Thoughts and encouragement from David Guzik for pastors, preachers, Bible teachers, and all those who serve God, His people, and a needy world in Jesus’ name.

Unstoppable

Unstoppable

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

A short encouragement for a new week:

Then Midianite traders passed by;
so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit,
and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.
And they took Joseph to Egypt. 
Genesis 37:28

Joseph had dreams – literal dreams! He dreamed that even though he was one of the younger sons in his family, his older brothers would bow down to him. God spoke to both Joseph and his family in this dream, revealing something of Joseph’s destiny.

The brothers didn’t like that at all. They thought they could defeat God’s plan as revealed in Joseph’s dreams. Therefore, they cruelly sold Joseph to some passing traders and he became a slave in Egypt.

Unstoppable

The brothers probably laughed as the Ishmaelites went their way to Egypt, feeling good that they didn’t kill Joseph and that they made a little money in the process. Best of all, they thought they had defeated the dream, the revelation from God.

Here’s the lesson for us as Bible preachers and teachers, as servants of God:

  • God’s word about Joseph was proved true – no matter what his brothers did to Him.
  • God’s word about Jesus was proved true – no matter what others did to Him.
  • God’s word about you will be proved true – no matter what others do or have done.

Take peace in the thrilling truth that your life, your times, your ministry, is in God’s hands and no one else can defeat what God has planned for you.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Something to Learn from the Temptation of Jesus

Something to Learn from the Temptation of Jesus

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Just a quick thought today from a familiar passage:

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit
into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
(Matthew 4:1)

After identifying with sinners in His baptism, Jesus then identified with them again in severe temptation. Because this was a necessary part of His ministry, so Jesus truly was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Something to Learn from the Temptation of Jesus

There was a remarkable contrast between the glory following Jesus’ baptism and the challenge to be tempted by the devil.

  • At His baptism, Jesus enjoyed the cool waters of the Jordan; now with His temptation Jesus faced the barren wilderness.
  • Then there were huge crowds; now there was solitude and silence.
  • Then the Spirit rested like a dove; now the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.
  • Then Jesus heard the voice of the Father called Him “Beloved Son”; now He heard the hiss of Satan the tempter.
  • Then Jesus was anointed; now He was attacked.
  • Then the water of baptism; now the fire of temptation.
  • First the heavens opened; now it was as if hell opened.

Here’s one point to draw for servants of Jesus to draw from the life of our Savior:

Each season was led by the Holy Spirit and was in the will of God.

Don’t think that a hard season means you’re out of God’s will or no longer in step with the Spirit.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Preaching Jesus

Preaching Jesus

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

You made it through another weekend of serving God, His people, and a world that needs Jesus so much! Here’s a brief word from Acts 8 that might just encourage you today.

Then Philip opened his mouth,
and beginning at this Scripture,
preached Jesus to him.
(Acts 8:35)

Philip had a wonderful opportunity to preach. The high official from the court of the Queen of Ethiopia was reading from Isaiah 53 about the Suffering Servant, and he asked Philip to explain what it meant.

Preaching Jesus

Given the opportunity, Philip did what we all should do. He spoke, beginning at this Scripture. When we begin with the Bible, we let the words and themes of Scripture dominate the words and themes of our message.

It wasn’t hard to do, because the Suffering Servant passage from Isaiah 53 powerfully points to Jesus Christ. It was easy to talk about Jesus beginning at this Scripture. Because the whole Bible points to Jesus in one way or another, we really can begin at any passage and find where it leads to Jesus.

How did Philip preach Jesus to him using Isaiah 53? With that passage he could explain who Jesus was (He was “like a lamb”) and what Jesus has done for us (“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter”). Explaining who Jesus is and what He has done for us is the essence of the gospel.

Too many preachers today focus on what we must do for God, but the gospel begins with and is founded upon what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

The next time you have the opportunity to preach or teach, remember these two things:

– Begin with the Scripture.
– Preach Jesus.

That always makes for a good sermon!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

Click Here to Receive Email from David for Pastors, Preachers, and Bible Teachers

Flourishing

Flourishing

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

You made it through another weekend of serving God, His people, and a world that needs Jesus so much! Here’s a brief word from Psalm 52 that might just encourage you today.

Psalm 52 carries a lot of pain. David was outraged when a wicked man massacred innocent priests. Given the burden this psalm bears, it’s wonderful to see this toward the end of Psalm 52:

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

Flourishing

Most of us won’t experience the same kind of violent crisis that prompted this psalm, but we have our own burdens and wounds. There are more than a few pains to carry when you give yourself to serve God, His people, and a needy world. No matter what weight you’re under, this is for you to say in the name of the God you serve:

I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God.

The traumatic events David responded to happened at the tabernacle (1 Samuel 21:1-7). Maybe when David was there, he saw a healthy green olive tree that was even more blessed because of where it was planted (in the house of God).

David said, “No matter what I’ve been through, I’m going to be like that green olive tree. I’m going to flourish as I trust in the mercy of God, and God helping me I do so forever and ever.”

All the wicked and those who set themselves against God’s work will one day pass and perish. Be encouraged that by God’s mercies, you can be like the green olive tree in the house of God – flourishing, growing, fruitful, life-giving, vibrant.

Ask God for this mercy today – and walk in it forever and ever.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Big and Bigger

Big and Bigger – Encouragement from Psalm 25

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope your weekend was blessed, and there was at least some encouragement in whatever way God gave you to serve Him. Here’s a quick thought from Psalm 25:

For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)

David, the great king and psalmist of Israel, wrote Psalm 25 These brief lines teach those of us who serve God and His people in the ministry of the word some important things.

Big and Bigger

First, when David asked, “For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great,” we see a strong expression of humility. He expected pardon for God’s sake, not his own. He humbly recognized the greatness of his own iniquity.

As pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers we need to speak of sin. But when we speak of sin and of sinners, it’s not “they,” it’s “us.” We are sinners, just like the people we speak to. It can be said that like David, our sin is great.

– Our sin is great when we consider against Whom it is committed: the God of all glory.
– Our sin is great when we consider that it is against a just and fair law.
– Our sin is great when we consider it is committed by those who are made in the image of God.
– Our sin is great when we consider the amount of our sin.

Second, notice David’s strange (but true) spiritual logic: pardon my iniquity, for it is great. We can only imagine a criminal in a court of law appealing to the judge on this basis. “Your honor, find me not guilty, because my crimes have been many and large.”

David seemed to know the freedom and peace that comes from saying, “Lord, I know that I am a great sinner; but You are an even greater Savior. I humbly submit myself to You and ask you to pardon my iniquity.”

We need to preach the big reality of sin, and the even bigger reality of the God who pardons sin. We need to preach it to ourself before we ever preach it to anyone else.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

Click Here to Receive Email from David for Pastors, Preachers, and Bible Teachers

Plowman and Reaper

Plowman and Reaper – Encouragement from Amos

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Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I pray that this email reaches you finding some refreshment in his holiday season. Those of us who serve God’s Church know that often these weeks are exhausting and filled with pressure. These weeks can also be discouraging, but I hope that this word from the prophet Amos will both encourage and inspire you:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
and the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
the mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.”
(Amos 9:13)

Plowman and Reaper

The book of Amos is filled with many strong warnings to God’s people. In their prosperity they forgot God, but God did not forget them. He sent prophets like the simple farmer Amos to turn the people back. God knew that they would not turn back and He said so through Amos. Nevertheless, God would not abandon His failing people, and He promised an ultimate restoration. Here, in the rich images that came easily to a farmer like Amos, God promised remarkable reinvigoration of the nation.

He announced that The days are coming and under God’s inspiration, the prophet Amos ended his words to the nation on this note of high hope, looking forward to a day of great prosperity and abundance in Israel. Under the reign of Jeroboam II, they had material abundance, but not in the Lord. God promised to restore them to prosperity from Him and in Him.

Indeed, the days would come When the plowman shall overtake the reaper. With this phrase, Amos described how miraculous and amazing God’s blessing and restoration would be.

First, when God releases blessing and restoration, fruit comes abundantly. Normally, the plowman and the reaper work apart, their effort separated by many months. But under these unique seasons of blessing and restoration, those normally separated seasons bump into each other. The crops were so big that the plowman and the reaper didn’t have time to let the other finish their work. We should pray for such seasons of abundant fruit.

We also see that when God releases blessing and restoration, fruit comes from unexpected places. Normally, grapevines don’t grow well on mountains or high hills, but in the days of Israel’s restoration even the mountains shall drip with sweet wine and all the hills shall flow with it. We should pray for such seasons of unexpected fruit.

When God releases blessing and restoration, fruit comes with great quality. Amos looked forward to the day when the wine that came abundantly and from unexpected places would be sweet wine. Without being a wine connoisseur, Amos used this phrase to describe good and high-quality fruit from the work. We should pray for such seasons of good fruit.

When God releases blessing and restoration, the work is blessed – but it is still work. The plowman, the reaper, the treader of grapes, and him who sows seed still had their work to do. God doesn’t just do it all for them, but under God’s blessing and restoration the work is done with energy and joy. The plowman doesn’t just wait around; he gets busy even if he starts bumping into the reaper.

These seasons of unexpected blessing do not mean that God’s people sit on their hands and do nothing. There is still work for the plowman and the reaper, but it is glorious, blessed work.

The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon described this kind of blessed work: “I meet with my brethren in the ministry. who are able to preach day after day, day after day, and are not half so fatigued as they were; and I saw a brother minister this week who has been having meetings in his church every day, and the people have been so earnest that they will keep him very often from six in o’clock in the evening to two in the morning. ‘Oh!’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’ ‘Not he,’ said I, ‘that is the kind of work that will kill no man. It is preaching to a sleepy congregation that kills good ministers, but not preaching to earnest people.’ So when I saw him, his eyes were sparkling, and I said to him, ‘Brother, you do not look like a man who being killed.’ ‘Killed, my brother,’ said he, ‘why I am living twice as much as I did before; I was never so happy, never so hearty, never so well.’”

Even when we are not in such blessed times, the work of God deserves our energy and effort. We don’t work for God only when it seems glorious, but even when it is more difficult. We are ready in season and out of season. Yet without apology we look forward to and enjoy special seasons of God’s blessing – and especially, we pray for them.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Ananias and Saul

What We Do – A Simple Description

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Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope this email reaches you as you enjoy some refreshment and restoring after a weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world. Those of us who serve in this way know the rhythm of pouring out, and then having our “cup” filled up again by God through the many ways He chooses to do that.

Here’s a quick thought for you from Acts 22:

Then he said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you
that you should know His will, and see the Just One,
and hear the voice of His mouth.”
(Acts 22:14)

In this passage, Paul remembered words spoken to him by Ananias, in the few days after his dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.

Ananias and Saul

I like this verse as a short statement describing our duty before God:

  • To know His will. God wants everyone to know His will, and to do it!
  • To see the Just One. God wants everyone to have a personal, growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
  • To hear the voice of His mouth. God wants everyone to hear His word.

Think of how this applies to the work God has given you as one of His messengers. With God’s help, you can help others to know the will of God. You can lead them into a real and deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. You can help others to hear and understand God’s word.

Ask God to make you a true “Acts 22:14” preacher or teacher!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

Click Here to Receive Email from David for Pastors, Preachers, and Bible Teachers

Foundations for Leadership

Foundations for Leadership

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope this email finds you well after a weekend of serving Jesus, His people, and a needy world. Here’s a thought about leadership from the life of David 2 Samuel 5:1-3:

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, “Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the LORD said to you, ‘You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.’” Therefore all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel.

Foundations for Leadership

It took many years, but eventually David became king over all the tribes of Israel. The elders of Israel received David’s leadership because he was an Israelite himself. They said, “We are your bone and your flesh.” Not long before this, David had lived as a Philistine among the Philistines. The elders of Israel put that away and embraced David as one of their own.

They also told David, “You were the one who led Israel out and brought them in.” The elders of Israel received David’s leadership because he already displayed his ability to lead.

Finally, the elders of Israel received David’s leadership because it was evident God called him to lead. They recognized that the LORD had said to David, “You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.”

If God has given you any kind of responsibility to lead among God’s people, ask yourself. Am I really “among” those I lead, sharing life with them? Have I given others a reason to trust my leadership? Can other people see that God has called me to leadership?

Of course, all of these are perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the greatest leader. Yet, these three characteristics should mark anyone who leads God’s people.

  • A leader must belong to God’s people in heritage and heart.
  • A leader must demonstrate capability to lead.
  • A leader must have an evident call from God.

Ask God to grow you in these areas – and honor the called, godly leaders God has placed in your life.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Faithful Priest or a Failed Priest?

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope your weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world was blessed and you have your sights set on your next opportunity. Here’s something from 1 Samuel to keep in mind as God allows you to serve Him:

Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest,
to offer upon My altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod before Me?
And did I not give to the house of your father
all the offerings of the children of Israel made by fire?
(1 Samuel 2:28)

This passage in 1 Samuel 2 contains some of the words that a man of God brought against Eli, the high priest of Israel. In God’s word to Eli through this unknown prophet, we have a wonderful summary of some of the duties of the priesthood in Israel.

By analogy, we can learn at least two things. First, that Jesus perfectly fulfilled the priesthood in the way no one else every could. Second, these principles give a pattern of how we should serve God’s people today.

  • To be My priest: First and foremost, the job of the high priest was to minister unto the Lord. Before he served the people, he was a servant of God. He was not first the people’s priest; he was first the priest of God. We first serve God.
  • To offer upon My altar: The priest brought sacrifices for atonement and worship. We continually point to God’s perfect sacrifice, to what Jesus accomplished at the cross.
  • To burn incense: Burning incense was a picture of prayer, because the smoke and the scent of the incense ascends to the heavens. The priest was to lead the nation in prayer, and to pray for the nation. We must be praying pastors, teachers, and leaders.
  • To wear an ephod before Me: The priest was clothed in specific garments, for glory and for beauty(Exodus 28:2). He was to represent the majesty, dignity, glory, and beauty of God to the people. We need to represent our God in proper manner.
  • All the offerings: The priest was also charged with the responsibility to receive the offerings of God’s people and to make good use of them. We are stewards of what God’s people give to the work of His kingdom.

Eli failed as a high priest, but Jesus perfectly fulfilled the office. As you abide in Him and reflect the heart of Jesus to those you serve, you will walk in the faith of a faithful priest, not a failed priest.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Gleaning from God's Word

Gleaning from God’s Word

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Here is a thought for your Monday, following a weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world…

Ruth 2 presents the wonderful picture of Ruth, the Moabitess, finding favor with Boaz. Boaz generously gave her permission to glean in his field.

She gleaned in the field until evening,
and beat out what she had gleaned
. (Ruth 2:17)

“Gleaning” was the practice of going into a recently-harvested field and picking up whatever grain remained. God commanded Israel in Leviticus 19:9-10 to deliberately leave some behind for the poor and needy of the land to get food.

Gleaning from God's Word

God blessed Ruth and people were generous to her. At the same time, she did work hard, and she worked all day long. It wasn’t easy to follow the reapers of the harvest and carefully search for every remaining stalk of grain, carefully picking up even the small pieces left behind. It was work that demanded a lot of focus, attention, and searching.

We should use Ruth’s example to glean everything we can from the word of God:

  • Ruth worked hard – we should work hard in studying God’s word.
  • Ruth had to stoop to gather every grain – we don’t have to explain every “grain” when we preach and teach, but we can gather the “small grains” for ourselves and benefit from them.
  • Ruth could only pick up one grain at a time – we should think through what we learn from the Bible, piece by piece.
  • Ruth had to hold on to each grain, and not immediately drop it – we should mentally “hold on” to truth, to meditate on it and benefit from it.
  • Ruth took the grain home and threshed it – the benefit from our gleaning in God’s word should first be a blessing to our home.
  • Ruth took the threshed grain and winnowed it – what we glean in our study must be carefully prepared to have the most benefit for those who will receive it.
  • Ruth was nourished by the grain – we must be nourished by God’s word, and not receive it as only truths to tell others about.

This week, may God bless your gleaning in His word!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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