Tag Archives: stories

Prisoners of Sin | Bible Gleanings – August 6-7, 2022

Reginald was a prisoner of his own appetite. Instead of eating to live, he lived to eat. He couldn’t put down the fork even when his freedom depended on it. According to historians, Reginald III (1333-1371), former Duke of Guelders (also known as “The Fat”) was imprisoned in the castle of Nijenbeek by his younger brother and held in a cell that a normal-sized person could easily escape from. Reginald only had to fight his appetite and diet his way out of prison.

Instead, Reginald ate high on the hog. Each day, his brother sent a range of the most delectable dishes to his cell because he knew that overindulgence consumed him. Reginald only grew fatter. He was imprisoned because he was enslaved by his belly. And because he was powerless to conquer his lust, he died behind bars as a slave to gluttony. 

As sinners, we are just like Reginald. We cannot escape from sin’s prison cell because we don’t want to stop eating sin’s rotten fruit. Our corrupted nature tells us that sin is as scrumptious as a shiny apple, and we believe it (Genesis 3:6). We are born incarcerated by depravity, shackled by a heinous hunger for evildoing, and enslaved to sin. As Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34, NKJV).

The good news is that Jesus came into the world to set sinners free from spiritual slavery. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,” said Jesus, “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). Jesus wields the sword of the gospel and He shatters the chains of iniquity to set captives free. He is the Bread of Life, and those who receive Him will hunger for the will of God (John 4:31-34; 6:35).

You have been liberated from slavery to sin if you have believed the gospel. For Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). And you won’t die behind the bars of wickedness. As Paul assured,

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:22-23).

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).

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 (English shepherd), 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 (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Day 12: The Gift of Life

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” —John 10:10b

Christmastime in eastern Czechoslovakia was bitter and cold in 1910. A terrible plaque of diphtheria had swept through and devastated many lives in the little village of Velky Slavhov. Half of the village contracted the disease and many of the victims were just children—less than ten years of age. When anyone in the family would start to show symptoms, they’d put a large black “X” on their doorpost to warn others that it had been quarantined.

There was an “X” painted on the doorpost of the home of Jano and Suzanna Barotkova. In less than a week, this couple found themselves childless. Their oldest child, only five, was the first to pass because of the disease. And even as Jano was working in the woodshed building her coffin, his other two sons were dying.

The two young boys eventually breathed their last and Suzanna finally broke out in agonizing sobs. The couple carefully laid their children, one by one, into handmade pine caskets and lifted them onto a wagon and started towards the graveyard. They passed house after house marked with a black X, but they were too weak and too depressed to offer any sympathy or encouragement to the others.

They buried their children, struggled through the Lord’s prayer and headed back home. Jano himself was sick now. He said, “I won’t see another Christmas. I don’t think I’ll see the New Year in, either.” He pushed away his soup and bread because it was too hard for him to swallow. The diphtheria had begun to constrict his throat. Suzanna gathered some kindling and lit a fire for the night, sure that her husband would be dead by morning.

Suddenly she saw someone approaching—a peasant woman tramping through the snow wearing a red and purple shawl. She had a jar of clear liquid in her hand, and she approached the couple’s home and knocked on the door. Suzanna cautiously opened the door and said, “We have the plague in our home, and my husband is in a fever right now.” The old woman nodded and asked if she could step inside, and she held out her little jar. She said, “Take a clean, white linen and wrap it around your finger. Then dip your finger into this pure kerosene oil and swab out your husband’s throat—then have him swallow a tablespoon of the oil. This should cause him to vomit the deadly mucous. Otherwise he will suffocate. I will pray for you and your family.”

Then, the woman left behind her remedy and left the home. Suzanna followed the woman’s instructions and early Christmas morning, Jano retched up the deadly mucous. His fever broke and Suzanna had a flicker of hope. There were no presents or children that year, but an old woman with her jar of oil was a gift of life to that couple. Jano recovered and eventually, he and Suzanna emigrated to America and had many children.

That story has been handed down through the generations of that family—how a little peasant woman came on Christmas Eve bearing the gift of life for those who were dying. And this is exactly what Jesus has done! He came on Christmas day bearing the gift of life for those sick, dying, and hopeless. The deadly plague of sin has affected all of mankind and we cannot cure ourselves. The good news is, Jesus came to give life—eternal and abundant life. There is hope if you have the gift of life that Jesus came to bring on Christmas day.


Note: You will find this story in many works, but I read it first in Preacher’s Sourcebook of Creative Sermon Illustrations by Robert J. Morgan.


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.