Tag Archives: scripture

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).

Light Exposure | Bible Gleanings – January 8-9, 2022

Skunk spray is easy to smell, but difficult to see. A few months ago, our dogs were sprayed by the gag-inducing gas (nothing out of the ordinary), and I had difficulty expelling the odor from our home because I couldn’t tell where it was. I could no longer endure identifying it with my nose, so I purchased an ultraviolet flashlight to do so. Because the flashlight emits fluorescent rays that detect mold, pet urine, and other stains, I thought skunk spray (which is an oil) would undoubtedly glow neon green under its light. 

Unfortunately, it did not. However, when I strolled around the house with the handheld light, it uncovered spots and stains I never saw before. It highlighted tiny specks of food residue near the trash can and small drip lines of condensation by the stovetop fan. The light exposed grime I could not see with the naked eye. And, while I was frustrated to discover that we had even more to clean than before, I am grateful that the light revealed previously unseen dirt. Don’t buy an ultraviolet flashlight unless you are prepared to break out the Clorox for a thorough cleaning!

The blazing light of holy Scripture also exposes grime we cannot see with the naked eye. The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to reveal stains that we would never detect by ourselves. When you read and study God’s word, it shines a brilliant beam on sin’s residue in your heart and life. Paul wrote, “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” (Ephesians 5:13).

Apart from Scripture’s radiant light of truth shining upon us, we will stumble in the darkness of evil and error. The psalmist declared, “The unfolding of your words gives light” (Psalm 119:130). Solomon likewise proclaimed, “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

The light of Scripture does not uncover our sins so the Lord may see them, for even “our secret sins [are] in the light of your presence” (Psalm 90:8). Instead, the Bible’s gleaming light exposes our sins so we can see them for what they truly are.

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).

Mirror, Mirror, in the Word | Bible Gleanings – Aug 21-22, 2021

“Magic Mirror, on the wall—who is the fairest one of all?” asked the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Mirror never lied, so the Queen was always confident in his answers and advice. But sometimes the truth hurts. As the mirror responded, “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more lovely, fair and beautiful than you.” Despite the fact that the Magic Mirror was the Queen’s slave, he was no respecter of persons. He told the truth: the Queen was no longer the fairest.

Mirrors reveal reality—they show the naked truth. Mirrors uncover our imperfections. We cannot see our blemishes, scars, and wrinkles without them. Since the eyes cannot stretch out and glance backward (which would be a terrifying sight), looking at a glass reflection is the only way to see ourselves as we truly are. And for centuries, the mirror on the wall has shown that we are not the fairest of them all!

One mirror in particular reflects more than just the speckles on your face. This mirror exposes the specks and spots on your heart. It can be found on a pulpit or in a pew. You probably have one on your nightstand at home. It is made, not of glass, but of paper and ink bound between a leather or paperboard cover. It’s a mirror that isn’t gazed into nearly enough, but it is the one we need the most: the word of God, the Bible. 

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:22-24). 

You see the truth about who you are when you look in the mirror of God’s word. The Bible always gives an accurate reflection because its Author never lies (Titus 1:2). It perfectly reveals our imperfections and never comes short of uncovering our shortcomings. It points out sinful blemishes that need healing, smudges that need cleaning, and other unsightly things that need correction. And it shows that only Christ is fairest of them all.

The Bible is not just a mirror for reflection, however. It is also a mirror for restoration. It points out flaws, but it also gives guidance for how to address them. Looking in the mirror but overlooking a massive pimple defeats the purpose of using the mirror in the first place. Looking in God’s word but ignoring what it says about the solution(s) for your sin is also a waste. Gaze at the Bible to have an accurate analysis of who you are. But gaze even deeper into its pages so you can pursue God’s remedies for your imperfections.

Look in the mirror of the word today for an honest look at who you really are. And look to God’s solutions, and ultimately God’s Son as the healing for your blemishes.


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).

Defibrillator for the Soul | Bible Gleanings – Feb 27-28, 2021

Defibrillator for the Soul

Your heart has landed you in the emergency room and your life is on the line. The same heart that has sustained your existence for years has thrown itself into a chaotic rhythm, and now your life is slipping away. At this point, revival is the only way to survive—your heart needs its life back. “CLEAR!” shouts the doctor as he administers an electrical shock to your chest to restart your heart and keep you alive. The life-saving device used was an automatic external defibrillator (or AED), which delivered a pulse of electricity to your low-battery heart.

While this scenario is fictional, it is the reality for thousands of people whose lives have been saved by defibrillators since they emerged in the 1980s. Thanks to colossal advancements in medical research and the experiments of a few mad scientists of long ago, the defibrillator has been saving lives and reviving hearts through controlled voltage for decades.

Another defibrillator exists that is supremely more important, infinitely more powerful, and gravely necessary to keep you alive: the word of God, the holy Scriptures. David wrote in Psalm 19 that the Bible, God’s only authoritative and inspired word, is the defibrillator for the soul of man! He declared, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (v. 7a). The Scriptures function like a spiritual defibrillator to get your heart going again. When you read and study the word of God, the Spirit (who inspired the Bible) beams spiritual energy and vigor to your soul. When your soul is depleted of strength, God’s word restores and revives you with all the kilowatts you need.

Nothing else in the universe is able to revive your soul other than the word of the living God. When your heart is about to give up, no doctor administers Advil. Likewise, the only device that can restore your soul is God’s word —everything else is an ibuprofen substitute that won’t work. In order for your out-of-rhythm heart to praise God, you must “learn [His] righteous rules” (Psalm 119:7). If you want your heart to seek God, you must “not wander from [His] commandments” (Psalm 119:10). If the strength of your soul is melting like snow, let the Lord strengthen you “according to [His] word!” (Psalm 119:28).

Does your soul need a shock? Do you need revitalization and renewal on the inside? Lay the Bible open before you and savor its contents so that its restorative power may be unleashed upon you. Read and reread its promises to recharge your batteries. Heed its warnings and exhortations to restore a healthy heartbeat. Open the living and active word of God so that the Spirit may administer a life-saving jolt to your soul.


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).

Light on the Path

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Any hiker knows that night comes quicker on the trail. Because of the density of trees and the constant change between hills and valleys, the sun seems to disappear faster—almost as if God turns the light off with a switch. I’ve observed this while backpacking and I’ve also observed that you rarely reach your campsite before dark, so you have to continue hiking in the strange and unknown world of the night-time wilderness.

Thankfully, light is available from flashlights and headlamps (as long as you take them with you). With light shining on the trail ahead, I know I am going the right way as I can see trail markers that are otherwise hidden in the darkness. With light, I can avoid dangers I couldn’t see without light—creek crossings, holes, drop-offs, and even critters that would rather be undisturbed. With light, I can provide guidance to others who may be hiking with me in the night. Without light, I would be lost on the trail, trembling with fear, and wandering into danger without even knowing it.

The psalmist who penned the verse above wasn’t a hiker or backpacker, but he knew the value of having light to guide his steps on a path. That light is the word of God, he said. The light is the holy Scriptures and they provide guidance and protection as you travel on the path of life which is often dark. With the light of God’s word, you can walk wisely and have assurance that you’re on the right path. His word will show you the “trail markers.” With the light of Scripture, God will help you avoid spiritual danger—temptation, deception, and all sorts of things you couldn’t see on your own. And with the bright light of His word, you can show others the way. It’s a dark world out there—let the light of His word shine on your path to guide your feet.


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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).

Why I Love Expository Preaching (Pt. 1)

Delivering a Life-Saving Message

Suppose you were told to deliver an urgent message to someone, and this message was so crucial that their own life depended on it. Perhaps this person needed to know the location of a life-saving medicine, and they needed to know how to use it and apply it. This person is suffering from a debilitating disease, causing him to be very weak. And without this medicine to restore his strength, not only does it prevent him from performing simple tasks, but he will eventually die without it. The doctor has left you in charge, and he’s depending on you to be his ambassador and deliver to the patient the information that he needs. So he gives you a message to deliver. He tells you the location of the medicine, and walks through every step of the careful application of the medicine.

You scramble for your cellphone to call the patient. You’re running out of time. Adrenaline is pumping. A human life is at stake. The patient answers the phone with his last ounce of strength, and you bring him encouragement by saying that you have the answer, you have the cure. And because you know the message the doctor gave you to tell him, you can offer this dying patient exactly what he needs. He can have his strength restored and live a full life—but it is dependent on your full delivery of the message to him.

But instead of telling him the full message that the doctor gave you about the location of the medicine, and how to use and apply it, let’s say you choose only to tell one part of that message. Though you have the full message, you thought it would be sufficient enough to only tell the patient where to find the medicine. You thought that the location of the medicine was the most important part of the message you were given to deliver, so you left out how to apply the medicine because you thought it was less important.

Could the patient get the help he needs by only knowing one part of the message? Would you be doing justice to the doctor who gave you the message to deliver? The answer to those questions is an obvious and emphatic no.

minister-clipart-Preachers005Unfortunately, this is the lamentable practice that happens more in the local church than it does in a hospital or doctor’s office. Behind worn pulpits in the local church, many preachers and pastors with good intentions often fail to preach the whole message of Scripture. What’s worse, matters of supremely greater worth are at stake in the local church, than in the practice of medicine. As a result, the church becomes weak and may eventually die for lack of medicine (and nourishment) as prescribed in Scripture that is necessary for their sanctification. All people in the local church are patients in God’s hospital, and they all need the whole Bible (not just parts of it here and there) in order to live a healthy Christian life.

Some pastors and preachers often fail to preach the whole Bible because of their approach to preaching. Because of the approach to preaching that they choose, often only one part of the Bible is taught, and it leaves the people of God only partially equipped to live a life that glorifies God.

Failing to preach the whole Bible doesn’t do justice to the God who gave us the Bible to preach, if we choose only to preach one part of it. We would quickly consider telling one part of a crucial message to a dying person as inhumane and unthinkable—but yet in some churches today, pastors and preachers thumb through topical indexes looking for “something to preach,” instead of just preaching the Bible as it is.

So how do pastors and preachers teach and preach the whole Bible? What does this look like? Is there a method of preaching that even exists that ensures pastors and preachers will preach the whole Bible?

Yes there is, and it’s called expository preaching. Now, we will define further what expository preaching is and isn’t as we continue our look at it today, but for now I will give you a very appropriate definition for expository preaching. Borrowing David Helm’s definition,

“Expositional (or expository) preaching is empowered preaching that rightfully submits the shape and emphasis of the sermon to the shape and emphasis of a biblical text. In that way it brings out of the text what the Holy Spirit put there, and does not put into the text what the preacher thinks might be there.”¹

Expository preaching is faithful, biblical, and effective preaching—because it is faithful to the Bible, to God, and to His people who are in need of a word from Him.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re a member of a local church close to where you live. You are probably actively involved in your local church as well. And opportunities will arise where you will teach or preach the Bible – especially if God has called you to pastoral ministry, or worship and music ministry, youth ministry, women’s ministry, or missional life. But have you ever considered the importance of how you preach and teach the Bible? Have you ever considered the most biblical and effective approach to teaching and preaching the Bible? Let’s consider it today as we examine expository preaching as the most beneficial and faithful form of preaching for the local church.

Reason #1: I Love Expository Preaching Because It Is Thoroughly Derived from Scripture

Expository preaching has the Bible as its sole source. Because this method of preaching is expository, the goal of the sermon is to exposit the passage under consideration. By definition, expository preaching is preaching expositionally. It is preaching that explicates the meaning of a passage, verse by verse. Expository preaching seeks to preach the text and to preach the Bible, not just topics. Expository preaching seeks to excavate the true meaning of a passage as communicated by its author, and then verse by verse explain and apply that to God’s people today. A pastor or preacher exposits the meaning of a chapter, passage, or verse of Scripture and applies it to the 21st century based completely on what the original meaning was to the original hearers.

Now, this approach to preaching is altogether different from the other mainstream approach to preaching—topical preaching. There are other forms of preaching, but this is perhaps the most mainstream along with expository. In topical preaching, you typically have a topic in mind that you want to preach on.² And you search the Bible for passages or verses that support that topic. On the surface, this sounds like an effective approach. But without taking the time to point out everything that is flawed with that approach, let me just focus on one fundamental problem with preaching this way: If you already have the topic in mind that you want to preach on, and you’re simply searching for verses to support that topic, then who is really speaking when you get behind the pulpit?

Because when you choose a topic to preach on, you have already set the agenda, shape, and tone of your message. You already know what you’re going to say. If you’ve already set the agenda and shape of the message by your chosen topic, and you’re squeezing verses and passages into your preset agenda, then are you speaking or is the Bible speaking? If the Bible isn’t speaking, then God isn’t speaking. If God isn’t speaking, then your sermon is nothing more than an predetermined oration with the Bible as a footnote.

Expository preaching doesn’t do this, however. In expository preaching, the entire message is thoroughly derived from Scripture. This means that you don’t set the agenda or shape or tone of your own message—the Bible does. It is letting the Bible set the agenda for what you’re preaching. It is having the passage under consideration in authority over you—as you explain what the passage means. Expository preaching shows verse by verse what a particular passage means, not what you want it to mean.

If Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is about loving God and loving your family, then you will preach on loving God and loving your family as presented by that text. If Romans 10:14-17 is about the sovereignty of God in ordaining evangelism to reach the unsaved, then you will preach about the sovereignty of God in ordaining evangelism to reach the unsaved. The passage of Scripture you’re studying shapes and forms the message. In expository preaching, you don’t shape and mold a passage of Scripture to fit your topic.

This approach to preaching, then, also magnifies the infallibility and the authority of God’s word. This is because the expository sermon seeks to preach what God has said, and not merely what we want or think we should say. It takes the original meaning of Scripture and proclaims it now to the present world. Preaching expositionally is saying that what the Bible says is more crucial and more important than a topic I might choose. It is saying that God’s word has authority over you and the sermon. It is saying that “I will preach whatever this text means,” not what I want it to mean, or what I want to preach on.

treasure-hunt-memorial-service-ideasLet’s bring out the kid in you once again. Perhaps you embark upon a treasure hunt. You’ve found a map that reveals the location of buried treasure. You take your gloves and shovel and go where it says to go, then when you arrive, you dig where it says to dig. But what you uncover is sorely disappointing to you. It’s just a little piece of silver. You walk away from your makeshift excavation site, discouraged with the well-intended treasure hunt you took on. But you read in the paper next week that an archaeologist firm found an entire ship full of treasure at the exact same location where you were digging.They describe their findings this way: “We found only little pieces of silver and gold at first, but with more excavation we unearthed this ancient trade ship, loaded with gems and treasures that are worth more than a million dollars each.” That would be disappointing!

But with proper excavation, you would have discovered this great treasure. Because you failed to excavate it completely, and look into its contents, you made the wrong assumption about the treasure. This is what has happened with much preaching—many well-intended people who believe that the Bible is God’s word, are not excavating its contents. They are picking topics and verses here and there just like little pieces of silver. They are not preaching the intended meaning of Scripture. But the expository sermon doesn’t do this, instead, it presents the whole ship with careful detail to every gem and every treasure.

Expository preaching presents Scripture as it is, and not just one piece of silver. It presents the text as it is—of immeasurable worth to the Christian. It brings out the treasures of God’s word because expository preaching is derived and excavated from Scripture. It is preaching and excavating what is in the text, not what we think, hope or wish was in the text.

This is one of the major reasons why I love expository preaching. Week after week, I’m not sitting in my office worrying about finding something to preach. I’m not praying to the Lord, “God, give me something to preach.” I don’t have to despair in my study, thinking that I have to create and form some sermon to preach the following Sunday – because my sermon is derived thoroughly from Scripture. The passage of Scripture I’m studying creates and forms the message I preach – I don’t.


  1. Helm, David. Expositional Preaching, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), p. 13.
  2. Admittedly, there are times when topically preaching can be appropriate. For instance, when tragedy strikes (like recently in Orlando) or maybe when there is a special holiday. But even then there are a few things to keep in mind. First, we must remain extremely careful to draw out the meaning from a text through careful exegesis, and then preach it expositionally. Not even for a holiday or calamity should we ever mold and shape a passage of Scripture to address the needs of our hearers. God’s word already addresses their needs, and it will do this if it is presented as it is. Second, in today’s world it is impossible to address every tragedy or calamity. We have to use our wisdom when and if we want to take precious time behind the pulpit to preach on what the Bible says about a recent world event. If you attempted to preach like this every time something culturally shaking occurred, it’s all you’d ever preach on. Last Sunday you would’ve preached on the tragedy in the Orlando nightclub, the threat of ISIS, the assisted suicide bill, and the U.S. Senate’s vote to have women register for the draft. Additionally, still I think there is a faithful way to plan sermon or teaching series based on topics. Take the passage (or passages) you want to preach on and study them in-depth through exegesis, and let the passages determine the theme, direction, and goals of the sermon or teaching series. Still, sermon and teaching series are done better through whole chapters or books of the Bible. Usually a chapter or book of the Bible is about one major theological theme anyway.