Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Just a reminder...

This morning I was doing my reading for today (Leviticus 16-18) and once again, this passage was filled with many instructions about things that don't really relate to us like sacrifices, linen garments, and cleansing.
However, we can still learn from these passages.
In chapter 18, we read about what is right and wrong.
God is telling Moses to relay what He is telling him to all of the people.
What I think is interesting is how He follows up with each instruction.
He states what shouldn't be done and then says, "I am the Lord your God."
In high school english class, we learn that repetition shows that something is important. Obviously, "I am the Lord your God" is very repetitive, so it must be important.
I think of it as God's friendly reminder to the people and us.
I see it as Him saying...
"Just a reminder, I am supreme."
"Just a reminder, I am the creator."
"Just a reminder, I hold your life in the palm of my hands."
"Just a reminder, I know everything about you."
"Just a reminder, you may think you know what is best for you, but really I do."
"Just a reminder, I give and I take away."
"Just a reminder, I am a God of judgment."
"Just a reminder, I am a God of grace...please don't forget."
I think He's trying to keep us in our place.
Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our lives
that we starting acting like we are God.
We will never be God.
Just not possible.
That's where Satan messed up, he was an angel and wanted as much power, if not more, than God. Look where he is now.
 Not a good place.
I think God is giving us this reminder, because once we start acting like God, we no longer need Him. Our relationship with Him becomes nonexistent.
That's not what He wants. God wants to be in relationship with us, not separated.
So we must always remember that He is the Lord our God
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Life or death?

Life or death?
Which one would you choose?
I would think you would choose life, but you may not realize that you are actually choosing death.
Let me explain...
Yesterday, my family and I went to hear one of my good friend's preach.
He brought a very convicting message and we were blessed to hear it.
Our reading was Galatians 5:16-24:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who  belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
A little fact about me: I can be very indecisive. Sometimes it's very hard for me to make decisions. It's a problem that I'm working on, that's for sure.
My friend, as he was preaching, made me realize that decision making can be quite easy.
He said, "reduce it down to the simplest form...does it feed the spirit or the flesh?"
I had never thought of it that way.
When I am making a decision, I should focus on my motive.
Am I doing this for me? Will it bring me closer to God or will distance me from Him? Will it feed the Spirit or my flesh?
He said something else that really stood out to me...
"Choose the spirit...it frees you from the law...it's impossible to be perfect."
A lot of people think that Christianity is all about rules. You can't do this, but you can do that. Actually, it's not that way at all. Jesus has freed us from the law (10 Commandments). The 10 Commandments prove that we can never be perfect and we desperately need Jesus, only Jesus was perfect. Being a Christian, is not about doing good works, it's about being in relationship with God and following His will. When we choose the Spirit, then good works should become natural to us.
I can't wake up one morning and say,
"Okay, I am going to be kind, patient, gentle, good and have self-control today."
It doesn't work that way, because I don't have the power to do that since I am imperfect. I am sure to mess up at some point, because I am sinful creature. BUT when I make a point to be in the Spirit (meaning reading the Bible, praying, being in community with other believers, worshiping), God will help me to be all those things because those are the fruit of the Spirit. Those are things that can only come from being in Christ.
Just like watering an apple tree....you have to give it all the nutrients it needs in order for it to bear fruit, but if you don't it is sure to die.
I have to water myself with God and He will bring the good out of me.
He is the only one that can.
Does that make sense? I hope so.
That is living in the Spirit, but what about living in the flesh?
Well, "living by the flesh leads to unintended destruction/consequences."
If we choose to live by our selfish desires, consequences are sure to follow and not good consequences either. When we live in the Spirit, we produce good consequences. When we live in the flesh, we produce bad consequences.
These consequences are unintended because I doubt that anyone wakes up in the morning saying, "I want to go to prison today." I highly doubt that people seek a life of bad consequences on purpose.
I'm sure if you were to ask a prisoner if he/she wanted to end up there, they would probably say no, but because of a selfish decision they have found themselves in a prison cell. Whether it be drugs, alcohol, lying, cheating, stealing...these are all choices of the flesh, not of the Spirit. Doing those things may satisfy you at the moment, but in the long run, it can only lead to destruction. When you choose the flesh, you are heading for death. Maybe it's not physical death, but more importantly it leads to spiritual death.
Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
So when you go to make a decision which will you choose...
Spirit or flesh?
Life or death?
Who will you serve - you or God?
This week's reading for the year long reading plan:
Today - Leviticus 14-15
Tomorrow - chapters 16-18
Wednesday - chapters 19-21
Thursday - chapters 22-23
Friday - chapters 24-25
Saturday - chapters 26-27
Sunday - catch up day, if needed!
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

A whole lot of offerings

So today's reading was Leviticus 5-7. Once again, a passage that would normally bore me was actually another eye opener. Yesterday I talked about the construction instructions for the tabernacle and today I read about many different offerings.

In this passage, God is telling Moses what the people should do when they sin. As I was reading, I was getting a little overwhelmed by all of the rules. It's basically a long to-do list. I was thinking that if I lived back then, there would be no way that I would be able to follow all those rules, much less remember them! I mean that's a lot of work to do when you mess up.

For instance...
"So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned. He shall also bring his guilt offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed, a female from he flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin. But if he cannot afford a lamb, then he shall bring to the Lord his guilt offering for that in which he has sinned, two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering..." Leviticus 5:5-7
Did you catch all that? 
Yeah, lets just say I was a little lost. 

From the sin offering to the burnt offering to the guilt offering to the grain offering...
that's a lot of different offerings to keep up with! Not to mention all the different animals.
While reading this long to-do list, a sense of thankfulness came over me.
Do you know why?

Because when I mess up, I don't have to go find two young pigeons and bring them to an altar and  wait for a priest to make atonement on my sin! 
Thank goodness because I don't know how I'd catch two pigeons! It sounds like a lot of work if you ask me.
Do you know why I don't have to do that?!

God sent His son, Jesus to be my sin offering.
I think God realized that it's hard for people to keep up with all these rules. Some of them probably didn't follow them or maybe they couldn't remember them,  like me. 
God was so gracious and merciful to send His son as a sacrifice.
We don't have to offer up different things like animals and grain to be forgiven of our sins, Jesus already took care of that on the cross.
Of course, when we sin we should confess to God and repent, but there's nothing else we can do that will make up for what we've done. 
Jesus is the answer. 

What's even better is that God didn't say, 
"Okay, I'm going to send my son, Jesus, only if you do this for me." 
There were no if's or but's about it.
He sent His son, Jesus, as a gift.
Meaning, He freely gives the gift not because we deserve it, but because He loves us.

 This passage full of laws reminded me how blessed I am to have received the gift of salvation through Jesus.
I didn't do anything to deserve it, but since I believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I have received the gift of eternal life
It's not about works, unlike so many other religions, it's all about faith.
Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

All I can say (and I hope you agree and will say with me)...
Thank you God, for sending your Son as a sacrifice for my sins. You didn't have to, but You did and I am so thankful. 

If you have questions about this precious gift or if you have any prayer requests, please email me!
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In the construction business

I just finished the book of Exodus in the year long reading plan. Years ago if you would ask me if I like to read the Old Testament, I would probably say, "Eh, I prefer reading the New Testament." That sounds terrible, I know. Now that I've been taking the Perspectives class, my mind has changed about the Old Testament. I used to feel that I just couldn't relate to the Old Testament stories like burnt offerings and being in a lion's den. I may have built a bonfire, but I haven't made a burnt offering and I definitely have not spent time in a lion's den. Just saying. 
So I'm not saying that I thought these stories were irrelevant, but it was just hard for me to relate. Now I realize that each and every story in the Old Testament I can relate to in some manner. God wanted these stories in the Bible not for us to just enjoy, but to learn from.

So as I was reading the book of Exodus, I realized the most of the book are instructions. I mean it is the book where we find the Ten Commandments, but other than that, we read other instructions as well. Some of the instructions relating to slaves, sabbath and more. I found something uniquely fascinating when I was reading, starting in chapter 25. This is the chapter where God begins to instruct Moses on the construction of the tabernacle and ark of the covenant. Exodus 25:8-9 says," Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it."

I hate to say this, but it's the truth...years ago when I was reading this, I was really bored. Most likely, I read a few verses and skimmed over the rest...probably very quickly. Since I started taking this class, however, I knew that there is a reason that this passage is in the Bible. So this time, I actually read it. I didn't skim it, however, it was a little tempting. 

As I was reading chapters 25-40, I felt as if I was in the construction business. In fact, I felt like I should have a drafting table, ruler, and pad. In these chapters, God is telling Moses exact measurements and materials. He wasn't suggesting to Moses, saying, "I think what would be best if you were to use gold, but if you don't that's fine" and He wasn't saying, "The ark should be somewhere around 4 feet." No, God knew how He wanted His tabernacle and ark to be constructed. He wasn't giving Moses any options, but commanding. I mean, I don't blame God for being specific and detailed. It is His dwelling place. It should be the way He wanted. 

Not only did I feel like I was in the construction business while reading this, but I kinda felt envious of Moses. God is telling Moses exactly what He wanted Him to do. Are there ever times when you just want God to tell you what to do? There are a lot of times when I wish God would give me instruction like He did for Moses and the construction of the tabernacle. Instructions like that would make my life so much easier. I wake up in the morning and God says to me, "Chelsea, you will go to the grocery store at 11:17 and then you will volunteer at 2:15 and at 5:00 you will make a 5 course meal." Ha, okay, maybe not those kind of instructions, but more important decisions. 

So what if God really did give me specific and exact instructions for my life? I realized that God doesn't want to take my free will away. He wants me to seek Him and to trust Him with my life because I want to. Yes, He has instructed me to love Him with my whole heart, love my neighbors, love my enemies,  be a witness and make disciples. Aside from those instructions along with others, He wants me to be able to make my own choices. 
He is a loving God, not a forceful God. 

God wanted His dwelling place to be just right. He needed a construction manager that would carry out His plans to a T. So why Moses? I think because He knew he would obey. 
I know I've talked about obedience before, but I don't think I can talk about it enough. Moses listened and carried out the instructions with an obedient heart. I love how through chapters 25-31 it's only God speaking. Moses isn't interrupting and making suggestions or excuses. I picture him on top of the mountain sitting down (this was a long meeting), listening very carefully and taking lots of notes. I mean, if I was Moses that's what I would be doing. 

Although I don't believe God wants me to get in the construction business anytime soon, I think He wanted me to learn a few things. First, God has a plan and cherishes relationship with His people. The tabernacle was being built as a dwelling place for Him to meet with His people. Secondly, when God instructs us to do something, we should obey. We shouldn't make excuses or offer up our own suggestions, we should simply obey. 

The best part of these chapters is the ending. Exodus 39:43 says, "And Moses examined all the work and behold, they had done it; just as the Lord had commanded, this they had done. So Moses blessed them." But that's not it...just wait. Exodus 40:38 says, "For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel." God's glory dwelled in the tabernacle. So this tells me that when we obey God, His glory is sure to follow. When we trust and obey Him, it brings glory to His name and that's what it's all about. Bringing glory to God. 

On the surface it looked like I was reading a construction manual, but it was really so much more. A reminder that God wants to use us for His glory. He doesn't have to use us...He can do it all on His own, but He chooses to us so we should choose to obey Him. 

Our reading plan for this week and next week is....
Today - Leviticus 1-4
Tomorrow - chapters 5-7
Friday - chapters 8-10
Saturday - chapters 11-13
Monday - chapters 14-15
Tuesday - chapters 16-18
Wednesday - chapters 19-21
Thursday - chapters 22-23
Friday - chapters 24-25
Saturday - chapters 26-27

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Blessed to be a what?

Hey my lovely readers!
I hate that I've been gone so much :( I keep thinking I'm going to start getting used to my schedule, but I'm not there yet :/ This is the first time in a year that I've been busy!
Work is still going good. Selling dresses and making brides happy can be quite exhausting though! 
Class is still going good. It's amazing how it's changed my perspective on a lot of things, especially how I read the Bible.
All of my volunteer ventures are going well. I made it back to Awanas for the first time in a few weeks and I was so glad to be back with those crazy 3 year olds, learning scriptures.

Anywayyy, I was super busy yesterday and wasn't able to post about my sermon notes...so here it goes!

The series that we are in right now is dealing with money. Yeah, I know...money in church may make you want to cringe. Maybe money in general makes you want to cringe. I'm extremely tight with my money, meaning that I try to save as much as I can. I'm very conscious of it, which I think my parents appreciate haha. It may sound like a good thing that I like to save, but on the other hand, it can be a little dangerous. I like to hold onto it so it makes it difficult when I need to spend money. I'm working on this though because it can be quite frustrating. I realize that money is only temporary. It's not going to heaven with me when I die. However, there are some ways that we can spend our money that will last for eternity. It may be donating money to buy Bibles for homeless or donating money for a mission trip or sponsoring a child while teaching them about the love of Christ. Things like this can last for eternity. 

The title of the sermon was "Money makes us wise...?"
We need to spend our money in a wise way. Not blowing it on things that pleasure us, but with an eternal perspective. Yes, we need to buy necessities like clothes, food, and the like, but we can spend the rest of our money wisely. 
1. "We should give intentionally." Maybe instead of getting Starbucks every morning, save your money by making your own coffee at home and give the rest of the money to your church or other ministry every month. 
2. "Practice justice and practice love." Pray for discernment in how you should spend your money and act in love.
3. "Bring the tithe...it's His (God's)" We should give 10% of our income to church. Of course, if you can, give more. It's an act of sacrifice when you are tight in terms of money, but still give 10% with a trusting heart that God will provide. What is ours, is God's first. He gave it to us. That job you have...is not your's, it's God's. He gave it to you. Give back to Him.
4. "Give what's decided in your heart. Not reluctantly. Not under compulsion." Don't give your money just because I'm blogging about it. It's fine if it motivates you, but don't give because you feel like someone is forcing you to. God knows your heart.
5. "Give with a cheerful heart." God loves a cheerful giver. If the cashier at the store asks if you'd like to donate to a worthy cause, don't huff and puff and say, "I guess so." You should feel privileged to be able to give back for an eternal cause.

Here are a few scriptures that should motivate us to be wise with our money...
1 Timothy 6:17-19Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,  storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Deuteronomy 16:17 - Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

In my Perspectives class, we have talked about blessings. God doesn't bless us with things, just for fun. He blesses us so we can bless others. We are blessed to be a blessing so that we will bring glory to God. If you have a job, you are blessed so that you can give back and be a blessing to others. If you have free time, you are blessed so you can spend time volunteering. God doesn't rain down blessings on us for us to just enjoy, but to share those blessings with others.

I usually end my posts with "Blessings", but I've decided that our focus shouldn't be on receiving blessings but being blessings to others. So I decided to change it up as a reminder for us :)
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

True Love

Today is the national day of love.
A day where Hallmark, Russell Stover, and florists make most of their money during the year.
A day where we are encouraged to show our love for others.
A day that is focused on romantic love instead of true love.

It may sound like I'm anti-valentine's day, but I'm not. Any day that gives me an excuse to eat chocolate, is a great day to me! However, I wonder what Jesus thinks of this national holiday of love.
I have a feeling He probably doesn't care for it too much. 
You see, Jesus is all about love. 
He is love.
He is love that never ends. 
It's not shown just one day out of the year, but everyday.
It's not a romantic love, but a love that is deeper. 
A love that is so deep that He died for you.
He tells us to love one another, not only on Valentine's Day, but every day. 
I may not have a boyfriend, but I have something so much better...
a love that isn't defined by a bouquet of roses or a box of chocolate, 
but a love that is defined by sacrifice. 
A love that strong can be found no where else.

If you are celebrating this day with a special someone, I'm so happy for you!
Thank God for that person and the love you share, but don't forget the love that created love.
Praise God that His love doesn't end, but continues forever and ever. 
True love is found in Jesus.
If you don't know Jesus, you don't know what true love entails. 
If you don't feel love, please know that you are loved...by the creator of the universe!

Please check out this video about true love by Phil Wickham!

1 John 4:19 says "We love because He first loved us.
Let's have this as our memory verse for the next 2 weeks!

Please keep praying for my dear friend, Katelyn, who lost her mother recently.

ALSO, I promised my friend Marissa a shout out ;) She just started her own blog...check it out http://marissacarrier.blogspot.com/!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just a doubtin mind

Well I'm back as I promised I would be! Another crazy week is over. I'm hoping it will start getting back to normal so that I'll be able to come chat with you more like I used to!
Well after this crazy week, I woke up this morning in a lot of pain so I wasn't able to make it to church today, however, I watched a sermon on TV and on webcast. I figured I'd share with you what I learned!
Do you ever catch yourself doubting? Maybe you doubt yourself or maybe you doubt God? I'm not afraid to say that I'm guilty of both. I'm human and I face trials...I think it's safe to saay that you can agree. Doubt can creep into my mind and create a distance between me and God. That's not a good thing, but it can be overcome.
In the first sermon I heard, the pastor explained that we can be held responsible for that doubt for 3 reasons.
  1. When we are unfaithful and are separated from the light (God). We place ourselves in darkness. For instance, we find ourselves in sin and don't do anything about it, except stay in it. Sin can create doubt because it can separate us from God. Now we will never be sinless (because we are human and imperfect...only Jesus is perfect), but we should try our best to stray from sin.
  2. When we respond negatively to situations. It's always ideal to find the positive in everything. This may be easier for some people and harder for others. The situation may make it extremely hard to respond positively, but when we let negativity rule, doubt in God is sure to follow.
  3. When we need tangible proof. Thomas, one of the apostles, desperately wanted tangible proof of Jesus' resurrection. When the other apostles had told them that Jesus had been resurrected, Thomas responded, "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe" (John 20:25). A few days later, Thomas and Jesus were reunited and Jesus said to him, "Reach here with your finger and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing" (John 20:27). Thomas replied ,"My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). Jesus then said, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed" (John 20:29). When we need tangible proof, doubt can creep in, when really faith should creep in. Paul says, "while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). Don't demand sensual truth. Be obedient in faith.
So when you are start doubting, don't beat yourself up, but turn to the truth. Ask God to remove that doubt, increase your faithfulness, and respond with positivity.

Since I haven't been consistently posting, I figured I'd let you know where we are in the year long reading plan. We should be caught up to Exodus 18. I'm sorry that I haven't been reminding you of the plan, but I'm going to try harder to be more consistent!
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

What a week...

First of all, I apologize for the long lapse of posting. This week has been crazy!!! So normally my job is part-time, but this week I was full-time due to my boss' family emergency. Great news though, I made it through the week! I am completely worn out, that's for sure, but I'm back to part-time this week.
Rest, rest, rest for me this week! I don't want a relapse, no siree.
My class is going really well! This week we learned about Cat and Dog theology. Sounds funny, huh? I'll give you a short summary...
Dogs say, "You feed me, you shelter me, you love me...You must be God."
Cats say, "You feed me, you shelter me, you love me...I must be God."
Dogs are all about giving God the glory. They worship God in their everyday lives in everything they do. They praise Him for who He is.
Cats are all about focusing on themselves. They worship God on their own time, usually on Sundays. They praise Him for what He does for them.
Dogs think, "What does God get?" when they read the Bible. They focus on every character of God...love, grace, discipline, wrath, mercy, sovereignty, etc.
Cats think, "What do I get?" when they read the Bible. They focus on God's blessings...only one aspect.
Dogs want God's will, whether they like it or not.
Cats want what they want, not God's will.
Everyone has at least a little bit of cat in them, because we are all humans. We can tend to focus on ourselves more than God, because we can be selfish. It's not fun to think about, but it's true.
So which one are you? Are you a dog or a cat?
Needless to say, that lesson was very interesting, convicting, and made me want to get rid of my selfish, cat ways.
If you want more information on Cat & Dog Theology, check it out here.
So work and class have been good, but yesterday I woke up to some very sad news. One of my best friend's mom died yesterday morning from cancer. I've never lost anyone close to me, so she is actually the closest person I've lost. I can't imagine how my best friend feels. I'm so happy for her mom because she is now pain free, walking on the streets of gold, hand in hand with Jesus. Gives me goose bumps (aka God bumps) everytime I think about it. However, my heart breaks for my friend and her family. I can't imagine losing someone as close as a mother or father. Please pray for my friend Katelyn and her family. That they may feel God's peace and rest knowing that one day they will meet her again. That they will be comforted in knowing that she now has a new body and is with her Savior for eternity. That they will feel blessed to have had so many wonderful years filled with many memories with such a wondeful, faithful woman. Also, please pray for me in that I can be the friend I'm supposed to be. That the Holy Spirit will give me the words when needed to speak words of encouragement. That the Holy Spirit will give me discernment when silence and a hug is needed. That God would give me the strength she needs. That God would make me a safe haven for her to come and express her hurts and doubts.  I'm pretty much at a loss for words so your prayers are appreciated!
Although she has left her earthly, temporary home, she is now in her permanent, heavenly home. I know that God is working through this for His glory. It's just hard to see and understand right now. Death happens...it's a part of life and this was just her time for God to call her home. You may have dealt with death before, but always know that God brings good from the bad.
So now that I'm on a part-time schedule again, I should be back soon!
I hope you all are doing well & giving God all the glory with your life :)
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