Bible Devotions

Submit Where You Are

Read Genesis 16

In Genesis 15 God told Abram his seed would be as innumerous as the stars.  The Bible doesn’t say whether Abram shared this with his wife, Sarai or not.  However, as Genesis 16 begins we see Sarai is tired of being without child.  Sarai, being desperate, thinks up a way to get what she wants.

Isn’t that what most of us do?  When we want something we think of how to get it.  This isn’t usually a bad thing.  After all it takes planning and saving to purchase a house for example.  But it can be a very bad thing if you’re scheming and using people with no regard to their feelings, just to get what you want.

Sarai had a maid servant named Hagar.  Sarai decided to give Hagar to her husband, Abram, to be his second wife.  She mistakenly thought that she could have children through her maid.   Sarai’s thoughts were so focused on what she wanted, she didn’t even consider Hagar’s desires.  Do you think Hagar really wanted to sleep with Abram?  I doubt it. Can you imagine, you work for someone as a maid and out of the blue they decide part of your job description is to sleep with your boss’s husband?  I’m glad we don’t live in those times anymore!

All we know from Genesis 16:4 is Abram slept with Hagar and she conceived.  When Hagar found out she was pregnant, she started hating Sarai, her master.  I’m sure there was so much tension and strife in that house you probably could have cut it with a knife!

God created us to be monogamous – one man, one woman joined together as one flesh.  When we choose to do what is outside of God’s plans for us, chaos reigns.  Sarai blinded by her desires for children, introduces another woman into her sacred marriage.  Consequences are sure to follow, but she risks it anyway.  Perhaps she wasn’t thinking about the consequences at all.

Genesis 16:5-6 tell us Sarai was jealous, Abram tells Sarai to deal with it and Sarai begins treating Hagar harshly.  Here they are Sarai is now filled with jealousy, (I’m sure she didn’t see that coming), Hagar is pregnant and despising Sarai and then Abram won’t do anything to help straighten out this mess.  The situation is way too much for Hagar to handle and she runs away into the wilderness.

Hagar is distraught, probably having a pity party because her life is not turning out the way she planned.  She’s sitting somewhere in the wilderness and an angel of the Lord visits her.  He addressed her by name to show He knows her and by position to remind her of her responsibilities.  The angel says “Hagar, Sarai’s maid where did you come from? Where will you go?”  Notice how the angel of the Lord is reminding Hagar who she is and all she has, trying to get her to realize what she has to be thankful for. Hagar doesn’t even answer His questions but instead says “I’m fleeing from my master”.

Do you ever find yourself in this position?  Things weren’t going according to your plans and you decided to run away?  Somehow we decide that disobedience will help us.  Hagar doesn’t get off that easy though.  The angel of the Lord says “Return and submit to your master”.

God always expects us to carry out our responsibilities.  Remember, Hagar was Sarai’s maid.  God wanted her to complete her duty, regardless of how Sarai treated her.  Everything we do should be done as though we were working for the Lord and not just mere man.

To give Hagar some hope the angel of the Lord tells her that He will multiply her children exceedingly so much that she wouldn’t be able to number them.  In an age where having a houseful of children was considered great riches this message must have given her much to be encouraged about.

The angel then gives Hagar instructions to name the child Ishmael because it means “the Lord heard your afflictions”.  I just love how names had meaning.  Look how the Lord wanted Hagar to remember He hears her prayers by telling her to name her child Ishmael.  Every time Hagar thought of her son or called out his name, it would be a reminder “the Lord heard my affliction”.  How beautiful.

Let’s review what we’ve learned from Genesis 16.

  • Using people to get what you want is always a bad idea.
  • When our focus is not on God, we always make bad decisions.
  • We are meant to have only one spouse for life.  More than one will cause much pain.
  • It’s a good idea to think though the consequences of an action before you take that action.
  • We are expected to be responsible where ever God places us.  Running away is not the solution.  Instead, everything we do should be done as though we’re working for the Lord Himself, rather than just a man or woman.
  • Even when we find ourselves in a bad situation, the Lord hears our prayers. Turn to God and He’ll show you what’s in store for you and care for your needs.

Lord, thank you for your way. Your thoughts are higher than ours. Your Way is better than ours.  Thank you for leading us to life eternal through Jesus Christ. Open our eyes, enable us to see you and your way in our life.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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God’s Promises to Abram

Read Genesis 15 NKJV

Have you ever noticed how hope appears only after there’s been a period of doubt, trials, despair and self-pity?   I know for me, I had to get to the very end of my self-sufficiency in much misery and pain before hope shined his light on me.

In reading Genesis 15, I noticed the same pattern:  doubt, worry, despair all came before hope.  As I’ve come to learn of God’s generosity, He doesn’t just provide hope.  He also follows up the hope with a personal promise, something that speaks to the person specifically and intimately.

Let’s take a look at two examples from Genesis 15 in the NKJV translation.  The first example lies within verses 3 through 6:

Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Notice in verse 3 Abram is whining about having no children to be his heir.  He’s actually blaming God for not giving him children.  That to me speaks of self-pity, doubt and despair.  At this point Abram was unable to see what God was capable of doing.

Look at verse 4 and 5.  God spoke to Abram saying “Don’t worry.  You will have an heir from your own body. In fact, you will have so many descendants you won’t be able to call them, just as you can’t count the stars.”   If that is not a picture of hope, I don’t know what is.

Finally, we see the personal and intimate promise in verse 6.  Abram believed God and God accounted it to him for righteousness.  Abram was considered righteous in God’s eyes because he finally believed God.

The second example of this repeating pattern is found in Genesis 15 verses 13 through 15 in the NKJV translation:Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.

In verse 13 we see God telling Abram what will become of his descendants and the picture isn’t so bright.  God says they will be strangers in a land that’s not theirs, they will serve those who own the land and they will be afflicted four hundreds years.  That sounds a lot like despair to me.

Moving on to verse 14 we find the hope.  God says “Don’t worry, I will judge the nation whom they serve and afterwards they will leave with great substance.”  This is a reminder that when things don’t look like their going well, God is still in control and He will take vengeance on those who persecute His people.

Again we see the personal promise towards Abram in verse 15.  God tells him, he will live a long life and die peacefully.  Isn’t that nice of God to tell Abram how long he’ll live?  I would think that would provide such a boost in productivity and remove a lot of fear.  Just think about it.  Abram could do anything God wanted him to without worrying about dying in the process, for God gave His word he would live a long life.

 

What about in your life, do you see the same pattern?

 

 

I know I did when my marriage was in crisis mode and I thought it would never be good again (despair). God sent an angel to direct me to (hope).  Through the pain I found Jesus Christ and believed on Him as my Lord and Savior, who forgave me (personal promise).

 

If you haven’t noticed this pattern yet, keep your eyes open.  It’s just a matter of time before you do.  When you do recognize the pattern, know that God is teaching you something new either about yourself or about His character or both.

 

God, you have chosen us to become your children by faith in the grace of Jesus Christ. Thank you for getting our attention. Thank you for putting us on the pathway to life.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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Sarai’s Submission

Read Genesis 12

God came to Abram and told him to leave the land of his father.  God said He would bless Abram and make him a great nation, giving him a great name and make him a great blessing.  Wow!

Three greats for one person!   Great nation – he would surely have lots of children if he were to be a great nation!  That’s fabulous considering he and his wife hadn’t been able to have kids up until this point.  Great name – God was going to give Abram a great place in history and give him a legacy.  Great blessing – God was going to use Abram to bless others.  How exciting this must have been to wonder how God was going to do these things in his life!

The Bible doesn’t tell us whether or not Abram had a relationship with God prior to this encounter.  If he didn’t, wouldn’t this be all the more fantastic?  Here Abram is going about his own business when the Lord of the universe appears to him and proclaims these wonderful promises to him!  Awesome!

Okay, now you have some background.  God spoke to Abram.  Abram followed the directions to leave his country.  As they got close to Egypt, Abram began thinking of his own wellbeing.  He knew his wife was drop-dead gorgeous.  Of course, the Egyptians would kill him to take his beautiful wife, he thought.  To save his own hide, he convinces his wife to lie, saying she’s his sister.

Can you imagine?  Sarai goes along with it.  Okay, Abram I’ll lie for you, even though I might have to sleep with the Pharoh.  Yikes!!  I don’t know if I could do that.  So they entered Egypt and as Abram feared, the Pharoh saw Sarai and took her into his harem because she said she was Abram’s sister.  I personally would feel like I was just sold into slavery!  How could Sarai agree to be given to another man?  How could she submit to Abram, when it was lying?

The Bible again doesn’t tell us for sure whether Sarai heard God’s promises to Abram to first hand or whether Abram told her everything God told him.  Perhaps she was present when God spoke to Abram.  If she knew God was going to make Abram a great name, then maybe she thought she should go along with whatever Abram told her to do because God would some how cover or remove the lies.  After all, how can you have a great name if you’re a liar?

Perhaps Sarai trusted Abram with her life.  If she did trust him, maybe she thought Abram would get her out before she was violated by the Pharoh.  Then again maybe it was God she trusted.  I’d like to believer she trusted God, but later we find she laughed at God’s promise to give her a son, so there’s probably more evidence that she didn’t believe or trust God’s promises.

In any case, even though I just don’t understand how she submitted to Abram’s decision to call her his sister, God was able to bring good out of Abram’s bad decision.  Isn’t just like our God?  He makes us for our lack of faith.  He comes through every time.  He does exactly what He says He’s going to do.  What an awesome God we have!!

 

Lord you bring good out of everything for those who love God and called according to your purposes.  Thank you for working good in our lives.  In Jesus’ name Amen.

 

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Faith of Noah

Read Genesis 6 and 7

What if God told you to build an ark?  At first it may seem like it would require a lot of faith to carry out that command.  I mean really, build an ark in your front yard.  Can you imagine the complaint’s from your neighbors and your homeowner’s association?

This is exactly what God did with Noah.  He told Noah He was going to destroy man and all the living things because He saw they had corrupted their way on the earth.  God told Noah build an ark, for in you I have seen righteousness on the earth.

As I pondered this story more, I realized Noah and God had a close relationship.  They spoke often together.  This wasn’t the first time God had spoken to Noah.  As a result, I don’t think it took Noah by surprise.  In Genesis 6:22 we see Noah did according to all God commanded him.  While it may require a huge amount of faith to believe God is real and is a rewarder of men, it really doesn’t take more faith to follow through on something God asks you to do, once you know Him.

Think about it.  When you first believed, God had not revealed Himself fully, so it took more faith to wait for God’s revelation.  As you grew in your personal relationship with God, He revealed more of Himself by proving He was God in a way that helped you believe.  Once He makes Himself well known to you, it’s far easier to obey His commands.

One way to document the way’s God proves Himself to you is to journal your prayers.  I started this process as soon as I believed.  It surely helped me see God moving in my life.  From the smallest prayer, like “help me get through this today” to bigger ones like “save my marriage”.  The more you journal your prayers and God’s answers to your prayers, the more your faith will grow because it becomes so easy to see His activity in your life.  Talk about excitement!  It’s exciting seeing how God works things out for the good of those you love God and are called according to His purposes.

So do you have faith like Noah?

 

Lord, you are the author and finisher of our faith. Thank you for enabling us to believe. Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit, who is greater than he who is in the world.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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Sharing God Through Our Relationships

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,  having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 NKJV

 

Back in the New Testament times, the gospel was shared from person to person through real life situations.  It wasn’t broadcast on TV, radio and the internet for those things weren’t invented yet.  But God’s Word was moving, nonetheless.

 

 

Today, although we have many new technological methods of communicating, the best way to share God’s Word is still through a person to person connection.  The power of relationship is strong.   Depending on the kind of relationship, that power can be used for good or for evil.

 

Looking at Timothy’s life we see his mother and grandmother play key roles in his spiritual development. In 2 Timothy 1:5 NKJV Paul says “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”  This tells us Timothy has been instructed in God’s Word from childhood.  He had role models to watch as he grew.

 

In our own relationships, especially with our children, we need to pass on what we know about God and faith.  Teaching our children the things of God, so when they are older they will pass it on to their children and their children will teach their own children, and so on.

 

 

However, to pass on God’s Word we must first know it ourselves.  Look at Deuteronomy 4:9 NKJV “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren..”

So what are some practical ideas for teaching our children?  Here’s a few I use.  See if they work for you:

1) Before bedtime, read a devotional and talk about afterwards.

2) Use every day occurrences to teach children how to pray.

3) Go to church on a regular basis, so your children learn from others about God as well.

4) Tell your children how God is moving in your life.  Every time God answers your prayers, share it with your kids.

In conclusion, we are all commanded to share what we know about God with others.  Why not start today?  Teach your children now, so when they are older they won’t depart from it.

 

Father God, thank you for loving us, for giving us your words, for your salvation, for your Holy Spirit to guide us in all truth.  You are Lord. Help us to share what we have learned of you.  Teach us more of you. We love you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

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3 Ways to Examine Yourself

And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:14-17 NKJV

 

You’ve probably heard it said that God forgives and forgets.  Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” We humans, on the other hand never forget.  With regard to our sin, that’s a very good thing.   Not forgetting what we were like before we were saved is a great way to stay humble.  Remembering where we came from, how we didn’t always believe and how our life was a mess before can help us have compassion and mercy towards others, just as God had with us.

Remembering our own failures and weaknesses is helpful in drawing us close to our Lord and Savior.  For it He, who came to into the world to save sinners and by His strips we are healed for our sins were laid upon Him, who knew no sin.  Contrasting our sinfulness with Christ Jesus’ righteousness helps us see a more accurate picture of ourselves, which in turn, helps keep us humble.  The Bible ( Micah 6:8 NKJV ) tells us to walk humbly before our God.

Humility plays a key part in our relationship with Christ.  He is the head and we are the body.  We are under His authority and our lives are submitted to His will.  Without humility, we wouldn’t submit to Him.  Without humility, we wouldn’t recognize our sinfulness and our need to be saved.  Without humility, we’d be prideful. The Bible ( James 4:6 NKJV ) tells us God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.

As Christians, we must examine ourselves to ensure we’re living our lives pleasing to the Lord to bring glory and honor to Him alone. Lamentations 3:40 NKJVLet us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD.” Here’s a few things to prayerfully consider when examining your thoughts, words and actions:

1) Are my thoughts focused on good, pure, honorable, and trustworthy things? Philippians 4:8-9 NKJV

2) Are my words helpful in building others up? Ephesians 4:29 NKJV

3) Are my actions driven by godly motives or selfish desires? 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV

Lord, thank you for loving us enough to die for us when we were still sinners.  Thank you for pouring out your grace, mercy and forgiveness on those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ.  Teach us to examine our ways that we may be your witness of Christ for your glory.  Help us remain humble and submitted to your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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A Power Within

Read John 5:19-47

Jesus did nothing on His own. He only did what His Father did. As He heard, that He did.

The Father raises the dead and gives life. The Son gives life to whom He will. The Father has committed judgment to the Son, that they should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.

Paul preached, “I know nothing good lives within me that is in my sinful nature.” But Paul also penned, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

God the Father strengthened, directed, and guided Jesus.  And Jesus strengthens, directs, and guides us.  Just as Jesus did nothing on His own, we too, should do nothing on our own.

In all our ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct our path.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. (Proverbs 3:4-7) When we do our own thing, making our own choices without bringing the decision before God, we do evil.  It’s like we’re saying we don’t need God, we can handle things ourself.  This is evil in God’s sight.  He made us and knows what’s best for us.

We are totally dependent on God.  He made us. He made the world, the solar system and the air we breathe.  Without Him we cease to exist.
Every time, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem, we choose our way over God’s way, we sin.

But here’s the good news!  Knowing we are sinful and the wages of sin is death, God sent Jesus to pay for our sin.  He died in our place. Through that we are cleansed of all wrong, sin, and evil we have ever done or will ever do.

All we have to do is accept what Jesus already did for us.  That’s it.  We become made new.  Our sin problem is dealt with forever.  Does this mean we never sin again?  On would hope so, but we are still human with a will of our own.  At any time we may fall back to our old way.  This is why the message of repentance never gets old.  We always need to turn back to God.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your everlasting mercy and forgiveness.  Thank you for taking care of it all on our behalf.  Help us to walk by the power of your Holy Spirit.  In your name we pray. Amen.

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Bible Devotions on the Armor of God

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No Condemnation in Christ

He who believes in Him is not condemned. John 3:18 NKJV

 

In the beginning God made everything. And everything He made was good.  He made man and woman in His own image.  He gave them intelligence and ability to choose.  And it was all good.

However, along with ability to choose comes consequences from decisions. Adam and Eve choose to disobey God.  Their disobedience broke fellowship with God. They chose to go their own way rather than God’s.

The result was a hard life.  No longer would they enjoy God, His beauty, His fellowship, His fruit.  Instead, they would work hard to plant, and cultivate their food.  Childbearing became painful. Sin, guilt, fear, and uncertainty were normal part of life from that point on.

We come after Adam and Eve, each born in sin and headed for the same life filled with heartache.

God so loved the world He gave His Son to save all the people from this burdensome life of condemnation. Jesus took humanities sins upon Himself. Without death sin cannot be healed, for the wages of sin is death.  Jesus chose to die to pay those wages on our behalf.

As many are willing to believe Jesus died for them, they are forever freed from the condemnation of sin.  They are ushered into a new life. They become new creation in Christ Jesus. They are given the Holy Spirit with power to live pleasing lives until Jesus returns.

Those who believe in Jesus are not condemned but given the right to become children of God.  We are no longer stumbling around in the dark. We have come into God’s light. We accept what He did for us.

Have you accepted your sin nature?

Have you accepted what Jesus did for you?

If so, welcome to the family of God.  If not, now is the day of salvation.  Pray something like this:

Father above, you are God and I am not. I was born in sin. The wages of sin is death.  Thank you, Jesus, for dying in my place. Thank you for adopting me into your family.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Rejoice, Do Good, Enjoy

I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is a gift of God.  Ecc 3:12-13

 

There are three things this verse teaches us regarding contentment, fulfillment and satisfaction in life. Let’s take a look.

 

The first key is to rejoice. More specifically to rejoice in the Lord.  Focus on the Lord for our mental protection.  For if our mind is constantly rejoicing over all the Lord has done or is doing, then it is less likely to be focused on all the stuff that trips us up or tears us down.

 

We have much to rejoice about.  We rejoice because our names are written in the Book of Life.  We rejoice because we have past from sin and death into life eternal in Jesus Christ.  We rejoice for God has equipped us with everything we need to live until Christ returns.  We rejoice in the plan and purpose God has for us.  Of course, we rejoice when we see others walking in faith, obedient to God’s word.  There are many things we rejoice in the Lord.  As we rejoice we find our self content.  So contentment is possible with rejoicing.

 

The second key is to do good in our lives.  When God made the world, the animals, the plants, the stars, moon, sun and man, He said it was good.  When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments He said be careful to do as the Lord God commanded you, do not turn aside to the right or the left. You shall walk in all the ways which God has commanded that you may live and it may be well with you and your days may be prolonged inthe land which you shall possess (Duet 5:32-33). Following God’s way is to do good in our lives.  He made us. He knows what’s best for us.

 

The more we live out God’s word, the move we love God and others. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus taught “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your sould and with all your mind.  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Focusing on God and others will cuase us to do good in our lives.  Our relationships will improve.  Our work will be impressive because its the Lord we are really working for.  The good work we do is fulfilling because it is not self-centered, but God-centered.

 

The final key is to enjoy the good of all our labors.  Remember the parable of the talents.  God has gifted us with talents to use for His glory.  If we are fiathful and use them to the fullest, we can enjoy the fruit of our labor, knowing we have done what God desires.  We hear the Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into to the joy of your Lord.”  Doing good and knowing it is pleasing to God brings satisfaction.  In the world it is difficult to please everyone.  But in God’s economy He is the only one we need to please.  So when we rejoice in Him, do good and enjoy the good of our loabor, we find satisfaction.

 

This is a gift of God.

 

Oh, Lord how we can rejoice in you forever.  Thanks for the good works you prepared in advance for us to do. Help us to take time to enjoy the labor of our good works.  Thank you for giving us contentment, fulfillment, and satisfaction in You.  In your name, Jesus, we pray Amen.

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Wisdom is from God Alone

For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight. Ecc 2:26

So how does a man become good in God’s sight? The bible tells us “no one is good, no not one” and “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and “for the wages of sin is death.” If no one is good, aren’t we doomed?

 

No, because the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  We have been se free from sin and our fruit is holiness and everlasting life.

 

Grace reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ.  We are clothed in His righteousness.  Jesus did what we couldn’t do.  He paid for our sins by laying down His life on our behalf.  He took our punishment.

 

But that is not all.  He also rose fromt he grave, demonstrating He has all authority over life and death.  He gives us a new life, secures our future home in heavean and makes it possible for us to good in God’s eyes! That’s great news!

 

O’Lord, thank you for your loving kindness. In Jesus’ name we pray Amen.

 

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