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December 15, 2018, 04:17:49 PM

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1  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: Today at 04:55:31 AM
Doing Righteousness

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)

Every genuine Christian knows that part of the salvation gift is the promise of being made “unblameable in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 3:13). We sometimes have trouble, however, with the concept of present-tense holiness in our everyday lifestyles.

John speaks of the abiding Christian who “sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). Indeed, such a Christian “doth not commit sin” (1 John 3:9) because, John notes, the “seed” of God “remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Furthermore, “whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).

It’s accurate to translate those passages with the “continuing” implication of the Greek structure (i.e. “does not continue in [the practice of] sin,” etc.). However, the emphasis is on an obvious, continuous, clearly embraced lifestyle of righteous living!

The visible transformation from a worldly conformity (Romans 12:2) begins with a desire for “the sincere milk of [God’s] word” (1 Peter 2:2), fashioning ourselves after God’s holiness “in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:14-15). Neither are we to let sin reign in our bodies, but we are to yield ourselves as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13). Since we are “risen with Christ,” we are to “mortify” the fleshly appetites, “put off” emotional outbursts that reflect an ungodly nature, and “put on” godly attributes so that whatsoever we do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-17). HMM III
2  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 14, 2018, 10:07:25 AM
The Scars of Sin

“But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” (Judges 16:21)

The sad end of mighty Samson, who once had been so greatly energized and utilized by the Lord, is also an allegory and a grave warning to every Christian. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14-15).

Satan knows our individual weaknesses and tempts us accordingly. Many Christians have fallen into sin through some Delilah, but probably many more have fallen into sin through pride, or covetousness, or compromise, or apathy.

First, sin blinds. We are commanded to grow in Christ, adding to our initial faith the attributes of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). Otherwise, “he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:9).

Then, sin binds. It may not be with chains, as with Samson, but unconfessed sin quickly enslaves its practitioners. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

Finally, sin grinds. Instead of the promised freedom from restraint, a sinful life soon becomes a “grind,” tedious and tasteless, like “the dog turned to his own vomit again” (2 Peter 2:22).

Samson did return to God again before his death, but he was still blind, and bound, and grinding. God forgives, but the effects of sin are not easily removed. How much better it would be never to yield to the temptation at all. HMM
3  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 13, 2018, 09:32:29 AM
Cain and Abel

“Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:12)

These two brothers stand as contrasting prototypes. Cain was the first child born after the Fall who embraced the “wicked one” in spite of all the firsthand and face-to-face knowledge of God’s redemptive plan and offering of grace (Genesis 4). Cain’s arrogant lifestyle is noted in Jude 1:8-11. Abel, in contrast, was a man of great faith (Hebrews 11:4) who was both righteous (Matthew 23:25) and a prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

Adam and Eve would have taught the boys (and their other children) about God and the knowledge of the sacrifice (covering of skins) for their own sin. It is clear that sheep were not kept for food (Genesis 2:16) since Cain provided food (as instructed by God—Genesis 1:29). Abel provided clothing and sacrifice.

The events of the Fall would suggest that this sacrifice was an established practice (Genesis 3, the “covering” of skins—the Hebrew word for atonement means “to cover”). Furthermore, the language of Genesis 4:3 (Hebrew translation “at the end of the days”) requires a specified time period when they brought (Hebrew translation “came with”), probably to the door of the garden (Genesis 3:22-24), an offering (used consistently of voluntary tributes to God, Exodus 30:9-10). It is completely parallel to “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” as later used by Moses in Leviticus 9:3-10.

Such specified action is hardly accidental. Thus Cain’s rebellion and heinous fratricide revealed an evil heart that would not repent. May God protect us from such evil. HMM III
4  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 12, 2018, 10:33:00 AM
The Seed, the Water, and the Word

“So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)

This verse is a salutary corrective to the common somewhat boastful claim of the evangelist or the personal “soul winner”—that “I won John to Christ,” or “I led Mary to the Lord.” On the other side of the coin is the similar man-pleasing testimony that “I was won to Christ by Pastor Brown’s sermons.” While it is commanded and is urgently important that each Christian be a faithful and earnest witness for Christ, it is needful to give God alone the credit for one’s salvation, since it is only He “that giveth the increase.” We can be grateful whenever God uses something we have preached or written or said to bring someone to Himself, but He is by no means limited to such human efforts, and it is the sin of pride to take credit for what only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.

The Christian’s ministry is necessarily limited to “planting” and “watering,” but these constitute a tremendous responsibility and a privilege of eternal value. And even these are productive only if centered around the Holy Scriptures, because both the seed which is planted and the water which enables it to grow are said to be the word of God. Even the great evangelist, the apostle Paul, must say: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Nevertheless, we do have many gracious promises that, if we are faithful in planting and watering, God will give the increase, and we can share His joy. “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:6). “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). HMM
5  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 11, 2018, 09:58:10 AM
The Sons of God

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1)

When John says “behold,” he uses the Greek word eido, which might well be here rendered “focus your mind because this fact is important!” We are called “sons of God.” The world can’t know this because the world does not know God.

We are chosen (Ephesians 1:4), selected out of many who will not be so favored (Matthew 22:14), and adopted (Galatians 4:5) into the family of the omnipotent Creator “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). Not only that, but since we have been created “after God in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), then as God’s “sons” we are “then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

This unique and priceless gift of sonship has the responsibilities of “sons” as well as the privileges. Yes, we are made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21), but we are also called “unto holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7) and expected to “work out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12) with fear and trembling. Although we are granted rights to “sit together” with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6), we are commanded to “put on the whole armour of God” here on Earth so that we can “withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:11, 13).

Sonship also demands the “chastisement” of the Father (Hebrews 12:8) and the careful additions to our faith of the character disciplines of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (2 Peter 1:5‑7). Earthly sonship must “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). HMM III
6  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 10, 2018, 10:57:18 AM
The Man of God

“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)

There are just two places in the New Testament where a person is called a “man of God” (both of which are in Paul’s letters to Timothy), and they reveal the attributes which warrant us to call someone a man (or woman) of God.

The first occurrence, found in our text, tells us that such a person should, first of all, not be one who loves money and the material things money can buy, for “the love of money is the root of all evil” (see previous verse, 1 Timothy 6:10). Instead, his pursuit should be after personal righteousness and godliness, as well as stronger faith, more genuine love for others, more patience, and true meekness.

Speaking of meekness (not weakness), Moses was called “the man of God” in the very first use of this phrase in the whole Bible, and we are told that “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Yet, he was able to lead two million Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and then through 40 years in the Sinai desert.

The second New Testament reference to the “man of God” is in reference to his use of the Scriptures. He will recognize that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God. . . . That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Thus, the essential characteristics of a true man of God will be a great desire for personal righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and strong meekness, accompanied by the avoidance of any taint of greed or covetousness. In terms of his Christian beliefs, he will have an unshakable confidence in the verbal inerrant truth and authority of the Holy Scriptures. HMM
7  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 09, 2018, 10:41:29 AM
The Seventh Day

“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:11)

God’s word is omnipotent, and He could just as well have created an entire universe, fully populated and functioning, in an instant of time. Instead, He chose to do it in six days, with a seventh day to be set aside as a day of rest and remembrance of His completed, “very good” creation. Since that time, it has been the universal practice among monotheists—those who believe in one Creator God—to measure time in seven-day weeks, with one of those days observed as a day of rest and worship of the Creator.

This divine assertion was inscribed with “the finger of God” on a table of stone (Exodus 31:18), clearly settling, once and for all, the ancient question of the age of the cosmos, at least for those who really believe in the inerrant perspicuity and authority of the Holy Scriptures. Not only did the Lord precisely equate the six days of man’s workweek with the six days of His own workweek, He then pronounced it all “very good” and “sanctified” the seventh day (Genesis 1:31; 2:3). This would have been an unthinkable thing for Him to say if there were, at that time, a great mile-deep graveyard consisting of the fossil remains of dead animals from the so-called geological ages extending all around the globe. These fossils must all be dated as post-Eden, after human sin and God’s curse brought death into the world (Romans 5:12).

Today, those who believe in God and creation should certainly continue to remember Him by observing every seventh day as a day of rest and worship in honor of their Creator, who has now also become their Redeemer and who will soon come again to reign as eternal King. HMM
8  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 08, 2018, 09:30:07 AM
God's Ways Are Best

“And the word of the Lord came unto [Elijah], saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” (1 Kings 17:8-9)

The leading of God is not always clear to our understanding or satisfying to our pride, but it is always directed to God’s glory and our good. Elijah had been supernaturally fed by ravens until the brook of Cherith dried up due to the very drought that Elijah had prophesied. Then, instead of supernaturally providing water, God told Elijah to move to a village in Zidon to stay with a poor widow who would feed him.

But Zidon was the home of the idolatrous queen, Jezebel, who would soon become Elijah’s implacable enemy. Furthermore, he would have to so humble himself as to request that the widow share what she thought would be her last meal with a stranger whom she had never met and who had claimed to be the prophet of a God she did not know. What a strange way for God to deal with His servant!

Nevertheless, Elijah obeyed God without question, and so did the widow of Zarephath, and thus the Lord was able to perform two of His mightiest miracles of creation. At the same time, He was able to meet the deep spiritual needs, as well as the physical needs, of this unlikely duo—the greatest spiritual leader of his age and an insignificant widow. An amazing daily miracle of continuing the creation of oil and meal took place as long as the drought continued. And then an even more amazing miracle was accomplished, when, for the first time in all history so far as the record goes, one who was dead (the widow’s son) was restored to life (1 Kings 17:20-24), and the woman came to believe that Jehovah was the true God. God’s ways may not be our ways, but they are always best. May He give us the grace always to obey His word, whether or not we fully understand. HMM
9  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 07, 2018, 08:56:03 AM
The Brightness of the Glory

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

This verse constitutes one of Scripture’s most magnificent declarations of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us examine the phrase “the brightness of his glory.”

The word for “brightness” is used only this one time in the Bible and means, literally, “out-radiating.” The word picture conveyed is of the energy overflow from the sun. The sun constitutes a tremendous generator of energy, more than adequate to sustain all processes on Earth. However, these energies would be utterly useless for any such noble purpose if they could not somehow be transmitted from sun to Earth. They are transmitted, however, through the remarkable radiant energy known as sunlight, or solar radiation.

It is this figure which the writer is using. As the sun’s rays are to the sun itself, so is Christ to the Godhead. He is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). It is He whose “goings forth” have been “everlasting” (Micah 5:2). His glorified countenance is “as the sun shineth in his strength” (Revelation 1:16). The Lord Jesus Christ is the life-giving radiation of the ineffable glory of the eternal One, from whose face one day the very heaven and earth will flee away (Revelation 20:11). “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings [or ‘outspreadings’]” (Malachi 4:2).

And through this One who mediates God to us, we can enter boldly into His presence. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). HMM
10  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 06, 2018, 09:52:47 AM
Before the World Began

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

There are some things that God, even in His omnipotence, cannot do. He cannot fail in His ultimate purpose in creation, for one thing. He cannot do wrong or be wrong, for what He does is right and what He says is true, by definition. And God cannot lie, so whatever He has promised, He will perform.

One of His most glorious promises is that of eternal life, for this promise was made even before He made the world, including space and time. But how could anything take place before time began? The same word is used in 2 Timothy 1:9: “. . . his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Similarly, Romans 16:25 speaks of “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began.”

Our very minds are locked in space and time, and therefore we cannot even conceive of anything “beyond” space or “before” time. Nevertheless, God is the Creator, and even “the worlds [that is, the ‘aeons,’ the space/times] were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). He created time and space and all the phenomena that exist in time and space, and the fact that we cannot comprehend this simply confirms the Scriptures. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” (Isaiah 40:13). “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6).

But what we cannot understand, we simply believe, for God cannot lie. Even though the worlds had a beginning, and our lives each had a beginning, the world will never end, and our lives will never end, for God will never end! We receive, by faith, His immutable promise of everlasting life, given us in Christ Jesus, according to His own purpose and infinite grace, before the world began. HMM
11  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 05, 2018, 09:30:12 AM
Wisdom and Might Are His

“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his.” (Daniel 2:20)

Men have sought wisdom all through the ages, “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Others have sought great power. But then we read of Alexander weeping because there were no more worlds to conquer, and we see one rich man after another who cannot bring himself to say, “It is enough.”

The problem is, of course, that they are searching for wisdom and might in the wrong places, and thus they can never be satisfied. Wisdom and might belong only to God. In the Lord Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), and to Him has been given “all power . . . in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). God, revealed in Christ, is both omniscient and omnipotent, and true wisdom and true riches must come only from Him.

Therefore, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). If we are in need of strength, we must become weak, for “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). If we need riches, we must know poverty, for before Christ can commit to us “the true riches,” we must be found “faithful in that which is least” (Luke 16:10-11).

Daniel’s testimony, as recorded in this passage, was given to the most powerful monarch on Earth, with access to all the wisdom of the most highly educated men of the age. But neither human might nor human wisdom could solve his problem. Only Daniel, drawing on the wisdom and power of the God of creation, could meet his need. God’s servants, even today, have the same privilege and responsibility, because our God is “for ever and ever.” HMM
12  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 04, 2018, 08:42:48 AM
Not Giving, but Sowing

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

As John Calvin pointed out long ago in expounding this key passage, “We are not giving, but sowing” when we contribute of our financial means to the work of the Lord, for it miraculously is considered by the Lord of the harvest as seed sown in the soil of the hearts of men.

And it is a rule of the harvest that, other things being equal, the more seed planted, the more harvested. He who is deficient with his seed must necessarily anticipate a meager crop.

Of course, a bountiful harvest presupposes not only an abundance of seed, but also good soil, properly prepared, watered, and cultivated. It is no good simply to give money to anyone or any cause, any more than it is good simply to throw a seed on a rocky slope or city street or weed-infested yard. One is responsible to give where God’s Word is honored—not just to give, but to give responsibly.

Furthermore, even though an abundant harvest is promised, the motive in giving is also vital. The harvest is souls—not gold! “God loveth a cheerful giver”—not a conditional giver (v. 7). “He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity” (Romans 12:8). Often God does bring financial blessing to a Christian who has proved faithful in the grace of giving, but this is so he can give still more and thus lay up still more treasure in heaven. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). “Therefore,” as Paul said, “. . . see that ye abound in this grace also” (2 Corinthians 8:7).

And as we give, we must never forget that Christ has given more: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). HMM
13  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 03, 2018, 11:22:58 AM
His Amazing Grace

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1)

These are the very first of Paul’s divinely inspired words, and in this first of his inspired greetings, he set a pattern which he would later follow in all his other epistles. He would always begin with an implicit prayer that both grace and peace, sent from God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be received and experienced by the ones to whom he was writing. Furthermore, “grace” always precedes “peace” in these salutations, because one must receive the grace of God before he can experience the peace of God.

By this strong emphasis on grace—preceding anything else he might write to the church or its pastor—he confirmed the great importance of God’s loving grace. Grace is the first essential in salvation and is the continuing vital essential in Christian living. The Thessalonians had already been saved by grace through faith, but now the grace of God their Father and Jesus Christ their Lord must also be lived out in their personal behavior, especially in their dealings with others, to whom God would also manifest His grace through them.

Paul also closed every epistle with a prayer that the grace of the Lord Jesus would continue to be with all who read them. Finally, the last of his inspired words (written while he was in prison) to his young disciple Timothy were: “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:22).

Each true Christian life must begin, continue, and end in the sustaining grace of the Savior. Indeed, the very last revealed words of God Himself in the Holy Scriptures are: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). Thank God for His amazing grace. HMM
14  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 02, 2018, 08:53:48 AM
The Peace of the God of Peace

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

For generations, most of the world’s people have longed for peace, but the world continues to be at war. Evolutionists attribute this to ages of violent evolutionary struggle; the Bible attributes it to sin!

But it is wonderfully possible to have real personal peace even in a world at war. This is what the Bible calls “the peace of God,” and it surpasses all human understanding because it is provided by the God of peace, for the writer continues, “The God of peace shall be with you” (v. 9).

The God of peace! There are some wonderful promises associated with this beautiful name of our Lord. For example: “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). Also: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The provision of God’s perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) is specifically invoked in 2 Thessalonians 3:16: “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.” Perhaps the greatest promise of all is implied in the concluding prayer of the book of Hebrews: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

There is only one other reference to the peace of God: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15). The peace of God, from the God of peace, can rule in our hearts if we let it rule in our hearts. Then, as promised in our text, it will also keep our hearts! HMM
15  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: December 01, 2018, 09:49:57 AM
Proofs of the Pudding

“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” (1 John 2:29)

The little book of 1 John provides a treasure trove of “proofs” that demonstrate the reality of the invisible spiritual change brought about by the new birth.

There are two emphases: proofs based on personal experience and proofs based on intellectual awareness.

Here is a short list of proofs we experience:

• Obedience to God’s commandments (1 John 2:2-5)
• Experience of God in our lives (1 John 2:13-14)
• Obvious “antichrists” in the world (1 John 2:18)
• Worldly ignorance of Christianity (1 John 3:1)
• Sinners’ ignorance of righteousness (1 John 3:6)
• Our love for fellow Christians (1 John 3:16-18)
• The indwelling Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13)
• Our love for godly behavior (1 John 5:2)

Here are proofs we have intellectual confidence in:

• The Holy Spirit’s anointing (1 John 2:20)
• The holiness of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:29)
• The Father’s love for us (1 John 3:1)
• Our eternal bodies to be like Christ (1 John 3:2)
• Hating a brother is like murder (1 John 3:15)
• Scripture’s message of eternal life (1 John 5:13)
• Assurance that we belong to God (1 John 5:19)
• Assurance that Christ has come (1 John 5:20)

These evidences are primarily for the believer—that is, they are intended to assure the believer’s heart and mind of his security in Christ. John’s list is not intended to be complete but only to focus our thoughts on the obvious. When you count your blessings, remember these. HMM III
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