Practicing the Word of God

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)

During the trials we are all facing in the world at this time, we are at a place when, more than ever, maybe, we, as Christians, should be practicing the word of God, employing our knowledge of it into the very circumstances of our lives that we are helped, of course, but that so are those around us. Christians are called to be “set apart” by our behavior, and in the trying circumstances and trials of life, if we live in the word, we may be a light shining into the darkness for our fellow Christians to be encouraged, and to non-believers, alike, for a manner of being which is peaceful in the storm, which perseveres under trials, which in no thing complains, and in all circumstances, is grateful. Why? Because we are called to. We are children of the light  – we are the children of God, we are the sons and daughters of the most high God, and especially because we have so great a “cloud of witnesses around us, we should lay aside every weight which so easily besets us, and run the race we are called to run, keeping our eyes set on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith.”

What good is scripture if we do not employ it when we need it? As believers, if we do not have it hidden in our hearts, it will be more challenging, maybe to know what to do, and to hear from the Holy Spirit. I will admit, He can still get us the message, if He wants, to get the point across, and speak to us in our circumstances, if He so chooses. I did not have a bit of scripture “hidden in my heart” during one of my many trials, but I did hear the Holy Spirit give me a particular scripture which when I read, helped me tremendously. “All things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.”

After I read that, I was immediately calmed of my fears of being laid-off, and went into work (I’d taken off the morning to lament over maybe being laid-off, and fortunately, I never was) because I knew the Lord had me after I read that. I trusted him.

If you believe in God, in Christ Jesus, I encourage you to know and memorize His word. It is life. Not knowing or using the word of God in our lives is like having AAA to help you when your car breaks down, but instead of you using the resource you have to help you from your circumstance, you make yourself miserable, focusing only on the problem. You make more of the problem than is present and only choose to see it and what it is doing to you instead of being your own problem-solver, and using what you have to help you, to help you. The problem then becomes all about you and poor you. You enter your broken-down car and cry, “Woe is me!” Your plight becomes a beacon which calls attention to the “poor me” in you. The problem with the car becomes you. I have suffered today. I have had a trouble or a trauma. Moan, moan, moan! It’s taken on a new form you may give it because maybe somewhere in your psyche, you like having problems. Maybe you like being victimized. Maybe you like having attention drawn to you through your problems. Or maybe you have just had unenlightened role models who did the same things which are now your pattern also. Instead of focusing on the solution, the problem becomes you and you only choose to see it, failing to use your resources and knowing how to get out of it. And maybe, because of a lack of experience, you fail to call AAA in your circumstance because though you know they might be there for you, you trust them not because you think you’re too far out of the way or the problem is too large for them handle, so you fail to call them from faithlessness or lack of experience with them showing up for you, so you stay in your condition of breakdown not knowing the full extent of your freedom your resource offers you. I feel like many of us Christians fail to live the life we are offered because we fail to know the word, trust the Lord in seeing us through our circumstances in the tough times, and allowing the Father to show up for us when those times occur so we can build our faith and trust in Him, over and over again, to build a relationship that we will know is real. Our relationship with the Father can be built really only when times are tough. That’s how the Lord is able to present Himself – when you know that is it ONLY Him who makes what happens happen. That is too neat. And, what I have found is my relationship with Him really built most when it had a chance to be tried – I had some really challenging times in my life where He showed big to where I knew it was only Him. I pressed in to what I new about Him from his word, and employed my faith. I began to practice the word. I let go and did my part, and God showed up hugely! I have lots of testimonies on that if you want to search my site or listen to them on hollycobrien.com or see them on Youtube.

We are all incapable of escaping life’s breakdowns. Trouble visits us all in one form or another. I encourage those of us who have the greatest resource of all time in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father to practice being a follower, not just a believer. Practicing the word of God is what changes and builds us. I am encouraging us to make the most of our trouble or trauma. Focus on the solution. Employ the word in the tough circumstances of our lives. Fix the car! Call AAA! You have the resources. Use them. I feel the word of God is what gives life, and practicing the word is a life- saving resource for us all that I have found invaluable.

I have felt terribly sorry for those people who do not have Christ in their life to call on with certainty. Call they can, and He will help them, but I really feel for those poor souls who don’t know the maker of our Universe or maybe worse, who don’t care to know Him or have so little faith they can’t know Him.

Many of us do know Him, and many of us do not play like we do. We will help many, including ourselves, if we are salt and light to our generation. One to another, fellow believers lifting one another up, but also shining before men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 14 – 16

Whether we are actually doing something, in deed, for someone else, or simply responding to life’s circumstances in ways we are called to, by “keeping our eyes on God so he will keep us in perfect peace,” by “acknowledging God in all our ways that He will direct our paths,” or by being “peaceful in the storm,” we can be the men or woman of God we are called to be to walk in good works to help ourselves and others in our times of greatest hardship. This is where the rubber meets the road and where every relationship is tested. These are the greatest gifts when we can see the Father of the Universe see us through the storm and show himself strong for us.

There is such a freedom I have found in following the word of God. Whether it’s “not to fret,” or to “pray for my enemies,” I have found peace and restoration in practicing the word of God. I have felt the grace of compassion showered upon me and increased my faith in the Father and I practiced and walked in knowledge of the word.

It is powerful, more powerful than any two-edged sword. It is our weapon with which we are to fight the enemy. It is living and life giving. It is so good.

Our Father has given us a roadmap, our instructions for life: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [17] That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

So, with the word of God in our head and heart, we have a better way for navigating our lives.

We will not be without trials. But this we can be certain, we should count it as all joy, according to the apostle James, when we enter into divers (various) temptations – whether tempted to be other than we are called to, whether to trust man over God, whether to fear job loss or losing friends, children or spouses. We are called to come higher with God.

He calls us ever higher to walk with Him, and to trust Him beyond what we can see or know. We are to walk by faith and not by sight, knowing His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and though we may not understand why we are going through what we endure, we are encouraged in Philippians 4: 6 – 8 by the apostle Paul “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

“8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

May you begin/continue practicing walking in the word of God, employing it in every circumstance of your life that you may be able to have what Jesus died for us all to have, life and life more abundantly.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5: 16

May you be encouraged by this message today, becoming more than just a believer, becoming a follower of the Word.

Holly

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Praying for our Enemies Podcast

The main thing that I remembered from that prayer was the emotional aspect of it. All of the sudden, I began weeping for the woman as I prayed. I felt so much compassion for her. I felt sad for her, by the fact of what must she feel like on the inside to be so mean, and so rude and hateful, and at such an older age, too. It was sad really. I felt sorry for her. After I prayed, I just let it all go. It was like it was released and flooded out by the compassion. 

(9:45)

Written and Recited by Holly C. O’Brien

One afternoon at work, I had a colleague stop by my classroom to visit me for the first time. I would see her at lunch as we ate with each other and other colleagues at times. I thought it was a nice surprise. I didn’t normally have visitors.

However, the reason for her visit was not a social call, it was a mission to collect gossip – and it was gossip on me. She was a forthright Russian woman who came fearlessly down to collect what she could. Bold. She came to confront me about what was being told about me.

She was there to find out if the rumors of me ratting out another colleague to administration for her smoking during her lunch break were true. I was disgusted and pissed-off at her coming to me with this. It was not true at all. I was bothered and disappointed about the whole thing, and I let her know it. I thought I was going to have a nice visitor, and I’m being ridiculed by people for something that never occurred. I expressed my disgust to her while also hoping to find out why I was being targeted, how did they pin me as the “rat-er” in this error of accusation?

I was piecing it all together in my mind as she spoke. I was also thinking of how I saw “the ratted-out” with these other woman with whom I used to have lunch when I was in a different area who I found were all of the sudden treating me poorly when I’d see them in the halls, for no apparent reason. These women were being mean to me with their looks and snippy remarks, and behaviors. I didn’t understand it, until this. I surmised that is why I was being treated rudely by them – these women had chosen to erroneously believe in what I’d done, and they were standing with their friend in solidarity against me. Oh well.

I never told that colleague out-rightly that I was innocent of what I was being accused. Perhaps I should have righted her, but I didn’t. All that I could think of was how ridiculous this whole thing was – it was all so high school. Pun intended. I was surprised that it was all going on.

I would let them keep their beliefs, at least for a while. If the woman wanted to know the truth, she could come to me herself. I let that go.

My colleague left with little more certainty than she had come with. I deliberately left her confused almost making it seem like I had done it because I refused to admit anything either way. I may have done the wrong thing there. Either way, they would likely have thought what they wanted to despite me telling them the truth.

I thought about the situation after she left. I was mad that I was being targeted unfairly, and being marked by their meanness, really. It was stupid, really, too. I don’t like injustices, either.

I then thought, too, about another injustice that was occurring simultaneously, again, toward me, in part. One of the women in the mix who’d been rude to me, was, separately, unfairly making these “rulings” about a going-away party she was hosting for another colleague. She was ostracizing from the party everyone who did not contribute to it financially. I didn’t even see the original email. She dis-invited all who did not contribute. I went to explain the situation to her in person. She ignored me. She was, at one time, so kind and respectful to me. I was figuring it was all a result of this rumor-mill, and was bothered by it.

I thought about it more after the colleague left. I was pissed about it. I did not like the unfair treatment I was getting, nor that colleague coming to my classroom like that bringing all that garbage. I was hurt and bothered. This was right on top of the emails from this rude colleague which compounded my “righteous anger.” I was feeling accursed by the damning.

As I thought about all that had happened, I was reeling. I was then reminded, quickly, of the duty of Christian’s to pray for their enemies. That was the thought that came to my mind. Pray for your enemies. I didn’t resist too much at all because that’s what we’re to do. There’s got to be some logic to it if we’re told to do it, right? So I, began to pray. That is the only reason I did it.

Jesus instructs Christians in Matthew 5:43 – 44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

The main thing that I remembered from that prayer was the emotional aspect of it. I recall that as I was praying, the only woman I prayed for was the one who’d sent me the emails who I felt really hurt by; the whole situation itself other than that seemed to fall by the wayside because it was all so trivial, despite it pissing me off.

All of the sudden, I began weeping for the woman as I prayed. I felt so much compassion for her. I felt sad for her, by the fact of what must she feel like on the inside to be so mean, and so rude and hateful to be that way toward me, and at such an older age, too. It was sad really. I felt sorry for her. After I prayed, I just let it all go. It was like it was released and flooded out by the compassion.

While I prayed, God handled it. I did my part, and actually got peace from it. I got some perspective, too. It was healing, my prayer, and all was well from then.

1 Peter 3:9 in another instruction by Jesus tells us: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

I got a blessing with my prayer for that woman that afternoon. I got compassion for her. I got free of the whole worry and “wrongs that were being done to me.” I was no longer angry or bothered, at all.

I eventually came clean sometime over that year to the woman who thought I ratted her out. I told her I never did it, and she accepted it. I just wanted her to know the truth.

I learned that my obedience to the instruction of praying for my enemies freed me up, and I also trust that it helped that woman, too. That’s how it works.

I believe we are to pray for others because their hearts aren’t right with God, and we can help them by praying that God change them to be more pleasing to Him, too. It’s important to remember too, that, according to Ephesians 6:12, ”We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

They clearly need help. That’s why they are acting that way. They are love-less in some area, right? According to scripture, however, it’s a spiritual issue. People who are hurting, hurt people. So, we can pray for them for Jesus to help them – to free them up from their loveless state – whatever it may be. They are not right and need help. We do too. If we take on that bitterness that ensues from wrongs committed because we do not understand, we may be subject to perpetuating and perhaps worsening the situation. We are to pray for our enemies, simply. We are also going to get a blessing by doing it because we become freed in it. At least that is my experience. We are free from our accusation and self-righteous judgement, maybe also resentment and hurt, as well.

I found a blessing in the prayer offering.  I received compassion, replacing my indignation, and it freed me. I clearly needed a miracle too. A treasure of obedience is clearly a blessing, always. Thank you, Lord.

Thank you for helping me and this woman. Thank you, also, for letting me get a blessing for the obedience to your word. I got to experience the “why,” at least in part, of why we are to pray for our enemies. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit for this experience for I believe He brought to my attention the thought to “Pray for my enemies.” I am grateful to Christ for helping me see His instruction in practice and the blessing that flowed from that. The bible says that grace and truth are from Jesus Christ. I believe by reverencing Him by praying the word, as He commanded, that He bestowed his grace upon me that day for, my colleague, in the form of compassion for her and the grace to let go of the hurt I felt from her and for giving me peace.

I am grateful to God for giving us Jesus, my brother, to have Him give us the words of life that lead us to walk in paths of righteousness. Thank you for showing me the blessing of praying for our enemies – a double win – and for always leading me in your ways. Thank you for helping me, and for helping my colleague.

Holly