Tag Archives: heaven

The Death of Death | Bible Gleanings – June 4-5, 2022

Death. It fills graves and empties hearts. It is the ship that carries the soul across the infinite sea of eternity. It is the wind that blows out the burning candle of living. It is the door through which we exit life and enter everlasting delight or damnation. It is the period at the end of the final chapter of your story on earth.

Death is also a sentence—the penal verdict for transgressing the righteous law of the Judge of all the earth. The decree from His golden bench reads, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20a). The first criminals to be anathematized by this awful adjudication were our first parents, Adam and Eve. After they sinned in the Garden, the Lawgiver declared to them, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19b). And death is still the consequence for crooked culprits convicted of the crime of sinning against God: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

Yet, somehow one of Scripture’s most malignant malefactors can confidently say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul violently persecuted Christians in the early church, but he was happy to die. How is death a petrifying retribution in Genesis, but a pleasant reward in Philippians? Apparently, the meaning of death changed somewhere between the Garden of Eden and the Roman prison from which Paul wrote this letter. As a matter of fact, the nature of death changed somewhere between two thieves on a hill called Calvary.

As Jesus desperately clung to life on a bloody crucifix, He assured the robber beside Him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Death would not be the thief’s painful conclusion—it would be his passageway to paradise because of the grace of Christ. The Lord of life put death to death by His death, securing eternal life for all who believe—including the swindler by His side (2 Timothy 1:10). Because of Christ’s work for believers, death is the gateway to glory, the staircase to salvation, and the elevator to everlasting life. It is merely the bridge between heaven and earth for those who have crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

This is why the Christian may sing and shout the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54-57,

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it 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).

A Formidable Flight | Bible Gleanings – May 21-22, 2022

Newspapers around the world festooned their front pages with a headline that made history: “LINDBERGH DOES IT!” Charles A. Lindbergh (Feb. 4, 1902—Aug. 26, 1974) had flown from New York to Paris in 33 ½ hours, defying all odds and earning an esteemed place in aviation history. Lindbergh cranked the scanty 220 horsepower monoplane in the early hours of May 20, 1927, eager to navigate the unknown sky above the Atlantic. The crowd nearby clenched their teeth in worry, recalling the recent deaths of Rene Fonck, Noel Davis, and Stanton Wooster who had attempted the same challenge. After trudging through the muddy runway of Roosevelt Field, The Spirit of St. Louis slowly climbed the vacant skies, and the unpredictable journey began. 

Lindbergh was cloaked in the blackness of night twelve hours after takeoff. Beneath him were monstrous and unforgiving waters that could swallow him whole. A shroud of hazy fog besieged his wings and clouded his vision for thousands of miles. Exhaustion was depleting his eager spirit since he had been without sleep for more than two days and nights. And frozen bullets of sleet pecked incessantly at the propeller, but Lindbergh stayed the course.

Suddenly, Lindbergh beheld a strip of earth beneath him: Europe’s splendid shores. The relieving sight rejuvenated his soul and he continued steadily toward Paris. The Missouri pilot soon circled the Eiffel Tower and landed in Le Bourget Field. His journey was over. Lindbergh had achieved the impossible with little more than a compass, a drift sight, and a full tank of faith.

Flying eastward to Europe is hard; flying heavenward is even harder. Every believer saved by grace is headed toward a “better country” (Hebrews 11:16). The fog of uncertainty can tempt us to turn around and abandon the plane. The roaring waters of tribulation may intimidate us for miles of our heavenbound flight. But one day, we shall see the golden shoreline of heaven after flying through this wicked world.

“For you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 12:9). While we fly our voyage, the compass of faith and the drift sight of God’s word serves to guide us. As Sanford Bennett said in the hymn, There’s a Land That is Fairer Than Day,

“There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar,

For the Father waits over the way

To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore;

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

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).

Front Page News | Bible Gleanings – April 30-May 1, 2022

The chilling news froze me in my tracks. The blackness of gloom enveloped my heart when I read the big black headline on the front page of The New York Times: “The Toll: America Approaches Half a Million COVID Deaths.” The death toll has soared to nearly a million since then, but I remember burning with zeal to do everything I could to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. I am not sure whether mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference—only the Lord knows. But I wanted to do everything in my power to slow the death count when the reality of death was in my face. 

The last time a gust of grief struck me like that was when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where He warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). According to Jesus, hordes and heaps of lost souls are driving down the wide open highway to hell, while only a fragment of humanity trudges on the hard road to heaven. Millions are afflicted by the crippling disease of sin, and they will discover too late that they were sick (Matt. 7:21-23). The “second death” toll is infinitely high, and it rises every day (Rev. 21:8). And the sharp twinge of heartbreak ought to pierce the heart of every believer when confronted with this sobering reality (cf. Romans 9:1-3).

Only 31% of the world’s population profess to be Christian, which means that the remaining 69% are hellbound (and that is if all 31% are true believers). According to the World Population Review, 166,279 people die daily. That means that at least 144,733 souls enter the gates of hell every day, and one million do every week. Jesus was right when He said that “many” would hear these terrifying words: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

The good news is that there is plenty of room in heaven, and its door is open to all who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2a). Therefore, those heavenbound ought to take the life-saving gospel with unquenchable zeal to those who have never heard. The miserable reality of hell for the lost and the marvelous reassurance of heaven for the saved ought to be on the front page of every Christian’s mind. As John Wesley stated, “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”

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 Place to Be | Bible Gleanings – November 6-7, 2021

1,000 Places to See Before You Die, a New York Times bestseller written by Patricia Schultz, catalogues a thousand unforgettable places on God’s green earth that showcase the “best the world has to offer.”1 Her contention is that you should visit these breathtaking locations before you breathe your last. You should travel to these areas before your soul travels to eternity. Behold the giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park, she says. Admire the intricate architecture of India’s Taj Mahal. Tan your hide on the baking beaches of Fiji.

Schultz affirms an indisputable truth: our planet is magnificently beautiful and indescribably stunning. As Louis Armstrong would say, “And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.” She also confirms a popular misconception held by thousands of people: this world is all there is, so you better see it all before you die. Van Halen used to sing about it: “Whoa, you don’t have to die an’ go to heaven, or hang around to be born again; Just tune in to what this place has got to offer, ‘cause we may never be here again.” 

Frankly, I am more concerned about going to a better world when I die instead of seeing this whole world before I die. The Imperial Palace in Beijing is gorgeous, but it pales in comparison to the glorious mansions built in heaven for followers of Christ (John 14:2). Paris and Prague may be among the most elegant cities on earth, but they don’t compare to the eternal city, “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). New Zealand’s splendid landscapes are unimpressive compared to the New City that will one day come “down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2). I don’t want to rendezvous among the most lovely countries on earth; I want to rest my soul in “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16).

This world is not all there is. In fact, this old world is “passing away,” and it will one day be “burned up and dissolved” (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10). Heaven is the place you want to be when you die, my friend. But you will only get there if your name is on God’s “guest list,” the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).

How can you see and enter this heavenly place? Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be made new to enter the city where all things are made new. This happens when you repent of your sins and trust fully in Christ for your salvation. When you do that, you’ll have your ticket to glory on Zion’s heavenbound ship.

  1. Patricia Schultz. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2003).
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 Highest and Holiest Name | Bible Gleanings – May 15-16, 2021

The Highest and Holiest Name

As I turned the dial in search of some tunes to pass time on the interstate, an ad from a prominent law firm played between songs: “Name recognition matters, so let the biggest and best name in Alabama represent you and your personal injury claim. Contact our office today!” They boasted of the millions of dollars recovered for their clients, and assured that clients only pay, “if and when we win your case.” However, their greatest appeal was that no law firm in the state was as recognizable as they were. Insurance companies would sweat and shudder when they heard the name. The defendant’s lawyer would melt like wax. And the client could have unshakable confidence in their ability to win the case because of being represented by the most popular name in law.

They were right—name recognition does matter, and who you chose to present your case before a judge is crucial. Who you chose to represent you before the throne of God in the heavenly court on the day of judgment is far more important, however. One day the books will be opened and God will judge you according to what is written in them (Rev. 20:11-15). And you need the highest and holiest name in all the universe to win your case before God so you can spend eternity in heaven. This Man’s name is the most exalted “in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” so much so that every knee will one day bow at the mere mention of His name (Phil. 2:9-11). Who is this man? John the apostle told us: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1).

As a sinner, you stand condemned before God (John 3:18). Your sins are piled higher than your head and your guilt reaches the heavens (Ezra 9:6). The good news is, if you have believed on Christ, He is your defense attorney before God. He is your Advocate, the One who pleads (and wins) your case. The only defense sufficient to cover your sins is Jesus Christ and His shed blood. Ironically, Jesus is also the one who will do the judging: “[God] will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

The greatness of your name doesn’t matter, and neither does the name of the church you belong to—there’s only one name that saves: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


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).

Turn Around | Bible Gleanings – May 1-2, 2021

Turn Around

“NO SERVICE.” Those are the last words you want to see on your cellphone when you’re on an unfamiliar road. But they appeared on my screen as I drove through the grassy glades of Mark Twain National Forest in the Show-Me State. I was counting on John Denver—hopefully the country roads would indeed take me home, because without access to my phone’s GPS, I was lost.

The good thing is, I always have a backup plan (although it doesn’t always work). An ancient suction-cup GPS the size of a VHS tape never leaves my vehicle. Speaking of VHS tapes, it’s about as old and outdated as they are, so it’s always a risk to trust it. Nevertheless, I typed “H-O-M-E” in the search bar and made a beeline for home.

That is, until I was abruptly commanded to turn left onto an older highway that apparently hadn’t seen a car in ten years. The poor road was afflicted with potholes and was a dump for motorist’s trash. Even from the dead end sign you could see that this road led nowhere but to death, for nothing lay at the end but a heap of lifeless tree limbs, broken concrete, and shattered asphalt.

I had a moment of realization that I was going down the wrong road, and listening to my unreliable GPS was the problem. Therefore, I made the decision to turn around, ignore my GPS, and go the right way instead. Turning around to drive on the right road was the only solution. Stepping out to repair the wrong road wouldn’t help me. Pretending like I wasn’t on the wrong road wouldn’t get me on the right road. And feeling remorse for being on the wrong road wouldn’t do any good either.

The same is true if you want to go to heaven and take the right road that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14). You must first have a Spirit-induced moment of realization, which the Bible calls “conviction,” where God the Spirit says to you, “Look—you are on the wrong road!” Since the GPS of your heart is wired by sin to command you, “Turn away from God” (Romans 3:11), you are born driving on “the way [that] is easy that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13).

Once you understand that you are on a hellbound highway, you need to turn around and drive towards Jesus. This is what Scripture calls “repentance.” Repentance is turning away from sin and the wrong road, and turning toward Jesus, the only way that leads to the Father (John 14:6). Improving yourself with good works and spiritual resolutions won’t take you off the wrong road. Feeling sorry for being on the wrong road won’t turn you around. Pretending like you’re not on the wrong road won’t do it either. “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).


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).

Day 19: Taking Christmas to Heart

“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” —Luke 2:19

There were many different responses to the birth of Christ the Lord. Heaven had a jubilee (Luke 2:13-14). Shepherds preached and proclaimed the good news (Luke 2:15-17). Others gathered around were filled with wonder (Luke 2:18) and the shepherds later glorified God (Luke 2:20). Mary, the mother of Jesus, however, had a very different response to the birth of her Savior-son. She did not dance, sing, or preach—she simply contemplated and meditated in her heart.

Luke moves from the public response of praise and wonder, to the private response of Mary and he says that she treasured what she heard from the shepherds. She “pondered” their proclamation in her heart. For nine months, she had incubated Jesus in her womb—now she was incubating thoughts about Him in her heart and mind. She was mulling over the significance of Christ’s entrance into the world—turning it over in her mind. Just as Jacob of old ruminated on meaning of Joseph’s dream (Genesis 37:11), she pondered the gravity that her Son was God in the flesh. As the prophet Daniel cogitated over the implications of his prophetic vision (Daniel 7:28), Mary thought deeply about the wonder that her child was also her Savior.

There is no indication that she was puzzled or confused about all of this. The angel Gabriel articulately explained the importance of her virginal conception and the supremacy of the Son she would bear (Luke 1:26-38). She was simply thinking deeply about the birth of Jesus Christ. Her contemplation was similar, perhaps, to the contemplation of a child over the phenomenon of Santa Claus and his ability to deliver toys to all children in the world.

Can you identify with Mary’s response this Christmas? Although it’s seemingly contradictory to do so during this busy holiday season, try to slow down and just think about the grandeur and significance of the birth of Christ. Amid the busyness of the season—cooking Christmas dinner, wrapping presents, and traveling—stop and think about the wonder of Christ’s birth. Ponder these things in your heart. Like Mary, take Christmas to heart by pondering its truths in your heart.


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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 15: O, Christmas Tree

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” —John 3:16 (KJV)

No holiday is as decorative and festive as Christmas. Wreaths are hung on the door. Candles are placed on the window sill. The stair rail is adorned with garland. White lights glimmer outside around the edge of the roof. But most popular and more time-consuming than all other decorations is the Christmas tree. It is the centerpiece of decorating the home for Christmas. Many families even erect their Christmas tree immediately after Thanksgiving, before decorating with anything else.

The beautiful and lively Christmas tree in your living room has a rich history and is also a suitable symbol of a great theological truth. Thousands of years ago, evergreens like Christmas trees were placed everywhere during the winter to remind people of all the greenery that would grow again during the spring and summer. Pagans believed their sun god was ill and weak during the cold winter, but that he would recover in the warmer seasons. Evergreen trees, boughs, and wreaths gave them hope that their god would bless them again. The ancient Egyptians followed this custom as did the Romans and even the Vikings.

Around the 16th century, Christians began bringing decorated evergreens into their homes, probably to symbolize the gift of everlasting life that Christ gave by coming to the earth. Evergreens, as you are probably aware, have leaves which remain green and vibrant in all seasons of the year—hence the name, evergreen. The gift of life Jesus brought by His life, death, and resurrection is everlasting, meaning that it lasts forever. He did not come to make your life better—He came to give you life eternal by providing the atonement necessary for the forgiveness of your sins. The lovely Christmas tree is a wonderful symbol of the everlasting life Christ will give to you when you believe in Him. Interestingly, if you have everlasting life, you will one day be ushered into a place wherein the tree of life is in eternal bloom (Revelation 22:2).


profile pic5Brandon 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.