Tag Archives: sovereignty

Open and Closed Doors | Bible Gleanings – July 30-31, 2022

The Lord God is the mighty doorkeeper who opens doors that cannot be closed. He is “the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut” (Revelation 3:7a). The golden key that unlocks every door is in His sovereign hands. Thus, every situation you face, every event you experience, and every opportunity you seize is a God-opened door through which you enter and access His sovereign will for your life. And behind those doors may be blessings or burdens, but God opens them both as part of His plan to work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The Lord God is also the master locksmith who locks doors that no one can get through. Revelation 3:7 says that He “shuts and no one opens.” Because of His divine providence, there are some doors you will never pass through. Some opportunities will never be yours because God has closed the door. Some circumstances will never befall or bless you because God has sealed the door shut. 

There are some doors you probably wish you could walk through. Your life might even seem like a long corridor of nothing but closed doors at every turn. You may earnestly desire a better job, a healthier body, a happier marriage, a normal life, a bigger church, or even an answer to prayer. But, the immovable bar of God’s sovereignty may be blocking the door for the time being. And you may knock until your knuckles are bruised, kick until your feet are sore, or rattle the handle until your hands are weak, but you’ll never pass through a door God has bolted shut. 

In the mystery of His providence, God often closes doors because He has already opened many others for you. When the Lord locks a door, it is because He has a better one waiting for you to pass through. Many others are sealed shut because you do not truly need what lies behind them. And while God may shut a thousand doors before He opens one, you can rest assured that His will is always good, His timing is always right, and His grace is always sufficient (Ecclesiastes 3:1; Isaiah 40:31; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Put your faith in Him, and He will lead you through opened doors and guide you away from the ones that are closed: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

Christ Alone | Bible Gleanings – March 26-27, 2022

We can only be saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9). And here are seven reasons why:

(1) The chasm between man and God is too wide to be crossed by good works: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The cross of Calvary is the only bridge across the canyon of separation: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18a).

(2) The distance between sinful man and holy God is too long to be climbed by the ladder of law-keeping (Psalm 113:5-6). Only the God-man who can bring man to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

(3) The stain on man’s heart is too black to be scrubbed by self-righteousness: “Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD” (Jer. 2:22). The blood of Christ is the only fountain that washes off sin’s stain (1 John 1:7).

(4) The contamination of iniquity is too unremitting to be washed off by the waters of baptism: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). Sinners need a grace-bought spiritual bath administered by God’s Spirit, “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5b).

(5) The weight of sin is too heavy to be outweighed by righteous deeds: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4). The nail-scarred hands are the only hands that can cast your sins into the sea depths: “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).

(6) The shackles of sin-bondage are too strong to be broken by “trying harder.” Only the Lord Jesus can “open the eyes that are blind, [and] bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:1).

(7) The gargantuan debt of sin is too great to be paid off by an offering: “For our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Only the offering of Christ Himself is sufficient to pay your sin debt: “[He canceled] the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

Friend, Christ alone saves—we come to Him empty-handed.

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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 Holy Spirit Doesn’t Need Your Help

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” — Acts‬ ‭10:44‬ ‭KJV‬‬

One of the most essential and encouraging truths in all Scripture about preaching the gospel is that the Spirit of God works mightily while we preach.

The Spirit of God punches His timecard when you proclaim the full gospel to the lost. The Spirit engages in CPR, reviving a heart once dead when you engage in evangelism (Eph. 2:1). He shines gospel light in darkened hearts when the blazing gospel torch is carried to those in darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The Spirit opens blinded eyes when you call the unregenerate to look away from themselves to Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).

The very first thing He does is convict, according to Jesus. He said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Spirit puts a person’s conscience on trial when the gospel is published. And He says to them, “You are in serious trouble with God, and you are in serious need of salvation. Wake up! God is holy and you are not. You need Jesus!”

Furthermore, the Spirit converts a sinner’s soul. Paul said:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

He regenerates the unregenerate soul. He creates new life within a person devoid of spiritual life.

The Spirit does it all, and oftentimes in the very moment we present the gospel.

This does not mean that every person who hears the gospel will be saved. Sometimes your gospel preaching falls on deaf ears. Unsaved sinners still resist grace (cf. Acts 7:51).

What it does mean is that Spirit can penetrate the hardest heart, loosen the stiffest neck, and overcome anyone’s resistance to His call when He wills (John 6:37-40; Acts 16:4; Romans 8:29-30).

What it does mean is that you can faithfully present the gospel and walk away with a full heart, knowing that the Spirit leads a person to Christ.

What it does mean is that you don’t have to worry about whether your presentation of the gospel was eloquent or sophisticated enough to convince someone to believe.

What it means is that you don’t have to use gimmicks, tactics, bouncy-houses, potlucks, or concerts to win a person to Christ.

And it means that no amount of therapy, theories, or prescriptions make a person a better candidate for salvation.

The Spirit of God alone convicts and converts lost souls—and He doesn’t need any help. Just preach the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

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).

Sermon: Divinely Scheduled Appointments, Part 1 (Acts 8:26-40) | Oct 24, 2021

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).

Sermon: Jesus Raises the Helpless (Acts 9:32-43) | Jan 2, 2022


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).

Repurposing | Bible Gleanings – January 1-2, 2022

An old coffee mug could sit comfortably on your desk as a container for pens and pencils. You could paint used soup cans and reuse them as miniature flower pots. That worn-out wooden ladder in your shed could be fastened horizontally to the wall as a small bookshelf. There are hundreds of household items that can be recycled for a new purpose. The landfill doesn’t have to be their final home.

Using something for a purpose other than its original intended use is called repurposing or “upcycling.” This creative hobby generates joy for DIY enthusiasts, as well as growing viewership for handyman television shows where the host(s) specialize in finding new uses for old junk. But although repurposing has enjoyed much interest recently, there is only One who has been giving new purpose to seemingly purposeless things since the beginning of time: God. In His divine providence, the sovereign Lord uses things you would never think of to accomplish His good purposes.

The Bible is replete with “repurposing” stories where God used seemingly inconsequential, meaningless, or even evil things to fulfill His indestructible plan of redemption. Joseph never would have ruled in Egypt if the Midianite traders hadn’t discovered him in the pit his brothers tossed him into (Genesis 37:28). If Moses’ mother had not sent him downstream in a basket on the Nile, where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, he would never have led the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 2:1-10). Ruth would never have met and married Boaz in his barley fields if she hadn’t gone there to help Naomi survive the famine (Ruth 1:22). Mary and Joseph only went to Bethlehem, the prophesied birthplace of the Messiah, because of Caesar’s simple decree to pay taxes (Luke 2:1-3). The Samaritan woman encountered and was transformed by Jesus because she went out to draw water (John 4:7). And none of us would possess the gift of salvation were it not for an ugly crucifix planted atop Golgotha’s hill (John 19:17).

God gave a new purpose to a pit, a basket, a field, a decree, a water pail, and a Roman cross. The Scripture is unequivocally clear: God specializes in repurposing. That’s why Paul wrote, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Because of God’s providence, there is always purpose in your pain, meaning in the mundane, and significance in your strain. Hope in the Lord to repurpose all things in your life for good and His glory. Or as Solomon counseled, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

Christmas Interruptions | Bible Gleanings [Advent Edition] – December 18-19, 2021

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” (Matthew 1:19-20a).

Joseph was crushed. His heart was lacerated. Apparently, the woman he loved had committed adultery. How else would you explain this pregnancy? Joseph couldn’t go through with this marriage. Mary had betrayed his trust. Therefore, he resolved to end their betrothal, albeit quietly, because he didn’t want to cause a public ruckus.

The Christmas story is in jeopardy. All hopes of a Messiah would be dashed if Joseph goes through with the divorce. Joseph was crucial for the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about Christ descending from David’s royal lineage (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5-6). If Joseph divorces Mary, then Jesus will never inherit all the rights and privileges of being in David’s family. God’s plan has come to an end—or so it seemed.

That’s when God stepped in and stopped him. The Lord intervened by sending an angel to Joseph in his sleep to explain the confounding situation and assure him that the child conceived in her was “from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20b). God’s plan was not in peril. The Lord did not panic. Joseph’s confusion was merely another page in God’s pre-orchestrated novel of events. And He supernaturally intervened to bring it to fulfillment.

The Lord God still does this today. God may not send an angel to you when He wants to get you back on course, but He will interrupt your life and intervene in unexpected (and possibly unwanted) ways to accomplish His perfect purpose. Who knows how many times God has done this already? Have faith in the good and sovereign Lord, trusting that He knows what He is doing. He does what He pleases and perfectly carries out His plan for His people (Psalm 115:3; Romans 8:28). Embrace interruptions and obstacles. They are just another page in your pre-written story.


Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

A Frightening Flight | Bible Gleanings – Nov 14-15, 2020

A Frightening Flight

Every passenger thought this was the end. The aircraft was unsteady as it flew through rough air currents. The turbulence was extreme, causing screams of terror as the plane’s seats rocked. Luggage was spilling out. People held on to whatever they could. Some people were praying through tears. Flight attendants tried to keep everyone calm. Panic had seized everyone on the plane—except for one little boy.

How could this be? How could one youngster be peaceful in such chaos? Well, his father was the pilot. Although the plane was in turmoil, and life itself seemed to be coming to an end, the boy’s father was trustworthy and skillful enough to land the plane safely despite the pandemonium. He was experiencing a rocky ride just like everyone else—but he had no reason to panic because his father was in control.

Can we all agree that the year 2020 has been a tumultuous plane ride through turbulence from hell? Wildfires have burned through thousands of acres of our West Coast. Political and ideological wildfires have likewise burned in our major cities. The coronavirus pandemic has seized our normal way of life. This virus has robbed us of our income and our loved ones, in many cases. And without question, this election season (which is far from over) has been the most chaotic and divisive in our nation’s history. It definitely looks like this plane is going down.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you are flying through turbulence and your life is marked by conflict, confusion, and commotion. Friend, the only way you can retain peace in the chaos of life is if you know the Pilot. If you know Christ as your Savior, then the Lord God of the universe is your heavenly Father and He is a trustworthy pilot. Your plane might seem out of control, but God is always in control and He will get you to your destination—even if you have to fly through turbulence. Psalm 93 says, “The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting” (vv. 1-2).

God is in control and He reigns in heaven upon His throne—nothing can ever change that—not a virus, not a president, or a personal trouble. That is why it is wise to obey the words of Solomon: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Will you trust the Pilot of your life to safely land your plane?


Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

The Movie of Your Life | Bible Gleanings—November 7-8, 2020

The Movie of Your Life

Walt Disney released the first full-length animated movie in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It was one-of-a-kind and enjoyed an enormous amount of box office success. Producing the film was a gargantuan task and an outstanding achievement, to say the least. Back in the late 30’s, there were no iPhones, computers, or user-friendly editing programs. So, how did they do it?

A documentary explained that Disney employees stacked glass panes with drawings and shifted them around to simulate movement. The process was essentially a sophisticated flipbook. Disney artists drew over one million pictures for this particular movie. And each image flashed onto the screen for a mere one twenty-fourth of a second! You can watch the film today at regular speed, and it all seems so simple. Millions of pictures, hours of meticulous editing, and a considerable amount of money all poured into a film that lasts only an hour and a half.

Life is just like a movie, isn’t it? Your life is short: “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14b). Yet, the Lord God is using a million different events to ensure your life plays out the way He’s planned. You are in the movie at “regular speed,” living day by day, as each scene unfolds by the hour. The sovereign Lord of the universe has put infinite thought, skill, and careful attention into every detail of your life’s movie. Only He knows the movie of your life from beginning to end because He is directing it.

And like a movie, your life has painful scenes and happy ones. Maybe your life has had more of the former than the latter. As long as you are the Lord’s child by faith in Christ, you can take heart in knowing that God is working everything out (good things and bad things) for your good. That’s what the Bible says: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The movie of your life is incomplete right now. God won’t be finished with it until you take your final breath. You have to wait for God to complete it – you can’t hit fast-forward.

While you wait, trust the process and the God who is behind it. Walk in obedience empowered by grace, and hope in the Lord and His plan for your good and His glory. David wisely tells you, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:5). As the scenes of your life play out, will you trust in the Lord?



Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

Day 17: If the Fates Allow?

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” —Matthew 1:17

One of the most beautiful Christmas songs is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It reminisces about all the joyful Christmases shared with family and friends and wishes the same to be enjoyed by all who hear it. However, one line in the song reflects a faulty (but common) understanding of the ordering of the universe: “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Fate is the ordering of events outside of human control, usually by some unknown supernatural power. And in the song, fate is credited as making possible or impossible the togetherness of family and friends. Some have recognized the error of this and rightly modified the lyrics to say, “If the Lord allows.”

Fate has nothing to do with the development or unfolding of anything. Only the Lord is sovereign and in control of all situations and events. If the Lord permits something to occur, it will—if He does not, it cannot occur. And this wonderful and comforting truth of God’s sovereignty pulses in every verse of Matthew’s seemingly unnecessary genealogy. To demonstrate God’s rule in the world and His commitment to fulfill His plan, Matthew traces God’s providential hand through history beginning with Abraham and ending at the birth of Jesus Christ (see vv. 2-17).

Many things occurred in those thousands of years that should have obliterated God’s plan to save sinners through Christ, but the will of God prevailed. During the period of time from Abraham to David, there were wars, famines, debauchery, idolatry, and destruction. Many things happened that even threatened the existence of the Davidic line—the one Jesus had to be born into. But God’s plan revealed to Abraham to bless all families of the earth through his offspring was indestructible, unstoppable, and immutable (Genesis 12:1-3). Despite all of this, God fulfilled His word by bringing forth, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” at the right time (Matthew 1:1b).

God’s plan never fails—it never fails for you, either. It might take some time to see it fulfilled and things may appear to be hindering it, but as Matthew’s genealogy demonstrates—nothing can stop the plan of God. As Job of old proclaimed, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). You need not depend on fate—you need only to trust the Lord.


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.