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« Reply #6315 on: October 31, 2018, 09:42:22 AM »

The Just Shall Live by Faith

“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

This great principle—“the just shall live by faith”—was the Scripture that so inflamed the soul of Martin Luther that it became the watchword of the Reformation. It occurs first here in the small prophecy of Habakkuk, but is then quoted three times in the New Testament. The term “just,” of course, means “justified” or “righteous.” God says a person is enabled to live righteously by his faith.

The nature of this faith is clarified by three quotations. The first is Romans 1:17: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” The phrase “from faith to faith” means “from the beginning of faith to the end of faith,” and the context indicates that the foundational item of faith is faith in “his eternal power and Godhead,” which “from the creation of the world are clearly seen” (Romans 1:20).

Similarly, in the last occurrence: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38). Then the writer notes that the basic item of faith is special creation: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).

The middle occurrence is Galatians 3:11: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” Paul’s lengthy explanation to the Galatian legalists begins with Galatians 2:16: “Even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.” Thus, justifying, saving, living faith begins and centers in Jesus Christ, first as Creator of all things, then as the Savior who “hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Galatians 3:13). HMM
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« Reply #6316 on: November 01, 2018, 09:33:12 AM »

An Ear to the Master's Voice

“And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.” (Exodus 21:5-6)

This unique ordinance of the Mosaic law is significant as being the first one given after the Ten Commandments. It (and the following ordinances) centers first on the most humble members of society (that is, the slave—recognizing the universal existence of slavery at the time and ameliorating its practice), then on other people, then on property—thus establishing God’s priorities.

Here also, right at the beginning of the dispensation of law, we are given a picture in miniature of the coming Servant of the Lord, who would come someday to bear the penalty of the law for us, saving us by His grace.

The servant pictured here, with full right to be set free in the sabbatical year, chooses rather to do the will of his master forever, listening to his voice only—this commitment symbolized and sealed by the opening in his ear. Just so, the coming Savior would say: “Mine ears hast thou opened. . . . Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:6-8). The fulfillment of this prophecy is described in Hebrews 10:5-10. There, the opening of the ear of the servant is interpreted as the preparation of His human body “to do thy will, O God. . . . By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:7, 10). Out of love for the Father and for those who would share the Father’s house with Him, He offered His body to accomplish the saving will of God. HMM
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« Reply #6317 on: November 02, 2018, 09:20:30 AM »

Dark Waters and Thick Clouds

“And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies.” (2 Samuel 22:11-12)

This mysterious passage in David’s song of deliverance (also in Psalm 18) is usually classified by commentators as mere poetic hyperbole. However, it may also be taken literally, if we only assume that David was translated by the Holy Spirit (who “spake by me”—2 Samuel 23:2) far back in time to the great Flood, seeing in vision the Lord in great power unleashing the mighty waters of judgment on a corrupt world, yet delivering Noah through it all. David had a similar vision when he wrote Psalm 29, which speaks explicitly of the Noahic Flood (Hebrew mabbul, v. 10).

In our text above, the Hebrew word for “wind” is the same as “spirit,” so this phrase could refer to “the wings of the Spirit.” In the Bible’s first reference to “the Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2), He is seen as “moving” in the presence of the primeval waters, the word being the same as that for the fluttering movement of the wings of a great bird. This vibrating motion implies the generating of mighty waves of energy flowing out from the Spirit to energize the newly created cosmos of Genesis 1:1. Similarly, the divine energy emanates again from the Spirit here at the Flood, but this time in destructive rather than creative power.

The references to waters and darkness in these and nearby verses may well refer to the condensation and precipitation of the extensive canopy suggested by the “waters which were above the firmament” (Genesis 1:7), when great torrents of rain suddenly poured through “the sluiceways of heaven,” continuing at highest intensity for 40 days, then at lesser intensity for 110 more days, until the “thick clouds” were emptied and the great Flood covered the whole earth. HMM
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« Reply #6318 on: November 03, 2018, 08:44:49 AM »

The Truth

“. . . God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

The verses preceding our text encourage believers to be in prayer “for all men” (v. 1), including “all that are in authority” (v. 2), that our own lives might be “quiet and peaceable,” as well as for their salvation.

God, who abhors and promises to judge sinful individuals, does not desire to punish anyone. His desire is for “all men to be saved,” and He has done all that is necessary to bring this about, by paying sin’s awful penalty of death. While not all will avail themselves of this opportunity, choosing instead to continue in their sin, our prayers somehow are used by God to bring some “to the knowledge of the truth.”

The truth necessary for salvation follows: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all” (vv. 5-6).

In order to be saved, we must embrace the fact that there is only “one God” who alone holds the key to eternity, and that there is only one way by which we can reach that God, “the man Christ Jesus.” We, in our natural state, are at war with God, estranged from Him, and separated by the presence of sin in our lives. Christ Jesus, acting as our mediator, our peacemaker, our advocate, being both fully God (i.e., “one God”) and fully man (i.e., “the man”) bridges the gap between the Father and all men. As Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

How has He bridged the gap? He “gave himself a ransom for all” (v. 6). The Bible teaches that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) but that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Since He willingly “gave himself” as a punishment for our sins, we can stand before God the Father in Christ’s sinlessness. JDM
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« Reply #6319 on: November 04, 2018, 08:12:48 AM »

Sanctified, Preserved, Called

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” (Jude 1:1)

Although the Scriptures have much to teach about each of these precious terms, Jude is the only New Testament writer to use them together in sequence. This is also the only passage that identifies specific roles for the Persons of the Trinity in the lives of believers.

God the Father is said to “sanctify” us (separate, consecrate), but He apparently does this through the Holy Spirit based on the Father’s foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:2). We are not told all that is involved, but our sanctification does include our “belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) and the “offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 10:10), who “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20).

Jesus Christ “preserves” us. The common use of this term in the New Testament is to “guard” or “watch” over something or someone. The believer is most often the subject of this verb— e.g., we are to “guard” our obedience to the instructions of God (1 Timothy 6:14; 1 John 2:3). Jude’s use, however, highlights the special attention our Lord gives to each of us so that our “whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The sanctification and the preservation come with the “calling,” the invitation that is issued from God to those who are “the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). It is a “high calling” (Philippians 3:14) and a “holy calling” (2 Timothy 1:9), and once we are “called,” God will “justify” and “glorify” (Romans 8:30). The twice-born of God are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that [we] should shew forth the praises of him who hath called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). HMM III
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« Reply #6320 on: November 05, 2018, 09:08:51 AM »

Lord of Hosts

“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.” (1 Samuel 1:3)

This majestic name of God, “LORD of hosts” (Hebrew Jehovah Sabaoth), occurs almost 240 times in the Bible, first of all in our text above. It is noteworthy that Elkanah, the father of Samuel, understood this name of God better than did the wicked priests, the two sons of Eli. The name occurs only once in the New Testament, speaking of oppressed laborers crying to “the Lord of sabaoth” (James 5:4).

A similar name, “God of hosts,” occurs nine times, the first in Psalm 80:7: “Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.” The combined name “LORD God of hosts” is used about 25 times, first in 2 Samuel 5:10: “And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.”

In all these 270 or so references, the name is used to emphasize the mighty power of God and His great host of angels “that excel in strength, that do his commandments” (Psalm 103:20). Not only is God Himself omnipotent and omniscient (after all, He is the Creator of all things!), but He has “an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22) at His call. Occasionally, some of these mighty hosts have actually been seen by men, as in the days of Elisha (2 Kings 6:17) and at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:13).

There is evidently an angelic hierarchy among these heavenly hosts. There are the cherubim and seraphim (Genesis 3:24; Isaiah 6:2), for example, as well as “Michael the archangel” (Jude 1:9) and “Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19). However, the great “captain of the host of the Lord” (Joshua 5:14) is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, is the true “LORD of hosts.” HMM
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« Reply #6321 on: November 06, 2018, 09:18:27 AM »

Rest with Us

“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

The Christians in the young church at Thessalonica, very soon after accepting Christ, underwent severe “persecutions and tribulations” (v. 4). The apostle Paul wrote to commend them that God had thus judged them to be “counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer” (v. 5). That is, the kingdom of God was being persecuted when they were persecuted, and God would certainly repay their tormentors in kind. The believers’ tribulations were from men. Those who were being troubled would receive “rest with us” from God (“rest” here is a noun, not a verb).

The Thessalonians must realize, however, that this righteous recompense—at least in its full measure—must await the return of the Lord Jesus. They must resist the temptation to repay their persecutors in kind if the opportunity should come. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). They must simply continue to “endure” and “suffer,” so that “our God would count you worthy of this calling, and . . . That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you” (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 11-12).

The Lord Jesus Himself is our example, “that ye should follow his steps: . . . Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:21, 23).

“In the last days . . . all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:1, 12), and latter-day Christians may very well have opportunity to put this ancient counsel to the Thessalonians into present practice. If so, may God give us the grace to endure as they endured! HMM
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« Reply #6322 on: November 07, 2018, 08:45:22 AM »

The Common Salvation

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation . . .” (Jude 1:3)

The description of our salvation as “common” does not mean that salvation is “ordinary” or “normal” but rather that salvation is available to anyone who wants it. The term is translated “unclean” several times in passages that speak of items that are accessible to everyone rather than specialized foods or ceremonies available to just a few (Acts 11:8; Romans 14:14; etc.).

Right after Pentecost, the Jerusalem church experienced a quick growth in converts, many of whom were poor and needed practical help. The bond of the new church was so strong that “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common” (Acts 4:32). That is the sense in which Jude speaks of a “common” salvation.

The salvation is available to all. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). None are excluded from the possibility of salvation—except those who refuse to believe what God has provided through the substitutionary death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:2).

But this salvation is also necessary for all. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). It has become popular today to couch the gospel message in moderate terms, making the message appear optional or a “personal” belief system. No, it is the only salvation, even if it is “common.” “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). HMM III
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« Reply #6323 on: November 08, 2018, 09:08:02 AM »

Author of Peace

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)

Although these words were written with respect to church order, they express a general principle. “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated. . . . And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:15-18).

Our world and our natural lives seem perpetually in confusion, turmoil, and strife, and the source is the evil one—“the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The only one who can bring true peace is the Author of peace.

This is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, for only “he is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). He is the Author of peace, just as the devil is the author of all confusion and strife. Note the other titles of our great Author of peace.

He is called “the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus” (Hebrews 13:20). He is also “The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Melchizedek, who was at least a type of Christ, if not an actual pre-incarnate theophany of Christ Himself, is called “King of Salem, which is, King of peace” (Hebrews 7:2). In 2 Thessalonians 3:16, He is “the Lord of peace.”

He is the Author of peace, the Lord of peace, the Prince of peace, the King of peace, the very God of peace! He is our peace! Someday, “he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10). In that day, “the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20), and “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). HMM
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« Reply #6324 on: November 09, 2018, 08:48:53 AM »

Exalting the Anointed One

“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:10)

This is a remarkable prayer, uttered under divine inspiration by Hannah, thanking God for the miraculous birth of Samuel. It contains the first explicit reference in the Bible to the Messiah (“anointed,” in the Hebrew, is Messiah, equivalent to the Greek “Christ”). Hannah’s prophetic prayer predicts the ultimate exaltation of Messiah over all the adversaries of the Lord to the very ends of the earth.

Hannah also prophesied the coming of the Lord’s great King. Yet this was during the time of the judges, long before the people of Israel even began to request a king.

In fact, the entire prophecy is the first of many similar prophecies throughout the Bible that look forward to the return of the Lord “out of heaven” to judge all nations, to destroy His enemies, and to establish His anointed one as King of the earth.

There is nothing comparable to this prophecy in the earlier books of the Bible, but it is a theme often emphasized in the psalms and in the books of prophecy, as well as in the New Testament. For example, note David’s great prophecy: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed. . . . Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath. . . . Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. . . . and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psalm 2:2, 5-6, 8).

There are many similar later prophecies, but it is significant that the first one also contains the first mention of Messiah, and that was from the lips of a humble, but devout, mother. HMM
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« Reply #6325 on: November 10, 2018, 08:52:33 AM »

Filled and Fulfilled

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” (Colossians 1:9)

In this prayer, Paul sought for the Colossian Christians the full knowledge of the will of God. For the Christians at Rome, he prayed they might be filled “with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). For the Ephesians, he prayed they “might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19), and then urged them to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). He wrote to the Philippians, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; . . . Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). For the Colossians, he also prayed for their “full [same as ‘filled with’] assurance of understanding” (Colossians 2:2).

Together, all these prayer requests constitute an ideal description of a complete Christian—an ideal for which we should all strive and pray—both for ourselves and for others. Summarizing again, the list is as follows:

• “[Filled] with all joy and peace in believing.”
• “Filled with the fruits of righteousness.”
• “Filled with the knowledge of his will.”
• “Filled with the Spirit.”
• “Filled with all the fulness of God.”
• “[Filled with] assurance of understanding.”

It is also worth noting that the Greek word for “filled” is the same as for “fulfilled.” When a Christian is “filled” with all these wonderful realities, he becomes a “fulfillment,” as it were, of God’s purpose in creating and redeeming him. His ultimate goal, of course, is to measure up to “the fulness of Christ” Himself (Ephesians 4:13). HMM
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« Reply #6326 on: November 11, 2018, 08:36:42 AM »

He Shall Speak Peace

“And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:10)

This wonderful prophecy follows immediately after the verse predicting the coming of the Messiah into Jerusalem riding upon a lowly donkey’s colt (v. 9). That prediction was fulfilled by Jesus as He came into Jerusalem on that last Sunday before His death and resurrection (Matthew 21:4-5), but the prophecy in our text was certainly not fulfilled at that time. There have been wars somewhere in the world practically every year since Jesus came. Nevertheless, the day will come when He shall indeed speak peace to all the nations.

Early in the last century the nations had fought a great war that was supposed to end all wars. They celebrated the armistice that ended that war on November 11, 1918, and established an annual holiday called Armistice Day. But many other wars followed that war, so the name was changed to honor the veterans who had fought in any of those later wars as well. However, there is still no real peace in the world.

The fact is that there can be no lasting peace between men and other men until there is peace between men and God. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can make such a peace, for He alone is the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Indeed, He has already paid the price to make such true and eternal peace, for He “made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself” (Colossians 1:20).

In that great coming day when He returns to Earth to establish His kingdom, “he maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9), “and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:17). HMM
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« Reply #6327 on: November 12, 2018, 10:09:00 AM »

Christ at Creation

“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep.” (Proverbs 8:27-28)

This chapter contains a beautiful description of some of God’s works during the creation week when God, in Christ, was creating and making all things. Christ Himself, personified as the divine wisdom, the word of God, is speaking.

Verse 27 speaks of His pre-existence before the creation of the space/time universe itself. At first the “earth” matter was “without form,” with only a great “deep” of water. Then God “set a compass” on the face of the deep, activating the gravitational forces that brought it into spherical form. The Hebrew word for “compass” means “sphere,” the same word used in Isaiah 40:22, where it is said God “sitteth upon the circle [i.e., ‘sphere’] of the earth.”

Then God “established the clouds above.” The word for “clouds” means “thin mists,” undoubtedly referring to the great water canopy “above the firmament” (Genesis 1:7). Finally, He strengthened the fountains of the deep, locking them under the “foundations of the earth” (Proverbs 8:29). The same strong fountains of the deep would later be broken up at the time of the great Flood. When the earth was finished, He “rejoiced in the habitable part of his earth” (i.e., Proverbs 8:31).

In all these and the other mighty works of creating and making all things, the Lord Jesus Christ assures us “I was there!” That further assures us, of course, that through all the ages to come, He will be there.

This remarkable eighth chapter of Proverbs concludes with the following exhortation, more relevant today than ever: “For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all that hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:35-36). HMM
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« Reply #6328 on: November 13, 2018, 09:09:18 AM »

Mortified

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13)

To mortify something means to put it to death. Paul taught in our text and in other passages that the “deeds of the body,” or its fleshly actions and appetites, all that pertains “to the old man,” should be mortified, or put to death.

This mortification is first of all judicial—Christ having been put to death in our stead. “Our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6).

But the mortification must not stop there, with only a positional death. It must also be an actual mortification in practice, for “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25). “For as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness” (Romans 6:19).

Elsewhere, Paul identifies specific deeds and attitudes that must be mortified. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [or evil desires], and covetousness” (Colossians 3:5). The first four listed will be recognized as various forms of sensual sins, indicating how detrimental this category of sin is to spiritual life. The fifth is covetousness, or inordinate love of money and material things. These five comprise deadly sins to men and women of any historical age—particularly our own. If they are not put to death, they bring death, “for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh” (v. 6).

The choice is clear! It will be either death to the flesh, or death to the spirit. JDM
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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