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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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inheritance

Choosing Our Inheritance

He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves.

Psalm 47:4

inheritance

This short thought by email is directed to pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers. I hope to bring you a brief word of encouragement after a weekend of serving God in whatever way He has given you to serve.

Think of this wonderful line from Psalm 47:4: He will choose our inheritance for us. The psalmist was confident in the wisdom and goodness of the great King. He was happy to let the great King choose our inheritance.

It is a glorious fact that our great King Jesus has chosen the inheritance of His people. Ephesians 1:3-6 is just one passage that describes some of His choosing for us:

– He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.
– He chose us to be holy and blameless before Him in love.
– He chose us to be adopted as sons and daughters into His family.

It is a wise prayer, to ask our great King Jesus to choose our inheritance for us. We often get into trouble by wanting to choose our own inheritance.

– We sometimes want to choose our own blessings. One has health, another has wealth, a third has great talents; each wishes they had what the other has. Yet it is far better to let God choose our blessings.

– We sometimes want to choose our own calling. One sees the calling of another and thinks that the calling of the other is better, or they want to imitate the calling of another instead of running their own race.

– We sometimes want to choose our own crosses. We think that our own problems are so much worse than others, and we think that we could bear any number of crosses – except the one He chose for us.

The second line of Psalm 47:4 shows us why we can trust Jesus to choose our inheritance: the excellence of Jacob whom He loves. We know that for Jesus’ sake and because we are in Him, God is for us and not against us. He loves us as His chosen; because He chose us we are happy to let Him choose our inheritance for us.

As pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers we can be at peace with where we are at, and with whatever God may has for us in the future, because a loving God has chosen our inheritance for us.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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river

The Happy River

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
Psalm 46:4-5

river

I love to read the Psalms. No matter how I’m feeling or what circumstances I am in, there is a psalm to match my mood. Something here in Psalm 46 spoke to me just now.

As I write this on Monday, I know that many of you have preached and served at your local church yesterday. Many people from many backgrounds receive this email, so if you weren’t preaching in a pulpit, leading a class, or other kind of preaching and teaching service on Sunday, I think you can still benefit from the truth of Psalm 46:4-5.

The psalmist confidently declares, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God.” He pictured the abundant, constant provision of a river for Jerusalem. I live in Southern California where we really don’t have rivers. When I travel and see a mighty river, I’m impressed and amazed. Here the psalmist pictured a happy river for Jerusalem (the city of God).

Jerusalem does not in fact have such a river, only a few small streams. Yet the prophets anticipated the day when a mighty river would flow from the temple itself (Ezekiel 47:12, Revelation 22:1). The future reality is already in the mind of the psalmist. This river flows and makes all the city of God happy.

– The city of God is glad because life-giving water is always present in that dry, semi-arid land.

– The city of God is glad because the river has many streams, a picture perhaps connected to the rivers that watered the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14).

– The city of God is glad because a river is sometimes a picture of peace (Isaiah 48:18, 66:12). The idea is that Jerusalem is in perfect peace.

– The city of God is glad because their city is secure, having one of the best defenses against an enemy besieging the city – guaranteed water.

I believe that God wants to bring blessing to your service for Him, blessing like a life-giving river. This blessing isn’t gained by working harder or doing better, but by simply believing and receiving. Under God’s grace the key to blessing is not earning and deserving, but in truly trusting Jesus and receiving.

Like this river, God wants to bring life and refreshment to you in your service to Him and His people. Like many streams, God wants to do this in many ways, perhaps some of them unexpected. Like a tranquil river, God wants to bring peace and a sense of security in Him to your ministry.

His river is happy and wonderful. Let the river of God’s blessing refresh you this Monday.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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overflowing heart

The Overflowing Heart

My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

Psalm 45:1

overflowing heart

Many of you have preached and served God, His people, and a needy world over the weekend. Here’s a quick thought that might bless and brighten your Monday.

I love the song of the Sons of Korah in Psalm 45. The whole Psalm is so focused on the greatness of Messiah the King, and upon His bride. For a quick morning encouragement, just take a look at verse 1:

My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

I don’t know how your summer is going, and what this season of ministry is like for you. Ministry definitely has its seasons. I have a big heart for those who are in difficult seasons of serving God. But I’m also happy to say that not all seasons are difficult; sometimes our heart is overflowing with a good theme.

Let’s be grateful for those good seasons of serving God, and let’s especially do what Psalm 45 guides us to do: put our focus on the King in those times.

Did you know that there are many people who can handle adversity much better than they can handle success? Sometimes it is the overflowing season that makes our focus drift. In the hard times you kept your focus on God because you knew you had to, or you might not make it through! But in the overflowing season, it’s easy to relax too much (or in the wrong way) and let our focus wander.

It doesn’t have to be that way. When your heart is overflowing with a good theme because your preaching or teaching seems blessed, because budgets are being met, because the work of the Holy Spirit is evident, because there is peace among the congregation, or for whatever other reasons, just let it overflow in the right direction. Direct the overflow to the King. Remember that the blessing is there because He is so wonderful, not because you are so wonderful!

You know how to draw near to God in adversity, now draw near to Him in gratitude. In a season of overflow, remember that it takes a steady hand to hold a full cup – even more so a cup that is overflowing! Focused on the King, your hand will be steady, and the season of overflow will be as spiritually healthy for you as a season of difficulty.

Enjoy the overflow.

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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from the depths

From the Depths

Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 42:7

from the depths

Serving God has its seasons of discouragement. We’re so thankful that it isn’t always like that, but it certainly is discouraging from time to time. In such a season we can find real encouragement from Psalm 42. The whole psalm is amazing but look at just verse 7.

When the psalmist sang, “Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls” he wasn’t thinking about the depths of glory, but the depths of discouragement. Perhaps the psalmist saw or thought of a waterfall in this high country. He saw how the water plunged down into a deep pool at the base of the waterfall and thought, “I feel that deeply buried under my misery.” It was as if all Your waves and billows have gone over me and he was buried under.

It is a powerful and poetic description of despair:

  • I hear the constant noise of the waterfalls; it never stops.
  • I fell from a previous height.
  • I plunged down quickly, and was taken down deep.
  • I feel buried under all of this.
  • I feel like I’m drowning.

Yet even in this, there are points of light, giving hope:

  • I am deep; but God is also – so His depths call unto me in my depths.
  • The waterfalls are God’s; if I am plunged under, then He are with me.
  • The waves and billows are His; God has measured all this.

From the depths, the psalmist understood “The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me.” The psalmist came to a place of greater confidence, secure in God’s goodness to him in the daytime or at night. In the more frightening night, he would have the gracious comfort of His song to be with him.

That’s why he could dedicate this song as “A prayer to the God of my life.” This was another statement of confidence. The song from God will be a prayer, but not unto the God of his death, but to the God of my life.

Feel like you’re going under? God is with you even in the depths, and He will command His lovingkindness to you!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

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