My Hope Is In God

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Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 42:11)

My Hope Is In God

Discouragement can come from many quarters of life and challenge the faith of the people of God. No one is immune to the struggles of life. The rain falls on the just and the unjust and the problems of life surround the righteous as easily as the unrighteous. What makes a difference in the life of the Christian is the knowledge that while the storms gather there is a God who is greater and more powerful. This comes from the knowledge the Creator of the world is the same protecting Father who will not allow His children to be carried further than they can withstand. Nothing that man faces can overcome him when he seeks the favor of the Almighty. God holds the universe (all of it) in the palm of His hand. What on earth can be greater than the expanse of the universe that the will of the Lord cannot answer? If God has a name for every star in the heavens, there is nothing He cannot accomplish in the life of His child. There is nothing to fear when God is at hand.

Life is filled with bright, sunny days of glorious splendor. Some days come that are filled with dark and brooding clouds of despair, uncertainty, doubt, and fear. It will discourage and dishearten the strongest of souls. Sadness can permeate the spirit of man with its tentacles of despair. Above the realm of man, the throne of God gleams with the brilliance of eternal hope for desperate souls seeking refuge. The rainbow surrounds the throne in appearance like an emerald showing the downtrodden that God rules and He reigns over the affairs of the earth. All the creatures surrounding the throne cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” This is a declaration there is nothing to fear. Hope is found in the Lord God.

The sons of Korah wrote a psalm yearning for the presence of God in their anguish. They faced a time of despair and longed to know the glory of God’s throne. Like a deer longs for streams of water, they longed for the presence of God in a time of dark clouds that overshadowed them. Their thirst was for God to nourish their disquieted spirits from the parched desert of despair. There was no reason to be discouraged. They had no reason to be sad in their hearts. With divine clarity, they had put their hope in God. Praise came from their lips as they embraced the presence of God to lead them through the dark travails of life. God was their Savior. He was their God.

Uncertainty creates a greater pain in the heart when life is filled with so many certainties of joy and pleasure. There is fear with the COVID-19 virus that has unsettled the world. For many in the world, this has only changed their lives to the fear of the disease. In the prosperous communities of America, it has created havoc in the lives of those who trust in the uncertain riches of life, the pleasures of life and the enjoyment of prosperity. There is greater fear at the loss of what was considered unbreakable and normal in life. Because of this virus, the world of frivolity, recreation, popularity, and carnal pursuits have been turned upside down. Orders to stay at home, businesses closing, and industries crippled are common. The future looks uncertain for those who cannot see God in their yesterdays. Serving the Lord is not a prosthetic that is put on in case of an emergency today for fear of tomorrow. Trusting in God is the armor worn every day before the dark clouds come.

If God is not in the heart before the dark clouds, it will be difficult for a man to endure. Hope in God comes from thirsting after God and seeking His will today. The power of knowledge is what helps the soul endure the hard times and understand the joys of the good days. Hope in God. Praise God. Trust in His divine power to see His children through whatever life brings. There will be sadness, tragedy, and heartache but it will be measured by the loving arms of the Heavenly Father who knows, understands and cares for His children. Though the clouds of darkness spread across the sky my God still rules and He hears my cries. One day He will send His Son and wipe away all tears, remove all sorrow and take His children home. I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

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Looking For A Quiet Life

Looking For A Quiet LIFE

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

Looking For A Quiet Life

Paul had sound advice for Timothy and the brethren at Ephesus that people of God should heed in the year of this great confusion. There have always been challenges to the life of those who seek to follow the will of God and none are exempt from the impact of world events. The plan of character for the Christian is something that goes beyond the boundaries of time. Paul urged the brethren to pray for everyone because everyone needs prayer. All men need the providential grace of God to intercede on their behalf and to learn to depend on Him. Jesus died for all men so that all men could see the glory of the Father and come to salvation. Christians are to pray for everyone so they can find the promises of God.

Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks should always be on the lips of the children of God. The world is in darkness with no hope and no promise of a brighter tomorrow apart from Jesus Christ. Prayers should be given by saints to seek God’s blessings on all men to see the power of God to know the love of God in Christ. The life of the person of character is defined by his relationship with the Divine and his interest in the salvation of all men. This is the forefront of prayer. Paul especially urges the brethren to pray for kings and those in authority. It must be noted and taken very seriously that God is not interested in political affiliations. The Holy Spirit directs that a Christian must pray for the government in power at the time and when Paul wrote the letter to Timothy it was the corrupt, immoral and hedonistic Roman Empire. For the Christian today it means the President of the United States and all those in authority whether on the Federal level, State or local governments. This does not regard itself to party lines. For the children of God who elect to follow a certain party line, they are obligated to pray for those in authority whether that person is in their party or not. To refuse to pray for the President and those in authority because of political posturing is sinful and rebelling against the will of God.

The purpose of prayer is for the nation of God to be examples of living a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. Using social media to despair, malign and spew hatred for political posturing does not lead to quiet living and brings peace in the world. It shows a character of ungodliness and irreverence for the authorities that are ordained by God. Prayer should be the first thing that comes from the lips of the Christian and then the action of prayer through the daily lives of those who have subjected themselves to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In times of national and global concern, the people of God should be the standard that all other men seek to emulate because of their spirit of gentleness and purity. Jesus told the eleven shortly before He sacrificed Himself for all men that the world would know the power of the gospel in the lives of those who became His disciples. Love for one another and love for others will the hallmark of the church to show the world that God loves them and seeks their salvation. The Lord desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. This is done when His people pray for all men, for kings and all who are in authority. They show Christ living in their lives as gentle people, seeking peace and showing God’s grace and love. A quiet life comes from imitating Jesus Christ.

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Faith In A Dark Time

faith in darkness

Now Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honorable man in the eyes of his master because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valor, but a leper. And the Syrians had gone out on raids and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, “If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:1-3)

Faith In A Dark Time

Joram (also called Jehoram) was the ninth king of the northern tribes of Israel following the division. His father was Ahab who did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. He married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. Ahab would rule Israel for 22 years unleashing a plague of ungodliness, murder, and idolatry. The prophet Elijah said of Ahab that no one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel.

When Ahab died his son Ahaziah ruled the kingdom for two years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the example of his father and mother and the example of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had led Israel to sin. He served Baal and worshiped him, provoking the anger of the Lord, just as his father had done. Ahaziah died by the hand of God for seeking the counsel of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, instead of the Lord God. Because he had no son, his brother, and son of Ahab, Joram became king. He did evil before God but not like his father and mother. The king continued to lead the northern tribes in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

Somewhere in the hill country of the northern tribes, a devout family of God found joy in the birth of a little girl. They would cherish this little girl as a gift from God in a dark world given over to wickedness. No king that would rule the northern tribes were righteous. From Jeroboam until the Assyrians arrive in 722 B. C., the inhabitants of the ten tribes of Israel were living in a world dark with great wickedness. The leaders were wicked, the religious leaders were corrupt and the world was filled with ungodliness. One family struggled to keep their faith in God and teach their little girl to trust in the power of God. And then one day a cloud of dust appeared over the horizon and the worst nightmare for any family living in the northern part of Israel came true. The army of the Syrians attacked the cities and villages to loot, plunder and take captives. Included in the sweep by the Syrian army was the family of this young girl.

Nothing is known of the family of the little girl. Were they killed in the Syrian raid or taken captive with so many others? Did they survive the attack and live in the mountains away from the raiding parties? The scriptures are silent. What is known is that on one of the raids under the command of Naaman, the young girl was taken captive. She was given the servile task of working in the home of the Syrian commander’s wife. Her life would never be the same. For many who found themselves slaves of the Syrians, there would be resentment, hatred, and scorn. If anything tragic happened to the Syrians, they would rejoice. This was not the case of the young girl serving the wife of Naaman.

Faith in a dark time is where the young girl found the faith that God could do the impossible. What is remarkable about the young maiden is that she grew up in the world of Ahab, Ahaziah, and Joram. There were few influences of goodness and righteousness. Somewhere in all the putridity of sin that surrounded them, the family of this young lady taught her to trust in God. When she saw that Naaman was a leper, she implored her mistress to have him go to the prophet in Israel who would heal him of his leprosy. This was an incredible belief. Leprosy had no cure. Jesus would later remark many in Israel had leprosy in the time of the prophet Elisha, but the only one healed was Naaman. The little girl believed in something taught to her by her parents. She saw faith in a time of darkness; not only in her life but she could see hope for her master to take away his leprosy.

Life can be a challenge and when the world gets turned upside down it can be hard to see the good in it all. Ironically, the early church grew strong in the face of persecution which shows how the faithful work through the times of difficulty. The generation of the early twentieth century was known for their hard work, frugality, and courage. This came from the rugged times of the Great Depression, and two World Wars. Dark times are meant to test the mettle of men and no time is as clear as the present. Faith does not disappear in the darkness, it shines as light. The faith of the young girl who changed Naaman’s life was a light in a dark world of sin. Children of God must be the light in a dark world to show others why God’s way is the way of peace, security, love, and hope. The darkness that hangs over our world will end one day because behind every dark cloud the sun continues to shine. Faith must shine from the hearts of the disciples of the King who reigns and the God who rules. Let your light shine and let the world hear your trumpet of faith – loud and clear.

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Continue To Pray And Do Not Lose Heart

praying hands

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8)

Continue To Pray And Do Not Lose Heart

It is easy to lose heart when the dawn looks so long away and the night is dark with uncertainty. The struggle of prayer is to couple the petitions to God with the need for patience, endurance, and faith. Men are impetuous with their desires wanting quick solutions, instant answers and questions answered. Prayer is the ultimate test of learning the will of God is not matched by the impatience of man. Time marches on at the same rate every day with every second counting every minute creating the same amount of hours in a day. The problem with the carnal spirit is to demand time to speed up and to serve the needs of man. It becomes where prayer is demanding rather than asking or pleading. Many lose heart in prayer because they are not patient to the will of God who has a greater knowledge of the need.

Jesus understood the plight of men’s desire for an answer in prayer. One of the most important lessons He taught His disciples is that prayer requires more than just a casual request. He taught His disciples that prayer is continual and while the lips voice the desire of the heart, the spirit of man must wait for the grace of God to answer the prayer. God could answer every prayer the instant they are offered but He chooses not. Often (more often than not) prayer becomes a test of faith. The parable Jesus taught was the need to never give up seeking the favor of the Father.

When the widow came to the judge, she had one thing in mind. Her utmost desire was for justice to be meted out against her adversary. The lesson of the parable is not the evil judge or the reason for the widow’s request. Everything about her attitude and the need of her heart was paramount for the lesson Jesus was teaching about prayer. The judge rebuffed her at first and gave no heed. She did not give up. The widow continued her assault. In time, the judge knew how intent the widow was in her request and he granted her wish because she troubled him by her continual coming.

The persistent widow is a divine example of how tenacious the heart must be in prayer. God wants to see and know how serious the petitioner will be in his desires. How the Father will answer prayer is unknown to the mind of man. Examples are found in the Bible where the Lord answered prayers quickly but often there was much time between the petition and the answer. The point is that prayer must be accompanied by a heart that is persistent in the petition without losing heart. Prayer is expressing to a loving and compassionate Father the needs of the child and that child must show his or her faith by how much they devote their will to prayer.

Do not give up and do not lose heart means that God hears the prayers of His children and He will answer those prayers – in accordance with His will, His knowledge, and His plan. What is man that he is mindful of the ways of God to demand anything? Prayer is pleading the promises of God. If the Father answers prayer today, that is a blessing. When many days, months or years go by for the answer of prayer, God is still glorified. Prayer is seeking the blessing of God and leaving that request with him – without instructions on how to answer the prayer. The greatest part of prayer is having faith to leave prayer with God. Do not lose heart and do not give up. God answers every prayer of those who insist on their faith upon Him.

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Desiring Something Better

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These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)

Desiring Something Better

Albert Brumley wrote, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” Life can be hard, unfair, without answers and frankly a time of great trial. It is not a dilemma that man has never experienced. When Noah and his family walked among the multitude of humanity, there was almost no righteousness except their own. Watching the world be annihilated by the waters of the flood must have been an impossible sight for the eight souls in the ark to witness. Just over a year after Noah’s family entered the ark, they stepped out into a world with only eight people. Life was changed and it was a harsh reality.

The nation of Israel rose to be great and prosperous and for one-hundred-twenty years, stood as a beacon of God’s love and grace to the nations surrounding them. Because of rebellion fueled by the wickedness of the carnal spirit, the nation was destroyed. First, the ten tribes of the north plunged into ungodliness and were destroyed in 722 B. C. by the Assyrian armies. Then, 116 years later, the Babylonian empire came against Jerusalem and began its bondage as decreed by the Lord. Life changed dramatically for those who lived during the turbulent times of the divided kingdom. Many died and many more were taken as captive slaves never to return to the land of promise. Daniel and his three friends were taken away from their homeland never to return. Life was different. Could they have imagined how their lives would have turned out? Seventy years would pass before a remnant would return. For many who were taken in captivity, life was hard, unfair and remained a mystery.

When the early church began to increase in number persecutions arose to dampen their spirits. Saul of Tarsus began a reign of terror seeking all those of the Way to imprison and torture and execute death sentences. Then the Roman government began a period of persecution lasting more than two-hundred years. Families have broken apart, friendships dashed, lives filled with suffering and death and for many their lives consisted of wandering about in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. Early Christians were tortured, jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. Life was a tragedy of misfortunes because of their faith.

The annals of God’s people are filled with stories of suffering, trouble, torment, and disappointment. Life can be hard for many reasons. Famine and floods are not respective of what a man believes. Disease will take the lives of the righteous as well as the unrighteous. Economic depressions impact the bank accounts of the Christians and the non-Christian. Fear and uncertainty can fill the hearts of any man. Pandemics do not concern themselves with a certain group of people in a certain local for a specific purpose. The Black Plague and the Spanish Flu killed millions of people without regard to gender, age or beliefs. Life is the reality the sun rises on the just and the unjust. To all men fall the trials of life. What makes a difference is not the event of life but how one deals with the events of life.

God’s people suffer but what makes a difference for them is how they view suffering. To die in faith is to look for a promise outside the realm of what can be seen. Christians know this world is not their home. They see something afar off and they have the assurance of God’s promise of eternal life allowing them to embrace a higher calling and confess hope in that which is greater. People of God are looking for a homeland. Whatever happens in life is temporary. Seeking another homeland takes the eyes of fact away from the reality of life to become eyes of faith seeking a home beyond the vale of death. The desire of the heart is a heavenly country. Desire is a strong emotion of appealing to the true nature of the child of God. It takes away the pain of this life and places the hope of joy in the promise of God of eternal life. There is joy for those who seek a better country, a heavenly home. What a man desires will be his guide. Seek those things above where Christ is. Pray. Live. Look. Desire.

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No Man Like Jesus

No Man Ever Spoke Like This Man

Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:45-46)

No Man Like Jesus

The popularity of Jesus was waning and He was coming under greater scrutiny by the Jewish hierarchy. Many of the disciples had turned and walked with Jesus no more. They saw the miracle of the five thousand fed with five loaves and two fishes but when Jesus expounded on the meaning of the bread of life which came down from heaven, the people were offended. It confounded the Jewish leaders that a man from Nazareth, the son of a carpenter and an unknown among scholars was so eloquent and forceful in His teachings. Many of the people believed in Jesus and declared that no other man could have done the miracles as Jesus had shown His power and this proved Him to be the coming Christ. This caused a great deal of concern among the Pharisees who along with the chief priests sent officers to take Jesus. Some of the people wanted to arrest Jesus but no one laid hands on Him.

Returning to the chief priests and Pharisees empty-handed, the temple guards acknowledged they could not arrest Jesus. The Jewish leaders were angered by the inability of the officers to carry out their duty and asked why they had not brought Jesus. Their only reply was that they had never heard a man speak like Jesus. The guards went with the full authority of the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus as they had done with many other people. Finding Jesus in the temple, the guards listened to the boldness of His teaching. Even the people were amazed at the teaching of Jesus and how the temple rulers had not stopped Jesus. They sought to take Jesus but no one laid a hand on Him because His hour had not yet come.

The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this man.” Their impression of Jesus was open, honest and their hearts were impacted by the manner of His discourse. It is sad that not long after these events Jesus would be delivered up and killed. The Pharisees were so blind they charged the temple guards with being deceived by Jesus and the religious leaders cursed their own people. Nothing is clearer in the hearts of the religious leaders than the hypocrisy to deny the teaching of Jesus Christ for their own doctrines and commandments. Even when Nicodemus spoke up and charged his fellow rulers with condemning Jesus before hearing Him, the Pharisees rebuked him. If they had inquired of Jesus of His birth, they would have learned that while He grew up in Galilee, his birthplace was the promised city of prophecy where the Christ would be born. Their rejection of Jesus was to reject what He said.

No man ever spoke like Jesus and His word continues today. The Bible is the fullness of the word of Jesus Christ. When Moses penned the first five books of scripture he wrote about Jesus. All of the writers through the ages spoke about Christ until the final pen was laid to rest as John completed the Revelation. All things that pertain to life and godliness are contained in the message of Jesus Christ and there is no message on the earth that is as powerful as the word of Jesus. Things change and generations come and go but the word of Jesus remains the same. Many are like the Pharisees who charge Jesus as a fraud when they have never taken the time to learn what He taught, who He said He was and how He showed Himself to be the Son of God. Reading the word of God will change your life because no man ever spoke like this man – Jesus.

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Social Distancing Is Not God’s Plan

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And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Social Distancing Is Not God’s Plan

The year 2020 will be defined by two things: COVID-19 and Social Distancing. In the face of the viral onslaught brought on by the coronavirus, a social distancing is defining the cultural reaction to combat this terrible disease. Social distancing is a plan to help lessen the spread of the virus. The Center for Disease Control suggests “to stop the spread of coronavirus, health and government officials recommend avoiding large gatherings and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other people. This reduces the chance of contact with those knowingly or unknowingly carrying the infection.” Social distancing has become an effective tool to help combat this worldwide pandemic and should be in place as a practical means of limiting the impact of the virus. There is no doubt this simple act of spacing can be an effective deterrent against the spread of the disease.

As a result of social distancing, many businesses have been shut down where it was common for people to gather like restaurants, theme parks, retail stores and beauty shops, and barbershops. Weddings have been pared down or postponed as well as funerals curtailed or canceled. Churches throughout the land have closed their doors. Some states have mandated a “stay-at-home” order with many others imploring people to voluntarily remain at home. Families are unable to gather together. Beaches, parks and recreational facilities are empty. The world has gone inside behind closed doors. It is hoped these actions will lessen the impact of the coronavirus and for all practical purposes, it seems to work. However, one side effect of these procedures is a reminder that social distancing is not the original design of God.

What has made social distancing difficult is the inability to interact with others. When God created man, there was incompleteness to the nature of man. The great Creator viewed man as a creature that needed a comparable being to make him whole. This could not be found in the animals as God brought the creatures to Adam to name but still, there was no helper just right for him. When God formed the woman from the side of Adam, the man realized the creation standing before him was taken from him and Adam said, “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!” The union of the man and woman was the divine will of God for man to not be alone. Creating the woman, God formed the foundation of the home as one man and one woman from whence the world would be filled with the creation of God.

Nations would come following the flood when the Lord God scattered the people all over the world, as the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way, he scattered them all over the world. A bonding took place as each language became a nation and a people and societies began to prosper throughout the world. Allegiances would form across national divides uniting groups of people together as one. One of the core elements of society is the embracing of families together to form communities which in turn build nations. Social companionship is the hallmark of any prosperous nation. Uniting the populace together as one brings a spirit of unity with a common purpose and design. The impact of social distancing has gone counter to these long-held practices and has been a difficult element to accept.

It is agreed for the time social distancing must be practiced as a means to deal with the threat of coronavirus but it has not been easy. For the people of God, a long-held assumed practice of gathering together has been taken away. How many have realized the assembly as a blessing now that it is difficult to gather together, shake hands, hug, embrace and enjoy the fellowship of other people in the community of the church? The word fellowship is the relationship shared by kindred spirits in the spiritual feast of communion with those of like precious faith as they worship God together. Social distancing has removed the joy of fellowship and is not the plan of God. It serves a good purpose for the time but God wants His people to be together to build one another up in the most holy faith, exhort one another while it is called today, abound more and more in brotherly love, consider one another in order to stir up love and good works and to share in the communion of the blood of Christ.

During this present distress, social distancing is the right thing to do. Saints of God must fervently pray this disease will pass and lives will be spared. Incumbent upon everyone is the need to lessen the impact of the virus so that the saints of God can return to the divine plan of God to be together. Let all the hearts of the righteous lift prayers daily for the end of this virus that God may be glorified as a people united together showing the world an example of truth, righteousness, and love. Lord come quickly.

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