God Invites Us To Be A Party Of The Miraculous Story Of Jesus

Kevin Garcia
Feb 12, 2023    38m
When we study Jesus' birth story from Joseph's point of view, we learn that he had the choice to walk away or to be part of the miraculous story of Jesus. God gives us all that same invitation; the only question left is, how do we respond? Video recorded at Upland, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Loren Van Woudenberg: [00:00:19] I'm Loren, I have the joy and privilege of being the storyteller from kindergarten to third grade a couple of times a month and absolutely love every single one of them. You've been sitting long enough, let's stand for God's Word. Let's stand for God's Word. If you want to open your Bibles, we're in Matthew. We're in Matthew. because the pastoral staff decided it was time to take a good look at Jesus face-to-face. Amen. We're going to be in his birth in this. Chapter 1, we'll pick it up at verse 18, "This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." This is God's Word. Be seated, please.

Kevin Garcia: [00:02:12] Well, good morning and welcome to Life Bible Fellowship Church. We're glad that you are here. I know some of you are checking your watches and your calendars and you're like, is it Christmas? Am I just waking up from a two-month coma? No, as Dan said last week, we are going through an intentional look at the book of Matthew for a concerted amount of time. And last week, Dan did a great job of talking about the genealogy, and how the birth of Jesus and the coming of the Christ was anticipated.

Kevin Garcia: [00:02:44] And this week we're looking at the miraculous birth of Jesus, and how that unfolded. In May of 2010, an exciting thing happened in the world of crypto. I know a lot of you guys care. But the first pizza was bought with cryptocurrency in May of 2010, and does anyone want to guess how much that pizza was bought for? It was bought for, in real money, $41, which is not that exciting, but at the time it cost 10,000 bitcoins to buy that pizza. And for anyone doing the math today, that's about $200 Million, which is really expensive. It's only 100 million per pizza, I should specify, but that's still a pretty expensive pizza. Right?

Kevin Garcia: [00:03:32] And a lot of us, when we look back into history like we're going to do today, we have this thing that affects us, which is called hindsight bias. I don't know if any of you are aware of this, but this means that you sort of color things the way that you do now, that you have the information that you currently have. Right? This is why we always make fun of the disciples, right? We are always like stupid disciples, like, they never got it right. Even when Jesus was in his ministry, right? He asked his disciples this question like, who do you say I am? And most of them didn't know the answer to the question. In hindsight, we look back and we say, that's really silly, right? But it's hard for us to put ourselves in a place where we can really think about what would be the decision that we would make in that place.

Kevin Garcia: [00:04:22] We do this with investments all the time. Any of us can look at that pizza story and go, man, what a dumb purchase, right? He should have saved that money and he could have been a millionaire. Oftentimes, over and over, when we have these time-traveling movies, right? There's always a nod, someone's going back in time and they're like, buy this or buy that, or bet on the Yankees, you know? It's always this, if we had the information that we have now and we were able to go back in time, we would make better decisions. And yes, we would, but it doesn't really help us make good decisions now when we take everything and say we would have made better decisions. Because in actuality, you may not have.

Kevin Garcia: [00:05:05] And so today, when we're looking at the miraculous story of Jesus, we're going to try to set our hindsight bias aside and ask ourselves, what would it have looked like if we were in this situation? So we are in the book of Matthew, as Loren read there for us, in the first chapter starting in verse 18. And one of the interesting things about this particular gospel is that this particular gospel gives us the perspective of Joseph. What did things look like from Joseph's angle as we walk through his story? And what you'll see is that Joseph had an entirely different experience than Mary did.

Kevin Garcia: [00:05:50] It starts in verse 18, it says, "This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit." And most of us, when Loren was reading that, we just go, yes, right, because we know the story. We know how it ends, and we go, yes. But you have to realize for a young couple, right, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. This has never happened before in history and never since has it ever happened. People tell you how bad your odds are at winning the lottery, this is much, much more rare than that. So this couple, it would be almost insane for them to think that this is what's happening. Right? It would be much more logical of them to assume, especially Joseph, in this situation, that what's happening is what has always happened. The best predictor of the future, right, is the past. And so when this happens, and the first thing you notice about this story, not the first thing because I already said that I don't know what number we're on. One of the things you'll notice about this story is that the communication between Joseph and Mary is not excellent. I don't know if this happens to any other married couples or if they were the first. Because if you look at the other gospels, right, Mary, an angel comes to Mary and tells her what's going on, and Mary is so excited that the first thing that she does is run and go tell him. Absolutely not, she runs to Elizabeth's house, and she stays there for three months.

Kevin Garcia: [00:07:40] So what we know about this story and what happens in the next verse is that Joseph, two possibilities, and I lean towards the second. Number one, that Mary told him and that he didn't believe her. Number two, Mary didn't tell him, and he's out there in the dark trying to figure out what's going on. And from Joseph's perspective, at this point, this doesn't seem like a miracle at all. From Joseph's perspective, and this is the vision of this young man, right, he is excited at this point in his life. He's met a woman; they're going to get married. Some of you remember this time, some of you are looking forward to this time, and some of you were trying to avoid this time. They're going to get married, they're going to have a place of their own, and their little kids are going to run around. And they're in that anticipatory time, right, where they already have a date, they know when the wedding day is going to be and they're looking forward to that, and he has all this vision of the future. And he finds out, in my opinion, more than likely, through the grapevine that his fiancée is pregnant. And there's one thing that he knows, it's not mine, and it wouldn't be wrong to assume, because this is how it's always happened. So what's Joseph feeling in this moment? He's not feeling, oh, man, thank God for this miracle, his heart's crushed. The woman he loves, he thinks has been unfaithful, and all his dreams and everything that he's hoping for in the future are now in question. He's not looking at this as something that God is doing.

Kevin Garcia: [00:09:33] Another thing that happened back then, and it was a little different, and I only bring this up because some of you are confused by the wording in these passages as we go through it. But back then they treated marriage a little differently than we treat it today, and one would say they treat it with a lot more seriousness and with the gravity that we kind of wish that it still had today. But some of it was just ordered, and so when a couple got engaged, as we would say it today, they actually signed the marriage contract at that point. So they would sign the marriage contract at the beginning of their marriage, and so to break off that engagement, it's not like we do today where you can just break off an engagement. You can just call the person and go, sorry, I'm out. It's not looking so good, I know we said June, but this is not working for me. But Joseph and Mary would have actually had to sign a divorce certificate at this point, even though the marriage day hadn't taken place. So they signed a marriage contract, and then they planned for this to happen in about a year's time when they would have their wedding day and they would consummate their marriage. So Mary and Joseph were yes, both married, and that's how they would have worded it back then, this is your husband, this is your wife, but not living together. And in our day and age, we would consider them engaged, right, but this is how things happened back then. And kind of different in this period too was instead of, I don't know, for those of you who got married. right, the whole point of having an engagement period, probably wasn't like you were like, I need to get things ready, right? It was just, we need to plan a wedding, right? It was like 12 months, 10 to 12 months of just planning this one day. Like Americans, we spend all this time period just planning this big party, and then like, we'll figure the rest out later. And back then it was quite the opposite, that this engagement betrothal period, what was very common, and to Mary's credit here, was that they would actually be separated on purpose for large periods of time during this. One of the reasons Mary would have gone to Elizabeth's house is here is a married woman who is pregnant, and to glean some advice about how to be a good wife, how to be a good mother, and how to move forward. And they would also test the faithfulness of both parties, right, can you wait in this anticipatory time for the day that is coming, and can you be faithful during that time? And Joseph's having his doubts.

Kevin Garcia: [00:12:13] So in verse 19, the second verse we're reading, "Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet e did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." And a lot of us, again, hindsight bias, we'd go, oh, no, Joseph, don't do that. Right? But put yourself in the moment and ask yourself the question. Number one, he's thinking that his wife is in love with someone else. Why would you marry this person? And because he's a person of the law, he knows, right, that the Bible gives, the law of Moses gave one reason and one reason only for divorce, and that was marital unfaithfulness. Look, this is not what Joseph wanted, this is not his plan A, his plan A was to marry the love of his life. But that's not going to happen, and it's not going to look the way that he thought it was going to look from this point forward no matter what. And so he decides, look, I just need to divorce her. But we can tell from this passage that he clearly still has some feelings for her, he doesn't loathe her. Right? He doesn't want to publicly shame her; he just wants to divorce her quietly. He's probably thinking, as all of us would be, look, if she wants to be with someone else, just let her be with someone else. And I'll start over, and I'll go and seek after my average, normal life. Like Joseph's not shooting for the stars here, right, he just wants the normal, average, peaceful life. He just wants to find someone he loves, settle down, do good work, and just come home to his family, and just relax, right, that's all he wants. He didn't ask for this, and it definitely doesn't seem like a miracle. And so he decides to do what most of us would do, right, when we're in a situation, we try to handle it ourselves, and we try to do something that would remedy the situation.

Kevin Garcia: [00:14:30] Joseph's situation is a little different because at this point, Joseph's not in on the full story. But it reminds me of when we were going through the passage a couple of months ago, maybe talking about King David, maybe it was last month, when Samuel had anointed David as king, but he wasn't king, and he was actually running from the current king and hiding in a cave. The word of God had spoken to him and said, you will be king, and he's in this cave, and Saul comes in and he has this opportunity to murder him. And he's thinking to himself, right, he wants to take the miracle into his own hands and say, okay, God told me I would be king, and here's the opportunity to make myself king.

Kevin Garcia: [00:15:15] And Joseph's here trying to figure out what is the right thing to do, and here's where it happens in verse 20, "But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” And again, in hindsight bias, we just want to skip ahead and say everything's good now, right? Joseph now has the full story, he has the information, but it doesn't mean that he still doesn't have a decision. And most of us kind of skip past this, we already know where he's leaning, he's leaning towards leaving. And now that the Angel has spoken to him, we kind of go okay, because we know how it ends. Right?

Kevin Garcia: [00:16:18] But put yourself in that situation, and do you just normally assume that that is what you did? Because I've already said the first reason he wouldn't, he just wants a normal average life, and this is not that and it never will be. And people will always have questions, a lot of people and he knows will assume, right, that if he marries this woman, that, yes, that is his child, and that they had done some things that they shouldn't have done. Right? His reputation would have been tarnished if he goes down this road, so he is a reason to not do it.

Kevin Garcia: [00:16:55] Number two, he has another reason because the law allowed it. So why would he do this? Because things from this point forward aren't going to get easier for him, spoiler alert. But very soon he's chased by a crazy king out of the country who's trying to execute his infant, and the story has more and more bumps along the road. Things don't get easier for him, it doesn't move him closer to the peaceful life that he's seeking, and in a lot of ways, it moves him further away. But he has a chance and a choice to be part of the miraculous story of what Jesus is doing, and this is the moment where he gets to choose that.

Kevin Garcia: [00:17:41] For a lot of us, this is, you're like, okay, I've heard the story, it was Christmas two months ago, I know what's going on. What does this have to do with me today? And a lot of the reasons that we still talk about this is because we believe that this is an ongoing story. This isn't something that just happened 2000 years ago, and we just are all getting together because we're history buffs, we believe that this is the story of what Jesus is doing in our world to continue to redeem people today. And the choice that Joseph had in this moment is the same choice that you have sitting right where you're at, it would be easy for us to just choose the simple, peaceful life. And let me tell you, this isn't it, this is God asking you to be part of the miraculous.

Kevin Garcia: [00:18:43] The other thing we often overlook, right, is that God doesn't need Joseph's permission. I mean, think about it, in this scenario, if Joseph decided he was out, this is too much for him, I'm leaving. Does that stop Jesus from being born? Does that stop what Jesus is going to do? Absolutely not. Jesus is still going to do what he was sent to Earth to do, to redeem all of us from our sins, it just means that Joseph wouldn't have been part of the story. The same for you today, I know Dan was up here and talking about all the needs, and look, I don't work here so I can say some things that maybe they wouldn't want me to say. But looking at the Bible this is what I would say. God doesn't need you to accomplish his work, not even here. He doesn't, it's going to get done, it's going to get done because God's will, will be done, but he's inviting you to be part of the miraculous story. And yes, there are going to be some things that you're going to lose in the midst of that, some of you are already thinking about it. Right. Well, before I come, I like to get my morning paper, and I like to do this on Sunday mornings, or after we leave church, we normally do this. And you've already said no, you've already decided in your mind, that's great, Dan, I hope you find the people, I've got my schedule. And that's fine, and I'm telling you right now, and they probably wouldn't want me to say it, but that's fine because God doesn't need you to accomplish what he's going to do here or anywhere else, but he's inviting you to be part of it.

Kevin Garcia: [00:20:28] And yes, there are going to be some things that you lose, but can you imagine all the things that you would gain? I mean, Joseph took this baby, and he raised him as his own child, and he called him son, he wasn't his biological prodigy. He taught him to walk, he taught him to talk, he took him to the temple every Passover, and he lost him once. Have you ever done that with your own child? Have you ever lost your own child? You looked at your wife and be like, where's Bobby? I thought you had Bobby. I don't have Bobby. And you start panicking, right, you're like, we're going to get in trouble. Can you imagine losing God's Son? Like, oh, man, I'm not going back to church this Sunday, I lost the Son. And not for a little while, they noticed it a day later. Sorry, I digress, that's not what we're talking about, but all the blessings that Joseph received. Did he lose some things? Absolutely. Absolutely, he lost some things, some things died when he chose to be part of the miraculous. But some things that he never knew were possible, rose up out of the ground.

Kevin Garcia: [00:21:57] I don't know about you guys, but my story's miraculous, and a lot of you may not know that because I don't recognize any of you from 20 years ago. Because if you you'd be like, oh, my. I one time went back to my high school and visited, I don't know why we do this, but I did, I went back to my high school. And do you know how some teachers are, like, excited to see old students? And some teachers are like, I can't believe it, like, it's Groundhogs Day. Like, I thought you were gone, I thought I'd never have to see you again. And I went to one of these teachers because she was my favorite, I'm not sure it was reciprocated. And she was like, so...And I told her, I said, I'm a pastor. And it wasn't that look of like, oh, I always thought, it was that look of just horror. Like, I can't imagine a worse job for you, like maybe a bounty hunter, or...I just share that because my story was miraculous. If you had known me in that time period and would have guessed my trajectory, it wouldn't have been where I'm at today, it would have been on the other side. You would have said, dead, prison maybe, in a lot of trouble with the law. And I didn't even expect it, but God showed up in my life and he disrupted everything, and he said, from this point forward, nothing is going to be the same. And I still had a choice, and yes, some things got harder, but I've been able to be part of the miracle of what God is doing, and he's inviting you right now to be a part of that same thing. But you're not going to be able to just add Jesus as an app, as an addendum to your life, you're going to need a whole new phone, it's going to change everything and nothing will stay the same.

Kevin Garcia: [00:24:26] In verse 22, we read, it says, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”)." And again, Dan brought this up last week, but Matthew is a very Jewish gospel, and there was going to be this little sprinkling of prophecy throughout. And this one, he pulls this from Isaiah chapter 7. And again, in hindsight, bias, we can look and go, man, how did they not know there were so many things pointing to Jesus? And the first thing about the Book of Isaiah was that it was written 700 years before these young people were even born. How many of you can know or quote anything from 14th-century literature? Anybody? And I kid, they probably were aware of Isaiah and the other prophets, but in their wildest imagination would they conceive that any of this that they would be directly involved in. They would be crazy to think that, right, that you were going to be part of this story.

Kevin Garcia: [00:25:34] And so here's the point where Joseph makes his decision, in verse 24, it says, "When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." So Joseph has made a choice, he has decided that he's going to choose this. And honestly, today God is asking you, what is your choice? And some of us, it's been a long time that we've been comfortable, but God is prompting you to be part of the story. In James, he reminds us, right, "Don't be just hearers of the word." And a lot of us could be tempted and say, okay, look, I've put it in, I was here for the whole hour, I didn't show up late, I didn't skip out early, that's got to be my credit for all of eternity, right, for this week. That's the deal me and God have, that's what we do, right? I engaged in worship, I tried to listen to the message, sometimes he wandered, but I did my best. This is just the call, this is just the invitation, and then we get to respond to that and move forward.

Kevin Garcia: [00:27:03] And as Dan has pointed out, and other things I could mention, Life Kids, Laurie was up here for a couple of weeks asking for people to be part of that. Go teams, we're sending teams out across the world to bring the good news of Jesus to people who are lost and hurting everywhere. The Upland Community Resource Center, you saw a slide there. Dan brought in a couple more things that would be available to you. I mean this church has got opportunities for you, they've set it up, they've made the next step easy, they even call it next steps, you can go out. The invitation has not been made any easier for you, but I know, and you know, that the hardest part is the first step after this.

Kevin Garcia: [00:27:52] And so I'm asking you in this moment, I'm not asking you, God's asking you, God is inviting you. I want you right now, more than listen to me, it'd be quite fine with me if your mind starts wandering right now, as you start to think about how am I going to respond to the word of God? What action steps am I going to take? What am I going to choose to be a part of that I never thought that I would? And I guarantee you that if you're getting involved in the miraculous, things are going to change. And we have so much of a tendency to focus on all the things that we're going to lose, right? And there's a very logical reason for that, it's because you have no idea of what you're going to gain. Because all you know is what you know, and for most of us, that's just always been good enough, and what God has for you is so much better.

Kevin Garcia: [00:29:03] In the book of Mark, a couple of Pharisees are complaining about the way that Jesus' disciples are behaving, and why they're not behaving like righteous men have always behaved. And Jesus tells them this parable, in which he concludes, he says, "No one pours new wine into old wineskins.". And it's not going to work for you to try to just make this... I mean, I know the reason why most of us don't do it, right? Because you're smart. Have you ever heard people…I've heard this a lot of times as a pastor. A lot of times people would say, man, I was in this situation, and I wanted to ask God for patience, but I knew if I did that, he would grant that prayer. Right? Even as Christians, we all have this hesitancy, we don't want to be uncomfortable, we don't want to be changed. Like we sing it, right? Oh, God, come and fill me. How is God going to fill your corrupt, sinful soul, and not push some things out of the way? Some things that I guarantee you that once they're gone, you will not miss, but right now you think you can't live without it. You know what that's called, right? That's an addiction. Some of us think that's just drug and alcohol, but some of us are so addicted to being comfortable, that we can't imagine ever living without it. And Jesus is not inviting you to a comfortable life, he's inviting you to a miraculous one, were lives are changed, but a lot of times not without the fight.

Kevin Garcia: [00:30:57] Jesus's first miracle, right, is that he changed water into wine. And I think one of the reasons that he does it is for this very reason to show us, because every one of the party was like, man, this is so much better than what we've been having. Why did you wait till the end to bring this out? Like most people start with the good stuff, right? Well, we didn't have that at the beginning, that's Jesus' wine, and it's a lot better than what we've been having. And Jesus is reminding us again right here, look, I know you got your good thing, the thing that you think is the pan ultimate, the best you could ever hope for. And I'm inviting you to something that is so much more better than that.

Kevin Garcia: [00:31:43] In Second Corinthians chapter 5 it says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" Jesus is inviting you to have your life transformed. And a lot of you are like I've done that, it's already done, I took care of it, I said a prayer one time. Trust me, and not to say that you're not saved, that's not what I'm saying. But I've been through this similar path, I received Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the tender age of five years old, it was a wonderful and great day. And then I act like a hellion for the next 15 years, and that's a true story because I asked him into my heart, and I never changed my actions. Until he disrupted me, and to be honest, when it happened, it didn't seem like a miracle at the time. I was at a low point and things weren't going well. Now I held on to Jesus because everything else failed, and it was all I had, and it wasn't just the I'll say a prayer and I'll see you in heaven. It was like, God, I'm in, this isn't working, what do you have? I want to taste the wine that you have, because the wine the world is offering me isn't filling me up, and quite frankly, it's making me feel sick, and that's the moment that my life transformed into a new creation.

Kevin Garcia: [00:33:28] So all of us can look at this story and go, okay, look, here's the deal, I know you're trying to make this parallel, but I promise you that if God asked me to be right, the adopted parent of the Messiah, I would totally be in on that train, I would be totally 100% there. Like, if it was going to be in Scripture, I would be on my best behavior, and I would do whatever God asked me to do. But for you to try to draw some parallel to this church in Upland asking me to be part of parking lot duty is somehow the same, right, as being the adopted father of Jesus. Like, nice try, buddy, but I'm on to you and I'm guilt-proof, it's going to wash off. I'm going to walk out this door and go, man, I don't know what that guy was drinking, but I'm going to pass the cup.

Kevin Garcia: [00:34:25] So I'll give you Jesus's own words, he was telling a parable of the end of the days, when the king is inviting all of those into eternity. And he says these words, right, thank you, "Thank you for feeding me when I was hungry. For giving me something to drink when I was thirsty. For clothing me when I was naked. For comforting me when I was sick. For visiting me when I was in prison. And what was the response? "Lord, when did we do that for you? And his response was, whenever you did this for the least of these, you did it unto me." If you want to do something, you want to be part of the miraculous story of Jesus, look around, people, the world is full of opportunity. The Bible says the harvest is plenty, it's the workers that are few. You have the opportunity to exchange an average life for being part of the miraculous story of Jesus, a story that's still being written. Sure, we know the beginning and we know the end, but the middle is still being filled in. And that's where you're at today, you're part of the story, you're right in the middle of what God is doing, and he's inviting you to be part.

Kevin Garcia: [00:36:06] Let's pray. Dear God, we just thank you for who you are. And again, you don't invite us because you need us, you invite us because you know of the joy it will bring us to bring us out of our sickness, and our malaise, and to fill us with the joy that comes from knowing you and seeing others shake off their chains, break free from their addictions, and come into the kingdom everlasting with you, God. We pray that we would be able to even hope that we could be part of the story of what God is doing. And Lord, we pray that it happens here in this church, as the people here in this building say yes to you. As the people here say, yes, I'm willing to give up some really nice average, ordinary things and exchange them for the goodness of God in my life and in the lives of those around me. We pray these things in Your name. Amen.

Kevin Garcia: [00:37:19] Before you all run out of the building, I'm serious, I want you to take an action step. And for some of you, the best time to do that is before this falls out of your head because we're all humans. Look, don't worry, the game is not for hours. Take some time to put something, a step in place. If you need to pray with somebody, we have people up here available. We thank you for joining us. We hope you have a blessed Sunday. See you next week. God bless.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848