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Attempting to obey God and follow Jesus Christ our Lord

Posts tagged “new-testament

The Meaning of Christmas — A. W. Tozer

EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE, CHRISTMAS TONIGHT!�
�Phillips Brooks.
That there were in the world multiplied millions who had never heard of Christmas did not matter to our poet for the purpose of his poem. He was expressing an emotional fact, not a statistical one.
Throughout the Western world we tend to follow the poet and approach Christmas emotionally instead of factually. It is the romance of Christmas that gives it its extraordinary appeal to that relatively small number of persons of the earth�s population who regularly celebrate it.

So completely are we carried away by the excitement of this midwinter festival that we are apt to forget that its romantic appeal is the least significant thing about it. The theology of Christmas too easily gets lost under the gay wrappings, yet apart from its theological meaning it really has none at all. A half dozen doctrinally sound carols serve to keep alive the great deep truth of the Incarnation, but aside from these, popular Christmas music is void of any real lasting truth. The English mouse that was not even stirring, the German Tannenbaum so fair and lovely and the American red-nosed reindeer that has nothing to recommend it have pretty well taken over in Christmas poetry and song. These along with merry old St. Nicholas have about displaced Christian theology.

We must not forget that the Church is the custodian of a truth so grave and urgent that its importance can not be overemphasized, and so vast and incomprehensible that even an apostle did not try to explain it; rather it burst forth from him as an astonished exclamation:
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations;
was believed on in the world,
(1 Timothy 3:16)
This is what the Church is trying to say to mankind but her voice these days is thin and weak and scarcely heard amid the commercialized clangor of �Silent Night.�

It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning; but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import. The same man who will check his tires and consult his road map with utmost care before starting on a journey may travel for a lifetime on the way that knows no return and never once pause to ask whether or not he is headed in the right direction.

The Christmas message, when stripped of its pagan overtones, is relatively simple: God is come to earth in the form of man. Around this one dogma the whole question of meaning revolves. God did come or He did not; He is come or He is not, and the vast accumulation of sentimental notions and romantic practices that go to make up our modern Christmas cannot give evidence on one side or the other.

Certain religious teachers in apostolic times refused to believe that Jesus was actually God come in the flesh. They were willing to exhaust the language of unctuous flattery to describe His glorious manhood, but they would have none of His deity. Their basic philosophy forbade them to believe that there could ever be a union of God and human flesh.Matter, they said, is essentially evil. God who is impeccably holy could never allow Himself contact with evil. Human flesh is matter, therefore God is not come in the flesh.

Certainly it would not be difficult to refute this negative teaching. One would only need to demonstrate the error of the major premise, the essential sinfulness of matter, and the whole thing would collapse. But that would be to match reason against reason and take the mystery of godliness out of the realm of faith and make of it merely another religious philosophy. Then we would have rationalism with a thin Christian veneer. How long before the veneer wore off and we had only rationalism?

While faith contains an element of reason, it is essentially moral rather than intellectual. In the New Testament unbelief is a sin, and this could not be so if belief were no more than a verdict based upon evidence. There is nothing unreasonable about the Christian message, but its appeal is not primarily to reason. At a specific time in a certain place God became flesh, but the transcendence of Christ over the human conscience is not historic; it is intimate, direct and personal.

Christ�s coming to Bethlehem�s manger was in harmony with the primary fact of His secret presence in the world in preincarnate times as the Light that lighteth every man. The sum of the New Testament teaching about this is that Christ�s claims are self-validating and will be rejected only by those who love evil. Whenever Christ is preached in the power of the Spirit, a judgment seat is erected and each hearer stands to be judged by his response to the message. His moral responsibility is not to a lesson in religious history but to the divine Person who now confronts him.
�Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight.� But Christmas either means more than is popularly supposed or it means nothing.
We had better decide.

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Was America once a Christian nation?

By Bill Federer via American Minute
Was America once a Christian nation?

Exclusive: Bill Federer looks at Obama’s 2006 statement in light of state constitutions

“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation.”  – President Barack Obama, June 28, 2006

Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out “whatever we once were”?

Originally, laws that governed personal behavior were under states’ jurisdiction, not federal.

People today are aware that some states allow minors to consume alcohol, and others do not; some states have smoking bans, and others do not; some states allow gambling, and others do not; some states attempt to limit the Second Amendment, and others do not; some states allow gay marriage, and others do not; and one state allows prostitution, while the rest do not.

At the time the Constitution was written, religion was under each individual state’s jurisdiction, and each state expanded religious tolerance at its own speed.

The U.S. Constitution went into effect June 21, 1788, when two-thirds of the states ratified it.

What was in those original 13 state Constitutions concerning religion at the time those states ratified the U.S. Constitution? [Caps added throughout for emphasis.]

DELAWARE – first to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:

“Every person … appointed to any office … shall … subscribe … ‘I … profess faith in GOD THE FATHER, and in JESUS CHRIST His only Son, and in the HOLY GHOST, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.'”

PENNSYLVANIA – second to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution, signed by Ben Franklin:

“Each member, before he takes his seat, shall … subscribe … ‘I do believe in one GOD, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.'”

NEW JERSEY – third to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:

“All persons, professing a belief in the faith of any PROTESTANT sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government … shall be capable of being elected.”

GEORGIA – fourth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1777 state constitution:

“Representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county … and they shall be of the PROTESTANT religion.”

CONNECTICUT – fifth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, retained its 1662 Colonial Constitution, which was established PROTESTANT CONGREGATIONAL, till 1818:

“By the Providence of GOD … having from their ancestors derived a free and excellent Constitution … whereby the legislature depends on the free and annual election. … The free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility and CHRISTIANITY call for.”

MASSACHUSETTS – sixth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1780 state constitution, written by John Adams:

“Any person … before he … execute the duties of his … office … [shall] subscribe … ‘I … declare, that I believe the CHRISTIAN religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth.’ … The legislature shall … authorize the support and maintenance of public PROTESTANT teachers of piety, religion and morality.”

MARYLAND – seventh to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:

“No other test … ought to be required, on admission to any office … than such oath of support and fidelity to this State … and a declaration of a belief in the CHRISTIAN religion.”

SOUTH CAROLINA – eighth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1778 state constitution:

“No person shall be eligible to a seat … unless he be of the PROTESTANT religion. … The CHRISTIAN PROTESTANT religion shall be deemed … the established religion of this State.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE – ninth to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1784 state constitution:  “No person shall be capable of being elected … who is not of the PROTESTANT religion.”

VIRGINIA – 10th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution, bill of rights, written by James Madison and George Mason:

“It is the mutual duty of all to practice CHRISTIAN forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

NEW YORK – 11th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1777 state constitution:

“The United American States … declare … ‘Laws of nature and of NATURE’S GOD … All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights … Appealing to the SUPREME JUDGE of the world … A firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE’ …”

NORTH CAROLINA – 12th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 state constitution:

“No person, who shall deny the being of GOD or the truth of the PROTESTANT religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding … office.”

RHODE ISLAND – 13th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, retained its 1663 Colonial Constitution till 1843, which stated:

“By the blessing of God … a full liberty in religious concernements … rightly grounded upon GOSPEL principles, will give the best and greatest security … in the true CHRISTIAN faith and worship of God. … They may … defend themselves, in their just rights and liberties against all the enemies of the CHRISTIAN faith.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Lafayette Black wrote inEngel v. Vitale, 1962:

“As late as the time of the Revolutionary War, there were established Churches in at least eight of the 13 former colonies and established religions in at least four of the other five.”

John K. Wilson wrote in “Religion Under the State Constitutions 1776-1800” (Journal of Church and State, Volume 32, Autumn 1990, Number 4, pp. 754):

“An establishment of religion, in terms of direct tax aid to Churches, was the situation in nine of the 13 colonies on the eve of the American revolution.”

The Journal of the U.S. House recorded that on March 27, 1854, the 33rd Congress voted unanimously to print Rep. James Meacham’s report, which stated:

“At the adoption of the Constitution, we believe every State – certainly 10 of the 13 – provided as regularly for the support of the Church as for the support of the Government. …

“Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people. …

“Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.”

Over the years, the Christians in these states extended tolerance to other denominations, to Jews, to monotheistic religions, to any religion and eventually to atheists.

Activists judges creatively used the 14th Amendment to remove authority over many issues from state jurisdiction.

Though our government has seemingly abandoned ties to the past, for the student of history, it is still fascinating to find out “whatever we once were.”  —

American Minute is a registered trademark. Permission is granted to forward. reprint or duplicate with acknowledgement tovwww.AmericanMinute.com

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The New World via Days of Praise

“For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)

The phrase “the new world” as applied to the two American continents is believed to have been coined by the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who claimed to have been the first to sight the actual mainland. This is believed to be the chief reason why “America” was named after him rather than Christopher Columbus, who had “discovered” some of the islands of the West Indies just a few years before. (Actually, some of the Norsemen and possibly others “discovered” this new world several centuries before either one—not to mention the American “Indians” who reached the continent much earlier than any of them.)

Columbus himself has many memorials named after him too, of course. Think of the many cities named Columbus or Columbia, as well as the great Columbia River. Even America itself has been called Columbia in a number of songs and poems.

But was not a “new world” to God! It has been here all along, and we are thankful to be a part of it today.

There is a real new world coming, however! The Old Testament prophet received God’s promise long ago. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17). The New Testament prophet, John, actually described it as seen in a wonderful vision. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” he said, and then described some of its beauties (seeRevelation 21:1).

But the apostle Peter transmitted the most wonderful news of all about this new world when he wrote that “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). And all of us, who by faith have been made righteous in Christ, shall live there forever! HMM

icr.org

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What Do Fig Trees Do? via Days of Praise

Old fig tree

Old fig tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (James 3:12)

The answer to these rhetorical questions obviously is: “No.” A fig tree cannot become an olive tree in one growing season, or in a million of them. Nor can a grapevine evolve into a fig tree, no matter what happens to it (grafts, mutations, chemicals, radiations, anything).

In the very first chapter of the Bible, each kind of plant God created was given the genetic information by its Maker to “reproduce” only its own “kind” of plant, not to diverge into some other kind, although its offspring could develop into many varieties of the parental kind (but even that only within strict limits). The same was true with the animals. Ten times in Genesis 1, God, in five verses, tells us that each created kind of plant and animal was coded to reproduce just its own kind (Genesis1:11-12, 21, 24-25).

Just in the event that some skeptic might reject Genesis 1 as factual, the same theme is reiterated in the New Testament, not only in our text but in Paul’s great chapter on death and resurrection. “God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Corinthians 15:38-39).

This biblical truth is confirmed by every scientific observation ever made on plants and animals—whether living, dead, or fossilized. No one has ever seen a frog evolve into a prince, or a vine into an olive tree, either in the present or in the fossil record of the past. “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that man should fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 3:14). HMM

icr.org

English: Olive Tree from Greece, Sithonia Бълг...

English: Olive Tree from Greece, Sithonia Български: Маслиново дърво от Ситония, Гърция (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Son of Man via Days of Praise

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.” (Revelation 14:14)

This is the last of some 87 New Testament references (84 in the four gospels, one in Acts, none in the epistles, two in Revelation) to Christ as the Son of man. Here we see the Son of man coming on a white cloud from heaven (just as He had ascended into heaven after His resurrection) as the conquering King of all the earth.

What a contrast is this to the first New Testament reference to the Son of man. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). From humility and poverty on Earth to power and riches in heaven, and for all eternity—this was His journey when Christ left His heavenly glory to join the human family.

In between the poverty and the power lay the whole human experience, for He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Finally, as Son of man He must die for man’s sin, for “the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:7). Even in heaven He is still the Son of man, for Stephen saw Him thus: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

There is, indeed, a great man in the glory! Christ called Himself “the Son of man” much more often than “the Son of God,” though He will eternally be both, the God/man. He delights to identify with those whom He has redeemed, for He “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” asked Jesus. Then we say, with Peter, “Thou art . . . the Son of the living God” (Matthew16:13, 16). HMM

The Institute for Creation Research

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Saints and Sinners via Days of Praise

“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.” (Job 40:3-4)

It is remarkable how the saintliest of men often confess to being the worst of sinners. The patriarch Job was said by God Himself to be “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8). Yet when Job saw God, he could only say, “Behold, I am vile.”

And consider Abraham, who is called “the father of all them that believe” (Romans 4:11). When he presumed to talk to God, however, Abraham said that he was “but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27).

David, “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1), and “a man after |God’s| own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), said: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Isaiah, the greatest of the prophets, testified when he came into God’s presence: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).

The angel recognized Daniel the prophet as “a man greatly beloved” by God (Daniel 10:11). Yet when Daniel saw God, he fell on his face and said: “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength” (Daniel 10:8).

In the New Testament, the apostle Peter said: “I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8), and Paul called himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy1:15). God dwells “in the light which no man can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16).

The closer one comes to the Lord, the more clearly one sees his own sinfulness and the more wonderful becomes God’s amazing grace. No one who is satisfied with his or her own state of holiness has yet come to know the Lord in His state of holiness! None dare face the Lord except by His grace through the mediator Jesus Christ. HMM

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U.S. Constitution ratified by States which included Faith in State Constitutions via American Minute

Bill Federer

New Hampshire Governor John Langdon called for a Day of Fasting, February 21, 1786, to pray for the new government of the United States:”That He would be pleased to bless the great Council of the United States of America and direct their deliberations…

that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true God, the Saviour of man.”

When New Hampshire became the 9th State to ratify the U.S. Constitution, JUNE 21, 1788,  it officially went into effect.

The 55 writers of the U.S. Constitution were:

26 Episcopalian Christians
11 Presbyterian Christians
7 Congregationalist Christians
2 Lutheran Christians
2 Dutch Reformed Christians
2 Methodist Christians
2 Quaker Christians
2 Roman Catholics
and Dr. Franklin, who called for prayer at the Constitutional Convention, June 28, 1787, stating:

“In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered.

All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor…

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?…”

Franklin continued:

“We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.’… I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel…

I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business.”

The Constitution went into effect June 21, 1788, when 2/3’s of the States ratified it:

DELAWARE – 1st to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 State Constitution:

“Every person…appointed to any office…shall…subscribe…

‘I…profess faith in GOD THE FATHER, and in JESUS CHRIST His only Son, and in the HOLY GHOST, one God, blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.'”

PENNSYLVANIA – 2nd to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 State Constitution, signed by Ben Franklin:

“Each member, before he takes his seat, shall…subscribe…

‘I do believe in one GOD, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Rewarder of the good and the Punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.'”

NEW JERSEY – 3rd to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 State Constitution:

“All persons, professing a belief in the faith of any PROTESTANT sect, who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government…shall be capable of being elected.”

GEORGIA – 4th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1777 State Constitution:

“Representatives shall be chosen out of the residents in each county…and they shall be of the PROTESTANT religion.”

CONNECTICUT – 5th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, retained its 1662 Colonial Constitution, which was established PROTESTANT CONGREGATIONAL, till 1818:

“By the Providence of GOD…having from their ancestors derived a free and excellent Constitution…whereby the legislature depends on the free and annual election…The free fruition of such liberties and privileges as humanity, civility and CHRISTIANITY call for.”

MASSACHUSETTS – 6th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1780 State Constitution, written by John Adams:

“Any person…before he…execute the duties of his…office…[shall] subscribe…’I…declare, that I believe the CHRISTIAN religion, and have a firm persuasion of its truth’…

The legislature shall…authorize the support and maintenance of public PROTESTANT teachers of piety, religion and morality.”

MARYLAND – 7th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 State Constitution:

“No other test…ought to be required, on admission to any office…than such oath of support and fidelity to this State…and a declaration of a belief in the CHRISTIAN religion.”

SOUTH CAROLINA – 8th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1778 State Constitution:

“No person shall be eligible to a seat…unless he be of the PROTESTANT religion…The CHRISTIAN PROTESTANT religion shall be deemed…the established religion of this State.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE – 9th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1784 State Constitution:

“No person shall be capable of being elected…who is not of the PROTESTANT religion.”

VIRGINIA – 10th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 State Constitution, Bill of Rights, written with the help of James Madison and George Mason:

“It is the mutual duty of all to practice CHRISTIAN forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”

NEW YORK – 11th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1777 State Constitution:

“The United American States…declare…

‘Laws of nature and of NATURE’S GOD…All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights…Appealing to the SUPREME JUDGE of the world…A firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE’…

People of this State, ordain…the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination…

Provided, That the liberty of conscience, hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness.”

NORTH CAROLINA – 12th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, stated in its 1776 State Constitution:

“No person, who shall deny the being of GOD or the truth of the PROTESTANT religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding…office.”

RHODE ISLAND – 13th to ratify the U.S. Constitution, retained its 1663 Colonial Constitution till 1843, which stated:

“By the blessing of God…a full liberty in religious concernements…rightly grounded upon GOSPEL principles, will give the best and greatest security…in the true CHRISTIAN faith and worship of God…They may…defend themselves, in their just rights and liberties against all the enemies of the CHRISTIAN faith.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Lafayette Black wrote in Engel v. Vitale, 1962:

“As late as the time of the Revolutionary War, there were established Churches in at least 8 of the 13 former colonies and established religions in at least 4 of the other 5.”

John K. Wilson wrote inReligion Under the State Constitutions 1776-1800 (Journal of Church and State, Volume 32, Autumn 1990, Number 4, pp. 754):

“An establishment of religion, in terms of direct tax aid to Churches, was the situation in 9 of the 13 colonies on the eve of the American revolution.”

The Journal of the U.S. Houserecorded that on March 27, 1854, the 33rd Congress voted unanimously to print Rep. James Meacham’s report, which stated:

“At the adoption of the Constitution, we believe every State – certainly 10 of the 13 – provided as regularly for the support of the Church as for the support of the Government…

Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people…

Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.”

American Minute is a registered trademark. Permission is granted to forward. reprint or duplicate with acknowledgement tovwww.AmericanMinute.com
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