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.

A Certain Jesus

A Certain Jesus

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Good Monday to you! Of course, I don’t know if you are reading this on a Monday, but that’s the day it is sent to you. I pray you are blessed in your walk with God, your family, and your service unto God, His people, and a needy world.

Here’s a quick thought from Acts 25:18-19:

When the accusers stood up, they brought
no accusation against him of such things as I supposed,
but had some questions against him about their own religion
and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

A Certain Jesus

In Acts 25, the man speaking these words is Festus, a newly appointed governor of the Roman province of Judea. He is explaining to King Agrippa why Paul was on trial. Festus explained that the accusations against Paul surprised him (they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed). Their accusations focused on matters of their religion and a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

The words “a certain Jesus” show that Festus didn’t know much about Jesus. It is good to remember that the great and important people of Paul’s day didn’t know much about Jesus, and they had to be told. People still must be told today. Preacher, they might not hear about Jesus, especially His death and resurrection for us, unless you tell them!

Festus didn’t know much about Jesus, but he knew that Paul emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Please note that the religious leaders accusing Paul complained that Paul wouldn’t stop talking about the risen Jesus, and they hoped that the governor would make Paul stop. Paul didn’t only speak about the risen Jesus, but also Jesus, who had died. When Paul preached, he emphasized the cross. It’s hard to believe that Festus knew that Paul preached that Jesus died, without also hearing about how Jesus died.

It’s really pretty simple:

– People don’t know much about Jesus and need to be told the good news of who Jesus is and what He did for us.
– When you talk about Jesus, always find a way to talk about His crucifixion and resurrection for us.

Wouldn’t you love that to be said of you? “This preacher won’t stop talking about Jesus, and that Jesus died and rose again for us.”

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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The Problems You Don't Know About

The Problems You Don’t Know About

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Good Monday morning to you! That’s when I’m sending this to you, but I really don’t have any idea when (or if) you’ll read this. Whenever you are reading this, please know that I pray that God continually fills you as you keeping serving Him in whatever opportunities you have.

Here’s a quick thought from Acts 23:12-13:

And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together
and bound themselves under an oath,
saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.
Now there were more than forty who had formed this conspiracy.

The Problems You Don't Know About

This was obviously a real problem for Paul! There were 40 fanatical men so committed to murdering Paul that they swore and oath to not eat or drink until he was dead.

Here’s the thing: Paul didn’t learn about this until later. For some time (we don’t know how long), this was a problem Paul didn’t know about. Though Paul was clueless, God was in control.

There are a lot of hurts to bear in ministry, and sometimes even betrayals. Sometimes we get a little anxious, worrying about what threats or problems may be out there that we can’t see.

Dear friend and fellow servant, calm your heart before the Lord. God is in control and can work His purpose and His will even through the problems you don’t know about!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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The Preacher's Passion

The Preacher’s Passion

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I pray this email finds you receiving some rest and refreshment as you continue to serve God, His people, and a needy world. Here’s a quick thought from Acts 21:37-39:

Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander,
“May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek?
Are you not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a rebellion
and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?”
But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city;
and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.”
(Acts 21:37-39)

The Preacher's Passion

I love this scene from the book of Acts. Paul had just been severely beaten by a mob on the temple mount, rescued from death only by the intervention of a commander in the Roman army.

As the Roman soldiers dragged Paul up the steps to the Antonia Fortress, at the top of the stairs the apostle had an idea: “Maybe I can preach to this crowd that just tried to beat me to death.” At this moment, when his life was in danger from an angry mob and he was suspected of being a dangerous criminal, Paul had one thing on his mind: “Let me preach the gospel!”

Friends, that is the heart of a preacher! Always looking for a God-glorifying opportunity to proclaim God’s word. Always ready for a chance to declare the truth in love.

I’m praying that this week God would give you an unexpected opportunity to proclaim, and that you would have the wisdom to see it and seize it. You can join me – pray this prayer for every pastor, preacher, or Bible teacher who reads this!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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God's Might, Prevailing Word

God’s Mighty, Prevailing Word

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

God bless you today! I pray that this email finds you receiving some recovery and renewal after a weekend where you may have been busy serving Jesus, His people, and a needy world.

In my brief word today, I would ask you to consider Acts 19:20:

So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.

This description of what God was doing in Ephesus and the whole region around that great city sound amazing – actually, something like a dream! Wouldn’t you love it to be said of the church, Sunday School class, or Bible study where you serve?

God's Might, Prevailing Word

 

– That the word of the Lord grew – gained influence and touched many lives.
– That the word of the Lord grew mightily – showing mighty power and authority.
– That the word of the Lord actually prevailed – conquering over sin, guilt, and shame.

So, look back through Acts 19 and see some of the features of the church in Ephesus and what God did there.

– It was a church open to and receiving the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7)
– It was a church of bold preaching and evangelism (Acts 19:8)
– It was a church that endured opposition (Acts 19:9, 23-41)
– It was a church serious about studying God’s word (Acts 19:9-10)
– It was a church that saw God do unusual things (Acts 19:11-12)
– It was a church where sin was confessed and holiness was valued (Acts 19:17-2)

It’s a good prayer to pray – “Lord, I want to see Your word grow mightily and prevail.” Just remember God wants to build all those other things so that His word can do that mighty, prevailing work.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Turning the World Upside Down

Turning the World Upside Down

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Blessings to you in the beginning of a new week!

When Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica, their success in preaching the gospel made the leaders of the local synagogue angry and envious. As they accused these Christians before the rulers of the city, the evil men from the marketplace gave an unintended compliment to the effectiveness of God’s work through Paul and Silas.

But when they did not find them,
they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city,
crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down
have come here too.”
(Acts 17:6)

To complain that the Christians were these who have turned the world upside-down have come here toowas to say, “these men have radically impacted our world, and nothing seems the same.”

Turning the World Upside Down

God willing and blessing, people would say such things about the effectiveness of Christians today. One might say that Jesus did not come only to be our teacher, but to turn our world upside-down. Jesus turns the thinking and the power structures of this world around.

My prayer for you is that you would see that your work of faithfully preaching and teaching God’s word does more good and has more impact than you can imagine. I would like to think that when Paul and Silas heard from their enemies that their work was turning the world upside down, they smiled and thought, “Wow, do you really think so? I didn’t’ know we were being that effective.”

Actually, God was working through Paul and Silas to turn the world right side-up again. But when you yourself are upside-down, the other direction appears to be upside-down!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Grace and Graciousness

Grace and Graciousness

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

Here’s a brief thought from Acts 15. In verse one, we read

Certain men came down from Judea
and taught the brethren,
“Unless you are circumcised
according to the custom of Moses,
you cannot be saved.”

Some Jewish Christians came to the congregation in Antioch and taught that Gentiles could become Christians, but only after first becoming Jews, and submitting to all Jewish rituals, including circumcision.

Grace and Graciousness

Through Acts 15 there is a brilliant defense of the important truth that we are saved by the grace of Jesus and His grace alone – not by a combination of grace and obedience. The troublemakers who started all this trouble in the church at Antioch were corrected, and all came to agreement.

Here’s the thought: Acts 15 never mentions the names of these troublemakers. In verse 1 they are “certain men.” In verse 2 they are “them.” In verse 5 they are “some of the sect of the Pharisees.” In verse 24 they are “some who went out from us.”

The apostles battled for grace, and they were gracious to those in the wrong.

Of course, there is a time and place for calling people out by name; Paul did it on several occasions. But regarding these ones who were wrong and then corrected in Acts 15, God spared their names recorded for all eternity in His everlasting word.

As you battle for grace, never forget the principle of graciousness.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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Ministering to God

Ministering to God

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I pray this email finds you receiving some rest and refreshment as you continue to serve God, His people, and a needy world. Here’s a quick thought from Acts 13:2:

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted,
the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them.”

I don’t really know if you have noticed that phrase I often use – about serving “God, His people, and a needy world.” I draw the first part of that phrase from the idea found in Acts 13:2. There, it says that the people in the congregation at Antioch ministered to the Lord.

Ministering to God

It’s easy for us to focus on the fact that we minister to God’s people – the sheep of His flock. We also minister to a needy world, preaching the gospel to them and loving them in the name of Jesus.

But first and foremost, we minister to the Lord. We serve Him.

This is both a comfort and a challenge. The challenge comes in knowing that we can have a ministry that is praised and popular among men, but doesn’t honor God. We can never be satisfied with such a man-centered ministry.

The comfort comes in knowing that God isn’t impossible to please as people often can be! God knows and understands what others don’t. Even when it seems that we can’t please anyone else, we can please God as we minister to Him.

Don’t ever forget: your first ministry is to God Himself.

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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The Hand of the Lord

The Hand of the Lord

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

It’s been a long time since I’ve sent one of these emails to you all – I apologize for the long delay and hope once again to get in the rhythm of sending you a note of encouragement every second week.

I do hope your weekend of serving God, His people, and a needy world went well. Whether it did or not, here’s an encouraging word from Acts 11:

And the hand of the Lord was with them,
and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
(Acts 11:21)

In the ancient world, many people considered Syrian Antioch to be the third greatest city in the Roman Empire, behind Rome and Alexandria. Antioch was known for its business and commerce, for its sophistication and culture, but also for its immorality.

The Hand of the Lord

In such a challenging place, God was doing something amazing in the church at Antioch. Luke summarized it in Acts 11:21.

Simply said, the hand of the Lord was with them. Because God was with them, their ministry was blessed and multiplied, and the result was that a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

A ministry can’t turn people to the Lord unless the hand of the Lord is with them.

You can turn people to a personality without the hand of the Lord.
You can turn people to a social club without the hand of the Lord.
You can turn people to a church or an institution without the hand of the Lord.
But you can’t turn people to Jesus without the hand of the Lord.

Let’s pray that God’s hand is mightily upon all we do for Him!

Blessings to you in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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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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