strength until you dive headfirst into the oasis of confession. The longer your sin remains unconfessed, the more God will vaporize your gladness and spiritual stamina. Crying out to God in confession is the only way to cease crying for relief. You must do as David in the following verse: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 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).

Proof of Residence | Bible Gleanings – March 20-21, 2021

Proof of Residence

Ryegrass had sprouted in the driveway. The parking lot was void of vehicles. There were no tricycles or children’s sneakers piled by the doors. The creamy white paint was chipping off the building. There were no signs of life at this apartment building. I drove there to deliver a meal that a customer ordered online. I had received an order to deliver lunch to this address, when I was, for a brief time, employed by a food delivery service.

Upon arrival, every internal alarm sounded off—something wasn’t right. Even from my vehicle, I could see an aged eviction notice fastened to the outside door. I proceeded up the rusty steps and knocked firmly on the door—nothing. Through the grimy window, I could see that the lights were off and the television was blank. This home was hollow and vacated—unoccupied and uninhabited. The online profile claimed that so-and-so lived at this exact residence, but the evidence contradicted the claim. There was no evidence of life—no proof of residence.

Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians have no evidence that the Spirit of God lives in and occupies their heart. But the word of God clearly declares that when the Holy Spirit dwells within you, there is always undeniable proof of residence. When the Spirit settles in your heart, it shows. All the signs of life are there—the lights are on, the house is clean, and maintenance work is being done. There is activity on the inside and the outside. If you truly possess the Spirit, no one can drive by the house of your life and say, “There is no proof of residence here.” You might claim to be a true believer—a church membership card or Facebook profile might say so. But the claim is always corroborated by evidence if it is true, and if you truly possess the Spirit of God, the truth will come out.

The Spirit demonstrates proof of His residence in your heart in a variety of ways. He speaks through you (Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11), He bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), He teaches you (John 16:13), He emboldens you to witness (Acts 4:31), He leads you (Rom. 8:14), He assures you of sonship (Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal. 4:6), He gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), He transforms you (2 Cor. 3:18), and He helps you fight the flesh (Gal. 5:16-18).

The key, however, to the Spirit demonstrating proof of His residence in your life is by being filled with the Spirit—submitting to His influence and relinquishing control of your heart to Him: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Is there proof of His residence in your 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 (Beagle).

A Frightening Flight | Bible Gleanings – Nov 14-15, 2020

A Frightening Flight

Every passenger thought this was the end. The aircraft was unsteady as it flew through rough air currents. The turbulence was extreme, causing screams of terror as the plane’s seats rocked. Luggage was spilling out. People held on to whatever they could. Some people were praying through tears. Flight attendants tried to keep everyone calm. Panic had seized everyone on the plane—except for one little boy.

How could this be? How could one youngster be peaceful in such chaos? Well, his father was the pilot. Although the plane was in turmoil, and life itself seemed to be coming to an end, the boy’s father was trustworthy and skillful enough to land the plane safely despite the pandemonium. He was experiencing a rocky ride just like everyone else—but he had no reason to panic because his father was in control.

Can we all agree that the year 2020 has been a tumultuous plane ride through turbulence from hell? Wildfires have burned through thousands of acres of our West Coast. Political and ideological wildfires have likewise burned in our major cities. The coronavirus pandemic has seized our normal way of life. This virus has robbed us of our income and our loved ones, in many cases. And without question, this election season (which is far from over) has been the most chaotic and divisive in our nation’s history. It definitely looks like this plane is going down.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you are flying through turbulence and your life is marked by conflict, confusion, and commotion. Friend, the only way you can retain peace in the chaos of life is if you know the Pilot. If you know Christ as your Savior, then the Lord God of the universe is your heavenly Father and He is a trustworthy pilot. Your plane might seem out of control, but God is always in control and He will get you to your destination—even if you have to fly through turbulence. Psalm 93 says, “The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting” (vv. 1-2).

God is in control and He reigns in heaven upon His throne—nothing can ever change that—not a virus, not a president, or a personal trouble. That is why it is wise to obey the words of Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Will you trust the Pilot of your life to safely land your plane?


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).

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).

The Movie of Your Life | Bible Gleanings—November 7-8, 2020

The Movie of Your Life

Walt Disney released the first full-length animated movie in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was one-of-a-kind and enjoyed an enormous amount of box office success. Producing the film was a gargantuan task and an outstanding achievement, to say the least. Back in the late 30’s, there were no iPhones, computers, or user-friendly editing programs. So, how did they do it?

A documentary explained that Disney employees stacked glass panes with drawings and shifted them around to simulate movement. The process was essentially a sophisticated flipbook. Disney artists drew over one million pictures for this particular movie. And each image flashed onto the screen for a mere one twenty-fourth of a second! You can watch the film today at regular speed, and it all seems so simple. Millions of pictures, hours of meticulous editing, and a considerable amount of money all poured into a film that lasts only an hour and a half.

Life is just like a movie, isn’t it? Your life is short: “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14b). Yet, the Lord God is using a million different events to ensure your life plays out the way He’s planned. You are in the movie at “regular speed,” living day by day, as each scene unfolds by the hour. The sovereign Lord of the universe has put infinite thought, skill, and careful attention into every detail of your life’s movie. Only He knows the movie of your life from beginning to end because He is directing it.

And like a movie, your life has painful scenes and happy ones. Maybe your life has had more of the former than the latter. As long as you are the Lord’s child by faith in Christ, you can take heart in knowing that God is working everything out (good things and bad things) for your good. That’s what the Bible says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The movie of your life is incomplete right now. God won’t be finished with it until you take your final breath. You have to wait for God to complete it – you can’t hit fast-forward.

While you wait, trust the process and the God who is behind it. Walk in obedience empowered by grace, and hope in the Lord and His plan for your good and His glory. David wisely tells you, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:5). As the scenes of your life play out, will you trust in the Lord?



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).

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).

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).

Day 21: Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” —Luke 2:14

Everyone is familiar with the beautiful refrain of Angels We Have Heard on High which exclaims, “Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Written by James Chadwick in the 1800’s, most of the carol’s lyrics are in English, with the exception of this well-known chorus. The phrase is the Latin rendition of what the angels declared during their heavenly jubilee as recorded in Luke’s Gospel: “Glory to God in the highest.” Also, in many other Christmas carols is the rest of the angelic doxology, “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” The KJV translation is the most recognized: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

No phrase is more fitting to sing at Christmastime since it reminds us of what Christ made possible by His coming: glory to God and peace to men. The angels first declare that glory is to be given to God in the highest. This means that such glory is given to God who is in the highest (since He is the Most High) and it is to be given to Him in the highest degree. The birth of Christ in the Bethlehem and His corresponding work at Golgotha enables you to give glory to God in the highest degree, as you will do one day in His eternal presence if you have made Christ your Savior.

But His coming also brings peace to those with whom God is pleased to give it. The peace and well-being that God gives comes to those who please Him by turning from sin and trusting in Jesus for salvation. If you know the Savior who was born on Christmas day, you can experience peace with God (Romans 5:1), inward peace (Philippians 4:7), and peace with others (Ephesians 2:14-16). This time of year, no matter how busy or even lonely you may be, you can gleefully sing Gloria in excelsis Deo because Christ’s coming empowers you to glorify God and experience true peace.


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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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 18: God with Us

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” —Matthew 1:22-23

Many beloved Christmas carols contain references to Jesus as, “Immanuel” or “Emmanuel.” Hark! The Herald Angels Sing exuberantly says, “Pleased, as man, with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel!” It is even in the title of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. What does this familiar word mean? Is it another name for Jesus? The Gospel writer Matthew explains exactly what it means, as he stated that Jesus’ birth fulfilled yet another ancient prophecy.

Immanuel is a title for Jesus—Emmanuel is the Greek transliteration while Immanuel is the Hebrew transliteration (the spelling and language are the only differences). And Matthew said that the title means, “God with us.” This title expresses the wonder of Christ’s incarnation more than any other title for Jesus. Immanuel means that God has come in the flesh to dwell with man. As John the apostle declared, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

God the Creator took on the form of the created. The infinite God assumed a finite body. The Lord God omnipotent and omnipresent became a man with limitations. He came to be with us so that we could be with Him. Jesus brought God’s presence to man so man could be brought into God’s presence. That is what it means for Jesus to be our Immanuel. And this is eternally better than a once-a-year visit from Santa on Christmas Eve, for Christ came on Christmas day as a man so you could be with God eternally.


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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, Aries, and Dot.