Tag Archives: sanctification

Get Rid of the Rags | Bible Gleanings – July 1-2, 2022

He calls it “trashion.” Daniel Silverstein, a ragpicker from Brooklyn, creates designer outfits from clothing scraps and old garments that have been discarded. According to the New York Times, Silverstein only “works with the fabrics that other designers and costume departments and factories would normally throw out.” The old idiom that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is the guiding proverb for his fashion line. Now, the closets of happy customers are fuller and landfills are a little emptier.

Christians are sometimes ragpickers, too. We have a tendency to pull the old clothes of sin from the bin of death and wear them again. The tattered garments of “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk” occasionally appear as treasure to the eyes of our flesh (Col. 3:8). However, such old clothes do not fit a new person (Col. 3:10). Therefore, the Scripture calls believers to jettison old sinful ways, like throwing away old clothes that no longer fit: “So then let us cast off the works of darkness” (Romans 13:12b).

God wants His children to “take out the trash.” Put them in the garbage can and walk away with the lid closed. Don’t hang the sins of your former life in the closet of your life. Tear off the old rags because one day, you shall walk in white: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment” (Rev. 3:5a, KJV).

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

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

The Potter | Bible Gleanings – June 25-26, 2022

The coffee mug in your cabinet was not always shiny and smooth. It began as a wet lump of shapeless mud that was formed and fashioned into a cup. It was held in the hands of a proficient potter before it held your morning joe. He carefully sculpted the clay until it was just right. And because of his handiwork, the once-useless and deformed clay was transformed into something meaningful and beautiful. 

To achieve the desired shape, the potter adds and takes away from the clay chunk at times. The things it doesn’t need are removed, and the things it does need are added. The potter also spins his wheel at various speeds to get the splodge of dirt precisely perfect. Finally, the clay is polished and perfected by being heated in a fiery kiln. The clay needs time, fire, and the wisdom of a potter to become useful—there is no product without the process. 

And such is the precious metaphor in the Scripture describing the work that God is always doing within His children. “But now,” said Isaiah, “O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). The Potter shapes His people on the wheel of sanctification, molding them into vessels that are “useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). He gives His saints what they need for the process of maturation to Christlikeness. Sometimes, He pinches off the besetting ways of the old life, and other times, He adds the water of His word to smooth away imperfections.

But the process cannot be rushed. It takes time to be shaped into a God-pleasing vessel. As the Scripture says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The fiery furnace of tribulation is also required to make one a beautiful masterpiece in God’s sight (1 Peter 1:6-7). The best thing believers can do is trust the wisdom of the Potter and, with humble submission, let Him work. “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9)

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 (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Total Remodel | Bible Gleanings – May 28-29, 2022

Thank God for the Lowe’s credit card; without one, I would have overstayed my welcome at my parents’ house like Eric Forman from That 70’s Show. The puny plastic card allowed my wife and I to purchase the plethora of raw materials required to remodel our first home. And boy, did it need it. Patches and putty couldn’t repair the years of erosion and negligence that had rendered it uninhabitable. Everything old had to be removed and replaced with something new.

And thank God for the Carpenter, who does the same for everyone who is being remade in His image. That is why the Scripture says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17, KJV). Jesus does not merely patch up the old you—He makes you a new person. For He said:

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins” (Mark 2:21-22).

Jesus tears out our rotten and sin-eroded heart and replaces it with a new one that loves Him: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26). He cleans out the living room of our hearts to make it a suitable dwelling for His presence: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20; cf. Eph. 3:17).

He sets us upon the sturdy foundation of His truth, delivering us from the deteriorating foundation of disobedience: “[We are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). And one day, the remodel will be complete when Christ appears in the sky to give His children a new body: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).

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

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

The Book That Cleans | Bible Gleanings – Feb 5-6, 2022

Several years ago, Time Magazine published a segment titled The 25 Best Inventions of 2015, in which they listed a bevy of innovative inventions and cutting-edge gadgets that make the world a better place. Each gizmo and doodad enhances the quality of everyday life, but one invention stands above the rest: the Drinkable Book. Created by Theresa Dankovich, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, the Drinkable Book contains silver-infused pages that can be used to filter contaminated water. Just one page filters up to 100 liters of water, providing a cost-effective solution for impoverished communities who do not have access to clean drinking water. The book’s purifying pages ensure survival for people who would otherwise perish from bacterial infections and other deadly waterborne diseases—the book is literally life-saving.

There is another kind of Book that cleanses—one that may be found on the nightstand, the pulpit, or the pew: the word of the living God, the Bible. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Scripture contains sanitizing pages that filter the bacteria of evil from our lives. Each passage in God’s word is infused with sin-killing, iniquity-cleansing, wickedness-purifying truth that sanctifies us from sin unto God. That is why Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Without its disinfecting truth, we will suffer from sin-infections contracted from worldly corruption, heart-borne evils, and false teaching.

The human heart flows with the “springs of life” as Solomon wrote, but because the heart is also “desperately wicked,” it spews tainted water that toxically contaminates all of existence (Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, we need the truth of Scripture to pierce our innermost being and expunge us of evil (Hebrews 4:12). It is only by His “precious and very great promises” that we are cleansed of defilement (2 Peter 1:4). Nothing but the “whole counsel of God” can flush the mind of the muck of error (Acts 20:27; cf. 2 Timothy 3:16). As the psalmist aptly confessed, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Filter your heart’s fountain with God’s word. Sift all ideas and teachings through the pages of Scripture before you drink them in. Clean off the dust from your Bible so God may use it to clean you. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3, KJV).

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

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

The Grime of Sin | Bible Gleanings – Sept 18-19, 2021

The sidewalk was caked in stubbly greenish lichen. Decades of black algae enveloped each concrete step. My pressure washer was up to snuff, and the icky gunk peeled off without a fight. Sandy white steps now sat beside grimy ones, and a friend remarked, “I didn’t realize how nasty they were until now!” The muck didn’t seem so bad when all the steps were buried in grime. The depth of the filth was only evident when compared to the speckless and sparkling steps beside them.

We don’t seem all that bad when compared to supposedly more wretched sinners. Our grimy sins don’t seem that horrible measured against the unfathomable sins committed by others who appear to be more depraved than we are. None of us have mass-murdered millions of people the way Hitler, Stalin, or Mussolini did. Who among us has a gangster or drug-trafficking background like Al Capone or Pablo Escobar? Who among us, like Jim Jones or Charles Manson, has formed a cult?

However, such worthless comparisons will only deceive. The truth is that we are all buried in the vile muck of evil. We are sin-aholics—slaves of darkness who can’t seem to get enough of it. We are darkness-lovers and light-haters; rotten to the core and contaminated by sin’s putridity (John 3:19; Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 1:18-31; 2:1; 3:10-18, 23). And we can only grasp the seriousness of our sinfulness when we compare ourselves to the sinless and spotless Savior, Jesus Christ.

The depth of our depravity becomes apparent when we measure ourselves against the untainted righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Our garments are soiled—His robes are white without a speck (Isaiah 64:6). We have the scarlet stain of sin on our hands—He is wholly unstained (Isaiah 1:15; 59:3). Our eyes are fixed on evil—His are immaculately pure (Habakkuk 1:13). We are enchanted by sin’s darkness, but, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

Fortunately for you and me, Christ is up to the task—He will thoroughly wash us of sin’s sludge. His blood erases the stain of evil (1 John 1:7). His Spirit detoxifies us from the filth of sin (Titus 3:5). His grace scrubs the guilt of our wickedness away (Jeremiah 33:8).

Therefore, come in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ—just as you are—begrimed and bedraggled by the mire of sin. Turn away from the foul path of spiritual filth toward Jesus, believing that His blood can wash you. When you do, God says to you, “You will walk with Me in white!” (Revelation 3:4).

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

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

Proof of Residence | Bible Gleanings – March 20-21, 2021

Proof of Residence

Ryegrass had sprouted in the driveway. The parking lot was void of vehicles. There were no tricycles or children’s sneakers piled by the doors. The creamy white paint was chipping off the building. There were no signs of life at this apartment building. I drove there to deliver a meal that a customer ordered online. I had received an order to deliver lunch to this address, when I was, for a brief time, employed by a food delivery service.

Upon arrival, every internal alarm sounded off—something wasn’t right. Even from my vehicle, I could see an aged eviction notice fastened to the outside door. I proceeded up the rusty steps and knocked firmly on the door—nothing. Through the grimy window, I could see that the lights were off and the television was blank. This home was hollow and vacated—unoccupied and uninhabited. The online profile claimed that so-and-so lived at this exact residence, but the evidence contradicted the claim. There was no evidence of life—no proof of residence.

Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians have no evidence that the Spirit of God lives in and occupies their heart. But the word of God clearly declares that when the Holy Spirit dwells within you, there is always undeniable proof of residence. When the Spirit settles in your heart, it shows. All the signs of life are there—the lights are on, the house is clean, and maintenance work is being done. There is activity on the inside and the outside. If you truly possess the Spirit, no one can drive by the house of your life and say, “There is no proof of residence here.” You might claim to be a true believer—a church membership card or Facebook profile might say so. But the claim is always corroborated by evidence if it is true, and if you truly possess the Spirit of God, the truth will come out.

The Spirit demonstrates proof of His residence in your heart in a variety of ways. He speaks through you (Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11), He bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), He teaches you (John 16:13), He emboldens you to witness (Acts 4:31), He leads you (Rom. 8:14), He assures you of sonship (Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal. 4:6), He gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), He transforms you (2 Cor. 3:18), and He helps you fight the flesh (Gal. 5:16-18).

The key, however, to the Spirit demonstrating proof of His residence in your life is by being filled with the Spirit—submitting to His influence and relinquishing control of your heart to Him: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Is there proof of His residence in your life?


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

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

The 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 (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick 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 (Bluetick Beagle).

Sin’s Stench | Bible Gleanings – October 3-4, 2020

Sin’s Stench

He darted like lightning towards the house, retreating from a battle apparently lost—my dog, that is. One night a few weeks ago, as my dog went out to relieve himself, he encountered a skunk that had defended itself and won. The putrid odor that enthralled him was more nauseating than anything I’ve ever smelled before. It would not surprise me to find out that the biblical writers accidentally left out the part about hell reeking of skunk spray.

Needless to say, we broke out the big guns. We used the most potent dog shampoo in our arsenal and gave him a rigorous bath. Most of nature’s tear gas was on his face, so we had to flush his eyes and massage his snout with suds to eliminate the offensive odor. The skunk was still winning, however, for the foul stench remained. “Cover it with something that smells better,” I thought. I thought wrong.

Out of options, we purchased some skunk odor eliminator and applied it as well. The repulsive tang lingered for days, so the bathing and cleaning had to carry on. The dog hated the whole cleansing process, of course. Many times he tried to jump out of the tub to escape. Sometimes it was difficult or unpleasant, but it had to be done. He had to be cleaned up for his own good (and for ours).

As sinners, we carry a stench far worse than the sulfuric fumes of a skunk—namely, the odor of sin. The Lord God smells sin from heaven and it is described in Scripture as an unpleasantly-smelling smoke in His nostrils (Isaiah 65:5). However, on the day of your conversion God gave you a bath. He washed you by the cleansing blood of Christ and the spiritual washing of the Spirit (1 John 1:7; Titus 3:5).

Since you are not in your final state, the scent of sin will stick around. Therefore, God’s process of cleansing will continue until you wear a robe of white in glory. Sometimes it is unpleasant or hard to bear when God scrubs you of sin’s smell, but that’s the only way it can be eliminated—you cannot wash yourself or cover the smell of sin. Sometimes He uses means of cleansing us that are undesirable: discipline, trials, rebuke, correction, and so on.

But don’t jump out of the tub, friend. God always cleanses you for your good. Let God cleanse you each day and even ask Him to do so (Psalm 51:2). Yield to His continual cleansing so that you may spread a pleasing fragrance to those around you, “the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). And rest assured that, no matter how many times you get sprayed by sin’s stench, the Lord will wash you every time you come 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 (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick 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 (Bluetick Beagle).

Taking Out the Trash | Bible Gleanings September 5-6, 2020

Taking Out the Trash

Anything can happen in 2020—even the transformation of a landfill to a recreational park. An article in the New York Times titled Huge Landfill’s Long Road to Renewal, documents how Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island went from a garbage dump to a grassy landscape, and is set to open as a park by next spring. Fresh Kills was once an ecological eyesore due to the tons of trash that arrived there every day by barge. In the late 1970s, an estimated 28,000 tons of garbage were unloaded daily. The waste at Fresh Kills is so massive that giant trash hills formed over time and were named as though they were natural landmarks. In 2001, however, the dumping ceased and the process of renewal began.

They compacted waste, flushed out harmful chemicals, and capped the garbage mounts with plastic. After they essentially “took out the trash,” they brought in soil and seeds, and let nature do its thing. Now the landfill once dominated by repugnant filth is characterized by life and beauty. Looking at Fresh Kills today, you’d never know it was once a literal wasteland. It is still a work-in-progress, but it is far more useful and beautiful than ever before.

Did you know this is what God has been doing in you since you were first saved by grace? On the day of your conversion, God started the process of beautifying you by taking the garbage out of your heart and life. As an unbeliever, your life was a landfill of sin. You were characterized by the garbage and filth of sinful desires and deeds (Romans 1:18-32). In fact, your iniquities formed mounts which reached to the heavens (Ezra 9:6).

Now, God is taking out the trash and transforming you into something useful and beautiful. To be sure, this is an ongoing process that requires your obedience. That is why Paul said, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry . . . Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:5, 12). The old has to be removed so the new can take its place. Old earthly desires and deeds, the garbage of your former life, must be put to death so that your life can be identified by new virtues. God calls you to kill off your old inclinations and actions so that He can plant new things in your life. He wants you to be characterized by new and beautiful virtues so that old and repulsive vices are out of sight. Will you yield to the Spirit and walk with the Lord so He can continue taking out the trash?

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 will be posted for reading here.

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