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.

in the wilderness

Into the Wilderness

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Do you remember this event from the life of Jesus?

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

Immediately after Jesus identified with sinful humanity through His baptism, the Holy Spirit then led Him to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The Gospel of Mark says it even stronger, saying that the Holy Spirit “drove” Jesus to the wilderness.

in the wilderness

As servants of the Lord, we all want to be led by the Holy Spirit. It’s one of our deepest desires. Just remember that the Holy Spirit made lead us to uncomfortable places with many challenges. For some reason, I sometimes think that if I’m really led by the Spirit, life will be a constant progress from one happy experience to another. Matthew 4:1 reminds us that the Holy Spirit has a purpose even in the challenges we face.

This was a remarkable contrast between the “then” connected to the glory of Jesus’ baptism and the “now” of His challenge in the wilderness.

Then, the cool waters of the Jordan; now the barren wilderness.
Then, the big crowds; now solitude and silence.
Then, the Spirit rested like a dove; now the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.
Then, the voice of the Father calling Him “Beloved Son”; now the hiss of Satan the tempter.
Then, anointed; now attacked.
Then, the water of baptism; now the fire of temptation.
Then, the heavens were opened; now it seemed that hell was open wide.

So, in the challenges you face right now – if the Holy Spirit has led or even driven you to them, then God will use them for good. Don’t lose heart. Don’t be afraid of the circumstances; if God is for you, who can be against you?

You don’t need circumstances on your side; you need God’s victory, and it is found in Jesus Christ. Remember that Adam failed in a beautiful garden and Jesus was victorious in a barren wilderness.

The same Jesus has filled you, called you, anointed you, and sent you the Holy Spirit – even if now it feels like you are in the wilderness.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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humble and exalted

Humble and Exalted

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

You’re probably familiar with this wonderful event in the life of Jesus – His baptism. This was another example of His radical identification with sinful humanity. It also marked the starting point of His earthly ministry.

Mark 1:9-11 tells the story:

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee,
and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately,
coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting
and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.
Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son,
in whom I am well pleased.”

humble and exalted

What I want to show you is how the baptism of Jesus shows both humility and exaltation.

The baptism of Jesus displayed a humble beginning:

– Jesus: This was a common, unremarkable name.
– From Nazareth: This was an unremarkable, despised village.
– Of Galilee: This was the unspiritual region, not the “Bible belt” of the area at that time.
– Was baptized: Jesus identified with sinful man.
– In the Jordan: This was an unremarkable – often even unpleasant – river. Some rabbis disqualified the Jordan River for purification ceremonies.

At the same time, this scene also displayed great glory:

– The heavens parting: Heaven opened wide for this.
– The Spirit descending: The Spirit of God was present, and in some way His presence was discernable.
– Like a dove: In some way the Spirit was present and “flew down” on Jesus like a dove.
– A voice came from heaven: It’s rare in the Bible when we read that God speaks audibly from heaven, but this was one of those glorious occasions.
– You are My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased: What could be more glorious than to hear public affirmation from God the Father?

We each need to put our trust in and receive the ministry of this humble and exalted Savior, Jesus Christ.

As pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers, we also need to understand that our own ministries will have times of humility, times of exaltation, and times where they are a mixture of both. God has a wonderful purpose in both.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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what to expect

What to Expect Next

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope you had a great “Empty Tomb Day” – we probably won’t experience another one like that in our lifetime!

For so many pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers, they have never reached so many people before on a Resurrection Sunday. Instead of reaching them at a “regular” Easter Sunday service, they have reached out online and in other ways. It’s amazing how this strange season has led to tremendous opportunity.

Here’s a quick thought from Psalm 62:5:

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
Psalm 62:5

what to expect

In Psalm 62, David beautifully declared his trust in God alone. David spoke to himself (a good thing to do), telling his soul to submit to God. Then, Davide expressed the same thought in a different way: my expectation is from Him.

Dear pastor, preacher, or Bible teacher – this is the heart we need right now. In this season where we really don’t know what to expect next, we need to say, my expectation is from Him.

God has surprised us thus far, and there may be many more surprises to come. But when our expectation is from Him, we will never be disappointed.

Here’s a great prayer: “Lord, I often don’t know what to expect. Today I surrender all my expectations to You, and I agree with what David said in Psalm 62:5: my expectation is from You. I believe that what You have for me is better than whatever I could expect apart from You.”

That’s a great expectation.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Selah Season

Selah Season

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Strange time, isn’t it? I don’t think many of us have ever experienced something like this before. All our normal routines have changed, and most all of us are doing church over the internet if at all. We’re preaching to empty rooms and video cameras, and trying to connect with people the best we can. As God may lead us, we’re trying new things and trying to figure out how to help God’s people and a needy world.

I won’t pretend to have “Gods’ word for this time.” I think there is a lot that God is doing in this season, and God will probably move in some ways that we may have no idea of at the moment.

Selah Season

So, let me suggest one thing to pay attention to: God has us in a Selah Season.

You know that word Selah, don’t you? Selah appears 74 times in the Old Testament – 71 times in the Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk. The idea in the Hebrew for this word is a pause. Some think that this was a musical instruction, perhaps calling for a musical interlude of some kind. But most scholars think Selah speaks of a reflective pause, a pause to meditate on the words just spoken. Maybe it was both – “meditate on these words while you listen to this music.”

Right now, many of us are in a forced “pause” – a Selah. You weren’t looking for it, but here it is. So, let’s Selah – and look at a few places in the Psalms where we are told to pause, and to think about something.

Pause for confident praise: Psalm 44:8 
In God we boast all day long,
And praise Your name forever. Selah

Pause for assurance of God’s presence: Psalm 46:7 
The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Pause to find your shelter in God: Psalm 32:7 
You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah

Pause to realize that we are weak and that life is short: Psalm 39:4-6 
LORD, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah

Pause for unshakable confidence: Psalm 46:1-3 
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

Pause to consider the assurance of our resurrection: Psalm 49:15 
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me. Selah

You can keep going on your own. Take time to pause, and there’s no better place to take a pause than where God tells you to. Meditate on the Selahs in the Psalms.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

When Leaders Are Afraid

When Leaders Are Afraid

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I don’t have to tell you that these are crazy times. I don’t know what your weekend services were like, but it probably wasn’t a normal Sunday.

As you think about the coming weeks, maybe you are afraid. You’re worried about your family and those close to you. You’re worried about the uncertainty of it all. You’re worried about what all this might mean financially. It would be not be strange if you were afraid.

At the same time, perhaps you can’t tell anyone about your fears – after all, you are a leader, and leaders aren’t supposed to be afraid.

If any of that fits you, please do what Hezekiah did when he got a letter that gave him many reasons to be afraid:

And Hezekiah received the letter
from the hand of the messengers, and read it;
and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD,
and spread it before the LORD.

(2 Kings 19:14)

Hezekiah did exactly what any child of God should do with such a letter. He took it to the house of the LORD(to the outer courts, not the holy place), and he spread it out before the LORD. In this, Hezekiah boldly and effectively fulfilled the later command of 1 Peter 5:7: casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

When Leaders Are Afraid

If you need to, do exactly that. Write out your fears, take them before the LORD, and leave them there with Him. Spread it all out before the LORD. If you can’t tell anyone else about your fears, you can tell God. If you need to put on a strong face for everyone else, that’s fine – but be honest with God. God can take it, and you need it!

It’s a preacher’s cliché, but it is true: We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future. In seasons of uncertainty, we cling to our unchanging God.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Mount Arbel

Remember How Great God Is

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope you had a blessed weekend of serving Jesus, His people, and a needy world. For some of you, it was an exhilarating time; for others, there were more than a few discouragements. Whether it was an easy or a difficult ministry weekend for you, I pray God will bless, refresh, and empower to keep going and growing in serving Jesus Christ.

Here is a brief thought from Psalm 36:5-6 for you to consider today:

Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.

Today, take some time to remember just how great, how mighty, how wonderful the God you serve is. David understood it in Psalm 36. After spending the first four verses of Psalm 36 writing about wicked men in all their wickedness, David turned his mind to more pleasant thoughts.

Mount Arbel

We can picture David standing on a height overlooking the land of Israel – maybe even on Mount Arbel. As David looked up into the blue sky, he said: Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens.

Then he saw beautiful clouds drifting through the sky and said, Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

He turned his eyes north and saw Mount Hermon in the distance, and sang Your righteousness is like the great mountains.

Then he looked down at the beautiful Sea of Galilee and said, Your judgments are a great deep.

Finally, some well-fed rabbits eating grass caught his eye, and he thought about how God provides for all His creatures: O LORD, You preserve man and beast.

When David thought of the mercy, the faithfulness, the righteousness, and the judgments of God, he could only describe these attributes of God with the biggest things he could think of – the heavens, the clouds that fill the sky, the great mountains, and the great deep of the sea.

I don’t think there really are any great servants of God. We are all just serving Him in whatever way He gives and gifts us to do. It’s easy to think of ourselves more highly than we should!

But I do know this: we serve a great God. That in itself makes our work great! Be assured, there are no small servants before such a great God.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Bible on wood table

For Him, Through Him, To Him

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

How was your weekend? If God gave you the opportunity to preach or teach His Word, I pray that it was effective and that you were able to enjoy being God’s messenger.

Today I want to share an encouragement with you from Romans 11:36:

For of Him
and through Him
and to Him are all things,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.

At the end of Romans 11, the Apostle Paul made this remarkable statement. It is something for every believer to think about, but it has some special relevance for those who serve God, and those who serve in the ministry of God’s Word.

Bible on wood table

There is a wonderful poetic rhythm to these words: For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things. F.B. Meyer noted that each of these are basic, one-syllable words. These are words you might find in a children’s book – but no one can truly exhaust their meaning.

Our ministry is all of Him. I trust that you are called by God, and not just self-appointed. When one is really called to the ministry, they know that their work is of Him. If it is only of us, what is the point?

Our ministry is all through Him. We earnestly desire that everything we do be done through Jesus Christ. We are workers together with Him. It is His power, His wisdom, His strength that we seek to serve in. It isn’t enough to be truly called (for ministry to be of Him). Once called, our work has to be done through Jesus, with conscious reliance on His wisdom, His power, His strength.

Our ministry is all to Him. It’s not to me. It isn’t even to the people we serve. First and foremost, it’s all to Him. It is to the praise of the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6). It’s for His pleasure that we are created, redeemed, called, and busy for His kingdom. We find our fulfillment in bringing Him glory and honor.

If we keep this in mind as we do ministry – that all things are to be of Him and through Him and to Him – then at the end of it all, God will get the glory. As Paul wrote, to whom be glory forever.

That’s kind of ministry we long for and pray for. I pray that for you!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

gifts and callings

Never Taken Back

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

First, let me apologize for failing to send these encouragements over the last few months. A busy travel schedule partnered with procrastination, and so it has been a while.

Having said that, how was your weekend? If God gave you the opportunity to preach or teach His Word, I pray that it was effective and that you were able to enjoy being God’s messenger.

Here is a familiar verse from Romans 11: 

For the gifts and the calling
of God are irrevocable.

(Romans 11:29)

Today I want to encourage you with that brief line from Romans 11:29: the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. In the context of Romans 11, the Apostle Paul had in mind God’s faithfulness to Israel; that God had not given up on them or taken away any of the gifts or calling He had given to them.

gifts and callings

However, I don’t think it is wrong to say that this reflects an important aspect of God’s character, His nature. God acted this way toward Israel because that is the kind of God He is. Therefore, that is how God is toward us today.

Rest in that truth: the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

“I really preached a poor message last Sunday.” That might be true; but the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

“I am in a strange season where I feel put on the shelf, and my gifts are not being used.” Maybe that is true; maybe not. But, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

“When I compare myself to others, I feel like a loser.” Perhaps you feel that way; but the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

“My struggles with sin and personal character disqualify me from ministry right now.” We hurt with you; but remember that the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. As your character grows in Christ, over time there may be new ways that God’s gifts and His calling on your life are used for His kingdom. Don’t despair.

As I said before, the original context for Romans 11:29 regards Israel. But if God was that faithful to Israel under the old covenant, will He be less faithful to you under His new covenant, a greater covenant?

Finally, if you had a great Sunday and are in a great season of ministry – praise the Lord! But remember, it’s really because of His gifts to you and God’s calling on your life. The credit, the honor, the glory of it all – goes to Him, and to us.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

together his name

Together In His Name

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Did you get to preach or teach God’s Word this last weekend? If you did get that privilege, you might be a little drained today. If it is done right, preaching and teaching the Bible will take something out of you. It’s not only a giving of God’s truth, it is also a giving of one’s self.

Here is an encouraging word from Jesus: 

For where two or three are
gathered together in My name,
I am there in the midst of them.
(Matthew 18:20)

In my last email to you we thought about the first few words of this wonderful verse, Matthew 18:20: Where two or three are gathered. Now let’s think about the next few words: are gathered together in My name.

together his name

As always, we want to remember the context of this encouraging word from Jesus. Our Savior said this in the context of speaking about order and even correction among God’s people (Matthew 18:15-18). Jesus promised to be among His people, and that His presence would give them the authority to confront and correct.

Still, we can’t miss what Jesus said: that His people should be gathered together in His name. Even it if is only a few (two or three), if they are gathered together in His name, it’s a precious gathering to Jesus. We could say that the most important thing isn’t so much gathering together – people do that all the time. The most important thing is gathering together in Jesus’ name.

Gathering together in His name means that we are known by Jesus and by His name. We belong to Jesus, and we aren’t afraid to proclaim it. It doesn’t matter if the culture or a government thinks we are foolish or dangerous for meeting in Jesus’ name; we love to gather together in His name.

Gathering together in His name means that Jesus is our point of gathering; we gather around Him. What draws us together and keeps us together is Jesus. It isn’t race, class, political party, or ethnic group. We gather around Jesus, the real Jesus revealed in the Bible.

Gathering together in His name means gathering according to the character and nature of Jesus. Our meetings, our church services, our Bible studies, and Sunday school classes are of such a character that Jesus would endorse them. They are consistent with the love, wisdom, character, and holiness of Jesus.

Isn’t it wonderful to gather in the name of Jesus? And, if God has given you the responsibility for leading, organizing, or teaching when God’s people are gathered together, I pray that God will give you the grace and the wisdom to always do it truly in the name of Jesus!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Two or Three

Two or Three

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope your weekend was blessed, and if God gave you the opportunity to teach or preach His Word, I hope it was both enjoyable and effective!

Today I want to remind you of some familiar words from Jesus:

For where two or three are
gathered together in My name,
I am there in the midst of them.
(Matthew 18:20)

This wonderful, encouraging statement from Jesus comes in the context of speaking about order and even correction among God’s people (Matthew 18:15-18). It’s as if Jesus said, “When God’s people are gathered in community, I am among them, and My presence grants the authority to confront and correct.”

Two or Three

Yet, the distinctive way Jesus said this gives us a lot to think about. Let’s think about the first part of Matthew 18:20: Where two or three are gathered. With these words Jesus here indicated that meetings of His people – indeed, meetings full of power and authority connected to heaven – do not need to be large gatherings. Those gatherings can be of two or three of His followers at a time. 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Jesus is more present among the many than He is among the few. There is usually a greater sense of excitement and anticipation when more people gather. It’s easy for a small gathering to seem unimpressive. But Jesus doesn’t think so. He says, “Two or three are plenty enough for Me to be there.”

Think of what this means:

• This shows us that large numbers are not essential for Jesus to be present.
• This shows us that the status of the people is not essential for Jesus to be present.
• This shows us that the particular place is not essential for Jesus to be present.
• This shows us that the particular time is not essential for Jesus to be present.
• This shows us that the particular form the meeting should take is not essential for Jesus to be present.

Now, I must say, I would rather reach more people with God’s message than less people. It’s wonderful when God gives us the opportunity to preach or teach the Bible to many people. But remember that Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered.” He doesn’t despise the small meeting, and neither should we. If Jesus graces a small meeting with His presence, then it isn’t a small meeting at all. Nothing is small or insignificant when the King of Kings attends.

If you reach many people with God’s Word, be thankful for it. If you reach few, be thankful for those two or three or however many. Most of all, be thankful that you teach and preach in the presence of Jesus. That’s enough for any of us!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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