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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Obedience + patience = eternal life

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36).

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1Cor. 6:11). Yet the church at Corinth had major problems with sin. Sin raised its ugly head after they were justified, and even after they had been sanctified. Isn’t our Father in heaven able to keep us from falling? “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 1:24). Yes, He is able. But, will we be patient with Him to sanctify us “wholly” (1Thess. 5:23)? Will we be patient with our slowness of heart, and with our failures?

Will we “keep” (Luke 8:15) the good word from above, “the heavenly gift, …the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. 6:4,5)? On the long road of sanctification, will we remain partakers of the Holy Ghost and the powers of the world to come? It’s at the end of long hard battles with self that we receive the full promise. 

When we have done all the will of God is when the great blessing comes. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). But, what is the incentive for battling with self over decades? The incentive comes along with the wholehearted effort and the victories won. The first great battle was at our surrender before God through Jesus. We fell on the Stone and were broken. Then the blessing we sought from Him came. The dove of peace came to our hearts, and we knew that it could come only from our God. We joined the group “whose hearts God had touched” (1Sam. 10:26), that great cloud of witnesses that filled the Old Testament. 

“It [was] like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Ps. 133:2,3). Peace, health, rest, life—gifts from the heavenly King—count for more than every earthly blessing. Someone very close to me who has chronic kidney pain said, “I would give anything to have health, to be pain free.” Really, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own health? What will a man give for his health? Along with the blessing from the dove of peace comes every other blessing in its path. Because of God’s justification, we walk as “kings and priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6). We have the high privileges of the Levites. 

So, let us carry on with God’s program to sanctify us and prepare us to do literal service in His very presence. 

Will we strive to be “perfect even as [our] Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:45)? After the Father and Son have spent so much to work out our conversion, why wouldn’t They also work out our sanctification? And, knowing Their interest in our eternal happiness, why wouldn’t we cooperate with Them by striving to be like Them? We can cooperate, hand in hand, uniting our heart to Their heart, our ignorant mind with Their omniscient discernment, our weak natures with our Father and Son Saviours. But, we can only have access to Their bounties as we choose to come to Jesus over the long term, and let Him work in us and do of His good will.  

A short-term sanctification is the choice of many and happens only because they have cherished sins, and this blinds them to perceive their thoroughly wretched nature. Idols fill their heart, those idols keep their heart hardened, and the idols lead them to presumptuously take on the battle against sin without any guidance or help from their Redeemer. Impatient sanctification doesn’t work out salvation with fear and trembling, but is full of passion and emotion and presumption. Such a soul isn’t guided by the light of true faith, but loves the “leap in the dark” for the thrill and self-exaltation of it that seems to mitigate some of the “chastisement of [their] peace” (Isa. 53:5). But, Jesus condemned such look-alike, “leap in the dark” faith when Satan tempted Him to jump off the high roof of the temple. 

Like the stony ground in Christ’s parable, hurried, presumptuous sanctification flings itself into danger and difficulty, difficulties which are greatly caused by their life that lacks sanctification. “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matt. 13:20,21). “They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” (Luke 8:13). Running into danger is a form of self-martyrdom which results from refusing to admit to weakness. Rather than distrusting self and being thoroughly melted and humbled by past failures, the heart is still stony and independent of Christ, and runs ahead of Him. Then when short-term sanctification is persecuted and humiliated and offended, the unforsaken pride and unbelief refuse to be consoled by “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9), as He draws near to comfort and bind up the wounds. 

Short-term sanctification is in a hurry to get sanctified from all the troubles it is suffering due to the consequences of its sins. It seeks to remove the consequences more than the sin. This kind of sanctification arises from a fear of continued suffering under the just wrath of God, instead of fearing God and trusting that His mercy endureth forever. Its focus is on the uncomfortable and shaming results of sin instead of on the Sin-bearer and Shame-bearer. Impatient sanctification watches the fiery vipers approaching all around that have resulted from a life of sin, instead of beholding the One who was lifted up, and was made in the image of sin and shame for our protection from the shaming curse of the Law, for our redemption, and for our healing. The short-term, impatient sanctification focus is on self-medicating, relieving self, rather than on admitting complete and total failure, and focusing on bringing Jesus happiness as He sees us coming to Him and our sins being washed away in His blood. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Impatient sanctification will not be honest with the one true assumption—that every human naturally is dishonest. The Bible calls us all Jacobs—supplanters, sneaky, con-artists. We all need a converted heart and a lot of sanctification. And until the impatient, presumptuous soul surrenders to the brick walls of God’s providences, he will keep hitting those divinely set brick walls, and keep suffering the consequential bruises, headaches, and heartaches. “And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18). Everyone these days want to say they are “Blessed”. But, most do not want to be blessed in the way God blesses—through His humbling judgments. But, under His judgments, as we stew in our failures our pride is put down, and God is thereby exalted. That is what we need—for God to be exalted in our minds and hearts. Will we be patient with His humbling work, as patient as He is with us accepting His humbling? Blessed are all they who wait for His salvation. He is the Author, Architect, and Engineer of humbled faith. All we can do is accept the free gift, and fall before Him in humility and thanksgiving for His doing in us what we could not do in ourselves.

Yet, based on statistics, the longer we resists surrender—for even giving up a little mustard seed grain’s worth of surrender—the more likely he will abandon Jesus altogether. One brick wall after another, one resentment toward God after another, one missed opportunity after another to fall on the Stone and be broken, they chose fully to deceive themselves. Not one ever “came to himself” and blamed himself and said, “I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son [or daughter]: make me as one of Thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19). Therefore instead of ever hearing the strong rejoicing, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: for this My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:22-24); in the end they hear the unvarnished truth, “if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye [illegitimate], and not sons.” (Heb. 12:8). In the end, all who did not budge even a smidgeon of their inbred self-sufficiency, will depart “into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:41).

Why…this waste” (Mark 14:4)?!! Why, why, why the eternal loss, when every soul should be saved? Wasn’t it all in turning down the choice to surrender to the “God of judgment” and “mercy” (Isa. 30:18), who graciously, yet with standards, patiently and justly “wait[s]” for our ugly pride to abdicate the throne of our hearts? Why do we resist a Father whose balance and fairness have surpassed all human comprehension?

“That on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [hold down, retain] it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15). Examining self and the honest assessments of self pay off big time. As our humbling and justification was God’s work, so is our sanctification. The fruit of the Spirit is God’s work and cannot be rushed—not by us! And God doesn’t rush it either. The elegance and wondrous construction of His fruit in us takes time to build. We must let the Architect, who knows no haste or delay, do His amazing work in our weakened, fallen natures through His divine nature. 

The souls who choose to give themselves an honest appraisal, as fearful as righteous judgment sounds to them, are the ones who cling to Jesus and to His mercy. And afterwards, the honest assessment fortifies their hearts to meet the floods of persecution that Satan sends to sweep them away from their Lord. “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.” (Rev. 12:15). No one else will survive persecution except those who trembled before God, and fell on the Stone and were broken. Long before Satan’s floods, the honest souls trusted in the Creator to handle their natural-born wickedness. No one else was patient enough; no one other than God had seen their corruption from the day of their conception and still spent everything He had, even giving them His only begotten Son, to win them back to His holiness. It’s only those who fear they have committed the unpardonable sin that are forced again and again into the Saviour’s presence by faith to tremblingly touch His scepter. And if He must reject them, then He must rightly do so to protect His kingdom; if God deems that they must perish, they should perish. Yet, they come to Him hoping and in His help, and expectant of His mercy. They are crucified by faith, therefore God lets them live. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?” (Heb. 12:7). 

It is the long-term, up and down, often messy, patient sanctification that gives the victory. Those with this kind of sanctification aren’t in it only for the end result, but also for the companionship from Jesus all during the ride. The door of their soul was shut tightly by the sin of Adam. Their birth 6,000 years later has only compounded their first father’s propensity to sin. Yet, God does not hold that against them if they strive to serve Him and yearn to be His faithful son. When He justifies a sinner, that person is no longer a sinner but a saint sitting “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). And if a saint in heaven, then he was never a sinner—not a sinner in God’s eyes. The Father speaks and it is done, He calls us saints and so we have always been. We have never sinned when the great King says so. God treats us as Jesus deserves to be treated; God treats us as He treats His Son. Jesus stands strongly with us before God. And this pleases the Father. His Father declares, “Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong”! (Isa. 53:12). The justified saints must be “the great” and “the strong”. Wonder of wonders! How can it be? 

“If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned.” Steps to Christ, p. 62. 

They fell on the Stone and were broken. Their pride and self-will were “broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them.” (Dan. 2:35). They were shattered and then, thusly, and thereby they were justified by God.

In God’s eyes a hardened, stony heart that is broken goes a long, long way. And for those souls, even if they fail, they can know that their first brokenness still goes a long way with God. “For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him.” (Luke 20:38). “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25). Though they failed Him, shame and guilt and repentance went deep into their hearts, and if they will but return to Him and trust in His mercy, He will immediately and happily receive them unto Himself. Even though they feel like they’ve committed the unpardonable sin, in “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) they must trust in the mercy of God, which endureth forever. 

Patience. “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.” (Luke 5:39). This short parable had a two-fold purpose. It was a warning to both the religious leadership and the religious followership who had drunk of the old, putrefied religion that Satan had brought in. Because they had imbibed so deeply of Satan’s filthy religion of self-exaltation, they would have greater difficulty to accept the new tonic, health-giving religion of Christ in which “the flesh profiteth nothing.” (John 6:63).

But, Jesus had another message in this parable. Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathaea, “and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7). They had drunk old wine, and they had not “straightway” or immediately desired new. They desired the new wine of the Spirit and they did obtain it, just not immediately. And if God can have loving patience with our delay to trust Him, we can be patient with Him as He fixes our slowness of faith. “Blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18). 

I heard it called a miracle, and maybe you’ve heard a similar story. A woman had a tumor and she suffered greatly. She determined to faithfully observe all eight of the laws of health. Even law #8, her trust in divine power, was strong. She adhered to the program, not worrying about the potential life threat, even while suffering. One day, when going about her normal day’s work and health regimen, she felt a loosening of something inside, and next she knew her pain was gone and tests showed her to be healed. She was in the work of her natural healing as a lifestyle, not a quick fix. As she left all the healing in God’s hands, thinking about the tumor only enough to keep it before Jesus, and making Him her focus, she made herself susceptible to His built-in bodily systems that are designed to counteract the growth of all the body’s dangerous perpetrators. This is the way patient sanctification works. “Ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Mal. 4:2). The wide-eyed, blinking, long eye-lashed calf grows not out of anxiety to grow, but because it drinks its mother’s milk and love.
 
The smaller prizes come all along the way back to God, but the biggest prize waits until the full end. 

“Jesus said...whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25,26). 

“I know that [the Father’s] commandment is life everlasting.” (John 12:50). 

Not if, but when we keep the commandments fully, as Jesus kept them, we will have life everlasting. This is not just an Old Testament requirement and reality. This is what the Father spoke to His Son, and then His Son spoke it to Moses and Israel. 

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut. 30:15-20). 

Life and good days, death and evil days are in our hand to choose whichever we will. Keeping Jesus’ commandments, statutes, and judgments always has and always will be the only way to life. To this both Old and New Testaments attest. “…the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour immortality, [God will give] eternal life.” (Rom. 2:5-7).

“But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness,  [God will give] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish.” (Rom. 2:8,9). 

But, let’s not forget that righteousness and well doing come by patient faith. We can see the beauty of Christ’s holiness, but, only through constant communion with Him will His “Spirit of holiness” (Rom. 1:4) rub off on us. And God keeps the consequences of our sins coming at us to spur us on to learn that constant, yearning communion with His Son. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36). 

They will not see life until they trust in the Son. And while their faith is new and still wobbly, Jesus exercises their faith by giving them strong truth and grace, His truth mixed with His grace. Through both truth and grace He strengthens our love for His commandments and statutes and judgments, and solidifies our love in Him. We may stumble and fall, but He picks us up again and again. If we are His disciples, He will be our gracious Saviour and our truth-filled Prince, our merciful Messiah and our just Lord. No man can take us out of His hand, so long as we keep ourselves under His strong right hand. 

So many of us have been born with, or have learned by practice, many wrong habits and ways of thinking. They are our “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet.” (2Cor. 12:7). Yet, even they can be overcome with patient endurance. Over time, over years of building a lifestyle with Jesus and His commandments, years and even decades under the conviction of our sinfulness and evil practices gained early in life, we open the door to the power of the Highest. We weren’t fixated on the sin that had beset us over the long haul; our fixation was on Jesus and His mercy, but the knowledge of our sin did play in the background as we struggled to live to please Jesus our Saviour and His Father, our Father. 

Gently, silently, the Spirit of God pulled and pulled at the roots of that sin. Gradually were the attractions for it dissolved; and a distaste for the sin grew. Suddenly, the temptation disappeared and the victory was won! Righteousness by faith by Jesus once again proved itself to be the only true science for righteousness. Long-term, patient, beholding Jesus and desiring to please Him gave the victory. We see this “patient, protracted process” (Desire of Ages, p. 172) played out in a larger scale with Israel. 

At first under Moses there was rank rebellion against the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Lord Jesus. The next generation was a little better, and over five centuries and after many punishments, a generation arrived that learned the hard lessons of the past. Samuel helped make them ready for David, whose godly and holy leadership quickly brought the people of God to a holy state before Jesus his Lord.

“O Jacob”, “this is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face.” (Ps. 24:6).

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps. 24:3-5).

But, again they backslid, and the punishment for their serving Satan lay all around the Jews and the Roman world. Everything that Moses had warned of came upon them.

“And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:
So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;
And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger, and in His wrath:
Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?
Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:
For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom He had not given unto them:
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:
And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” (Deut. 29:21-28). 

Israel backslid under Solomon and it took twice as long to regain what they had lost—a thousand years from David to the apostolic church instead of 500 from Moses to David. John the Baptist made the people ready for Messiah the Prince when He came. Christ did the work of David and recreated a holy state for His people among the Jews and Gentiles. The church, “the seed” that “should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19), received a greater dispensation of the Spirit of the Lord than David’s generation had received.

But, again His people backslid when the church lost its first love for their Lord of love. And it has again taken twice as long, this time two thousand years.

“But at the end [the vision] shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Hab. 2:3). Are we the generation that again seek Him, that seek Thy face, O Jesus? Are we the next and last seed that should come to whom the promise was made? Will we see the Latter Rain and the sealing, a greater manifestation of the reconciliation of God with man than even the apostolic church saw? Will we be purified by the special dispensation of His commandments, statutes, and judgments as given in the Spirit of Prophecy counsels through Ellen White? Will the humbling, unvarnished truth from her pen give us a special repentance, which will give us a special justification, which will give us a special sanctification, that “special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth”?

“When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. Then shall the offering of Juday and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. Song of Solomon 6:10” (Great Controversy, p. 425) in preparation for the special glorification when we see Jesus as He is in glory.    
 
“Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8), and like their Master, so do they.

Will we patiently keep ourselves before the perfect Law of liberty, that begins its work with deeply wounding and offending us and ends in deeply cleansing and comforting us? Will we keep before the God of infinite justice and infinite mercy? Will we have the strong wrestling with Jacob’s Angel, His power to soundly convert? Will we accept the change to His angelic character that will lead us to the holy life, sanctified through “His rest” (Heb. 4:1)? And will that surrender and perfection be what makes us able to stand in “the time of trouble such as never was” (Dan. 12:2)? Nothing else than the Spirit of Prophecy books will prepare us to receive the Latter Rain, and then to hold on to our faith firmly through the approaching tribulation, and finally to stand when Jesus appears.

“These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (Rev. 7:14-15).

“And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7,8).

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12).

“And I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.” (Eze. 20:11).

In the ultimate interpretation of Ezekiel 20:11 and John 12:20, those who are perfected and obedient in all respects are the only ones worthy of translation. They will walk right into heaven as Enoch did. They will be worthy to never see death, worthy to not die. Theirs will be glorification by faith by Jesus through their special conviction, special repentance, special justification, and special purification. This is a great incentive to strive for perfection in self-denial and self-sacrifice. It’s a great incentive to be like Jesus who made Himself of no reputation. But, the how to get there is not to say, “Now that I know what God expects I will bend all my will to make it happen.” No! The “how to”, according to the gospel, is to come to the Law of liberty, which makes us duck for cover due to its austerity and dreadful greatness (Matt. 17:5,6, cf Eze. 1:18) until Jesus comes to say, “Arise, be not afraid.” (Matt. 17:7). The “how to” is then to rest in His acceptance and His power of sanctify our will. Then we will have the “power of the highest…the Holy Ghost” (Luke 1:35) to will and to do of His good pleasure. We will regain the power to think and to do. Without the power of God through walking and talking with Christ, all our great acts of righteousness are putrid, unclean rags. But, with Jesus we can do all things. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:37). “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him.” (2Chron. 16:9).

“Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation.” (Ps. 91:14-16).
 
Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm.” (Ps. 105:15).

“Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:26).

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