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.

Wrong Kind of Unity

The Wrong Kind of Unity

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Here’s a thought for your Monday morning, after a weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world. It’s from a strange event in the ministry of Jesus found in Matthew 8:34:

And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus.
And when they saw Him,
they begged Him to depart from their region.

Dangerous, demon-possessed men brought so much terror to a city that they took the tormented men and chained them up in a graveyard.

Wrong Kind of Unity

Those demons were no match for Jesus, and at His command the men were set free. The whole city responded – the whole city came out to meet Jesus! Surely, they came to thank Him and honor Him as Lord.

Here is the shock of Matthew 8:34: instead of thanking Jesus, they wanted him to go away. They begged Him to depart from their region.

The work of Jesus had unified the whole city, and they had all come out to meet with and to talk to Jesus; but it was not in a good way. They asked Jesus to leave, and He did.

When we minister in Jesus’ name, sometimes people will be against us. Sometimes it might even feel like everyone is against us!

In those seasons, humble yourself before God. Ask Him to search your heart, and speak to you of any wicked way in you (Psalm 139:23-24). Yet at the end of it all, if you are rejected for standing with Jesus – then stand with your Savior. He knows what you’re going through!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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The Preacher They Listened To

The Preacher They Listened To

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Here’s a thought for your Monday morning, after a weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world. It’s a warning to the leaders of the Kingdom of Judah from Micah 3:12:

Therefore because of you
Zion shall be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins,
And the mountain of the temple
Like the bare hills of the forest.

Like most of the prophets, Micah fearlessly confronted the corruption of his time. He spoke to Judah’s judges, prophets, and princes. The ruling elite of Judah were not much better than the rulers of the apostate northern Kingdom of Israel, and they could expect similar judgment unless they repented.

The Preacher They Listened To

They needed to repent from a lot. Corruption had deeply set in, like bribery among the judges and greedy attitudes among the priests and the prophets. Despite this disgraceful state of things, they still made a pretense of trusting God. The leaders of Jerusalem had a false confidence in religious ritual and form. All the while, Jerusalem was destined for judgment unless they repented.

For anyone who has studied the prophets of the Old Testament, these lines run along familiar tracks. We see the bold expose of corruption and the fearless call to repentance. But at this point the lines of Micah’s ministry run in a different direction: they actually listened to him.

The great thing about the Prophet Micah was that he was listened to. Hosea was ignored, and so was Amos. They threw Jeremiah in jail for his prophetic message of coming judgment. In contrast, King Hezekiah and the leadership of Judah listened to the Prophet Micah.

Jeremiah 26:17-19 describes how even a hundred years later the impact of Micah was remembered. King Hezekiah heard God’s warning through Micah, and they repented.

We get used to the familiar pattern of people rejecting God’s word through His messengers, and then carelessly carrying on to their appointed judgment. Yet it doesn’t have to end that way. Sometimes the people of God really do listen and respond to the voice of the Spirit and turn back to God. When they do, they find God ready to welcome them back with open arms and His transforming grace. Sometimes it really works just like it should.

Take this to heart, even in seasons of discouragement. Sometimes our work for God and His people works just like it should. We appreciate this as preachers of God’s Word, but we also need to learn from it as people under God’s word: we can listen to the messengers God sends our way.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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reasons to believe

Reasons to Believe

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Here’s a thought for your Monday morning, after a weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world. It’s a thought from Matthew 8:26:

But He said to them,
“Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”
Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

It’s a great passage, isn’t it? Perhaps you have preached many times on this scene of Jesus rebuking wind and waves, and how He can calm our stormy seas.

reasons to believe

Allow me to take this passage and apply it to us as pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers. Focus on the question Jesus asked: Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? Jesus rebuked their fear and unbelief – not for waking Him up or for asking for help. We shouldn’t think that Jesus was in a bad mood from being awakened. He was troubled at their fear, because fear and unbelief go together.

In fact, Jesus dealt with His disciples before He dealt with the storm! Relatively speaking, the storm was easy to deal with. Attention needed to be given to the disciples first.

I think Jesus rebuked their fear because they actually had many reasons to have faith, even reasons for great faith.

– They had just seen Jesus do significant miracles, showing great power and authority.
– They had seen an example of great faith with the centurion who trusted Jesus to heal his servant.
– They had Jesus with them in the boat and they saw Jesus sleeping; His peace should have given them peace.

Friend, maybe you have some genuine reasons to be afraid. For the disciples, the storm and the threat from it were real.

Here’s the truth: whatever your reasons for fear, God has given you even greater reasons for faith. If you can’t think of any of those reasons, ask God to show you. Call a friend and tell them you are looking for more reasons and greater reasons to believe. The reasons are there – our part is to perceive them.

Go out and keep serving God, His people, and a needy world, knowing that you have great reasons to believe – no matter what the reasons for fear may be!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Labor Day - Jesus' Yoke

Labor Day

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Today (September 7, 2020) is “Labor Day” in the United States. Many workers in the US have a holiday, intended to honor the working men and women of the country.

No matter what country you live in, I’m writing this to you as a servant of Jesus Christ – someone who labors for the Lord’s work. With that in mind, look at these familiar words from Jesus:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke
is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Labor Day - Jesus' Yoke

Jesus directed His call to those who were burdened by their work, to all you who labor and are heavy laden. According to one commentator, labor implies the burdens we take upon ourselves, and heavy laden implies the burdens others put upon us.

To all those, Jesus gave this invitation: take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. When we take the yoke of Jesus, we find that it:

– Is easy and light as compared with the yoke of others.
– Is easy and light as long as I do not rebel against it.
– Has nothing to do with worries that are forbidden to us.
– Does not include the burdens we choose to add to it.

Taking the yoke of Jesus, you will find rest for your souls. This unmatchable gift – both powerful and profound – should be considered the birthright of those who come to Jesus and are His followers.

Jesus summarized this wonderful call with this assurance: My yoke is easy and My burden is light. The yoke is easy and the burden is light because He bears it with us. Borne alone, it might be unbearable; but with Jesus it can be easy and light.

There is still a yoke to bear and burden to carry. Yet with and in Jesus, they are easy and light. If your yoke is hard and your burden is heavy, ask yourself:

Is the yoke and burden of Jesus? Or, is it really from myself or other people?

Am I really letting Jesus bear the weight of this yoke with me?

Dear brother or sister, keep on plowing – just make sure you do it with the yoke of Jesus, and let Him bear the weight of the yoke with you.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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not glamorous

Not Glamorous

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Jesus gives us something to think about after a weekend of serving God and His people:

And Jesus said to him,
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
(Matthew 8:20)

A scribe came to Jesus and said he wanted to follow Him. “Scribe” means that he was an educated, professional man – something like an attorney today. Maybe he looked at the unimpressive and uneducated men who made up the 12 disciple and figured he would be the natural leader among them – an impressive addition to team Jesus.

not glamorous

Jesus responded to the scribe, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Jesus didn’t tell the man “No, you can’t follow Me.” But Jesus told him the truth, without painting a glamorized version of what it was like to follow Him.

There is often very little glamor and a fair amount of hardship in following Jesus and serving Him. I don’t think it is helpful to focus on the things we give up for the sake of Jesus and serving His people, but it is good to remember from time to time that it is normal. It doesn’t mean that we are failures or are doing it wrong.

Many pastors and Christian workers I know are exhausted. They have been giving their all in these strange times and have done so for a long time. If that’s you, please find a way to take some rest. In your time of resting (whether it is long or short), remember that a not-glamorous ministry is doing it just like Jesus did.

I’m sending this with a prayer for you and all who read this email!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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

Whose Church?

Whose Church?

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Jesus gives us something to think about after a weekend of serving God and His people:

I will build My church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:18b)

These words of Jesus give us the first use of the word church in the New Testament. It is the ancient Greek word ekklesia – a “called-out group.” Many people consider the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 as the “birthday” of the church, but Jesus certainly anticipated the eventually joining of Jewish and Gentile believers together in the one body, the church. The church would be made up of all those who truly trusted in the message just revealed to the disciples: that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Whose Church?

This statement of Jesus was a clear claim of ownership – He said, My church. Please note, the church belongs to Jesus. This was also a claim to deity – only God can say the church belongs to Him.

Taken together, the promise is wonderful:

– Jesus brings His people together in common: I will build.
– Jesus builds on a firm foundation: On this rock I will build.
– Jesus builds something that belongs to Him: My church.
– Jesus builds His people into a stronghold: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

Here is a comforting promise: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. As dark as things seem sometime, we can trust the promise of Jesus that the forces of death and darkness can’t prevail against or conquer the church.

As you seek to serve Jesus, His people, and a needy world this week, keep it in mind: the church belongs to Jesus. Fundamentally, the church doesn’t belong to the pastor, to the elder or deacon board, or to the congregation. The church certainly doesn’t belong to the government or its leaders.

The church belongs to the One who purchased it with His own blood. Whatever we do for the sake of God’s church, let’s do it with boldness and trust in Him, and do it for His glory and recognition.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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word of authority

The Word of Authority

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I have in mind some special people for this brief word. I think of those who have worked hard to bring something from God’s word to God’s people and to all who will listen. Whether you speak to many or to few, you have a privileged place – to speak on behalf of the King of Glory.

With that in mind, think of this from Matthew 8:8:

The centurion answered and said,
“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.
But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.”

When the Roman centurion asked a favor of Jesus, he asked it with great sensitivity towards Jesus. He knew that it was forbidden for an observant Jew to enter a Gentile’s house, so the centurion insisted it was not necessary for Jesus to come to his house. All Jesus had to do was speak a word, and the centurion’s servant would be healed.

word of authority

The Roman centurion understood something that many people do not: that the healing power of Jesus was not some sort of magic trick that required the magician’s presence. Instead, he knew Jesus had true authority, and Jesus could command things to be done and outside His immediate presence – and they would be done!

The centurion showed great faith in Jesus’ word. He understood that Jesus can heal with His word just as easily as with a touch. The centurion knew that the authority of Jesus was at least as great as the authority of a commanding officer over the soldiers under his charge. When the commanding officer spoke, the soldiers were to respect his authority. When Jesus speaks, He commands authority over every created thing.

Dear friend who labors in the proclamation of God’s word: please remember that there is tremendous authority in the word of God. Your own authority or personality doesn’t really matter much; you are a messenger of the God of all authority! When you clearly explain and apply what God says in His word, you can be as bold as a lion. As you stick to God’s word, you have apostolic authority in the best sense.

Uncertain times call for clear words from our pulpits and places of Bible teaching. This isn’t a season for vain speculations; people need to hear the authority of God’s word. They need to hear it from people who are persuaded that the word of Jesus has authority. I hope you have as much faith in the authority of Jesus’ word as the Roman centurion did!

The authority of Jesus’ word has not weakened one bit in the last 2,000 years. Ask God to give you a fresh appreciation of the authority of the word of God as you present the message of Jesus Christ, the living word.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Job - Better Than Normal

Job – Better than Normal

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Right now, many of us are thinking of how things will get back to “normal.” But if you’re like me, you also think: “Lord, I don’t want things back to where they were before all this global pandemic and other shaking events. In Jesus’ name, bring us to a better place with You than we were ever at before.”

Remember this from the Book of Job:

Now the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.
Job 42:12

Job - Better Than Normal

You will remember that at the start of the Book of Job, the man Job was a blessed, godly man, with a real relationship with God.

Then the calamities came, and Job had a true crisis.

Yet at the end of it all, Job was more blessed, greater in his godliness, and had a deeper relationship with God. What the devil intended for evil, God used for good. Through it all, God made a good man better.

As tough as it has been, I don’t think many of us have suffered as badly as Job suffered. But we want God to work in us and through us in the way He worked through Job. Our prayer is, “Lord – in these hard times, please don’t let one bit of suffering or trouble be wasted. Let it all work for Your glory and my growth.”

In the story of Job we could say that God declared to Satan: “You do your worst with Job, and I will do My best in him – and let’s see who wins in the end.”

By faith, receive it – God’s best working in you even through this strange season. At the end of it all, we hope to end with something better than normal!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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The Undiscouraged Leper

The Undiscouraged Leper

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

God be with you on this Monday! I don’t know if you preached or taught the Bible this last weekend, but I wanted to bring you this encouraging word from Matthew 8:12:

When He had come down from the mountain,
great multitudes followed Him.
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying,
“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

As pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers, we all know that Jesus did many amazing miracles. Today, think for a moment about this leper. We read here that he came to Jesus, he worshipped Jesus, and he asked Jesus to heal him.

The Undiscouraged Leper

Here is a simple thought: this leper came to Jesus despite many discouragements. Think about the reasons he had to be discouraged:

  • He knew how terrible his problem was.
  • He knew that other people gave up on him as having a hopeless condition.
  • He came alone, having no one who would or could take him to Jesus.
  • He had no previous example of Jesus healing a leper to give him hope.
  • He had no promise that Jesus would heal him.
  • He had no invitation from Jesus or the disciples.
  • He must have felt ashamed and alone in the crowd.

This leper fought off all these discouragements and came to Jesus, worshipped Him, and asked Jesus for a miracle to meet his need.

As we serve God, there are many discouragements along the way. Sometimes I think that “discouragement” is the sharpest tool the devil uses against God’s servants.

But the next time you feel so discouraged, remember this leper who battled through every discouragement to come to Jesus, worship Him, and receive from Jesus. Then remember that you have many, many more reasons for encouragement than that leper ever had!

  • You know how bad your problems are; you have also seen the power of Jesus win the victory many times.
  • You know other people have given up on you; but you also know Jesus has never given up on you.
  • You may feel alone in your problem, but you know Jesus is with you.
  • You have many examples of Jesus powerfully working for His servants.
  • You have many precious promises from Jesus to encourage you.
  • You have an invitation to the throne of grace in your time of need.
  • You have many others who know your difficulty and stand beside you.

Sure, you have reasons to be discouraged – but you have many more reasons to be encouraged. Lord Jesus, help us to walk in the strength of your encouraging promises!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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taking aim

Taking Aim

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Happy Day-After-Pentecost! I pray that today and all this week you can walk in the power and the strength of the Holy Spirit. We need it more today than ever.

Today, just a short thought from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:9:

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent,
to be well pleasing to Him.

taking aim

You’ve heard it before – “when you read a ‘therefore,’ find out what it is there for.” Before verse 9, Paul drew attention to eternity; being absent from our body and being present with the Lord. In light of that, we have an aim – and that aim is to be well pleasing to Him. Since what we do right now has eternal consequences, our goal must persistently be to please God.

This is our aim, whether present or absent. We can’t do anything right now about pleasing God when after this life we are absent from these bodies and present with the Lord. That day has not yet come. Yet we can do something about pleasing Jesus right now – when we are absent from His immediate presence and present in these bodies.

As far as we know, there are some opportunities for pleasing God that we will only have while we are present in these bodies. When we get to heaven, there will be no more need for faith, no more need for endurance through trials, no more need for courage and boldness in telling others about Jesus. Now, while we are present in these bodies, is our only opportunity in all eternity to please God in these areas.

So, take aim – make it your bold goal to be well pleasing to Jesus. The people liked your sermon – but was it well pleasing to Him? Your social media post got a lot of likes – but was it well pleasing to Him? Those movers and shakers in your church are pleased, but is it well pleasing to Him?

Take aim, dear servant of God! Remember what Alexander Maclaren said: “You report to headquarters. Never mind what anybody else thinks of you. Your business is to please Christ, and the less you trouble yourselves about pleasing men the more you will succeed in doing it.”

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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