Happy New Year. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating the birth of our Saviour with family, friends and church. I pray that you got some rest over the last few weeks, and you are starting the year full of faith, hope and love as you serve Him in 2023.
I have been reflecting on Psalm 16 and verse 8, has stuck in my mind. “I set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). You can’t yet see all the storms or struggles that you will face in ministry in 2023, and there will be some again this year. What you can do is, “keep your eyes always on the Lord” (NIV) or “set the Lord always before you” (ESV). When we set the Lord always before us, nothing will shake us. How are you going to set the Lord always before you in 2023? Let me suggest a place to start….
Set a place: We set a place at a table to eat a meal with family and friends, to be nourished physically and relationally. David says to the Lord, “you are my portion and my cup” (Psalm 16:5) and “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). Set a place that you really enjoy going to meet with the Lord to nourish your soul in 2023. The top of a hill; a comfy chair; an uncomfortable milk crate; on a rock by the water or a candle-lit corner. Set a place that you really enjoy. For me, it must not be my desk where I work. My personal time with the Lord cannot be another task that I fulfil, but a feast that I look forward to eating in a set place every day.
Set a path: We set off on a path to enjoy the walk and to arrive in a beautiful place. David knew the joy of walking with God every day and he had faith that He would arrive in a good place (Psalm 16:11). What’s the path that you are going to walk with God in this season. My current path is to read John’s Gospel and SOAP journal every day until Easter. Committing to hand write portions of Scripture, personal reflections, and prayers, helps me to slow down and meditate on God’s word long enough for it to transform my heart and mind. So far, I am enjoying the journey every day and I am confident that I will arrive in a good place personally with Jesus, to introduce others to Him over the Easter weekend. I can’t wait!
Set a practice of praise: We practice something consistently that we want to become second nature to us over time. Of all people, David, set a consistent practice of praise. He wrote 73 Psalms of praise. He praised God 7 times a day (Psalm 119). He praised God during the day and the Lord was still in his heart at night instructing him (Psalm 16:7). Brother Lawrence learnt to praise God and live in His presence as he washed dishes every day. I encourage you to find an essential everyday practice that you set as a reason to praise. Whenever you pour a coffee, drink a cup of clean water, finish a meeting, save a document, water the plants……make it your practice to praise. In a world full of digital distractions and “take you out of ministry” temptations, setting a practice of praise will help to set the Lord always before you and not be shaken from your call.
Set the right people in place: We are encouraged to endure by the example and testimony of faithful people (Psalm 16:3). Don’t wait for difficulty to come before you set people in place for encouragement and support. Join a retreat group; prioritise your regional gathering; pray with a few other pastors or leaders every month.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to register for Transform Conference 2023. Set aside this time to gather together with brothers and sisters in our movement to praise God, be inspired and encourage one another as we share Jesus with others in our communities and make disciples of all nations. There is still some accommodation left at SeaWorld, but you will need to get in quick. I would love to see you there! You can register by clicking here.
You can’t yet see all the struggles and storms that you will face in 2023, but you can set the Lord always before you and you will not be shaken by anything. In a world shaken by uncertainty and brokenness, we can be a non-anxious presence, pointing people to Jesus, our everlasting rock and safe refuge.
Director of the QB Movement