Greetings from Mobile, Alabama, the “Azalea City,” where Springtime is upon us, the flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and great clouds of pollen dance merrily upon the morning breezes. We hope all is well with you as you receive this letter. For so many, we know this remains a season of great challenge. Please know of our love; you are often in our prayers.
There is a cacophony of voices vying for our attention. Too often, it is the loudest or most outrageous voices that seize our focus and compel us in emotions or directions where we should not go. We’ve learned that volume does not equate wisdom and boasting does not equate power. We have been tested greatly by events and circumstances beyond our understanding or
Are you hungry to hear the voice of the Lord? Are you thirsty for His refreshing presence? Could it be that God, in His mercy, has allowed many of us to come to the end of ourselves—our wisdom, our strength, our resources—so that we might repent and turn once more to Him? How important is it for us to hear and see Him clearly in these days?
In the mid-1990s, our friend Mike Poulin said, “You can be in the middle of something that God is doing and still miss it.” Those words sobered and humbled me, because we were in a season of significant revival in our local church and part of something great that God was doing worldwide. I remember my knees hitting the altar and my face pressed down into the carpet, wet with tears, crying out to God: “Lord, please don’t let me miss You.”
Fast forward to early 2021: there are many swirling eddies of fear, depression, anger, confusion, and division raging across Western nations, and even the Western Church. Let’s not sugar-coat reality here. But, let’s not lose heart, either. Let us speak of the truth that transcends all of that: Jesus is still King. He is not shaking. Many institutions, structures, and “isms” may fall, but the Kingdom of God is rock solid, unshakable, and eternal (see March 2021 Pastoral Letter: “The Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken”). He is our only hope, but He’s the only hope we need!
I believe there is a great, fresh, authentic transformative revival coming. But let me warn you: it will not look like any revival we’ve seen in the past. And those who come to salvation and receive the Holy Spirit and spread the Gospel may not look or talk like you. In fact, some of them may be people with whom you’ve been angry, or perhaps even feared. People you may think of as enemies today may become your brothers and sisters in Christ tomorrow, and may become tremendous allies in the spread of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Wouldn’t that be something? Could you receive them? Will you pray for them now? I hope you don’t mind if I’m challenging you. I can tell you, God is challenging me!
Do you really want revival? Do you really want God to heal the land? It starts with humbling ourselves, praying, seeking His face, and turning specifically from our wicked ways (see 2 Chronicles 7:14). We need to stop telling the Lord what to do with those “other people” out there who look and think differently than we do. We must hit our knees in humility before God and say, “It’s not my brother or my sister, it’s not my co-worker, it’s not my political opponent, it’s not that Hollywood star, but it’s ME, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”
WHERE TO WALK
We all need to hear God’s voice and receive His power to walk in His way. Clearly discerning and hearing the voice of the Lord is a matter of life and death.
I’ve always enjoyed watching reality TV show adventurer Bear Grylls. In one program, Bear was in Scotland walking along a snowy mountain ridge. He came upon a stretch of snow that looked stable. However, because of his training and experience, he recognized the snow was actually covering a deep and dangerous crevasse, and one step onto that snow would lead to a long and deadly fall.
There are a lot of places in life which can appear to be safe to step, but if you are not paying attention, you can find yourself stepping unwisely and falling suddenly. Knowing where to stand and walk is critical to your survival and to the survival of those who are depending upon you.
The Good News is that God is raising up a remnant in this generation who are called to speak truth in the power of the Holy Spirit; a people who “know their God, display strength, and take action,” as Daniel 11:32 says. But the key to displaying strength and taking the right action, is in knowing
Jesus said in John 10 that His disciples would know Him, know His voice, listen to His voice, obey His voice, and follow Him. Later, as Jesus prepared to ascend back into Heaven, He promised His followers that He would not leave us alone, but that He would send the Holy Spirit to us as a guide:
“…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine.” (John 16:13-15).
Remember Bear Grylls and the snow? Knowing where to step and where not to step is vital information. It is not God’s desire that you should fall into a hole. He has sent His Holy Spirit:
The epic story of Jacob and Esau found in Genesis 25-35 gives us some insights into our own identity in the Lord. Jacob and Esau were the troubled twin sons of Isaac. Esau, the eldest, was careless with his birthright. Jacob treasured it. Esau lost his inheritance and his place. Jacob became a father of a nation. God said, “Jacob have I loved; Esau have I hated.”
Why? Because Esau became careless and casual with something that was precious to God. He had forgotten Who God is, and Who God called him to be. Esau had neglected to give thanks and failed to treasure what God treasured (see Romans 1). And so, God removed the blessing from Esau and gave it to Jacob—who was a rascal, but who understood the importance of the blessing. People, churches, and even nations are still learning this bitter lesson today.
Some of us are facing a “Jacob and Esau Moment” in 2021. Will we neglect and squander our heritage in the Lord for the sake of temporary power and pleasure, or will we treasure Him above all else? Do we understand that our inheritance in God is not only for our own blessing, but to bring blessing to our generation and generations to follow? Without it, we will lose our place and lose our way.
ARE YOU THIRSTY?
Everyone says they want to be in God’s presence and to receive His favor. We all want to be in “the river” of His purpose and power; to be refreshed and overflowing with love, joy, and peace. But understand this: the River of God is sourced in God and flows from His Throne alone. It is His presence and His reign that brings the flow of life, power, and refreshing.
Jesus said, “‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive….” (John 7:37-39).
If you want a drink of the Spirit, you’ve got to be thirsty. You’ve got to seek Him. I heard Derek Prince say, “The difference between a prayer meeting and a seeking meeting is that when you finish praying, you stop; when you are seeking, you don’t stop until you find what you’re seeking.” Those who truly thirst will receive; casual and careless sippers will not be filled.
If hearing from God is a matter of life and death, are we hungry and thirsty to know Him and hear His voice? What are we investing in terms of time and energy in prayer, fasting, worship, or reading the Word? What are we doing with the Word we’ve already heard? What is our “ratio of obedience” to what He’s already said? Remember what James said: “…be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
It’s quite possible that God is going to say something to you soon that will challenge you far beyond your understanding. Are you prepared to commit to obedience and walking it out? Part of your ability to hear clearly is your willingness to obey whatever it is that you’re going to hear. And, in God, you need to make that commitment to Him before you hear what it is. Do you trust Him? Say “yes” to Him, and be amazed at what He will show you!
As God moves in our lives, we must also be committed to sharing with others what He is doing. When we receive our deliverance in the midst of trials, we have a testimony—Good News! Others need to hear it. Too many people want to get out of the pit without being willing to sing a new song (see Psalm 40). If God gives you a testimony, it’s not just for your benefit, but for the benefit of those who are dying for a Word.
If you’re having a hard time hearing the Spirit of God, quiet your own heart and mind … and then listen. In 1 Samuel 3, we see how young Samuel yielded himself to the Lord and said, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Often, God is speaking, but we’re not recognizing His voice.
Position yourself to hear from God. Get rid of sin or distraction. Humble yourself before the Lord. Don’t seek the spectacular, but seek the Spirit. Sometimes, God speaks in a still and small voice. Signs follow those who believe—don’t seek the sign, but believe the Lord, and signs will follow. Allow the Lord to speak to you in difficulty. Paul could hear the voice of the Lord on a sinking ship in a storm. Stephen saw the Lord in Heaven, high and lifted up, even as a mob threw stones at him.
The times in which we live demand that we have clear direction, hope, and strength. God has made provision in the Holy Spirit for us to hear His voice and walk in His wisdom and power. If we will seek Him, then He has promised to pour out His Spirit upon us and through us to others.
Please remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving as we serve the Lord and His people among the nations. And plan to be with us online for our 2021 “Virtual Gatlinburg” Conference, May 11, 7:30 PM Central, via the Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook Page and our CSMPublishing YouTube Channel. Our theme: “In Christ Alone.” More information to come!
Scripture references: 2 Chronicles 7:14; Daniel 11:32: John 16:13-15; Genesis 23-35; John 7:37-39; James 1:22
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.