Tag Archives: life

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).

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).

The Holy Spirit Doesn’t Need Your Help

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” — Acts‬ ‭10:44‬ ‭KJV‬‬

One of the most essential and encouraging truths in all Scripture about preaching the gospel is that the Spirit of God works mightily while we preach.

The Spirit of God punches His timecard when you proclaim the full gospel to the lost. The Spirit engages in CPR, reviving a heart once dead when you engage in evangelism (Eph. 2:1). He shines gospel light in darkened hearts when the blazing gospel torch is carried to those in darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The Spirit opens blinded eyes when you call the unregenerate to look away from themselves to Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).

The very first thing He does is convict, according to Jesus. He said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Spirit puts a person’s conscience on trial when the gospel is published. And He says to them, “You are in serious trouble with God, and you are in serious need of salvation. Wake up! God is holy and you are not. You need Jesus!”

Furthermore, the Spirit converts a sinner’s soul. Paul said:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

He regenerates the unregenerate soul. He creates new life within a person devoid of spiritual life.

The Spirit does it all, and oftentimes in the very moment we present the gospel.

This does not mean that every person who hears the gospel will be saved. Sometimes your gospel preaching falls on deaf ears. Unsaved sinners still resist grace (cf. Acts 7:51).

What it does mean is that Spirit can penetrate the hardest heart, loosen the stiffest neck, and overcome anyone’s resistance to His call when He wills (John 6:37-40; Acts 16:4; Romans 8:29-30).

What it does mean is that you can faithfully present the gospel and walk away with a full heart, knowing that the Spirit leads a person to Christ.

What it does mean is that you don’t have to worry about whether your presentation of the gospel was eloquent or sophisticated enough to convince someone to believe.

What it means is that you don’t have to use gimmicks, tactics, bouncy-houses, potlucks, or concerts to win a person to Christ.

And it means that no amount of therapy, theories, or prescriptions make a person a better candidate for salvation.

The Spirit of God alone convicts and converts lost souls—and He doesn’t need any help. Just preach the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

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).

Don’t Slip!

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

When hiking, it is best to avoid things that might make you fall. I have found that going around creeks with a strong current is better than going through them. It is safer to step on dry rocks rather than grimy ones, even if it’s only a little grime. Walking on beaten dirt paths is preferable to muddy hills and slopes.

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

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

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

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


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

Shelter from Storms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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.

Day 12: The Gift of Life

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” —John 10:10b

Christmastime in eastern Czechoslovakia was bitter and cold in 1910. A terrible plaque of diphtheria had swept through and devastated many lives in the little village of Velky Slavhov. Half of the village contracted the disease and many of the victims were just children—less than ten years of age. When anyone in the family would start to show symptoms, they’d put a large black “X” on their doorpost to warn others that it had been quarantined.

There was an “X” painted on the doorpost of the home of Jano and Suzanna Barotkova. In less than a week, this couple found themselves childless. Their oldest child, only five, was the first to pass because of the disease. And even as Jano was working in the woodshed building her coffin, his other two sons were dying.

The two young boys eventually breathed their last and Suzanna finally broke out in agonizing sobs. The couple carefully laid their children, one by one, into handmade pine caskets and lifted them onto a wagon and started towards the graveyard. They passed house after house marked with a black X, but they were too weak and too depressed to offer any sympathy or encouragement to the others.

They buried their children, struggled through the Lord’s prayer and headed back home. Jano himself was sick now. He said, “I won’t see another Christmas. I don’t think I’ll see the New Year in, either.” He pushed away his soup and bread because it was too hard for him to swallow. The diphtheria had begun to constrict his throat. Suzanna gathered some kindling and lit a fire for the night, sure that her husband would be dead by morning.

Suddenly she saw someone approaching—a peasant woman tramping through the snow wearing a red and purple shawl. She had a jar of clear liquid in her hand, and she approached the couple’s home and knocked on the door. Suzanna cautiously opened the door and said, “We have the plague in our home, and my husband is in a fever right now.” The old woman nodded and asked if she could step inside, and she held out her little jar. She said, “Take a clean, white linen and wrap it around your finger. Then dip your finger into this pure kerosene oil and swab out your husband’s throat—then have him swallow a tablespoon of the oil. This should cause him to vomit the deadly mucous. Otherwise he will suffocate. I will pray for you and your family.”

Then, the woman left behind her remedy and left the home. Suzanna followed the woman’s instructions and early Christmas morning, Jano retched up the deadly mucous. His fever broke and Suzanna had a flicker of hope. There were no presents or children that year, but an old woman with her jar of oil was a gift of life to that couple. Jano recovered and eventually, he and Suzanna emigrated to America and had many children.

That story has been handed down through the generations of that family—how a little peasant woman came on Christmas Eve bearing the gift of life for those who were dying. And this is exactly what Jesus has done! He came on Christmas day bearing the gift of life for those sick, dying, and hopeless. The deadly plague of sin has affected all of mankind and we cannot cure ourselves. The good news is, Jesus came to give life—eternal and abundant life. There is hope if you have the gift of life that Jesus came to bring on Christmas day.


Note: You will find this story in many works, but I read it first in Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations by Robert J. Morgan.


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.

Day 9: The Gift of God

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 6:23

Where did the Christmas custom of giving and receiving gifts come from? Many speculate that it is an imitation of the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh that the wise men gave to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). It is also possible that the giving of gifts models the historical Saint Nicholas who gave gifts to poor children. Whatever the historical roots of tearing open presents on Christmas day, it serves as a fitting reminder of God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus. It is not a mistake that the word of God calls this a gift.

Eternal life is a gift, as Paul says in Romans 6:23. This conveys several things. First, it is given to you and is supposed to be accepted. God extends eternal life to you and you are supposed to receive it. Second, it cannot be earned—that’s why it’s a gift. You can’t work for or earn it. Third, as all gifts are an expression of life, so it is with God’s gift of eternal life—He gives it because He loves you.

All gifts have a cost and so does this one, except the cost is not paid by you—the cost was paid by God when He sent His Son to purchase eternal life. Eternal life comes freely to you because it was paid for by the death of Christ. Have you received this gift of eternal life by trusting in Jesus as your Savior? Nothing would be more of a gift to God than that you receive the gift of eternal life that He is offering to you.


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.

The Loveless Church (Rev. 2:1-7)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 29th day of April 2018, during the morning service:


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 two dogs, Susie and Aries.