Dear Friend in Christ:
We are facing a New Year and a new opportunity to grow; to have a better life whatever the future holds. I join you in praying for a joyful 2022!
Let’s kick off this letter with a quick lesson from the world of football. The year was 1929, and California was playing Georgia Tech in the Rose Bowl—the biggest game of the season! Playing for California was Roy Riegles, who picked up a Georgia Tech fumble and ran 65 yards the wrong way. He became known as “Wrong Way Riegles,” and California lost the game.
Football is just a game, but life is not. There will be another game, but not another life on this side of eternity. Too many people, even believers, are “running the wrong way,” scoring points for the other team, or losing their one opportunity to “run it right.”
Hebrews 12:1- 2 tells us to “run with patience and lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares us, to run with endurance and look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith – Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus ran the right way!
THE WRONG WAY
Runners run light—no unnecessary weight! The wrong way to run is with unnecessary weight, loads, distractions, sins, unforgiveness, wrong goals, and pursuits that take our energy and time away from the will of God and what we were born to do. The end is not celebration, but disappointment and regret. Jesus tells the parable of the rich man in Luke 12:16-21. The rich man was focused on his wealth without regard to his soul. God said that he was a fool. Jesus goes on to say that we should not be anxious about food and clothes. Life is more than that.
Issues like Covid have too often put our focus on fear and anxiety. Many other issues in the “News” have taken our focus off what life is really about, and how to proceed with the Lord in a positive direction. To allow ourselves to lose our lives for lesser things is foolish. And every day that we delay is a wasted day.
THE RIGHT WAY
In a previous letter, I urged a study of “The Sermon on the Mount” (see Matthew 5-7). It begins with attitudes, continues with how to deal with enemies and adversity, then concludes with building on the foundation that survives storms. The entire message should be studied as a progressive account of the Christian journey.
In Matthew 6:31-34, Jesus says do not worry about food or drink or clothes but seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of those things will be added to you. He is not saying that food or clothes are not important; He is saying that the Kingdom is first and the rest will follow. The kingdom is God’s government in our lives, which puts everything else in its place. When we worry about other things, everything is out of place.
Seeking is continual; it is a search, as when Mary and Joseph began to search for Jesus who was back at the temple “about His father’s business” (see Luke 2:49). Father’s business is our continual search. When we are on a mission that He has given, He provides all that is needed.
At age 18, I struggled with God’s call to ministry for two very difficult years. I wanted a career that would provide income and success. Finally, I read Philippians 4:19, and He assured me that if I obeyed, He would provide all that I needed, and He has kept His Word!
Psalm 34:10 says “Young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” Anxiety or apprehension is not the right path; trust in His purpose is the right way.
HIS KINGDOM AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
So we are to keep seeking His kingdom and His righteousness first. His righteousness comes to us in two ways. First, He imputes it to us as a free gift. He counts us righteous and blots out the record of our sins. Then He imparts His righteousness to us through the journey of faith as we “run the race.” Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for our good. (All things are not good but can work good in us.) Verse 20 tells us that we are being conformed to the image of Christ—in all things.
To run right is to understand that seeking His kingdom and His righteousness first is to allow Him to use all things to shape us into the righteousness of Christ. If we do, we will not hold on to offenses, difficulties, and adversity as baggage that prevents our progress—unnecessary weight.
I love the Book of Philippians. I became pastor of a small Baptist Church in 1957. There were 32 people in attendance on my first Sunday. The Lord gave me Philippians 3 for my first message there. The apostle Paul recounts his credentials as a Jew and Pharisee, then counts it all as loss—even counts as “rubbish”—that he might gain Christ. He says that he had not yet attained or was perfected, but was pressing on for the purpose for which he had been called.
In verse 13, he said, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Indeed, there was much still ahead; the apostle Paul’s life was “run the right way” and he is still affecting millions of lives to run the right way. He sought God’s kingdom first! Paul gives us further lessons on running the right way in chapter 4:
I am so grateful for God’s Word. It is a light to our path! As we look ahead, I pray that we run for the right purpose, on the right path, and with right mindsets. Thank you for helping us to run alongside you and for your encouragement to us on our journey together, to publish and embrace the Truth with our lives! Please continue to remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving this month, and throughout the year.
We hope to see you in Gatlinburg, May 10-12, 2022, for our annual leadership conference, where our focus will be, “Return to Your First Love.” Be watching our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook Page for more details, or follow us on Twitter @CSMinPublishing. Finally, check out our new videos and subscribe (FREE) to our CSMPublishing You Tube Channel.
Thanks again for being a part of the CSM Family! We love and appreciate you.
Brother Charles Simpson
Scriptures: Hebrews 12:1-2; Luke 12:16-21; Matthew 5-7; Matthew 6:31-34; Luke 2:49; Psalm 34:10; Romans 8:28; Philippians 3; Psalm 126; Psalm 63:3-4; Deuteronomy 7:9; Philippians 4:8
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.