August 28, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (2 Corinthians 1)

Submitted by Matthew K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

REFLECTION Questions

The context of this section is that Apostle Paul canceled a previous plan to visit the Corinthians.  Apostle Paul defends himself here from criticism that he changed his plans lightly and that he made his plans “according to the flesh” (v. 17).

2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Meditate on v. 20. 

How can I know this to be true?  How can I know that all the promises of God is YES?  It’s because of Jesus.  I know this to be true because Jesus is the proof that God will fulfill every one of his promises.  Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”  God loved us to the point of giving his own son.  He has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he will not hesitate to fulfill every promise by fulfilling the most costly promise; that of giving his own son.  Because of Jesus, his coming and dying on the cross, I can trust every single promise of God.

In what ways have all the promises of God become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ?

God has promised to love us, to be with us, to save us, and to give us eternal life. And God fulfilled all his promises through sending Jesus to be with us, to save us, to love and to give us eternal life.   In Christ, we see that God would not withhold anything.  God would do anything to show his love for us.  God went go to the extent of sacrificing his own son to show his love for us.   Thus, there cannot be any doubt for his promises.  Because of the cross, there is resounding “YES” to all of God’s promises.

Are there specific promises of God that I need to particularly remember and cling to these days?

Given all that our church went through last week during the welcome week and all the hours of labor, I was reminded by 1 Corinthians 15:58, the passage that we reflected during DT last week.  It which says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

It’s so easy to be caught in the middle of all the activities and often be discouraged and to ask the questions: is this worth it, does what I do make any difference, why do have to labor so hard, etc.

I often find myself being very results-oriented.  I want to prove to myself and to others that what I do matters.  I want immediate and visible results of my labor.  When I counsel people, I want them to change.  When I organize an event, I want everything to go well, people to have fun and people to recognize how well the event turned out and thank me for the wonderful job that I did. But serving God is not about me nor the results that I produce.  When I focus on the results or my contribution thereto, I can easily lose sight of what I am doing and can feel like my labor is in vain.

Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be abounding in the work of the lord, because of the promise of resurrection, which God has already proven through Jesus Christ.  Our work is not in vain because there is ultimately the resurrection and heaven. Heaven is real and what I do have eternal consequences on people’s destiny.   I want to hold on to this promise as I give more and more, as I serve yet another year in ministry and as I make my sacrifices in serving him and encourage others to do the same.  I don’t want to hold back just because I don’t see any tangible results or recognition for my labor.

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

What does it mean to behave “with simplicity and godly sincerity” in our relationships?

This world is fully duplicity and face-saving words and actions.  People don’t say what they mean.  People often lie in order to get what they want. People hide their true feelings in fear of offending others.  People do not relate to each truthfully.

Here, Paul was defending the criticism that he had changed his plans lightly. Perhaps Corinthians were used to others who would change their minds lightly or they themselves often gave in to such practices.  But Paul was confident in saying that his behavior was with simplicity and godly sincerity.  There was no duplicity or manipulations.  His conscious was clear about how he has behaved.

This should be my standard of my behavior in the world.  People should not try to guess what I mean when I say something.   There should not be any face-saving excuses or false promises to appease people or to avoid any conflict.  It’s so easy to have white lies to get out of uncomfortable situation or provide half-baked explanation to avoid taking on full responsibility of things went wrong.   Such practice of living with simplicity and godly sincerity must be deeply embedded in my life by choosing everyday to be fully truthful in every situation.   I want my conscious to testify that I have been truthful, straightforward and sincere in my words and deeds.  I want to commit to telling the truth every time in any situation.

What was Apostle Paul’s hope toward the Corinthians?  What does this demonstrate about Apostle Paul’s attitude toward relational conflict or misunderstanding?  What lesson can be learned here for my relational troubles?

Paul did not shrink back from dealing with people who criticized him.  It is so easy to avoid people who repeatedly have misunderstanding about my intentions or cause relational conflicts.  It is much easier not to deal with such people and go through the trouble of clarifying misunderstandings.  I see that Paul wanted to clarify things with Corinthians because he cared for them and he loved them.  Only love would motivate someone to go through the trouble of trying to resolve relational troubles.  I see this in my relationship with my wife and kids.  Because of my love for them, I want to clarify any misunderstandings or resolve any conflicts as soon as possible even though it often means having difficult conversations.

The same attitude must apply in dealing with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  In the past, with a particular brother, I chose not to go through trouble of having the difficult conversation to resolve some issues.  I was hoping that time will somehow make things go away or resolve things.  Of course, it didn’t and the relationship became more and more awkward.  I realized that I chose not to bring up the issues because I simply didn’t care enough about that brother and I really had to repent about that.  I must not walk away or hope that things will somehow work out on their own whenever there is a relationship trouble.  It’s such a guy thing to do, but it’s not biblical and also not a loving thing to do.  I must move toward the people who cause relational troubles and take actions in resolving any misunderstandings.

What perspective does the “day of the Lord Jesus” provide for dealing with misunderstandings or conflicts among Christians?

This provides a totally different perspective in terms of misunderstanding or conflict with people.  It tells me that I don’t necessarily have to win or prove myself to be right.  I don’t have to insist that I am right and that the other person is wrong.  God is just and has the ultimate authority over everything.   It also tells me that I may not have the full view of everything, thus my assessment of what or who is right can be wrong.  It helps me to know that God will ultimately judge my life.  I need to focus on loving my brothers today without having to prove myself or insist that I am right.

Submitted by Dennis C., Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

What does it mean to behave “with simplicity and godly sincerity” in our relationships?

To behave “with simplicity and godly sincerity” in our relationships means having the courage to speak simply about what I want for the other person.  It means to say something and then to follow up those words with action, to the best of my ability. Sometimes relationships get ‘complicated’ because communication gets complicated – one person says one thing but really means another, or one person doesn’t say anything and the other person is left in the dark regarding his thoughts or feelings in the relationship. Or one person says one thing so that he can get something else and really didn’t mean that thing that he said in the first place. But simplicity is speaking words that you mean, and not speaking the words you don’t mean. And sincerity, in a way, is following those spoken words with honest action. And this is the kind of behavior that Paul had and needed to defend himself to the Corinthians for having.

What was Apostle Paul’s hope toward the Corinthians?  What does this demonstrate about Apostle Paul’s attitude toward relational conflict or misunderstanding?  What lesson can be learned here for my relational troubles?

Apostle Paul’s hope toward the Corinthians was that they will boast of Paul as Paul will boast of the Corinthians. I believe the particular context that Paul is referring to was his previous sentence regarding his boast that he behaved in the world (and with them) with simplicity and godly sincerity. That Paul would remain hopeful while working out this relational conflict with the Corinthians demonstrates the persevering attitude of a shepherd to his sheep, the never-let-go / never-give-up attitude of a leader to his people, the wounded yet faithful attitude of a parent to his children, or a spouse to the other. The lessons that I can learn from scripture is that here before me is yet another example of the perseverance of the Christian in relationships. Of course perseverance is especially needed in difficult or troublesome ones, but more often than not it is those time-consuming, emotionally difficult, how-could-you-do-that-to-me situations that make you want to say ‘forget it, I don’t need this’ or ‘forget it’ (and then silent treatment) or ‘forget it, and good bye.’ But surely this is not how Christ responded to the betrayal of his disciples on His path to the cross, nor is this how Paul responds to the Corinthians in their mistrust of him. Paul holds on, takes pains to explain well, and gives them his heart to risk getting it trampled on again because in doing so provides an opportunity for the hope that the Corinthians might understand something deeper of grace, of him, and of their Lord. I am compelled to reflect on what I have received, the faithfulness of Christ in my life when I chose lesser pursuits even after becoming a Christian, or when I wrongly blamed Him for difficulties in my life. He stuck it out with me when I wanted less. He held on when I could not hold on myself. And in the end, I experienced a deeper sense of grace, of His covenantal faithfulness (hesed), and of His love. In a similar and overlapping way, I have received the same with my own leaders who held on to me when I could not during the most difficult times of my life. I look back with a clarity that I could not have survived without them, and on my part, I understand a bit more now and boast of their faithfulness in my life during those most trying times. This may be the hope, on that day of our Lord Jesus that Paul had, that they would boast of Paul as he would boast of them.

What perspective does the “day of the Lord Jesus” provide for dealing with misunderstandings or conflicts among Christians?

The note in the ESV Study Bible for 2 Corinthians 2:14 is the following:

“The day of our Lord Jesus” assigns to Jesus the role of judge attributed to Yahweh on “the day of the Lord” (e.g., Isa. 13:9; Joel 1–3; Zechariah 12–14; Mal. 4:5; cf. 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10). Jesus’ role as judge is a clear affirmation of his messianic identity and divine status.

Because Jesus is the judge on that day, Christians can be assured that He knows the truth in all of our to his children. Thus there is a great sense of peace in knowing that no matter how relationally messy or messed up we have gotten ourselves into, the truth exists, and we will know that truth and will see the matter clearly finally. Because on the day of the Lord, Jesus will bring the truth so clearly, there are at least 2 consequences that I can think of. First, especially as I get older, I live with the greater awareness that I bring into my relationships my sinful mind and heart and actions, and that no matter how blameless I think that I am in a misunderstanding or conflict, I almost certainly have an objective share of the blame. Because of this, I remind myself that I must not be so quick to accuse the other person when I feel wronged, and instead that I should rather be a lot more forgiving knowing that the roles very easily could have been reversed. More importantly on the day of the Lord, He will almost certainly let me know my share of the blame. And so this truth humbles me, and I am learning to stay my hand a little bit more as I reflect on this truth. The second consequence that I can think of is that this truth helps the Christian persevere in doing the right thing that he is already doing even though it is rejected or misunderstood or is not noticed. Because on the day of the Lord, He will judge righteously, the Christian knows that his actions will not be pointless, and this spurs him on to continue to do good, to stick it out with this person, to risk rejection again, and so on. It is this sense of his audience that causes him to persevere because he knows that there will come a day, that day of the LORD, when Jesus will show him to be in the right, who like Paul was blameless in his simplicity and godly sincerity to the Corinthians. This was how Paul was able to ‘keep at it,’ to persevere with them. For me, this is the eternal perspective that I often forget in my relationships. I cannot help but notice how many relational conflicts and misunderstandings that could have been prevented or healed a lot sooner if I worked harder to take hold of this truth.

Personal Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for reminding me through today’s DT passage of the eternal perspective. I ache as I recall some old relationships in which I quit too soon, or was too quick to be the judge myself. I take hold of this eternal perspective once again and through it hope to be that kind of faithful, forgiving, persevering person in all the relationships that you’ve placed me in. In Jesus’ name I sincerely pray. Amen.


Submitted by Nancy C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Meditate on v. 20.
How can all of God’s promises be Yes to a sinful people? Because it doesn’t depend on us but on his love and faithfulness. Jesus Christ is the irrevocable evidence of this. “8But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:8-11). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Because God gave his own Son, we know that he loves us and is committed to us no matter what.

In what ways have all the promises of God become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ?
All the things out of reach for us, the things that are “impossible,” are made possible through Jesus. Through Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, we can receive forgiveness for our sins. Through faith in Jesus and what he has done, we are reconciled to God and have peace with him. He imparts to us Jesus’ righteousness. Our eternal destiny changes from being destined for destruction to being heirs to God’s kingdom. We are for him a kingdom of priests, as he uses us to share the gospel with others. Even though we remain sinners after putting our faith in Jesus, God works in us, renewing our minds, changing our appetites and desires, doing a redemptive work in us until that final day, when we will be fully delivered from our sins and sinful nature, and fully redeemed.

Reflect personally on the promise in vv. 21-22.
I’m struck by the black and whiteness of these words. I am established in Christ, I am anointed, I have God’s seal on me, I have the Spirit in me. My status is set: I am in Christ; I stand in grace. I don’t have to establish myself, because God has established me in Christ. I don’t have to work to prove myself to God, to earn righteousness. How much I still have to internalize this! Daily I listen to the voices within that say I’ve failed to do this or that, and consequently feel anxious and unsettled. But what God wants from me essentially is that I trust what he has to say about me – that he considers me righteous, that I am his beloved child – and for me to live out of the newfound identity he has given me.

God has anointed me – set me apart to be his messenger. I tend to think that I’m disqualified from this because of my stubborn sins and habits, my character problems. But this calling is for me, regardless of my sins and character issues, because of the gospel I have received. I cannot keep living in unbelief, squandering the precious opportunity God is giving me to share the gospel with others and to care for and fully take ownership over the younger sisters he has placed in my life.

God has placed his seal on me (I belong to him now), and he has given his Spirit in my heart as a guarantee. Often I really don’t feel as if I have God’s Spirit in me, as I struggle against basic fleshliness, self-centeredness and other persistent sins. My way of thinking runs along the same old ruts, and I wonder if my mind will ever be truly renewed in my lifetime, and I think that I will just have to wait for that final day to actually experience this. While it’s true that I won’t be fully redeemed until then, yet I can also experience that future blessing TODAY. The fact is that God’s Spirit lives in me, and he will bring the redemption he has promised to fruition. So because of that certainty, I can keep struggling against the same old sins of pride, selfishness, envy, etc., repenting again, and experience the power of the cross to bring forgiveness and life once again. I can trust that God’s Spirit will not tire of working in me, prompting me, until that final day. And as I strive to fully obey God, I can experience his power to work miracles in my heart and life, which is a foretaste of the full redemption that is to come.

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

What does it mean to behave “with simplicity and godly sincerity” in our relationships?
It means to relate to others in honesty and humility, without selfish motives and calculations. Knowing that we have received mercy from God, and that we have the ministry that we do by that same mercy, we relate to others with our primary concern being that we honor the gospel. Many times we don’t behave with simplicity and godly sincerity because we are calculating about what edge we can gain for ourselves, what pride we can preserve, getting offended by personal slights or judging others in subtle ways. But to behave with simplicity and godly sincerity would be to not be concerned about myself and my ego, but to have concern for the other’s soul and welfare.

What was Apostle Paul’s hope toward the Corinthians?  What does this demonstrate about Apostle Paul’s attitude toward relational conflict or misunderstanding?  What lesson can be learned here for my relational troubles?

Apostle Paul’s hope toward them was that they would come to fully understand his heart, and that all he did for them was purely out of love and concern for them. Also, that for their sake, they would understand what he had done for them and be grateful. His hope was that there would be mutual understanding and love between them. This shows that his attitude toward relational conflict/misunderstanding was that of doing whatever he could to restore the relationship and clear the misunderstanding. He didn’t focus on their wrongs toward him. He didn’t throw up his hands and walk away in hurt or anger over their misunderstanding. He did whatever he could to clear the misunderstanding, and had the heart that, even if they didn’t understand now, that they would in due time for their own sake.

What I learn here is the kind of perspective I ought to have in my relational troubles. What I do is focus on the other person’s offense or hurtfulness toward me. I have concern only for myself, and not the other. My ego is what I’m fighting for, not mutual understanding and love. Apostle Paul shows me how I’m missing the whole point. What I need in my relational troubles is not for the other person to bend to me, to change in the ways I want, but that I should desire and work toward the best for the other person. I don’t need them to understand me perfectly now, because in the end, things will become clear, and what I should do in this lifetime is just love and serve them.

Submitted by Azusa L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

REFLECTION Questions

The context of this section is that Apostle Paul canceled a previous plan to visit the Corinthians.  Apostle Paul defends himself here from criticism that he changed his plans lightly and that he made his plans “according to the flesh” (v. 17).

2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Meditate on v. 20. 

In what ways have all the promises of God become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ?

All the promises of God find their “yes” in Jesus… in other words, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus.  How amazing that in one person, the person of Jesus, all of God’s promises have become realized and fulfilled!  As Jesus was God in the flesh, he proved that he was not just talk, but actually put his promises into action.  Through his birth, he fulfilled his promise of a Messiah—a savior who was Emmanuel (God with us) and dwelt among us.  Through his death, his promise to take on our transgressions was fulfilled as he took on the punishment for our sins.  And through his resurrection, we can be assured that we will one day be free from sin and his promise of heaven will be fulfilled.  We know that this life is not all there is, that we are not alone and left to fend for ourselves, but that the risen Jesus is interceding for us on our behalf.

Are there specific promises of God that I need to particularly remember and cling to these days?

Sometimes I don’t understand why something happened the way it did, or why there is a certain circumstance in my life.  Life has a way of bringing up challenges and struggles that I didn’t even know were there before, and it becomes really painful to confront them.  Instead of confronting them I find myself just wishing away the circumstance so that I don’t have to struggle so much anymore. But when I really zoom out I find that it is actually God’s mercy that this circumstance is in my life.  I cling to God’s promise in Philippians 1:6, that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.  It is because God will not rest until he brings his good work to completion in me that he is so relentless and persistent in shaping me.  He will do whatever it takes to get my attention so that the sin and idol that I’ve pushed away for so long can finally be dealt with.  He loves me this much, that he will not let me go, and will do whatever it takes to complete his work in me to present me more Christ-like.  This promise gives me the strength to struggle and the faith to submit to whatever circumstance comes into my life, knowing that he can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Reflect personally on the promise in vv. 21-22.

I have been established in Christ, anointed, set apart for his work and calling.  As a sinful person it’s difficult to believe that this could be true—how could I possibly be set apart to do his work?  But God himself has put his seal on me and his Holy Spirit is the guarantee and proof that this promise is true.  The Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf and assures me of this, reminding me of the saving work that was started in me and the continual work that he will do.

2 Corinthians 1:12-14

What does it mean to behave “with simplicity and godly sincerity” in our relationships?

To behave with simplicity and godly sincerity in our relationships means to be genuine and honest rather than putting up a front or being complicated and calculating in the way we relate to others.  It is godly sincerity, different from the way that much of the world behaves, which is to hide and show the best side of oneself.  I’ve experienced this to be true as I have deeper relationships than I never knew was possible.  Before becoming a Christian I was committed to putting up a front and presenting the best side possible, because I was so afraid of rejection if people really knew me.  But at this church I’ve heard such a level of honesty that I never knew was possible, and I was freed to be honest with my leaders and peers, without the fear of rejection.  In fact, I found that as sinners we have much more in common than I thought, because we are all going through the same things.  It was very freeing to relate in this kind of simplicity and godly sincerity, to be honest about what’s going on, confessing sins and struggles, so that we can receive the prayer and help as we pursue godliness together.

What was Apostle Paul’s hope toward the Corinthians?  What does this demonstrate about Apostle Paul’s attitude toward relational conflict or misunderstanding?  What lesson can be learned here for my relational troubles?

Apostle Paul’s hope toward the Corinthians was that on the day of our Lord Jesus they will boast of him as he boasts of them.  This demonstrates that his attitude toward relational conflict and misunderstanding is that he was not out to prove himself to be right for his own ego, but so that there can be a mutual boasting of one another because they were faithful servants to God.  The lesson I can learn here for my relational troubles is that I need to be more other-centered and look out for the other person’s good.  Too often in my relational conflicts I am looking to prove myself to be the right one because I don’t want to be wrong.  However, if I genuinely cared for the other person’s well-being then to be right or wrong would not seem such a big deal.

What perspective does the “day of the Lord Jesus” provide for dealing with misunderstandings or conflicts among Christians?

The perspective of the “day of the Lord Jesus” provides a perspective that ultimately we will all stand before Jesus.  Would we want to be squabbling about whatever we are arguing about before Jesus?  That question itself can give me perspective to honor God even in my conflicts by having the attitude of building each other up through working out issues.

Submitted by Tony K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

2 Corinthians 1:18-22

Meditate on v. 20. 

20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

As I think about how the promises of God are trustworthy, solid, and true and how I can trust in God and put my faith on the solid rock of Christ, I’m thankful to know that I can base my life upon the promises of God.  This means that my earthy life is truly temporary, that heaven and eternity are real and that one day, I will get to rest and be united with my heavenly Father.  It means that truly none of my labors in the Lord are in vain, that I will truly have no regrets serving God and giving God all that I have and am, because my hope rests in the promise that there will be a reward in heaven.  As I often find myself truly struggling to loving others genuinely and feeling the pain of sacrifice and giving, the pain of feeling that all my work is “all for naught” as there are many times I don’t see the fruit of my labor, I can trust in my God who is faithful and true, whose words I can trust, whose “Yes” means “Yes” and “No” means “No.”  Yes, Christ has risen.  Yes, my eternal destiny is secured.  Yes, my eternal lot is in heaven.  Yes, my earthly life is temporary, momentary, and fleeting and I only have a short window of time to give my all to Him.

In what ways have all the promises of God become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ?

I think one way that the promises of God has become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ is through simply observing how Christ has truly transformed broken lives bound for sin and destruction and brought meaning, purpose, and LIFE into the hearts of people.  Hearing stories of how people who were or could have easily been addicted to false and degrading things of this world that promise satisfaction and contentment, from drugs to alcohol, the pursuit of sexual pleasure without any real care or consideration over others, money, greed, and ambition – hearing stories, knowing actual people, seeing the fruit of such CHANGED LIVES that prove that such things apart from don’t pan out compared to the joy of being redeemed in Christ and adopted as His beloved child, and given the privilege and honor of serving Christ, such stories and changed lives have proven that the promises of God have become fulfilled with a resounding “yes” in Christ.  That is why we do what we do, as a church.

Are there specific promises of God that I need to particularly remember and cling to these days?

When I think about certain people whose lives need to be touched by the gospel, when I look into my own heart and see the brokenness, lack, and helplessness in my own life, the promises that I need to particularly remember rand cling to these days, are the promises that God is Sovereign, that my life is so short and fleeting and that the BEST expenditure of my life is to die to my ego, flesh, and selfish desires and give my life so that others could lives (John 12).  I need to cling onto the promise that Jesus is truly the way, the truth, and the life (John 14) and that true joy and meaning, true fulfillment found in Christ, is to “know him, and the power of his resurrection, [so that I] may share in his sufferings.”  (Phil 3:10)

Reflect personally on the promise in vv. 21-22.

21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

In the NIV, it reads that “it is God who makes both us and you STAND FIRM in Christ.”  As I think about how the demands of life and even the demands of being a disciple of Christ which entails taking on more burden and messy problems of this world created by sin and Satan, as I think about the brokenness and lack in my life and how ultimately, I don’t have it in me, apart from God, to usher hope, deliverance, and strength to myself and others, I’m so thankful TO KNOW that I can simply look to God, that IT IS GOD, who enables me, who can “establish” in me to stand firm in Christ.  He has given me the Words of life, He has given me PROMISES that I can truly bank my life upon, and has “put His seal” of ownership upon me, claiming me as His beloved, His CHILD, His HEIR, His own to share true fulfillment in living a life of Christ.  While I know that there is no good, nor source of strength inside of me, God has given me his Spirit in my heart as a “guarantee” of what is to come.  Despite how little I think about it, God does give me the power and strength, the HOLY SPIRIT, to live out and even BE, the fulfillment of HIS promises in this world, THROUGH my life, unto others.

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