Wednesday, August 31, 2022

To Be Loved By God

 Wednesday, August 31, 2022

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1a

To Be Loved By God

What does it feel like to be loved by God? Do you ever stop and think about it? If you do, you will feel overwhelmed by the enormity of this concept. Or do you think that God could never really love you because of all your faults and failures? 

God gave His son for the redemption of a world that was full of people with faults and failures. He did not give His Son for those who are spotless and perfect because there is no such thing except Jesus Himself. He loved us so much that, in our worst condition – sinners far away from Him – He took the punishment of our sin for us. His death on the cross paid for our redemption and that is the greatest love gift ever given. He did that before we even acknowledged He existed. He did it for the good and the bad. He doesn’t love one and hate the other.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

There are those of us who cannot imagine that the love of God is for us. We see nothing but our failures when we look in the mirror (and when we don’t), and there is a continuous tape playing in our minds of all the reasons why He couldn’t love us and why we are so far out of the bounds of His grace. The real truth is that none of this is true. He wants the broken and He loves to bring beauty from the ashes of our lives. And He will do it every time if we let Him and accept it. 

As a child of God, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more. As a child of God, there nothing you can do to make God love you less.  – Van Houser

Even when we sin, we do not loose God’s affection for us. He still loves us, but sin deprives us of God’s blessingsHe also does not take away the consequences of our sin as far as the world is concerned. Jesus’ sacrifice took away the eternal consequences of our sin and gave us eternal life. But there may be some earthly consequences we still have to pay. (Like a speeding ticket or broken relationships) We can sometimes mistakenly feel that because God loves us, He will take away those earthly consequences as well. That is not true. Truth is that He loves us no matter what but He will allow us to feel the sting of our poor choices, like any good father would. 

Being loved by God also means we belong to God. We are His. He calls us His own and gives us a heavenly inheritance that is greater than any earthly amount of gold or treasure. We are His children and He will NEVER renounce His claim on our lives. We  WILL fail. There HAVE BEEN times when like the prodigal we have felt unworthy to be called His children. But when we turn to the Father, He declares before all of heaven, earth, and hell, "He’s/She’s mine!"

Because we are so loved by Him, we can have confidence to walk in faith in Him. We can know that He will never give us anything except what is very best for us. We can feed our faith by studying the Word of God. His claim on us is sovereign and nothing and no one can take that away from us ever. In His sovereignty we have victory over every battle. We have a safe place in Him whne we cannot find a safe place on earth. 

Sadly, so many never really know what it feels like to be loved by God. We have trouble accepting that He could love us and especially that He would choose to love us. His love is given to us freely and unconditionally but we have to receive it to really experience it and know what it means to be loved by Him. Accept His gift and understand completely what it is to be loved by God. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Defeating Discontentment

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret [of being content]—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

Defeating Discontentment

We will not become content by natural flow in our lives.  There are steps we must take to gain control of the discontent we experience.  We continue these steps...

1.    Remember the cross - “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain” Philippians 1:21
The cornerstone of contentment is the cross. Remember what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Because of the cross we are freed from the chains of sin. Because of the cross, our salvation is secure. Because of the cross our friendship with God is possible. Because of the cross our future in heaven is guaranteed. 

I am blessed by the cross of Christ! All else pales in comparison to His gift of righteousness and eternal life.  Keep things in perspective and contentment is yours.

2.    Let go of the past - “Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead” Philippians 3:13

We cannot hope to ever gain contentment while holding on to past failures and mistakes—others or ours. There’s a difference between ignoring past wrongs and forgetting them. Forgetting means that we work through the process of forgiving others and allow God’s forgiveness to cover us and them. 

We need to let go of such statements that begin with “I should have,” “If only,” and “If they hadn’t.” True forgiveness requires that we see the wrongs clearly, articulate them, release them to God, and then walk away from them. This process may take some time and some assistance, but without it we will never have a contented heart.

3.    Live one day at a time -  And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Here we wait on God. We need to surrender our timetable and future to him.  Discontentment is often due to not only the wrong focus but our impatience with God’s response. Living each day in the light of his love and promise means trusting Him to meet our needs today and tomorrow as well.  Faith is a large part of contentment.

4.    Find sufficiency in Jesus Christ - I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Christ has not given us unlimited strength; but we can experience contentment because we are a continual recipient of supernatural strength. 

Contentment has learned the lesson that Jesus is enough. If you know Jesus, you have a God who hears you, the power of love behind you, the Holy Spirit within you, and all of heaven ahead of you. If you have Jesus, you have grace for every sin, direction for every turn, a candle for every corner, and an anchor for every storm. You have everything you need.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

Monday, August 29, 2022

What Happens When We Fail?

 Monday, August 29, 2022 Some material taken from God? What Happened?

O God, You have rejected us. You have broken us; You have been angry; O, restore us. You have made the land quake, You have split it open; Heal its breaches, for it totters. You have made Your people experience hardship; You have given us wine to drink that makes us stagger. Psalm 60:1-3

What Happens When We Fail?

For all of us, failure is a part of life. We fail many times over the course of our lives – some small failures, and some big ones that change our lives or the lives of others around us. David was no stranger to failure. He led the armies of Israel 200 miles north of Jerusalem and while they were so far out of pocket, the army of Edom decided to attack. Since most of David’s army was so far away, the small army of Edom marched into Isreal with no resistance. And it appeared that tiny little Edom was about to conquer Isreal. 

David was a conquering king. His army had conquered the Philistines and Moab. David himself slew the giant Goliath. He was used to winning and failure was hard for him to swallow. He knew he had made the mistkes that led to this failure but he also knew that God is a God that takes our failures and turn them into good. He truly makes beauty from ashes. 

When we experience failure in our lives, the first thing we need to do is to try to figure out what we did wrong and learn from it. David realized he did two things wrong: 

He moved without God’s direction or God’s support. 

David made a decision about what he needed to do with his armies and did not pray about it first. Some may think that it is  silly to pray over every little detail of our lives, but God cares about every detail in our lives and He wants us to go to Him with it all. Every decision we make shoulbe be filtered through Him and His word, no matter how trivial we think it is. Making the wrong decision, or running ahead of God will only bring us more problems. 

God is not afraid to let us fail, and if He allows failure in our lives, it does not mean He doesn’t love us. It can be hard to wrap our head around things sometimes in regard to this. When we experience difficult circumstances, failure, or we make a wrong choice and suffer consequences, it can feel like we have been forgotten by God – or that He does not think we are worthy enough to help us. Neither one is true. He always cares about every little deatil of our lives and He never leaves our side. Even in all the bad places, He is there with us. God gives us promises and the proper path to receive them.  Doing the right thing the wrong way is doing the wrong thing.  

He forgot about his weakness – Edom.

Edom will always be there – lurking in the shadows and looking for the moment it can march into our lives uncontested. Edom stands for all the weaknesses we thought we had conquered – drugs, alcohol, pornography, spending, inappropriate relationships, or whatever it is for each of us. We all have some kind of Edom in our lives that can take us out if we don’t stay vigilant. We can never conquer these things in our own power. The only failure we ought to fear is a failure to cling to our faith in the Word of God

It reminds us of these TRUTHS:

With the shield of faith, we can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 

But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. 

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. 

We are flesh. We will fail and probably often but our true victory can be found in the Lord. He is where we defeat our Edoms and He is the One who raises us up out of the ashes of defeat to make us whole again for His kingdom and His glory. 




Sunday, August 28, 2022

God? What Happened?


God? What Happened?
Psalm 60:1-12

If you have ever felt that you had lost the presence of God in your spiritual life, you may identify with this Psalm.  It is not uncommon to have all going well when suddenly a past failure or problem strikes you down again.  Such was David’s problem.  

David had FAILED!  He had done a couple of things:

He had moved without God’s direction or God’s support.

He had not kept vigilant about a previous weakness in Edom.

David’s Problem - v.1-4

Running Ahead of God

God is not afraid of human failure.

Not everyone will fail…only those who try.

David had made a decision without consulting God. His intentions were noble, his motivation was right, but his method was wrong.

Presuming God’s Blessing

If you want to ensure failure, merely presume to live any portion of your life independent of God.

Never underestimate the nature of our enemy, and never overestimate your own spirituality.

Failing to Maintain Past Victory

Just because we win a battle does not mean we have conquered our enemy.

In our moments of defeat, we can display the banner of victory because it hangs upon the staff of truth.


Failure serves a purpose in our life: to remind us of the source of our victory.

How do we fear the Lord in the midst of failure?

A genuine confession of our failure

A declaration of dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance and victory

David’s Position - v.5-8

Loved by God

Sin deprives us of God’s blessings, but never His affection.

Belonging to God

David announces God’s claim on Israel…
The source of David’s confidence: God hath spoken in his holiness.
The sovereignty of God’s claim: mine

David announces God’s contempt for his enemies.

David’s Petition - v.9-12

He renewed his dependency.
Sin desires to defeat us but God uses it to discipline us.

He reaffirms his weakness.

He reclaims the victory.

The most common misconception about failure is that
it is final.

Friday, August 26, 2022

What Is The Shield Of Faith?

Friday, August, 26, 2022 

…in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Ephesians 6:16

What Is The Shield Of Faith?
Faith is sometimes a hard concept for us to grasp.  The definition of faith is: confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability; belief that is not based on proof.  When we talk about having faith in God, we are talking about believing that God exists; that what the Bible says is true.  After all, we have never seen God or any of the miracles played out before our eyes.  We have to choose to believe that the Bible is truth and that God is God.  Most of all we have to believe that He loves us and that we really have eternal life through Him when we trust Him as our savior, trust based on faith.  We must believe the promises He has given that He will protect us, guide us and that He is in control.  And we must ever remember that faith involves knowledge, not feeling.  God is there even when we don’t feel Him.  He will never leave us nor forsake us, that’s a promise. The Bible says it, I believe it!  Thus, the Shield of faith. 

A shield guards - While a physical shield protects us physically, faith can protect our spiritual lives even in the middle of physical trials.

A shield deflects - Satan is always hurling his fiery darts of fear, doubt and worry in our direction, but the only time they can hit us is when we let our shield of faith down—when we stop believing that God is in control; that He is working everything out for our good; that whatever happens is for the ultimate best of everyone involved, however little it seems to be that way. 

The Shield of Faith 
The Roman shield—the scutum—was not the standard "medieval-esque" shield most picture in their minds upon hearing the word. It was instead a very large, slightly curved rectangular shield featuring at its center a large metal knob (called a boss).  The scutum was an impressive line of defense. Because of its sheer size (some were three and a half feet tall and almost three feet wide), soldiers were afforded a great deal of protection from enemies. Because of its slight curve, it was able to deflect attacks without transferring the full force of the assault to the man holding the shield. Because of its boss, it was able to deflect even the more vicious blows and function in a limited offensive capacity as a means of knocking an opponent backwards.

The edges of these shields were so constructed that an entire line of soldiers could interlock shields and march into the enemy like a solid wall. This suggests that we Christians are not in the battle alone. The “faith” mentioned here is not saving faith, but rather living faith, a trust in the promises and the power of God. Faith is a defensive weapon which protects us from Satan’s fiery darts. In Paul’s day, arrows, dipped in some inflammable substance and ignited, were shot at the enemy. Satan shoots “fiery darts” at our hearts and minds: lies, blasphemous thoughts, hateful thoughts about others, doubts, and burning desires for sin. If we do not by faith quench these darts, they will light a fire within and we will disobey God. We never know when Satan will shoot a dart at us, so we must always walk by faith and use the shield of faith.

Faith acts on the great truths of God’s Word. Faith talks. Faith argues with Satan. Faith says, “I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day" (2 Timothy 1:12, NASB). That is the shield of faith. It always calls for action.  Hold strong to your shield and your faith.  Never lay them down.  By faith you can resist the devil and his “fiery darts” and he will turn tail and run.  God will be victorious. 

"He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. "You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your help makes me great. 2 Samuel 22:35-36

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Hiding In Our Shame

 Thursday, August 25, 2022

Jesus answered and said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.
John 4:13-14

Hiding In Our Shame

Most of us have heard the story of a woman who met Jesus at a well.  She was a “colorful” member of society and with her reputation she felt much shame, and perhaps even ridicule from others.  She had had five husbands and the man she was with at that time was not her husband. She has been pictured as a "woman of  ill repute" because it was pretty unheard of for a woman to be married that many times. But some scholars have suggested that that was not the case at all. It was common for a man to divorce his wife if she burned breakfast. They could divorce them for any reason. Since she had been married so many times, some think she must have been beautiful - worth it for a man to marry her even though she had been divorced so many times. Some think she may have been barren because that was also a common reason for men to divorce their wives - if they could not produce children for him.  

For whatever reason she had been divorced so many times, she was ridiculed and shamed. For this reason, she went to the well when no one else would be there – the hottest part of the day.  She never expected to meet a King, and she certainly didn’t expect Him to ask her for a drink and engage her in conversation, only to then offer her living water.

Jesus knew this woman would be there at that exact time, which is why He was there.  He was there for her – one of the lowest regarded women in the town. She had already had five husbands and was currently living with a man that was not her husband.  Why would the King of Kings go out of His way, risk His reputation, and meet her at this well during the hottest part of the day?

Meeting Jesus at the Well

Why did Jesus do this?  Why did He meet you and me at the well?  Because that is where Jesus changes lives.  Sometimes we go to the well to hide in the shame we feel, but Jesus wants to sit with us in that shame and make us feel loved and worthy and accepted. The well is where we go looking for something to save us, sustain us, fill us.  If Jesus is not at the well we go to, then we will not get the living water He gives that changes lives and satisfies for eternity.  If we go to a different well trying to find satisfaction, we will only find sand, again and again. 

He goes there to find us…

In our sin…

In our shame

He risks everything to get to us because He can bridge the gap between us and God.  He bridged the cultural and communication gap with this woman, and He didn’t care what the pious religionists of the day thought.  Her salvation, and the others that would be reached through her testimony were more important to Him. Are you willing to risk your reputation to see people’s lives changed? 

This woman and her lifestyle represent all of us. We are all sinners and until we know the freedom of salvation we live in guilt and shame, coming to the well in the hottest part of the day so no one sees us.  We are looking for the same thing she was looking for.  We are thirsty and going from one empty cistern to another, filling our souls with nothing, and dissatisfied we run even faster to the next empty cistern.
Like the woman in this story, when we finally drink from the right well, we will get the living water that will satisfy forever.  And we need to run with abandonment to others, offering them this living water that will never leave them thirsty again.  It is time to stop running from dry well to dry well, seeking something that is only found in Christ.  He is the living water that gives eternal satisfaction and life to all who drink.

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.  Jeremiah 2:13

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Breaking Chains

 Wednesday, August 24, 2022 Some material taken from The Bondage of False Guilt

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:1-2 NASB

Breaking Chains

When God looks at us, He does not see our sin, guilt, and shame. He sees our redemption, our righteousness in Him, and our immeasurable value to Him as His child. We don’t see this when we look in the mirror. We usually only see all the flaws - physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. We can find ourselves in a perpetual cycle of shame and false guilt. This is not what God had intended for His children who are made new in Him, who get a whole new identity when we become His. He sacrificed His Son on the cross so that we could live free – no bondage and no chains.

If we are to break the chain of false guilt, then we must embrace Christ's
atonement rather than our own. – Van Houser

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 Our overactive consciences and false guilt keeps us from truly embracing this and believing it is for us, not someone else. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ's atonement was for our sins, while we were in our most despicable state. His atonement was not only given to those who got their act together. It is for all of us who don’t! God knew then and He still knows today that we will never be perfect because perfect does not happen this side of heaven. Perfect is reserved for God, Jesus, and eternity. When we get to heaven we will be made whole but not before.

 Even though we hear that Salvation and atonement are gifts and there is nothing we can do to earn it, we still strive and feel relentless shame and guilt, instead of His relentless love that He intended for us. We are seeking self-atonement or striving to measure us in our own eyes.

When we strive for self-atonement, we are basically saying that Christ’s atonement for us was not enough, and we believe we need to do more to “qualify” for His love, salvation, and eternal life.

Some beliefs that are typical of seeking self-atonement are:

A belief that God will love me even more when I do enough to earn it…

My performance matters regarding my salvation…

His grace is not free, I must earn it…

My works are just as important as His finished work in me…

Isaiah 64:6 confirms that we are not capable of our own righteousness. Only someone with clean hands and a sinless life can cleanse us, redeem us, and He gives us His righteousness as His child. It is only because of Him that we are made righteous.

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6

Only God can break the chains of false guilt, shame, and every other sin. Only Christ’s atonement and what He did on the cross will give us the acceptance, love, mercy, righteousness, freedom from guilt and sin, and the inheritance we so desperately seek to earn. As with every other circumstance in life, He is the only true source of hope to be found. So hope in Him. Trust in Him. Release yourself from having to prove your worth, value, and goodness to yourself, and to a world who does not look through the lens of our Heavenly Father. You are already righteous and have unfathomable worth in His eyes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

How Satan Lures Us Into Cycles of Sin

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.  Revelation 12:10

How Satan Lures Us Into Cycles of Sin

Why do people continue to feel false guilt even though they know they are forgiven? After all, if Christ paid the penalty for our sins, why do some Christians still have an overactive conscience and continue to feel guilt so acutely?

Sin is an evil that we will have to fight our whole earthly lives – because we are human and weak. When we become a child of Christ our desire for sinful things and our fleshly tendencies do not disappear. Life would be so much easier if they would. But that is a tension that will always be a part of our lives. Even when we repent of sin the desire does not automatically go away.

I’m sorry” does not mean I did not enjoy the sin!  The problem with sin is not
that it is unenjoyable, it is that it is deadly. – Van Houser

Christians are not exempt from Satan’s deception. Satan preys on Christians and their weakness.  He makes it easy for us to get involved in something wrong and then trap us there, or at least make us think we are trapped. We may ask forgiveness and turn away from sin for a while only to find ourselves right back where we started from. Cycles of sin are so easy to get swept into and yet, just like trying to swim against the current, they are so very hard to get out of - and stay out of.

Here are some ways that Satan traps us in our sin:

·         Shame – He likes it when we are ashamed, especially when it keeps us from coming before God and asking for forgiveness and restoration.  He makes us believe that we are ruined and we can never be good enough for God to love or want or use again.  He also wants us to feel that we have no right to call on God for help or stand up to someone or say anything because we are so sinful and worth less.  All are lies from Satan!  God loves us no matter what and He forgives and hears when we call on His name, no matter where we call from.  

·         Pressure – We often feel pressure from others to do things or be something we don’t want to be. It is easy to cave into that pressure when we give hard answers or say no and then feel the backlash.  Things start to unravel, and we quickly grab the threads and start tying knots to stop it by backtracking through what we did that caused the upheaval.  Even if it was the right thing to do, we quickly do everything we can to quiet the situation and make everyone happy again.   

·         Circumstances – Our circumstances can sometimes keep us involved in cycles of sin. Change is required to stop something in our lives and go a different direction.  Sometimes it is hard to get out of these cycles without monetary help or support of family and oftentimes that is just not available.  A move, a job change that means less money, a new school for our children, all these can be reasons that may stop us in our tracks and cause us to go backward.   

All these are reasons that Satan uses to keep us where he wants us to be and where we are less useful for the kingdom of God.  He wants us to feel trapped, worthless and helpless.  You can break free with God’s help.  Stop the cycle and quit backtracking today.  Go forward in the direction God is leading and don’t look back.      

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Power of Grace

Monday, August 22, 2022

But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are. Acts 15:11

The Power of Grace
When it comes to grace, people usually go wrong in one of two ways.  We either think that we’re too far gone for it and dismiss it or we take it for granted and abuse it.  While they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum, they’re actually just two different expressions of the same problem; they both view grace as weakness.  The first group lives as if grace is too weak to rescue them and the second group lives as if grace is too weak to transform them. 

Both are wrong.  Grace isn’t weakness.  Grace is power.  It is power to save and to transform; to cover all of our sins and remove them from our lives; to get you off the hook and to get you into the zone of transformation.  Listen to Paul’s testimony: For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

I love that.  First, Paul relates with those of us who think we’re the exception to God’s grace.  If there was ever a candidate, it was Paul, not you.  Apparently, his sin wasn’t too powerful for God’s infinitely more powerful grace and neither is yours.  Paul could have lived in perpetual guilt for what he had done, or he could have taken advantage of what God had done for him.  But he didn’t and look at what he accomplished.  Grace isn’t just a cheap perfume you splash on to cover the stench of your sins; it’s the power to change your life from the inside out.  

Yes, grace is more than just divine favor; grace is power - power to save, power to live right, power to talk right, power to walk right, power to give and power to forgive.  God’s grace is the power to do anything God calls you to do in His name; power to pray and power to overcome.

We are quick to understand the need of grace for our forgiveness, for if God was not willing to offer us salvation we would have no means for securing eternal life.  But do we make the grace of God “in vain” when we ignore it as our source of power to serve and minister in His name?  We can certainly seek to please God with our righteousness but we know that is of no effect for salvation.  (Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. Titus 3:5)  Can we learn the same is true for our service?  Our feeble efforts bring God no glory.  It is His working in us that brings Him praise.  

Paul reminded the Corinthians that when we allow God to work in us we remove all temptation to pride and position.  For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD."  I Corinthians 1:26-31

We have the same options as Paul.  Embrace the power of God’s grace and imagine what you’ll become.  Ask God for His grace to power your life through those difficult places and relationships.  In the end, you will have reason to praise Him.

…so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 5:21

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