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.

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

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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

Sunday recovery

Sunday Recovery

And Jesus,
immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him,
turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”
(Mark 5:30)

Recently a pastor friend asked me what I did to recover from the Sunday-afternoon blues, the kind of thing that comes from the physical, emotional, and spiritual energy spent on a Sunday or weekend of services.

Sunday recovery

When Power Has Gone Out of You

It’s natural to feel spent after a weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world. When the woman touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and received something special from Him, Jesus felt something go out from Him (Mark 5:30). When we do ministry right, there is real energy spent – especially spiritually.

I answered my friend with some random thoughts:

(1) If possible, naps are great, or an hour zoned out in front a football game or something else. I find myself socially and spiritually spent after a Sunday, and fatigue can be a big cause of those Sunday afternoon blues.

(2) If I didn’t preach well, I just try to be thankful that I have an opportunity next time and determine to trust God to be better prayed-up and better prepared.

(3) I accept the truth that I won’t preach an amazing sermon every Sunday. I don’t need to. If I do a solid but not spectacular job week after week, the occasional bad sermon isn’t such a big deal.

(4) If there is some kind of conflict at the church draining me, I ask my wife for her advice and pray with her about it. If you aren’t married, find a trusted friend with whom to vent a little and to pray a lot.

(5) If I feel those blues, I don’t worry about having them. I realize that they will come and go, and I don’t need to feel that something is severely wrong when I get them. I will feel better tomorrow or even sooner.

If you’re feeling kind of blue after a weekend of serving God, don’t worry too much about it. Get some rest and let God restore your soul. We’ll all get through it together!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

ready to run

Ready to Run

Then the LORD answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.”

Habakkuk 2:2

Every Bible preacher or teacher wants to be effective. We might have different opinions about what true effectiveness is, but we all want to see God accomplish something in and through what we do for Him. This half-verse from Habakkuk 2:2 gives some great thoughts on doing what we do as effectively as possible. Look at the verse carefully and see.

ready to run

How to Preach Better

Write the vision: Habakkuk first had to see the vision. The preacher cannot make anyone else see what he does not see for himself.

Write the vision and make it plain: Habakkuk then had to make it known. The preacher must do what he can to make the word of God known, and make it known in as many ways as possible.

Write the vision: Habakkuk had to make it known as permanently as possible – he was told to write the vision. The preacher must do what he can to make a lasting impact on his listeners.

Make it plain: Habakkuk had to make it plain. Sometimes we Bible preachers and teachers have a way of making the Bible seem much more confusing than it is! Ask God to give you the gift of simplicity and clarity in your teaching and preaching.

That he may run who reads it: Habakkuk had to make it practical. It doesn’t say, “that he who runs may read it,” but “that he may run who reads it.” The running – the activity and progress – comes forth from God’s Word.

God helping us, we will deliver a clear message that faithfully relates God’s revelation – His wonderful word, and we will do under the anointing and blessing of the Holy Spirit. Then those we serve with God’s Word can get out and run the race God has for them.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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love compels us

What Compels You?

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus:
that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all,
that those who live should live no longer for themselves,
but for Him who died for them and rose again.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

If there is anything that there is absolutely no shortage of in this world, there is no shortage of compulsive people. It isn’t hard to find compulsive gamblers, compulsive drinkers, compulsive eaters, compulsive spenders, compulsive thieves, and many other kinds of compulsions.

love compels us

Yet not every kind of compulsion is evil. There are good compulsions. Jesus was compelled to serve others and go to the cross. At certain times the Holy Spirit compelled Paul. Many of us feel compelled to serve God and His people – I know that I do!

The question is, “What compels us?” In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul proclaimed a beautiful compulsion: for the love of Christ compels us. I would say that the love of Christ compels us in several ways:

– The love we have received from Jesus compels us.
– The love Jesus gives us for others compels us.
– The love we return to Jesus Himself compels us.

After a weekend of serving God, I hope you can look back and be happy about the ways that the love of God compelled you to do what you did for Jesus, His people, and a needy world. Paul could say what I hope I can say: the love of Christ compels me.

Remember that Paul knew what it was like to do ministry from a different motive. His years as a Pharisee taught him what it was to serve God from a hundred different motives, but they all came down to self.

If you are not motivated by love in ministry, what will compel you?

– Guilt compels some into ministry.
– A desire for prominence or importance compels some into ministry.
– Some are compelled into ministry by someone else.
– A longing to earn God’s approval compels some into ministry.

Let your compulsion change today. No matter how you got into your ministry, you can put your heart in the place today where you can say, “I am compelled by love.”

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

 

 

fellow laborers

Fellow Laborers

Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.
(Philemon 24)

This email of encouragement is intended for pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers – those who serve the Lord and His people through the ministry of the Word. I try to send it out every other week, and I send it on Mondays because I think that many of you have worked hard to serve the Lord over the weekend. I hope you can see some encouragement in this short verse from Philemon.

fellow laborers

In this verse, Paul listed four people whom he regarded as his fellow laborers. They were:

Mark (most likely John-Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark)
Aristarchus (one of Paul’s companions and fellow-prisoners)
Demas (a companion of Paul who later forsook him)
Luke (Paul’s companion and the author of the Gospel of Luke)

Yet, in Paul’s other letters, we find a few others whom he also regarded as his fellow laborers, notably Timothy (1 Thessalonians 3:2) and Philemon (Philemon 1).

Is it too much of a stretch to say that we also are fellow laborers with Paul and all others who have served God and His people through the generations? The circle of Paul’s fellow laborers didn’t only include the people of his own time, but also the circle extended into the future.

If you are a servant of God, think about the team you belong to: Paul, Peter, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquilla, Lydia, Polycarp, Athanasius, Francis, Martin and Katie Luther, Zwingli, Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Moody, Corrie ten Boom, Billy Graham – it’s an unending list!

So, don’t forget that we are laborers. If you’re tired after a weekend of serving, it’s OK – it’s work!

But also, don’t forget that we are fellow laborers. We serve God in connection with all His servants in generations past and present – and future, should the Lord tarry!

What a wonderful team we are on, with Jesus Christ the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

 

 

workers together

Co-Workers with Jesus

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
2 Corinthians 6:1

workers together

There are many wonderful titles for those who do God’s work. We can be called servants, teachers, pastors, elders, preachers, deacons and so forth. Here in 2 Corinthians 6:1 Paul gave one of the most amazing and wonderful titles: workers together with Him.

Think about it. Paul saw himself as a co-worker with Jesus Christ. The use of we instead of “I” shows that Paul didn’t only consider himself as a co-worker with Jesus, but also others who served the Savior.

What an amazing job you have: workers together with Him! It isn’t that God needed Paul, or that God needs any of us. Instead, it is that God wants us to be workers together with Him for our good.

It’s like the little boy with the toy lawnmower following dad as dad mows the lawn. For the sake of pure efficiency, dad should ask the boy to go away because he is really just in the way. But it is so good for the boy to work with dad! And because dad loves his boy, he wants him to work together with Him.

The word “workers” itself is important. There is something good and important in work itself, so much so that God wants us to be workers together with Him. God’s best for our life is never a state of ease and comfort and indulgent inactivity – even if we did all those things together with Him. God wants us to be workers together with Him, not “couch potatoes” or “pew potatoes” together with Him.

We are workers together with Him. Paul never said God works together with us. It isn’t our work that God helps us with. It is His work that He asks us to do together with Him. Instead of trying to get God to help us with our work, we need to find out what God’s work is, and do it with Him.

After a weekend of serving God, take little pleasure in recognizing one of the wonderful things about Christian ministry: we get to work together with Jesus Christ. He wants you to work with Him and to advance His kingdom. How honored we all are to do this!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

 

 

servants stewards

How to Consider Yourself

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
1 Corinthians 4:1

servants stewards

Paul wrote to the Corinthians and here told them how he wanted to be considered. When they thought of Paul, what did he want to come into their mind? Paul knew how he and others like him should be thought of. He said, let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

In the Christian world today, consider what many pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers might finish those words, consider us.

  • Consider us professionals
  • Consider us celebrities
  • Consider us eloquent
  • Consider us successful
  • Consider us intellectual
  • Consider us influential
  • Consider us popular

Paul would have none of that. For him it was, consider us as servants of Christ. This was his primary identification when it came to ministry, and to be a servant of Christ was a high enough honor for Paul. But Paul wasn’t only a servant, but also a steward: and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Basically, the steward had the responsibility to protect and wisely distribute what the master owned. Paul knew he had to protect and distribute God’s message (the mysteries of God). Paul wasn’t a composer of these mysteries, nor was he an editor of them. Neither are we. Like Paul, we protect and wisely distribute.

Dear pastor, preacher, or Bible teacher: there is a sense in which God has entrusted His word to you as a steward of His mysteries. You have a great responsibility to both protect and distribute His truth, and to do it as well as you can.

Today, take some satisfaction in those two titles: servant and steward. Consider yourself that way and be happy if others consider you the same way.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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