Saturday, December 31, 2016
Paul was an honest man, and according to the best of his knowledge he kept away from whatever is evil, and adhere to what is pleasing to God. He is conscientious in all his words and conduct, respecting those in authority. The Pharisees were correct in faith, only that they rejected Christ's interpretation of the law. But the Sadducees were not obedient to Divine revelation, and they denied a future state, rejected even eternal judgment. They were divided not because of religion, but they were influenced by different motives. Christ spoke to Paul on that night, and told him not to fear those that are against him. It shows that Christ's servants should not be afraid, because the Lord stand with them. Christ told Paul that he will testify in Rome, and his desire to go there is only for the honor of Christ. Forty men had conspired against Paul not to eat nor drink, till they had killed him. This is a false religious principles by evil men, whose intent is to destroy people, but God is always ready to disappoint the best schemes of iniquity. All hearts are in God's hand, and those with good conscience and put their trust in Him will always be protected. God bless.
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Friday, December 30, 2016
Paul relates the story of his early life, believing that his conversion was an act of God in his personal life. He was brought up under the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of the Old Testament law, and was zealous to destroy and eliminate the followers of Jesus Christ. But God in His sovereign power called him from heaven when he heard a voice on his way to Damascus. After this incident, his life had totally changed. Paul declared that the believers were chosen by the Father that they should know His will; that through Christ God has made known His plans to them. Believers were forgiven, cleansed through the blood of Christ, and appointed to be fellow-laborers in the kingdom of God. Paul said that he was assigned by God to the Gentiles, that they too should know the will of God. Being born Roman citizen, Paul had all the freedom to move from one state to another, and declare the gospel of the kingdom of God without hindrance. Today, let us value the freedom that we have, because the gospel can be preached freely and we can exercise our faith in Him without fear, who will save us in all eternity. God bless.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
Paul continued his mission journey back to Jerusalem, and he taught the believers by example to be humble, obey the Lord faithfully, and pray without ceasing. When Agabus told him that trouble is coming, he replied that he is ready not only to be bound but also to die for the name of the Lord Jesus (v13). It is honorable to be a follower of Christ, to fulfill the duty by His grace, to grow in the knowledge of Him, and to experience the privilege of doing church mission everywhere in this world. Only few had an honor to do such wonderful works, a service being set up by the Lord to His trustworthy followers. Though Paul had many opponents, yet he had many Christian friends in all parts of the world. In his report to the elders of Jerusalem church, Paul ascribed all his success to God alone, and to God they gave the praise and honor (v20). The teaching of Paul is not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it; similar to the teaching of Christ (Matt 5:17). But people often misunderstood it! For this reason, Christians should never stop seeking God's righteousness, because God is eternal and His kingdom is never-ending. God bless.
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Paul knew that there were many wicked people that would oppose his plans in various places of the world, but his works and passion for God will be the same wherever he goes. Like Paul, we must know how to redeem the time, and to make it turn so some good account. Here, he declares that he was not self-seeking person, serving only the Lord with humility, with many tears and trials, a plain preacher, a true servant of God (v19). He set himself an example that those who want to serve the Lord in any position or ministry must do it with truthfulness and humility. A true servant of God is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Lord, willing to be chained and imprisoned, and eyes focused at the finish line of the race (v24). With the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ constrains a true believer to proceed to his duty, even in time of trials and persecutions. Remember that the church is not ours, it is His, purchased by His own blood (v28). Christ gave His life, and He expects that we will surrender our lives to Him who redeemed us from our former master, the devil. May the Lord bless us always as we serve Him forevermore. God bless.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2016
The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a major issue for Paul. "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believe?" (v2). The Holy Spirit is important because He gives power to the Christians in order to sustain the relationship with the Lord and His followers in this chaotic world. The Holy Spirit gives us guidance in daily living, in time of trials and difficulties, and in decision making. The Holy Spirit sanctifies our lives to the sincerity of our faith, and we must be conscious about it. In Ephesus, people rejected Paul's message not because it was a new to their ears, but their business was in danger of falling into shame and disgrace (v27). Here we can see that many people are combining business and religion to earn more money. Jesus said: "they have received all the reward they will ever get" (Matt 6:2). The shouting and attitude of people in Ephesus is similar to modern day religious group, having the zeal of religiosity, but the true honor of God is far from their hearts. Let us not be dismayed in the ways of nonbelievers, the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many voices, and He can quiet the rage of the people. God bless.
Monday, December 26, 2016
In Corinth, Paul had found Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who were tentmakers. As Paul continued to testify about Jesus, the Jews would not believe themselves, and did all they could to keep others from believing in Paul's message. But, when some oppose the gospel, Paul turned to others. The Lord knows those that are His, and those that shall be His, for it is by the work of the Holy Spirit upon them that they become God's people. The accusation of the Jews to Paul was that, he teaches men to worship God contrary to law. But in what manner God is to be worshipped? The Jews worshipped God according to the traditional teachings of the rabbis. The Christians worshipped God according to the teachings of Jesus using His name. Then Apollos appeared to Ephesus to preach the word, only that his message was not 'full-gospel', for he knew only the baptism of John the Baptist. Yet he was humble, so that when Aquila and Priscilla explained to him the way of God through Jesus Christ, he didn't resist but accept the fullness of the gospel. Let us follow the spirit of Apollos, though he knew many things, yet willing to learn new things. God bless.
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Thessalonica and Berea were Greek cities, located in northern part of modern Greece. The Bible said that the Bereans were more receptive and fair-minded, because they applied seriously to the study of the word preached unto them. As Paul walked in Athens, he encountered various types of people, men of learning, philosophers who spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new things (v21). They worshiped false gods, the true God was unknown to them, and they heard new and different doctrine contrary to their belief; Christ and resurrection. As Paul preached, he said that the Unknown God whom they worshipped, is the One he is telling them about (v23). God is giving all men a chance to repent for their sins; idolatry and immorality, because He has appointed a day on which God will judge the world in righteousness (v31). All people are guilty, but God's forgiveness has appeared to all. Like Paul, the way of preaching, whatever matter is used, all discourses must lead to Christ and the salvation He has offered. Jesus is always the reason for all seasons. God bless.
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Friday, December 23, 2016
Timothy became part of the mission team, and Paul delivered to the church in Lystra and Iconium the four decrees to keep which were determined by the leaders at the Council of Jerusalem. Obeying this decree and the rules of God in the Bible set up a spiritual way of serving God, as suited to the nature both of God and man. Thus the church increased in numbers daily. In doing mission, missionaries must be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit if the place is open for mission, and the people's heart are receptive; in this case, God had forbidden them to enter Bithynia and Mysia. Instead God gave them a vision to go to Macedonia, the first European mission work. Here, they met a business woman, Lydia, who later became their contact in planting a church. Again, opposition arose, and put Paul and Silas into prison to stop the work of God. But who can hinder the work of God? When He opens the door, no one can close; and what He closes, no one can open. While in prison, God had shaken the foundation of the cell, and as a result, the guard and his family had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Indeed, in everything there is a reason! Jesus is always the reason for all seasons. God bless.
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Thursday, December 22, 2016
The Jerusalem Council gave us story that in the early period of Christianity, some Pharisees had believed in the Lord, however, their belief was different from the apostles' teaching; "Unless they are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, they cannot be saved" (v1). Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James the brother of the Lord and head of the church were all in one accord that salvation is not by obeying the law of Moses but by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Both Jews and Gentiles received the Holy Spirit after believing in Christ, not by obeying the custom of Moses (v8-9). But four things should be considered by all believers; avoid idolatry, sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood (v20, 29). If the believers keep this things, they will do well. Also in this chapter, we saw the separation in the mission field of Paul and Barnabas, because Barnabas wanted his nephew John Mark to go with them again, which Paul rejected. Some thought that it was a painful separation, but others believed that it was an expansion of God's kingdom in other areas. Many years later, we can discover that they were still united in the same ministry. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:40 AM
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
When Paul proclaimed the word of God in Iconium, people are divided; part sided with the Jews and part with the apostles (v4), yet those who believed and accepted Christ were united with the fellow believers. Today, the world is divided, and if the church's enemies had joined to destroy it, the church's true followers shall be united for its preservation. God has a shelter for His people in time of storm, and He will be our Hiding Place forever. When Barnabas and Paul proclaimed the gospel in Lystra and confirmed by God with miracles, people began to wonder that gods have come down in the likeness of men. This shows that all men believed that there is God who created the whole world, only that they had found a false god, like this story. And for that reason, God has chosen a group of people that will proclaim about Him, for He did not leave Himself without witness (v17). Though it is not simple to live a holy life in this wicked world, and we must count upon more tribulation, but it is encouragement that we shall not be lost and perish in our sufferings. God bless.
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016
This story tells us the reality in mission. Barnabas and Paul were appointed by God to do missionary works in other parts of Mediterranean world; Cyprus and the modern day Turkey. Mission work is appointment from the Holy Spirit, not men's initiative, but with prayers and fasting. They took John Mark, to assist them in the works of the ministry. As they preached the word, they encountered different kinds of people, rich and poor, including those that opposed God's message, but the hand of the Lord was upon them. In the middle of the mission works, John Mark had decided to leave them for some reasons and return to Jerusalem (v13). But Barnabas and Paul continued to invade many places. Paul was firm in his message; from Abraham to Moses, from Judges to David, he explained that God's promise of redemption has been realized when Jesus, who came from the line of David, was taken to the tree, put to death, and laid in the tomb (v29). The real thing was, people were divided, some agreed others rejected. The Bible declares that those who believe had been appointed by God to eternal life. Let us continue to pray for our transformation and commitment not into this world, but in the world to come. God bless.
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Monday, December 19, 2016
James the brother of John was killed by Herod, thus finishing his course, and the opponents of Christianity were happy about this. Then he took Peter next on line and put him in prison. But constant prayer by the church were offered to God for him (v5). Thank God for our prayer warriors and intercessors who offered prayers to God for our protection and provision. While in prison, the angel of the Lord appeared to Peter, and released him from imprisonment. When God works for salvation of His people, all difficulties in their way will be overcome, even gates of iron can be opened of their own accord. This is a picture of our personal and spiritual salvation in Christ; liberty from spiritual chain of Satan, and release out of the prison-house of darkness. Christianity is indeed a religion of miracles, for without such we are still in bondage of old self; independent, inconsistent, self-righteous, and rebellious spirit. Persecutions shall come and go, and the Herod families were enemies of baby Jesus and the infant church, but they are now in hell. Let us remind ourselves that life on earth is temporary, God is not interested in our knowledge and ability, but in the attitude of our hearts. God bless.
In those days, Jews didn't want to mingle with the non-Jews, so that when Peter went to Cornelius' house, a Gentile by blood, and preached the gospel there, the Jews reacted negatively. However, when he explained that salvation is not exclusive to the Israelites, and that the Gentiles even received the Holy Spirit as they did in the past, all church members were amazed and praised the Lord. "If God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" (V17). Afterward, the church sent Barnabas to Antioch to encourage the fellow believers. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, in order to disciple and bring him in on the ministry. Barnabas was a good brother, full of the Holy Spirt and sincere man of God who always encouraged his fellow-believer in the service of God. May we be men and women of encouragement to our church, ministries and community. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 8:04 AM
Friday, December 16, 2016
God shows no partiality; Jews and Gentiles are welcome to His kingdom if they are true and sincere. If a person fears God's rule in the heart, it will appear both in works and in words, neither will excuse from the other. Cornelius had true faith in God's word, as far as he understood it, though not as yet clear faith in Christ. This was the work of the Spirit of God, through the mediation of Jesus, even before Cornelius knew him, as is the case with us all when we, who before were dead in sin, are made alive. Through Christ also his prayers and alms were accepted, which otherwise would have been rejected. Without dispute or delay Cornelius was obedient to the heavenly vision. In the affairs of our souls, let us not lose time. Peter was God's instrument to convey His message to Cornelius.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 5:42 AM
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Saul had decided to do all he could against the name of Christ, thinking that he did it for the service of God. He was faithful to his own belief and tradition, a belief that is erroneous and dangerous to his own salvation. On the way to Damascus, a light from heaven appeared to him, and the voice of the Lord called his name. Saul submitted to Christ without reservation, desirous to know what would have Him to do. For three days he was blind, and Ananias came to pray over and get him baptized. Literally and spiritually, Saul saw the kingdom of God for the first time, and became member of the family of God. Indeed, it requires miracle for a person to be born in God's kingdom, for without such, a man shall be blind and lost forever. Then he began to preach Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, but oppositions plotted to kill him; a normal device of satan against new plan of God. As he moved back to Jerusalem, Barnabas welcomed him and took him to the brethren. Miracle is the main plot of this chapter, as Saul, the paralyzed man and Dorcas had all received God's miraculous work in their lives. We too are recipients of this miracle from the Lord. God sent His Holy Spirit in our lives that we may know Jesus and receive His everlasting life. God bless.
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Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Because of persecution, the disciples were scattered in many places, and they took this situation as opportunity to preach the gospel. Philip went to Samaria to preach the name of Christ with signs and wonders, and the people believed in his message, including Simon the sorcerer. Samaria was known for magic and divination at the time, so that when Jesus performed miracles in Judea, the Pharisees accused Him of being a Samaritan with demon (John 8:48). So the people in Samaria were convinced that it was God, and not men, who gave them the Holy Spirit by believing in Christ, and this power can not be bought for a price. Today, many people and churches (fake Christians of course), used the Bible to gain more wealth and worldly power. Then the Lord led Philip to share the message to an Ethiopian eunuch who was hungry for the word. Upon hearing the gospel, the eunuch believed and got baptized. Immediately, the Spirit of God took Philip, so that he saw him no more. Tradition said that this eunuch had started Christianity in Ethiopia. We too can be God's instrument to begin Christian faith in the heart of people. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 8:34 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Stephen had a chance to preach at the presence of the council of Israel, and he started his message from Abraham's calling, then Joseph's famine in Egypt, and Moses' deliverance of the Israelites. He also said that Joseph made himself known to this brethren on their second meeting, which could be similar to the second appearance of Jesus in this world. For Stephen, the Israelites had a nature of rejecting God's prophets in the past, and their rejection of Jesus is not surprising. He also declared that God does not dwell in temples made with hands because His throne in heaven is incomparable to anything in this world, therefore don't focus so much on earthly things. Finally, he said that the Jews on his time were stubborn, stiff-necked people and uncircumcised in heart and ears (v51), similar to many people in our time. The consequence of his preaching was deadly, but Stephen saw Jesus standing in heaven looking at his works on earth. It shows that as we serve God, the Lord knows what is happening in our ministries, and nothing shall be overlooked. God bless.
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Monday, December 12, 2016
As the church of Jesus Christ grew in numbers, the leaders began to encounter problems in some areas of care ministries. The leaders and the entire church had decided to appoint deacons (servants) who will serve church members in food distribution, however, the senior leaders should never neglect the importance of prayers and teaching of the word of God. The deacons and all workers of the church must be filled with gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, necessary to rightly managing this trust, men of truth, and hating covetousness. This shows that church workers ought to be of good reputation, obedient, and full of Holy Spirit and wisdom. Stephen, who was one of the deacons did great wonders and signs among the people, preaching and teaching the name of the Lord. As expected, oppositions arose to twist the teachings of God. Yet the true servants of the Lord shall never be moved, shall always be faithful in the midst of danger and death. May the Lord grant us the boldness to share the word of God faithfully. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:24 AM
Saturday, December 10, 2016
In the previous story, the works of the enemies came from the outside, but in this chapter we can see that the work of the enemies was from within. Satan could use even the faithful members of the church to distort the truth and confuse people, like what happened to the couple Ananias and Sapphira. They sold their land with good profit, donated the money to the church, but they took up kickback. It shows that some Christians fell because of money, and nothing can be hidden in the eyes of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their dishonesty, God took their lives right away so that the evil inside the church should be stamped out. Fear came upon the church, but Peter and the apostles continued to preach the word in the temple, in the streets, in houses, and in all places, so that no one can stop the spread of the word. People may stop serving God, but there are faithful Christian that will continue to do their assignments. As Gamaliel said, "if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it, you will only find yourself fighting against God" (v39). Let us not stop doing God's work, He is always faithful, even some are not. God bless.
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Friday, December 9, 2016
When the apostles began to preach the resurrection of Christ, and many were converted in His name (5,000), oppositions began to emerge. This pattern can be seen in all godly ministries, that the enemies of the Lord's kingdom will do their best to stop God's plan right there from the beginning. If we are not be aware of this, we shall be one of the victims of the spiritual power of darkness. Peter and John were forbidden to speak the word of Christ, however, they told the religious leaders that they rather obey God than men. In the midst of antagonism, all believers in Christ prayed together and lifted up their voices unto God to give them more grace and boldness to speak and spread the word of God. Indeed no one can stop the works of the Living God! The early believers loved one another, with evident fruits of grace in all they said and did. They were dead in this world, but alive in the kingdom of God. Then God gave them a new brother, Barnabas, whose intent was to bless and encourage the fellow believers in Christ. Thanks God for giving us more brethren in our church who always comfort us with the comfort that we need. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:41 AM
Thursday, December 8, 2016
The apostles continued their gathering in houses with small groups, but never neglected the importance of temple worship with a larger group. And being led by Divine direction, Peter and John used the name of Jesus not only to spread the Word, but to continue the healing ministry through His name. The crippled man was healed upon hearing the name of the Jesus, and Peter used this opportunity to speak and invite people to repent and accept Him as Lord and Savior of their lives. Peter boldly declared that they denied and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead. Nevertheless, it was done out of ignorance by the people including their rulers, as foretold by the prophets. The Messiah must be in heaven for a certain period, then He will return until the time of restoration of all things (v21). The importance of repentance is that their sins may be blotted out, and that they may share in the refreshment of the souls through the loving kindness of Christ. Anyone who shall ignore the message of Christ shall reap the consequence of disobedience, but those who will believe in His name shall be forgiven and be with Him forever. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:26 AM
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
In the gospels, we can see the strifes among the disciples of Jesus who would be the greatest. But after the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all these strifes were at an end. The true followers of Christ has no intention to be great in the eyes of men, but their intention is to do what God intends them to do. They experienced the coming of the mighty wind with great force, signifying the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They were filled with the gifts of the Spirit, for the furtherance of the gospel. They spoke a new language, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This is the authority that God gave them in this world. Indeed the kingdom of God had inaugurated with spiritual power that started from within. Some people mocked them, but Peter stood and proclaimed that this is the fulfillment of ancient prophetic book of Joel, urging them to repent and believe in Christ Jesus. As a result, the members of the newly established church continued steadfastly in five most important things; apostles doctrines, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayers, and witnessing. Since we are members of the kingdom, let us not neglect these five basic ingredients of the kingdom of God. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:28 AM
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
The book of Acts is the link between the gospels and the epistles. Without knowing this book, we will not understand what really happened to the disciples after the ascension of the Lord to heaven, and what are those epistles written to the churches. At the beginning, the disciples asked Jesus about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, yet the Lord did not answer them clearly, but told them the work they were to do. And in order to accomplish this work, they shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon them, and they shall be witnesses of Christ's work from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. After Jesus ascended to heaven, two men in white robe spoke to them saying that someday Jesus will return from heaven in the same way they saw Him go (v11). It means Jesus will return again bodily, and we must always be ready. Since then, the followers of Jesus continued to speak the word and the greatest things they had attested was the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the proof that He was indeed the Messiah, and the foundation of our hope in this world and in the world to come. Glory to God.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:19 AM
Monday, December 5, 2016
We exist because of the Lord, Peter was able to return to the ministry because of the Lord, the church grew because of the Lord, and in all and all, it is only because of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this passage, it shows that it is good for the followers of Christ to be together in common conversation and common goal. Jesus had provision ready to them, and we may be comforted at His care and words. Peter humbly appealed to Christ because of the past sins, and the Lord, as knowing all things even the secrets of his heart, graciously bless and encourage him to go back and feed His lamb. The sincerity of our love to God will be brought to the test, to examine and prove us (all believers, young and old in Christ), whether we are able to stand this test. From Adam to present, God continued to change His people's way by means of testing. And praised be to God, we belong to that small group in our generation. At the end of Peter and the Lord's conversation, they spoke about death in order to prepare the hearts of men for their eternity with Christ. May the Lord bless us and enlarge our faith for all of His plans even today and forevermore. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 7:18 AM
The resurrection of the Lord is the greatest miracle that ever happened in the entire Bible, changing the evil system of the whole world. There were holy witnesses in this momentous event, that resulted to the spread of this good news from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Today, we are the beneficiaries of Christ's resurrection when God gave us new life and Spirit with the forgiveness of our sins. Though some doubted this truth like Thomas, nevertheless, hope will be here as long as we live. We praise God for allowing this gospel to be written so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing we may have life in His name. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 6:07 AM
The religious leaders had crucified Jesus because of their law that anyone who should make himself equal with God must die. Facing Pilate, Jesus told him that all authority in this world comes from God alone, and nothing could be done unless it was allowed by God, even His own death. Therefore, the death of Christ was orchestrated by God for the salvation of all humanity. Pilate put a piece of wood on top of the cross, JESUS OF NAZARETH KING OF THE JEWS; this is the crime that had been committed by the criminal. When Jesus said, "It is finished," it means the works of Satan is over. Then He said, "I thirst!" It means he is thirsty for the souls of men. May the Lord empower us to know and obey His will for His glory. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 6:06 AM
Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by Roman soldiers as ordered by the Religious Leaders. In the synoptic gospels, only Peter followed Jesus, but here, the other disciple whose name was concealed was also with Peter. However, Peter also fled later after denying Jesus three times. Jesus stood first with Annas the high priest, then to Caiaphas, finally to Pilate. Here, the Lord revealed to Pilate that His kingdom is not in this world, but a kingdom far better. He has no desire to set up a literal kingdom, but His goal is to reign in the hearts of men. Let us allow Jesus to control our lives and be the Lord of our souls. God bless.
Posted by Christian New Yorker at 6:05 AM