There are times when each of us struggle with the words to express our deepest prayers. With his signature style, Swindoll combines a prayer specific to each daily devotional and gently pastors readers through the issues life brings their way. This remarkably accessible study explores such themes as injustice, grace, gratitude, grief, guilt and much more.
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Hear Me when I Call
Connecting with a God Who Cares
By Charles R. Swindoll
WORTHY PUBLISHINGCopyright © 2013 Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.—Matthew 6:33
* * *
How faithful you have been,our Father, over the many weeks of this past year. We pause to commit our lives to Your Son, Jesus Christ, afresh and anew, as if for the first time. We are thankful for the joy of knowing You and for those occasions during this past year when we have met You in unexpected ways. As we stand on the threshold of a new year, we thank You in advance for the fifty-two weeks that stretch out before us. Knowing that You are in charge, we accept whatever they may include.
We will seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness this year, knowing that all the other things we need will be added to these. Help us throughout the new year to stay focused on the eternal, rather than becoming distracted by and anxious over the temporal. As You meet our needs—not our greeds—teach us contentment, joy, happiness, and fulfillment in the realities of life that only You make possible. As opportunities and privileges unfold before us this year, we pray You would find us faithful. After all, our lives are Yours ... and so it is right that we commit them to You.
We pray in the magnificent name of Jesus, who gave His life for ours. Amen.
See also Proverbs 27:1; 2 Corinthians 5:15; James 4:13–14.
DON'T JUST SIT THERE
Sandwiched between January 1 and December 31 are twelve exciting months filled with possibilities. Challenges brought on by changes await us. We will be shoved out of our comfort zones and required to respond. We can do so positively or negatively, with hope and optimism or with resentment and pessimism. If we're not careful, we'll be so full of complaining that we'll miss golden opportunities to grow ... to make some new discoveries ... to switch from being a passive sitter to an active participant in our adventure beyond the familiar.
Between doing nothing and trying something ridiculous, there's a wide expanse worth considering. Whatever we choose to do, just sitting there isn't an option.
Seeing fifty-two weeks all wrapped and ready to be opened and knowing each one contains surprises that will require adjustments, I suggest we decide right now to open them with great anticipation. Let's also accept them with great delight. Think of the dozens of things God will teach us and the many ways we'll see Him work! Frankly, I have found that my "youth is renewed like the eagle" (Psalm 103:5) when I'm willing to change and make the necessary adjustments. Breaking out of an old, tired routine is one of the secrets of staying young.
Go there. Better still, let's go there together! By the end of this year, you and I will discover that God had several amazing things for us that we would never have known or experienced had we not accepted the challenge that changes inevitably bring.
It's time to take on whatever these new weeks and months will bring. The main thing for us to remember? Don't just sit there!CHAPTER 2
The Antidote to Apprehension
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6–7
* * *
We all experience apprehension,Father. How helpful it is to remember we are to celebrate Your name, Your work, Your power, Your character—all day, every day—so we might come to the place where we revel in You. What a grand reminder it is that Your Son could come at any moment. May You find us ready for that, Lord.
Yet we cannot be ready for Your return as long as anxiety lives within us, so we pray that You will begin to do a work right now in our lives to rid us of worry. What a waste that we have spent so much of our lives fretting and worrying!
Remind us today and in the days to come that prayer can displace our apprehensions. Time with You can become such a magnificent turning point, not only in the moment but in the day—in fact, in our lives—so that we begin to realize the power of Your peace as it calms us. Give us the ability, the discipline of mind, to meditate on and focus our attention toward that which is true and noble, reputable and authentic, compelling and gracious. In the marvelous name of Christ, our Savior, we pray. Amen.
See also Psalm 37:5; 55:22; Jeremiah 17:8; Matthew 6:26–34.
Apprehension is everywhere. It's in the classroom when the new teacher makes her first attempt to connect with middle-school students. It's in the cramped study of the final-year med student as she crams the night before her orals. There's apprehension at the airport as a dad waves good-bye to his son leaving for overseas duty. Or in the nursery at night as an exhausted mother holds her sick baby. Or in the car traveling cross-country as a family relocates to an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Apprehension. It's a cut above worry but feels like its twin. It isn't strong enough to cause fear, but neither is it weak enough to be funny. It's a mixed emotion ... and we've all felt it.
In some ways apprehension leaves us crippled, even paralyzed. It's an undefined uneasiness ... a feeling of uncertainty ... misgiving ... unrest. What frustration is to yesterday, apprehension is to tomorrow.
Truth be told, apprehension is proof positive we're human. But unfortunately, it tends to smother our pleasant dreams by placing a pillow over our faith. Apprehension will strap a short leash on our vision and teach us to roll over and play dead when scary statistics whistle and pessimistic reports snap their fingers.
The apostle Paul refused to run when apprehension haunted him. He openly acknowledged its presence but stood his ground with the exhortation to the Philippians: "Be anxious for nothing" (4:6). Apprehension is intimidating until godly determination pulls rank and forces it to salute. Especially when determination has been commissioned by the King of kings.CHAPTER 3
Assurance of Salvation
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.—John 10:27–28
* * *
Gracious Father, the beautyof the natural world and its elements that obey You remind us that we serve a living Savior. These things tell us that You are very much alive and in full control. The life around us reminds us that Your Son has been raised from the dead. Nature testifies to Your work in the world as well as Your care for Your creation. While this should soothe our doubts about You, Your promises, and Your power, all too often it doesn't.
We desire to be renewed within. We are totally dependent upon You to do that, to effect in us the renewal that we cannot accomplish within ourselves. Enlighten the dark shadows and give truth where now ignorance and superstition and fear abide. Replace our many doubts with assurance of our great salvation. Increase our faith. May it not be dependent upon the flimsy and fragile web of feelings but upon the solid granite of Your truth.
And having done that, give us a song that brightens our day and lightens our way. Help us to live in Your truth that removes our burden of doubt.
In the name of Christ, to whom we give first place, we pray. Amen.
See also Colossians 2:1–3; Hebrews 3:14; 6:11; 10:22; 11:1; 1 John 5:11–13.
A BENEDICTION OF ASSURANCE
I love the powerful promise recorded in Jude 24–25: "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
This benediction builds upon the hope of our Savior's coming for us, as it tells us something our Lord is doing for us now ... as well as something He will do for us then, when He comes.
Now: He is keeping us from stumbling (v. 24).
Then: He will present us "blameless with great joy" (v. 24).
Currently, He is guarding us, protecting us, securing us, and helping us not to stumble. How He loves us and reassures us! How often He strengthens us when we are weak!
When our dear Lord returns, we will be blameless ... faultless ... flawless. Jesus will not be angry because of our failures and ready to shame us. Instead, the grace we experience now we will also have then in abundance.
You would think the Almighty would frown as He reviews a large clipboard with your name above a list of the numerous times you stumbled. No—a thousand times, no! God keeps no such records against you. Rest assured.
He will accept you in that day, being fully aware that you are but dust ... and He will escort you into the presence of His glory "blameless." I invite you to stop this moment and think that over. It's not possible to imagine the scene without smiling, seized with inexpressible joy.CHAPTER 4
Burning Bitterness into Sweetness
Even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.—1 Peter 3:14–16
* * *
Our Father, as we acknowledgeYour Son as Lord over all, it is with a sigh, because we cannot deny the pain or ignore the difficulty of our earthly trials. This reality can sometimes be borderline unbearable. But as the sovereign One with full capacity to handle our needs, You are strong enough to carry our burden and, in return, to give us the perspective we need.
Quiet our spirits. Give us a sense of relief as we face the inevitable facts that life is difficult and there will be moments when life is not at all fair. Erase any hint of bitterness. Enable us to see beyond the present, to focus on the invisible, and to recognize that You are always with us. Remind us that Your ways are higher and far more profound than ours.
Thank You for the joy of this day. Thank You for the pleasure of a relationship with You and with a few good, caring, loving friends. And especially, Father, thank You for the truth of Your Word that lives and abides forever.
In the strong name of Him who is higher, Jesus our Lord, we pray. Amen.
See also Proverbs 14:19; 15:1; Ephesians 4:31–32; Hebrews 12:14–15; James 1:19–20.
The book of Hebrews states that a "root of bitterness" can spring up and cause trouble (12:15). We cannot nurture bitterness and at the same time conceal it. At times we think we can hide our bitterness, but we cannot. Worst of all, you, the victim of bitterness, will be the most miserable.
Consider Jesus' parable recorded in Matthew 18:23–35. The main character is a man who refused to forgive a friend ... even though he, himself, had recently been released from an enormous debt. Because he refused to forgive his friend, the man was "handed ... over to the torturers." (v. 34). Then Jesus added the punch line: "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (v. 35).
Jesus said that we who refuse to forgive—we who live in bitterness—will become victims of torture, meaning inner torture and torment by all sorts of thoughts and feelings. Please remember: Jesus was speaking to His disciples, not to the unsaved. Christians suffer terribly until we fully forgive others ... even when others are in the wrong.
We can now understand why Paul listed bitterness first when he said, "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31–32).
For your sake, I urge you to put away all bitterness. We must diligently pull up every root of bitterness. Let's do that now.CHAPTER 5
Anticipating His Return
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.—Philippians 3:20
* * *
Father, we are delightedwith the sure expectation of Your Son's return. Thank You for telling us Your plan and not leaving us in a hopeless quandary. At the same time, thank You for not telling us everything. If every last detail of Jesus' return were spelled out, who would need to walk by faith? What would hold our attention and capture our curiosity, especially in those moments on this earth that suddenly remind us, this could be the day?
Thank You also for giving us instruction that prepares us for eternity with You. Thank You, Father, for Your Son, who completed His mission while He was on this earth and will return for us at any moment.
We thank You for the joy that floods us when we anticipate such an event. The cares of this age finally will be gone. The crippling diseases, the painful trials, and the clammy fingers of death around our necks will be gone, gone forever! Heartbreaks, broken promises, and sorrows will all pass away when we are brought face-to-face with the Savior. How wonderful! We exult in this, Lord. And we praise Your wonderful name for including us in Your eternal plans.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
See also Psalm 21:6; 98:1–9; Isaiah 26:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
Excerpted from Hear Me when I Call by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2013 Charles R. Swindoll, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of WORTHY PUBLISHING.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. New Year,
2. The Antidote to Apprehension,
3. Assurance of Salvation,
4. Turning Bitterness into Sweetness,
5. Anticipating His Return,
6. Cleansing in the Depth of God's Word,
7. Living the Truth,
8. Controlling Our Words,
9. Courage for the Discouraged,
10. Daily Doubts,
11. Hope beyond Failure,
12. Remembering That God Is Faithful,
13. The Family,
14. A Prayer for Fathers,
15. Overcoming Fear,
16. Endurance in Trials,
17. Willingness to Express Generosity,
18. Generating a Gentle Spirit,
19. Godliness in a Godless Culture,
20. Gratitude for Grace,
21. Becoming Better Parents and Grandparents,
22. Growing toward Maturity,
23. Gratitude for God's Guidance,
24. Striking a Chord of Harmony,
25. God's Holiness, Our Need,
26. Christ's Life, Our Clarity,
27. Cultivating Life Change,
28. God as Supreme Ruler,
30. Healthy Minds,
34. It Is Well,
36. Our Guide,
37. Our Part in God's Plan,
38. Our Vision,
43. Resting in Silence,
44. Saying Yes,
45. The Lord of All Seasons,
46. Spiritual Healing,
47. The Crucible,
48. The Whys of Life,
51. Living on Tiptoe,
52. Forgive Our Trespasses,
53. Overcoming Guilt by Remembering Whose We Are,
55. Living Life to the Fullest,
56. The Importance of Prayer,
57. Putting Down Pride,
58. Putting First Things First,
59. Righteous Living,
60. Overcoming Rebellion,
61. The Lord Is Near,
62. God's Complete Control,
63. Fighting against Self-Focus,
64. A Heart of Service,
65. Relief from Shame,
66. Strength in the Battle against Evil,
67. Compassion in Suffering,
68. Victory over Temptation,
69. Protection and Strength in the Face of Terrorism,
70. The Value of God's Word,
71. Leaving a Legacy of Trust,
72. Standing Alone for the Truth,
73. Unity among God's People,
74. Acknowledging Our Weakness,
75. The Blessing of Abiding Hope,
76. Overcoming Hypocrisy,
77. Personal Integrity,
78. Remembering the Fallen,
79. Finding Justice in Injustice,
80. Learning Humility,
81. Guarding against Legalism,
82. Only for the Lonely,
83. Strong Marriages,
84. A Prayer for Mothers,
85. Facing Our Own Death,
86. Finding Rest in God,
87. Honoring God's Sovereignty,
88. Pure Motives in Service,
89. Stop Fussing ... and Focus Instead,