Today’s Scrip-Bit   23 September 2022 Deuteronomy 31:6.

Deuteronomy 31:6.        Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee. 

Well friends, at long last the cool weather seems to be creeping in, and the summer-like temps we’ve been having into late September will soon disappear. For example, today, as we declare ‘TGIF! Thank God it’s Friday!’ our temperature is around ten degrees Celsius, and is not expected to get higher than 16. And we really can’t complain nuh, because in these northern climes, this September has been awfully good to us weather wise. I can’t remember seeing such summer-like weather in September in a long, long while. 

But as they say, an end to all good things must be, so let’s say ‘Thank You Lord!’ It was good while it lasted, and let’s now proceed to get ourselves ready for the big chill, which will eventually come…as it always does. (smile) And the good thing about being a follower of Jesus is that we can handle whatever situation we face in this life, because He is always there with His Holy Spirit to protect us, to lead and guide us safely through any storm that comes against us. And in God’s Word, the Holy Bible, there are numerous promises of protection and safety. 

However, it’s not just carte blanche protection, without any problems whatsoever. And I believe this qualification on God’s protection from an article on the subject on the website biblestudytools.com gives us a good foundation for what to and what not to expect. ‘The Bible informs us about the protection of God. As humans, we want to see God’s protection as a magic force field that keeps us from all harm. Yes, God can prevent any evil or destruction, but we must remember that we live in a fallen world where we have free will. 

Many times, God works in ways that we do not understand. Sometimes God’s protection comes in the form of peace and strength in the middle of despair. Other times God’s protection comes as an ending because he sees something more on the horizon that we cannot see. As a believer in Jesus, we are promised a new life covered under the protection of God in which NOTHING can separate us from His love. Rest knowing that no matter what hardship you face, God is your provider and protector!’ 

And that’s the gospel truth! Now let’s look at some Bible verses that extol and support that contention. And there’s no better place to begin than in Psalm 18, where Bruh David offers thanksgiving for deliverance from his many enemies. He begins by declaring (yesss!!!): ‘I will LOVE thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler (shield), and the horn (strength) of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.’ (Ps. 18:1-3) 

And my faithful brethren, we all know Bruh David’s story; the unfair treatment he received at the hands of many enemies, chief of them being King Saul, his unfortunate dalliance with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, and the many other tough times he went through. But the Lord brought him safely through them all, though not without tough consequences for his disobedience. But that was because throughout it all, he never faltered from the faith of his forefathers, and kept on trusting and communicating with God despite all his misfortune. 

As I like to say, Bruh David knew on which side his bread was buttered, and never wavered from it. That’s why the Lord called him a friend and a man after his own heart. Now do we know on which side our bread is buttered, and do we stick with Christ, like white on rice, despite the many unfortunate and unfair things that happen to us, as well as the many wrongs we do? That’s a most necessary provision for receiving God’s protection my people! You can’t be jumping from pillar to post and back again, or sitting on the fence and expect to receive God’s protection. With Him, it’s ALL or Nothing at ALL! 

We can’t be wishy washy. For remember what James says: ‘A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.’ And that person who wavers and doubts will not receive anything from the Lord. (James. 1:6-7) Yes friends, we need to be like Moses told the Israelites a long time ago: ‘Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee.’ (Deut. 31:6) 

Now that my brethren, that ought to be the basic foundation of our faith, one upon which we stand strong and steadfast, all armoured up with God’s spiritual protection. Namely: ‘the belt of truth around our waist, the breastplate of righteousness around our chest, our feet shod with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, that’s the mighty word of God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword. And on top of all that we add prayer, supplication and perseverance! (Eph. 6:14-18) 

Mama Mia! Nothing can beat us when we are thus ensconced in God and His spiritual armour! So you see, we just can’t sit and wait for God’s protection, there are things we also need to do to enable it in this fallen and sinful world. And I’m chuckling here, because I wanted to include more scripture verses on the subject, and now we’re out of time and space. But that’s how I was led. And looking back on what we’ve said, I believe it’s all good. And just for good measure, (smile) we’ll offer some of those scriptures we had in mind. ‘Psalms 23, 121, 91, 34:19, 46:1. Isaiah 41:10. Joshua 1:7-9. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9. 

And finally, the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, found in John 10: ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck (snatch) them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck (snatch) them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.’ (John 10:27-30) Please note my fellow saints, that there, Jesus showed His total belief in the strength and power of His Father and so should we, if we expect to receive His awesome protection. 

Now let’s go to the throne of grace, through our Friday Chant, seeking the divine help, which we so badly need. As one voice: ‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. You know it’s been rough… what with all the anxiety, the confusion and havoc that the viruses and our many other problems are causing. We can’t seem to fix it on our own Lord, that means we desperately need your help. 

Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat both the viruses and the unrest in our streets. So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give the governments and those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the wise guidance to handle the situation properly, with the least amount of loss to life and property as possible. And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe, and avoid any more serious setbacks. 

And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to bring a lot of backsliders back to your fold, show them the error of their ways. And please introduce a whole new flock, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion by the example, we, your faithful believers set. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic and the unrest in the streets as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

And now, my people, if we desire to see positive results from our prayer, we need to do what we promised, namely turn from our evil ways and be faithful and trusting servants, good examples to those around us, with good motives filling our hearts. Much LOVE!

…our walk with Christ…is not a one way…but a two way street… 

P.S. Yes, it’s long…but good…and you like it, just as I do. (smile) Much LOVE! 

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8​       

Today’s Scrip-Bit   16 September 2022 Proverbs 3:35.

Proverbs 3:35.        The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion (legacy) of fools.

Yes friends, at long last it’s Friday. And we all exclaim with enthusiasm to burn: ‘TGIF! Thank God it’s Friday! Oh boy, the weekend is finally upon us, with no work and plenty of time to just party!’ And how the Lord and our employers do wish that we could have even a modicum of that enthusiasm for their faith and work. 

Ah my people, sadly our enthusiasm for work and God pales in comparison to the joy we feel for the coming of the weekend, because leisure and pleasure are our current idols. There’s little room for steadfastness and dedication, no work ethic or sense of purpose. No wonder our society is fast going to hell in a handbasket. We don’t realize that it’s a sincere work ethic and true belief in God that gives us the ability to get wealth and thus be able to afford leisure and pleasure. And that’s why all the great societies of this world have eventually failed and fallen from their great heights. 

It seems to be man’s nature that once we reach a certain stage of prosperity, we tend to slacken off and merely enjoy the fruits of our labour, without thinking or considering either the past or the future, simply the present. Meaning that we forget what brought us to our current level of prosperity; hard work and steadfastness in God, and likewise it will be those same things that will ensure our future prosperity. But no, we get bigheaded and full of ourselves, foolishly thinking that we can rest on our laurels and enjoy life. 

We conveniently forget the basic law of God’s universe; you reap what you sow. Thus, if you stop sowing good seed for any length of time, you will obviously not reap a good harvest. And unfortunately, leisure and pleasure don’t sow good seed, they just eat up, consume the harvest until there’s no more left to be consumed. So, wisdom dictates that if you want to keep on having some future leisure and pleasure you have to continue sowing good seed in the present, which will bring a harvest that will supply more leisure and pleasure. 

That’s why Cousin Sol warns us in Proverbs: ‘The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion (legacy) of fools.’ (Prov. 3:35) And that’s the gospel truth my brethren! If we are not wise in this life, our legacy will be foolishness, simply because those are the only two options we have. Consequently, Cousin Sol further advises us to get wisdom, for ‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour; when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to (place on) thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.’ (Prov. 4:7-9) 

Yes my brethren, wisdom is so important that even God used it in creating the universe and all therein. Cousin Sol gladly informs us that, ‘The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths (deeps) are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.’ (Prov. 3:19-20) Therefore friends, if wisdom and understanding were so important in God’s creation of the universe, imagine how important it is to us nuh, especially in these turbulent and explosive times of today, with all kinds of lies, deceits and evil doings rampant in the world. 

And some of us are wondering what are these things called wisdom and understanding that are supposedly so important in living good lives. Well, wisdom is basically ‘skill in living, or wise behaviour.’ Meanwhile ‘understanding is the capability to distinguish between true and false, good and bad, what matters most and what does not matter at all.’ And for the best results, wisdom and understanding work in tandem. 

But it’s even more important to note that when we speak of wisdom, we’re not referring to what the world considers wisdom, since that varies and changes so much that you can’t base anything worthwhile on it. We’re talking about true wisdom, foundational wisdom; the kind that only comes from Almighty God, the Creator of the universe and doesn’t change or vary, for whatever reason. 

And James, the brother of Jesus tells us quite plainly. ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not (without reproach); and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering (not doubting). For he that wavereth (doubts) is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.’ (James 1:5-8) Now that last sentence is an indisputable fact. So, when we go to God, seeking wisdom, or really anything at all, it is important that we don’t doubt that God can provide it, or will provide it, if it falls within His will for our lives. 

And here’s an interesting note from the scholars re verse 5 above. ‘This verse is not a blanket promise of wisdom for any situation. In the context of life’s trials, it probably speaks of the believer being granted (1) wisdom as to the reason for his trials and (2) wisdom to endure them.’ But this doesn’t mean that there’s anywhere better to go for wisdom in any situation at all than to God Himself. And one of the best examples of that is when Cousin Sol was made king of Israel after the death of His Father, Bruh David, and in a vision, the Lord asked him what he wanted. 

After acknowledging God’s goodness and mercy, (1 Kin. 9:5-8) he said: ‘Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people.’ (I Kin. 3:9) And that’s not rocket science friends, but simple common sense, if you believe in Almighty God! When you don’t know what to do, going to God in all sincerity and truth is always the best avenue. 

And I like how the Good Book records the results of Cousin Sol’s petition. ‘And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.’ (1 Kin. 3:10) Now, because Cousin Sol didn’t ask for wealth or the life of his enemies, but for wisdom and understanding, the Lord most graciously and generously gave him what he asked for, as well as what he hadn’t asked for, wealth and power. That’s how our great God operates my people! When we acknowledge Him with all honesty and truth, He blesses us more than we can imagine. 

And now it’s time to practice what we’ve been preaching; going to God for wisdom and understanding. Let’s do it as one strong voice, through our Friday Chant. ‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. You know it’s been rough… what with all the anxiety, the confusion and havoc that the viruses and our many other problems are causing. We can’t seem to fix it on our own Lord, that means we desperately need your help. 

Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat both the viruses and the unrest in our streets. So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give the governments and those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the wise guidance to handle the situation properly, with the least amount of loss to life and property as possible. And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe, and avoid any more serious setbacks. 

And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to bring a lot of backsliders back to your fold, show them the error of their ways. And please introduce a whole new flock, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion by the example, we, your faithful believers set. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic and the unrest in the streets as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

And as always, when we ask for heavenly help, it’s necessary for us to do our part in the partnership, by keeping our promises and having good motives. Much LOVE!

…a life wisely lived…is one that keeps God first place in it… 

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8​         

Today’s Scrip-Bit   29 April 2022 Philippians 4:13.

Philippians 4:13.      I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Oh what a beautiful day! And for a Friday to boot, the start of the weekend! And the temperature might even come up a little higher than it’s been doing the last few days. Wow! As the man says in his song: ‘It’s too much of a beautiful day not to have a good day. So hope everything is blessed my neighbour. Have a beautiful day! Doh care what nobody say, just have a beautiful day!’ 

And if the Holy Spirit of Jesus dwells within us that should be automatic, with only peace and LOVE pouring forth from us, no hatred whatsoever. So, with the sunshine shining all around us physically, and the awesome light and LOVE of Jesus shining through us…Oh Mama! There’s no reason not to have a good and blessed day, regardless of whatever comes against us! 

And I know that some of us will complain and say, you don’t know my circumstances, and that’s true, but I’ve had rough circumstances too, and the Lord brought me through them because I trusted in Him to do so. And He will do the same for you, if you put your total trust in Him, because it’s all a matter of faith and trust! And yes, He’s promised to bring you through it all eventually, safe and sound, but also a tad more mature. 

However, you’ve got to learn to accept and believe the Lord’s promises, some three thousand in the Good Book, despite the turbulent circumstances. And that only happens by constant association with Him, that’s prayer, and serious meditation on His word, and remembering all the other times that He’s brought you through the storm unharmed…and doing it all with a good attitude too. (smile) 

No, it’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But listen to these encouraging words of Bruh Pal written to the church at Philippi when they began helping him again financially, after some lean times in their church. ‘But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last your care of (concern for) me hath flourished again (been revived); wherein ye were also careful (though you surely did care), but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want (in regard of need): for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ (Phil. 4:10-11) 

Yes friends, Bruh Paul was in a disgusting Roman jail when he wrote this, but he did not come upon that sentiment overnight, but through much hardship and suffering, aided and abetted by the Holy Spirit and the supreme trust in God’s promises that He would bring him through it all. 

And the scholars tell us that ‘Paul’s ability to be content despite the circumstances assures the readers that his joy of verse 10 is not solely over his “need” being met at their expense. He implies that he could have done without their financial aid. For justifies this implication. I have learned …to be content: The Greek here suggests that contentment is a lesson learned neither in a classroom nor overnight, but through many practical experiences in life.’ 

Consequently, he could say quite sincerely: ‘I know both how to be abased (live humbly), and I know how to abound (live in prosperity): every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.’ (Phil. 4:12) And all of that simply means he’s disciplined himself to ‘to tighten his belt in lean times,’ and to live good in the prosperous times. In other words, he’s learned the secret of how to be satisfied in all circumstances. 

And I like how the scholars say: ‘Paul has acquired the skill for successfully living with little and with much, the latter probably being harder.’ Then they quote Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish writer, in support of that last assertion. ‘For one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity.’ And we just have to look around us in our confused and crazy society and see that it’s true. But then Bruh Paul throws out his real mainstay, the real reason he can accomplish all those tough things. ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.’ (Phil. 4:13) 

Oh mih people, that’s it right there! Only with the strength of Christ working in us can we do those tough things, especially in tough times! But please note that that strength which emanates from Christ is not to do anything that we please, like lustful or greedy pleasures, but to do what’s in His will for us. That’s something we should all be very clear on. Christ’s strength imbues us to do His will, not our sinful desires. 

And though we might be able to manipulate some situations, please remember there will always be negative consequences for going against God’s will. That’s why Uncle Charles (Dr. Charles Stanley) keeps drilling it in our heads that the best way to live this life is to ‘Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him!’ And you cannot find a better all-around philosophy than that! 

So, hopefully having made our point that Christ is the greatest thing since sliced bread, (smile) let’s end today’s session by going to the throne of grace in prayer, through our Friday Chant, seeking help in these serious times of need. As one voice: ‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. You know it’s been rough… what with all the anxiety, the confusion and havoc that the Covid-19 virus and our many other problems are causing. We can’t seem to fix it on our own Lord, that means we desperately need your help. 

Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat both the virus and the unrest in our streets. So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give the governments and those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the wise guidance to handle the situation properly, with the least amount of loss to life and property as possible. And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe, and avoid any more serious setbacks. 

And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to bring a lot of backsliders back to your fold, show them the error of their ways. And please introduce a whole new flock, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion by the example, we, your faithful believers set. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic and the unrest in the streets as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

Now, the only way to ensure that the Lord will look down on us with a positive answer is to keep whatever promises we’ve just made. Let Him see them truthfully written in our hearts and manifested in our outward behaviour. Much LOVE!

…only with Christ working in and through us…can we live a truly successful life… 

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8​   

Today’s Scrip-Bit 28 May 2021 Psalm 119:75.

Psalm 119:75.     I know, O Lord, that thy judgements (laws) are right (righteous), and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.

Well at long last, it seems like we might actually have a rainy day! Thank the Lord! The earth is most grateful for it because the little sprinklings we have had recently did nothing to soothe the parched land. What’s amusing and interesting though, is that every time they call for rain, the skies darken, but then the wind comes and blows away the dark clouds bearing the life-giving precipitation. But today, we finally seem to have the real thing, even my computer that was earlier on saying mostly sunny, is now calling for rain! Glory be! 

Oh, I just heard that it’s not only rain, but freezing rain, for the temperature has dropped to around five degrees Celsius. Imagine that nuh, a few days ago we had temps in the high twenties, now they are closer to freezing. But anyway, on this rainy Friday, in these tough times, we are going to turn to a most appropriate poem from our One Year Book of Bible Promises, with writings by Ruth Harms Calkin, to give us a li’l enlightening and encouragement. It’s titled ‘The Pain of Growth.’ And that is exactly what we are supposed to be doing in these trying times; growing in God! 

So please pray with me. ‘O God Growth is a painful process. I frankly confess I am a coward about pain. I don’t like it, Lord I never pray for it Or get excited over it. In fact, I often resist it: The pain of emotional trauma So overwhelming So baffling and crushing. The deep-cutting pain Of a broken relationship. Physical pain that goes on and on Until my entire body screams. The pain of cruel cutting words. The pain of loneliness, rejection Of financial ruin. The pain of being misunderstood. 

Lord, the very thought of pain Frightens and unnerves me. Yet it is true – Again and again it is true: My greatest spiritual growth Has come through pain. Through heartache And anguish. And very often in my suffering When I sadly thought You were doing absolutely nothing At that very moment You were doing more within me Than I ever dreamed or hoped.’ 

Oh Mama, Mama! How true are those words eh? In the hurting and awful times when we think that God has forsaken us, those are the exact times that He is working most desperately in us, to grow us and increase our faith and trust in Him. And right now, in these most uncomfortable times of worldwide sickness and strife, when life is rough with so many of us, that’s the very thing He is doing; growing us, strengthening our faith, teaching us to wait patiently and expectantly on Him, deepening our trust in His awesome promises. 

But as always, there’s a part that we must do, and that’s hold on sincerely and tightly to His word and the promises found therein, where He has promised never to leave nor forsake us, to be with us right to the very end, to have thoughts of peace and not evil towards us, to give us a future and a hope. However, we have to sincerely accept them before we can see them coming to pass. 

And I know that this is a time when the Lord is challenging us to come up higher, to show that we truly believe in Him and His promises. The world is rejecting Him left, right and centre, but He is trusting that His followers will stand up strong although the times seem perilous, and come forth like pure gold when we are tested in these hot and evil fires. 

And the Bible Promise for our poem today comes from that mighty scripture, Psalm 119, where the psalmist confesses: ‘I know, O Lord, that thy judgements (laws) are right (righteous), and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. Let I pray thee, thy merciful kindness (unfailing LOVE) be for my comfort, according to thy word (promise) unto thy servant.’ (Ps. 119:75-76) 

Yes friends, that’s how we have to look at it, otherwise we will just drive ourselves crazy with worry and anxiety, fear and dread of the future, unwisely forgetting Jesus’ wise advice: ‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow (don’t worry about tomorrow): for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil (trouble) thereof.’ (Matt. 6:34) 

Oh my people, everyday has its own problems, and wisdom decrees that we should concentrate on the present or current ones, not the ones we think might come tomorrow, which usually never come. So now, with all that wisdom under our belt, safely stored away in our hearts and souls, (smile) it’s time to get ourselves together and come to our great God in humble prayer through our Friday Chant. 

As one strong and sincere voice: ‘Oh Lord, thanks for getting me safely through this past week. You know it’s been rough… what with all the anxiety, the confusion and havoc that the Covid-19 virus and the racial strife is causing. We can’t seem to fix it on our own Lord, that means we desperately need your help. Oh heavenly Father, with your omnipotent help, and our trusting faith, we know that we can stand strong and steadfast and defeat both the virus and the unrest in our streets. 

So Lord, we sincerely ask you today to give the governments and those involved in the forefront of this serious and unexpected storm, the wise guidance to handle the situation properly, with the least amount of loss to life and property as possible. And please help those of us who must go out to work amidst all the confusion, to be responsible and to stay safe, and avoid any more serious setbacks. 

And Lord, we fervently pray that You’ll use this situation to bring a lot of backsliders back to your fold, show them the error of their ways. And please introduce a whole new flock, who will embrace your LOVE and compassion by the example, we, your faithful believers set. Yes Lord, please use this pandemic and the unrest in the streets as a means of restoring faith in You, so that our sinful world can wake up and smell the coffee, sweet and strong! We pray this in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Amen!’ 

And if we want to receive a positive answer, then it behooves us to change our evil ways and truly be examples of faithful believers. Much LOVE!

…adversity…the greatest spiritual teacher…                                                     

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8