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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3360 - 10/09/17 at 05:38:21
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Judges 6:23 (KJV)
And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.


From Worms to War

It was ten-year-old Cleo’s first time fishing, and as he looked into the container of bait he seemed hesitant to get started. Finally he said to my husband, “Help me, I-S-O-W!” When my husband asked him what the problem was, Cleo responded, “I-S-O-W! I’m scared of worms!” His fear had made him unable to act.

Fear can paralyze grown men too. Gideon must’ve been afraid when the angel of the Lord came to him as he was threshing wheat in secret, hiding from his Midianite enemies (Judg. 6:11). The angel told him he had been chosen by God to lead His people in battle (vv. 12–14).

Put your faith in the living God.

Gideon’s response? “Pardon me, my lord, . . . but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (v. 15). After being assured of the Lord’s presence, Gideon still seemed fearful and asked for signs that God would use him to save Israel as He promised (vv. 36–40). And God responded to Gideon’s requests. The Israelites were successful in battle and then enjoyed peace for forty years.

We all have fears of various kinds—from worms to wars. Gideon’s story teaches us that we can be confident of this: If God asks us to do something, He’ll give us the strength and power to do it.

Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are with us.

To take the fear out of living, put your faith in the living God.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3361 - 10/10/17 at 05:11:00
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Revelation 3:2 (KJV)
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.


Wake-Up Call!

During the years when I traveled frequently and stayed in a different city every night, I always scheduled a wake-up call when I checked into a hotel. Along with a personal alarm, I needed a jangling telephone to help get me out of bed and moving in the morning.

The book of Revelation contains a spiritual wake-up call in the apostle John’s letters to the seven churches in the province of Asia. To the church in Sardis he wrote this message from Jesus Himself: “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God” (Rev. 3:1–2).

Lord, enable us to hear and respond to Your call today.

In the midst of spiritual fatigue, we may fail to notice the lethargy that creeps into our relationship with God. But the Lord tells us to “remember . . . what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent” (v. 3).

Many people find that scheduling some extra time each morning to read the Bible and talk to the Lord in prayer helps them stay spiritually alert. It’s not a job but a joy to spend time with Jesus and know that He prepares us for whatever lies ahead that day.

Lord, enable us to hear and respond to Your wake-up call today.


Spending time with Jesus is a joy!

INSIGHT

The call for the Christ-follower to be spiritually alert rings loud throughout the New Testament. To the sleepy disciples, Jesus bemoaned, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). Peter, writing from his own failure (see Luke 22:31–34), cautioned: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him” (1 Peter 5:8–9). We are reminded to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11, 13) and to stand firm with the truth of the gospel (v. 14; see 2 Tim. 3:14–17) and with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Those who have the law of God “in their hearts . . . do not slip” (Ps. 37:31). The spiritually alert “[delights] in the law of the Lord, and . . . meditates on his law day and night” (1:2). 

How has “delighting” in God’s Word helped you remain spiritually alert?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3362 - 10/11/17 at 09:13:12
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Isaiah 38:5 (KJV)
Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.


Two-Winged Sun

For five years, an ancient clay seal remained in a closet in Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology. After the seal was dug up at the foot of the southern part of Jerusalem’s old city wall, initial examination failed to establish the significance of the nearly 3,000-year-old object. But then a researcher carefully scrutinized the letters on the seal, resulting in a major discovery. The inscription, written in ancient Hebrew, reads: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah.”

At the center of the seal is a two-winged sun surrounded by two images symbolizing life. The archaeologists who discovered the seal believe that King Hezekiah began using this seal as a symbol of God’s protection after the Lord healed him from a life-threatening illness (Isa. 38:1–8). Hezekiah had been pleading with the Lord to heal him. And God heard his prayer. He also gave Hezekiah a sign that He would indeed do what He had promised, saying, “I will cause the sun’s shadow to move ten steps backward” (v. 8 nlt).

Lord, help me to believe in Your power and love, and to seek Your help always.

The facts related to this archeological artifact give us an encouraging reminder that the people in the Bible were learning, as we are, to call on the Lord who hears us when we cry out to Him for help. And even when His answers are not what we want or expect, we can rest assured that He is compassionate and He is powerful. The One who orders the movement of the sun can certainly move in our hearts.

Dear God, You are great and powerful, yet You care for me. Help me to believe in Your power and love, and to seek Your help always.

Call out to God; He is wanting to hear from you.

INSIGHT

Hezekiah, whose name means “whom Jehovah has strengthened,” was the son of Ahaz (2 Kings 18:1), one of the worst kings of ancient Judah. Hezekiah succeeded his father on the throne, reigning for twenty-nine years. Ignoring the disastrous example of his father, Hezekiah modeled himself after his great-grandfather, Uzziah. Hezekiah’s primary impact as king was in his role as a spiritual reformer. As part of this reform he destroyed the “bronze serpent” (see Num. 21:4–9). What was once a symbol of healing in Moses’s day had become an object of idolatrous worship. Hezekiah’s reign saw a season of spiritual renewal that had a profound impact on the kingdom (adapted from Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

God honored Hezekiah’s faithfulness and compassionately answered his prayer for healing. How have you seen God respond when you’ve cried out to Him?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3363 - 10/12/17 at 05:56:27
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Isaiah 40:11 (KJV)
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.


The Good Shepherd

I sat in the hospital room with my husband, waiting anxiously. Our young son was having corrective eye surgery and I felt the butterflies jostle in my stomach as I fretted and worried. I tried to pray, asking God to give me His peace. As I leafed through my Bible, I thought about Isaiah 40, so I turned to the familiar passage, wondering if anything fresh would strike me.

As I read, I caught my breath, for the words from so many years ago reminded me that the Lord “tends his flock like a shepherd” as He “gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart” (v. 11). In that moment my anxiety left me as I realized the Lord was holding us, leading us, and caring for us. That was just what I needed, Lord, I breathed silently. I felt enveloped in God’s peace during and after the surgery (which thankfully went well).

The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep.

The Lord promised His people through the prophet Isaiah that He would be their shepherd, guiding them in their daily lives and giving them comfort. We too can know His gentle tending as we tell Him our anxious thoughts and seek His love and peace. We know that He is our Good Shepherd, holding us close to His heart and carrying us in His everlasting arms.

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep. Thank You for the gift of Your sacrificial love and for the peace that passes all understanding.


The Good Shepherd cares for His sheep.

INSIGHT

Isaiah 40 starts a significant shift in the book of Isaiah, from grief and pronouncements of judgment for Israel’s sin, to a note of rock-solid comfort (v. 1), forgiveness, and healing—based entirely on God’s mercy and goodness. When the prophet wonders whether the people are too weak and fickle for this message, he is reminded that God’s restoration is not based on them, but only on God’s powerful word (v. 8).

In fact, Isaiah 40 is the first Old Testament text that explicitly articulates the theme of “good news” (v. 9) so important in the New Testament. This good news is that God’s powerful love in our lives does not depend on us. Despite our sin, we can always rely on our merciful God who will both tenderly care for us like a shepherd (v. 11) and, like a mighty warrior (v. 10), powerfully transform our lives.

In order to trust God with our deepest struggles, why do we need Him to be both tender like a shepherd and powerful like a warrior?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3364 - 10/13/17 at 05:37:58
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John 1:42 (KJV)
And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.


A New Name

In the article “Leading by Naming,” Mark Labberton wrote about the power of a name. He said: “I can still feel the impact of a musical friend who one day called me ‘musical.’ No one had ever called me that. I didn’t really play an instrument. I was no soloist. Yet . . . I instantly felt known and loved. . . . [He] noticed, validated, and appreciated something deeply true about me.”

Perhaps this is what Simon felt when Jesus renamed him. After Andrew was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, he immediately found his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41–42). Jesus peered into his soul and validated and appreciated something deeply true about Simon. Yes, Jesus saw the failure and impetuous nature that would get him into trouble. But more than that He saw the potential of Simon to become a leader in the church. Jesus named him Cephas—Aramaic for Peter—a rock (John 1:42; see Matt. 16:18).

Lord, help me to see others through Your eyes.

And so it is with us. God sees our pride, anger, and lack of love for others, but He also knows who we are in Christ. He calls us justified and reconciled (Rom. 5:9–10); forgiven, holy, and beloved (Col. 2:13; 3:12); chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14). Remember how God sees you and seek to let that define who you are.

Lord, thank You for knowing me fully, yet loving me like no other. Help me to see others through Your eyes.

No one can steal your identity in Christ.

INSIGHT

Renaming people was common in the Scriptures, for a name described something about the person. In Genesis 17:5–15 Abram is renamed Abraham. Abram, which means “exalted father,” became Abraham, “father of multitudes.” Abraham’s grandson Jacob, whose name means “heel-grabber” and “schemer,” was renamed Israel, “prince of God.” The despondent Naomi asked her neighbors to no longer call her Naomi (delightful), but Mara (bitterness) because of the hard life she had experienced (Ruth 1:20). In the New Testament, a Christ-follower named Joseph was called Barnabas by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” which perfectly captured this man’s interactions with other believers and with the church. 

What name would describe you as a follower of Christ?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3365 - 10/14/17 at 05:04:32
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Psalm 131:2 (KJV)
Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.


Held by God

As I was nearing the end of lunch with my sister and her children one afternoon, my sister told my three-year-old niece, Annica, it was time to get ready for her nap. Her face filled with alarm. “But Aunt Monica did not hold me yet today!” she objected, tears filling her eyes. My sister smiled. “Okay, she may hold you first—how long do you need?” “Five minutes,” she replied.

As I held my niece, I was grateful for how, without even trying, she constantly reminds me what it looks like to love and be loved. I think sometimes we forget that our faith journey is one of learning to experience love—God’s love—more fully than we can imagine (Eph. 3:18). When we lose that focus, we can find ourselves, like the older brother in Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, trying desperately to win God’s approval while missing out on all He has already given us (Luke 15:25–32).

Jesus, help us to be deeply rooted in Your love.

Psalm 131 is one prayer in Scripture that can help us to “become like little children” (Matt. 18:3) and to let go of the battle in our mind over what we don’t understand (Ps. 131:1). Instead, through time with Him we can return to a place of peace (v. 2), finding the hope we need (v. 3) in His love—as calm and quiet as if we were children again in our mothers’ arms (v. 2).

Lord, we are so grateful for those in our lives who remind us what it means to love and be loved. Help us to be ever more deeply rooted in Your love.

Like children, we can learn to rest in the love of God.

INSIGHT

Psalm 131, written by David, is one of fifteen “songs of ascents” (Pss.120–134). Pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem sang these songs to celebrate the annual feasts (Deut. 16:16). In this psalm, David acknowledged that there are some things about God that he just couldn’t understand (cf. Deut. 29:29; Job 42:3; Eccl. 11:5; Isa. 55:8–9; Rom. 11:33–34). But David chose not to be troubled by matters that properly belonged to God (Ps. 131:1). Instead, like a weaned, contented child enjoying the protection and provision of a mother (v.2), David simply trusted God with a childlike faith and quiet confidence. Psalm 131 is a prayer of humility (v. 1), contentment (v. 2), and hope (v. 3).

How does reflecting on the character and love of God comfort you and allow you to rest in Him?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3366 - 10/15/17 at 07:07:38
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Psalm 115:16 (KJV)
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.


Creation Care

The “big browns” are spawning in the Owyhee River—brown trout beginning their fall nesting ritual. You can see them excavating their nests in the gravelly shallows.

Wise fishermen know that fish are spawning and try not to disturb them. They avoid walking on gravel bars where they might trample the eggs, or wading upstream from the nests where they might dislodge debris that can smother them. And they don’t fish for these trout, though it’s tempting to do so as they rest near their nests.

Care for creation honors the Creator.

These precautions are part of an ethic that governs responsible fishing. But there is a deeper and a better cause.

The Scriptures stress the fact that God has given us the earth (Gen. 1:28–30). It is ours to use, but we must use it as those who love it.

I muse on the work of God’s hands: a partridge calling across a canyon, a bull elk bugling up a fight, a herd of antelope far off in the distance, a brook trout and its kaleidoscopic rose moles, a mother otter playing in a stream with her pups—I love all these things, for they have been given to me for my delight, out of my Father’s great love.

And what I love, I protect.

Heavenly Father, You have put us here to enjoy and ponder Your marvelous creation. May everything You have made remind us of Your goodness, love, and care.

Care for creation honors the Creator.

INSIGHT

God gave specific instructions on how the Israelites should treat the land He had given them (Ex. 23:10–11; Lev. 25:1–7). Just as His people were commanded to rest every seventh day, “[their] land [was] to have a year of rest” (Lev. 25:5). “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused” (Ex. 23:10–11). Modern scientists have supported the practice of periodically letting land lay fallow, allowing the land’s nutrients to be replenished and productivity rejuvenated.

Our wise Creator cares for those He created as well as the earth He has given us. How can we be better stewards of God’s creation?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3367 - 10/16/17 at 05:43:43
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Genesis 50:20 (KJV)
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.


Room 5020

Jay Bufton turned his hospital room into a lighthouse.

The fifty-two-year-old husband, father, high school teacher, and coach was dying of cancer, but his room—Room 5020—became a beacon of hope for friends, family, and hospital workers. Because of his joyful attitude and strong faith, nurses wanted to be assigned to Jay. Some even came to see him during off-hours.

We can have confidence in our good and trustworthy God!

Even as his once-athletic body was wasting away, he greeted anyone and everyone with a smile and encouragement. One friend said, “Every time I visited Jay he was upbeat, positive, and filled with hope. He was, even while looking cancer and death in the face, living out his faith.”

At Jay’s funeral, one speaker noted that Room 5020 had a special meaning. He pointed to Genesis 50:20, in which Joseph says that although his brothers sold him into slavery, God turned the tables and accomplished something good: “the saving of many lives.” Cancer invaded Jay’s life, but by recognizing God’s hand at work Jay could say that “God intended it for good.” That’s why Jay could use even the ravages of cancer as an open door to tell others about Jesus.

What a legacy of unwavering trust in our Savior even as death was knocking at the door! What a testimony of confidence in our good and trustworthy God!

Lord, difficult things come into our lives so often. Please help us to trust You enough to see that nothing is beyond Your control. Help us to tell of Your love even in the tough times.

By God’s grace, we can have our best witness in the worst of times.

INSIGHT

While Joseph’s story had a spectacularly happy ending, it did not come overnight. When Joseph became the primary character in the Genesis narrative, he was only seventeen years old (Gen. 37:2). After about ten years as a slave in the household of Potiphar (captain of the bodyguard, a high official in Pharaoh’s court), he had risen to a position of great trust, managing Potiphar’s household properties and affairs. However, after Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him, Joseph was imprisoned for two years (41:1). When he was set free and assigned the post of vice-chancellor of Egypt, he was thirty years old (41:46). But there were seven years of plenty followed by two years of famine (45:6) before he came face-to-face with his brothers. That means that from the time he was sold into slavery to the time of family reconciliation, twenty-two years had transpired!

How does the story of Joseph help you to realize there is no circumstance beyond God’s control?
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3368 - 10/17/17 at 05:40:41
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1 Thessalonians 5:19 (KJV)
Quench not the Spirit.


Invisible Influence

On a visit to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, I saw a masterpiece called The Wind. The painting showed a storm moving through a wooded area. Tall, thin trees leaned to the left. Bushes thrashed in the same direction.

In an even more powerful sense, the Holy Spirit is able to sway believers in the direction of God’s goodness and truth. If we go along with the Spirit, we can expect to become more courageous and more loving. We will also become more discerning about how to handle our desires (2 Tim. 1:7).

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 1 Thessalonians 5:24

In some situations, however, the Spirit nudges us toward spiritual growth and change, but we respond with a “no.” Continually stonewalling this conviction is what Scripture calls “quench[ing] the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Over time, things we once considered wrong appear not to be quite as bad.

When our relationship with God seems distant and disconnected, this may be because the Spirit’s conviction has been repeatedly brushed aside. The longer this goes on, the harder it is to see the root of the problem. Thankfully, we can pray and ask God to show us our sin. If we turn away from sin and recommit ourselves to Him, God will forgive us and revive the power and influence of His Spirit within us.

God, show me how I have resisted Your Holy Spirit. Help me to listen when You speak. I want to be right with You again.

Yielding to the Holy Spirit leads to right living.

INSIGHT

In Paul’s day, Thessalonica was the largest city of Macedonia with as many as 200,000 people (mainly Greeks). The city had a thriving seaport and was located on the Egnatian Way, a famous trade route built by the Romans. Paul and Silas visited this city on Paul’s second missionary journey, and while there Paul preached in its synagogues for three Sabbaths (Acts 17:1–3). During their visit, some Jews plus “a large number of God-fearing Greeks” and many prominent women were persuaded to follow Jesus (v. 4). But Paul’s stay was cut short when some jealous Jews formed a mob and started a riot (vv. 5–9). As soon as he could, Paul sent Timothy to the young church to encourage and strengthen the new believers in their faith (1 Thess. 3:1–5). Timothy returned to Paul with good news: the people were standing firm despite persecution (vv. 6–8). In response, Paul wrote First Thessalonians from Corinth to further encourage the church. His warning to not “quench the Spirit” appears in a list of final instructions he gave the Thessalonians (5:19).

Is there an area of your life where you’ve been resisting the “nudge” of the Holy Spirit?

  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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Re: A Daily Prayer for all
Reply #3369 - 10/18/17 at 05:50:47
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Isaiah 53:5 (KJV)
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.


An Encounter with Stones

After centuries of war and destruction, the modern city of Jerusalem is literally built on its own rubble. During a family visit, we walked the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Sorrow), the route tradition says Jesus followed on His way to the cross. The day was hot, so we paused for a rest and descended to the cool basement of the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. There I was intrigued by the sight of ancient pavement stones unearthed during recent construction—stones etched with games played by Roman soldiers during their idle moments.

Those particular stones, even though likely from a period later than Jesus, caused me to ponder my spiritual life at the time. Like a bored soldier passing time in idle moments, I had become complacent and uncaring toward God and others. I was deeply moved by remembering that near the place I was standing, the Lord was beaten, mocked, insulted, and abused as He took all of my failure and rebellion on Himself.

Our sin is great—God’s grace is greater.

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).

My encounter with the stones still speaks to me of Jesus’s loving grace that is greater than all my sin.

Lord Jesus, through Your great sacrifice for us, we find forgiveness, healing, and hope. Thank You that we live today and forever in Your love.

Our sin is great—God’s grace is greater.

INSIGHT

In their context, few Old Testament prophecies of Jesus look like clear predictions. For the most part, it is only by reading backward that we can see how Jesus brought fullness of meaning to words that were mysterious in their own time. Yet when read in light of Jesus, these words can now be life-changing.

Isaiah’s prophecy of the Suffering Servant is an example of this. Many in Israel believed it was their own persecuted nation that was bearing the sins of the world. Only by looking back can people like us realize that “we” were the ones who unwittingly demanded the death of our own God and Savior (Zech. 12:10–14).

As hard as it is to admit, this is the kind of grief that is for our good and comfort. This is how we can read words that were once so mysterious and see how much our God loves us.
  

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.
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