This chapter is intended to be practical.  I realize that each person who reads this is in a different situation.  You may read parts of this material that do not apply to you.  I hope that you will press on and find that part that does apply to you, having read the context in which it was written.  Moreover, you might find something that is helpful to someone else that you know.
A.  Escape The Law of Sin and Death
                I hope that I have made God’s plan of salvation clear.  If you have never received that salvation, then I want to give you that opportunity.  I shall keep it as simple as  I can.
                1.  Accept the fact that you are a sinner.  You may be a person who has some pretty bad things, or you may have never done anything really bad.  Nevertheless, you have not lived a life pleasing to God.  See Romans 3:23.
                2.  Realize that God loves you even though you are a sinner.  God is love, and He passionately has always loved you.  He does not want you to remain under the sentence of death.  See John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.
                3.  Realize that Jesus has died for you.  When Jesus died on the cross, He died your death, receiving the punishment for sin and death.  See Romans 5:6-8 and I Peter 3:18.
                4.  Repent of your sins.  To repent means to change your mind.  To repent of your sins means to regret them and to desire to live a righteous life in Christ.  A similar term that is used in the Bible is confess, which means to admit.  See Acts 17:30 and I John 1:9.
                5.  Receive Christ as Savior and Lord.  To receive Christ means to accept Him as God provision for your salvation.  See John 1:12.
                6.  Believe and confess Jesus.  To believe in Jesus is to believe He is all that the Bible says that He is and that He has done all that the Bible says He has done.  And to believe is to believe that what Jesus has done is for you, personally.  You may not know all that the Bible says about Jesus, but do you accept as true what you do know?  To confess Jesus is to admit openly that He is your Savior and Lord.  See Romans 10:9-10.
                7.  Be baptized.  I have not stressed baptism, and I shall not go into a detailed theology of baptism, but baptism is a public act of being incorporated into the people of God and a symbolic act of God’s salvation which you are receiving.  Seek a minister to help you get baptized.  See Acts 2:38, Matthew 28:19, Galatians 3:27.
                7.  Do it now.  There is no time like the present to take these steps.  You may  not be in a position to confess Jesus, but you can do that as soon as it is possible.  To help you, I have written a prayer below that incorporates what I have written about accepting Christ:
                Dear God, I admit that I have sinned and come short of your glory.  Thank you that you have loved me and still love me even though I am a sinner.  Thank you that you sent Jesus to die for me, to take my punishment for sin.  I am sorry for my sins.  Some of the things that I have done include…(insert some of your own sins that come to mind).  Please forgive me.  I desire to live for you now.  Lord Jesus, I accept you as my Savior, and accept all you have done for me, because I cannot ever be good enough to save myself.  You are now the Lord of my life; you are my boss.  I believe that you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross for me, and that you rose from the dead.  I shall not be ashamed to confess you and to be baptized in Christian baptism.
Signature:                                                                               Date:                                 .

B.  Embrace The Big Picture
                Although you may have accepted Christ, you may not have consciously embraced God’s Big Picture.  I have tried to outline that Picture in the preceding chapters. 
                1.  Christ has ended the rule of The Law of Sin and Death.    That means that the prevailing culture no longer defines your life. 
                2.  The Law of the Spirit of Life now defines your life.  Rather than seeking fulfillment in temporary things, such as amassing money and things, you now have an eternal perspective on things.
                3.  Your treasure in heaven is what will last.  See Matthew 6:19-21.  You now have the opportunity to participate in God’s eternity.  What you do as you are led by the Spirit is what will last for eternity.
                4.  God has a radical solution for this world’s troubles.  God’s solution is not to tinker with Little Pictures.  Rather, He plans to rebuild heaven and earth (see Revelation 21:1). 
                5.  Therefore, you must abandon absolute commitment to any Little Picture.  There is a crucifixion involved in accepting Christ (see Romans 6:1-4, Galatians 3:20, Matthew 16:24-26).  If you have wrapped up all of your hopes and dreams into some earthly project, vocation, or even in your family, then you have to repent and give that project, vocation, or family to God. 
                6.  Embrace The Big Picture.  Joyfully accept that God’s plan is best.  Look forward to the resurrection.  Learn to experience the benefits of salvation and to grow in them.  Make God’s plan your plan.

C.  Join the A Team
                A critical development in your relationship with God as a Christian is to begin to understand that God calls you into ministry.  And critical to that understanding is to understand just what God is doing.  Jesus explained the new relationship of His disciples to Himself:

You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
                                                                                                                John 15:14-15
Thus, the disciple of Jesus knows “his Master’s business.”  By God’s grace, we have entered into the plans of God.  We have experienced the resurrection victory of Jesus in our own lives.  Now, God recruits us to be instruments of bringing that victory into the lives of others:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always until the end of the age.
                                                                                                Matthew 28:18-20
If Christianity were a large corporation, this passage from Matthew would be its mission statement.  Mission statements have become popular in the corporate world.  I think that is because mission statements are short summaries of what the company is all about.  They are short enough so the employees can memorize them.  Once they have memorized them, then they understand why they do what they do.  If a fast food restaurant has service “in a friendly manner” as part of its mission statement, then an employee can understand why the local manager insists on her giving a big smile to all the customers.   So, if Christians can understand that making disciples of Jesus Christ is their mission statement, they can understand how the church needs to be built up. 
We should understand that making disciples of Jesus is our assignment in the redemptive plan of God.  We cannot bring the Holy Spirit into a person’s life.  We certainly cannot bring about the great future resurrection and the restoration of all things.  But God has decreed that we can preach and teach and discipline and lead and baptize—we can do the work of the church as described in the New Testament.  And as we do, we are on God’s team.  The individual’s role on that team varies a great deal.  But every task, every ministry, everything that we do on the team is important, because it is part of God’s great plan. 
I have dedicated most of this book to developing the idea of The Big Picture.  I have tried to demonstrate that God has a great plan to bring an end to the suffering that is a consequence of the Law of Sin and Death.  That great plan is the Law of the Spirit of Life.  As we experience, by faith in Jesus Christ, salvation, we enter into the resurrection victory of the Law of the Spirit of Life.  And when we do, we enter into God’s great plan.  An important part of that salvation plan is to become part of the A Team—God’s calling into ministry to contribute to the making of disciples. 
It is exciting to know that you are saved.  It is thrilling to know that God has called you to be on His team.  As you become a part of God’s redemptive work, you are fully conscious that you are part of something greater than yourself.  You are swept up into the purposes of God.  I believe that as you begin to function on the A Team, you begin to develop a new attitude toward life. 
I believe that many Christians are deeply unhappy, and the reason they are is that their perspective is so small.  They have focused on their own little world for so long that they have lost a sense that they have a purpose in life.  When that happens, every “bump” in the road is a reason to cry and complain.  People who are focused on a goal can withstand opposition and disappointment.  They may be set back momentarily, but they come back strong.  Moreover, such ministry-oriented Christians are focused outward rather than inward.  Their prayers are usually for others and not for themselves.  Further, they have a distant vision and don’t sweat the small stuff.  The old jokes about churches splitting over the color of the carpet are all too true.  Such churches are dominated by people who do not have a clue about the mission statement of the church. 
Much of the teaching and fads of the last thirty or forty years in the Christian world has been about “how I can get more from God.”  That teaching has ignored the purposes of God and has ignored God’s mission statement for Christians.  It has given people brief “fixes” or emotional highs and left people very unsatisfied. 
You and your church have been called to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  (In the process, you also become a disciple.)  If you and your church understand that, then I think everything about you and your church is going to reflect your mission.  You are going to be praying more about people’s salvation and ongoing sanctification than about their physical and financial needs.  You are going to be more excited about the possibilities of a new Sunday School class than about some fund-raising project.  You are going to be concerned about people’s behavior in a loving, nurturing way, rather than a critical, condemning way. 
Such attitudes and purposes, I believe, will sustain you through troubles.  If your life has direction and purpose, then trouble, loss, disappointment, and pain, will be understood more as a challenge than as an overwhelming disaster.  The challenge will be to sustain the loss and continue to do what God has called you to do. 
                As you embrace The Big Picture, you are going to find God can use you as an instrument. 
                1.  Surrender to God’s will for your life.  Be willing to be used of God in every area of your life.
                2.  Become active in the church.  The church is the God-ordained means of working out what it is to live the Christian life in this Present Order.  It can provide structure, leadership, and nurture for your walk with God.  It is the means of discipling you and of your making disciples.
                3.  Seek a spiritual gift.  A gift is more than a talent.  It is a God-directed and ordained ability.  It is a means of blessing others.
                4.  Focus on God’s project:  the saving of souls and making disciples.  Whatever your role in the church might be, you are a player on God’s team.  You have access to the game plan (the Bible).  God’s will for your life is to be consumed with His project.
                5.  Minister to others.  A natural outcome of joining the A Team is that you become involved in the life of others.  No longer are you consumed only with your own life—your Little Picture.  You become concerned for the welfare of others.  You do it with wisdom.  You don’t feel a burden of guilt, but freedom in Christ to express Christ’s love and to invest in the welfare of others.
                6.  Put your money where your mouth is.  Give money to the church and to worthwhile Christian ministries.  Give out of a generous heart, rejoicing in God’s material blessings to you.  Your money expresses your faith as much as your actions do.

D.   Enjoy the Victory
Our new situation brings us resurrection victory in the here and now.  Remember the present order of existence is a combination of the effects of the creation and The Law of Sin and Death.  But God has added something new to The Big Picture—the resurrection victory won through the cross of Jesus Christ.  As we receive that victory through faith, then we are no longer totally confined by the present order of existence. 
Exactly the nature of how, when, and where resurrection victory works in our lives is not easily described or explained.  Some things are predictable and some are not.  For example, if we believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord, we enter into salvation and the benefits of that salvation become ours, as I have already described.  But there are some aspects of God’s victory that I cannot find exact specifications on.  By that statement I mean that things like answers to prayer, physical healing, and the working of God’s Spirit in other ways do not appear to be fully predictable.  Many would angrily disagree with me, and that’s OK, but I do not find Biblical nor experiential evidence for predicting God’s supernatural intervention.
I believe that that is consistent with the Lordship of Jesus Christ and with The Big Picture.  We do not “call the shots” on these matters, God does.  If we understand that God is doing a great and mighty work, then, we should understand that His intervention in our lives is going to be consistent with that great work.  For Christians to begin to “argue” with God or demand that God do this or do that and “stand behind His word” is very closely akin to the nominal Christian or non-Christian asking God to change The Little Picture without accepting The Big Picture of God’s redemptive plan.
I shall restate the previous statements in a positive way.  I believe the starting point is The Big Picture.  The Big Picture understands that Jesus has won a great victory.  That victory will be fully realized in the future resurrection and eternal kingdom of God.  The power of that future reaches to us now, however, through the work of the Holy Spirit. 
First, there is the evangelistic power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised power to be witnesses (Acts 1:8).  That means the power to speak the Good News in the face of the present order of existence, which includes the power of the devil.  Connected to the preaching of the gospel is the convicting and convincing power of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11).  Then, there is the miracle of salvation in an individual.  That brings about the ability to live for God in the midst of a fallen world. 
Then, there is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual and the life of the church.  I have already indicated some of what God does for us and in us.  Added to this individual work is the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.  That work is through individuals to benefit the entire body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and Romans 12).  
Finally, there are the extraordinary works of God.  These would include healing and other sorts of spectacular miracles.  There are also more quiet miracles—such as changes of circumstances and work within the “secular” world.  I had a person come to me, the director of an important public service facility in our town.  She was in the process of hiring a key man to come to the town.  But there was a major roadblock in his credentials.  She and I talked for a few minutes.  Then I prayed.  Within two weeks the man was hired and on his way.  I am convinced that God did a quiet miracle.
Why did God do that?  Did it advance His great redemptive plan?  Was it part of The Big Picture?  I think it was, but I cannot describe the details of how that works out.  I believe that we should understand the miraculous works of God in the context of His great redemptive plan.  But, we have to recognize that our thoughts are not His thoughts, and our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8).  One person was discussing with some people about why did God allow a certain person to die.  Her reply was:  “Because you would always argue with God.”  That is a good way to put it.  Why does God heal this one and not that one?  I cannot explain the specifics, because they are beyond me.  But I do believe that the answer, if we were wise enough to receive it, would be consistent with God’s redemptive plan.
                Christ has won a great victory on the cross.  He has risen triumphant over The Law of Sin and Death.  That is not a principle to be expounded ponderously by us boring bookish types.  It is Good News to be celebrated.  As you embrace The Big Picture, really embrace it. 
                1.  Worship with joy.  Public and private worship is not a chore to be done to please God.  It is a celebration of God’s great victory in Christ.  Have a good time as you sing, pray, read Scriptures, hear the preached word, put money in the offering—do all the elements of worship.
                2.  Fellowship with believers.  Develop friendships with other Christians.  Invite them over.  Go bowling or have a cup of coffee.  Talk to and play with and enjoy one another’s kids. 
                3.  Have a sense of humor.  My gosh, have fun.  Laugh and joke.  The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).  If God is enjoying Himself, we can too.  Humor can be biting, vicious, and betray a mean side.  Repent of that.  But do have a good time.
                4.  Pray the Kingdom of God.  The second section of the Lord’s prayer is “Thy Kingdom come, the will be done.”  The center of our prayers is for God’s Big Picture to come into being.  The Kingdom is future, but it is also right now.  When God’s will is done, in the hearts and minds and bodies of people, then God’s Kingdom comes.  Pray for the A Team.  Pray for souls to be saved and for people to become disciples.  Pray for your children and all your family. 
                5.  Pray against trouble.  Trouble is not totally unavoidable.  But God has opened to us an avenue of prayer.  We can pray and ask God to keep us and those we love safe.  We can pray for the sick that they not  die, but that they recover. 
E.  Live Positively
                I believe that I have presented a realistic picture of the human condition and of God’s solution.  I have tried to depict the Christian’s situation to be one in which we live in the Present Order, but also have a down payment on the great future God has for us.  We are radically committed to that Big Picture solution for our lives.  In the meantime, life is a mixture of blessings and troubles. 
The troubles do not defeat us, for nothing can defeat us (see Romans 8:28-39).  Therefore, we enjoy an optimistic, hopeful attitude in the midst of a negative world.  Our outlook is not unrealistic.  We do not seek to escape the real suffering that is in the world.  We do not attempt to alter reality or our perception of reality.  Nor are we insensitive to the hurts and pains of others.  We can mourn with them, loving and comforting them in their sadness.  But, in the midst of all of this, we know that Jesus has won a great victory.  We know that God has a radical and complete solution for all human pain and suffering.  We joyfully and positively look forward to that.  That positive attitude pervades all of our life.
F.  Head Off Trouble
I believe that as we take the steps that I have outlined above—steps that I believe are Scriptural, we are going to avoid a lot of trouble.  I think there are at least five ways that will take place.
1.  Preventive prayer:  If we have a regular prayer life, then we are going to pray for God’s protection over ourselves and our families constantly.  Not only do we pray as part of our daily devotional life, but our family generally prays at certain times when we especially need God’s protection.  At the beginning of a trip, we gather for a brief prayer for God’s guidance and protection as well as for a good time.  When one of our children has a major exam or presentation or other event, we pray for God’s help. 
In all of their prayers, Christians are seeking God’s ultimate good for themselves and others.  It is possible even to pray for God’s ultimate good for your enemy.  You do not pray that God prosper the evil of a person’s life, but you pray for God’s ultimate good—which may include a destruction of the present course of that person’s life. 
Scripture calls us to pray for the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10).  When we pray for the Kingdom to come, we are praying that God’s great, radical solution to The Law of Sin and Death would come.  That Kingdom solution may come in a small, localized way, as a precursor to the great, ultimate solution, the resurrection.  Nevertheless, as we pray the Kingdom, we head off trouble in our own lives.
2.  Preventive attitudes:  As we follow Jesus Christ, as we are filled with the Spirit, as we joyfully embrace The Big Picture, there should be some “attitude adjustment.”  Notice how much the Fruit of the Spirit has to do with our attitudes:  “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  Our positive, joyful, loving attitude heads off an awful lot of trouble. 
Recently, I have had the following happen to me on more than one occasion.  I think of some outrage—some mean, stupid, unkind thing that someone that I know has done.  I begin  to imagine what I’m going to say to that person, how I’m really going to put him or her in his or her place.  It all sounds good in my imagination.  At last I have expressed my feelings on the subject.  Then, something checks me.  I find myself saying:  “Bill, just back off.  You know that won’t work.  You know you won’t accomplish God’s will that way.  Just calm down.  It’s not that bad.”  In a few seconds, I feel better.  Thankfully, I have exerted, through the power of the Spirit, self-control.  A lot of trouble has been headed off. 
3.  Preventive behavior:  The Christian lives better than the non-Christian.  He has embraced Kingdom ethics and is no longer in the grip of sinful lusts.  She is experiencing victory over The Big Three that plague our society—sexual misbehavior, substance abuse, and materialism.  The Christian works at marriage and does not casually throw it away.  As God’s redemptive project takes effect in the Christian’s heart and life, behaviors that are destructive to relationships and home life begin to fall away.  The result is that Christians do not (or should not) get arrested for DUI or thievery or spouse abuse.  They do not buy pornography or spend their money on gambling.  They do not buy drugs.  The result of all of this is that a world of trouble is headed off by the good behavior of Christians.
4.  Preventive outreach:  Although this really is, in most cases, not preventive maintenance, it is an important part of Christian behavior that alleviates much of the suffering in the world.  We can all reach in our pocket and give to those agencies that provide relief to those who are hungry or without shelter or need a helping hand.  Some of us can volunteer in community programs that bring relief to home town folks.  Some can go on short-term mission trips and bring help to others in distant places.
5.  A Team evangelism:  Our evangelistic efforts can rescue people from lifestyles that are destructive to themselves and others.   Imagine a mother and father who become saved.  Because of that, they do not end up in the divorce court.  Their children are reared in a home that enables them to come to Christ themselves and to avoid the life-damaging behaviors that many young people fall into.  A world of cynicism, violence, hate, racism, abortion, damaged personalities, hurt feelings, drunken driving, and all  sorts of other evils have been avoided because two people accepted Christ as Savior and Lord.  Trouble has definitely been headed off by evangelistic efforts.
Though we do not always think in these terms, our acceptance of Christ as Savior and development of the lifestyle of a disciple has a very positive effect in preventive maintenance.  We get discouraged at times.  Especially in times of trouble, it is tempting to think that what we do is of little value.   But we should understand that our faithfulness in the Christian walk is one of God’s blessings in this Present Order. 
Moreover, I have given the impression of a very other-worldly understanding of The Big Picture.  I did that on purpose, because I think Christians need to have a full understanding of what God is doing.  And we need to understand that God’s ultimate solution for the suffering and trouble of this present time is the resurrection and the eternal kingdom of God.  But we do need to understand that God showers us with mercy and help in the Present Order.  And we need to understand that there is much that we can do in the way of Preventive Maintenance that is helpful.  “Do not be weary in well doing.”


A.  All Things Are New
                The exhilarating news of the gospel is that things are new!  “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”   (II Corinthians 5:17)   THE WAY THINGS ARE—what I sometimes call “the present order of existence”—is no longer the defining framework for our lives.  Now, something new, THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE (Romans 8:2) is what defines our lives.  Though this is an instantaneous change for us, it also introduces us into a process.  We are given a new life that calls us into a new walk: 
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.   I John 2:6
As a prisoner of the Lord Jesus, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.  Ephesians 4:1
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24
                Though we have a new situation, we need to grow into living in that new situation.  That requires the guidance of the Spirit, the leadership of the church, and the discipline of the individual.

B.  Living in Relationship to God
                An important key in learning and experience our new life in Christ is to nurture our fellowship with the Father and the Son.  This fellowship is a project of the Trinity.  The following is Jesus’ depiction of the new life that would take place when the Spirit would come after Jesus’ departure:
“And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him or knows him.  But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you…If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  My  Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  (quotation from Jesus)
                                                                                                John 14:16-17, 23
Thus, a key to our new experience in Christ is truly to experience God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in our lives.  If we follow Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit in John 14, 15, and 16, the role of the Spirit is to be the agent who brings about the relationship, whereas the Father and Son are the parties who experience the relationship with us.  
                I can only briefly explore the nature of this relationship.  First, there are times of deep conviction of certain spiritual realities.  Under the power of the Holy Spirit, we know without doubt certain things.  These may be truths, for example of the need for repentance and for acceptance of Christ as Savior, that apply to all people.  There may also be convictions that apply to you personally—for example, that you should be a Sunday School teacher.
                Related to this is the witness of the Spirit.  This is a special case of conviction that we are promised in Romans 8:15-16.  It convinces each of us that we are children of God.  I think it is more than simply a conviction of that truth.  It is a love relationship that binds us emotionally to the Father.  We truly feel loved and are liberated from the tyranny of only relating to God as King and Judge. 
                Then, there is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.  In this case, there is a reversal of the roles.  Whereas, in salvation, the Spirit baptizes us into Christ (I Corinthians 12:13a); in the baptism with the Spirit, Jesus baptizes us into the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:13b, Matthew 3:11).  This is a full-powered experience of God in our lives, bringing with it all sorts of benefits, notably power for ministry to others (John 7:37-38, Acts 1:4-8).
                From another viewpoint, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives includes several benefits.  These include joy, peace, strengthening of character (see the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23).  Most important of all the Spirit deepens our love for God and for one another (see I Corinthians 13).   

C.  Meeting God in the Disciplines
                All of this is ours through our relationship with God in the resurrection victory of Jesus.  Notice that these are not simply doctrines to be embraced, they are experiences to be enjoyed.  God calls us to a relationship with Him that reaches our consciousness.  Anything short of that is living below the privileges of being a Christian.
                From a practical standpoint, experiencing such a relationship requires that we meet with God on a regular basis.  There are times when God may come looking for us.  But oftentimes, we need to open ourselves to God’s presence.  To do that requires that we practice a certain degree of spiritual discipline.  Many people who are strong on experiential Christianity have great disdain for the spiritual disciplines.  I think they have a wrongheaded understanding.  John Wesley called these disciplines “the ordinary means of grace.”  That is, he understood that God can meet with us in extraordinary ways, but He also meets with us on a regular basis through the means of grace.  I prefer to call these “opportunities for grace.”  I believe they should be understood as consummating our relationship with God.  The act of intimacy between a man and woman is the consummation of their love relationship.  In the same way, we nurture and consummate our love relationship with God through the means of grace.
                I shall list these means of grace (and there are various lists) as the following:  private prayer, private Bible reading, church attendance, holy communion, Christian conversation (serious discussion of spiritual matters, for example, in a Sunday School class), fasting.  As we do these things regularly and diligently, we provide God with an opportunity to meet with us.  It is not that God could not do so as we drive down the highway or as we play pool, but these spiritual disciplines focus our minds on God and give Him greater opportunity to deepen our relationship with Him.
                The single most important of all the disciplines, I believe, is prayer.  It is an opportunity for us to give full, conscious expression to our lives and our trust in God.  As we pray, we discuss with God our joys and concerns, we thank Him for all the good things of our lives, and we pause to listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking to us.  I often encourage people to “pray through.”  It is difficult to describe this concept.  When we pray through, we pray until we begin to feel a release of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes, we are angry, worried, fearful, or complacent.  As we pray through, we stay with it until we reach a breakthrough and know that God has spoken to us.  Often, as we walk away, we are changed.  We may have been resisting God’s call on our lives.  We may have resented a certain development in our lives.   But now we have accepted God’s will in our lives.  We are at peace with God and with ourselves.  We are filled with a quiet joy, knowing that God loves us and is guiding our lives.
                As we practice our relationship with God, we develop a source of strength for the hard times.  When loss, disappointment, and pain comes into a life, a person who has a deep, abiding relationship—who meets regularly with God—will find strength to go through the trouble. 

                This brings me to my final statement about living in fellowship with God:  this relationship is going to change you.  It is going to challenge you.  It is going to call you into service to the Master.  It is going to call you into repentance about certain aspects of your lifestyle.  It is going to call you into holy living.  It is going to call you to be a cross-bearing disciple of Jesus Christ.

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