Tag Archives: matthew

The Lethal Venom of Lust | Bible Gleanings – June 3-July 4, 2021

An eight-legged hairy beast no larger than a teacup killed him. Pintu Sahoo, a man from West Bengal, died from tarantula venom after being bitten on a train commute to Chennai. Pintu jolted from a nap and complained of being itchy and restless, according to his wife, Pranati Sahoo. Anxiously concerned for Pintu’s health, they sought medical attention from the ticket examiner, but they were rudely rebuffed. Pintu was then examined by a worried fellow passenger who happened to be a doctor. He offered him painkillers to relieve his symptoms, though he wasn’t sure what was causing his agony. Upon arrival at the train station, Pintu was immediately admitted to the hospital. Surprisingly, the doctor downplayed the severity of the bite and merely prescribed medications to alleviate the symptoms.

Unfortunately, Pintu died because his bite was improperly treated. As reported by The New Indian Express, “Doctors [claim] that Sahoo could have been saved if treated on time. Delay in receiving medical attention spread the venom throughout the body of the patient.” Although the amount of spider venom was miniscule, and the bite itself was puny, it was lethal enough to kill him. One teensy bite from a tarantula turned fatal because it was treated carelessly.

There is another venom that is small but deadly, and if left untreated, it will kill far more than your body: lust. Jesus sternly warned about the deadly infection of lust in the Sermon on the Mount, and He said that radical measures must be employed to eliminate it:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matt. 5:27-30).

Lust, an insatiable and sinful sexual desire for another person, should be treated urgently since it is trying to kill you like a lethal venom. Although it seems insignificant because it is only a desire, it is dangerous enough to drag you to hell. Thankfully, Jesus is the right (and only) Doctor to treat it. As Paul said, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:14).

And once you receive His salvation, He gives many proven prescriptions for overcoming lust: immediately reject it (Gen. 39:11-12), flee from it (2 Tim. 2:22), desire God (Psalm 42:1-2), and pray for a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).


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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

The Uniform is Useless | Bible Gleanings – June 26-27, 2021

The truth always comes out—just ask John K. Giles, the failed escapee from Alcatraz Island. After an unsuccessful train heist, he began serving his federal sentence in the legendary Alcatraz Penitentiary. This maximum-security prison housed gangsters and thugs like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly—and Giles landed himself behind bars with them. Such infamous criminals were sent to Alcatraz because it was considered inescapable. But Giles was cunning—and he found a way out.

The U.S. Army used to send laundry to Alcatraz Island to be washed—it kept the prisoners busy and kept our armed forces in clean uniforms. Giles worked at the loading dock where the military laundry was delivered to be washed. And piece by piece, he sneakily snagged a complete army uniform. Then on July 31, 1945, he merely dressed in the uniform and walked aboard an army boat, pretending to be an officer. Unfortunately for Giles, the boat was not headed for freedom like he expected. The boat docked at Fort McDowell on Angel Island, a major processing location for troops during World War II. As he set foot on Angel Island, he was back in cuffs again.

He fooled the army officials for a while, and may have fooled himself as well—but he couldn’t keep it up forever. He wore an army uniform on the outside, but he was still John K. Giles, the criminal, on the inside.

One of the most sobering truths in all of Scripture is that many people wear the Christian uniform on the outside yet remain unconverted on the inside. You can wear every piece of the suit and still be lost in your sins. You can be baptized, read the Bible, attend church regularly, give large offerings, and do other good works, but none of that matters if you aren’t changed by the gospel. According to Jesus, many individuals will fool others and even themselves into believing they are sincere believers, but they will not fool Him.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

How can you truly be saved, according to Jesus? By coming to know Him in faith. People trusting in their “many mighty works” will be cast away from the presence of the Lord into eternal hell. Only those who know Christ can be assured that their boat is headed for heaven instead of hell. Since you can’t fool the Lord, repent of your sins and believe that Christ and His work are enough for your salvation. 


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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

What’s Under Your Roof? | Bible Gleanings – April 3-4, 2021

What’s Under Your Roof?

The woman’s home and land had the kind of beauty and elegance that instantly made you think, “Oh yeah—this person is loaded.” The two-story home was decorated with charcoal-colored brick with a gleaming texture. Vivid flowers surrounded the house and every bush was flawlessly whittled down. The exposed aggregate driveway wound aesthetically through the yard, weaving through the gorgeous green and hilly property. Speaking of green, I’ll bet that not one blade of grass was improperly trimmed.

This heavenly home was also the workplace of an accredited tax preparer my father and I had visited to pay our dues to Caesar.1 My mouth dropped in awe at the enticing appearance of the outside. However, my mouth dropped even farther as we were welcomed through the front door. Mountains of paperwork smothered the tables and countertops. Another mountain was in the sink—a pile of dirty dishes that would have tumbled had one more fork been laid on top. And a tornado of children had obviously blown through every room, as Barbie dolls and soldier toys lay far and wide.

Now—I’m not being critical—just take a look inside my home! The point is, looks are deceiving. What was under the roof contradicted what was outside of the walls. The condition of the inside was completely different from the appearance of the outside. And appearances only go so far—what really matters is what’s inside.

Apparently, the Lord God agrees: “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). God cares about the condition of the inside, that which is “under your roof,” within your heart. And it doesn’t matter if the lawn of your life is perfectly trimmed if the living room of your heart is a sinful mess. External conformity to Scripture is meaningless without internal purity. As Jesus once said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28). Jesus also said that upkeep of the outside is foolish if we neglect maintenance on the inside (Luke 11:39-40).

The truth is, none of us have our house in order—we all need the Spirit of God to make the inside clean. That is why you must be washed and regenerated by the Spirit as you take hold of Christ by faith alone (Titus 3:5). And after your heart has been purified by the Spirit, you must continually pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). So, what’s under your roof?

  1. This story is from many years ago, in a location far away from Murray. That’s why I thought no harm would be done in sharing this account. Plus, I know the woman referenced and she would get a kick out of this story as she is a faithful believer in 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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

“The Prayingest Prayer I ever Prayed” | Bible Gleanings – March 13-14, 2021

Prayer Posture

It was a sweltering and sultry summer day—an unpleasant ninety-five degrees—when five local clergymen convened for an afternoon of enriching fellowship. The baking heat outdoors paled in comparison, however, to the steam in the meeting room. These residential ministers—deacons and pastors both—had begun to argue. Not long after the exchange of pleasantries and mutual spiritual check-ups, the men engaged in a respectful but conviction-driven debate about the proper way to pray.

“The proper way for a man to pray, and the only proper attitude, is down upon his knees,” said Deacon Keyes. His proposition was immediately met with retort from Reverend Wise. “No, I should say the way to pray, is standing straight, with outstretched arms, and rapt and upturned eyes,” he remarked. Elder Slow, who couldn’t bear this heresy, corrected: “Oh no! Such posture is too proud! A man should pray with eyes fast closed and the head contritely bowed.” Having heard enough nonsense, Reverend Blunt observed, “It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front, with both thumbs pointing toward the ground.”

After everyone zealously preached their opinions, Brother Cyrus Brown decided to preach his experience. Leaning back with his thumbs in the straps of his overalls, he recounted, “Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well head first, with both my heels a-stickin’ up, my head a-pointin’ down; and I made a prayer right then an’ there—best prayer I ever said, the prayingest prayer I ever prayed, a-standing on my head.”1

Cyrus made his point loud and clear: there is no correct physical posture for prayer. As long as you are an adopted child of the heavenly Father (Gal. 4:6), God will hear your prayers at anytime and at any place. Moreover, people in Scripture were heard by God whether they prayed kneeling (2 Chron. 6:13; Dan. 6:10), prostrate (Neh. 8:6; Matt. 26:39), with lifted hands (Ps. 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:8), or lying down in bed (Ps. 6:6). What matters in prayer is not your physical posture, but your spiritual posture—not the position of your body, but the position of your heart.

In the passage famously known as The Lord’s Prayer, but more fittingly called The Disciples’ Model Prayer, Jesus explains what the right heart position is for prayer (read Matthew 6:5-13). First, the motivation of your heart must be right. You ought not pray only for the approval and applause of others (vv. 5-6). Don’t pray to be seen by men—pray to be seen by God, who “sees in secret.” Second, the mindset of your heart must be right. God is omniscient and “knows what you need before you ask Him,” and therefore you do not need lengthy liturgical prayers and mindless religious repetitions to get His attention (vv. 7-8). Don’t try to impress God when you pray—just be humble and honest before Him. Finally, there is a model you must follow in order to orient your heart in the right position (vv. 9-13). Jesus instructed that your prayers should begin with a focus on God, His kingdom, and His will (vv. 9-10). After expressing praise to God and submission to His will, you should pray for your physical and spiritual needs (vv. 11-13).

Take it from Cyrus Brown—the prayingest kind of prayer depends, not on where you are, but where your heart is.

  1. This story is modified from a poem by Sam Walter Foss. Some say the poem stands by itself, some say it is adapted from an anecdotal story. This is just how I’ve told the story through the years, though it is not entirely original.

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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Day 23: A New Creation

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” —Matthew 1:1a

Research shows that you like new things just because they are new.[1] Yes, we all prefer new things—not because they are better or improved, but simply because they are brand-new. This makes Christmas exhilarating for the majority of people since most will be giving and receiving lots of new things. Inside the stockings and under the tree are the latest gadgets, new toys, and fresh clothes. But more exhilarating is the fact that Jesus brought something new on Christmas day. And it is supremely more valuable than any physical gift: a new creation.

The Gospel of Matthew begins with a lengthy and seemingly unnecessary genealogy. To be sure, there are many wonderful things to glean from this genealogy—one is what is implied by the use of the word, “genealogy” in the opening verse. The word can be translated as, “genesis” which just means beginning. Matthew is indicating that the coming of Jesus ushers in a new beginning—the beginning of a new creation. Just as Genesis explains how God created the world, the Gospel of Matthew explains how Jesus came to make a new world—to undo the curse of sin and make all things new.

 He came to make you a new creation. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” His coming makes it possible for you to be a new person, to be born again. As it is exclaimed in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Jesus was, “born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.” And when He returns to make all things right, He will make a new heaven and new earth.


[1] https://money.com/why-consumers-prefer-new-stuff-iphone/


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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.

Day 17: If the Fates Allow?

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” —Matthew 1:17

One of the most beautiful Christmas songs is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It reminisces about all the joyful Christmases shared with family and friends and wishes the same to be enjoyed by all who hear it. However, one line in the song reflects a faulty (but common) understanding of the ordering of the universe: “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Fate is the ordering of events outside of human control, usually by some unknown supernatural power. And in the song, fate is credited as making possible or impossible the togetherness of family and friends. Some have recognized the error of this and rightly modified the lyrics to say, “If the Lord allows.”

Fate has nothing to do with the development or unfolding of anything. Only the Lord is sovereign and in control of all situations and events. If the Lord permits something to occur, it will—if He does not, it cannot occur. And this wonderful and comforting truth of God’s sovereignty pulses in every verse of Matthew’s seemingly unnecessary genealogy. To demonstrate God’s rule in the world and His commitment to fulfill His plan, Matthew traces God’s providential hand through history beginning with Abraham and ending at the birth of Jesus Christ (see vv. 2-17).

Many things occurred in those thousands of years that should have obliterated God’s plan to save sinners through Christ, but the will of God prevailed. During the period of time from Abraham to David, there were wars, famines, debauchery, idolatry, and destruction. Many things happened that even threatened the existence of the Davidic line—the one Jesus had to be born into. But God’s plan revealed to Abraham to bless all families of the earth through his offspring was indestructible, unstoppable, and immutable (Genesis 12:1-3). Despite all of this, God fulfilled His word by bringing forth, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” at the right time (Matthew 1:1b).

God’s plan never fails—it never fails for you, either. It might take some time to see it fulfilled and things may appear to be hindering it, but as Matthew’s genealogy demonstrates—nothing can stop the plan of God. As Job of old proclaimed, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). You need not depend on fate—you need only to trust the Lord.


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 16: When God Intervenes

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” —Matthew 1:19-20a

How was Mary pregnant if Joseph had nothing to do with it? This was so perplexing for Joseph that he worried about it until he fell asleep. Apparently, the woman he pledged to marry had committed adultery, so he wanted to end it all. As a righteous man, it was unthinkable to marry one who had sinned this way and betrayed his trust. However, he didn’t want to cause a public ruckus, so he resolved to end the betrothal quietly.

This would have destroyed the Christmas story and ended all hopes of a Messiah. Joseph was crucial for the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about the Christ coming forth from David’s royal lineage (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6). Why? Because Joseph himself was a descendant of David. Jesus, therefore, would have been his legal son, inheriting all the rights and privileges of being in David’s family. But if Joseph parts ways with Mary, then the plan of God fails and Jesus could not be the true Messiah.

God stepped in and intervened by sending an angel to Joseph in his sleep. The angel explains this confounding situation to him, that the child conceived in her is “from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20b). Joseph’s confusion and resolution did not worry the sovereign Lord of the universe. The all-knowing Lord knew Joseph was confused and He knew about this decision that would have ruined everything. And to bring about the fulfillment of His plan and the promise of the Messiah, God supernaturally intervened.

The Lord God still does this today. When God wants to get you back on track, He may not send an angel to you, but He will interrupt your life and intervene in unexpected (and perhaps unwanted) ways to accomplish His perfect will. Who can fathom the many times God has already done this for you? Further, He may never explain what He is doing as He did for Joseph. Have faith and trust that the good and sovereign Lord knows what He is doing. It has nothing to do with fate and everything to do with a God who does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3) and works out His plan perfectly for His people (Roman 8:28).


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.