Posts tagged ‘Hosea’

November 8, 2012

Community as Discipline: Who We Are

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 139:1, 13-16
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 14; Psalm 139

Lived: What are we making of our lives? What are we doing with them? Our lives are not our own. They are trusts given to us for a set period of time. When we get up in the morning and face the day, do we ask questions like these – How can I live meaningfully today? What should I make of the day? What do I hope to achieve by the end of it?

Created: David praised the Lord, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! … For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” [1].

Encouraged: In community, we come together as people who are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Lord. We gather together as His people in order to fill our hearts with hope in God and encourage one another in Him. As the writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” [2].

Prayer: Lord, Our lives are precious and given to us by you. You fearfully and wonderfully made us to glorify and enjoy you forever. Therefore, let us fill our hearts with hope in you, as we meet together to direct our wavering hearts to hope and trust in you. Let us spend our unique lives meaningfully today, reminding one another that we were made by you in the depths of the earth for a set number of days that you have appointed. Amen.

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Audio: Bible Listening (3.59 minutes total)

·      Hosea 14 (1:38 minutes) – here

·      Psalm 139 (2:21 minutes) – here

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Footnotes

[1] Psalm 139:1, 13-16 ESV  |  [2] Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV

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November 7, 2012

Community as Discipline: Cherishing the Lord

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Hosea 13:4-6
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 13; Psalm 137-138

Desire: Yesterday was Election Day. The lines were long and the expectations were high, but what were we really voting for? What did we really want as we casted our votes? The prophecy of Hosea asks us, “What do your hearts desire?” This is an important question because our desires are the root causes of everything we do. For we always do what we most want to do. As Jonathan Edwards once wrote, “Free moral agents always act according to the strongest inclination they have at the moment of choice” [1]. So what are our strongest inclinations?

Adultery: Throughout the Bible (and especially in Hosea), the Lord uses adultery to depict Israel’s turning from Him to love other gods. Adultery and idolatry go together because idolatry is spiritual adultery. Thus, through her idolatry, Israel committed spiritual adultery. And her adultery was heinous. She killed humans and kissed idols: “Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver … They offer human sacrifice and kiss the calf-idols” [2]. The root of their sin was arrogance: “But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me” [3].

Jesus: Today, the Spirit unifies the people of God under the new covenant. When we are born again by the Spirit, the Lord begins to change our hearts and desires. We cherish our idols – like money, sex and power – less and less as we cherish the Lord more and more. For God saved us by offering His Son as a human sacrifice. He bore the sins of all those who repent and believe in him. He was sacrificed so that we would never have to be.

Prayer: Lord, Although you designed community to be a wonderful expression of your love for your people, we recognize that community can also be a place where private sins turn into public sins. Together, we fail to remember what you have done for us and, as a result, our desires lead us to kiss idols. Save us from ourselves by the blood of Christ. For besides him there is no savior. Cause our hearts to desire him more and more. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Jonathan Edwards. The Freedom of the Will.  |  [2] Hosea 13:2 ESV  |  [3] Hosea 13:4-6 ESV

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November 6, 2012

Community as Discipline: An Election Day Prayer

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 135
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 12; Psalm 135-136

Humility: As we saw yesterday, we are a community of people who are – apart from the Lord – unattractive, angry and dirty [1]. In this state, however, He betroths Himself to us. He does not wait for us to become attractive, loving and clean. Instead, He makes us these things by His love. As Paul said, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” [2]. In this humble state, recognizing our own unworthiness, let us pray together for our nation as the election unfolds.

Lord,

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good.

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. On this Election Day, Lord, you will do whatever you please. For even though we vote, you appoint our leaders [3]. Therefore, if candidates are elected that we do not favor, let us support them in prayer and respect, knowing that they are in office by your hand and for your good purpose.

Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages. The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. On this Election Day, we confess that we worship idols. Our nation loves money, power and sex. As a result, we have become shallow people who use and manipulate others. Forgive us and heal our land. Obliterate idolatry in our cities. Make us like you, who declared your name to Moses: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” [4].

O house of Israel, bless the Lord! You who fear the Lord, bless the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Amen.

(Prayer adapted from Psalm 135.)

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Footnotes

[1] See 843 Acres. “Community as Discipline: The Bride of Christ.” 5 November 2012.  |  [2] Romans 5:8 ESV  |  [3] See Romans 13.  |  [4] Exodus 34:6-7 ESV

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November 5, 2012

Community as Discipline: The Bride of Christ

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Hosea 11:4, 8
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 11; Psalm 132-134

Sandy: As my friends and I climbed the pitch-black stairwell of 154 Avenue D to deliver supplies to our neighbors last week, flashlights guided our way and the stench of urine rose in our nostrils. It was my first time to visit the projects of New York City. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Times reported, “Perhaps more so than in any other place in the city, the loss of power for people living in public housing projects forced a return to primal existence. Opened fire hydrants became community wells … Darkness became menacing, a thing to be feared” [1].

Marriage: By the Lord’s command, Hosea married a harlot named Gomer and, although his love made her beautiful, Gomer used her beauty to pursue other men. Yet their marriage was merely a symbol. In this intimate picture, God showed what His relationship with unfaithful Israel was like. First, Israel was an unattractive bride. His first love for her was not a response to her beauty. As Ezekiel said, she was a bloody and dying harlot [2]. Second, Israel was a hateful bride [3]. She was not merely reluctant to marry God; she hated Him and found Him repulsive. Finally, Israel was a dirty bride. He had to bathe her before He married her because she was so filthy [4].

Bride: We sometimes imagine ourselves as a bride that looks like the Upper West Side did during Sandy – clean and somewhat normal. Yet that is not true. We brought nothing to the altar apart from our ugliness, hatred and dirt. Yet Hosea teaches us that it was in this state that God betrothed Himself to us, saying, “I led them with cords of human kindness, with the bands of love … and I bent down and fed them” [5]. Even in our marital unfaithfulness, He says, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? … My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender” [6].

Prayer: Lord, We are lovely because you love us. Apart from your love, we are like the darkest parts of our city after a disaster. In Jesus, however, you entered into our darkness and shined the light of your love into the world. You did not do this because we were worthy, but because you are merciful and great. O Lord, make us a people that recognize our filth before you so that we rejoice in your beautifying love even more. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Cara Buckley and Michael Wilson. “In New York’s Public Housing, Fear Creeps In With the Dark.” The New York Times. 2 November 2012.  |  [2] See Ezekiel 16.  |  [3] We were enemies when Christ died for us. See Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21.  |  [4] See Ephesians 5.  |  [5] Hosea 11:4 ESV  |  [6] Hosea 11:8 ESV

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November 2, 2012

Bible Intake as Discipline: Sufficiency

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Hosea 8:12
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 8; Psalms 123-125

Gap: Recalling his conversion, Sheldon Vanauken wrote, “There is a gap between the probably and the proved. How was I to cross it? If I were to stake my whole life on the risen Christ, I wanted proof – I wanted certainty. I wanted to see him eat a bit of fish. I wanted letters of fire across the sky. I got none of these. And I continued to hang about on the edge of the gap … It was a question of whether I was going to accept him or reject him. My God, there was a gap behind me as well. Perhaps the leap to acceptance was a horrifying gamble, but what of the leap to rejection! There might be no absolute certainty that Christ was God, but there was no certainty that he was not … There was only one thing to do once I had seen the gap behind me. I turned away from it, and flung myself over the gap towards Jesus” [1].

Israel: Hosea was the last prophet before Israel fell to Assyria. Although his ministry followed a golden age in Israel, the nation’s prosperity came with immorality. It should have been their happiness to trust God, but it was their folly to exchange His eternal mercies for the lying and fleeting vanities of idols. More laws would not change them: “Were I to write for [Israel] my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing” [2].

Sufficient: Israel had the law, but they disregarded it. Having more laws would not make them trust or obey. Today, in Christ, the Word is sufficient. As Peter wrote, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature” [3].

Prayer: Lord, We pursue godliness through the spiritual discipline of Bible intake because we recognize that the Word is sufficient for life and godliness in Christ. When we think we need more information or proof than you have chosen to give us, may we pray for more faith so that we may cross the gap. For you have given us precious and very great promises, and all of them are Yes in Christ [4]. Amen.

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Audio: Bible Listening (3.57 minutes)

If you would like to hear audio versions of these passages read by Max McLean,

·      Hosea 8 (2.04 minutes) – click here

·      Psalm 123 (0.32 minutes) – click here

·      Psalm 124 (0.44 minutes) – click here

·      Psalm 125 (0.37 minutes) – click here

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Footnotes

[1] Sheldon Vanauken. A Severe Mercy.  |  [2] Hosea 8:12 ESV  |  [3] 2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV  |  [4] See 1 Corinthians 1:20.

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November 1, 2012

Bible Intake as Discipline: Hearing the Word

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 122:1-2
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 7; Psalms 120-122

Audio: Professor Harold Bloom criticized audiobooks: “Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear … You need the text in front of you.” John Colapino, however, recently disagreed in The New Yorker, “[This is] manifestly not true when it comes to experiencing a book purely for the pleasure of its characters, setting dialogue, drama and the Scheherazadean impulse to know what happens next … Homer, after all, was an oral storyteller, as were all ‘literary artists’ who came before him, back when storytelling, around the primal campfire, would have been invented – grounds for argument that our brains were first … adapted to absorb long, complex fictions by ear, rather than by eye” [1].

Listening: When Colapino asked the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran about this, he replied, “Language comprehension and production evolved in connection with HEARING probably 150,000 years ago and to some extent is ‘hard wired’; whereas writing is 5,000 to 7,000 years old … So it’s possible LISTENING to speech … is more spontaneously comprehensible and linked to emotional brain centers – hence more evocative and natural.” Colapino commented, “He did add a caveat: ‘On the other hand, reading allows you to pause and reflect and go back to do a second take.’ (Though I’d argue that that’s what the rewind button is for.)” [2]

Ascent: When the Israelites went to the Temple, not only did they offer sacrifices, they also heard the Word of God read publicly. As they approached the Temple, the worshippers or priests sang the Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) [3]. Here, in Psalm 122, we read, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!” [4] As we saw yesterday [5], it is good to practice the spiritual discipline of Bible intake by reading the Word. Yet it is also good to practice it by hearing the Word, especially publicly in community. As Paul wrote Timothy, “Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” [6].

Prayer: Lord, May we long to hear your Word be read publicly for we know that, in community, we experience the fullness of the body of Christ. Help us practice the Songs of Ascent in our modern context, as we enter into your presence and seek out creative ways to devote ourselves to the public reading of Scripture together. Amen.

Post-Reflection Application: For resources to hear the Word of God, check out these two excellent recordings that feature the voices of award-winning actors – Inspired by the Bible Experience and The Word of Promise. There are also some free recordings as well on BibleGateway.com and FaithComesbyHearing.com. Not only can we listen to the Word of God on our own, but we can also join with others to listen to these recordings as well so that the Word is read publicly, as Paul taught Timothy and as the Israelites did when they approached the Temple.

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Audio: Bible Listening (4.26 minutes)

If you would like to hear audio versions of these passages read by Max McLean,

·      Hosea 7 (2.19 minutes) – click here

·      Psalm 120 (0.33 minutes) – click here

·      Psalm 121 (0.38 minutes) – click here

·      Psalm 122 (0.46 minutes) – click here

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Footnotes

[1] John Colapino. “The Pleasures of Being Read To.” The New Yorker. 16 May 2012.  |  [2] Id.  |  [3] The Songs of Ascent is a title given to fifteen of the Psalms. Many scholars believe these Psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended up the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals – Deuteronomy 16:16 – or by the priests as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at the Temple in Jerusalem.  |  [4] Psalm 122:1-2 ESV  |  [5]  843 Acres. “Bible Intake as Discipline: Three Practical Suggestions.” 31 October 2012.  |  [6] 1 Timothy 4:13 ESV (emphasis mine).

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October 31, 2012

Bible Intake as Discipline: Three Practical Suggestions

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 119:147-148
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 5-6; Psalm 119:145-176

Time: Here are three practical suggestions for consistent success in Bible reading. First, find the time. In our culture, the default response to, “How are you?” is usually either, “Busy,” “So busy,” or “Crazy busy” [1]. Yet it only takes about 90 hours to read through the Bible. This means that if we replace our average daily television watching, which Nielsen reports is 4 hours and 39 minutes [2], with Bible reading, we could read the entire Bible in less than 3 weeks.

It helps to set aside the same time every day. In fact, seeking God in the morning may solve our busyness problem. In What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam writes, “The madness of mornings is a key reason most of us believe we have no time” [3]. As the Psalmist sang, “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” [4].

Plan: Second, find a Bible-reading plan. One feature of 843 Acres is that it follows the well-known and well-respected M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, which has been recommended by John Stott, Charles Spurgeon and Ravi Zacharias. Over the course of one year, we read through the entire New Testament, the Psalms, the Proverbs and half of the Old Testament.

Meditate: Finally, find at least one word, phrase or verse on which to meditate each time you read. In each 843 Acres reflection, we feature a “Highlighted Text” and include it in full in italics within the reflection itself. We do this because we know that, even with a good plan, Bible reading can be a chore instead of a discipline of joy. We want our readers to think deeply about at least one thing they have read so that they can meditate on it throughout the day.

Prayer: Lord, We need the instruction, guidance and encouragement of the Word every day because we face problems, temptations and pressures every day. We need to seek your face, hear your voice, feel your touch and know your power daily. Therefore, help us to set ourselves in the way of gospel allurement by reading the Bible daily. Amen.

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 Audio: Bible Listening (6.33 minutes)

If you would like to hear audio versions of these passages read by Max McLean, click here for Hosea 5 (2.13 minutes) and here for Hosea 6 (1.26 minutes) and here for Psalm 119:145-76 (2.54 minutes, starts at 12.48 and ends at 15.42).

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Footnotes

[1] See Tim Kreider. The “Busy” Trap. The New York Times. Opinion Pages. 30 June 2012.  |  [2] Brian Stelter. “Youths Are Watching, but Less Often on TV.” The New York Times. 8 February 2012.  |  [3] Vanderkam, Laura (2012-06-12). What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life (Kindle Location 96). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.  |   [4] Psalm 119:147-148 ESV

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October 30, 2012

Bible Intake as Discipline: Lover of the Word

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 119:127, 129-131
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 3-4; Psalm 119:121-144

Reflection: What do words tell us about people? “In trying to describe the same event,” writes Professor James Pennebaker, “people express themselves in remarkably diverse ways. ‘Excuse me, but could you please pass the salt?’ and ‘Hey you, gimme the salt,’ are speech acts that accomplish the same goal. In this example, however, the words the speakers use tells us far more than their needs for sodium chloride. Language and word use can reflect people’s personality, mood, social situation, social class, and a variety of other aspects about them” [1].

Love: The Psalmist loves the Word of God because he loves God and he knows that God reflects His love and personality through His Word. Therefore, he sings: “I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold … Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments” [2].

Happiness: The most significant thing we can do to be happy in life is to read the Word of God. The pursuit and preservation of joy takes work [3] because our joy fluctuates with life and is vulnerable to Satan’s attack. But God has given us His Word as a sword to fight for joy [4]. As George Mueller said, “I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished … I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditate on it” [5].

Prayer: Lord, Words, words, words. We wake up with words rushing in our minds and hear words throughout the day from our spouses, colleagues, children, friends and neighbors. Yet the words that you speak over us will give us the greatest joy today. Therefore, make us lovers of your Word because we are lovers of you. Wake us up with a desire for happiness and, therefore, a desire for your Word. Amen.

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 Audio: Bible Listening (5.46 minutes)

If you would like to hear audio versions of these passages read by Max McLean, click here for Hosea 3 (0.55 minutes) and here for Hosea 4 (2.46 minutes) and here for Psalm 119:121-144 (2.05 minutes, starts at 10.42 and ends at 12.47).

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Footnotes

[1] James W. Pennebaker. “What Our Words Can Say About Us: Toward a Broader Language Psychology.” Psychological Science Agenda. January/February 2002.  |  [2] Psalm 119:127, 129-131 ESV  |  [3] See 2 Corinthians 1:24.  |  [4] See Ephesians 6.  |  [5] Cited in John Piper. Desiring God. Multnomah Publishers (1996), p. 122.

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October 29, 2012

Bible Intake as Discipline: Authoritative Text

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Psalm 119:97-100
M’Cheyne Text: Hosea 2; Psalm 119:97-120

Authority: “Americans may love the Bible or loathe it,” wrote Ann Monroe in Mother Jones. “But for the most part, they read it the same (when they read it at all): as the manifesto of a God who has a lot of laws and a definite inclination to punish those who don’t follow them” [1]. We may think that an authoritative text precludes intimacy, but a personal relationship requires someone who talks back. A one-sided relationship is exploitive, not personal. How can we pursue a relationship with God in which our will is crossed and our thoughts are contradicted?

Wisdom: The Psalmist celebrated the Word for its authority and ability to cross and contradict us. For the Lord’s wisdom transcends the wisdom of those from whom we traditionally seek it: “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day … I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts” [2].

Discipline: In Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney writes, “No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There is simply no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture. The reasons for this are obvious. In the Bible God tells us about Himself, and especially about Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. The Bible unfolds the Law of God to us and shows us how we’ve all broken it. There we learn how Christ died as a sinless, willing Substitute for breakers of God’s Law and how we must repent and believe in Him to be right with God. In the Bible we learn the ways and will of the Lord. We find in Scripture how to live in a way that is pleasing to God as well as best and most fulfilling for ourselves. None of this eternally essential information can be found anywhere else except the Bible. Therefore if we would know God and be Godly, we must know the Word of God – intimately” [3].

Prayer: Lord, We need more than just words to survive. We need the Word himself. Since the Bible is the essential place to find him, we turn to it and long for a more disciplined intake of it. Make it our meditation all the day. Amen.

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Audio: Bible Listening (6.02 minutes)

If you would like to hear audio versions of these passages read by Max McLean, click here for Hosea 2 (3.51 minutes) and here for Psalm 119:97-120 (2.11 minutes, starts at 8:30 and ends at 10:41).

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Footnotes

[1] Ann Monroe. “Does the Bible Tell Me So?” Mother Jones. November/December 1997.  |  [2] Psalm 119:97-100 ESV  |  [3] Donald S. Whitney. Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life. Colorado Springs, CO. NavPress. p. 26

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