Pearls of Wisdom: Expanding Your Capacity

Become larger to carry more. The idea of capacity may seem so obvious, but I find it often trips people. Growth comes through discomfort. Our capacity expands through deliberate stretching.

The Lord has shown me many pictures about this. The nautilus outgrowing its chamber. A balloon swelling, taking shape as breath fills it. A pregnant woman’s incredible transformation as she grows a new life. In all these examples there is effort, change, pressure, even labor to see the fullness revealed.

God’s primary goal is to breathe His life into us like holy balloons. He desires to expand in us, expand His love, His image, His creativity and wisdom. His kingdom.

Think of Joseph saving the nation of Egypt and even his own people. Mary delivering the Messiah. Peter addressing the Sanhedrin. They had to each be pushed out of their idea of enough so that He might reveal His life through them.

We must be willing to be uncomfortable so that He might increase. So when we see circumstances outside of our control, what is God expanding in us?

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Faith instead of fear.
Worship instead of whining.
Healing instead of sickness.
Kindness instead of gossip.

Be mindful of obstacles that would deter this divine renovation.

People lose touch with God, or don’t experience His presence, because they have crowded their lives with “foreign wives.” Solomon was the wisest and richest man on earth, yet he lost his soul because “his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord” and he was led away by his foreign wives.

“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” 1 Kings 11:4

Make an effort to let go of lesser habits, affections, ideals to make room for greater revelation.  Then, allow God to heal and test the revelation. He wants to be sure we own it, to have authority in the revelation He has given.

Pastor Bill Johnson tells a story about repairing a flat bicycle tire. He explains the process of repair is to first hold it under water to find the hole. Once the hole is detected, the tire is taken out of the water, dried and patched. Here’s the kicker.  The tire is not put back on the bicycle. Instead, the tire is again held under the water. Why? To see if the patch held.

Bill says some of our circumstances reveal defects. They need to be patched. Some of our circumstances are us being held under the water a second time, as Bill says, “to see if the work of God held.”

It’s a valid question as you go through seasons of stretching to ask God, “are you repairing a hole in me? or are you testing to see if Your repair held?” It will help you so much to know that He is always working for your good. His main goal is that His life and Love will fill you and then flow from you.

We have to be fit to carry the Kingdom. We were born to become like Him.

I love this song as a great reminder. He is always working for us to be fully revealed in Him.

“C.S. Lewis Song” (click here to listen)

If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I’ll feel nude when to where I’m destined I’m compared

Speak to me in the light of the dawm
Mercy comes with the morning
I will sigh and with all creation groan
as I wait for hope to come for me

Am I lost or just less found?
On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
is this a soul that stirs in me,
is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?

Cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become

For we, we are not long here
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it

And I, I was made to live,
I was made to love,
I was made to know you

Hope is coming for me.
Hope, He’s coming

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Dare to Hope

As I was rolling in my sleep the other night, I prayed over the issues of our day. So many needs, so much confusion, so much potential for Revival. Then I heard this phrase from a song over and over. “I still have hope. You are my hope.” I woke up strengthened that God is still God. And still good. The world is still His. As I mulled over this phrase in waking hours, He whispered it to me in a new way, with Him speaking. “I, God, still have hope. You, believers, are my hope.” Oh that we would carry the light of Christ. Oh that the world would know the love of God through us, regardless of the changing whims of our culture. Listen. Be strengthened. Dare to hope.

Which is More Real? God’s Presence or My Feelings

C. S. Lewis has disturbed me lately.  So much so, that I find it is changing my thinking.  In The Screwtape Letters, the demonic general celebrates how easy it is to “twist reality” for the humans.  This simple technique has a dual effect. First, the attack distorts our feelings so that fears, arrogances, offenses, and injustices become larger than life, larger than what is even true. If we feel it, it must be true.  Second, this same attack reduces any spiritual sensation, any appreciation of beauty, or glimpse of Heaven to “just a feeling” and thus should be dismissed and disqualified. Pretty brilliant, if I may say so. If it is worldly and full of fear, it must be true. If is spiritual and full of hope, it must be false.

I have mulled on this for a few days now. And watched it in others.  When some of my friends discuss their angst, dilemmas or obstacles, there exists this faith-based steadfastness. I would be crazy to question or doubt their issues.  They believe whole-heartedly in the toughness of the situation, the hopelessness of it, the impossibility of resolution. It is God-less. He has no power or bearing on the situation.

But when I question these same zealous pessimists about hearing God, or believing His goodness, then their steadfastness melts. Suddenly any godly thought, or verse, or feeling of the Spirit’s movement they may have experience is minimized, dismissed or overlooked.

Let me give you a real life example that God used to illustrate this demonic scheme.

Road-Trip2-1

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For The Wounded Ones in the Abortion Battle

Because I know you are out there…

I know that every time you even hear the words “pro life” or “abortion” or “pro choice” you get a pit in your stomach, or lump in your throat, or rush of fear, anger or regret in your heart.

Your worst fear is to be found out. Your deepest desire is to be forgiven, finally. You wrestle with what your parents, pastor, boyfriend, husband, friends said before and after your decision. Or what they would say if they only knew…

You replay the day. Over and over.

You flinch at babies. Or you long for a baby.

You can’t stop crying. Or you can’t stop raging.

You can’t stop hating yourself. Or the father, or person who pressured you, even if that person was you.

You can’t even think about heaven. Because what on earth will you say to your child?

And then there is God…how could he love you now?

Even churches act like your choice is too bad, too big for God’s mercy. Will God punish you forever?

Do Christians even care about the scared, trapped pregnant woman or just the baby?

Sisters (brothers), God’s grace is greater than all our sin. It truly does wash us white as snow. When we sing “Jesus paid it all” it means He paid for that day in the clinic as well.  Not partially, or conditionally, but it is completely covered by His redeeming love.

I pray you will have the courage to begin the journey to freedom.  One of the steps to my own healing was to talk about it. I had to open the door to let the shame and fear out but also to let His breath of cleansing freedom in. God led me to a grace-filled believers who really, really understood the Power of the cross. They spoke truth over me that Jesus came to save the world not to condemn it. (Thank you Nan Sprouse and Pat Gilley.) They cried with me. They grieved with me. They loved me with the eternal Love of Jesus.

Look at John 3:16-18 with fresh eyes:IMG_1318
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

The gospel of Jesus, His desire to make the world whole applies to  you. You are not disqualified. You are not cast out. You are not unlovable or unforgivable.

Truly, as the song says, “God renders miracles of our sin.”

For the wounded ones of the abortion battle…Your child is with God but you are still here with us. I pray that God will lead you to people that will love you into freedom.

A Cry for Humanity

It was a convergence of wrenching heart moments. First came two hard movies within days of each other: The Impossible which is the the miraculous true story of an entire family who survived the tsnumami; and Hotel Rwanda which depicts the incredible true story of a man who saved 1268 Africans during the genocide in Rwanda. Next came this “ah-ha” revelation as I spent the day at Dollywood with my girls and some friends, only to come home to the horror of the death and destruction caused by the Oklahoma tornado.IMG_1050

How does the human soul carry such deep and diverse emotions? How do we celebrate the small victories when the devastation is so great. One family was reunited when 150,000 families had loved ones swept away by the sea. One hotel served as a haven to 1268 Hutus and Tutsi when one million corpses were left after the murderers were driven out of Rwanda.

Dazed and terrified children were pulled alive from school debris while other parents waited and searched in anguish for their child’s dead body to be discovered.

In light of this, my “ah-ha” at Dollywood seems so small now.

But perhaps as I connect all these emotional dots it is bigger than I realized. For the first time, as I entered into the mass of humanity that Dollywood attracts, my eyes and heart were seeing people.

Real people. Not the classes or the accents, not the perfect flesh or flawed flesh, not the beliefs and attitudes expressed through clothing, tattoos, or language, but I saw real people.  The flawless, fake “image” of beauty had no place here. What was real and true and honest was the weary but willing parents holding the hands of elated children. It was the mentally handicapped man who could not stop laughing and clapping his hands because he was so excited. It was the fit and obese, the rich and poor, the educated and hicks, the blasphemers and believers, all standing in line together, screaming together on rides, enjoying their loved ones, enjoying…life.

Enjoying. Life. Together.

If we truly are but dust, a flower that rises and falls, a vapor that appears for a moment then vanishes, if we truly are to savor every moment…then all these real life stories of great loss must prompt us to ask…are we? Am I? Are we seeing the beauty of God, the gift of life, the sufficiency of Grace, the overwhelming presence of the Spirit in our daily lives?

Because I am concerned, stirred and agitated that if I do not, will not savor it in times of blessing and peace, will I have the stamina and practice to rely on it when the my world spins out of my control?

Thank God today. For your life. For your loved ones. For His Life and Love.

“You lead me in paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake” Psalm 23

 

The More of Marriage: a mini-series, part 2

Marriage has shown me my lack of grace, my need for grace, and the reality  of God’s grace.

I have these random memories.  Like puzzle pieces, God put things into place long before I was even aware He was working on me.  One memory is of my arrogant self telling our supposed pre-marrital counselor (snort) that “I am a great catch. And I don’t need Chuck, but I choose him.”  (Poor counselor. Poor Chuck.)

Fast forward to somewhere around year 5 when a wise friend from church asked me what I would do to save my already suffering marriage. I said emphatically, “ANYTHING.”IMG_0972

“Would you quit your job?” he said looking me dead in the eye without flinching. He had nailed my pride,  independence, superiority.  Shocked by the suggested sacrifice, I had to sit squarely and solemnly in the reality of being a liar.  I wouldn’t really do ANYTHING.  I  only wanted to do enough to  make Chuck act better for me.  After a great deal of gnashing my teeth with God, I realized that He could and would do ANYTHING — if my heart was humble before Him.

So I did. It did. God did.   I quit my job and launched my marriage in a different direction.  God was up to something better for me, for us.  My marriage radically changed when I saw my lack of grace for Chuck and I acknowledged  my need for grace to let go of ideas and actions that were poisoning my marriage. It is one thing to say you’re committed; it is another thing to act committed —especially when those acts require sacrifice.  Jesus  knows all about the cost of sacrifice, and it’s why He offers us His loving grace to do it.

From years 10-15,  there are lots of memories and  journal entries of “when Lord, when” or “why Lord why” or “help, Lord help.”

Funny now to think of it all.  I don’t how God carried us, but He did. Every day.  8030 days.  Sometimes we walked with Him. Sometimes He carried us in His arms while we were sleeping, or weeping, or too sick to walk.  Sometimes, He pulled us along,  His firm hand clamped around ours, as we kicked and screamed down the road He had determined. But He was there from the start in all the chaos, dreams, and questions. From the start He was planting life and hope and renewal. And as we went along He whispered…

“Trust Me.”

“Look at Me.”

“Expect Me to Change Things.”

“Believe for Good.”

I know folks married 30 – 50+ years are laughing at me.  In that world of marital staying power,  I am only a youngster.  But if you are under the 20 year mark, you need to know that God’s grace really is yours. It’s not a  pithy church statement. It is a divine fact, a gift, an investment.  He pours in to us what we cannot manufacture on our own. He never gets tired, frustrated or quits. We might, but Jesus doesn’t.

His grace is always available, and it comes to those who know they need it. Chuck and I have grieved over our hard-headedness and hard-heartedness. Why did we wait so long to humble ourselves before God and before each other in so many sticky places?

Our goal now is to shorten the recovery time.  After this many years, we are learning to bypass the manipulation by silence or anger or emotional explosions. We are more eager to get to the heart of the matter…. Really, the Heart of the matter. God’s heart. Chuck’s heart. My heart. “God what am I missing here?  I am committed to this person more than I am committed to being right, so give me grace to see what you see.”

Even in those times when one of us was more eager for health than the other, Grace happens. I have found that many times the only reason ONE person is still holding on, is because God’s grace is at work.  With so much marital collapse all around, we shy away from clinging to His grace and our vows.  Yet I believe it is a sure promise for those who desire to cross the finish line.

Truly, His Grace is all sufficient. For every need, He is there.

To save, not to condemn

IMG_0475The intersection of our social upheavals with Easter could not be more pertinent—more unsettling or perhaps even more hopeful?  I have considered both sides. I have listened to the barbs thrown at human beings from both political stances. And I keep coming back to some simple truths. Jesus came to save the world, not condemn it. There is no condemnation because of Christ. But—we are also not in charge.

Jesus came to restore us to the original intent of the Master Designer. He came that we would have true intimate fullness with God.  And in the same way that He came that Crucifixion day long ago, people rejected Him. They scorned His way, His blood, His promise. But He died and was raised again — anyway. Despite their protests to defend their sin, He shed His blood and was raised again to make them new creations, to give them more than they dreamed possible.

The same is true today. Despite our arrogant attempts at determining the “way things should be” and doing “what is right in our own eyes” there is a Holy Agenda being fulfilled.  It is hope and life open to all. There is just one hitch – we are not in charge. We can choose ultimate love, or not. We can have mercy and peace, or not. We can have all His provision and true satisfaction, or not. He always lets us choose life or death.

Yet it remains that God himself is the one who creates definition, truth and identity. The law doesn’t. The lobbyist with money doesn’t. The person with the most vehement Facebook posts doesn’t (regardless of the mathematical symbol). “In his image he created them male and female.”

I have had, and do have, homosexual friends. I also have friends who are addicts, liars, and gossips, and who cheat on their heterosexual spouses.  I love them all.  More importantly, God loves them all.

But this is not the sum total of who they are—or who they could be.  And He has a better plan than each of these counterfeit identities.  We don’t concede to our personal preferences, or even our supposed rights. We begin and end with God’s image. I used to think that sleeping with a guy to get love was “the way things work.” But then I met Real Love, and my preferences changed, my idea of Truth changed. My political stances changed. Mercy does that. Resurrection power does that.

Years ago, with the emergence of gay rights, the buzz from the medical field was not positive. They would say (and still do say) that anal sex is one of the most high risk sexual encounters ever. Why? Because this body part, the original intent of its design, is being distorted.
This is not brain surgery. Talk to a child about our great political issues: abortion, slavery, homosexuality. Killing babies, owning other humans and same sex couples do not add up to them. You don’t have to persuade them. It is simple math. I have taught thousands of middle and high schools students. I’ve seen the results over and over.

Tell them the bare facts: how abortion is performed, how slaves are forced by threat of death to trade their bodies for sex or labor, and how the human body is wired for sex, male and female, and they can come to simple revelations—

I was once a baby, I needed someone to allow me to be born.
Humans don’t own other humans, regardless of skin color, or value as a commodity.
Simple biological plumbing suggests that male and female coupling is in our DNA.

Is any of this popular? accepted? comfortable? No.
But I don’t make the rules. I also don’t set the standard for life to the full.

Just like the Roman empire did not, could not, dictate Jesus’s mission of love, neither can Apple, Amazon, or Starbucks defer ours. I heard two men from opposing sides use the phrase “embrace without endorsing.”  I can live with that. I can live with disagreement. What I can’t live with is trying to legalize same sex marriage to make it socially normal or right. The law of God is written on our hearts. The supreme court isn’t. There is a higher law we are to governed by.

How then shall we live?  With a heart of Christ that seeks to save, from a heart that loves the world without condemnation but with absolute resolve to stand with Him. There is a great line from the movie Mulan. The enemy Hun invader demanded the Emperor bow before him.  His response?  “No matter how much the wind howls, the mountain cannot bow.”

God is still on the throne, whether we like it or not. His heart is still for restoration and salvation, whether we receive it or not. The choice is ours, but the earth is His. We are His children, His creation after all. When it is all said and done, mercy triumphs over judgement.  We wait for the sons and daughers of God to be revealed.

A Culture of Cowardice

IMG_0487Sherri Turkle’s TED talk about  the disconnect through technology (“Connected but Alone”), really picked at some social norms that are poisoning us.  Right after that, a friend came over to have a “face to face” conversation because “My emails tend to make things worse,” she confessed. She just wanted to “see how her words landed.”

It was no big deal, no major issue to resolve. Well —  except that it was  heart thing. She had noticed her heart and my heart bouncing off each other and she wanted to clarify and comfort me.  Hmm, maybe it was a big deal.

Then Salem wrote a paper on the risk of relationships through technology;  she challenged that we are tempted to pretend to be human while  never actually experiencing true human connection.  Somewhere in here God gave me the phrase, “careless words.”  It triggered a scripture that has always scared me. “You will be held accountable for every careless word you utter.” Can you see that the Lord is talking a lot about this? In our on-going conversation the Lord is teaching,  “What does it mean to use our words with wisdom?”

The icing on the cake was  when I saw a message in writing that would never have been delivered in person.  Whether text, Facebook, or tweet, if the person delivering that message had to stand there and watch the physical, emotional and spiritual impact of  those words, I don’t think that person would have had the guts to say it. Bravado from a distance is a deception.

So I wonder — are we creating  a Culture of Cowardice?

Our so-called freedom of expression has, perhaps, unleashed a Jekyll and Hyde personality where we say unfiltered in text, Facebook and tweets, what we would never have the gall to speak face to face.  What makes us human is our gift of emotions, our ability to respond, to experience. And yet we shield ourselves from this experience by throwing verbal bombs via technology.

I love the exchange of ideas. I am, in fact, right now, communicating via technology. But as it comes to one on one relationships, human to human, heart to heart, are we taking thought of how our words hurt or heal? Does our smart phone make us emotionally stupid ? or reckless? Or worse, braver than we actually are?

Believe me, human interactions are dangerous. I accidentally hurt a friend recently. I watched her face cloud over, her body tense up and I heard her bitter, angry response.  I was so shell-shocked all I could I could say was, “That was not my heart.”  But the beauty of that moment was the humanity of it. It was real, ugly, and even scary. We may think it is better to hide behind our devices to avoid some of the relational fallout.  But here is the God factor.

Seeing her, experiencing her caused me to look at me, to look to God.  If all that happened via text, I probably wouldn’t have blinked an emotional eye. Instead, I have examined myself, gone before the Lord and I have prayed for my friend.  Her hurt was a wake up call. I am desperately reminded of how frail we are despite our tough personas. I am  immediately grateful that the Holy Spirit is here to comfort and to heal us both. Again and again, I am reminded how much we need to hear that we are Well Loved children of God.

Perhaps, this is our starting point in all communications, even the hard ones.  Am I speaking like a Well Loved Child of God? Is the other person being treated like a Well Loved Child?

How can we possibly do this? Only by the true and present Grace of God. He is teaching us to love.  “Words are powerful; take them seriously.”

34-37 “ It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” Matthew 12 The Message

 

Listen for His song…

I know this sounds crazy, but I was in a store the other day and heard “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees over the intercom.  I’ve never particularly been a fan of the Bee Gees. ( I know, blasphemy!)  Still a line from the song kept ringing through my head.

“How deep is your love, I really need to know.
Cause we’re living in a world of fools
Bringing us down…We belong to you and me”

Finally I had to go look up the lyrics because He wouldn’t leave me alone. And there it was — this old song with a present day message. Had He been singing it all along and I had been looking for a boy instead my God?

Then to really flip my head around, He showed me the song can be sung two ways.
Me (us) singing to God: How deep is your love, I really need to know.
Jesus singing to me (us): How deep is your love, I really need to know.
Talk about an attitude adjuster…I had to spend some serious time asking and answering that question.

And if that isn’t enough, the next day one line from a song penetrated my heart while at a restaurant.

“Longer than…I’ve been in love with you.”

Time stopped. No one with me knew that I had hit repeat 100 times on this song in college as  I cried my eyes out because I was so lonely. No one could figure the odds of hearing this song at this time and place. But He knew. And had known. He had been there in college, just like He was with me in the restaurant at that very moment.

I know He was standing there grinning at me, so proud of Himself for blowing me up.  So happy that I finally understood it was Him singing all along.  What a Lover.

The person with me asked why I was smiling?

“Oh I didn’t realized I was,” I said faintly. “I just heard a love song from a long time ago…”

Listen for Him. His song of love is everywhere, from the beginning of time and forever.

Twists and Turns and the Peace of God

My brain got twisted around on Saturday.  So on Sunday, in worship, I just sat there. No singing. No standing even. Just sitting.

And as I felt the Spirit of God pulling on my heart I began to cry because I realized I wasn’t even sitting and looking for his presence. I was content to just sit in my pity party. But God.

I heard the faintest whisper, “Grab your Bible.”  I did and it fell open to Philippians. Oh great, I thought, the whatever is good, noble, blah, blah, blah passage. “Like I haven’t read that a hundred times,” I said aloud through my tears.  The whisper came, “Read it again.”

The whole passage is below. It is medicine for the weary soul. But let me just give you highlights of what I saw as I read  it “again.”

You whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm.   (He still loves me when I’m acting like a brat.)

Let your gentleness by evident to all. (Ouch, I have not been gentle at all.)

The Lord is near. (I know you are Jesus, help me re-focus)

And the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. ( I have let down my guard so I have no peace.)

Put it in to practice. (Yes, I can try again. I must keep practicing.)

And the God of peace with be with you. (Thank you for never leaving me hopeless.)

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (I am still learning this. I got swept up in the drama.)

I have learned the secret… (Secret? What secret?)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Yes God. With you all things are possible. Forgive my unbelief.)

I am amply supplied. ( Why do I still question this?)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Your grace covers all my weakness. Thank for strengthening my spirit.)

Can I get a Wow and and Amen?

That play on the words  — the peace of God, and the God of peace — was like an IV drip for my spirit. The peace of God will guard me, because the God who is peace is with me. In His presence there is peace and it is the shield and medicine I need.

And everywhere, all the time, the Lord is insisting on P-R-O-C-E-S-S. I must learn to enjoy the journey with Him. There is a secret. I can learn it if I will practice it. There is a truth greater than my need. I can do everything in Him because through Him I am fully resourced.

How then shall I live? By the grace of Jesus in my spirit. Selah.

Oh Spirit of God, how excellent you are in all your ways. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.[a]

Philippians 4, NIV