Tag Archives: newspaper

What Can Man Do to Me? | Bible Gleanings – July 31-Aug 1, 2021

On a square of papyrus, he wrote: “I don’t know what to do with these Christians!” Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia from 111-113 AD, was agitated and perplexed by the faithful witness of the early Christians, and once wrote Emperor Trajan a letter seeking guidance on how to deal with them. Their unwavering joy and resolute devotion to Christ bewildered him. Despite harsh interrogation and brutal chastisement, they never once renounced their faith.

According to some sources, one Christian was brought before him, and Pliny, finding the man innocent, proceeded to intimidate him.[1]

“I will banish you from Bithynia,” he said.

“You cannot,” said the Christian, “for all the world is my Father’s house.”

Irritated by this reply, Pliny said, “Then I will kill you!”

“You cannot,” the Christian answered, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

Pliny continued, “Then I will take away every possession you own!”

“You cannot, for my treasure is in heaven, Governor,” he replied.

Then came the final threat: “Then I will drive you away from man and you shall have no friend left!”

And the peaceful reply was as before: “You cannot, for I have an unseen Friend from whom you are not able to separate me.”

This faithful believer was right. The world can never take away what you have in Christ, if you are a follower of Jesus. If you live a godly life, persecution is a guarantee (2 Timothy 3:12). But it is also a guarantee that the world cannot seize the spiritual riches you possess in Jesus. The world hates Christ and they will hate you, too (John 15:18-25). Until the end of the age, when our Lord Jesus returns, the world will oppose, slander, and even kill you for your faithfulness to Jesus: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). The world can only do so much, however. 

The world may oppose you, but God still approves you: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). The world may ostracize you, but the Lord is still your friend: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14, KJV). The world may deprive you of possessions, but you still have heavenly treasures: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). And even if you must die for Christ, you will be “absent from the body, [and] present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

When you are inevitably persecuted for faithfully following Jesus Christ, you may truly say with David, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).


[1] You will find this story in many books. I read it first in Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (Rockville: Assurance Publishers, 1979), 993.


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).

Rallying to Save the Fields | Bible Gleanings – July 24-25, 2021

A ten-mile stretch of highway suddenly transformed into a community of 50,000 passionate people united to save their fields. According to the New York Times, thousands of Indian farmers and like-minded supporters marched to the streets of New Delhi last winter to protest Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s harmful policies that would suffocate India’s agricultural economy. They swarmed India’s capital like an unstoppable army. Unlike an army, however, there was more singing and dancing than fighting. In fact, their rambunctious gathering resembled a large-scale pep rally instead of a national protest. 

Surprisingly, although they rallied during the cold and rainy winter months, they never lost their zeal or excitement. The strength of their passion to save the fields was unhindered apparently because of the activities they did to keep themselves revitalized and recharged. Politicians and other leaders delivered rousing speeches on stages built specifically for them. Music blared from speakers attached to tractors, filling each tent with songs to keep everyone pumped. They even excommunicated troublemakers who threatened to disrupt their rallying.

They held an exuberant and sprightly rally for the sole purpose of saving their fields. And they did whatever it took to keep themselves focused on that goal.

Every time we gather as the church on the Lord’s Day, we are also hosting a rally to save our fields. The primary reason for assembling together on Sunday is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), but we should also get electrified and excited about saving our fields. We ought to get charged up each Sunday so we can go into the field of the world and bring the unsaved to the only One who can save them.

Jesus said the fields are ready: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35). The fields are ready to be harvested—God is working the soil and preparing the “crops” of unsaved individuals to be brought into the barn of His kingdom.

But why do many of our churches appear to have little “grain” in their pews? Answer: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

If you know Christ as Lord and Savior, you are a spiritual farmer called to labor in the fields with the gospel message of salvation found in Christ alone. But you cannot fulfill that task alone. To work the fields, you need to assemble with other spiritual farmers in the local church. And the greatest way to stay motivated and energized to fulfill that goal is to meet together with faithful believers in a biblical church, where every Sunday is a rally to save the fields.


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).

Always Give Thanks | Bible Gleanings – July 17-18, 2021

Every child’s tummy grumbled with hunger. There was no bread on their plates and no milk in their glasses. The hungry children were gathered and anticipating breakfast, as they had done every morning at George Müller’s orphanage in Bristol, England. This was not the first (or last) time the orphanage ran out of provisions. Despite the fact that there was no food on the table, Müller led the children and staff in a prayer of thanksgiving. “Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat,” he prayed with humble confidence. He didn’t like the way things looked, but he gave thanks to the Lord anyway.

And God came through. There was a knock at the door; it was the local baker. He informed Mr. Müller that he had been awake all night because the Lord had burdened him to bake bread for the children. “Children,” Müller exclaimed, “we not only have bread, but fresh bread.” Then came a second knock; it was the milkman. Normally, milk was brought at eight o’clock and paid for upon arrival. The milkman, however, offered the children all of the milk that morning because his milkcart had broken down in front of the orphanage, and the milk would have spoiled had he waited for a wheel to finish his rounds.[1] 

Many more miracle stories can be found in his journal, Answers to Prayer, which he wrote while overseeing orphanages in the mid to late nineteenth century.[2] One November, the boiler went out. Nevertheless, he gave thanks—and God sent workmen who repaired it in less than 30 hours. When 262 children contracted measles, he gave thanks and prayed for help. God answered. “All the 262 children not only recovered, but did well afterwards,” he wrote. In 1838, there was “not a single half-penny” in their bank account, and yet, he gave thanks. Hours later, he met a brother on the street who gave £10 to the orphanage.

George Müller truly exemplified the kind of thanksgiving that God expects of all believers:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Friend, you might not like the looks of things right now. Perhaps an illness or physical ailment is holding you back from doing the things you enjoy. Maybe a prodigal son or daughter has shattered your heart. You could be suffering from depression or anxiety. Perhaps you are uncertain how you will pay your bills this month. But giving thanks in every circumstance is essentially praying, “Lord, I don’t like the looks of it, but I will give You thanks anyway.”


[1] Steer, Roger. George Müller, Did you know? (n.d.) Christian History Institute.

[2] For the best version, see Rosalie DeRosset, Answers to Prayer (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2007).


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).

A Safehouse for Sinners | Bible Gleanings – July 10-11, 2021

They were sanctuaries for slaves—homes that made history. Lionhearted abolitionists all across the North volunteered their homes as safehouses for slaves seeking freedom prior to and during the Civil War. Homeowners from Indiana to New York partnered with antislavery activists like Harriet Tubman in a secret network known today as the Underground Railroad. They worked together to provide pathways to freedom for exhausted slaves. And over time, many of these homes were awarded landmark status because history happened within their walls.

When visiting places like the Johnson House in Philadelphia or the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, one is filled with awe and humility because lives were transformed there. The hardwood floors are not divine. The brick walls are not holy. There is no mystical aura surrounding these historical sites. They are sacred sanctuaries because of what happened there: weary captives were liberated from slavery. 

The same can be said of any biblical church that faithfully preaches the gospel of Christ. A church that proclaims “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) is a holy sanctuary, not because the carpet and stained-glass windows are sanctified, but because enslaved sinners are set free within their walls. It makes no difference if your church is massive or miniscule; what matters is whether miracles happen within its walls. God wants our churches to be “safehouses” for sinners—places where they can be emancipated from spiritual slavery. He wants our churches to be places where hopeless sinners can experience the reality of Romans 6:

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (vv. 17-18).

Jesus came to release men, women, and children from spiritual bondage to sin, the devil, and the world. He said it Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Such exhilarating freedom comes to weary sinners when they hear and believe the truth about Jesus: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). And it is the duty of every disciple to declare the gospel truth so people can believe it by faith. As God said in Isaiah, “[Say] to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’” (Isaiah 49:9b).

Does your church have “landmark status?” Is it a place where history is made, where sinners are redeemed from spiritual slavery? Is it a safehouse for sinners?


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 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).

The Saint’s Supercharger | Bible Gleanings – June 18-19, 2021

As it zipped by in a hurry, I heard a whistle in my left ear—a Tesla apparently on its way to a supercharger station. Unlike most automobiles, the Tesla is electric and doesn’t require gasoline for travel. Their powertrain is electric from the ground up. Thousands of Teslas have been built in California and Shanghai, with the goal of moving away from fossil fuels toward a clean energy alternative. Because the Tesla eventually runs out of energy, it must be parked frequently at a supercharger station in order to keep on going. And supercharger stations may be found all across the nation so Tesla drivers can plug in, charge their batteries, and get back on the open road.

Christian, like the Tesla, you will run out of energy—spiritual energy. Therefore, you will need to recharge the battery of your soul to keep on going. And the local church is the supercharger station you must plug into weekly in order to continue driving on the straight and narrow road (Matthew 7:13-14). Without parking yourself in a pew to be renewed by the power of prayer, fellowship, and preaching that comes from the local church, the engine of your heart will not crank.

Your soul will be recharged when you gather and pray with other saints. The Bible actually says that spiritual healing and power comes to believers who pray together: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16).

Similarly, the spiritual energy gained from fellowshipping with fellow saints prevents you from falling away from the faith. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

And when you hear the faithful preaching of holy Scripture in the congregation, your soul is strengthened and invigorated by its spiritual nourishment. The word of God “revives the soul” (Psalm 19:7), and such revival occurs when it is proclaimed and publicly read (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:2).

There is no alternative, friend. You cannot maintain spiritual energy without the body of Christ. Don’t let your battery drain out—go to church and plug in.

You are always welcome to charge your soul’s battery at Locust Grove Baptist Church. Come and see us Sunday morning at 11 am and 6 pm, or Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm. We’re on 1871 Locust Grove Road in Murray.


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).

Abolishing Anger | Bible Gleanings – June 12-13, 2021

You’re a wild animal, and that’s why you get angry. That is the answer to anger according to Doug Fields, an acclaimed neuroscientist and author of several five-star books on mental health. “The human brain is hardwired for explosive violence,” he wrote. “We evolved [such] neural circuits for survival in the wild. We still need them.” The scientific world would have us believe that rage is a survival trait, embedded within us because of evolution. We breathe out hateful words, curse at slow traffic, and snap in fury because of human nature.

Well, the science is not entirely wrong, for even Scripture attests that we sin in anger because of human nature—sin nature, that is. Anger is not an animalistic evolutionary trait acquired from ancient ancestors, however. The reason for our bitterness, clamor, and rage is the evil nature inherited from our first parents, the first sinners—Adam and Eve. According to Jesus, we erupt in fury because of our sinful hearts (Matthew 5:21-22; Mark 7:20-23). You burn with resentment and blow up in madness thanks to your wicked nature, the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

The Bible is not silent on the serious repercussions of such uncontrolled anger. A blazing temper leads to many other sins: “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (Prov. 29:22). Anger leaves you defenseless against spiritual attack: “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov. 25:28). Angry outbursts result in regrettably foolish behavior: “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated” (Prov. 14:17). Angry tantrums make you look like a fool: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29).

To be sure, some anger is justified and completely natural. Righteous indignation is good. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Jesus felt angry to the point of flipping tables when He learned that the temple became a wicked bazaar (Mark 11:15-19). And if you love and fear the Lord, you will hate evil (Psalm 97:10; Prov. 8:13).

However, anger must be properly dealt with to prevent a sinful outburst. And Scripture’s solution to anger is twofold: slow down and settle it.

First, slow down: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Take a breather. Pray. And think before you speak.

Secondly, settle it: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). Abolish anger immediately, before the day ends. God will give the grace necessary to overcome anger if you earnestly seek it.


  1. Fields, Doug. “The Science of Why People ‘Snap’ in Anger.” Time Magazine, Vol. 187, No. 2, January 25, 2016, page number unknown (it got cut off in printing). URL: https://time.com/4180286/the-science-of-why-people-snap-in-anger/

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).

Guilty Stains | Bible Gleanings – May 29-30, 2021

Guilty Stains

Once you are in the chair, they bring out the laser, pull the trigger, and a barrage of sizzling beams penetrate your skin. Remain calm—this is not what happens when aliens abduct you—they have to fight Tom Cruise first. This is the experience of thousands of people who have undergone the procedure of laser tattoo removal in order to eliminate unwanted tattoos. Since the commercialization of “Q-switched lasers” in the 1990s, dermatologists have made a fortune from people willing to foot the bill to have tattoos removed that they regret.

According to one study, 78% of tattooed individuals regret at least one of their tattoos. 31% regret getting inked because the tattoo is no longer relevant. An ex-girlfriend’s name was dotted on their chest, or a blue horseshoe was stamped on their arm when they were superfans of the Indianapolis Colts. About 5% are annoyed with their tattoos because they have a negative effect on their professional life. And 40% shake their heads because their tattoos were poorly done. Ironically, one fellow got a tattoo that read, “No Regerts.”

This is why many have turned to the laser to get them removed. After the scorching laser drills into the skin, the tattoo ink absorbs the heat and shatters into tiny fragments that eventually flush away with time. However, every dermatologist will admit that some tattoos will never fully disappear, even with multiple laser treatments. In many cases, the laser is only powerful enough to fade or lighten tattoos. Some marks will never go away no matter how hard you try.

Whether or not you have tattoos, you are marked from head to toe by something that nothing on earth can remove: the guilty stain of sin. Because of the Fall, your heart and hands are blotched by the black ink of evil. And no amount of human effort can expunge the guilty imprint of sin upon you. A million-dollar offering to your church won’t burn it off. A fifty-year membership at the biggest church in town won’t eliminate it. A thousand gallons of baptism waters won’t wash it away. A hundred hours a year at the food pantry won’t erase the stain of sin on your soul either. As God Himself says, “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the LORD GOD” (Jeremiah 2:22).

The blood of Jesus is the only efficient stain remover for sin. The word of God declares, “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b, KJV). As William Cowper wrote in 1771, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Plunge in by faith (Eph. 2:8-9), and receive total purification for your sins—you won’t regret it.


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).

Fruit in the Ashes | Bible Gleanings – May 22-23, 2021

Fruit in the Ashes

It turns out that grapes love volcanoes—specifically the ash that volcanoes emit. Vineyard farmers in Spain’s Canary Islands have discovered and capitalized on this strange situation. Eighty miles from the sandy beaches of Lanzarote lies a charcoal landscape formed by volcanic eruptions from the 1730’s. There are enough craters and jagged hills on the island to make you think you’re on the Moon. The only difference is that this Spanish terrain is engulfed in black ash, and there are undeniable signs of life—namely, hundreds of farmers picking over 2.6 million pounds of grapes annually.

How do grapes grow in such a sooty wasteland? According to Mónica R. Goya, a New York Times journalist who visited the island, the magic is in the dirt. The ash prevents erosion, retains moisture, and regulates ground temperature. It also has nourishing soil beneath it, and there are plenty of old cinders to make pits for the grapevines to protect them from violent winds. Incredibly, fruit can grow even in the ashes.

The Bible declares the same truth. The apostle James once wrote that the fruit of endurance grows best in the ashes of trials and tribulations:

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [or endurance]. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Christian, do you feel like your life is in ashes? Perhaps the news of an unexpected diagnosis has left you feeling like your life is a dark and crumbling wasteland. Maybe the abrupt passing of a loved one has made you feel like a volcano of pain and grief erupted upon your once-joyful life. It may be that loneliness has buried your happiness and cheer, like ash concealing thousands of acres that used to be beautiful. You may feel like Job when he cried, “God has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust and ashes” (Job 30:19).

Whatever volcanic trial has erupted in your life, the Lord promises that tribulation is the best soil for endurance. Sometimes He permits a volcano to rupture to plant you in the ideal place to trust Him and His plan for your life. God uses adversity to deepen your faith and strengthen your spiritual muscles. To be sure, troubles and trials aren’t pretty—they are painful. But God is cultivating the beautiful fruit of endurance in the midst of your afflictions, and that is reason to rejoice. As Paul stated, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Romans 5:3).


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).