Day 120: Hearing from God

Judges 11:1-12:15

John 1:1-28

Psalm 101:1-8

Proverbs 14:13-14

For full text click here:

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

One of the most common questions we get in the church office is this: what can I do to hear from God more? Our response is usually this: what have you done with everything He’s already given you? We should expect to hear from God in prayer, and that will become a reality when you genuinely expect to hear from Him. However, what you hear in prayer will never conflict with the written Word of God. If you think you hear something in prayer and it conflicts with the Bible, it’s not from God. A house divided cannot stand (Mk 3:25). John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus is God’s Word in human form. The Holy Spirit will not tell you something today that contradicts something Jesus said previously. So ask to hear more from God! When you hear, check and make sure it lines up with what God’s Holy Spirit has already recorded.


Father, thank You for giving us Your written Word: as a resource, and as a foundation for building a genuine relationship with You. Help me to know Your Word inside and out, so that when I hear from You in prayer, I know Your speaking lines up with Your writing!

Power of Forgiveness

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Power of Forgiveness’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 4/27/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here:

Defining Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most useful tools any of us can have, and one of the most useful actions we can ever perform. Forgiveness has the ability to restore broken lives, and erase negative emotions like doubt, guilt and shame. Google dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘canceling an indebtedness or liability, giving up all claim on account of a debt or obligation, granting pardon for an offense, [and] granting pardon to a person.’

Forgiveness can apply to a specific action, or to a specific person. When we forgive ourselves for having experienced something harmful, and forgive others for putting us through it, there is a tremendous release that takes place. Nine out of ten times when I meet with a church member for counseling, the conversation moves to forgiveness. What feelings of resentment, doubt and unforgiveness might you be harboring that are preventing complete healing and restoration from taking place?

Professionals who make a living out of dispensing wisdom and advice, from secular therapists to the most conservative pastors, all maintain that forgiveness is essential for health. The therapeutic effects occur in every sphere of our lives: emotional, physical and spiritual. The Stanford Forgiveness Project, directed by Dr. Frederic Luskin, has found far-reaching benefits for people who forgive. Forgivers hurt less, experience less anger, feel less stress and suffer less depression. They become more hopeful, optimistic and compassionate. People who forgive even have fewer issues with physical health: fewer symptoms of stress (backache, muscle tension, dizziness, headaches and upset stomachs), and improvements in appetite, sleep patterns, energy and general well being.

As Christians, we can’t just forgive when we feel like it. We need to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. But before we can do that, we need to understand that God has already offered us complete and total forgiveness through the Cross of Jesus Christ.

You Are Forgiven

When Jesus Christ suffered and died on the Cross, he made payment for all our sins: past, present and future. When we understand that we’re forgiven we suddenly experience immense freedom. On Calvary, God forever answered the question that can plague our thought lives if left unanswered: is God mad at us? No! We are forgiven when we rely on Jesus Christ for salvation. When we know we’re forgiven, we know we’re loved. The purpose of forgiveness is so we “…might serve [God] without fear” (Lk 1:74).

Forgiveness gives us space to be who God has called us to be. The 7th chapter of Luke’s gospel illustrates the powerful effects of understanding that God has forgiven us: the result of personalizing the Cross and applying it to our lives. In Luke 7, a Pharisee named Simon invites Jesus to dinner. During His visit, a woman comes in with an alabaster flask of fragrant oil – an incredible gift of great value. She begins to weep and washes Jesus’ feet with hear tears. Then she wipes His feet with her hair, kisses them and anoints them with the expensive, fragrant oil.

Meanwhile, Simon the Pharisee is sitting and wondering why Jesus would ever allow such a sinful woman to touch Him. If Jesus was really a prophet, Simon thought, He would know just how sinful this woman was and not allow her to tough Him! But then Jesus reads his mind. He sees Simon’s sinful thinking and replies:

“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”  Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” – Luke 7:44-48

Forgiveness allows us to understand the depth of God’s love for us. God hates sin, but He still loves sinners. Because of her sin, this woman knew she should never be forgiven: yet Jesus Christ was offering her forgiveness! Because of that forgiveness, this woman understood just how deep Jesus’ love for her must be. He who is forgiven much loves much. Understanding just how much we are forgiven frees us to love as much as we possibly can!

Forgiven & Forgiving

It’s infinitely important to understand that we’re forgiven. It’s just as important to learn how to forgive. Forgiveness demonstrates the power of the Cross to non-believers. It allows us to show the people around us Who Jesus Is. You might be the only Jesus some people see, especially if you live in a section of the nation or the world where the Gospel isn’t preached openly and Jesus isn’t widely known. When we show people unconditional forgiveness, we give them a glimpse of God’s love for them.

But offering forgiveness is just as important for you as it is for the person you’re forgiving! Jesus cautioned His disciples against harboring resentment in the Sermon on the Mount. You’ve probably heard the section of that sermon where Jesus compares thought-life adultery to physical adultery: if you even so much as lust after a man or woman in your heart, you’re just as guilty as someone who’s committed the physical act of adultery. But did you know that Jesus compares unforgiveness to murder in the same way?

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matt 5:21-24

How can we, having been forgiven for everything we’ve ever even thought about doing, withhold forgiveness from the people around us? Jesus compares resentment to murder, and cautions us that is we do not forgive, we’re failing to follow the model laid out for us by Jesus Christ.

When we harbor unforgiveness, we actually take on the sins of others for them. John 20:23 says, “ If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” When we refuse to forgive the sins of others, who retains their sins? We do: the person who does not forgive. The person who fails to offer forgiveness is actually negatively affected just as severely – if not more so – than the person to whom they are denying forgiveness.

Satan wants to trick you into thinking you shouldn’t forgive the people around you. Why? Because when we refuse to forgive other people, it gives the enemy a foothold. When we forgive, on the other hand, we allow God to instantaneously take full control over the situation. In one instant, with total forgiveness, we can wrestle control out of the enemy’s hands and remove any foothold he has in our lives.

The Dilemma

Since the beginning of time, God has been in a dilemma. He has committed to maintain two unfailing yet conflicting attributes. On the one hand, God is fully loving. He desires to forgive us and restore us to our rightful place at His side. After all, the whole reason we were created in the first place was to enjoy fellowship and relationship with Him for all eternity. On the other hand, God must maintain His holiness. He can never allow sin in His presence.

One of the characteristics of love is free will: giving the people we love the freedom to choose if they will love us back. If we were forced to love God, it would not be true love: it would be automation. God gives us the choice to love Him back because He truly loves us. Yet one of the consequences of free will is that some human beings will not choose to love God. Some people will choose sin over love.

Here we see the trap created: truly loving us allows sin, but sin prevents us from truly being loved. So how can God stay fully loving and fully holy at the same time? Jesus Christ. Jesus released the trap of unforgiveness. God loved us so much that He sent His Only Son to suffer and die on our behalf. God offered Himself as a sacrifice to atone for our sins. In one profoundly simple act of love, God satisfied payment for all our sins, and paved the way for forgiveness and reconciliation to take place. God restored us to right relationship with Him through forgiveness. He loved us so much that He died and earned forgiveness for us, knowing full well that we could never deserve it on our own.

Many times, we find ourselves caught in a similar trap. We want to forgive other people, but we feel the need to preserve our character. We don’t want to let anyone walk all over us or take advantage of us. But we shouldn’t forgive other people because they deserve it; we must forgive them because Jesus deserves it! If we truly want to follow Christ and learn from His example, we must forgive.

The Gospel lays out a powerful template for us. God didn’t wait until we acted like sons and daughters to treat us like sons and daughters. He didn’t withhold forgiveness until we proved we deserved it. He demonstrated His forgiveness so that we could go out and live in light of it! What incredible freedom! What great love!

God has given us freedom and salvation by forgiving us, even though we don’t deserve it. We must give the same freedom to the people around us by forgiving them. We must demonstrate to our spouses, our children, our families and our friends, that we are willing to forgive them. Then, and only then, will they be empowered to go out and live in light of that forgiveness.

– by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White and CityLight Church, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael White and CityLight Church with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Power of the Resurrection

The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Power of the Resurrection’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Easter Sunday, 4/20/2014, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here:

Power of the Resurrection

The Easter narrative should be our favorite passage in the Bible. To read it, you can turn to Matt 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 or John 20: every author of the Gospel has a slightly different flavor. The main point, however, is always the same: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was raised from the dead! As a historical event, the Resurrection happened. As a spiritual event, the Resurrection holds incredible & boundless significance for how we live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ.

In the 24th chapter of his Gospel account, Luke details how two angels stood in the tomb as Mary and the other women looked for the body of Jesus Christ. Then they make one of the most significant statements in human history: “He is not here, but is risen!” (Lk 24:6; emphasis mine). So if you come to church on Easter Sunday looking for a dead, lifeless experience, think again. God is the God of the living, and His Son has been raised from the grave. That is reason to celebrate!

We must understand the significance of the Resurrection intellectually. Without the Resurrection, we have nothing. Without the Resurrection, Jesus Christ was just an anointed prophet who died a horrible death. But with the Resurrection, He is the Son of God: exactly Who He says He Is. The Bible says that Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. What’s more, we are seated in Him in heavenly places – even now! As sons and daughters of God, we now have a divine position which always supercedes our condition. With the Resurrection, death is defeated, because Jesus conquered the grave!

This is something that is definitely worth getting excited about. I have met many people who have a fascination with death. I’ve gone through periods in my own life where I think about death a little too much. Death is the one obstacle none of us can avoid: it is waiting for all of us at the end of our lives. Yet Jesus Christ promises that what was once an obstacle has become a springboard into eternal life with God Himself!

Intellect vs. Experience

It’s one thing to understand Who Jesus Is intellectually, but it’s another thing completely to experience the reality of His existence. Without experiencing the revelation that the Resurrection is real through an encounter with God’s Holy Spirit, we can never fully understand Who Jesus Is. If we don’t understand who Jesus Is, we can never understand who we are meant to be. After all, we are made in His image.

There is a difference between knowledge and experience. Knowledge can come out of experience, but experience can never come out of knowledge. It’s not enough to know Who Jesus Is; we must experience the reality of His indwelling presence inside each and every person who calls on His Name for salvation.

When I was growing up, I decided one year that I wanted to play lacrosse. My dad bought me a gigantic textbook on how to play the game. It had every detail you could ever imagine when it came to playing, coaching and understanding the sport. There were more statistics and studies than anyone could ever use. I read that book from cover to cover. But when I picked up a lacrosse stick, nothing had changed. I still couldn’t play lacrosse! I had gained knowledge, but I still lacked experience. To get better, I had to pick up the stick and practice. What I really sought could never be learned through intellectual assent alone; it had to be experienced.

When it comes to Christian life, a lack of experience leads to nominalism. Much of the church today suffers from this condition: we display a form of godliness but deny its power. We know about the Resurrection but we don’t experience its’ transformative power in our daily lives. Without an encounter with God, we become nominal Christians!

Living A Transformed Life

But one encounter with Jesus Christ will change your whole life. In fact, if you really encounter God’s Son Jesus Christ, it will be impossible to live an unchanged life. That does not mean that we should throw all caution to the wind. It does mean, however, that joy will seem to come much more naturally because God’s Holy Spirit resides inside of us.

After Jesus had been raised from the dead but before He ascended into heaven, He visited His disciples, who had gathered to wait for Him. John tells the story this way:

“So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’” – Jn 20:21-23

The disciples encountered the Risen Christ, and what was the end result? He breathed on them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit! This is what happens at the moment of salvation for every Christian: you’re filled with the Holy Spirit and all of a sudden you know – experientially – something that can never be adequately described by knowledge alone.

Raising and Being Raised

If you’re not experiencing the power of the resurrection in your own life every day, you’re being robbed of your potential. To help us understand what we might be missing, it’s important to realize that there is a difference between raising and being raised. Luke illustrates this in his account of the Resurrection as he describes the angels’ interaction with Mary and the other women at the tomb:

He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” – Lk 24:6,7

When Luke recounts Jesus’ promise to ‘rise’ again, he uses the Greek word anistemi, which means to ‘raise up oneself, as out of a chair.’ Anistemi is something a person can only do for him or herself. It requires self-effort. Jesus was able to raise Himself from the dead because He is the Son of God. You and I, however, would never be able to raise ourselves from death. Anistemi is something only Jesus could do for Himself.

Luke uses a different word when He says that Jesus is ‘risen’ (v 6). This is the Greek egeiro, which means ‘to be raised up by an outside party.’ Jesus promised that He would raise Himself up, but now He is risen! The Holy Spirit pulled Him up out of the grave, and gave Him complete and total victory over death. And guess what? That same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead is now in you:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. – Rom 8:11

When we die, everyone who calls on the Name of Jesus Christ will be raised (egeiro) in the exact same manner as Jesus Christ Himself. Here and now, before we die, we should expect to live and operate with the same power as Jesus Christ Himself: not because of who we are, but because of Who resides in us.

There is nothing you can do to earn your salvation. None of us can raise ourselves from the dead, or produce Christ-like abilities in our lives out of our own self-effort. Any salvation based on earning salvation through our own abilities and characteristics is flawed. Only Jesus Christ can earn salvation, because only He is the Son of God. He earned redemption on our behalf so that we could be raised by God’s Holy Spirit. Anistemi is a word which can never apply to our salvation, but egeiro is something we should expect God to work in us here and now.

Through the Resurrection, we witness the power of the Gospel firsthand. God is not asking us to raise ourselves; He is telling us to be raised. He is not asking us to be religious, and work as hard as we can to earn our salvation; He is asking us to enjoy a relationship with Him. Jesus has already beaten death and won the victory on our behalf!


Go & Do Likewise

A relationship has to be established before trust can exist. Jesus already proved He trusts us by sending His Holy Spirit to dwell inside of each and every single believer. So do you trust Him? Jesus wants to partner with you as you go out and become a minister of the Gospel in every area of your life. This is what all of us were designed to do!

The same Holy Spirit who gave Jesus power to fulfill His earthly calling gives you power to fulfill yours. It’s not just for you to enjoy; it’s also for the benefit of others. Jesus has called all believers out into partnership with Him. He called all of us to preach the Gospel in the Great Commission, and then promised that He would support us with all of heaven’s resources:

So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. Mark 16:19-20

As we go out and preach the Good News, Jesus will confirm His Word through signs and wonders that accompany our speech. When we step out in faith, the Lord will support us by confirming everything we say.

– by Pastor Mike White

© Michael D. White and CityLight Church, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael White and CityLight Church with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Day 119: Face to Face

Judges 9:22-10:18

Luke 24:13-53

Psalm 100:1-5

Proverbs 14:11-12

For full text click here:

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…” (Lk 24:31). Communion opens our eyes so we can see Who Jesus Is. The disciples did not know they were face to face with Jesus until they took bread, blessed it and broke it. Communion is the most powerful meal we can ever eat. It is the key to refreshing our relationship with God in a tangible, concrete way. It is essential for our physical health. It’s a reminder of everything Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross for us: the Old Covenant was fulfilled on our behalf, and we were baptized by the blood of Jesus Christ into a New Covenant ruled by grace and mercy. Don’t forget to take communion!


Father, thank You for all the benefits of communion! Help me to remember to bless You with everything I have – my soul and all that is within me!

Day 118: Love the Sinner; Hate the Sin

Judges 8:18-9:21

Luke 23:44-24:12

Psalm 99:1-9

Proverbs 14:9-10

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CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“You were to them God-Who-Forgives, though You took vengeance on their deeds” (Ps 99:8). In Psalm 99, God shows us a very important lesson: He will love us no matter what we do. God hates sin, but He still loves sinners. The psalmist uses the Hebrew name El Nahsah for God, and points out something that is nothing short of life-changing when we fully embrace it: No matter what you’ve done, God wants a restored relationship with you. He sent His Only Son Jesus Christ to hang and die on the Cross so that we could enjoy intimacy with Him for all time. God forgives: it’s not just something He does, it’s Who He Is!!!


Father, thank You that the Cross of Jesus Christ is big enough to cancel all of my sins: past, present and future. When I call on the Name of Your Son, I am forgiven!

Day 117: Showing Off

Judges 7:1-8:17

Luke 23:13-43

Psalm 97:1-98:9

Proverbs 14:7-8

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CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“And the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’’” (Judges 7:2). Gideon gathered a mighty army to go to war against the Midianites; but God had other plans. He asked Gideon to reduce his army to 300 men, and then go and take on the army of 135,000 Midianites. Why? So God could show the Israelites a victory that only He could win. God has a flair for the miraculous. He has no hesitation about showing you supernatural, miraculous works in your life. All that is required on your part is to walk according to the purpose to which He has called you.


Father, thank You that You like to show up, and show off! My God is real, and I serve you willingly!

Day 116: Come Out of Hiding!

Judges 6:1-40

Luke 22:54-23:12

Psalm 95:1-96:13

Proverbs 14:5-6

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CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?’” (Judges 6:14) The Angel of The Lord came to Gideon and found him doing something strange and secretive. Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. Threshing what is the process of separating chaff (the inedible part of the wheat) from the grain (the edible part of the wheat), and that process usually takes place on a threshing floor. Gideon was threshing in the winepress to hide his food from the Midianites, so they would not steal or destroy it. Gideon found himself in a situation where he was not living up to his destiny. God had set him apart to deliver the people of Israel, yet here he was: in hiding from the very oppressors God had promised He would deliver into his hand. Come out of hiding! What areas of your life are you hiding from the people around you, because you are afraid they will steal that which God has provided? God has called you to be bold and confident! He has called you up into victory over all your adversaries! There is nothing to fear when God is on your side.


Thank You for delivering me from every oppressor! I’m not going to hide any more. I’m not going to be afraid of success. I’m not going to sneakily hold on to the provision You’ve given me for fear that someone will come and steal it away. You had given it into my hand for a purpose!

Day 115: When Good People Do Bad Things

Judges 4:1-5:31

Luke 22:35-53

Psalm 94:1-23

Proverbs 14:3-4

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CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk 22:53). The men who sought to seize Jesus had had plenty of opportunities to do so previously. But this day was different. They were finally pushed over the edge, and prodded to do something they normally wouldn’t have had the guts to do. What changed? Satan pushed them into action. Just as Jesus had His appointed hour to die, the Pharisees and scribes had their appointed hour to seize him. Satan had asked for authority over them; since they did not trust in Jesus, there was no Intermediary to stop Satan’s influence. Good men – even holy men – can do bad things when Satan has his way. But when you give your life to Jesus Christ, there is no way the enemy can touch you. When Satan asks for power over Christ’s disciples, Jesus Christ – our Intermediary – intercedes on our behalf and guarantees us safety.

“…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow” (Phil 2:10).


Father, thank You for Your protection! Thank You that the Name of Jesus Christ is the most powerful Name in the world! Thank You that the blood of Jesus Christ is the most powerful substance in the world! I know that every knee must bow at His Great Name!

Day 114: Judges and Jesus

Judges 2:10-3:31

Luke 22:14-34

Psalm 92:1-93:5

Proverbs 14:1-2

For full text click here:

CityLight Pastor Commentary:

In Judges 3, we start to see a pattern. God delivers the Israelites to the consequences of their own sin because they have refused to love Him as they promised they would. Yet every time they cry out to Him for salvation, He gives them a deliverer. First Othniel delivers Israel from the king of Mesopotamia in battle; but when Othniel dies, the Israelites return to sin. Then God sends Ehud to deliver Israel from the king of Moab; but when Ehud dies, the Israelites again return to sin. The message is this: we cannot rely on any man or woman to save us. If we put our hope and trust in a human savior, we will inevitably return to sin. Only Jesus is the Perfect Judge: He delivered us from our sin once and for all, so that we would serve Him without fear! Trust in Jesus Christ, and let Him wash you clean from all your sins!


Father, thank You that Your Son Jesus Christ is the Perfect Judge! He’s not just a human savior, and He can never die; so we never have to fear drifting back into sin when we worship Him!

Day 113: Make Him Known

Judges 1:1-2:9

Luke 21:29-22:13

Psalm 90:1-91:16

Proverbs 13:24-25

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CityLight Pastor Commentary:

“Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready” (Lk 22:12). When Jesus’ disciples arrived in Jerusalem, a room was already prepared for them to share the Passover meal. God had communicated instructions to the master of that house to make ready for Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus’ disciples weren’t the only ones hearing from God; rather He was making Himself known all over the city so that adequate preparations could be made for His Son. When you pray, ask God to speak to you. When you pray for others, ask God to speak to them. The fact that God can make Himself real to anyone He wants does not excuse us from our responsibility to preach the Gospel; however, we must realize that He can speak to anyone He wants. Let’s pray for genuine encounters of the love of God for everyone in our lives.


Father, I have friends and family members who don’t believe in You yet. Give me the opportunity to preach the Gospel to them; when it comes up, help me to take it. Make Yourself real to them in Jesus’ Name!

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