No Vacancy

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1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no man despise your youth”.

I remember our first vacation with my wife and family. For some reason, we decided that we would just drive to the beach, on July 4th weekend, and find a hotel when we got there. All we saw at each hotel was “No Vacancy”. We ended up going from one town to another and finally found a room.

In 1 Timothy 4, Paul the Apostle is writing to Timothy, a young pastor in Ephesus. Timothy was one of the youngest ministers in a whole city of pastors. Apparently there seemed to be an issue with their respect for Timothy as a fellow pastor due to his age.

I love the way Paul addressed him. Instead of writing to all the other pastors and saying, “I want you to respect my son in the faith, Timothy!”, he said, “Hey Timothy, don’t you allow them to get into your head”. He said, “You’re in control of how you respond to their actions”. He said, “LET no man despise your youth”. This signifies that Timothy had control over what he allowed to take up space in his thought life. He refused to LET them rent space in his mind.

Are there negative words that others have spoken trying to take up space in your mind? That’s your opportunity to allow God’s grace, his unmerited favor, to empower you. Don’t LET anyone or anything rent a room in your thoughts! Think about it, no one or nothing should have that kind of power in your thought life. Simply declare, no vacancy, all rooms are occupied by grace! Amen!

Do vs. Done

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John 19:30 “When Jesus had received the sour wine He said, It is finished, and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

There’s a big difference between something that you need to do and something that is already done. At dinnertime the other day, I looked in our pantry and I saw a jar of spaghetti sauce, a box of pasta, and I saw the sausage in the refrigerator. And I said to myself, “should I make the pasta or order from a local restaurant”? Well, you guessed it, I ordered out…the food was already cooked…done. It’s so much easier when something is done, completed, finished.

That’s the difference the cross made. It took us from do, do, do to done, done, done. The promises of God are yes, and amen. You don’t have to DO anything, it’s already done. Your healing is already done. Your forgiveness is already done. Your victory is already DONE!

If you could just see life through DONE rather than DO, it would make a huge difference. It takes all the pressure off, it takes all the self-effort out, it gives you a confidence because you already know the outcome. Today, see whatever you’re dealing with as Done not Do. It’ll change everything. Stay blessed. You know why? It’s DONE!

 

Is Anybody There?

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Acts 9:10 “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord”

Last week, I was on the phone with someone and suddenly there was silence, and I said, “Is anybody there?” I said it more than once, and finally the person said, “I’m here”.

This verse is a verse that most people don’t have underlined in their Bible. But there was a time when the Lord spoke to me through this verse, asking me, “How many times have I called your name and you weren’t there because you were doing something else”. What would have happened if when God called Ananias, he was in such a state that the” cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” were choking the Word? What if he was so preoccupied that he wasn’t listening to God? Maybe God would’ve raised up someone else to minister to Saul.

How many times has God spoken to you and tried to keep you from making a mistake and you “weren’t there”? How many times did He try to move on your behalf, but you were too busy to hear, or listen, or obey? If we are going to experience His best in our lives, we are going to have to start unplugging from this world and give God an opportunity to speak to us in that still, small voice.

There are some of you who are so talented that you depend only upon that talent. You believe you can get things done on your own because you’re so good at what you do. God wants you to be dependent upon Him. God is always speaking, but are you always listening? Do everything you can to make sure that He doesn’t have to say, “Is anybody there”? Be an Ananias today, don’t let him pass you by. God created you to make a difference. I believe you will. I believe you will be one of the ones to say “Behold, I am here Lord”.

 

Your Vital Necessity

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1 Chronicles 22:19 – “Now set your mind and heart to seek (inquire of and require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God…”

One day I woke up with these two words “vital necessity“, and I asked myself what does this mean? To some people, me included, my morning cup of coffee is vital. Maybe you can’t do anything until you eat breakfast in the morning. For others, their morning walk is vital to get their day started.

In 1 Chronicles 22:19 it says, “Now set your mind and heart to seek (inquire and require as your vital necessity) the Lord your God”. The word vital means essential, indispensable, crucial, critical, high priority. The word necessity means fundamental, basic, necessary. This is truly relevant to the next part of the verse which says, “arise and build…”.

If you want to build your life, make seeking Jesus your vital necessity. How? Set your mind and heart to seek the Lord as the most vital and necessary part of your life. Set your thoughts and desires on Jesus. Not just occasionally, but set your mind and keep it set on Jesus. As you do, His grace will over supply every area of your life, and every demand, and every situation. Make HIM your vital necessity and watch as things in life become effortless. With or without your morning coffee!

 



Home Sick

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Hebrews 11:15 " If they had been thinking with [homesick] remembrance of that country from which they were emigrants, they would have found constant opportunity to return to it".

Indeed, nearly all people miss something about home when they are away, making homesickness a nearly universal experience. However, an intense desire to go "back" to a familiar place and time can be very debilitating. A longing for the "good ol' days" and what "used to be" makes it impossible to look with hope to the future.

According to Hebrews 11:15, you follow the direction of your most dominant thought. You don't go anywhere in the natural that you haven't first gone in your imagination. This can be good or bad, depending on where your mind is taking you. If you spend your time meditating on God's promises in His Word, by faith you'll move forward and fulfill God's plan and purpose for your life. If you follow thoughts that want to take you backwards, you will find "constant opportunity to return to it". You'll be home "sick", instead of enjoying and being content and trusting in God's goodness and faithfulness in the place He has for you today and every day to come.

 

Cross Check

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Mathew 28:20 "……I am with you always, even unto the end of the world"

The enemy is thrilled when we worship under the old covenant. People all over the world are begging God to, "please come down", as if He is out there somewhere. The Holy Spirit came down in Acts 2 and has never left!

Why on earth would we sing "one thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life", when we are the house of the Lord (1Cor. 6:19-20). In fact, it's going to be quite impossible for us to dwell anywhere else.

Worship leaders everywhere are going through hoops every week trying to get people into the presence of God when Jesus already did that. They use the "Psalm 100 method", to enter His gates with thanksgiving, courts with praise, then finally into the Holy of Holies and worship. They forget that our born again spirit man is the Holy of Holies, our soul is the Holy Place, and our bodies are the outer court.

We have been way too concerned about God showing up instead of God filling up and flowing out of us. We think our songs are somehow going to move God, when God's not stuck. Faith receives what grace has already provided.

Folks, we need to "cross-check" our worship. Check if the lyrics are about trying to get to God, or bring Him down, or get closer to Him. If yes, then find new songs that celebrate our lives after the cross. From the place of victory because of the finished work of the cross. From a place of intimacy because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. From the inside out.

 

So Much More

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I have to say, Romans, chapter 5 has some of the most amazing truths in one portion of scripture. Four times Paul uses the term much more in reference to a believer’s life after the cross…

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him - Verse 9

But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many - Verse 15

For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ - Verse 17

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: - Verse 20

God has called you to so much more. You serve a much more God. Much more opportunity in life, much more forgiveness toward others, much more favor on your job, much more restoration in your family. Much more than you ever had before. Much more than you will ever need. So much more.

 

Beware - Hazardous to Your Health

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Galatians 1:9 “As we said before, so I now say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received (from us), let him be accursed”.

This particular verse is an eye opener. It’s a warning. It’s like a label on a container or product that warns the user of significant and sometimes potentially fatal health risks. It’s so important that the Apostle Paul mentioned it two times in his letter to the Galatians. What could be so hazardous and this important? Mixing the gospel of grace with the law. Hearing a message mixed with self-effort and God’s unmerited favor. Oh, you can mix the two if you want to, but there are significant risks or consequences to your health, relationships, finances, peace of mind, emotions…shall I go on?


“If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received (from us), let him be accursed”. Accursed is a strong word. It means to be doomed, condemned, wretched. We need to be careful that we’re not receiving a “works” gospel, which is a gospel that depends on us and not on Jesus. That’s what happened here. The Galatians received the grace of Christ but then the Jews tried to get them to do mix it with some law. It doesn’t work. Take heed to Paul’s warning. “Read the label” on the messages you are hearing. Are they mixed with law and grace? If yes, they might be hazardous to your health and well-being.

 



A Know It OWL

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Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of your calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

Have you ever heard of the saying “wise as an owl”? Since ancient times, owls have been depicted in literature and folklore as synonymous with wisdom. Mostly because of their huge eyes that give them the ability to hunt at night. They are very interesting birds.

I have discovered a different kind of owl…a “Know it OWL”. This is a person that seeks what I believe is the most important thing anyone could have, wisdom. Wisdom is not just knowing what to do but wisdom is knowing how to do it. In Ephesians 1:16, Paul said that he never stops praying “that the God of our Lord Jesus may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him [Jesus].”

Then in verse 18 he goes on to pray “that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know…” Praying for wisdom allows you to see things with your understanding. It allows you to know what to do in every situation. Wisdom to fulfill God’s purpose for your life. Go ahead, be a “Know it OWL”! It’s awesome!

 

Life is Not a Dress Rehearsal

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Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom”

In live theater, a dress rehearsal is the final rehearsal in which everything is done as it would be in a real performance. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately… depending on your viewpoint…our lives are not a dress rehearsal for the real thing. We are living the real thing right now. Guess what? You’re not getting this day back. There are no “do-overs” in real life. It’s the live show for us. There won’t be another. That’s why God wants us to make every day count. Every conversation count. Every moment with our family. Every vacation. Every open door. I could go on and on.

Moses prays to the Lord in Psalm 90:12, “teach us to number our days”. That means to make the most out of every opportunity to add value to someone’s life or your own. Here’s a thought, if you knew that Jesus was coming back in one week (I’m not saying He is, so don’t start any rumors!), what would your week look like? Think about it, who would you meet with? What would you say to some people? Who would you share the gift of salvation with? This is not a dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing. Let’s make each moment of each day count.

 



What Are You Doing Here?

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1 Kings 19:9 “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

I don’t really like caves. This past May, my daughter and I went to the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs, CO. We took a tour inside tunnels that had been excavated over a hundred years ago. It was interesting and insightful, I learned so much, but…I was really looking forward to seeing the light of day outside!

In 1 Kings 19:9, God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” How many of you know that God knew Elijah was there in the cave? So He was really saying “you’re in the wrong place, Elijah.” In 1 Kings 19:1-3, Elijah made a very important decision but for the wrong reasons. Have you ever made a decision for the wrong reason? I know I have. Why did Elijah “run for his life”? Because of a fearful imagination.

In verse 2, Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life. In verse 3 it says something interesting, “When he saw that, he arose, and went for his life”. He began to envision what it would be like to die from a sword. Our negative imagination can cause us to make a wrong decision in a moment of panic, fear, or intimidation. The Holy Spirit always leads us, but the enemy always forces or drives us. Today, let the peace of God be the umpire of your heart and mind. Don’t stay where you shouldn’t be and don’t go where you shouldn’t go. Be lead by God’s peace and prompting, even when you’re a little nervous. Bottom line, may we never find ourselves in a place where God needs to ask us, “What are you doing here?”

 

Our Alarm System

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"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 ESV

I'm so glad God blessed us with built in "alarms". We have negative emotions that tell us that something is wrong with our thinking. We have symptoms when there is something wrong with our body. We even have godly spouses, friends and parents to show us things we are too stubborn to receive from God on our own!

But there's one more thing that may not be so obvious. It's a "condemnation meter". It looks like a fuel gauge on your dashboard, but it works in reverse. When the needle is on "Empty", that's good. According to Romans 8:1, God says there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. If you're born again, you have received the gift of NO condemnation.

When you give place to condemnation, the needle begins to move away from "E" and guilt and fear set in. If you give place to guilt and fear, the needle moves again and destructive habits set in. Condemnation is now at dangerous levels! The answer, resist all condemning thoughts, accusations and lies with the truth of God's Word. Warning! Resist ALL condemnation.

 

Mary Had a Little Lamb

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Luke 2:7, 11 “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes...for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord”.

Most of us would have never heard of Bethlehem, a tiny village south of Jerusalem, had it not been for the little Lamb that was born there. For centuries a very special breed of lambs were raised in Bethlehem and brought to Jerusalem at Passover to be sold and sacrificed for sin. How fitting is it that Mary’s Lamb, God’s perfect Lamb, the Lord Jesus, would be born there. This perfect Lamb became the final Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for sin forever. Think about it…your destiny my destiny, the destiny of the world was wrapped in swaddling clothes in Mary’s arms. Amazing.

In Exodus 12:4 it says “And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls...” This tells me that any problem, any illness that your facing, any impossible situation, is not too little for THIS Lamb. Jesus is so much bigger. The situations in your house are never bigger than the Lamb.

Someone once wrote…

Mary had a little Lamb. His fleece was white as snow.

That spotless Lamb was crucified to pay the debt I owe.

Oh, spotless Lamb, with wool so white, Thy crimson blood, I know,

Can take away my crimson sin, and wash me white as snow.

Praise God today for that little Lamb. The Lamb of God who has taken my sin, along with every curse, sickness, lack, and eternal death. Mary’s little Lamb.

 

All In

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Hebrews 11:15 “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned “

The year was 1517, and Hernando Cortez and his three ships of soldiers sailed from Spain to conquer and claim Mexico for his country. When they finally arrived in the Mexican bay, small boats took all the soldiers to the shore to prepare for an inland march to the capital city of the Aztec Indian empire to defeat King Montezuma and his forces. Once all the soldiers were on shore, Cortez then motioned for a few men to row back out to the ships. As the soldiers watched, their curiosity turned to horror as the men lit torches and threw them onto the decks of the three ships. The soldiers stood speechless with eyes and mouths open as they realized they would never again see their home country or families.

They had no choice now but to turn, follow Cortez into battle, and crush the enemy and win the war. There was no turning back. They either had to go ALL IN or not at all! That’s exactly what Hebrews 11:15 is talking to us about. “All in” does not mean most of the way in, or partially in. It’s ALL in. If Abraham had been pining away at where he was and where he came from, he would have had an opportunity to go back! There’s nothing worse than being someplace physically, but someplace else mentally. Especially a place from the past.

God wants us to be all in with what He has called us to do. It starts with being “mindful” of where God is leading you, not from where you came. No looking back. No halfway in. Make a decision now and declare…I’m all in!

 

It's Time to Clean House

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Genesis 21:10 “Wherefore she said unto Abraham, cast out this bond woman and her son: for the son of this bond woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac”.

To this day, during Passover, Jewish people eat unleavened bread called Matzah in remembrance of the rapid escape from Egypt. In fact, Jews must clean their homes of even the smallest remnants of chametz (leavened food) for the length of the holiday. They do this by "spring cleaning" the home.

Similarly, in Genesis 21:10, Sarah said to her husband, cast out this bond woman and her son Ishmael. She didn’t want the son of his own self-effort in the same house with their promised son. As much as he loved Ishmael, he cast them both out. As soon as Hagar and her son were gone, amazing things started to happen.

In verse 22 it says, “And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do’.” That’s extreme favor. This was a great man of authority in Egypt. As soon as “the law” left the house, favor manifested. The law couldn’t live in the same house as grace.

Do you still have the law, self-effort, trying to earn God’s favor in your house? If yes, it’s time to clean house. On April 1st of this year, I heard this word from the Lord in my spirit, “April showers are bringing May flowers”. We are in a season of great and abundant harvests. There is so much waiting for us. In our house, every day is Spring cleaning day, we want every trace of the law OUT, and the grace of God in. How about you?

 

Prompt and Circumstance

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Romans 7:6 “But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].” (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

Been to a graduation ceremony lately? Did they play that “graduation song”? The real title is Pomp and Circumstance, composed in 1902 by Sir Edward Elgar, which comes from Shakespeare’s Othello. Didn’t know that.

What I do know is that in Romans 7:6, the Amplified Bible explains a graduation of different type. The difference between the old covenant and the new covenant. Under the old you lived by obedience to a written code of regulations, thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not… It says that it restrained you and I and held us captive or prisoner. The law restrains you, holds you back from progress, and keeps you prisoner to guilt and shame.

I’m introducing a new graduation song…Prompt and Circumstance. As a believer, you have graduated to a new way of life where the Holy Spirit prompts or urges you in your life throughout your day. The Message describes it as “the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:28-30). You are now prompted by your friend Jesus what to say and what to do. So, congratulations on your graduation! You are free. You can now live by the promptings of the Holy Spirit and newness of life. Enjoy today and every day!

 

Surrounded by Grace

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Psalm 5:12 “For thou LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield”.

When our son was in his teens, he decided that he needed speakers for “surround sound” in his room to watch movies, specifically action films. What a difference it made being completely “surrounded” by sound. This technique began in theaters years ago, and then progressed to all types of music.

In Psalms 5:12 the psalmist says by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “The Lord will bless the righteous”. That’s every born-again believer. That’s you. You were made righteous by the blood of Jesus. Because of the finished work on the cross, you stand before God without a sense of guilt, condemnation or inferiority.

The psalmist goes on to say that “with favor You will surround him as with a shield”. The word favor here is the word for grace, or undeserved, unmerited favor. That literally means that God’s favor will surround every area of your life. Your health, your finances, your family, your friends, your career, every area of your life is completely surrounded with favor. If you’re saved, you’re surrounded with preferential treatment and extraordinary advantages. That’s awesome.

Declare Psalm 5:12 over yourself today, make it your own. Say, “I’m righteous, I’m blessed, I’m surrounded with favor on every side”. Amen!

 



A Stone's Throw

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John 11:39 “Jesus said, take ye away the stone”

You know something? If you are born again, no matter what your circumstances are telling you, you’re not that far from your answer at all. That’s good news! “A stone’s throw” is something that is really close by, closer than what you even think. Your answer is right near you, in fact it’s already IN you. The law is like a stone blocking the resurrection life. Remember when Lazarus was raised from the dead, and when Jesus was raised from the dead? Life was in Lazarus, but the stone was in the way. That’s why Jesus said, “Roll away the stone”. The stone must be removed before resurrection life can flow.

Now, just to clarify, we’re not removing the stones for dead people, unbelievers. If you remove the stones from dead people what you get is “stink”! You can’t remove the Ten Commandments from people in the world. They still need the “thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness…” But in the church, it is a hindrance because resurrected people are alive, but behind the stone. So, move that stone folks! Roll it away. Get the law out of your life and let resurrection life flow!

 

Introducing the "Hamon" Sandwich

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Esther 5:9 “Hamon went away that day joyful and elated in heart. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate refusing to stand up or show fear before him, he was filled with anger against Mordecai.”

I didn’t say ham sandwich…I said Hamon sandwich. Let me explain.

Chapter five of the book of Esther talks about an evil man named Hamon who hated the Jews. He had great influence with the king and had just been invited to a special dinner at the palace. He went away ecstatic at what had just happened, but as he was walking away ONE person spoiled everything for him!

That person was Mordecai, who refused to stand up and show reverence for him at the king’s gate. In verse 10 it says that Hamon kept it inside his heart. It says in verse 11 that when he went home he recounted to his family the glory of his riches, the abundance of his ten sons, and the promotion he had just received. Then in verse 13 he said, “Yet none of this benefit me as long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate”. He couldn’t enjoy all the blessings of his life because one person really annoyed him for not honoring him like he supposedly deserved.

Ever done that? You were going through your day, everything was going just great, life was wonderful, then one person does or says something that annoyed you and BAM, there goes your joy. You just ate a “Hamon sandwich”! Don’t do it! Don’t allow that one thing to steal so much good in your life, your marriage, your children. Just keep moving and focus on all the good. Let the fruit of the Spirit be your immediate response to comments and situations. Your choice, fruit of the Spirit or Hamon sandwich!

 

Wounded Time is Wasted Time by Natalie Fortunato

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Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."

"If you're going through hell, don't stop!” I heard this line in a country song while I was waiting at the car dealership for my oil change. Loved it! Totally got my attention. Such great advice, right?

When we really mess up, totally miss God, sometimes the guilt and shame is paralyzing. It's almost unbearable. But the worse thing we can do is stay there. All wounded and condemned, kicking ourselves. What a waste of time.

The enemy loves to rehearse the incident over and over again in our minds. How we failed. But the Holy Spirit is the exact opposite. When we miss it, He loves to remind us of who we are in Christ. He reminds us that we are loved, accepted, forgiven and righteous. He reminds us of our calling and our assignment.

If you've messed up big time, change your mind and change your direction. Admit where you got off track, take responsibility for your actions, take dominion and authority over the enemy, and allow the Holy Spirit to get you back on track…and move on!