Thursday 11 March, 2021

Romans 5:12-21

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin is such a really depressing subject, and Paul starts this section saying when Adam sinned, sin entered the world. And not only did sin enter the world, but because of Adam’s sin, death also spread to everyone, which is also depressing. And how many times have you tried to speak to someone about sin, and all they see or say is that it is Adam’s fault, or specifically, not their fault? Like we are being punished for something we didn’t do, or that we would have done things differently if it was us in the garden, not Adam?

But when Paul talks about sin here, the focus is not sin, instead, over and over again, Paul refers to “God’s gracious gift” and “God’s wonderful grace” which is the opposite of depressing, its positively uplifting, full of hope and joy at what God has done for us through Christ. Yes, through Adam, death came to all, but through Christ, we have life, we have forgiveness of sins, we receive the gift of righteousness, we have right standing with God resulting in eternal life! There is new life for everyone.

Yes, death is bad, but life in and through Christ is so much better! I can feel the excitement that Paul has in the gracious gift and can see in myself that I need to focus on that more than I do and allow God’s wonderous grace to renew its work in me every day.

Lord Jesus, I thank you for doing for me what I could not. Through your sacrifice I have forgiveness of sins, a right relationship with God, and everlasting life!

Written by Andrew Martin

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Wednesday 10 March, 2021

Romans 5:1-11

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Perseverance is a word that has been thrown around a lot in the news in the past week. NASA finally landed a Rover, named Perseverance on Mars after travelling nearly eight months from Earth. Perseverance travelled 174 million kilometres to reach its destination and its mission total cost is about US$3 billion dollars. 

The aim of Perseverance is to study the geology of Mars and further understand the universe.  Without even being connected to this mission in any way, I am in awe of what has been completed thus far. At a very basic level what humans can achieve is unfathomable. Our greatest achievements in science, particularly astrophysics, have always been surrounded by such a platform of humans working tirelessly to create a project goal that is often at great risk, calculation and expense. 

A verse of this passage stood out to me “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 

In my own interpretation, I am sure that the team that worked on the Rover would have suffered or been challenged in some way.  I am sure there would have been many hurdles along the way to getting this project happening. But what is the result- in this case- success- the Rover has landed. Eight months of the unknowing. Tears and cheers were flowing from the team in the media of this triumph.

Dear God, thank you for the opportunities that you provide for us to learn about the world around us. Thank you for science and the abilities of people to apply their knowledge and skills at great costs. Thank you for giving us the gift of perseverance to help us desire the things we want to achieve in this world. Amen

Written by Susannah Ware

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Tuesday 9 March, 2021

Romans 4:13-25

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[b] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Abraham heard the promise of God – he was to become the father of many nations. He also saw all the barriers to this promise’s fruition – his age, his wife’s barrenness. But rather than focusing on the barriers and doubting that he had heard God correctly, or doubting God’s power to fulfil the promise, Abraham looked to God and trusted Him. 

This does not mean that Abraham did not ever waiver in his faith (he did). It also doesn’t mean that he stopped sinning – in fact he was declared righteous whilst still a sinner, not because he earned it but because he was given it as a gift through his faith. Similarly, Jesus has made His own perfect ‘right-ness’ before God available to us through our faith. He has exchanged our sin for His perfect righteousness! He has exchanged our punishment for His inheritance! 

Jesus thank you for the gift of your righteousness. Thank you that it doesn’t depend on me. God, too often I focus on what I can or can’t do, and I end up acting/praying within my human bounds. But you are calling us to live lives of faith, to pray/act/believe for things that only you can do. Please grow my faith Lord! 

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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Monday 8 March, 2021

Romans 4:1-12

4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Imagine you receive a generous gift, totally unexpected but generously given. But you say, “oh this is good but I can think of something better”!

This passage underlines the earlier teaching of Paul about righteousness by faith. Paul compares a gift with wages, and explains the gift of being counted righteous comes to us because we trust in God for salvation, through Jesus’ death. Just like he gave Abraham, God has given us a beautiful gift – he declares us righteous, he declares us redeemed and our relationship with him restored.

We receive this gift through faith alone, not by what we ourselves bring or have achieved (eg., works see Chapter 3 v 28.) We accept this gift of righteousness, rather than trying to add to it or doing it “better” so we can take the credit. I can’t do “better” than the salvation God has provided through Jesus. It is his generous gift I have not earned or deserved.

Funny though isn’t it. So often I want to add to what he has given, as if it’s not enough. A bit like Abraham. Maybe this stems from thinking God’s gift is not enough, or I’ll feel more deserving if I add to it by what I do, or sacrifice, or deny myself. It’s a trap which cheapens what Jesus has done to save us.

Dear Lord Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit to show me where I am substituting the Father’s beautiful gift of righteousness with my own efforts. I need you now. You are all I need. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Sunday 7 March, 2021

Romans 3:21-31

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

This is such a rich but heady passage. The version I read speaks of all having sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and all being “justified by his grace as gift” (ESV). I love this phrasing, and it speaks to me afresh of how we are given the righteousness of God. It is not earned. It is not worked for. It is a gift. The very righteousness of God, that sets us at ease before God, that opens up the doorway to full and free relationship with Him who created the heavens and earth and us, is given to us a gift received.  

I am so prone to work hard before I accept His grace and rest in His justifying work given me. It is so easy in this busy and full life, with a culture that is busy justifying itself without God, to blindly go with the crowd and in frustration or stress or anxiety tend to try and work myself out before I surrender to God. I’m called by God through this passage to a simple but profound change – start each approach of God by freshly receiving His grace given to you as gift. And then, having by faith freshly “put on” the very righteousness of God that comes in this grace, discern with God what is needed next in life.

Jesus, help me start a new habit of heart here Lord. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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  1. Andrew says:

    Rob
    Wow, so well put.
    And your message is so much more easily said than done.
    Receive god’s grace.

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Saturday 6 March, 2021

Romans 3:1-20

3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just! 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin

Paul addresses the notion that some people are tempted to feel they are better than others – that their good behaviour justifies them or makes them a better person. But it’s clearly stated here that there is no one who is righteous – not one.

As someone who has been a Christian for quite some time now, it’s good to be reminded that all of us have the same sinful nature. By grace of God I’ve been cleaned up and made to look pretty good, but without His grace every one of us (including me) would be out rolling in the pigpen of sin.

I am filled today with gratitude for the life I have because of the grace of God. May I remain ever humbled by what I would have been without Jesus.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Friday 5 March, 2021

Romans 2:17-29

17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

I remember visiting a church in Europe and going to a Sunday service. 

The building itself was ancient, rich with heritage and steeped in history. 

The service itself was in English but might as well have been in another language. For me as a Christian, it was so hard to follow. The rites and rituals were unexplained, and I could see that I wasn’t the only person who was struggling. Clearly there were a bunch of visitors who wanted to go to church in this amazing building but didn’t know how to interface with the rules and processes of the service. 

Then, at the end of the service, that was it. The person who led the service went out a little door near the front of the church and closed it behind him. He didn’t interact with the people at all. 

I wonder if this is a bit like what the non-jewish people in the early Christian church experienced. 

And Paul here seems to be addressing the Jewish Christians to get them to realise that they need to stop being so proud of their religiosity. He doesn’t hold back either! 

I need to be careful here, because there is a streak in me that can be like these early Christian Jews. It’s way too easy for me to get caught up in the modern laws of being a Christian.How to act and how to vote and what to believe about certain political issues… all of which might be right, but if I don’t do it in a loving way, and a way that helps new believers, then I’m just as sinful in my pride as a non-believer! 

Lord keep me humble as I strive to always please you in my words and my actions. 

Written by Ps Justin Ware 

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Thursday 4 March, 2021

Romans 2:12-16

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

I used to play a “hiding game” with the kids. They would climb on my back and I’d pretend to loose them. I would run around the house and look under furniture saying “where’s Caitlin?” and all the while they were on my back trying to not laugh or make a noise. 

We hide from God sometimes v16. Secret sins sure, but sometimes it can be more subtle things. Things like self pity or fear or doubt. Maybe, if I’m really honest, it’s unbelief. 

I can’t hide anything from God. He sees it all – I know that. What I don’t get is that He’s my Heavenly Father and He delights in me. It’s me on His back and He’s so happy running around the house trying to make me laugh. When will I come to Him just as I am, secrets and all, and just let Him love me? Because it’s in that place there is forgiveness, and grace, and joy, and real love, and true life-change. 

Father God, help me live in this place and nowhere else – You love me and I’m your son and your delight. 

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Wednesday 3 March, 2021

Romans 2:1-11

2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

I hate the thought of being a judgemental person. In fact, I reckon most of us would recoil at the thought of being called judgemental! Unfortunately, I know that judgement of others can sometimes seem immediate, natural and even innate. As humans we are always trying to understand others, yet so often we look only at appearances, or we assume we know the whole story when actually we have caught just a glimpse of what is really going on in someone’s world.

This passage takes it even a step further – Paul writes that if we assume we are better than others just because we do not struggle in the same areas as them, we are actually no better at all, because we have put ourselves in the position of judge. In actual fact, we are all sinners who make poor decisions, who do the wrong thing even when we know not to. This does not mean that we condone the wrong actions of others, but rather that we are to leave the judgement in the hands of God, who sees the whole picture.

I am so glad that God does not shame us or belittle us, even when we are prideful and judgemental. Rather, as verse 4 tells us, He is wonderfully kind and patient with us. May we follow his example and treat others with kindness and respect, rather than jumping in straight away with our own judgements.

God we thank you that you are so kind to us, and that even though you know everything that we ever say and do – the good and the bad – it is your desire to lead us to repentance so that we can be made right with you. Help us to see others as you do, that we may approach people with humility and grace, as you have showed grace to us. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madalaine Tarasenko

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Tuesday 2 March, 2021

Romans 1:18-32

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

This passage gets to the heart of the Christian message. God created the world and created us to have relationship with him. But many people have chosen to reject God and exchange his truth for a lie, resulting in his “wrath”. This is an often-misunderstood term and can cause fear. But here we see that God shows his wrath by allowing us to have what we want. When people reject his truth and worship created things rather than the creator, he grants the desires of their hearts – a downward spiral of greed and lusts which takes them further away from him. This all sounds a bit desperate.

But God is loving. He is kind and patient (Rom 2:4) and the aim of his kindness is to lead us to repentance. I think God allows us to degenerate so that we will recognise the emptiness of self-satisfaction and start to look outside ourselves for answers. Paul’s long list of sinful behaviours is a list of symptoms, but the root cause of the problem is broken relationship with God As a physio, if I just treat symptoms rather than diagnosing and treating the real problem, people may feel some short-term relief, but the pain will return. I need to fix the root cause. In the same way, as Christians, we need to focus on the broken relationship with God which is the real cause of the problem – Sin – rather than focussing on sins (the symptoms).

Thank you, Jesus, that you came so that our relationship with our Father could be restored. Thank you that your death and resurrection treated the real problem. Thank you, Lord, for revealing yourself in creation. Please help us, and all the world, to see you and your grace.

Amen

Written by Megan Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. Justin Ware says:

    “… they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal humans or reptiles or animals or birds…”

    Its easy to become complacent and judgemental when it comes to idolatry. The ancient world was full of little, physical idols that represented the objects of worship of the people in that day. The ancient Romans actually thought that the Christians didn’t have any god because they chose not to keep any such objects in their homes.

    But the truth is that idols are possibly just as much of a problem for me as they were for Paul’s audience. The difference is that my idols are hidden. They are in my head and in my heart, but they seem to have just as much power to divert my worship and attention away from the true, merciful and just God of the Bible.

    Idols of comfort, selfishness, self-assuredness, pride, laziness, perfectionism, achievement, control and pleasure all knock on the door to my heart and demand my attention unless I regularly fix my attention on the One who truly deserves my worship.

    Lord Thank You for all the good that you have created so that all can see your glory revealed. Help me to remain fixed on You as I work and serve those around me.

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