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

Forgiven but Unforgiving

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

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

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

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

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


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

Training Together | Bible Gleanings – March 27-28, 2021

Training Together

“It’s hard to be by yourself,” said Kyra Christmas, a 23-year-old athlete who plays on Canada’s national water polo team. Like most professional sports players, she was devastated by the emergency lockdowns last year which upended team sports and stifled training for competitions. Water polo is a game that requires team effort and cooperation, just like baseball, football, or any other mainstream sport. She shared her griefs in a New York Times article titled, How to Train for Team Sports Alone, and made the case that there is no substitute for being together. When it comes to team sports, you simply have to train as a collective body.

Individual training is crucial but it is no replacement for conditioning together as a group. She recalled training alone and watching videos of past games—imagining competing in the water alongside her teammates—but it wasn’t sufficient. Finally, in mid-August of last year, her team was able to resume training. “It felt so good to be together again,” she remarked.

Likewise, you must train together with other believers in order to win in the Christian life. To be sure, Christian living is not a game—it is warfare—but it is meant to be lived in the community of faith. In order to live a life of godliness, you must be surrounded by other godly people in the local church. There is no substitute for church membership and participation. When it comes to walking on the straight and narrow, you cannot train yourself or train by yourself—it’s a team effort. As you run the Christian race with endurance, nothing is more beneficial than running that race with other believers.

It is within the local body of assembled believers that you discover and use your spiritual gifts—the abilities God gave you to be an efficient teammate (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11). It is only by cooperation with other Christians that you may fulfill your chief goal of making disciples—remember, it is called the Great Co-Mission for a reason (Matt. 28:16-20). You need a faithful congregation to lift you up when you fall and support you when your burdens are too heavy to bear (Gal. 6:1-2). True Christian love is expressed exclusively within the gathered body of Christ—loving “one another” requires that you know and interact with “another” to love (1 John 3:11-24). It is solely within the family of God that gratitude and praise reach their highest levels of expression (Col. 3:16). The Bible even says that you are prevented from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin through the encouragement and reproof of the church (Hebrews 3:13).

Friend, it’s hard to be by yourself. Find and join a faithful church where you can train for the Christian life with other “teammates” who are aiming at the goal of God’s glory. 


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).

Clinging to the Cross | Bible Gleanings, March 6-7, 2021

Clinging to the Cross

“Dear Lord, are you taking me home right now?” That is what resonated in the mind of Clara Gantt as she barely survived the historic and record-setting flood that ravaged Charleston, South Carolina back in 2015. On the first Sunday of October, Gantt was driving to church when a sheet of water plowed into her car. Panic immediately set in as flood waters threatened her life. After dialing 911 and receiving no answer, she called her grandson, but by the time he arrived, her car had floated backward into a submerged field while water rolled and rushed around her. Her grandson, Travis, waded to his grandmother with a harness and rope and pulled her out of the vehicle, but there was nowhere they could go.

Miraculously, Gantt’s car had gotten caught on a large red cross near a little church in the area. Travis wrapped the rope around the cross and they clung to the cross for hours in the raging waters while they waited for emergency personnel to arrive. Travis and Clara were rescued five hours later and here’s how she summarized the experience: “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross.” The only way they were saved from the turbulent flood was by clinging to the cross.

This story is a perfect illustration of how your only hope of being saved from the flood of God’s wrath is by clinging to the cross of Jesus Christ. God’s righteous wrath against sin and sinners is like a mighty and unstoppable flood. It is described as, “a deluge of rain” and as a storm with wind, rain, and floods (Ezekiel 13:13; Matthew 7:24-27). In fact, God used a literal flood to express His wrath and displeasure with man’s wickedness (Genesis 6:9-9:17). The good news is that you can avoid the flood of God’s wrath because it was poured out in full measure upon Jesus. Not one drop of God’s eternal wrath will touch you because Jesus absorbed it all on the cross. He swallowed every drop of the cup of God’s divine anger (Luke 22:42).

Are you clinging to the cross of Christ? It is the only way for your soul to be saved from the flood God’s divine displeasure. Good intentions and good works are not sufficient for salvation—His wrath will wash those away. You must do what is beautifully written in the hymn, Rock of Ages: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” Cling to the cross, dear friend, by coming to Jesus in repentance and faith. Acknowledge your sin before Him and trust completely in His finished work as the only means of 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).

The Lights and the Darks | Bible Gleanings – Feb 20-21, 2021

The Lights and the Darks

Everyone has heard the age-old proverbial caution about washing clothes: don’t wash the lights with the darks. Don’t throw your black socks in the wash cycle with your white dress shirt. The purpose of keeping them separate is not to prevent the darker clothing items from being ruined by the lighter ones—just the opposite. Dye from the dark clothes will penetrate and stain the fabric fibers of your lighter-colored clothes.

Apparently, even God believes in separating the lights from the darks. One of the first things God did when creating the universe is separate the light from the dark:

“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:4).

God partitioned and divorced light from the dark because, as polar opposites, they did not belong together. He wanted no association to exist between light and dark, perhaps to reflect His own sanctified nature: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).

God also wants His people, who are called “children of light” to remain separate from the dark—the darkness of sin (1 Thess. 5:5). If you have believed the gospel, then God has “called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), and He wants you to be disconnected and disassociated from the blackness of sin in the world. Paul asked the obvious question, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14b). There should be none—no fellowship, no mingling, and no mixing with the filthy and dark garments that are the ways of the world. When you get into the washing machine with the world, its darkness will not be stained by your light—the pitch-black dye of sin will stain you.

Unfortunately, because of the corruption of sin, we love the darkness instead of the light (John 3:19). We would rather remain in the black clothes pile of the world, the very “domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13). But for those who know Christ by repentance and faith, a great separation has taken place. The Lord God separated and removed you from this dark and grimy world and clothed you in pure and unstained vestments of white (Rev. 3:4-5; 7:9). He has separated the “lights” from the “darks.”

God delivered and disentangled you from the world’s dark clothes pile. You must resist the enticing appeal of the flesh to jump back in. As a follower of Christ, you cannot love or live in the darkness any longer. As Christ said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). And the same God who separated you will sustain you with the resisting power necessary to abstain from the darkness, so long as you continually submit to Him.


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).

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).

“I’m Trying to Connect You” | Bible Gleanings – Feb 13-14, 2021

“I’m Trying to Connect You”

“Hey Siri, call John.” Nowadays, that’s all you need to do to contact somebody. The artificial intelligence in your smartphone will do the work for you. You can also send a text message or e-mail in less than a minute. Technology and the internet have made present-day communication instantaneous.

But it has not always been this way, as some of you may know. Before the days of smartphones and computers, we relied on switchboards and their operators to contact people. Calling your neighbor or relative required an operator and a manual telephone switchboard. You would dial the operator and they would connect you by inserting a pair of phone plugs into the appropriate jacks. And oftentimes, especially if there was a bit of delay, the operator would say, “I am trying to connect you.” That was their purpose and mission—to connect you. And operators were indispensable and necessary for connecting you with whom you needed to speak—there was no other way.

While cellphones and laptops have eliminated the need for operators, one kind of operator will never be replaced by technological advancement: you. If you are a follower of Jesus, the Lord has commanded you to be an operator to connect people to Him. It is your glorious mission and purpose to connect people to Jesus. The Lord commissioned you with this blessed task when He said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, KJV). He also charged you to be His witnesses and to make disciples of all nations (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19-20).

The word of God teaches that the only way sinners can be saved is if they “dial” Jesus: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). People have to get connected with Jesus in order to go to heaven. As Christ Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is only one way, one Circuit that will connect a person to God, as Paul said: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

And you are essential for connecting people to Christ and helping them dial Him for their eternal salvation. No person can call on the name of the Lord without an operator! You must preach the good news and publish the gospel of Christ to the unsaved or they will never call out to Jesus for redemption. That is why Paul asked, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). Christian Operator, to whom are you saying, “I am trying to connect you”?


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).

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).

Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed | Bible Gleanings – Feb 6-7, 2021

Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed

A youngster frolicked on the church lawn on a summer Lord’s Day, carrying in his hand a rusty cage with several nervous fluttering birds. Pastor A. J. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?” “Trapped ‘em out in the field, Reverend,” the boy replied. “Well, what are you plannin’ on doing with them?” Gordon asked. “Gonna play with ‘em for a while and probably feed ‘em to the old cat we have at home.” Gordon hated to see the birds consigned to such a fate, so he offered to buy them. The young lad exclaimed, “No sir! You don’t want these birds—they’re wild and can’t sing very well.” “What if I gave you two dollars?” Gordon proposed. As the boy conceded he admitted, “It’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy skipped away whistling with his shiny coins. Gordon strolled to the back of the church, opened the wire prison, and released the captive birds into the blue sky.

On the following Sunday, the empty bird cage sat beside the pulpit as Gordon preached on the topic of redemption—the doctrine about Christ purchasing sinners’ freedom with His blood. And Gordon remarked, “The boy told me the birds were not songsters, but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!’”

Redemption in Scripture simply means deliverance by payment of a price, and Christ Jesus delivered and released you from the slave cage of sin by purchasing your freedom with His precious blood! You were not a trapped bird, however, but a slave completely allegiant to sin and miserably held under its dominion. You were willingly in the custody of sin. But God bought you—and He didn’t pay chump change for your redemption: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Once you were captive and captivated by sin—hopelessly confined to its rusty cage. But now liberation from the slavery, penalty, and power of sin are yours as God’s gift to you, paid for in full by the blood of Christ. You are, “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24; see also Ephesians 1:7). The shackles of sin are broken, the chain of sin that would have dragged you to hell has been pulverized, and the prison door has been kicked down. And friend, if you have been redeemed, the only fitting response is singing, “Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am.”


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).

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).

Job Satisfaction | Bible Gleanings – Jan 23-24, 2021

Job Satisfaction

The national unemployment rate was at a record high last spring due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic: 14.7%. The current unemployment rate is now significantly lower (6.7%) because many medical achievements have accelerated our nation in the right direction, and we have learned how to live with this virus. More people are working and earning an income—that is a great thing for America and Americans.

However, having a job doesn’t equal happiness for most Americans. Overall job satisfaction in our country is depressingly low. One study found that over 55% of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Many people feel they have hit a brick wall in their jobs with no chance of climbing the success ladder. Some working folks wish they could change their careers or work in a different field. Job satisfaction is important—you need to find something you like to do. As the old proverbial saying goes, “Work doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

As vital as personal job satisfaction is, the Bible says that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should have an entirely different approach towards job satisfaction. The word of God teaches that the question you need to ask is not, “Am I satisfied with my job?” but, “Is Christ satisfied with my job?” Christian—when it comes to your job, what matters most is if your job performance is satisfactory to Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul wrote,

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24).

God wants you to render straightforward obedience to your employer—so long as they don’t require you to disobey God. If you know Christ, you ought to be the best worker on the job, so much so that you show up the laziness of the other employees! Moreover, God wants you to work sincerely even when the boss isn’t watching. This is because your ultimate motivation for working hard is fear of the Lord and a desire to please Him. Therefore, do a good job, show up on time, go above and beyond, and work hard even when no one is watching because your ultimate Boss is Jesus Christ. He is your Master and He is watching you. He will reward your hard work, even if your employer won’t. Is Jesus Christ satisfied with your job?


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).

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).

Rewards for the Conqueror (Expanded) | Bible Gleanings – Jan 16-17, 2021

Rewards for the Conqueror (Expanded)

A special designation is assigned by God to all who refuse to succumb to the evil influences in the world and triumphantly conquer its temptations: conqueror. Jesus, the ultimate Conqueror, will grace you with heavenly rewards if you stand your ground victoriously against the flesh, the devil, and the world system. In fact, seven distinct rewards are promised, “to the one who conquers,” at the end of the letters to the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3. For believers who trample the world underfoot and win the war against the influence of the world, the enticement of the devil, and the lusts of the flesh, these seven rewards are promised:

(1) Access to the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7b). “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9), but Adam and Eve were restricted from it by cherubim with flaming swords because they had sinned against God (Gen. 3:24). The tree of life will be waiting in the new heavens and new earth to be enjoyed by all who overcame the world by the power of the Second Adam. Permission to the tree of life was denied in Eden because Adam and Eve listened to and obeyed the devil. Permission to the tree of life is granted in glory to those who listen to and obey God.

(2) Eternal Life (Rev. 2:10b-11). “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life . . . The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” The crown of life represents participation in Christ’s heavenly and victorious rule. Right now, you reign with Christ on earth in a spiritual and unseen kingdom. When all is said and done, you will reign with Christ on earth in a literal kingdom—in the new heavens and new earth. He will crown you with life if you are victorious over the world. He will also prevent you from being touched by the second death. The second death is, of course, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). If you believe in Christ and overcome the world, you only die once. If you reject Christ and serve the world, you die twice. As someone once said, “Born once, die twice; born twice, die once.” The second death is of no concern to the overcomer.

(3) Feasting with Jesus (Rev. 2:17). “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Jesus promises that overcomers will feast with Him in eternity. The hidden manna is the heavenly food you will consume at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). You’ll share a feast with the True Bread from heaven Himself (John 6:32-33). The white stone is your admission token. It is the invitation pass to partake in Jesus’ supper. That it is white symbolizes righteousness, meaning those who receive it are only those made righteous by the atonement of Christ. And finally, the new name simply means you will have a new status in heaven. God’s name will be upon you (Rev. 22:3-4). Feasting with Christ—what a reward! To feast with Him, you must resist feasting at the table of the world, as God enables you by His grace. The conqueror is rewarded after a bloody fight with the world by eternal fellowship and feasting with the King of kings.

(4) Ruling and Reigning with Christ (Rev. 2:26-28). “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” Jesus guarantees that if you triumph over the world you shall rule and reign with Him. Psalm 2 explained that the Messiah would build an invincible kingdom and you are part of it right now. You rule and reign with Christ in this life, for He has made you a kingdom (Rev. 1:6). Moreover, you do not need to worry about prestige and approval in this life, because in the next life you will rule with the Lord Jesus Christ.

(5) Your Name Will Remain in the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5). “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Jesus promises that your name will never be removed from the book of life. In addition to the white robe of righteousness, which will be your heavenly attire, Christ assures that your name will never be taken out of His book. This book is, of course, the “registry” of the names of all believers. Christ also promises that He will confess your name before the Father and the angels in heaven. The assurance Christ gives here, that your name is permanently written in the book of life, is another way of describing the doctrine of the security of the believer’s salvation. All true believers will endure to the end, and part of that endurance is overcoming the world.

(6) Eternal Belonging to God (Rev. 3:12). “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Christ says you’ll be a pillar in heaven, meaning, like a pillar, you will not be moved—your heavenly residence will be permanent. It’s not like a hotel where you check in at 3 and check out at 11 the next morning—once you check in to heaven, you can’t check out. Also, many names will be “written” on you, indicating complete irrevocable belonging to God. You name what is yours; you are God’s.

(7) Sharing in Jesus’ Victory (Rev. 3:21). “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” The overcomer will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ. Christ said something like this to His disciples in Matthew 19:28, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In Revelation, that promise is expanded—the overcomer will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ. As Paul said, “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12). Don’t you want to be there with Him? Don’t you want to be by His side throughout all eternity? What a wonderful promise to encourage us to persevere!

Will you wield your Sword, clothe yourself in armor, and brace yourself for a bloody fight (Eph. 6:10-20)? Will you persevere and stand your ground till the end? Will you be a conqueror?


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).

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).

Covering It Up | Bible Gleanings – January 9-10, 2021

Covering It Up

A cover-up is an attempt to conceal evidence of wrongdoing, usually to avoid embarrassment. Politicians cover up their scandals by burying them in lies and abusing the power of their office to escape scot-free. Criminals try to avoid justice by destroying physical evidence that ties them to their crimes and misdeeds.

You and I do it, too. We cover our writing mistakes with opaquing fluid, like Wite-Out (I thought this whole time it was spelled “White-Out”). We apply make-up and other cosmetics to cover our blemishes and improve our appearance. Even young children will stand their ground and deny any association to the lipstick smeared on the bedroom wall while it’s caked on their faces.

Where does the tendency to cover up wrongdoing come from? Why do we go to great lengths to conceal our mistakes? Perhaps the book of Genesis holds the answer. Observe how our first parents reacted when God confronted them about committing the first sin, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

“And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths . . . The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:7b, 8b-13).

Adam and Eve attempted to cover up their evildoing by covering themselves (v. 7), hiding from God (v. 8), and blaming everyone else—Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed Satan (vv. 11-13).

Albeit futile, it is within our nature to cover up sin. We try burying our sin in good works that make us feel better about ourselves. We try covering our sin by blaming the culture. We sometimes cover our sin by denying we’ve even committed any.

But God sees all things—His sight is so penetrating that it burns through everything we might use to cover it up (Rev. 1:14). The only cover for sin that is sufficient is the blood of Jesus Christ—the covering God Himself provides (see Genesis 3:21). And the proper response to committing sin is not covering it up—it’s confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


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).

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).