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.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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