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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Our Response to Trials

02/21_2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Our Response to Trials; Audio available at:

2 Corinthians 12:1 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

Paul shares his own experience in the third person, distancing himself from this amazing event and bringing it down to our level; it happened to a Christian; to a man in Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.

Paul reminds us that supernatural experiences don’t validate ministry. The life and teaching of the minister are what must be looked at to authenticate ministry. And gospel ministry, ministry in the footsteps of Jesus will be ministry that mirrors Jesus. It will be characterized by weaknesses, by sacrificial suffering for the good of others. Paul resolves to boast only in his weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 12:7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to pummel him. This was a gift; it was God’s good gift to him, to keep him from being lifted up with pride, because pride is deadly and dangerous, more dangerous to us than demons.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

Paul didn’t want the thorn, didn’t like the thorn. He didn’t ask for the thorn. In fact he asked for it to be removed. Three times he asked, just as Jesus asked three times of his Father that if there were any other way, for the cup of God’s almighty wrath toward my sins to pass from him (Mt.26:39,42,44).

Jesus is a sympathetic High Priest who understands our trials. He has experienced and endured the same kinds of trials, yet without sin (Heb.4:15). So Paul petitioned Jesus that the thorn, the satanic messenger be taken from him.

God always answers the prayers of his children, but not always the way we would expect or hope that he would. Jesus wanted to be spared from suffering as the sin-bearing Lamb. But more than he wanted to be spared from suffering, he wanted his Father’s will to be done, for his Father to be glorified.

Joyful Endurance?

So Jesus joyfully endured the cross for us. Hebrews tells us “For the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb.12:2). How do you endure trials, suffering, adversity? Reluctantly? Avoid at all cost? Grudgingly? With grumbling and complaining? Paul’s authentication for ministry was not only that he endured trials for the sake of the Name, but how he endured those trials.

Jesus’ Answer

Listen to Jesus’ answer to Paul’s petition. This is the word of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” …

Sufficient Grace

Sufficient to you is my grace. It is adequate. My grace is enough. In John 6, Jesus tested Philip, asking him were they could buy bread to feed the crowd that numbered 5,000 men, plus women and children. Philip answered him (v.7), “Two hundred denarii (days wages) worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” No one would be satisfied. It would not suffice. There would just not be enough to go around. You know the story. Andrew found a young boy who had brought his lunch. Jesus gave thanks, and after everyone had eaten their fill, as much as they wanted, they gathered 12 baskets full of the leftovers. It didn’t look like it was enough, but in the hands of Jesus it proved to be more than enough. It was sufficient.

This word ‘sufficient’ comes first in the original for emphasis. Christ’s grace is fully sufficient, completely satisfying, abundantly enough.

Jesus says ‘you can be satisfied with my grace.’ You can be content with my grace. It is enough to carry you through adversity, through opposition, through trials. It is sufficient to allow you to withstand the onslaughts of hell. It won’t run out. It won’t come up short or leave you unsatisfied. Sufficient to you is my grace.

Grace. Grace is God’s unearned, undeserved favor and kindness. Grace is the opposite of wages. Wages are payment for services rendered (Rom.4:4-5). The wages we earned by our sin is death. We earned God’s just wrath. We deserve hell. But instead we are freely given a gift we didn’t earn, we don’t deserve. God smiles on us. God’s favor is extended to us (Eph.2:8-9). You may have heard the acronym for Grace: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Jesus paid the price in full, purchasing for us a gift we don’t deserve and could never pay for ourselves. Jesus says that his grace is enough.

Jesus says that his grace is sufficient, for power is made perfect in weakness. Jesus parallels power and grace, as if they are almost synonymous. Christ’s grace is powerful. Grace answers my ill desert. His power answers my weakness, my sickness, infirmity, disability. His grace is divine enablement to endure the pressure.

Power to Endure

Paul asked for the trial to be removed. But God answered by pointing Paul to his all sufficient divine enablement. Paul encouraged in 1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God is faithful. He will provide a way of escape, but the way of escape may be that he gives the strength to bear up under it, to endure the pressure without collapsing. He may give the grace needed to see you through.

The Purpose of Power

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” His power is made perfect. It finds its fulfillment, it comes to its intended purpose or end, it is completed. Power is intended to answer weakness. Power is not meant to lie dormant; it is meant to be engaged. Power is expressed and finds fulfillment when it overcomes weakness. Our weakness is the playground where God’s power can show off.

So Paul says ‘bring it!’ If my weakness is the place where God’s power and grace is glorified, then I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses.

With Great Pleasure

Do you hear how Paul responds to his own weaknesses?

2 Corinthians 12:9 …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

He is not grudging or grumpy. He is glad. This word that he puts up front for emphasis is ‘with great pleasure’, from the adjective ‘sweetly’; its root is where we get our word hedonism, indulging in pleasure and sensual delight (Lk.8:14). With great pleasure therefore, I will to a greater degree boast in my weaknesses. Paul didn’t stoically endure the thorn; he came to take delight in it. Not in the thorn in and of itself; he wanted to be rid of it. But understanding that his weaknesses, his thorn, the satanic angel sent to crush his pride provided a platform to put the powerful grace of Jesus on display brought him great pleasure. It became sweet to him.

He took pleasure not only in its pride demolishing effect, but also in its God glorifying, grace exalting, power displaying purpose. If my weakness is the way God is most glorified in me, and if I understand that the ultimate all satisfying purpose for my existence is to glorify God, then I exult in my weaknesses, because Christ is seen to be powerful more through my weaknesses than through my strengths.

Christ’s Power Encamping

2 Corinthians 12:9 …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul gladly boasts in his weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon him. This word ‘rest upon’ carries a beautiful picture. The word is a compound of ‘upon’ and ‘to tent or encamp’. This connects us back to God’s tent, the tabernacle in the wilderness, where “I will dwell in their midst” (Ex.25:8-9). This connects to the Word in John 1, who was with God and who was God,

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He dwelt, he tabernacled, he pitched his tent among us. Paul is saying that it is in his weakness that the power of Christ encamps upon him, sets up his tent over him. He finds great pleasure in his weaknesses, because it is in his weaknesses that he enjoys intimacy with Jesus.

Well Pleased

2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Here again Paul uses a pleasure word. He is content. This is the word the Father used of the Son at his baptism and again at the transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17; 17:5). Paul is well pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in calamities. Two of these words he used as credentials for authentic ministry back in 2 Corinthians 6:4;

2 Corinthians 6:4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,

Paul now delights in those hardships and calamities for the sake of Christ, because they display the glory of Jesus more vividly.

Strength In Weakness

Paul concludes “When I am weak, then I am strong.” He does not say that trials and weakness produce strength (he says suffering produces endurance in Rom.5, also James 1). He does not say that strength comes after weakness. He says that the strength is actually in the weakness. He is at the same time weak and strong. When he is weak in himself, weak in his circumstances, it is at that time that he is more transparent and the power of Christ is more evident in him.

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Our Response

How do you respond to trials, to oppression, to difficult circumstances? Do you grumble and complain? Do you become resentful and bitter? Or is it sweet to you because the presence of Christ dwells on you and the power of Christ is displayed through you? For the believer who has been justified as an undeserved gift by grace, every bitter thing can be made sweet.

Paul exults in Romans 8

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

February 27, 2021 Posted by | 2 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exodus 26 – God’s Tent; The Dwelling

03/25 Exodus 26 God’s Tent; The Dwelling

We are studying God’s word to us in Exodus. God instructed his people to build him a tent.

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

God intended to dwell with his people. He would come to live in their midst. But having a holy God live in the camp with sinful people is dangerous, so careful instruction had to be given for their protection.

The description started, not as we might expect, from the outside moving in, but but with the things in the tent, the things closest to the presence of God, the things of most importance, and worked out from there. We have looked at the only piece of furniture in the most holy place, the box that contained the written copies of the covenant between God and his people, a box covered by a lid which was to be the place where God was propitiated, where his wrath against sinners who had broken their covenant was satisfied by substitutionary blood. We looked at the furniture in the holy place, the table, filled with abundance of bread and wine, with sweet smelling incense. We looked at the lampstand, shining in the darkness, giving light to those who enter in. Now we are going to look at the structure itself, the tent.

Exodus 26:1 “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them. 2 The length of each curtain shall be twenty-eight cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains shall be the same size. 3 Five curtains shall be coupled to one another, and the other five curtains shall be coupled to one another. 4 And you shall make loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set. Likewise you shall make loops on the edge of the outermost curtain in the second set. 5 Fifty loops you shall make on the one curtain, and fifty loops you shall make on the edge of the curtain that is in the second set; the loops shall be opposite one another. 6 And you shall make fifty clasps of gold, and couple the curtains one to the other with the clasps, so that the tabernacle may be a single whole. 7 “You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; eleven curtains shall you make. 8 The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of each curtain four cubits. The eleven curtains shall be the same size. 9 You shall couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent. 10 You shall make fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in one set, and fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that is outermost in the second set. 11 “You shall make fifty clasps of bronze, and put the clasps into the loops, and couple the tent together that it may be a single whole. 12 And the part that remains of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remains, shall hang over the back of the tabernacle. 13 And the extra that remains in the length of the curtains, the cubit on the one side, and the cubit on the other side, shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle, on this side and that side, to cover it. 14 And you shall make for the tent a covering of tanned rams’ skins and a covering of goatskins on top. 15 “You shall make upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 16 Ten cubits shall be the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 17 There shall be two tenons in each frame, for fitting together. So shall you do for all the frames of the tabernacle. 18 You shall make the frames for the tabernacle: twenty frames for the south side; 19 and forty bases of silver you shall make under the twenty frames, two bases under one frame for its two tenons, and two bases under the next frame for its two tenons; 20 and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side twenty frames, 21 and their forty bases of silver, two bases under one frame, and two bases under the next frame. 22 And for the rear of the tabernacle westward you shall make six frames. 23 And you shall make two frames for corners of the tabernacle in the rear; 24 they shall be separate beneath, but joined at the top, at the first ring. Thus shall it be with both of them; they shall form the two corners. 25 And there shall be eight frames, with their bases of silver, sixteen bases; two bases under one frame, and two bases under another frame. 26 “You shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the frames of the one side of the tabernacle, 27 and five bars for the frames of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the frames of the side of the tabernacle at the rear westward. 28 The middle bar, halfway up the frames, shall run from end to end. 29 You shall overlay the frames with gold and shall make their rings of gold for holders for the bars, and you shall overlay the bars with gold. 30 Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain.

The fulfillment of these instruction is recorded in chapter 36, where this chapter is repeated almost verbatim, with a few minor omissions to shorten it, and changes in verb form to say that they followed the instructions precisely. In spite of the lengthy detail spelled out in these chapters, some details of the construction are not clear. That is why the instruction is repeated to ‘erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain’.

What we see is a four layer tent, the inside layer an exquisite tapestry of fine linen of blues and purples and scarlet, with cherubim worked into it, held together with gold clasps. The second layer was goat’s hair, slightly larger so that it would completely cover and hide the first layer, held together with bronze clasps. This layer was covered by a layer of tanned ram’s skins, then a final layer of leather, probably the hides of sea cows or something like that. Inside there was a gold plated wood framework that gave the tent its structure, and this framework was set in bases of silver. From inside, this tent would be stunningly beautiful, the detailed craftsmanship of the richly colored tapestry framed by the gold boards that provided the structure, set in bases of silver. But very few would ever get to see this inner beauty of God’s sanctuary. It was cloaked in three more layers of drab, protective, weather resistant coverings that would hide all this exquisite craftsmanship from view. From the outside, this would be a rather plain and uninviting structure.

God is teaching his people that he is the unseen God. No one ever sees God. He is always invisible, hidden from sight. The ordinary Israelite would only see the outer covering of the tent, he would never see the inside of the sanctuary or any of the ornate furniture that adorned it. A measure of faith would be required of them to believe that some of the things inside even really existed.

Jesus: God Dwelt Among Us

We’ve seen how the different furniture in the tabernacle all points to Jesus. Jesus, who is the light of the world. Jesus, who is the bread of life, Jesus, whom God put forward as the propitiation or ‘mercy seat’ by his blood. The tent itself gives us one of the most direct connections to Jesus. In the beginning of John’s gospel, he tells us of the infinite and eternal second person of the triune God, the Word, the divine Creator of all that exists, who was with God and who was God, and he says:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This word translated ‘dwelt’ is literally ‘pitched his tent’ or ‘tabernacled’; the verb form of the word used in the Greek Old Testament for the tabernacle. God’s stated purpose for the tabernacle was to ‘dwell in the midst’ of his people, and we find this fulfilled in Jesus, God the Son, who ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’, or ‘pitched his tent among us’. God himself came to live with his people. But the way in which he came, the way he stooped down and condescended to live with us, the way he pitched his tent among us, was the most inconspicuous and outwardly humble way, a way that hid his true identity from almost everyone, a way that many found offensive. He entered this world as an embryo in the womb of virgin who was pledged to be married. He was born on the road, in a stable, his first bed was a feed trough for livestock. He grew up as a carpenter, learning the trade of his step-father. When he began to travel and teach, he warned his followers that he had nowhere to lay his head, no place on this earth that he could call home. His true identity was covered, hidden, veiled in the common and ordinary. But Mary knew.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

And God knew.

Luke 3:21 …when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

And the demons knew.

Luke 4:41 And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

And those who were healed by him began to get a clue as to his true identity.

Mark 7:36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

And Peter confessed what God revealed to him of Jesus’ true identity

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” …20 Then he [Jesus] strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

And on the mountain, Jesus pulled back the curtains, as it were, and gave a glimpse of the glory of his true identity to his three closest disciples.

Mark 9:2 …And he was transfigured before them. …9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Jesus, God come in the flesh, came in such a way that the glory of his true identity was hidden under a hide, or skin, of ordinary humanity.

Isaiah had prophesied that this was the way the Messiah would come.

Isaiah 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Paul speaks of this amazing condescension of the Son of God,

Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Of course, Paul cannot stop there, having himself met the risen and exalted Jesus, who revealed to him his true identity as God in the flesh.

Philippians 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus, fully God, became flesh and dwelt among us.

He Stretched Out the Heavens Like a Tent

Let’s look back at the design of the inner beauty of the tabernacle.

Exodus 26:1 “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet yarns; you shall make them with cherubim skillfully worked into them.

From the inside of the Most Holy Place, the walls, the ceiling and the veil would all be fine linen, blue, purple and scarlet, with cherubim. These angelic beings take us back to the garden, where they were placed to guard the way to God’s presence. The colors blue and purple and scarlet in the tapestry are another connection back to creation – they remind us of the colors of the sky. In Psalm 104, all of creation is described in terms of a tent or dwelling place for God.

Psalm 104:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2 covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. 3 He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; 4 he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. 5 He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.

We find this picture of God stretching out the heavens like the covering of a tent repeatedly in the scripture, especially in Isaiah.

Isaiah 48:13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. (cf. Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 51:13)

The heavens, or the night sky, are pictured as the tapestry of God’s tent. But here, the veil, which had the same appearance as the inner layer of the tabernacle, is intended to keep us out of God’s presence. It appears to be one piece, with no openings or any easy way to pull it aside to enter in. It is intended to be a separation. It is a protection for the priests from the deadly presence of a holy God. Only once a year, and only with the sacrificial blood of a substitute, was anyone allowed beyond this curtain.

Exodus 26:31 “And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. 32 And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. 33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy. 34 You shall put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the Most Holy Place. 35 And you shall set the table outside the veil, and the lampstand on the south side of the tabernacle opposite the table, and you shall put the table on the north side. 36 “You shall make a screen for the entrance of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, embroidered with needlework. 37 And you shall make for the screen five pillars of acacia, and overlay them with gold. Their hooks shall be of gold, and you shall cast five bases of bronze for them.

Our sins have separated us from God. We rebelled against him in the garden, and we were forced to leave his presence. Now God is dwelling in the midst of his people in a tent, but he requires a separation between the glory of his presence and his people. For their own protection they are kept out. Isaiah, in chapters 63 and 64, is crying out for mercy and confessing his sin and the sins of his people.

Isaiah 64:5 …Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

He cries out for God in his dwelling place to be stirred to compassion and act on behalf of his sinful people.

Isaiah 63:15 Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me.

And then he makes this plea:

Isaiah 64:1 Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence–

Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree (1Pet.2:24), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn.1:29), hanging on the cross, enduring the darkness of the displeasure of his Father, forsaken by God, crushed under his wrath against our sin (Is.53:6,10-12). He paid our price in full and cried out “it is finished” (Jn.19:30).

Matthew 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

Isaiah’s prayer was answered ‘Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down’. God became flesh and pitched his tent among us. God our Savior opened for us a new and living way through the curtain, that is, through his own flesh torn for us (Heb.10:20).

Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,

And the centurion who stood watch knew: “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

March 25, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment