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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

How does your trust – your faith – play itself out in your gut when you are in a struggle?

Our enemy loves to play mind games with us.

Like this – does anything like this ever happen in your life?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou feel something in your body – a pain that was not there the day before.

OR

You hear something in the office that make you think a layoff is headed your way.

OR

Your son or daughter doesn’t show up and curfew has come and gone.

OR

You have an appointment you just can’t miss, or you will let a loved one down in a big way and suddenly all the traffic stops dead.

OR

… [Feel free to add your own]

AND

Your emotions start rolling like a Ferris Wheel careening down a mountain.

THEN

A voice rises up from within you:

I thought you had faith.
Where is your faith now?
Now that you are in trouble you’re afraid.
What kind of a Christian are you?
Don’t you trust God?
…[Feel free to add the accusations that rise up in you]

David had a different view of what trust looked like.

Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Psalms 62:8 NASB

We know this definition of trust, don’t we? If I say to you,

“Tell me the name of the person you most trust in this world”

Who comes to mind?

Isn’t it the one with whom you can share your inner most fears and dread, your confidant?

That was the marker of David’s trust in our Heavenly Father. And so he tells us in this Psalm.

I understand that trust and faith are not exactly synonymous, but they are closely related. I can say that where there is no trust, there is no faith.

What I want you to hear today is, when your heart loses its mind, don’t allow your feelings to tell you that you don’t have faith. Don’t stuff it all inside and pretend to be a God’s person of faith and power.

Pour out your heart to our Father. It is a demonstration of your trust, not an exposure of your lack.

When there is trouble, when you need a solution, when your heart is in turmoil, God is the One who can make a difference. Bring your needs before the His throne in time of need.

Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;

Psalms 62:8, 11 NASB

Lord, teach me to come to you in times of trouble. Teach my heart to trust in you.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

See you again soon.

Ben

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photo credit: _Hadock_ via photopin cc
photo credit: _Hadock_ via photopin cc

There is a tension in the scriptures between the moment of salvation and the ongoing work of salvation in our lives.

I understand that salvation comes at a point in time.

... that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; - Romans 10:9 NASB

But I also hear Paul exhort us:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; - Philippians 2:12 NASB

Today I was reading in John 6:

Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." - John 6:29 NASB

…and it occurred to me that this word “work” means occupation. It gives the import of continuing to do something.

My simple thought for the day is that believing is not a ‘one and done’ but something we engage in every day.

This has plenty of implications for us, and we must resist being drawn into some legalism or works based relationship with the Lord.

But it does tell me that my listening  for and hearing my Lord’s voice must be intentional and putting trust in what he tells me must be my daily endeavor. A WALK of faith is daily.

When I was young, my mom used to listen to a radio show from King’s College President, Robert A. Cook. His tag line, which I probably heard him say a thousand times in my life, was

Walk with the King today, and be a blessing.

Ben NelsonSo – there you go.

Ben

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Arm of the Lord

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed
?

Isaiah 53:1 NASB

Here we sit at the top of one of the most impressive bits of revelation in the Book.

I love where the Lord starts here.

Who will believe what I say, and who will see My strength?

Do you see that those who believe will see.

This flies in the face of rationalism. You may say seeing is believing.

The Lord says if you hope to see, you must first believe.

To those who believe, it is given to see the strong arm of the Lord revealed on their behalf.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. - John 14:16-17 NASB

The world does not see the Spirit of Truth and so cannot receive Him.

Lord, give me a heart to believe so that I can see and be saved by your strong arm. [Tweet this]

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Ben

4

Oh man – Oh man – Oh man

Check this out!

In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. - John 14:20 NASB

WHAT!

Can this be true?

I mean – I get the first one. I get  the last one. But that one in the middle is kind of blowing my mind right now.

Jesus in the Father – ok I get that.

Jesus in me – well – I have heard about that since I was a little one in Sunday School.

But Me in Jesus –

The little one in there - that' s me.

Me in Jesus?

Why would He even want that?

Later Jesus says:

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; - John 14 30 NASB

So then

I am in Jesus.

And satan has nothing in Jesus.

How then could satan have anything in me?

If I am in Jesus, and Jesus is in me, and we are both in the Father

I could not be safer in Ft. Knox (is that safe?)

So here I sit, deep inside the Father and Son with the Son and the Spirit inside me and I look out at satan and declare – "you have nothing in me! Run along!" [Tweet This]

It’s a great day.

Ben NelsonIn Jesus

Ben

Photo thanks to Wikimedia.org

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three_crosses_on_kreuzberg_mountain_bavaria_germany

We are looking at this entry in my church home’s statement of faith.

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

There are 5 words in this faith statement, which are more important than any of the definitions and questions we have been studying. They are:

“Lord Jesus Christ as Savior”

The most important thing to understand about salvation is the WHO of it.

It’s fine to understand all these doctrines and ideas, but Jesus actually answers all my questions.

Jesus – His name means Salvation.
Jesus – He is the Grace – the gift of God.
Jesus – He is the author and object of our faith.
We may be saved from sin, but we are saved to Jesus.
It is Jesus who promised never to leave me or forsake me.

Our Savior is given the title, Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s break that down.

First and foremost we must recognize Jesus as Lord. It is no mistake that Jesus is called Lord and Savior, not Savior and Lord. The church over the centuries has often turned this around to it own detriment.

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3:18 NASB

Skye Jethani, [who is among other things the Executive Editor of Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal and one of the co-hosts of a great podcast, The Phil Vischer Podcast] says the gospel in its simplest form is ‘Jesus is Lord.’

As I have said many times before, there are many forms and stages our relationship with Jesus progresses through, but we must first come to Jesus as servants. When we are called to Him, we must respond with a resounding ‘YES LORD’ in our hearts.

In fact, that might just be the best practical definition of faith. Faith is a life that said ‘yes Lord' to Jesus. [Tweet This]

Kim Josephson, who led me to faith, often proclaims, “You must make Jesus, your Master, your Lord, your King, your Boss.”

Next we see His name, Jesus, means Salvation.

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. - Matthew 1:21 NASB

God has exalted Jesus to the highest place, and set His name, Jesus, above every name that is named.

… God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:9-11 NASB

which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, - Ephesians 1:20-22 NASB

Finally, He bears the title Christ. (No, Christ was not Mary and Joseph’s last name.) Christ means anointed one. It would be the Greek word used to refer to the Jew’s Messiah. When the woman at the well saw that Jesus was looking directly into her heart she ran through the city calling:

Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ? - John 4:29 NKJV

So you see, when we say Lord Jesus Christ, we have said a mouthful.

Jesus is Lord – is He yours?
Jesus is Savior – is He yours?
Jesus is Christ – is He yours?

Will you bow your knee to this King of King and Lord of Lords?

It is the only path to Salvation – sozo.

He is the Grace of God.

A life long YES to Him is the only saving faith.

Ben NelsonThanks much for stopping in today.

See you again tomorrow.

Ben

If you missed the beginning of this series you can catch up here:

Salvation

From what do we need saving?

Grace and Faith

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[No, I'm not talking about the two lovely ladies in my home Church, Grace M. and Faith G.]

We have been looking at this entry from my church home’s statement of faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

We have been working through some questions to investigate this statement. You can look back at where we have been thus far here and here. The meat of this statement can be separated into three main topics.

1)    Salvation is a free gift, not earned or deserved.
2)    Salvation comes through faith.
3)    Salvation is secure.

Check this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

This well-known verse states that I can’t save myself. Clearly, I need a Savior.

Today, let’s take some time here and define terms.

Grace

The simplest definition I know for grace is Jesus. Perhaps you have heard the acrostic definition: G.R.A.C.E - God's riches at Christ's expense.

Grace is God’s favor expressed toward one who doesn't deserve it. To be clear here, when I say God’s favor, I am talking about that sozo we detailed on Monday. It is the abundant life Jesus promised. The grace of God is a life, saved, healed, delivered, and free, culminating in an eternity in the arms of the one who created you and loves your soul. We may or may not experience all of it here and now, but I keep pressing into that full life.

Lest I get in trouble here – there is another side of a life filled with grace. The above description is a description of the inner life of grace. From the outside, it might just look like all hell broke loose and was aimed directly at you. Paul describes his grace filled life a couple of times, and if I didn’t know what was on his insides, I would pass on abundant life, thank you very much.

It is in fact grace that gave him the ability to face that which God put before him, and grace that supplied him with the ‘equipment’ he needed to face it.

And when there is failing, or falling, or missing the mark in life, it is grace on all sides keeping us secure.

I can’t earn grace by good works.
I can’t buy grace through sacrifice.
I can’t win grace through perseverance.
I can only access grace by faith.

What is faith and how do I ‘get me some?’

Faith

To investigate faith, let’s first head to the Bible:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ... And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. - Hebrews 11:1, 6 NASB

The above two verses come from Hebrews 11. [I might need to expand my top 10 list because this one is on it for sure.] Hebrews 11 marches right through the History of faith, reminding us of those who have gone before us, and how they responded to God’s call on their life.

From these verses I understand that faith is a knowing that God exists and is involved in the lives of men and women. He wants to be sought and rewards seekers. Remember Jesus simple instructions in the Sermon on the Mount? – Ask, Seek, Knock – [Matthew 7:7] That’s what faith looks like.

We can see faith in the calling of Matthew the tax collector in Luke 5:27-28. He was at work one day, and up walks Jesus and says, “Follow Me,” and Matthew just left it all there and followed.

Faith is demonstrated when there are:

A Call
Belief
Obedience

We can see it even more clearly depicted in Peter’s water-walking experience in Matthew 14:28-29.

At the outset Peter lacked faith. So Peter asks Jesus to call him. Jesus did – “Come!” Then Peter headed right out toward Jesus.

Peter asked for a call.
Jesus called Peter to come.
Peter believed he could.
Peter obeyed the call of Jesus.

Throughout  Hebrews 11, God’s great hall of faith, you see men and women who responded to the call of God on their life.

You may have noticed that I am combining belief and obedience to come up with faith. Many would tell you that believing the right ‘religious facts’ is all that God requires. That is, in fact, one of the most dangerous things about a course like ‘Foundations.’ Folks begin to think that because they believe the right facts about God, the right creed, they are in a good place.

In our class on the second birth we talked at length about fact that Jesus’ call was to confess, repent and believe. Am I now mixing in works – obedience – with these first three?

Works of righteousness do us no good. As a matter of fact, obedience to the law for the sake of achieving some sort of ‘worthiness’ can only end in death.

Believing alone, and by that I mean having the right ideas about religion, does us no good, and again can only end in death.

Faith, saving faith, must have the three elements we see above, a call, belief, and obedience.

Since “without faith it is impossible to please God” (from Hebrews 11:6) I want to take you to one more passage to demonstrate this pattern.

Romans 10, where last time we looked at TNT – (Romans 10:9-10) actually takes us through this same process of call, believe, obey. Check it out:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

... for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!" - Romans 10:9, 13-15 NASB

You see – there must be preaching of the word, in order for people to hear the Savior call out to them – ‘Come and follow Me’ – so that they can believe and ‘Call upon the name of the Lord.’

Next we must understand that faith is not something we manufacture, it is a gift from God given to every man.

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. - Romans 12:3 NASB

Faith is a gift from God, which is given in the hearing of His word spoken to man’s heart.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. - Romans 10:17 NASB

It’s interesting to me that the Greek word for ‘word’ is not ‘logos’ but ‘rhema’ – not written word but spoken word. We must hear the voice of Jesus calling across the water, like Peter did – ‘Come.’

Are you ready to get out of the boat? C’mon – let’s go for a walk!

Thanks for coming by today.

Ben NelsonPerhaps next time I will actually get to question three.

Until then, I remain,

Your brother Ben

6

Foundations

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I am helping to teach a new class we are offering at Pascack Bible Church, my church home. We are going though the Church’s statement of faith and teaching those who are new to the faith, or new to the Church, and even those who have been in the faith for many years and want a refresher.

Foundations are so important. As Jesus said:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. - Matthew 7:24

As you can see here, foundations are not simply head knowledge, but a good foundation is actually putting into action those things that we hear. These foundational principals are so important for our transformation; I think it would do every follower of Christ good to look at these on a regular basis.

So as I prepare to teach these classes, I thought it appropriate to share here these wonderful principles with my brothers and sisters here.

Salvation

From the PBC Statement of Faith:

We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from human merit or works, and is received through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, and that believers are kept secure in Him forever. Ephesians 2:8-9; John 10:27-30; John 3:16-18, John 14:6; Acts 4:12

As we walk though our statement of faith we find great importance is placed on Salvation. This is the third week in a row we are focusing on Christ’s work, beginning with the second birth, then redemption, and today salvation. At first glance I thought these three were essentially one topic, simply expressed three different ways, but as I study them out and look at the scriptures underlying this points in our statement of faith I can see the wisdom in looking at our great salvation from these three perspectives.

Today (and this week in blog-land) I will be digging around this idea of salvation. And as with the second birth series a couple weeks back, I would like to start with a few questions that spring to mind as I look at the above statement.

1)    What is salvation?
2)    From what do we need saving?
3)    How do I get faith, if I can’t earn it and I don’t deserve it?
4)    What must I do to be saved?
5)    Can I lose my salvation?

And one bonus question

6)    Have I committed the unpardonable sin?

Today we’ll attack question 1

What is Salvation?

The word salvation and it’s verb form ‘to save’ or ‘saved’ come from one of the richest words in the biblical Greek, σῴζω, pronounced sōzō.

You might ask, ‘What makes a word rich Ben?’

I’m glad you asked. I consider this word ‘rich’ because it is used in many contexts to demonstrate its many facets. One way to understand a word’s depth when you are not a scholar, (like me, that is to say I am not) is to look at how the scholars have translated this word in various translations of the Bible. This is where great tools like blueletterbible.org and biblegateway.com are invaluable.

Let’s dive in and see how this word sozo (I will use this form for this study) is used in various contexts.

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." - Matthew 1:21 NASB

But Jesus turning and seeing her said, "Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well." At once the woman was made well. - Matthew 9:22 NASB

And Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road. - Mark 10:52 NASB

and begged Him earnestly, saying, "My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live." - Mark 5:23 NKJV

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! - 2 Timothy 4:18 NKJV

"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Acts 4:12 NKJV

This wonderful word, sozo is used in reference to salvation from sin, but it is so much more. Sozo is about saving the whole man. Yes, God’s main design in sending Jesus was to restore – sozo – our relationship with Him, to remove that which separated us from Him. But as was so aptly demonstrated in the earthly ministry of Jesus, God was also interested in restoring man to wholeness, body soul and spirit.

My focus for the rest of the week will be on God’s ultimate work of salvation in our life, but I wanted to bring out the richness of His wonderful salvation.

Probably my favorite sozo verse is

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. - Hebrews 7:25 NKJV

I love that phrase – save to the uttermost!

How great is our God!

Ben NelsonCome back tomorrow and we will pick this up again.

Thanks for coming by.

Ben

2

 

Friday I said you have to drive out the Philistines if you want to dwell in the Land of Promise.

Yes the battle is the Lords, and He supplies the weaponry, but still you have to set your self to do battle to take, and keep, the promises of God.

Let me tell you, there were philistines everywhere on Friday.

They were trying to steal my peace, kill my joy and destroy my faith.

That’s what the thief does, you know – steal, kill and destroy.

When I noticed my joy walking toward the back door, seemingly all by itself, the AH HA buzzer sounded, and I pulled out one of the weapons I was carrying.

Sometimes I carry right out in the open, but Friday, I had this weapon concealed.

I often use this weapon in the shooting range of a Sunday worship service at church, but today I needed to pull it out right in my office.

I pointed that weapon of Praise right at my Father and pulled the trigger. With the other hand (that’s right – I dual wield these babies!) I began to pray in the Spirit.

That peace did a 180 and headed back, lickity split, and the philistine ran for the hills. His two brothers dropped my joy and faith where they were standing, and followed on that little rascal’s heals.

It was a good day at the office.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

Get some target practice in this weekend!

See you soon.

Ben

15

The purpose of leading the Israelites out of Egypt wasn’t just to get them out, it was to get them in. ~ Diane Reid

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a line from a recent blog from DevoMom. You can read it here.

Yesterday I was tip-toeing around my point, but today I will just jump in.

Much of the history of Israel that is recorded for us in Holy Scripture is there as type and shadow. It is there to teach us, or prepare us for what we are living in now.

I want you to understand friends, that the land of promise is not the sweet bye and bye, but a picture of the Spirit filled life of the believer.

Moreover it is a picture of war!

This is of huge importance dear ones.

God said to Joshua

Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. - Joshua 1:3 NASB

And yet every thing they received from the hand of God, they had to contend for. And not just to get it in the first place, but to hold on to it.

The Philistines were trying to take back what Israel took from them from the day Jericho fell until the day – well – until a day that has not yet arrived.

What are you saying Ben?

I hear Christians talk about the promises of God in a totally different light.

If God wants me to have it, He will give it to me.

I thought I was healed, but I found my self with the same sickness again.

If God wanted me to be rich, He would provide a better job for me.

I am just waiting on God…

But:

God says:

I gave this land to your forefathers as a possession forever.

Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." - Acts 2:38-39 NASB

God says:

It belongs to YOU. Every step you take into the land of promise is yours.

But you must go in.

You must take it.

You must fight for it (using God’s weapons and strategies – not your own striving)

You must keep it.

You must contend.

You must not relent.

Today beloved, we take a stand.

Today brothers and sisters, we take the land.

Come Holy Spirit!

Thanks for coming by today.

Ben NelsonSee you again soon.

Until then, I remain,

your brother Ben.

Thanks to Pastor J. for the Church Photo - Check out his blog - Lillie-Put: http://josephelonlillie.com/

When I started this pondering about the Sabbath, I really thought – two or three posts – I had no idea of going 2 weeks. Monday I start Christmas I promise, and later this morning you can be looking for a quickie birth announcement, as my first grand-baby is coming this morning.

There is one last passage that I want to toss briefly into the mix. It's in Hebrews. Actually half of the third chapter and all of the fourth deal with Sabbath and entering into the rest prepared for us. We could have a lengthy Bible study on this passage, and it would be really worthwhile going verse by verse, but I do not have time here and now to dig in. Perhaps in the new year. For now – a couple key concepts.

The rest God offers is entered by faith.

For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. - Hebrews 4:2

This faith was demonstrated in obedience, or perhaps I should say lack of faith was demonstrated by disobedience.

Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, - Hebrews 4:6

There is yet a place of rest available for our entry.

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. - Hebrews 4:9

We must find this tension of living in the rest God has provided and striving for a rest yet to be entered.

Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. - Hebrews 4:11

In this letter to the Hebrew Christians, the writer exhorts them toward faith, diligence and obedience.

Lest you be compelled into some legalistic observance of old law, I want you to understand that these three are one.

We are not called to believe facts and creeds, and enter by the sweat of our brow in religious labor, and the keeping of hundreds of ceremonial laws.

The “work” you (we) are called to, is faith, and what faith looks like is abiding. Living in Christ, living, seated in heavenly places in and with Christ. Hearing His voice and responding to it daily. This is the call.

Loving Him and His people, these are the commands He has given, and this is what faith looks like.

Love is the path to rest. [Tweet This]

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by today.

Have a blessed day

And for now you can call me

Grampa Ben (watch for the announcement later today [big smile])

 

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