Tag Archives: russia

Pardon Me | Bible Gleanings – Oct 9-10, 2021

Proper punctuation saves lives—just ask Maria Fedorovna. She was the wife of one of Russia’s vilest emperors, Alexander III (1845–1894). He ruled as Tsar of Russia in the late 1800s, centralizing power, castigating Jews, and condemning Western ideals. Maria, on the other hand, was sympathetic and sensitive, proving the old idiom that opposites attract. According to legend, Alexander signed an executive order deporting an alleged traitor to exile. The order simply read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent away to Siberia.” Maria, driven by kindness, moved the comma, making the order read, “Pardon, impossible to be sent away to Siberia.” The charges were dismissed, and the man was released, all because of a change in punctuation.

All who are justified by faith in Christ have experienced the same thing (Romans 3:21-28; Gal. 2:16). If you are saved by grace through faith, God moved the comma for you (Eph. 2:8-9). The Judge of all sinners has pardoned those whose hope is in Christ alone. The divine dictum for your trespasses once read, “Pardon impossible, to be sent away to eternal destruction” (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:7). Because of Christ, it now reads, “Pardon, impossible to be sent away to eternal destruction” (John 5:24; 10:28; Jude 1:24).

As a matter of fact, the penal prescript for your punishment has been completely scrapped. As Paul said,

“[God has] forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14-15).

Your hell-sentence was not commuted, as if it were shortened or lessened; instead, it was obliterated. You will never be exiled from the presence of God. You will never spend even a minute paying for your sins in hell.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).


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

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

Weeds of Worldliness | Bible Gleanings – October 31-November 1, 2020

Weeds of Worldliness

Russia has been infiltrated by an alien—an alien species of giant hogweed, that is. The invasive plant dominates thousands of miles of rural Russia like a million-man military. The hogweed began to conquer the wilderness of Russia in the 1980s, and continues to subdue fields and even villages. In fact, according to the New York Times, “The weed is expanding its coverage by about 10 percent every year.” The big issue with the alien weed is its toxicity. It contains deadly sap which causes third-degree burns and even blindness.

Why is this dangerous weed quelling Russia’s forests and neighborhoods? The answer is twofold. First, the weed loves soil that is fickle, weak, and unsettled. Dmitry Geltman, a botanical expert, remarked, “It takes over deserted fields because it likes unstable soil.” Second, the government has done practically nothing to eradicate it. The weed has advanced and increased due to government neglect and wilderness mismanagement. A mere hogweed plant has tyrannized land and puts people’s lives in danger—that is astonishing!

Infinitely more astonishing is that another kind of weed can vanquish your life and put your soul in danger: the weeds (or thorns) of worldliness. Jesus taught, “A sower went out to sow his seed . . . And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it . . . And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:5, 7, 14).

If you are preoccupied with worldly things—wealth, possessions, pleasures, and earthly pursuits—the word of God (the seed) will not be able to take root in your heart. The thorns of worldliness will occupy your heart and choke it out. If the “soil” of your heart is unstable, if you are distracted by the world’s worries and pleasures, the word of God cannot bear fruit within you—the weeds and thorns of worldliness will crowd it out. And as long as the weeds of the world are allowed to live, they will continue to spread and grow.

Do the thorns of worldliness rule in your heart? Do you love the world so much that you have no love for God? If so, then your soul is in serious danger. Forsake your sin and earthly pursuits, and come to Jesus Christ for salvation so that He may tear out the tyrannical weeds of worldliness. God will change your heart so you may bear spiritual fruit when you hear and believe the word of God.

However, even if you are a true believer, the world’s weeds and thorns can still prevent God’s word from going deep into your heart. Therefore, deny the lure of the world, hold fast to the word, and continually yield to the Sower so He may rip out the choking weeds of worldliness


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

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

A Fish Fight | Bible Gleanings – October 10-11, 2020

A Fish Fight

In Russia earlier this year, a disastrous “fish fight” transpired over who truly possesses the rights to the fish that abound in the Amur River. The Amur is the world’s tenth longest river which forms the boundary between Russia and northeastern China, and it is a wild salmon goldmine. For years, local families and business owners have filled their bellies and pockets with its riches.

Nowadays, this is not the case. Moscow loosened restrictions on commercial businesses and tightened restrictions on recreational fishing, as the New York Times reported, and now local folks can’t catch enough to put on the table. Commercial enterprises have drained local fishing communities, for instance, by stringing enormous nets across the river’s mouth. Thousands of fish swimming with the current unknowingly become caught and entangled by these gargantuan nets. Unless local residents get to the fish first, they will inevitably be caught by the bigger nets of the “big guys.”

A much more important spiritual fish fight has raged for centuries and continues fervently today. The church and the world are both trying to catch people like fish. Jesus calls His followers, the church, to fish for people: “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). If you follow Christ, you are to use the gospel as the net to deliver unbelievers from drowning in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). The world, on the other hand, is using the allurement and appeal of sin and idolatry to keep unbelievers entangled in its net.

Scores of people are going with the flow of the world and are hopelessly ensnared by the deadly net of sin. Scripture says, “The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin” (Proverbs 5:22). Similarly, God tells us, “An evil man is ensnared in his transgression” (Proverbs 29:6). The false gods carved by the world  entangle men and lead to eternal condemnation from God (Deuteronomy 7:25). The world’s net is big and is dragging thousands to hell.

And unless you get in your boat and fish for the unsaved in the world, they will remain caught by the world’s net. In order for unbelievers to be delivered, you have to do some fishing. The gospel “net” is thankfully strong enough to snatch a man from the world’s fast-flowing stream, and it can save those strangled by the world’s net. Think about the unbelievers that you know—whose net will catch them? What will you do to prevent them from remaining caught by the world?

A word of caution: watch yourself and bear in mind that, although you are a fisher of men, you are still a fish and you can, “learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (Proverbs 22:25).


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

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