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.

Shepherd with sheep

People God Calls

I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go, prophesy to My people Israel.” (Amos 7:14-15)

Amos was not a graduate of the school of the prophets. He was more familiar with the plow than with the pulpit. He knew more about seeds and sowing than seeing into the future.

Shepherd with sheep

It seems that Amos was simply doing his job as a farmer when one day it happened: “Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock.” It was because Amos was an honorable sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit that God made him an honorable prophet. Like many others in the Bible, God called Amos as he faithfully performed his present calling. The call came to:

Rachel watering sheep
Moses and David tending sheep
Joshua helping Moses
Gideon threshing wheat
Ruth gathering grain
Elisha serving Elijah
Peter catching fish
Matthew collecting taxes

The life of Amos was not useless as a farmer before he was a prophet. The world needs sheepbreeders, farmers, mechanics, doctors, technicians, insurance salesmen and everything else. To serve God and others honorably in these professions is just as honorable as serving Him as a prophet.

But we see God had a purpose in specifically calling a man like Amos. He wanted to show the greatness of the ministry was in the God who inspires it, not in the man or woman used in ministry. When Amos spoke people didn’t say, “He must have been top of his class at the school of the prophets.” Instead they said, “God is really saying something through that farmer.”

God had another purpose in calling Amos. With so many allusions and illustrations from the world of agriculture, Amos spoke as a farmer and God used it. Every person really called to speak forth for God has a manner and style of their own. Though God speaks through them all, they still do not lose not their individuality or unique character. We might say that the breath which causes the music is the same, but no two instruments give forth precisely the same sound. Amos was a unique instrument and God breathed through him in a special way.

Dear pastor, preacher, or Bible teacher – you are a unique individual. You are singular in what you are by birth, training, life experience and anointing. God can and will use you according to your special calling. It may be in a way noticed or unnoticed by others, but that is unimportant – as long as your calling is noticed in heaven. Just make sure you answer every time God calls!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Crowning Kings

Ready for a Crown

Blessed is the man who endures temptation;
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
(James 1:12)

Happy Monday! If you served God, His people, or a needy world this last weekend in Jesus’ name, I pray today God will find several ways to recharge and refresh you.

We love the Beatitudes – those wonderful sayings of Jesus in Matthew 5 about those who are blessed. Yet the New Testament gives us a few more beatitudes beyond the Sermon on the Mount. Here, God pronounces a blessing on the one who endures temptation.

Crowning Kings

I think there are several kinds of temptation that are common to pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers. We are tempted to discouragement and tempted to pride. We tempted to self-reliance and to carelessness. We are tempted to make an idol out of the ministry or to lose heart with it.

Friend, please know – as you endure these temptations, God promises the crown of life to you. It’s worth it to keep going, to keep trusting in Jesus, and to keep receiving His strength.

Enduring through temptation, there is a promise for us: The crown of life which the Lord has promised. With this, James reminds us that it really is worth it to endure under the temptations we face.

The idea of our coming crown is amazing – almost more than we can take in. Spurgeon said this about our coming crown: “O you dear Christian people that live in poverty and obscurity, I have a reverence for your heads which are already anointed with grace, for your heads that are yet to be crowned with glory. You run – often run better than the greatest and most observed of your fellow Christians; and you shall not miss your reward. There is a crown laid up, not only for Paul, but ‘for all them that love our Lord’s appearing.’”

I don’t know what temptations face you on a Monday following a weekend serving God. Whatever they are, be encouraged. Endure through them. Look forward to the promised crown.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Empty Tomb

The Best News Ever

Empty Tomb

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher:

Many of you have the honor of proclaiming the best news ever – that the Lord is Risen!

Today, I’m thinking of and praying for you all together, asking God to bless whatever opportunity He gives you to honor the resurrected Jesus and to be His messenger. It’s a wonderful message:

  • Jesus is risen
  • His work on the cross was completely accepted by God the Father – it is finished!
  • Death is defeated and our eternity is secure
  • God’s love and power is proclaimed in and through the work of Jesus
  • For all time, this fact of history demonstrates the Christian message to be true

May God give you an extra measure of His grace to receive the resurrection power of Jesus into your life and ministry, so that you can herald the best news ever.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

building stones

What God Builds With

And the king commanded them to quarry large stones,
costly stones, and hewn stones,
to lay the foundation of the temple. 
(1 Kings 5:17)

It was one of the most amazing building projects of the ancient world. Thousands of men worked together to make the temple God inspired David and his son Solomon to build. In fact, a few verses before it says that were 70,000 men who carried burdens and quarried stones on this job site.

1 Kings 5:17 tells us that Solomon used costly stones. This is literally “quality stones,” showing that Solomon used high quality materials even in the foundation where the stones could not be seen.

building stones

The Bible says that we are like a temple being built by God. Ephesians 2:19-21 tells us that God’s people are being built up like a temple, with Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone and God’s apostles and prophets as the rest of the foundation. Then God keeps building with all of God’s people, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21).

Even closer to the point, 1 Peter 2:5 speaks to God’s people and says, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house. The picture is of God building a building, and we are the “bricks” or the “stones” that God builds with.

So, what might it say to you that Solomon used only costly stones in building the temple?

This speaks to the way you should work for God. We don’t work for appearance only, but also to excel in the deep and hidden things. All of our work for God should be done thoroughly – perhaps especially the work that is like a foundation, lying low and hidden, and not commonly seen by others.

This speaks to the way God works in you. He works in the deep and hidden things when others are concerned with mere appearances. You probably know this from your own life – how God has done a lot of unseen, underground work in your life.

This speaks to the way God builds the church. He wants to do a work of deep, strong foundations instead of a work a mile wide but an inch deep. If we want to see a solid work of God in our churches, it will be built upon His solid people.

Best of all, never forget who paid the price for every one of those costly stones: Jesus our redeemer. It is His temple and all the materials in it are His purchased possession. Thank Jesus for buying, building, and for letting you serve in His temple!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

airport waiting

A Perfect Way

God is my strength and power,
And He makes my way perfect.

(2 Samuel 22:33)

As I write this, I’m waiting in an airport for my next flight. Travel stories are often boring, because we all share similar experiences of delayed or cancelled flights, driving difficulties, or any other number of problems.

Sitting in an unusually quiet airport on the east coast, waiting for a delayed flight that doesn’t board for another two hours, I thought of how reliable God is. I really don’t doubt that I will make it to my destination tonight, even though it will be later than I thought. I’ve traveled enough and made my way through enough of these problems that I have learned that (with rare exception) these things work out. Stressing out only makes the problem worse.

airport waiting

That makes me wonder why I sometime stress out over what I think God is doing (or not doing). Those of us who serve God in the ministry of His Word – those of us who are pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers – we tend to expect a lot from God. That’s good. Often that expectation is an expression of faith. Like children, we have great confidence in our Heavenly Father.

As we expect great things from God, at the same time, let’s have the same confidence that David sang about in 2 Samuel 22. I love this line from that song:

God is my strength and power,
And He makes my way perfect.

Do you believe that God is your strength and power? If you are trying to be your own strength and power, you need to come back to the confidence that God is your strength and power.

Are you confident that God will make your way perfect? Not only will God get you to your destination, He will guard and perfect the way there.

Whatever stresses you face today, with childlike faith pray the truth of 2 Samuel 22:33 back to the LORD.

  • Receive His strength and power.
  • Rest in the promise, “He makes my way perfect.”

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

more to remember

Give Him More to Remember

For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (Hebrews 6:10)

I don’t know how your weekend was. Maybe you are exhausted from a busy weekend and long hours. Maybe you are pleased because God really seemed to do some wonderful things through your service to Him and His people. Maybe you’re frustrated, confused, or anxious.

more to remember

I don’t know how your weekend of serving God and His people was, but I do know this: God is a just God. He will always be fair and do what is right. And, as it says here in Hebrews 6:10: if God forgot what you did for Him, He would be unjust. Since God can never be unjust, He will never forget!

We can look at this verse and make some good prayers out of it:

– He remembers your work: “Lord, help me to keep working!”
– He remembers your labor of love: “Lord, help me to keep loving!”
– He remembers what you do in His name: “Lord, I want to work to give glory to Your name, not mine.”
– He remembers that you have ministered to the saints: “Lord, make me a servant to Your people, Your holy ones.”
– He remembers that you continually do minister: “Lord, help me to keep going in my service to You and Your people.”

People may forget. The community may not care. You yourself might even forget. But we have God’s word on it: He will never forget what you have done and keep doing for His glory and His people.

So, with God helping you – give Him more to remember!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Stricter judgment

A Most Unpopular Preacher Passage

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:1-2)

Many of us Bible preachers and teachers have a favorite passage to speak upon. James 3:1-2 might be the most unpopular passage of many preachers and teachers.

It tells us that Bible preachers and teachers will receive a stricter judgment. We will be judged on a higher, stricter standard. James knew that he was included in that stricter judgment; he wrote, “we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Stricter judgment

This shouldn’t make us despair, but it should make us serious about our work. It should especially make us serious about our words, because James then immediately added “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”

There is a lot that could be said about that statement, but let’s just think about this: if I am a Bible preacher or teacher, I regard my words as an instrument of God’s work in this world. Therefore, I should take care with my words, and not only when I am preaching. We who proclaim God’s word have a special responsibility to speak in a way that gives God glory.

Let’s rely on God for the desire and the strength to not stumble in word, to grow in this area of godliness. It’s easy for us as preachers and teachers to sin with our words.

– We stumble in word about ourselves, with our boasting, exaggeration, and selective reporting.

– We stumble in word about others, with our criticism, gossip, slander, cruelty, two-facedness, and anger; or with flattery and insincere words meant to gain favor.

– We stumble in word with impure or profane speech, speaking with a vocabulary that shows very little holiness.

Here’s a prayer: “Lord, for Jesus’ sake, forgive me for the times when I stumble in word. Give me a desire for greater wisdom and holiness in what I say when I’m preaching and when I’m not, and the strength to grow in this area.”

That might help us to do better with a stricter judgment!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

new year resolutions

10 Preacher Resolutions for a New Year

God helping me, I hope to:

First, Stop trusting in my vows and resolutions and put my focus on Jesus Himself.

new year resolutions

  1. More and more let God’s word tell its own story. I won’t try to make sermons; I will present the message the Bible itself gives.
  2. Put more prayer into my preaching preparation.
  3. Pray more after the sermon is preached.
  4. Preach with more clarity and simplicity.
  5. Not allow any sermon to be longer than it really needs to be.
  6. Preach with more of a broken heart to the brokenhearted.
  7. Be more persuasive in my preaching; instead of just getting “amens” from those who already agree, I want to preach so as to persuade those who don’t fully agree yet.
  8. Put away the fear of man and performance anxiety, enjoying the work of preaching more than before.

Finally, Stop trusting in my vows and resolutions and put my focus on Jesus Himself.

How about you? As a pastor, preacher, or Bible teacher – what’s on your mind as you start a new year?

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Christmas preaching

Holiday Preaching

With Christmas coming soon, maybe you’re working on what you might preach or teach on the Sunday before Christmas or at a Christmas Eve service. For many of us preachers, holidays can be difficult. I can think of at least four reasons why.

Christmas preaching

Holiday preaching is more difficult because more visitors are present. We should thank the Lord if this is the case, because it isn’t true everywhere. But knowing there are more visitors than usual at our special holiday services give us an opportunity we don’t’ want to pass up. There are many kinds of visitors: occasional, reluctant, traditional, relatives, and more. We want to know, “How can we speak to them in a way that faithfully presents Jesus and draws them in?”

Holiday preaching is more difficult because we may feel we preach the same message year after year. For those who regularly attend our church, that’s a great thing. But sometimes we feel that those who only come to us on holidays hear the same message the few times they come.

Holiday preaching is more difficult because we usually preach for a shorter time than usual. As preachers we get into a rhythm, and because all that goes on with a holiday service, we often preach for a shorter time. That can throw us off.

Holiday preaching is more difficult because there is usually a greater element of production to the service in general, and with our sermon. We don’t want to feel like we are putting on a production, but we want the service to be special and meaningful.

So, what can we do? Here’s a few things that might be helpful to keep in mind.

– Remember the power of the story, and let the story speak for itself.

– At the same time, don’t hesitate to proclaim what the storymeans. Our listeners need to hear that!

– Without trying to be too clever (this is a trap!) be open to looking at the Christmas or Easter story from a different angle.

– Maybe take a Bible passage that isn’t normally associated with Christmas and Easter and show how it proclaims the great message.

I’m praying that this coming holiday season is blessed for you in every way – and that whatever preaching and teaching opportunity God’s gives you this holiday season, you are both faithful and blessed in proclaiming God’s good news.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

preacher

Good Thoughts, Good Words

We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness,
In the midst of Your temple.
(Psalm 48:9)

I think this line from Psalm 48 is a great prayer for a preacher to pray. It’s good for us as Bible preachers and teachers to say, “We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness.”

preacher

Lovingkindness here translates the great Hebrew word hesed. The ESV has “steadfast love,” the NASB has “lovingkindness,” and the NLT has “unfailing love.” Maybe it’s best to see it as “loyal love” or “covenant love.”

This is what we as preachers and teachers should think more about: the wonderful, amazing, loyal love of God.

Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on this verse, titled A Worthy Theme for Thought. In the sermon Spurgeon thought of three different people in the church and how they should each think and speak more of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Spurgeon thought of a sister who thought and spoke all the time about her bodily aches and pains. He said, “suppose you tell your next visitor about the lovingkindness of the Lord to you.”

Spurgeon thought of a brother who was having trouble in business, and always thought and spoke about it. “Well, we know that old story; could you not change your note just a little, and talk about the lovingkindness of the Lord?”

Then he thought of a Christian who complained that there was little love in the church. “Now, henceforward, instead of always harping on the faults and failing of God’s people, — which, certainly, are numerous enough, but have not become any fewer since you talked so much about them; — would it not be better to think and talk of the lovingkindness of the Lord?”

How about us as Bible preachers and teachers? Shouldn’t we pray to think more and speak more about the great love of God? We can be consumed with our worries and comparison and fears; isn’t it better for us to think more and speak more about God’s great love?

He really loves you, and He has called you to be messenger of His love.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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