Tag Archives: times

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).

Don’t Slip | Bible Gleanings – June 18-19, 2022

It is best to avoid things that might make you fall when hiking. Going around creeks with a strong current is better than going through them. It is safer to step on dry rocks rather than grimy ones. Walking on beaten dirt paths is preferable to muddy hills and slopes. Too much weight in a backpack can cause you to topple over, too.

David the psalmist certainly understood the importance of walking on stable and non-slippery ground: “My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped” (Psalm 17:5). Of course, David wasn’t talking about hiking—he was talking about living. And what he meant is crystal clear: walking the righteous path of obedience is the way to avoid things that might cause a damaging fall.

You must keep your feet fixed to the path of righteousness and turn aside from the slippery and unstable ground of sin. You must bypass the strong current of temptations that threaten to sweep you under. Your feet will be caught in the snares of deception and you will fall into the pits of guilt if you venture off the Godward road to glory and walk the easy road. And you will surely fall carrying around the heavy backpack of unconfessed sin and unprayed-for-burdens.

Unfortunately, sometimes we do fall. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave His people on the ground. He will catch and hold you up: “When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up” (Psalm 94:18).

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).

Don’t Give Up on Saul | Bible Gleanings – June 11-12, 2022

You could tell from the evil glint in his eyes that violence entertained him. A mob of murderers once smashed a man to death with boulders, and he stood beside them with a villainous grin on his face. Like a member of the Gestapo, he violently dragged innocent people from their homes. He furiously detained and imprisoned individuals who were not guilty of any crime. And worst of all, he saw himself as a hero instead of a monster. 

He intended to continue his rampage of carnage, but he was arrested on the road to a city called Damascus. One credible source described it like this: “Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-6).

The man was Saul of Tarsus, and Jesus of Nazareth captured and converted him. In one moment, the eyes that once burned with lust for bloodshed were filled with tears of repentance. Saul’s hardened heart was shattered by conviction and mended by grace. The Spirit of God dragged him away from sin toward salvation. After one meeting with Jesus, Saul became a preacher instead of a persecutor, an apostle instead of an adversary, and a servant of Christ instead of a slanderer of the church. 

God loved Saul, and He loves all the Sauls of the world. And He can save them, too. Saul’s salvation shows that the Lord’s grace is sufficient for even the evilest evildoer. As Saul himself testified, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:13b-15).

There is mercy for Saul, so don’t give up. Keep praying for the Saul(s) in your life. Keep preaching the gospel to them. Grace is still enough, the gospel is still effective, and God can still transform a Saul into a Paul. As John Piper encouraged, “Look on your adversaries with the eyes of faith—that someday, by the power of God they could experience a turn-around as amazing and unexpected as Saul’s.”

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 Death of Death | Bible Gleanings – June 4-5, 2022

Death. It fills graves and empties hearts. It is the ship that carries the soul across the infinite sea of eternity. It is the wind that blows out the burning candle of living. It is the door through which we exit life and enter everlasting delight or damnation. It is the period at the end of the final chapter of your story on earth.

Death is also a sentence—the penal verdict for transgressing the righteous law of the Judge of all the earth. The decree from His golden bench reads, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20a). The first criminals to be anathematized by this awful adjudication were our first parents, Adam and Eve. After they sinned in the Garden, the Lawgiver declared to them, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19b). And death is still the consequence for crooked culprits convicted of the crime of sinning against God: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

Yet, somehow one of Scripture’s most malignant malefactors can confidently say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul violently persecuted Christians in the early church, but he was happy to die. How is death a petrifying retribution in Genesis, but a pleasant reward in Philippians? Apparently, the meaning of death changed somewhere between the Garden of Eden and the Roman prison from which Paul wrote this letter. As a matter of fact, the nature of death changed somewhere between two thieves on a hill called Calvary.

As Jesus desperately clung to life on a bloody crucifix, He assured the robber beside Him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Death would not be the thief’s painful conclusion—it would be his passageway to paradise because of the grace of Christ. The Lord of life put death to death by His death, securing eternal life for all who believe—including the swindler by His side (2 Timothy 1:10). Because of Christ’s work for believers, death is the gateway to glory, the staircase to salvation, and the elevator to everlasting life. It is merely the bridge between heaven and earth for those who have crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

This is why the Christian may sing and shout the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54-57,

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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).

A Formidable Flight | Bible Gleanings – May 21-22, 2022

Newspapers around the world festooned their front pages with a headline that made history: “LINDBERGH DOES IT!” Charles A. Lindbergh (Feb. 4, 1902—Aug. 26, 1974) had flown from New York to Paris in 33 ½ hours, defying all odds and earning an esteemed place in aviation history. Lindbergh cranked the scanty 220 horsepower monoplane in the early hours of May 20, 1927, eager to navigate the unknown sky above the Atlantic. The crowd nearby clenched their teeth in worry, recalling the recent deaths of Rene Fonck, Noel Davis, and Stanton Wooster who had attempted the same challenge. After trudging through the muddy runway of Roosevelt Field, The Spirit of St. Louis slowly climbed the vacant skies, and the unpredictable journey began. 

Lindbergh was cloaked in the blackness of night twelve hours after takeoff. Beneath him were monstrous and unforgiving waters that could swallow him whole. A shroud of hazy fog besieged his wings and clouded his vision for thousands of miles. Exhaustion was depleting his eager spirit since he had been without sleep for more than two days and nights. And frozen bullets of sleet pecked incessantly at the propeller, but Lindbergh stayed the course.

Suddenly, Lindbergh beheld a strip of earth beneath him: Europe’s splendid shores. The relieving sight rejuvenated his soul and he continued steadily toward Paris. The Missouri pilot soon circled the Eiffel Tower and landed in Le Bourget Field. His journey was over. Lindbergh had achieved the impossible with little more than a compass, a drift sight, and a full tank of faith.

Flying eastward to Europe is hard; flying heavenward is even harder. Every believer saved by grace is headed toward a “better country” (Hebrews 11:16). The fog of uncertainty can tempt us to turn around and abandon the plane. The roaring waters of tribulation may intimidate us for miles of our heavenbound flight. But one day, we shall see the golden shoreline of heaven after flying through this wicked world.

“For you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 12:9). While we fly our voyage, the compass of faith and the drift sight of God’s word serves to guide us. As Sanford Bennett said in the hymn, There’s a Land That is Fairer Than Day,

“There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar,

For the Father waits over the way

To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore;

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

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).

Just Preach | Bible Gleanings – May 14-15, 2022

He’s there, but you can’t see Him with the naked eye. He is moving, but you cannot track His steps with a magnifying glass to the ground. He is convicting, but you won’t find Him doing so in a courtroom. He is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, who pricks and persuades sinners of their need for Christ, often in the very hour they hear the gospel from your lips. The Scripture says: “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (Acts‬ ‭10:44‬, ‭KJV‬‬).

The Spirit of God punches His timecard when you proclaim the full gospel to the lost. The Spirit engages in CPR, reviving a once-dead heart 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). He leads sinners in the everlasting way, reveals the truth, and gives life when you declare that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

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! You need Jesus!” Furthermore, the Spirit converts a sinner’s soul: “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” (Titus 3:5).

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 the 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).

It means that you can faithfully present the gospel and walk away with a full heart, knowing that the Spirit leads a person to Christ. You don’t have to worry about whether your presentation of the gospel was eloquent or sophisticated enough to convince someone to believe. 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 (cf. Romans 10:14-17).

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).

He Raises the Lame | Bible Gleanings – May 7-8, 2022

His dreadful condition made every passerby cover their eyes and whimper, “Lord, have mercy.” He was curled in a ball as he lay crippled on a dusty mat. He could not walk, limp, or even crawl. He was born lame—paralysis had arrested his body in the womb. And were it not for the sluggish rising of his chest and the stare of his sunken eyes, you would have assumed he was dead.

The man was the lame beggar whose story is told in the third chapter of Acts (3:1-10). His tragic story is really every sinner’s story. You are this man, too. He is a mirror image staring back at you. He is a visual of the pitiful spiritual condition in which we find ourselves before experiencing the lame-raising power of Jesus Christ.

You and I are born into the world afflicted with spiritual paralysis. We are incapable of running toward God, walking on the narrow way that leads to life, or even limping on the path of the godly (Romans 3:10-18). Sin has broken our spine and confined us to a mat of helplessness. And we are too weak and decrepit to lift ourselves on crutches of righteous works or religion. We need only to look in faith to the lame-raiser, the paralytic-healer—the Lord Jesus Christ—whose grace and power are sufficient to make us walk with God.

The saving power of Christ makes us leap from our crippled state with holy joy (Acts 3:8). Jesus raises us at our conversion so that we may walk the road of righteousness (Psalm 1:6). His all-sufficient grace sets us on our feet so we can run the heavenbound race with endurance (Heb. 12:1). His mercy pulls us up from the bed of sin so that we may stand in grace (Rom. 5:2). He strengthens our legs and limbs so that we may climb over walls of temptation and tribulation (Psalm 18:29).

There’s an old saying that reeks of hell’s smoke which says, “God helps those who help themselves.” But nothing could be further from the truth, for God helps those who cannot help themselves. Jesus raises spiritual paralytics who cannot raise themselves. And Jesus asks all those cursed by the crippling effects of sin: “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:6). All who answer in the affirmative will receive the gospel cure from the Great Physician Himself, and they will discover that He raises the lame.

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).

Front Page News | Bible Gleanings – April 30-May 1, 2022

The chilling news froze me in my tracks. The blackness of gloom enveloped my heart when I read the big black headline on the front page of The New York Times: “The Toll: America Approaches Half a Million COVID Deaths.” The death toll has soared to nearly a million since then, but I remember burning with zeal to do everything I could to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. I am not sure whether mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference—only the Lord knows. But I wanted to do everything in my power to slow the death count when the reality of death was in my face. 

The last time a gust of grief struck me like that was when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where He warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). According to Jesus, hordes and heaps of lost souls are driving down the wide open highway to hell, while only a fragment of humanity trudges on the hard road to heaven. Millions are afflicted by the crippling disease of sin, and they will discover too late that they were sick (Matt. 7:21-23). The “second death” toll is infinitely high, and it rises every day (Rev. 21:8). And the sharp twinge of heartbreak ought to pierce the heart of every believer when confronted with this sobering reality (cf. Romans 9:1-3).

Only 31% of the world’s population profess to be Christian, which means that the remaining 69% are hellbound (and that is if all 31% are true believers). According to the World Population Review, 166,279 people die daily. That means that at least 144,733 souls enter the gates of hell every day, and one million do every week. Jesus was right when He said that “many” would hear these terrifying words: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

The good news is that there is plenty of room in heaven, and its door is open to all who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2a). Therefore, those heavenbound ought to take the life-saving gospel with unquenchable zeal to those who have never heard. The miserable reality of hell for the lost and the marvelous reassurance of heaven for the saved ought to be on the front page of every Christian’s mind. As John Wesley stated, “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”

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).