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Actor Portrayal | BIBLE GLEANINGS AUGUST 22-23, 2020

Actor Portrayal

Many commercials on television promote new products and services with personal testimony from people who have benefited from the product themselves. When a new gadget hits the market, you’ll see someone in the commercial rave about how it has changed their lives for the better. When a new medicine is developed, the person in the commercial is seen enjoying their lives like never before. However, if you pay close attention you will often see the words ACTOR PORTRAYAL in tiny print near the bottom of the screen. That signals that the individual in the advertisement hasn’t actually used the product or service for themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I immediately question the effectiveness of whatever they’re advertising if the company has to hire an actor to promote it. In fact, it makes me think the product or service doesn’t work at all! The actors are real and so is their enthusiasm, but their claim about the proficiency of a product or service is repudiated when there is no real evidence that they themselves have been changed by it. It’s all acting.

The Bible talks about actor portrayal. The Lord Jesus sternly warned that it is possible to offer lip service to God while your heart is far from Him: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8). You can be enthusiastic about God and the gospel without actually being changed by the gospel or encountering God for yourself. Reading the Bible, going to church, singing hymns, and doing good works are just an actor portrayal if you haven’t experienced the life-changing power of the gospel firsthand. Even if you have genuinely trusted in Christ and believed the gospel, people will question the effectiveness of the gospel if you show little to no evidence that you’ve been changed by it. If you don’t practice what you preach, people will wonder whether or not the gospel works at all. When we live no differently than anyone else, it is as though “actor portrayal” has been visibly labeled upon our lives.

Hypocrisy always kills the appeal of the gospel. God doesn’t call you to act before men, but to live a genuinely righteous life before Him: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). Obviously, no Christian is perfect and there’ll even be times when you live hypocritically—it happens to all of us. The issue is not with occasional falls into the sin of hypocrisy. The issue is if you promote the effectiveness of the gospel but contradict that claim by living the same as everyone else. Have you been changed by the gospel or is your life an actor portrayal?

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

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

The Fiery Tongue | Bible Gleanings August 15-16, 2020

The Fiery Tongue

“Only you can prevent forest fires.” We are all familiar with this stern warning from Smokey Bear. The Forest Service created this advertising icon in the 1940’s to encourage the prevention of wildfires, since over 85% are caused by the neglect and carelessness of human beings. His famous catch phrase reminds us that we must never underestimate the destructive potential of fire. Even the smallest flame can consume an entire forest in a matter of days. As recently as 2016, thousands of acres in the Smoky Mountains went up in flames because of a fire started by two minors. To this day, wildfires continue to ravage our beautiful country, often because of unattended campfires, discarded cigarettes, and the burning of garbage and debris. The point is, you can never be too careful when it comes to fire safety in the outdoors. That’s what Smokey’s warning is all about.

“How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:5b-6). Are we as familiar with this austere warning about the calamitous capability of the flame that lies caged behind our teeth? James the apostle said the tongue is like a small spark or flame that can set an entire forest ablaze. Although the tongue is small, it has the potential to burn down your life or the life of others. An ill-spoken word, a false rumor, a white lie, a crude joke, or any other sin of the tongue may bring destruction and damage that is irreparable. Your words can easily ignite a fire that will burn out of control.

How can you prevent a fire from breaking out of your mouth? (1) Think carefully about your words before you say them: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). (2) Pray for God’s help and yield to His Spirit: “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3). (3) By God’s grace, learn to use your tongue for good instead of evil: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29). (4) Understand that without God’s power, you can never tame your tongue: “But no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:8a).

Let the Lord have control of your words so He may extinguish the smallest spark before it grows. Only He can prevent a fire from breaking out of your mouth.

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

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

The Loveless Church (Rev. 2:1-7)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 29th day of April 2018, during the morning service:


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 two dogs, Susie and Aries.