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1  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: Today at 08:21:17 AM
A Soon Departure

“Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” (2 Peter 1:14)

Peter was writing to the scattered believers, persecuted from without and badgered from within by false teachers. He wrote to “put [them] always in remembrance of these things” that they had been taught, so that they would “be established in the present truth” (v. 12). As he wrote, he viewed his impending “decease” (v. 15, literally, “exodus”) as merely putting off his earthly tent and putting on another as one would change clothes (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). But this would, perhaps, be his last opportunity to strengthen the lives of the believers.

Once before, Peter had faced the prospect of death. The church was under attack (Acts 12:1). Of the three who had been in Jesus’ “inner circle,” James had been killed (v. 2), and Peter had been imprisoned and was under heavy guard (vv. 3-6). However, an angel of the Lord (v. 7) escorted him out of prison and out of harm’s way (vv. 8-10). We can only surmise the full impact this made on Peter and his ministry, but we do know he was not afraid to die for his Lord.

Actually, as mentioned in our text, the resurrected Lord Himself had predicted Peter’s brutal death at the hands of the enemy (John 21:19). Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down during the persecution of the church at the hands of Nero, no doubt glorifying God in and through his death.

But his main concerns in this passage were the believers to whom he wrote. He even revealed that he had a plan to “have these things always in remembrance” (2 Peter 1:15). This would be through his diligent teaching, through his letters, and evidently also through the ministry of his own disciple, Mark (1 Peter 5:13), who would carry on after his death.

May God grant each of us a similarly fearless, fruitful, and lasting ministry. JDM
2  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 20, 2024, 08:12:24 AM
Love in Action

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

It is well known that “charity” in this famous “love chapter” is the Greek agape, which is translated “love” three times as often as it is translated “charity,” even in the King James Version. Why then did the scholarly translators prefer to use “charity” in this chapter, of all places?

Possibly it is because 1 Corinthians 13 emphasizes what love does rather than what love is. Love is described in this chapter, not with adjectives or adverbs, but with verbs! “Charity,” in the Old English sense, was not merely giving to feed the poor (note v. 3) but meant agape love—an unselfish, enduring, and active concern on behalf of others.

In this passage (vv. 4-8, 13) are listed 17 actions that love, or charity, does or does not engage in. Love acts with patience and kindness; it does not envy others or seek to impress others, neither does it exhibit arrogance or conceit. Love is never rude, does not seek its own way, is slow to take offense, and bears no malice or resentment. Love does not gloat over the sins of others and is delighted when truth prevails. Love will bear up under any trial and will never lose faith; it is always hopeful and unlimited in its endurance.

Finally, genuine love will be eternal. Even faith will cease when it is replaced by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and hope will finally be fulfilled (Romans 8:24), but love will abide forever. Love, of course, is eternal because Christ is eternal, and Christ is God, and God is love.

This classic passage, describing genuine Christian love, could in fact be read as a beautiful description of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. That is, “Christ suffereth long, and is kind,” and so on, finally climaxing in the great truth, “Christ never faileth.” Jesus Christ is, indeed, love in action! HMM
3  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 19, 2024, 09:18:57 AM
Separate and Sensual

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” (Jude 1:17-19)

Jude had previous contact with the apostle Peter and was aware of Peter’s observation “that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3). Peter describes the lusts of these scoffers by pointing out that their derision is focused on the second coming of our Lord Jesus—they deny the very possibility of the creation itself and, therefore, the omnipotent and omniscient authority of God Himself (2 Peter 3:4-6).

Jude, however, focuses on the core character of these mockers, noting that they “separate themselves” and are “sensual.” They are “soulish” (the Greek word is the adjective form of the noun for soul). That is, these kinds of people are driven by their “natural man” and cannot receive “the things of the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:14). James is even more intense: these people are “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).

Furthermore, they consciously separate themselves from the godly. The apostle John speaks to this phenomenon: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). Jesus simply notes that “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:20).

It is therefore an absolute—these people do not have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). HMM III
4  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 18, 2024, 08:49:50 AM
The Way and the Glory

“Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.” (Exodus 33:13)

“Moses the man of God” (Deuteronomy 33:1) was surely one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was the leader of a great nation, he received the tablets of the law from God, and he compiled and wrote the Pentateuch. It was said that “there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). Yet, “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

It was such a man as this who made two remarkable requests of God. The first was, as above: “Shew me now thy way.” The second, just a moment later, was: “Shew me thy glory” (Exodus 33:18).

These were not selfish requests. Moses desired the way of the Lord on behalf of his people. God answered this request with the gracious promise: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14).

But then he also asked to see the glory of God. So God placed Moses “in a clift of the rock,” covering him with His hand as His glory passed by, allowing him to see the remnants of His glory, as it were (Exodus 33:22-23), since he could not have endured any more. With such a vision of God’s glory, Moses was then able to lead the Israelite multitude for 40 years in a terrible wilderness, transforming them from a mob of slaves into God’s chosen nation, ready to bring God’s Word, and God’s Son, into the world.

We also can see His way and His glory. Jesus said: “I am the way” (John 14:6). Then He prayed: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). HMM
5  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 17, 2024, 08:32:59 AM
Running to Christ

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

When one realizes that he is lost and that only Christ can save him, he should not delay a moment but come immediately to Christ. There are, in fact, several men in the New Testament who actually ran to Him.

There was the man possessed with a whole legion of demons. “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him” (Mark 5:6), and Jesus set him free.

Then there was a young man who wanted to learn of Christ. When he found that Jesus was going away, he came “running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Unfortunately, his sincerity failed when he realized the cost. Zeal without sacrifice is dead, as is faith without works.

There was another wealthy man who was willing to pay the price. “And [Zacchaeus] ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way” (Luke 19:4). The conversion of Zacchaeus was genuine, and he demonstrated it by a changed and sacrificial life.

In Christ’s suffering on the cross, He spoke of His awful thirst, and an unknown observer “ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink” (Mark 15:36). Christ will not forget this expression of concern and sympathy.

After His burial, Mary Magdalene came back to tell Peter and John that the tomb was open. “So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre....and he saw, and believed” (John 20:4-8).

All who hasten wholeheartedly to Christ, sincerely seeking to know and serve Him, will find salvation in His name, for “the name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” HMM
6  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 16, 2024, 09:31:42 AM
The Lord Our Maker

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)

Psalms 95–100 seem to form a unit with several common themes running through them, all involving praise to the Lord.

One of these major themes is the recognition of the Lord as Maker of heaven and Earth. For example, consider Psalm 95:5: “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.” Thus, God made the earth, including both land and sea. But He also made the heavens! “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).

Higher and far more complex than any planet of the solar system or any star in the heavens are the living organisms found only on planet Earth—especially human beings—and He made these, too. “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

It is significant that these verses all emphasize the activities of God as Maker rather than as Creator. In the first chapter of Genesis, both types of activity are stressed, the account finally concluding with the summary: “All his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).

The two types of work are almost synonymous when referring to the divine activity, but not quite (otherwise “created and made” would be redundant). Specifically, the three acts of true creation in Genesis are the creation of the physical elements of the cosmos, the entity of biological life, and the spiritual image of God in man (Genesis 1:1, 21, 27). These entities God simply called into being ex nihilo by His omnipotent Word.

Everything else He made, or formed or let be, out of the three basic entities that were specially created. He is both Creator and Maker of all things, and we should worship Him as such. HMM
7  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 15, 2024, 09:08:53 AM
The Promise

“And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

Has Christ forgotten His promise? After His resurrection, He returned to heaven to wait “until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Ever since the primeval promise in Eden (Genesis 3:15), God’s inspired prophets have kept assuring His people that He would come as Savior of the world and again as everlasting King, removing the curse of sin and death and bringing in everlasting life and righteousness.

But the centuries have come and gone, age after age, and the world continues to decay, growing worse and worse. With global pollution, disease pandemics, ever-increasing crime, and countless other intractable problems, there may be nothing left if He doesn’t come soon!

Has He forgotten His promise? No! says Peter, in this very same chapter. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

He has not yet returned because there are not yet enough who have “come to repentance”—that is, whose minds and hearts have turned away from the world system and have been renewed through faith in Christ as Creator, Savior, and Lord of all. We need not despair but simply “account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15), seeking to lead people to Him until He comes.

His promise is sure, and one day He will return indeed! Therefore, Peter concludes, “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). HMM
8  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 14, 2024, 08:26:07 AM
The Light Brigade

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Colossians 1:12-13)

By His grace, we have been snatched from Satan’s darkness and been placed in the kingdom of light. However, we still live in a dark world hostile to the light. We are therefore soldiers of light, but as with any army, we are not to act independently but instead “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3), we must follow the orders of our commander and act in accordance with established guidelines.

The supreme commander in this battle of light versus darkness is none other than God the Father, for “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).

Perhaps, in this analogy, the field commander can be considered to be none other than Jesus Christ, carrying out the will of the supreme commander. He said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).

We, of course, are the infantry, the light brigade, as it were. “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).

Our marching orders, our objective, and our methods are all found in the war manual, the Bible. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23). What more could we ask? JDM
9  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 13, 2024, 08:02:54 AM
Murmurers and Complainers

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 1:16)

Jude’s book cites several incidents in the early history of Israel right after they were wonderfully delivered from slavery in Egypt. Within a very short time, they had come through the Red Sea, had bitter water made sweet, seen water come out of a rock, and been fed with “angels’ food” from heaven. Yet when the 12 spies came back from the land of Canaan that had been promised to them, there was a widespread revolt against God and against Moses’ leadership.

The 10 spies who “murmured” against God “died by the plague before the LORD” (Numbers 14:37). Some who had previously sided with the defeatist words of the spies tried to take matters into their own hands and “presumed to go up” to fight against the Canaanites and were killed or scattered (Numbers 14:44-45).

Much of the history of Israel is marked by various ways of turning away from God. Psalm 81 provides a good summary of how God sees this behavior: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:10-12).

Jude uses a rather unusual word picture to describe those who use others for their personal advantage. They speak “great swelling words” to gain the association. The Greek word is huperogkos, which conveys something like “beyond weight” or “too heavy.” The words are coming from hearts that are lustful and attempting to manipulate others for their own benefit. It appears that those who “murmur” and “complain” will use “heavy” words to achieve their ends. HMM III
10  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 12, 2024, 08:22:19 AM
She Shall Be Praised

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Proverbs 31 is identified as “the words of King Lemuel” (v. 1). Since it is divided into two distinct parts, some have proposed that it has two different authors. The first part (vv. 1-9) consists of “the prophecy that his mother taught him” (v. 1), while the second part (vv. 10-31) describes “a virtuous woman” (v. 10). Perhaps it is better to understand the woman as Lemuel’s mother, for “her children rise up and call her blessed” (v. 28).

“Many daughters have done virtuously” (v. 29, same word as in v. 10). Recognizing that the only other woman described as “virtuous” in the Bible was Ruth (Ruth 3:11) gives us more complete insight into such a woman’s character. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is one who has achieved in all its fullness the glories of her womanhood, both in the home as wife and mother and in her community. Not only do her children bless her, but her husband has absolute confidence in her (v. 11), appreciates the bounty that she brings (v. 12), has the freedom to be an effective leader in the community (v. 23), and praises her virtue to others (v. 28).

Without question, the key to her accomplishments is found in our text. Her fear of the Lord blossoms into such inner beauty and diligence that, by wisdom and devotion, she so trains her children and so lovingly provides for her husband’s needs that when they leave the home she has fashioned and have occasion to speak of her, their words will be blessing and praise.

On this day when so many of us remember and are thankful for our godly wives and/or mothers, let us rekindle our own fear of the Lord and by so doing develop similar qualities and habits. JDM
11  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 11, 2024, 08:03:31 AM
How to Take a Stand for God

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8)

There inevitably come those times in the life of a Christian when he, for conscience sake in the light of the Word of God, must take a stand against some worldly practice. Daniel has given us a striking example of how to do this, not only courageously, but graciously and effectively.

As one of “the princes” of Israel, “of the king’s seed” (Daniel 1:3), he realized that he had the responsibility of maintaining a godly standard as a testimony for the true God when he was asked “to stand in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:4) after he and his friends had been carried into captivity. Daniel knew that the king’s wine would surely be harmful were he to partake of it. Also, the king’s meat would certainly include pork and would be cooked with blood, which would be unlawful for him, as a good Jew, to eat (Leviticus 11:7-8; 17:10-14). He determined in his heart to take a stand against it.

Note, however, his stand was not belligerent or self-righteous but courteous and reasonable. He requested, “Prove thy servants, I beseech thee” (Daniel 1:8-12). The Babylonians thought they were doing him and his friends a great favor, and Daniel appreciated this. He suggested a scientific test: let them try a vegetarian diet and water for just 10 days to see if this wouldn’t produce better results than the gourmet fare of the palace.

God honored Daniel’s graciousness as well as his courageous faithfulness and so will He do for us. Both are essential ingredients of a fruitful Christian testimony in a non-Christian world. We must “be ready always to give an answer,” but this should be done, not in arrogance, but “with meekness” (1 Peter 3:15). HMM
12  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 10, 2024, 08:38:42 AM
Two Imperatives

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7)

The term “born again” has come into such common use in recent years, even in political campaigns, that its tremendous meaning has been all but lost. But Jesus—who ought to know, being none other than God incarnate—said, “Ye must be born again”! Furthermore, He said it to Nicodemus, one of the most religiously knowledgeable people of that day.

He did not say to Nicodemus that “they must be born again,” meaning the unbelieving multitudes who were not as instructed in the things of God as they should be. Nor did He say that “we must be born again,” meaning all of us mortals including Himself. Rather, Jesus said, “Ye must be born again”!

Even a man like Nicodemus must be born spiritually—born again (literally, “born from above”)—if he were ever to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). In answer to his question as to how this could be, Jesus said he must be born of the Spirit, supernaturally. But Nicodemus—as well as each of us—was born a sinner and was still a sinner, even failing to recognize Christ as Son of man and Son of God. How could he be born again? The answer is in a second imperative: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). If “ye must be born again,” then “even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” Christ must die for our sins before it can ever be possible that a lost sinner be born again. Since Jesus Christ was lifted up on the cross to die for us, our burden of sin has also been lifted up and placed on Him. If we would enter God’s kingdom, we must be born again through faith in Him! There is no other way! HMM
13  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 09, 2024, 08:18:41 AM
Sitting at the Right Hand of God

“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

The 110th Psalm is one of the most significant of the so-called Messianic Psalms, prophesying of Christ a thousand years before He came. Its very first verse should completely settle the question as to whether or not the Old Testament teaches that there is only one Person in the Godhead since it recounts an actual conversation between at least two Persons of the Godhead. This first verse is quoted, in whole or in part, at least five times in the New Testament and was even used by Christ Himself (Matthew 22:41-46) to prove His own deity.

Two of the Hebrew names for God are used: “Jehovah said unto Adonai...” The name Jehovah is used again in verses 2-4, and Adonai in verse 5. God, in the person of Adonai, has gone to Earth on a divine mission to save His people but has been repudiated by His enemies on Earth. Accordingly, God, in the person of Jehovah, invites Him back to heaven for a time, where He will be at His right hand until it is time for Him to return to Earth to rule, striking through all opposing “kings in the day of his wrath” (v. 5).

In this coming “day of thy power” (v. 3), “thy people shall be willing.” The word here is actually the word for “free will offerings.” They will be as priests offering their own lives to Him as freewill offerings when they finally recognize Him as their Messiah/King and eternal High Priest (v. 4).

Now, although this prophecy applies specifically to the second coming and the future conversion of Israel, there is a beautiful secondary application used in Scripture for His people right now. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). HMM
14  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 08, 2024, 08:32:33 AM
Ungodly Deeds and Hard Speeches

“...to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15)

Jude is referencing the preaching of pre-Flood Enoch, who warned about God’s coming judgment when the Lord returns “with ten thousands of his saints” (v. 14). Jude identifies two ungodly traits that bring about this judgment.

First, there are ungodly deeds that were committed in an ungodly way. Perhaps the best commentary on this deep sin is the Lord Jesus’ description of the unbelief of those who reject the gospel of salvation: “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Their actions were not mere misdeeds; these deeds were committed with full knowledge of the “light”—and their perpetrators consciously ran away from that light to hide in the “darkness.”

Then there are hard speeches that have been spoken by ungodly sinners against the Lord Jesus. Perhaps these fierce words were uttered as diatribes against the authority of Christ to judge. Peter alludes to these kinds of sinners as “scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Paul comments that these kinds of people “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

And that appears to coincide with the nature of the word “ungodly.” All three forms that appear in Jude 1:15 are negative forms of the word for worship. The “un” part of the word stresses the lack of honor and deference that are due the Creator of the universe. These ungodly sinners will be condemned by their own deeds and fierce words. HMM III
15  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: May 07, 2024, 09:05:40 AM
Christ Will Come Again

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

The world has not seen the last of Jesus Christ! He was in the world once, but the world would not have Him, even though He had created it (John 1:10). While He was on Earth, He made it clear that He would be returning some day to judge the world.

But here in the upper room, just before His arrest and crucifixion, He told His disciples, for the very first time, that He would be coming for them personally, not to judge them with the world but to “receive you unto myself.” In the first epistle written by the apostle Paul, this wonderful promise was repeated and amplified: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

When He comes again, we shall be where He is forever! In the meantime, the “dead in Christ” are already with Him. At that time, “we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye....For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

During this present time, He is preparing a place for us in the New Jerusalem that, like Christ Himself, will be “coming down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2). All of this is exactly what we might expect from such a gracious and loving Savior, and He assures us that “if it were not so, I would have told you.” HMM
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