January 2024 The One Thing

Dear Friend in Christ:

Happy New Year!  If you’re like me, it’s taking some time to get used to writing “2024” on your documents. The Latin phrase “Tempus Fugit” is often translated into English as “time flies,” but literally means, “time escapes.” The older I get, the faster time seems to run. If I didn’t believe that all of my times are held in God’s hands, I would despair.

Another related Latin phrase is “Carpe Diem,” or “seize the day.” As we recognize that time is passing quickly, we are admonished to make the best possible usage of each minute. Fleeting time has a way of sharpening our focus on what really counts. We want our moments to matter.

I will never forget the sad night almost 16 years ago when my dear Mother passed away. My brother, Jonathan, and I left the hospital together to tell my grandmother—Mom’s Mom—and my Aunt Elenore that Mom was now with Jesus. Grandma was 94 years old at the time. Much of her life, she had been a Nurse, and she knew that my mom had been near death for many days. Nonetheless, the moment of hearing the news that her daughter had actually died was profoundly shocking. Grandma didn’t speak for what seemed like an eternity. She looked straight ahead, eyes brimming with tears, seated in-between us as we held her.

Finally, she cleared her throat, and simply said, “Life is short.” In her mind’s eye, she saw my Mom as a baby, as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a grandmother – and gone – all in an instant.  Mom lived 67 years of beautiful life; her life touched thousands of lives. And yet, it was over all too quickly. Grandma’s words echoed in my heart for a long time, even after Mom’s funeral: “Life is short,” followed by, “Tempus fugit – carpe diem.”

How can I … how can we … live out our days in a way that glorifies God and brings blessing to our loved ones and communities? What can we do, and more importantly, who can we be—and be with—that will spark love, joy, and peace in the Holy Spirit?

In life, we all have our own priorities, as well as honoring shared priorities in our communities. Our real priorities are not just what we say they are, but they are actually those things to which we actually give ourselves. Where do we invest our time? Our money? What is on our minds? What makes us get out of bed in the morning?

As we enter 2024, now is a good time to re-examine our schedules, our budgets, and our hearts to see where our priorities truly are; to see if how we are living actually lines up with our stated values and goals. The reality may not be pretty, but the only way we can ever change or improve is by seeing the way things really are and making the proper adjustments.

Some people never set goals because they are afraid that they can’t achieve them. Or if they fall short, they feel like hypocrites. Some people do not set priorities because they don’t know what their priorities should be. I’ve heard it said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it.” Where is your aim?  Are you hitting the target?

King David addressed this issue in Psalm 27. The entire Psalm would be worth reading, but let’s focus on verses 4-5 “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek:

That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:4-5).

David understood trouble! Trouble comes to us all. It not only comes to us when we make mistakes; sometimes, trouble comes to us when we do the right thing. Jesus said in John 16, “In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” 

Dwelling daily in God’s presence prepares us for times of trouble … right relationship with Jesus sets us on the rock. Abiding in Him sets us in a spiritual place of safety, stability, and perspective. When the earth shakes and when circumstances are uncertain, those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion … “unshakable, it stands forever” (see Psalm 125).

David knew clearly what He wanted and needed in life. He said, “One thing have I desired…”

His focus was on the Lord and specifically, on the relationship that he had with the Lord. Above all else, David desired to be in right relationship with the Lord.

In Psalm 27, he describes the Lord as light, salvation, and strength. Because this is Who God is, and because we are abiding in Him, we need not be afraid. David understood that rightly relating to God is a matter of life and death; a matter of survival. David didn’t want to do anything that would remove him from God’s presence or from fellowship with the Holy Spirit. David said that this was his main desire.

What are the things upon which we set our affections? What is it that we long for – what do we crave? Do the things we crave draw us closer into the heart of God, or do they make our own hearts grow cold towards Him? Do you long for and love to be in God’s presence? What is that like? Do we truly desire to hear His voice, to know His will … and to be known by Him? Ask yourself: Do you enjoy and appreciate the Lord Himself?  What does it mean to you to be with Him? Do other things pale in comparison, or is it just a duty? And if it is just a duty, is that real relationship? Would you prayerfully consider these questions for a moment? (See Matthew 6:19-34.)

Because abiding in God’s house was his main desire, David would seek after it. This is not a passive posture! When you want or need someone or something, you will passionately pursue that person or that thing. You will sacrifice whatever you have to sacrifice. You will forget about all others. You will ignore pain or exhaustion as you pursue the object of your desire. You will pay whatever cost, bear any burden, and do so as long as it takes.

Why wouldn’t anyone want to actively seek the Lord in prayer, in His Word, in worship, in fellowship? Why wouldn’t we desire His presence, perspective, provision, joy, peace, and love? Do we still need His forgiveness, healing, and acceptance, or have we become complacent about our walk with Him?

Scripture describes “Living Water,” which brings life to all it touches.  This water is only given to those who thirst for it. Have you ever been in a hot and dry desert? I was in the Sinai Wilderness in 1977. The temperature was 117 degrees and water was scarce. I have never craved water so much as I did then. Sometimes, we get thirsty like that in our hearts; our spirits are dry, cracked, and dying.

In John 7, Jesus invites the thirsty to come to Him so that not only would we be satisfied, but that we would ourselves become rivers of refreshing to others. You cannot give what you have not received. In Isaiah 55, the prophet calls to those who thirst to come and freely drink of God’s living water. But he also says this “Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;Let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him;

And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:6-9).

There is a chilling thought here: “Seek the Lord while He may be found … while He is near.” This is a warning to us in 2024. The time will come when He cannot be found. His call to us in this hour is what He said to Jeremiah … “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

NOW is a time in God’s grace when He invites us to seek Him. He says, “Search with all your heart.” God knows our hearts. This leads me to pray, “Change my heart, O God!” There is a season by His Sovereign choosing when He may be found. But there is a warning to those who reject the calling of the Holy Spirit found in Proverbs“When your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind,  when distress and anguish come upon you. ‘Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD’” (Proverbs 1:27-29).

The price of failure to rightly reverence the Lord and to seek Him is unbearably high. Those who continue to reject Him will one day be rejected by Him. I am gravely concerned by some of the arrogance, distraction, idolatry, and flippancy we are observing in the American Church. I say this in love, and also in hope for authentic revival to come.

We must walk away from fads and counterfeits; away from those who do not walk in the fear of the Lord nor the wisdom that follows it. We must not be dabblers in strange fire, where charming and flattering words tickle the ears of many naïve seekers of showmanship, but lack the substance of sound doctrine. These will fail when the storm comes.

We are hearing God’s call to us in 2024: “Choose this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (see Joshua 24:15). In next month’s letter, God willing, we will continue to look at priorities.

Meanwhile, thanks to all of you who have prayed for my father, Pastor Charles Simpson, and for me in the midst of our health battles. Dad continues to work through physical rehabilitation following respiratory issues, acute gastritis, and AFib. I am undergoing tests and procedures related to my heart, arteries, and kidneys. We trust God for His healing, wisdom, peace, and provision.

Would you please prayerfully consider a special financial gift this month to support the work of the ministry? Though we have been on a brief hiatus from traveling, ministry needs and opportunities have not stopped. I realize politicians and pundits are heavily pressuring us to give to their agendas, but personally, I’m choosing to invest my energy and money into Christ’s Kingdom. He is worthy! Thank you for your friendship in these days especially.  Let me know how we can stand with you.

In Jesus,
Stephen Simpson

Follow Charles Simpson Ministries on Facebook and X (Twitter) @CSMinPublishing.  We also have a YouTube Channel: CSMPublishing. Would you prayerfully consider a New Year, tax-deductible gift to support the work of the ministry here and to more than 100 nations worldwide? We are also supporting many other ministries as they serve God and people. This year has been a challenge for all of us financially. We don’t spend a lot of time on fundraising, but we are asking now. We are trusting God to provide all of our needs and yours as well. You remain in our prayers.  If you have any prayer requests, you can visit us here and we are honored to stand with you. We love and appreciate you so much and pray you have a truly joyous Christmas and blessed New Year!

About the Author:

Stephen Simpson

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.