Thursday, September 30, 2021

Contentment The Learned Virtue

 Thursday, September 30, 2021 Some material taken from Contentment The Learned Virtue

I don't say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

The Secret Of True Contentment

Paul, the apostle, said in Philippians 4:11: I don't say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Those are beautiful words, until you are the one in bad circumstances trying to mutter them in between desperate prayers for God to help you. It is easy to say we are content no matter what happens as long as nothing is happening. But then what do we do when the hard stuff hits? Where do we draw strength from? The strength we draw from will help us to be content no matter what is happening in our lives. 

Contentment is not happiness. Contentment does not mean everything is going our way. Contentment is the peace we feel when we accept that we have no control and we leave it in Jesus' hands. Contentment is trust because we know He is in control. Contentment is calm in the middle of the storm - the ability to rest in Him, no matter what is happening around us. 

Paul said in verse twelve that he had learned the secret, drawing upon the language of pagan religions of his time. They used the phrase, "Learned the secret," to gain entry into their religions, and religious organizations that promised salvation through secret knowledge and ritals. Why would Paul describe his Christian experience in the language of pagan religions? 

Verse 13 explains everything. This is the mystery into which Paul has been initiated – the secret he has learned: I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  Paul gladly and eagerly gives away the secret, unlike the ones who are partaking in the pagan religions and keeping the secret knowledge and rituals. 

Paul is talking about Jesus. That is the secret of contentment. Jesus, through the presence of His Spirit, makes Paul strong. Christ and Christ alone gives Paul the strength to do all things, and the same is true for you and me. 

Not only does Jesus give us the strength to do what we need to do, He gives us the strength to endure what we need to endure. That is the true secret of contentment. Enduring what we have to endure is hard and can steal all the joy out of our hearts if we have the wrong attitude. The strength we draw from Jesus gives us everything we need – everything that brings contentment, and eveything that helps us endure. We can be wholly reliant upon Jesus for everything. 

Trust Him with your circumstances. Trust Him in the midst of the storm. Rest in Him and know that He is more than capable to handle our trials for us while we can find peace in His presence. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Tethered In Trust

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV

Tethered In Trust

We am tired.  We fill our lives with way too many activities and commitments - even good, worthwhile commitments.  We have this urgency to grab every good opportunity that presents itself.  We want our kids to have every possible experience and we want to be a part of every available group. 
One thing that makes us so tired is that we work extra hard at holding on as long as we can to all the worry, stress, and tension that we should be letting go of and letting God handle. We are putting way too much effort into not trusting God and letting it go as we should.  

Author and speaker Jennie Allen said “Take comfort.  This is a journey that God put into motion, and He knows us well enough to know that He needs to tether us to Himself with the unknowns.  We get all independent with what we think we know.” It is exhausting to try to own all of that responsibility but it is even more tiring to try to juggle and hold onto everything we have no control over.  God does it so much better and He wants it!  He wants us to give it all to Him and rest in His ability and power to cover everything.  Rest eludes us when we hesitate to trust in God with our whole lives like we should.  This results in us being tense and stressed and worried much of the time.

Not knowing what the future holds can cause us to worry, but it is part of the plan.  God does not want to give us too much information because then we think we can handle this all by ourselves.  We think we know, so why do we need to trust Him?  We run away the first chance we get so we can do it our way. 

I have seen many little children tethered to their parents with a “leash” of sorts.  The kids hate them, but the purpose is for their safety.  That is part of the reason God tethers us to Him with all the unknowns.  It is for our own safety and good. I dislike it at times, but then again when I think about it the way Jennie Allen put it, it brings me comfort. There is security in knowing that I am tied to God, even if it is with unknowns. 

The Bible tells us Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV   We have to let God handle it or we wear ourselves out.  He has us and that is where the safety and rest lie.  He is the only one true safe place.  He knows better than we do and He loves us.   When we do this, the reward is almost immediate.  We may still be tethered by the unknowns, but we understand and can appreciate the tethers. The stress level decreases and the worries subside.  Let's put it in God’s hands where it belongs and rest in being tethered to the one who is in control. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Five Purposes For Which We Were Created

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Some material taken from You Were Made For Mission

In the same way that you gave Me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. John 17:18

Exactly why did God create us? Once we are his, God uses us to reach others for these five purposes.  He saves us and then sends us out. The Bible says, we have been sent to “speak for Christ."  We are the messengers of God’s love and purposes to the world.  

The Five Purposes For Which We Were Created: 

To Love Him (Worship) – When we worship God, we are glorifying Him and giving Him praise. He deserves our praises. Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.- Revelation 4:11 Our worship to God is a testimony to our love for Him and gratefulness for what He has done and who He is. 

To Be A Part Of His Family (Relationship) – One reason God created us was for His pleasure. We were not created to entertain Him, but to bring pleasure to Him by having a genuine relationship with Him. When we have a genuine relationship with Him, it will be evident in all our other relationships. We cannot love others like we should until we know God’s love for us. We are also a part of the Family of God - brothers and sisters in Christ. We need the fellowship and encouragement of other believers. 

To Become Like Him (Transformed into the image of His Son) - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 When we spend time with Christ, in His word and in prayer, we are transformed in His likeness. As we are transformed, we reflect His love and radiance to those around us, and this is part of His plan.  

To Serve Him (Ministry) - We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 Part of belonging to Christ is being avaliable to serve wherever He leads us to serve. He has gifted each of us in a special way, for a special purpose and He leads us in those directions. He softens our hearts and if we are open to His callings, we will not be able to ignore them. 

To Tell Others About Him  (Missions) - The challenge is for us to tell as much as we can for the world to believe. People are in our lives for a reason. If you personally know someone who does not know Christ, it is your responsibility as a believer to make sure they know who He is and what He has done for them. Second Corinthians 5:20 says that we have the privilege of being “Christ’s ambassadors.” We have the privilege to represent the King of Kings to the people in our lives -to our friends, family, and neighbors— as well others all over the world. That’s the opportunity we have as we tell others about Jesus!



Monday, September 27, 2021

The Purpose You Are Searching For

Monday, September 27, 2021 Some material taken from You Were Made For Mission

That I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 NASB

The Purpose You Are Searching For

Have you ever struggled with what your purpose is in life? This may be the question we struggle with the most in life – and usually more than once. Our purposes shift with the seasons of our lives. When we have a young family, our purpose is leading that family, meeting their needs, protecting them, teaching them, etc… While we fulill other purposes at the same time, that is our primary purpose in that particular season. 

No matter what season we are in, there is one purpose for our lives that never shifts or changes. I heard someone say at a Bible study I was attending recently that if we are still here on earth, there is only one reason – to lead others to Christ. Even in the different seasons of our lives, our purposes all circle back to our primary purpose: leading others to Jesus – our children and other family members, our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors – it is all meant to be about Him and His gospel. He should be magnified in every area, in every aspect of our lives, and in every season.  

God is at work in the world, and He wants us to join Him. This is our mission, and it is different from ministry. Ministry is our service to believers in the Body of Christ, while our mission is service and witness to unbelievers in the world. God created us for both – all of us. Our life mission is both shared and specific. One part of it is a responsibility we share with every other Christian, and the other is an assignment that is unique and specific to each one of us.

Our Mission is Directly Connected to Our Purpose 

The English word "mission" comes from the Latin word for "sending." Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." John 20:21 This does not mean that everyone is meant to go overseas as a missionary. It means that we are all to have a missionary mindset where we are – in whatever season – in whatever setting. That means in our families and in our neighborhoods and at work we are magnifying Christ in our lives and sharing the love of God and His Gospel, with EVERYONE around us. Remember – the people we really don’t want to be around might need the gospel the most, and no one is in your life by accident. This is the hardest part of our purpose to accept. 

This world only seems to be getting worse. It seems like more and more are blinded to the good news and drawn to Satan. Our time feels like it is running out so we should all be more dilligent about our mission in Chirst. 

Jesus gave us this mission five times, in five different ways, and in five different books in the Bible. It is important. It is time we took it seriously. This is something God has entursted us with, not to be for our own glory, but for His alone. …but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 
1 Thessalonians 2:4

God wants to redeem human beings from Satan and reconcile them to himself – the very way He redeemed us. He saves us and then sends us out so we can help those who are still lost and need to be reconciled. We who are saved know this great grace and mercy we have been given. We know the freedom from the bondage of sin and the relief of our debt being paid. We know the assurance of eternal life. These are the things – our testimony, and the story of salvation – that we need to be sharing with others.  

Jesus said, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Good Word

Friday, September 24, 2021

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.  Proverbs 16:24

A Good Word

Obviously, we humans have a hard time with our mouths evidenced by the thousands of self-help books written about the words we speak.  God gave us some good advice also in the many scriptures about the power of the tongue.  We study a lot about controlling our tongues and not saying things we shouldn’t.  We need to focus more on the things we should say. 
Sometimes a good word changes everything.  A kind word of affirmation can actually change a person’s whole day.  God does lay people and words on our hearts that are meant to be shared, and if that happens, then the chances are very good that the person needs a good word. Many times, I have had people tell me they prayed for me that very morning, or they have been thinking about me, and it comes at a time when I need some extra prayer or affirmation. We don’t always act on these prodding’s because we are so wrapped up in our busy worlds.  If the Lord lays someone on your heart, don’t ignore it.  
Like the verse above says, gracious words are like sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.  Healing, sweet, and so needed in this world today.  There are not enough gracious words being said. Somebody you know, someone you may come in contact with today, someone needs the sweetness and healing you can provide.  Someone needs a gracious word from you today.  
Scripture to Claim:
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.  Proverbs 25:11

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Persevering is Believing

Thursday, September 23, 2021 Some material taken from Preparation Precedes Blessing

Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you, and you will be clean. II Kings 5:10

Persevering is Believing

This week we have been looking at II Kings and some stories of great displays of faith. The people in these stories had to act on their faith before God had delivered the promise. That is what faith is. It is believing – and often action that proves it – in what has not been delivered yet. Things unseen. If we have a real and true relationship with Him, then we will trust Him. Completely. 

The display of faith in todays scripture is about a sick man needing healing. Naaman was the commander of the Syrian army so he was respected and honorable – but he had leprosy, an incurable disease that would result in death. Naaman’s wife had a servant girl who knew of the prophet Elisha. She told Naaman’s wife of Elisha and that he could heal his leprosy. 

Long story short, Naaman acted on the faith testimony of the little girl and ended up at Elisha’s house, asking for healing. That is where we come into the scripture today. Elisha sent his messenger to the door to tell Naaman what to do. 

Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.

What happens next is what happens to us sometimes when God does not fix our problems like we think He should fix them: 

But Naaman was furious and went away, and he said, Behold, I thought, He will certainly come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God and wave his hand over the site and cure the leprosy. II Kings 5:11

Like we also do many times when we ask God for something, Naaman had an idea in his mind of how this was all going to work. He had anticipated a way God would work, and he was offended when God didn’t work the way he expected.

He turned and went away in a rage. II Kings 5:12b

Our expectations can cause us to miss the preparation God has for us to do for a blessing – or to miss the blessing all together. Naaman’s expectations were not met so he stormed away unsatisfied with Elisha’s answer. He would find a river on his own if that was all that was required. Thankfully for Naaman, his servants were able to calm him down and help him to think rationally. 

Then his servants approached and spoke to him, saying, My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, Wash, and be clean? So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, in accordance with the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. II Kings 5:13-14

Naaman was looking for something big, maybe an extravagant display, or “some great thing,” and because it didn’t happen according to his expectations, he wasn’t even willing to do the simple thing that was required. This is another way we can miss God’s blessing. We often try to make it so much harder than it is. God just asks for us to believe – which I say tongue in cheek - because believing is always much harder than “doing” something. Especially when it takes a lot longer than dipping in the river seven times. God will do the work, when we believe and do the preparation.

The persistency of a person displays the quality of belief in who it is that will provide.

The greatest display of faith is often the one that no one else sees. It is in our hearts - not in the field digging, not gathering jars from neighbors, or even dipping in the river. It sometimes lasts a long time and if we don’t persevere, we can end up giving up. But the longer we persevere, the more our faith in God will begin to be evident to those around us. He will be magnified in our display of faith.

It is our human nature to give up hope when we wait for so long for something to come but it doesn’t come. Our faith in God cannot be conditional. It doesn’t work if we only believe when we see results  - the results we expect and in the way we expect. Belief - faith - has to come first. It doesn’t work if we get mad and storm off in a rage because God didn’t meet our expectations. 

How many trenches have you dug? How many jars have you collected? How long have you been waiting on the blessing to come? So long that you don’t believe anymore? Keep digging, dipping, and gathering. God is true to His promises and faithful. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

As Long As We Believe

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Then he said, Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full. II Kings 4:3-4

As Long As We Believe

This scripture holds the story of a woman who was the widow of one of the Sons of the Prophets. The Sons of the Prophets was a group mentioned usually in association with the Prophet Elisha’s ministry. They were likely leaders at this time who were devoted to God and served Him. 

This widow had debt and no way to pay. Because of the legal system in Israel, she could not declare bankruptcy, so she had to give her sons over as servants to her creditor to pay her debts. The Mosaic Law allowed for a creditor to enslave a debtor and their children to work off a debt. How awful that must have felt to that mother. 

The widow called out to Elisha asking him to help her. Elisha asked her what she had, and the lady said nothing but a jar of oil. This was probably a small jar of oil for anointing, rather than a large jar of oil for cooking – so not much oil at all. Elisha told her to go borrow jars from her neighbors, a lot of jars. This kind of behavior likely made her neighbors think she had gone off the deep end. They were sure to ask questions – why on earth would she need THIS many jars? She didn’t care, because she did it in faith. She trusted the word of God through the prophet, and she was desperate to see the promise fulfilled. Sometimes we have to be desperate to be spurred into action. 

Elisha told the woman to take what she had – one jar of oil – and pour that out into the borrowed vessels. As she did this, the oil miraculously kept pouring from her small jar until all the borrowed jars were filled. When she was done, she had so much oil! Like the story of the armies in chapter 3 who dug the trenches when there was no rain in sight, she gathered jars trusting the promise that God would fulfill His promise. She had to step out in faith. She had to do the thing that did not make sense to anyone else. 

This is the picture of God's provision for our debts. Note that there was enough in the pouring jar to fill to the level of the faith of the woman. As long as she continued to pour, for as long as she had empty jars, the oil kept coming. As long as we trust and believe completely in God to fulfill His promises in our lives, He will. It may not be the way we want Him to do it, but it will be the very best way – the way that is the best for us. 

You think your life is irreparable? God is in the business of big answers. He likes to come through in impossible situations because He is glorified, and the testimony of faith is great. What are you calling out about? What debt? Are you collecting jars because you believe wholeheartedly in His promises? Maybe it is time to do something that no one understands because you are so tired of living under the pressure of the debts. It is there for us when our faith vision is ready to engage and respond. 

You have God in the measure in which you desire Him. Only remember that the desire that brings God must be more than a feeble, fleeting wish. Wishing is one thing; willing is quite another. Lazily wishing and strenuously desiring are two entirely different postures of mind; the former gets nothing, and the latter gets everything, gets God, and with God all that God can bring.  (MacLaren)



Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Believing God's Promises in the Middle of A Drought

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 Some material taken from Preparation Precedes Blessing by Van Houser

He said, "Thus says the LORD, 'Make this valley full of trenches.' "For thus says the LORD, 'You shall not see wind nor shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, both you and your cattle and your beasts.   It happened in the morning about the time of offering the sacrifice, that behold, water came by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water. II Kings 3:16-17,20

Believing God's Promises in the Middle of A Drought

In II Kings chapter 3, we see the kings of Judah, Samaria, and Edom going to battle against Moab. But there was a drought. The armies had no water for their animals or themselves and they could not go on. Instead of going out and searching for water, they called on the prophet Elisha. In the scripture above, Elisha told them what God had promised – that God would supply enough water to meet all their needs – but they must dig trenches first. 

In the middle of a drought – go dig a trench. At this point, there is not even a hint of humidity in the air. It is miserable. No rain in the forecast and not a could in sight. But we know that faith is not based on what we see – it is what we cannot see, it is what we think is impossible. It is the problem with no answer; the situation with no way out; the empty bank account; the husband that walked out. For every impossible situation, God’s has many possibilities. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  

Hebrews 11:1

In the droughts in our lives, we are the dry, cracked, parched souls yearning for the quenching of the most desperate thirst. That is what it feels like when we are waiting on a miracle, or even just an ordinary blessing, or just an answer. The need for the quenching of thirst is a desperate need. When we are in the middle of the drought, everything feels impossible. But in the middle of the drought – God promised the impossible. Trusting God and having faith requires us to prepare for the blessing that seems impossible – to dig trenches in droughts. 

True faith is based on the promises of God, not what we want the outcome to be. God does not promise to meet all of our wants, but all of our needs in the way He deems best – His way and His time. When God has promised, act like it is so even when it is not so, in order that it might be so, simply because God said so.

God always wants to see that we trust Him. Part of this is just common sense and being prepared – if the rain comes and we can’t catch it, then we lose the blessing. But the other part was that God wanted them to take the step. There is always a step required – you can count on it. Just like the children of Israel had to step into the raging river to get across to the promised land – the blessing – the promise of God. 

Charles Spurgeon wrote on preparing for God’s promised blessing: 
If we expect to obtain the Holy Spirit’s blessing, we must prepare for his reception. ‘Make this valley full of trenches’ is an order which is given me this morning for the members of this church; make ready for the Holy Ghost’s power; be prepared to receive that which he is about to give; each man in his place and each woman in her sphere, make the whole of this church full of trenches for the reception of the divine water-floods

“But the most of people say, ‘Well, you know, of course, if God sends a blessing, we must then enlarge.’ Yes, that is the way of unbelief, and the road to the curse. But the way of faith and the road to the blessing is this: God has promised it – we will get ready for it; God is engaged to bless, now let us be prepared to receive the boon. Act not on the mere strength of what you have, but in expectation of that which you have asked.”  - Charles Spurgeon

God did fulfill His promise to the nations in drought – as He always does. It came by way of an intense downpour that caused a flash flood through the desert of Edom. If they had not dug the ditches, they would not have been able to collect the water from the flood. It didn’t make sense to those watching them dig trenches in a drought, but if they had not, the blessing would have passed them by. When God promises, if we obediently prepare, we will be ready for what He is sending our way. Are there trenches you need to dig in preparation for what is coming? 



Monday, September 20, 2021

Searching for the Path to Blessing

 Monday, September 20, 2021 Some material taken from Preparation Precedes Blessing by Van Houser

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Searching for the Path to Blessing

Yes, we are totally responsible for our actions in life. Many Christians think that God will bless us because of who we are, regardless of what we do. Even as Christians we cannot expect that we can live carelessly and rely on God’s forgiveness or trust that He will swoop in and rescue us and fix the mess we make in our lives. We should not sin more where grace abounds, but we because of grace, have hope. If we have to walk through the mess and suffer some consequences, He is with us.

The sovereignty of God does not always override the disobedience of men. God does have principles for living that assist us in discovering and receiving His abundance, and they are there for a reason. The process of discovering and receiving is just as important - if not more - than the discovering and receiving. Oftentimes the journey is the key, not the destination. The journey is what makes us who we are, and as hard as it may feel, pay attention to what God is doing in your heart during this time. It a very important part of the process.

Power in life is found in God's wisdom as well as His person.

When we seek truth in God’s wisdom and in a relationship with Him, it will spur us on in obedience. There is also a somewhat unstated and yet accepted concept that the obedience of the few can open the way for the blessing of the many. People are always watching Christians so we need to make sure they see us walking in faithful obedience.

Knowing God and His truth, along with obedience, is the beginning of preparation. We cannot be prepared by God if we are not obedient - in prayer, service, Bible study, by giving, by repentance, by witnessing, or whatever God leads to do to be prepared for His blessing. 

God asks us to step out in faith before He delivers. He calls us to obedience to His commands as preparation for His blessing. This is the greatest display of faith we can show to the rest of the world. A display of faith requires us to take a step in an unknown direction because we trust a known God. This is the start. This is where we step onto the fertile ground where God can begin to do a work in us. 


The man who displays faith is the man who ACTS as if God has provided 
even BEFORE God has provided ENABLING God to provide.



Sunday, September 19, 2021

Preparation Precedes Blessing

Preparation Precedes Blessing
Galatians 6:7-10

Pictures from scripture seem to teach that God blesses us individually in direct response to personal obedience to His revealed will.  There are some things we can learn from God’s interaction with man revealed through His Word.  

The sovereignty of God does not always override the disobedience of men. 

Power in life is found in God's wisdom, as well as His person.

The man who displays faith is the man who ACTS as if God has provided, even BEFORE God has provided, ENABLING God to provide.

I.  NO WATER...Until The Ditches Were Dug

·      We are a people of un-displayed faith. We speak of what God did after the reception of a blessing, rather than prior to receiving, so God won't get a bad name. 

·      True faith is based on the promises of God, not the desires of man.   

II. NO OIL...Until The Vessels Were Gathered

·      Here is the picture of God's provision for our debts.  

·      Our ability to receive is in direct proportion to our preparation

·      Stewardship is more than money; it is a lifestyle.  

·      Scarcity is often not the result of having no provision, but the wasting of what was provided.  

III. NO HEALING...Until The Leper Dipped Seven Times 

·      One question we need to ask God is not only "how" but "how long.”

·      The persistency of a person displays the quality of belief in who it is that will provide.

IV. NO HARVEST...Until The Ground Has Been Broken

·      God still does work in stages.

·      Spiritual wisdom needs the foundation of Biblical understanding.

V. NO REAPING... Without Sowing

·      You cannot sow worship and reap evangelism.

·      You cannot sow physical ritual and reap spiritual power.

VI. NO GROWING... Without Going


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