Sunday September 25, 2022 Romans Week 68 Romans 13:8-14 “Love and the Last Days”

Sunday – September 25, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 25, 2022

Romans 13:11-12
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

Imagine how you would feel if you were told that you had only a few months to live. You might try to cram a lifetime into those last days. You might travel to places you have always wanted to see. You might do things for which you had never found the time before. It would not be difficult to understand why you would want to spend your last days indulging yourself.

In Romans 13:8-14, Paul proposes a radically different response to a similar type of deadline—one every Christian must face. He reminds the Christian that his time is limited because the day of the Lord’s return is daily drawing nearer. In the light of this reality, he calls on us to deny ourselves and to live for God. Not to indulge himself, but to give himself sacrificially in serving others to seek for their good. We have been oversleeping. The night has passed. The new day is dawning—the day of our Lord’s return. We must get about doing those things which remain to be done.

Paul is looking at time from two perspectives. In the first place, he is looking at that time which has elapsed between our initial salvation and the present. The time which has passed should have produced growth and maturity and greater sensitivity to both good and evil. In the Book of Hebrews, the Hebrew saints had been saved for some time. But instead of growth and progress in their faith, the reverse seems to have been true, and for this the writer rebukes his readers. In the same way, these Roman saints have been saved for some time now and should be growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But they still seem to be “sleepy Christians,” not fully awake and alert.

Time is also viewed in a second way. Because too much unprofitable time has passed by, the time they have remaining is slowly eroding away. Paul is saying is that the time left between the day of their initial salvation and the day of their final salvation is diminishing. And for us too, there is less time to serve the Lord now than there was when we were first saved. Not only the Roman saints, but we ourselves must hasten to demonstrate love. Paul spurs us on to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24). Our focus is not only to be upon others, but upon God, His grace, our salvation, and the rapidly approaching day of His return. This will mean glory for us and rewards for faithfulness. Let us not waste this time, but rather serve God faithfully and so be found faithful when He returns.

Sunday September 18, 2022 Romans Week 67 Romans 13:1-7 “God Government and You”

Sunday – September 18, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 18, 2022

Romans 13:1-2a
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God…”

Over the years I have found Christians are little different than non-Christians in their attitudes and responses toward authority. Compliance is given, but cooperation is not always guaranteed. Christians comply with the law, slowing down as we pass the police car with its radar speed detection equipment, but as soon as we are sure it is safe, we drive normally—and illegally. In Romans 13:1-7, Paul deals directly with the Christian’s attitude and conduct with respect to civil government authority.

The church is involved today in the same struggle Paul addresses with the Church at Rome. In the earlier days of our nation, our government was founded on many Christian convictions. If our early government founders and officials were not Christians, at least their beliefs and values were compatible with Christian doctrines and practices. However, over the years, our culture and our government has strayed farther and farther from Christianity. Christians and their values are quickly becoming a minority view according to a Pew Research Center study released this week. Consequently, we should expect the government will increasingly regulate, hinder, and even oppose Christian activity.

When Paul speaks of submission to government, he does so in the context of service which is the main theme of Romans 12:1–13:7. We are challenged by Paul in 12:1-2 to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service of worship. Paul then speaks of our sacrificial service in terms of the church, the body of Christ, and of the exercise of our spiritual gifts (12:3-8). In verses 9-21 Paul writes of our service in the context of love, whether we are serving our fellow-believers or our enemy. Subordination to civil government is discussed in Romans 13:1-7, only to find Paul returning to the theme of walking in love in verses 8 and following.

Daniel illustrates the truth of Romans 13:1-7 and exposes the folly of our fleshly efforts to affect change in government. Daniel was a young political hostage, with no credentials or political clout to impress his Babylonian captors. Daniel was but a single man, living in a godless society and in a heathen culture. And yet Daniel had tremendous political influence on several kings and administrations over a long period of time. What was it that made Daniel the E. F. Hutten of his day? What made kings listen when he spoke? I believe the answer is that Daniel subordinated himself to the heathen, human government of Babylon as God’s divinely ordained institution.

Daniel was a man who was respected and sought by the political leaders of his day. Why? I believe it was because Daniel was practicing what Paul later preached. Daniel was serving God by his subordination to civil government. As he sought to serve God with a clear conscience, he refused to do only that which was disobedient to God and defiling to his conscience. As he served God, he eagerly cooperated and supported the governmental system under which God had placed him. Down through history, men like Daniel have had a profound impact on kings and government officials—even though they served God and even though they were in the minority. May God grant that we will present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices, as we subordinate ourselves to others and to the government He has ordained.

Sunday September 11, 2022 Romans Week 66 Romans 12:14-21 “Transformed Attitudes Pt 2”

Sunday – September 11, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – September 11, 2022

Romans 12:17-19
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. if possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Even in the church, the vigilante spirit is alive and well. Christians sometimes attempt to sanctify their anger calling it righteous indignation, but we too are tempted to retaliate against those who mistreat us. Piously, we may pretend to resist evil supposing that God is on our side as we seek to “even the score” by causing hurt or harm to those who have mistreated us. Yet, Scripture calls for much more of us, requiring death to the flesh and the subordination of our personal interests to those of others.

Paul’s teaching in Romans is not new, the same essential truths were taught in the Old Testament as Paul cites from the Book of Proverbs. The teaching of our Lord Jesus calls for the same attitudes and actions (Matthew 5:38-48) along with the teaching of the other apostles (1 Peter 3:8-12; James 3). But as clear, consistent, and emphatic as the teaching of our text may be, it is not popular because it runs contrary to the inclinations of our flesh. We are tempted to try to find a way to excuse ourselves from simple obedience of the Word of God. We must be on guard against this temptation and let His Spirit to guide our interpretation and implementation as we seek to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices and as we love and serve Him through loving service to others.

You may wonder, what should I do if I’ve already blown it? Maybe you didn’t stop to think about how you should respond and so you exploded in anger at a difficult neighbor or family member. You pretty much ruined your testimony. Now what? The answer is, humble yourself, go to the person you wronged, and ask forgiveness. Don’t try to use your apology to witness to them, because they will think you’re just apologizing so that you can give them the religious pitch. Just ask forgiveness and leave it with them to ask about your faith.

Romans 12 calls upon the Christian to live in an entirely different way. We are to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices. To do so, we must be transformed from what we were and not be conformed to the world. This is done by the renewing of our minds. Our thinking ceases to be in merely human terms but conforms to God’s thoughts. We must realize that to live as Christians, we must first think as Christians. This kind of thinking comes only through the Word of God, illuminated by the Spirit of God. Our text highlights the contrast between God’s thoughts and man’s. Let us be conformed to His thoughts. Let us obey Him by loving our enemies, seeking their benefit and, ultimately, seeking their salvation.

Sunday August 21, 2022 Romans Week 64 Romans 12:13-19 “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Sunday – August 21, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 21, 2022

Romans 12:9-10
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

“Love” is one of the most common, yet misused and misunderstood words in the English language. On in any media, “love” is synonymous with “romance” and seldom used without a sexual connotation. Commercials tempt the audience to pay for a call for a “love connection,” where companions can be matched or where romantic secrets are told. And yet even Christians have a very fuzzy grasp of the meaning of love. The meaning seems to be, “I love the warm, fuzzy way you treat me and make me feel so good.” Yet, no mention is made of God Himself, or of who He is.

Love is a subject of vital importance, not only because of our fuzzy ideas about what love really is, but because love is a matter of the highest priority. The question society tries to frame love by has become, “Is it loving?” rather than, “Is it right?” If it is “loving,” it is presumed to be right. Not so with Paul’s understanding of love. Biblical love cannot be separated from biblical righteousness. Christian love is drawn toward “right” and repulsed by “wrong.” It is attracted to and adheres to that which is “good,” abhorring and withdrawing from “evil.”

Christian love is something like a battery. There must be two poles for current to flow- a positive terminal and a negative terminal. In biblical thinking, love is more than a choice, it is a decision. It is a decision to choose one thing and to reject another. Jacob could not “love” both Leah and Rachel; he had to “love” one and to “hate” the other. So too we cannot serve two masters, for we will inevitably “love” one and “hate” the other. Our love as Christians must be both a response to God’s love and a reflection of His love.

There are Christians today who urge us to emphasize God’s love, and I agree this we should do. But if we are to proclaim God’s love, we must distinguish between good and evil. The love of God is that love which clings to the good and abhors the evil. The love of God cannot and does not overlook sin nor the judgment which it deserves and requires. If we would speak more of God’s love, we must speak more of good and of evil. Rebuke and discipline are not a violation of love but a manifestation of it. Love acts in accordance with righteousness.

Sunday August 14, 2022 Romans Week 63 Romans 12:3-8 Pt 2 “Humility and Spiritual Gifts”

Sunday – August 14, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 14, 2022

Romans 12:4-6
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…”

While he was president of Princeton Seminary, Dr. John Mackay was heard to say, “Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action. But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.”  These two extremes have always threatened the ongoing ministry of the church of Jesus Christ. There are those who are content to learn doctrine but sense no urgency to put what they know into practice. On the other hand, there are the pragmatists who want to know only what seems to work but  are too busy to reflect upon the principles which underlie their activity.

There are many Christians today who are up to their necks in activity and ministry, but who unfortunately have little idea what it’s all about. There are others who would encourage us to get away from cold and sterile doctrine and saturate ourselves with experience. As we approach spiritual gifting, we see that Paul avoids both these extremes. He avoids the extreme of reflection without commitment by challenging every Christian to a life of service. He avoids the danger of activity without reflection by instructing us that the Christian experience is the outgrowth of a transformed mind, a thought-process molded not by the world, but by the Word of God.

These two great dangers are at the heart of the exercise of spiritual gifts. The first is in not devoting ourselves to doing that which we are gifted to do. The second is exercising our gifts in a way inconsistent with the grace of God, the very grace that is to motivate and be manifested by them. We must be challenged to devote ourselves to the function for which God has gifted us and to the ministry He has called us. And we are to do so in a manner pleasing to Him and consistent with the task in the overall plan and purpose of God.

Paul’s words raise an important question I call to your attention, for it require an answer which only you can give. I urge you not to leave this text without arriving at an answer for yourself. Paul is speaking to believers about the spiritual gifts God has bestowed upon each of those who have become His children, by faith. First and foremost, have you received God’s gift of eternal life? Have you been born again? If not, then the subject of spiritual gifts is but an academic exercise, a purely hypothetical question. If so, then you have received, along with the gift of eternal life, a special enablement to serve God through His body, the church. Do so, to the glory of God.

Sunday August 7, 2022 Romans Week 62 Romans 12:3-8 “Straight Thinking on Spiritual Gifts”

Sunday – August 7, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – August 7, 2022

Romans 12:3-4
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

The subject of spiritual gifts is relevant and vitally important to Christians today. Some evangelical Christians believe and teach that spiritual gifts are no longer applicable, that spiritual gifts were given for the church in its infancy. If this is so, how can spiritual gifts now be extinct when the Book of Romans clearly teaches they are necessary for the functioning of the church? While some may differ as to whether all the gifts are necessary in this age, it is very difficult to understand how none of the gifts are needed.

If I understand Paul’s teaching correctly, spiritual gifts are needed as long as we are living on this earth as members of the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts are those endowments of power which enable us to carry out the vital functions of our body life in Christ as members of His body. These endowments are a supernatural enablement so that supernatural results are produced. It is only when our Lord returns, when the church is taken up into glory and fully perfected, that the need for spiritual gifts will cease. Paul’s teaching assumes that teaching about spiritual gifts is both basic and fundamental to Christian living. Peter likewise looked at the exercise of spiritual gifts as a crucial matter. We should take spiritual gifts no less seriously than did the apostles.

But why does Paul tell us that we are to think “so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith”? There are several reasons. First, we live and walk by faith. Faith is essential in our service and in the exercise of our spiritual gifts, just as it is in every other aspect of our lives. Second, the results of our ministry may not be evident or apparent to us, or even to others. The results of the ministry of spiritual gifts are spiritual. They may not be revealed until eternity. We must act on the basis of faith, even though the results are not visible to us. The results of our ministry may be unseen, and faith deals with the unseen.

Because the exercise of a spiritual gift may be unseen, faith is required. Most often the ministry of spiritual gifts is described in terms of the function of the human body. In the human body some members are visible and prominent such as the hands and the eyes. But there are other unseen members like the heart and lungs, which while being unseen are essential to maintain the body. These unseen members are the “vital” organs. Likewise, the vital members of the body of Christ may very well be unseen. Each member of the body of Christ plays a part in the work of the body, as a whole. This the Christian believes by faith and demonstrates to the glory of God.

Sunday July 31, 2022 Romans Week 61 Romans 12:1-2 “The Route to Renewal”

Sunday – July 31, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 31, 2022

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

The more I meditate on the words of Paul in Romans 12, the more I see that he has outlined God’s way of reversing the process of mental and moral decay outlined in Romans 1. God revealed something of His character and attributes in the creation of the world. People should be able to look at creation and see not only that it was created by a Creator, but that this Creator has a divine nature and eternal power. This revelation of God’s nature and power requires man’s response in worship and adoration. But instead of falling down before God in worship, men either rejected this revelation or exchanged it for that “knowledge” which suited their own sinful inclinations and desires. Humanity put God down and elevated themselves to His place of glory, honor and praise.

How could the adverse effects of sin be reversed? Only through the grace of God, manifested in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The process by which that renewal takes place is outlined in Romans 12:1 and 2. God has now revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3). He has revealed not only our sin but His righteousness. He has offered to all who will believe forgiveness of sins and eternal life by the pouring out of His mercies. These mercies are the subject of chapters 1-11 of Romans. On the basis of this great revelation of the kindness and severity of God, Paul has called upon believers in the Lord Jesus to respond in a way appropriate to the revelation we have received- in worship.

We are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God. We are to honor and serve Him, living holy and obedient lives. Those who respond in worship as Paul has urged will enter into the life-long process of renewal and restoration. The grip of this age will loosen and the process of transformation will begin by the renewing of our minds. The result of such a sacrifice is that both our bodies and our minds will begin to be conformed to Christ and His image, to the praise of His glory.

The point of this passage is to urge each Christian to offer himself to God as a thank offering, based upon the mercy and the grace of God which has been poured out on those who believe. Have you trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation? Have you experienced the mercies of God? If so, then have you offered your life to Him, as a sacrifice, for His glory and praise? Just as men are called upon to make a decision concerning salvation, Paul calls on believers to make the decision to worship God by offering our lives to Him who has loved us and given Himself for us. I urge you to do this today, because of His manifold mercies.

Sunday July 24, 2022 Romans Week 60 Romans 11:25-34 “The Arrogance Antidote”

Sunday – July 24, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 24, 2022

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments,and His paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

If history has shown the Word of God to be absolutely trustworthy, both the Scriptures and history have shown God’s wisdom to be infinitely above that of mortal men. All that has happened to Israel and through Israel to the Gentiles is precisely what God purposed and promised. All of this was, is, and will be a mystery to fallen men, because the wisdom of God is vastly higher and infinitely superior to the wisdom of men. Who could ever have thought of a plan so wise as what Scripture has foretold and which history has unfolded?

The life of faith is trusting God in the midst of the mystery. Because God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than ours, we will find that we are unable to reason out what He is doing at any particular moment in time. We shall only understand fully when we are with Him, in heaven.  Did the Israelites know how they would survive trapped between the sea and Pharaoh’s army? But when all was done, the sea was the instrument of Israel’s deliverance and Egypt’s destruction. Did Abraham understand what God was doing when He commanded him to leave his homeland and go to an unspecified place? Did he know what God was doing when He commanded him to sacrifice his son? All Abraham knew was that God was faithful and that He promised him a land, a host of descendants, and blessings for the whole world.

Romans 9-11 are a beautiful illustration of Romans 8:28. God does cause all things to work together for the good of the elect and the glory of God. Jewish unbelief has prompted Gentile evangelism; and this Gentile evangelism will provoke the Jews to jealousy. Those things which ‘appear’ to be tragic and catastrophic are but a part of a much larger picture, which contribute to the accomplishment of God’s holy and perfect will, a will which for the Christian is always good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). Whenever we find ourselves in circumstances that appear to be counter-productive to our spiritual advancement, we must assume that our situation is like that of Israel described in Romans 9-11. That God is at work in a way which we could never have devised to promote God’s glory and our good.

I suspect that God’s work in your life is a mystery at this very moment. You may have lost your job or your mate. You may be facing circumstances which seem to promise only defeat or disaster. But if you are a child of God, you know that He is in control of all things. He is working out your good and His glory by means of the very circumstances that puzzle you. You do not need to know the secrets which God has chosen to conceal. You only need to know what God has promised and to trust and obey. This is what the life of faith is all about. God is in control and He has promised to bring about wonderful things for His people.

Sunday July 17, 2022 Romans Week 59 Romans 11:13-24 “The Sweetness and The Severity of God”

Sunday – July 17, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 17, 2022

Romans 11:13-16
“Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”

In coming to faith in Christ, Paul has not denied his Jewish heritage. His conversion was no denial of his Jewish hopes but an entrance into them through Jesus, Israel’s Messiah. This raises a question: If Paul is a faithful Jew, what is he doing ministering to Gentiles? If there is still hope for Israel, how can Paul justify ministering to Gentiles rather than to Jews? Paul’s answer proves that his ministry to the Gentiles is completely consistent with His Jewish heritage and hope.

We have here a very important lesson to be learned. Frequently, we are called to achieve God’s purposes in ways which may seem contrary to His purposes. In biblical terms, we are called to walk by faith and not by sight, to walk in obedience to His Word, even when doing so seems contrary to God’s purposes. For example, God calls upon us to give up our lives in order to gain them, to take up our cross in order to serve Him. Obedience to God’s Word by faith may often seem inconsistent with what He has promised to accomplish, but God’s ways are often accomplished by the most unlikely means.

The church has been commanded to “make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28:18-20), which necessitates evangelism (Romans 10:14-15). Often there are often those who lay a guilt trip on every believer, insisting that we obey the Lord’s command by doing what appears to be evangelistic. If we are not passing out tracts, going door to door, or doing what others expect of us, we can often feel guilty. If Paul had done what appeared to be necessary to evangelize the Jews, he would have been aggressively pursuing Jewish evangelism. He did actively pursue Jewish evangelism, by going to the synagogues and preaching Christ. But he also saw that his ministry to the Gentiles was playing a part in Jewish evangelism too even if it did not appear so.

A young man may be out mowing the church lawn and may wonder if he should be mowing the grass when he could be out witnessing. But it may be the neatly-kept lawn which attracts and encourages a passerby to visit the church and thus hear the gospel. A housewife making a plate of cookies for an ailing neighbor may very well be playing a part in God’s plan to bring that neighbor to faith. God has given each member of His body, the church, different gifts and a different ministry. We must exercise our gifts and fulfill our ministry, even though it may not “look” spiritual or appear to be directly related to God’s purposes. It is only when we see our obedience to Christ’s calling as a part of the larger program and purposes of God that we are able to “magnify our ministry,” knowing that God will use it to achieve His purposes.

Sunday July 10, 2022 Romans Week 58 Romans 11:6-11 “The Sovereign Grace of God”

Sunday – July 10, 2022

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Word On Worship – Sunday – July 10, 2022

Romans 11:11-12
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!

Have you ever thought through the Bible considering its emphasis on failure in proportion to its emphasis on success? The Bible speaks far more about failure than success. For example, Genesis begins with the failure of man in the Garden of Eden. From this point on, man’s failure is more prominent than man’s success. In reading through the history of Israel in the Old Testament, much more text is given to the description of man’s failures than of man’s faithfulness. In the New Testament, we see the failure of the nation Israel to receive Jesus as the promised Messiah and the failure of the disciples to comprehend what His teaching and ministry were about. Virtually all the churches described in the New Testament have problems and failings.

Why the emphasis on man’s failures rather than on his faithfulness? Simply because this is true to life. There is absolutely nothing we do which is not tainted by sin. I may (someday) preach a message you may think is a masterpiece. But I may very well preach it out of less than perfect motivation. And even if I felt I did well and was rightly motivated, only God knows my heart and its deceitfulness. You may witness to a fellow-worker and that person may come to faith in Christ. But your service is not free from the taint of sin. If your ministry is effective, it is due to the grace of God- not your message or method.

I did not say the Bible has nothing to say about success, and blessing, and fulfillment. When there is success in this life, it is because God has accomplished it by His grace. When the Bible speaks of perfection and freedom from failure, it speaks of heaven. Men and women of faith do not look for perfection here on this earth but in the kingdom of God which is yet to come: And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:39-40).

When you stop to think about it, all through the Bible, from beginning to end, God seems to use people more in their failures than through their faithfulness. Even the great men of the Bible seem to have experienced more failure than success. As I look at my life, the lives of others, and at the Scriptures, I find that when God accomplishes that which is good, it often seems to be almost accidental by those God has used as the instruments of His grace. God will finish what He starts, on the basis of His sovereign grace, achieved through a remnant of those whom He chooses and preserves. Sovereign grace views failure in an entirely new light.