Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday's with Jesus #70

#70 "I Will Never..."
October 31, 2006
"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him:
"Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly." (Luke 22: 61-62)
Peter denied Jesus three times. Peter, the one who said that he would never deny Christ. Even if all the rest of the apostles did, Peter literally said,  "But not I!" (Mark 14: 29)  I think we're a lot like Peter. We don't think we'll ever deny our Lord and maybe we won't ... at least not in such a blatant way as this. We read this biblical account and in our self-righteousness, think, "how could he do that?" I would like to suggest that we deny Christ more often than we think.
We deny Him when we are proud. We deny Him when we refuse to show mercy and grant forgiveness to those who have hurt or offended us. We deny Him in our lusts, adulteries and divorces and when we don't keep our word. We deny Him when we exact revenge on our enemies instead of loving them as Jesus commands. We deny Him when we take the credit for our blessings, when we make sure that others know about our kindness to the needy and when we pray eloquent prayers to impress others. We deny Him in our judgement of others. (See Matthew, Chapters 5-7) We deny Him when we know the good we ought to do and we don't do it (James 4: 17) We deny Him when we gossip, quarrel, and slander others. We deny Him when we worry, rather than trust..when we doubt, rather than believe. Basically, we deny Him each time we make a deliberate choice to choose our way instead of God's way as set out for us in His Word. Every time that we think our way is better and that we know better than God, we are denying Christ. Denial that is more subtle than Peter's...but denial none the less.
The Bible says that "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." Can you even imagine? Let's say you have failed. You've sinned. You've fallen short. And Jesus turns and looks straight at you. I don't know about you, but that sends a chill right through me. Jesus turned. This was a deliberate effort to look at Peter. The Greek words used for "turned and looked" denotes "intense looking." It is used in Scripture to describe the first look of a blind man who has just been healed opening his eyes for the first time. What kind of a look was it? Were Jesus' eyes filled with disappointment and sadness or with compassion and understanding? We will never know. What we do know is that after the "look", Peter went outside and wept bitterly. That means "with great remorse"...true repentance.
Is Jesus turning and looking straight at you today? For one moment, it was just Jesus and Peter in the whole world. Only they existed for a split moment in time. Let this be a moment between just you and Jesus. Don't get aggravated with me. I never give you anything that the Lord has not confronted me on first. I'm right here with you, my friend. I try to make my messages uplifting and encouraging for the most part, but there are necessary times in a Christian's life where we have to do some self examination and repentance if needed. 2 Timothy tells us that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Hebrews tells us that "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than a double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." The accounts of people in the Bible are useful to us because these things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us. (See 1 Corinthians 10: 11) We can't just read Peter's story and keep moving. What can we learn from it so that we don't fall and fail?
That is how we need to learn how to read Scripture. What can we learn? How can we apply it in our daily lives? I think Peter's failure has a couple of things to tell us.
First, recognize that everyone fails. It wasn't just Peter. Where did the other 10 disciples go? At least Peter loved Jesus enough to follow Him to His trials and sentencing. The others flew the coop. Friend, we all fail. You do, I do. That's why we need the precious blood of Jesus to cleanse us. And if you fail at one thing, you are not a "failure". 
Second, remember that God does not love you or forgive you because you never fail. His forgiveness is actually dependant on our failure. We need forgiveness, everyday, all day, at all times, until He calls us Home. Remember what our righteousness is like? Filthy rags, menstrual cloths. And His love...oh, His Love! His love is dependant only on who He is. God is love. Jesus is Love. He loves us with an everlasting love. A never ending love. A perfect love. Despite our warts. Despite our sin. Despite our denials. He always, forever and eternally loves us. If you have failed....Jesus still loves you. And He forgives all your sins.
Third, learn and grow from your failures. Take advantage of your failure. Learn and grow from it. Don't waste it. Just like our trials, we can grow from our failures. Every bad experience can teach us something.
Finally, put your failures behind you. Don't get caught in the devils' trap of condemnation and guilt. Satan's message is that we're beyond hope and that we have no chance at a future. The devil is a liar. "We must never use failure as an excuse for not trying again. Proverbs 24:16 reminds us, ?For though a righteous man may fall seven times he rises again.? Everyone fails... what we need to remember is that we do not have to stay down. ?Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising each time we fall.? - Oliver Goldsmith
You may not be able to reclaim the loss, undo the damage, or reverse the consequences, but you can make a new start?wiser, more sensitive, renewed by the Holy Spirit, and more determined to do right." (John Hamby)  
And always remember that this was not the end of the story for Peter. After Jesus rose from the dead, He reinstated Peter. He asked him to become a leader in the church (see John 21:15-18). On the day of Pentecost, Peter was one of the principal witnesses for Christ. Shortly after that he, along with John, healed a lame man at the temple gate. Peter addressed the crowds with boldness and courage. He was imprisoned and fearlessly vindicated himself before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4: 8-21) He healed, he saw visions, and he raised Dorcas to life at Lydda (Acts 9: 32-43). Mark wrote his gospel under Peter's teaching.
God still used Peter in a mighty, mighty way for the kingdom of God. It is not the end of the story for you either. God will still use you, just like Peter. Keep going. Thomas Edison said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Whatever you've done...however you have failed...blatant denial or subtle. Don't give up. Learn a lesson from Peter. That's what the Bible tells us to do.
Getting up again,
Donna Schultz
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday's with Jesus #69

#69 "The Past is Passed"
October 24, 2006
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43: 18-19)
Have you ever heard a song that took you back to another time in your life? You could almost taste and smell what it was like on that day. We remember people and places, sights and sounds. We kind of have an obsession with the past. We listen to old music, watch "I love the 70's, 80's"..whatever your decade was.  We talk about how things used to be. We long for a gentler, more peaceful time.  
Going back to your past can also be a very bad trip to take. Walking those roads may bring back the feelings you had when you were abused. You may relive those hurtful words that someone said to you. It's amazing how those feelings of hurt and anger can be felt just as strongly today as they were when it happened.
Good or bad, the past is just that...passed. And your past is not your future. God tells us that He is doing a new thing...He has a plan for your future but you will never get there if you are still living in the past.
We can't change what has happened to us in life. We can't change our childhood, our parents' divorce, the abuse we may have suffered. We can't make that man stay when he went after another woman. We can't bring back that loved one who died. We can't take back the hurtful words that were said that caused a relationship to be fractured. We have no control over where we may have been and what may have happened to us. But we do have control over where we are going. We have a say in the direction of our future. Your past is not your future. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe says, "Do not say, ?Why were the former days better than these?? You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past."

Don't let your past define who you are. You are not your past. You are Gods' son or daughter. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of His eye. He has a grand and glorious plan for your life according to Jeremiah 29:11. People may tell you it's too late for you. Too much has happened. It's a lie. People may tell you that things will never change...that's just how things are. That's also a lie. Those people may not be the devil, but the devil will use people just like that to cause you to stay stuck and lose hope for anything better that is up ahead. 

If you have good memories, leave them as that, memories. Don't try to relive the good ole days. Looking at your past to relive the pain, hurt and heartache that is there will never get you forward. Try this...stand up and try to walk forward with your head facing backward. You can't do it, can you? In just a minute you will stumble and hit something and probably even hurt yourself. If you are continually looking behind, you cannot see where you are going. Harry S. Truman said, "Men who live in the past remind me of a toy I?m sure all of you have seen. The toy is a small wooden bird called the ?Floogie Bird.? Around the Floogie Bird?s neck is a label reading, ?I fly backwards, I don?t care where I?m going. I just want to see where I?ve been." Forget those former things. Learn what you can from them and move on. God says, "do not dwell on the past." 
Just as you are not defined by what was done to you, you are also not defined by what you've done.  If you have given your life to Christ and repented from those past sins (repent means to turn away from), then you are forgiven. The sin is gone. In the sea of forgetfulness, as far as the east is from the west. Gone, finished...over. You are not your past sins. You are forgiven, a new creature in Christ. So any way you look at it, the past is passed!
No matter what you've done and no matter what was done to you....leave it...walk away from it...I say, RUN away from it. It's only going to hold you back. Keep your eyes on Jesus, follow Him into your future. A future bright with promise. A future with Christ who will lead you for the rest of your life on a journey like you've never known before. But you have to look at Him, not behind you. Look into His Word. Find out what He promises to those who follow Him. Make that your life's goal. His plan for you. Not the devils' plan to kill, steal and destroy you by pushing you deeper and deeper into your past so that you can never enjoy God's glorious future. He is making ways in the deserts and streams in the wastelands of your past. 
One man said to his friend: ?Say, you look depressed. What are you thinking about?? ?My future,? was the quick answer. ?What makes it look so hopeless??  The answer was, ?My past.? Where are you living today? Where do you want to live today?  It's your choice!

Looking forward,

Donna Schultz
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tuesday's with Jesus #68

#68 "God's Delays Are Not God's Denials"
October 17, 2006
Read Mark 5: 21-43
Jairus's only daughter was dying. He pleaded with Jesus to come and put His hands on her so that she might be healed. Literally, the word "pleaded" means that he "begged much". He kept begging perhaps repeatedly and desperately. Mark's Greek vividly portrays the anguish of this poor father as he pleads with broken phrases: "My little daughter is lying at death's door..that you may come and..." The Bible tells us that Jesus went with him. But along the way, Jesus was interrupted by a woman with an issue of blood. She had been suffering from some type of chronic menstrual disorder or a uterine hemorrhage for 12 years and she had heard about Jesus' healing power. After she touched the hem of His garment, Jesus knew that healing power had gone from Him. He stopped. He asked questions. The woman answered and He spoke to her. He assured her that her healing was permanent and complete, acknowledged her faith and trust in Him and sent her on her way. This all took time. Time that Jairus did not have. His daughter was dying, for goodness sake, and Jesus was taking time out for someone else! 
Have you been "begging much" for something? Have you been waiting for an answer to a prayer? More importantly, have you been watching other people get the answer to the very prayers you have been waiting for? You've been believing God for your healing and someone else gets a clean bill of health. You've been asking for that special someone to come along while you watch all of your friends getting married. You've been believing for a car and worse yet, you watch your enemy drive their new car around town. It seems that everyone has a praise report except for you. Everyone's prayers are getting answered and you are still "begging much." You are asking "God, what am I doing wrong? Why the delay?" You are figuratively "dying" and Jesus is taking His time out for someone else!
I can just see Jairus tapping his feet with impatience and wondering why they had to stop on the road now. He thought that Jesus was going to help his daughter, right then, right now, but instead ... delay. Inside he was probably screaming, "Don't you people know that we're in an urgent situation right now? We must keep moving. My daughter...my daughter! Jesus, let's go!" The delay caused by the woman's healing was a severe test of Jairus' faith. 
You may be in an urgent situation today. The electricity is about to be shut off. The lay off is around the corner and you don't have another job. Someone you love is getting sicker and sicker. Your spouse is packing her bags. And you sit stoically as you hear about other people's blessings and answers to prayer. You sit stoically in the center of delay. It seems that God has forgotten your situation and moved His attention to someone else. You smile and say, "Praise the Lord" when your friend tells you their good news. But you have to admit that twinge of jealousy there deep inside. That envy. Maybe even anger that God seems to be overlooking your problem and focusing on someone else. "Come on, God...I need your help, right now!"
The people come and tell Jairus not to bother the Teacher any more because his daughter has died. See there. Jesus delayed. All hope is gone. That woman got her blessing but my daughter is dead! His fears in the delay were confirmed. Any hope that Jesus could help was gone. People were talking. Saying there was no hope. It was too late. Let Jesus go on His way. But the Bible says that Jesus ignored what they said. He refused to accept the implications of their words. The force of the word "ignoring" means "refused to listen". Jesus refused to listen!
Refuse to listen to those people around you who say there's no hope. Ignore the whispers of the devil in your ear that tell you that Jesus forgot about you and that He loves someone else better than you. The devil is a liar! Hear Jesus say to you, "Don't be afraid; just believe. Stop fearing in unbelief; just keep on believing." You, like Jairus, exercised your faith by going to Jesus in the first place. You, like Jairus, have witnessed the relationship between faith and Jesus' power in someone else's life. Believe that God is no respecter of persons. (Romans 2: 11) What God can do for Jairus, He can do for you. Believe that Jesus can restore your lifeless situation like Jesus exhorted Jairus to believe that He could restore his lifeless daughter. Don't forsake your previous faith that you had when you went to Jesus in the first place.   
And restore her He did! There was enough of Jesus' power to go around. He didn't use it all up on the woman with the issue of blood. There was still an abundant supply left for Jairus' daughter to be raised from the dead. Jesus' delay was not a denial. What appeared to be a disastrous delay in the healing of the woman actually assured the restoration of Jairus' daughter. It was providentially ordered to test and strengthen Jairus' faith. And today, there is enough of Jesus' power left for your situation, no matter how many others He has blessed before you. He hasn't used it all up on them! His delay is NOT His denial!  
We know that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isaiah 55: 8-9) His purposes are still His own Glory and the strengthening of our faith. Yes, He wants to help us in our distress but He has higher purposes in mind. And I believe He will take care of those purposes first. And maybe even before we see the answer we've been yearning for. And what a test of our true character and faith, when we see others blessed, provided for, healed, restored, redeemed, while we are still waiting for our answer to come. It really shows our true colors, so to speak. Remember that jealousy and envy are listed in Galatians, Chapter 5 as "acts of the sinful nature." Don't be jealous. Don't feel slighted. Don't think God has overlooked you for someone with "more faith." These are lies of the devil, straight from the pits of hell.
Jesus doesn't get side-tracked. He doesn't forget because He's been distracted. He knows about your need...about your problem...He's heard your prayer. And He is on His way with your answer. Don't get discouraged if He stops along the way and helps some of His other children. He loves them too, you know. There's enough of His blood, His Holy Spirit and His power to go around. Enough for you and for me. And remember, God's delays are NOT God's denials. The story of Jairus' daughter proves that to us today.
Donna Schultz
~ One Night with the King ~ The Story of Esther ~ Did you go? If you did, let me know what you thought. I thought it was fabulous, anointed, beyond description! Remember that one night with the king changes everything!
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

#67 "Yes, I'm Talking About That Movie Again!"

October 10, 2006
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4: 14)

Yes, I'm talking about that movie again! "One Night With The King". As I write this, there are 3 days, 12 hours, 45 minutes and 20 seconds until it opens in the theaters. Okay, so I'm not that neurotic. There's a countdown on the web site. But I am excited beyond belief. I think this movie is the greatest thing that's happened since, since, well I don't even know since what! If you have never heard about it, let me share the story with you.
"This is an epic motion picture set in a world of adventure, intrigue and romance. One Night With the King follows a young girl who rises from peasant to princess by going against the culture and seeking the King's heart rather than the riches of the kingdom.

By 'chance' she is born with exceeding beauty to a people who have been carried away as slaves to the most powerful kingdom in the world. By 'chance' her parents are killed while she is young leaving her to be taken in by her uncle, a man who has found favor as a royal scribe. By 'chance' the Queen is executed by the unknowing King, spurned on by the ruthless plotting of palace princes hungry for power. By 'chance' the King is left feeling alone, pushed and prodded, desperate to live up to and avenge the battles of his father. By 'chance' Esther is carted off to the palace to become part of the King's harem at the same time a vengeful young prime minister with the King's ear is rising to prominence with a plan for orchestrating the genocide of her people.

So begins the story of Esther, One Night With the King, a story that reveals that all of life is under God's command. Power, position and prominence are one thing, but when Esther must choose between all she's ever dreamed of and the fate of her people, will she be able to find the courage to step forward and embrace her destiny?" (One Night With The King Web Site)

If you have never read the book of Esther in the Bible, read it. It's a short 10 chapter book tucked away between Nehemiah and Job. If you've read it before, read it again. The story is amazing and it is true! These were real people, a real orphan and a real King...Xerxes, the King of Persia. The events spanned over a decade in the years between 483 and 473 BC. During the Persian period, many Jews returned to Palestine to rebuild the temple and set up the sacrificial system again. Most Israelite captives chose not to return. Esther and Mordecai were two of those who did not return. The events are the origin of the Jewish Feast of Purim, which is a celebration of God's miraculous deliverance of His people from Haman, a madman who sought the total annihilation of the Jewish people for power and profit. A very early case of anti-Semitism.

I have followed the making of this movie for the last year and a half. It has been an amazing journey. Ups and downs. Pitfalls and triumphs. It was actually supposed to be released a long time ago but because of different circumstances, God-ordained we now know, the time is now. In the same region of the world, we have a modern day madman, a modern day Haman, the President of Iran, putting out a call to wipe the Jewish people off of the map. How much more timely could this movie be?

We can be encouraged along with our Jewish brothers and sisters that God cares for His chosen people. He protects them and always works on their behalf. The Persian name, Esther means "star" Amidst the darkness of genocide comes this rising "star", this peasant girl with a call and a destiny on her life, who saves a nation from total destruction. Who would have thought?

It is the same for you. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, orphaned or in a family...God has a call on your life. A great destiny for you to fulfill, right where you are. You don't have to be in a palace. You don't have to save Israel from it's enemies. You are Esther in your home, at your work, at your child's school and in your community of influence. You may think you're not great enough, not powerful enough. Whatever! God used Esther..an orphan in exile in a foreign land, a Jew in a world where they were hated. Esther was a nobody who had a willing heart to say yes! If God could do it for Esther, He can do it for you!

Can I go deeper? You are Esther and Christ is the King. Esther never sought the palace or the gifts that she would receive. She sought only the King's heart. Are you seeking what Christ can do for you and His blessings, or are you seeking after His heart? Are you loving Him solely for Who He is? Esther worked long and hard and won the favor of the King by running hard after Him and nothing else. She fell in love with the King. I don't know about you, but I am SO in love with Jesus. Fall in love with the King....there's nothing like it.

Shot in India, the scenery in this film is outstanding, the quality is superb. It truly is a film of epic proportions. Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif....and newcomer, Tiffany DuPont...She is Esther. She has never played another role, so we are not jaded by any past performances. This is a film for all people. Jews, Christians, non-believers. Young and old alike. Romance for the gals and war and intrigue for the guys. Go with your friends. Go with your church. Grab your husband or wife and have a date night. Take your kids, so that they can see that God has a destiny for their lives. I truly believe that your life will be changed.

So that's my advertisement. I hope it has inspired you to find a theater this weekend and see "One Night With The King". Check out the web site. View the trailer. I guarantee you that you will never be the same. Interviews with those who attended the screenings, well, amazing. They all said that the anointing of the Holy Spirit was so strong in these theaters. Let's also go out and support a quality Christian film. We do enough complaining about Hollywood. Let's do something positive and show Hollywood what we like and what we want to see on the big screen. Opening weekend is the most important time to see a film. Those are the ticket sales that they watch.

Remember, God has a great plan and purpose for your life. You can be an Esther. Remember that if God could do it for Esther, He can do it for you. Whoever you are. Wherever you are. Who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this?

I'll be the one in the seat with the big box of tissues,

Donna Schultz

~ One Night with the King ~ The Story of Esther ~

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

#66 "Can God Interrupt Your Life?"

October 3, 2006
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1: 38)

I don't know about you, but I don't like interruptions. Ask anyone that knows me well and they will be sure to tell you that I'm a little obsessive-compulsive. I usually have a plan, organized and well thought out, and I set my mind to get it done. I'm not just talking about big projects. I'm this way with the day to day activities of my life. Lord knows, don't call me before 11AM. I'm busy, don't you know. I do not like interruptions.

Well, imagine being Mary. Her marriage to Joseph had been arranged by her parents. The contracts were negotiated. She was considered a married woman and was called Joseph's wife. She was very young. Jewish maidens at that time were considered marriageable at 12 years and 6 months of age. Can you even imagine? Mary was somewhere in the one-year waiting period where it would be demonstrated that she was faithful to her pledge of purity. If she was found to be "pure" after this one year, Joseph would come and in a grand processional march, take her to live with him as his wife. If she was found to be pregnant, therefore unfaithful, their marriage could be annulled. She and Joseph had never had sexual intercourse and Mary herself was faithful. We don't know exactly where she was in that waiting time period, but I imagine she was planning her life with Joseph and anxiously awaiting their wedding day.

So Mary's going about her day and BAM! the angel Gabriel appears to her. I don't know about you but I don't get too many angelic appearances coming my way and I'd be a little taken aback, to say the least. He tells her that she is highly favored and specially honored by God. And that she would have a Son. She can't imagine how this could be since she was a virgin. Literally it means "since I do not know a man." She didn't doubt the angel's words but merely wanted to know how such an event would be accomplished. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would miraculously bring this about. And he adds, "nothing is impossible with God."

There would be such misunderstanding in the community. Tongues would be wagging at the well. This could result in Mary being stoned (Deuteronomy 22: 23-24). Joseph's heart would be broken. What would he do when he found out? She could've refused. She could've fought with the angel. She could've asked for time to "pray about it." But it is at this very point that Mary says the most amazing thing. "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." Because of this interruption in a normal day, Mary's life would never be the same. And frankly, neither would ours. Mary's life could be interrupted by God.

What about you? Can God interrupt your life? Can He step into a normal Tuesday and ask you to allow Him to rearrange everything you know as normal to further His purpose in your life and the lives of other people? Sometimes the rearrangement is small. Like stopping your daily routine to give encouragement to a friend who calls. It only takes a few moments. Sometimes it's a little bigger and you are made aware of a need and you sacrifice some finances to help or He is asking you to get involved at your church. And other times what God asks is life-changing. A complete turn in the direction that you thought your life was going. You are asked to take care of an aging, ailing parent. Your child is in big trouble and needs you to set aside your own life and pour into theirs. A marriage is floundering and you are asked to model a "gentle and quiet spirit" and do all that you can to make that marriage work. You are asked to honor that covenant of marriage. You may get stripped of finances, comforts and things that you hold onto in this life and God may ask you to make your life all about Him. God may close doors in your ministry or your church and be telling you to move on to uncharted waters. To try something you've never done before. To trust Him with the unknowns in your life. And to leave the consequences of your obedience to Him.

I don't know what your interruptions are. And maybe you don't either. Start paying attention. No event is insignificant in God's eye-view. Be aware of every circumstance that you encounter in your everyday. Ask yourself, "Is this a divine interruption?" Will you argue? Will you refuse? Will you have to take forever to "pray about it". Don't get me wrong, we must pray, but I believe that Christians very often use this as an excuse for not accepting the interruptions of God. If Mary had argued, delayed or refused we wouldn't have Jesus! She was part of an awesome plan that God had for her life. She was chosen to be divinely interrupted that day. To have her life turned upside down. To face unbelievable circumstances. For Him. Can we say, today, if we are divinely interrupted, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said?"

Anticipating interruption,

Donna Schultz

Only 10 more days until ~ One Night with the King ~ The Story of Esther ~ View the trailer. It opens Friday, October 13. Tell everyone you know!
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