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Category: thoughts by Charles Stanley

The Uniqueness of Christ

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Read: Matthew 16:1-28

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” But Peter answered,You are the Christ, the Son of the living God
(Matthew 16:13-16).

What set Jesus apart as the Messiah?

  •  His birth: He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born, as prophesied, in Bethlehem to a virgin. Though angels announced His arrival and He reigns over all creation, Jesus entered our world in a lowly manner so He could be identified with the meek and the poor.
  •  His wisdom: At age 12, He spent three days with rabbis, asking questions that showed his uncommon understanding.
  •  His baptism: Though He didn’t need cleansing, Jesus asked John to baptize Him so He could identify with sinners and demonstrate His love to them.
  •  His temptation: Satan tempted Him relentlessly for 40 days, yet He did not sin.
  • His ministry: He challenged man-made religious traditions. And by healing people—regardless of nationality—raising the dead, and forgiving sins, He revealed that God wants to be involved personally in our lives. Leading Pharisees wanted Him dead, but the Father protected His life until the crucifixion.

Many people deny Christ’s deity, calling Him simply a “prophet” or “good teacher.” But Jesus was never merely human. As complex as it is for us to comprehend, He was fully God and fully man. This is the unique way in which our heavenly Father chose to demonstrate His eternal love for us.

by Dr. Charles Stanley

Used by permission http://www.intouch.org/

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His Sufficient Grace

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2 Corinthians 12:7-10

thought the Christian life was going to be easier than this. Have these words ever entered your mind? Sometimes we come into the family of God thinking that our heavenly Father will fix all our problems and devote Himself to our happiness and comfort. However, that is not the reality portrayed in Scripture. Paul was a man whom the Lord used greatly, and yet his life was anything but easy.

In fact, at one point, the apostle thought his pain was too much to bear, and he begged God to remove it. There’s nothing wrong with asking the Lord to relieve our suffering, but what should our response be if He doesn’t? Paul probably had no idea that His experience would find its way into the Bible, to comfort and guide believers throughout the ages. The promise God gave him applies to us as well: “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9).

God’s grace could be defined as His provision for us at the point of our need. The problem is that sometimes it doesn’t seem as if the Lord truly is meeting our need. But He frequently sees deficiencies, outcomes, and complications that we don’t. His goals for us involve spiritual growth, the development of Christlike character, and strong faith. And trials play a vital role in achieving these.

The important issue is how we respond. If all you want is relief, you could descend into anger and doubt. But if your desire is to become the person God wants you to be, you’ll see each trial as an opportunity for Christ to display His character and strength in you.

 

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by permission http://www.intouch.org/

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How to Hold On

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Read: Psalms 37:5-7

Job was a man who certainly knew trouble and temptation, and yet he boldly claimed, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him(Job 13:15). That is commitment. Job had lost his children, his fortune, and his health, but he refused to abandon faith in God. The stricken man was determined to hold on because he trusted the Lord to do right.

Unwavering commitment to trust the Lord in all situations is a cornerstone of unshakable faith. From the vantage point of that foundation, we can focus our eyes upon God alone. It is easy to be distracted by circumstances and allow them to dictate our emotions. But if that’s the case, then when life is good, we’re happy; when times are tough, we’re frustrated; and when hardship pours in, we’re downright miserable and looking for escape.

Unlike Job, we are fortunate to have Scripture, which reveals God’s nature and promises. And it is a wise believer who claims those promises when enduring hardship. For His Word tells us that our Father is always good, always just, always faithful, and always trustworthy. When we take our eyes off the whirl of day-to-day activity and concentrate on honoring Him and following in His way, we find a consistent peace that carries us through both plenty and poverty.

In order to hold on to God through any trial or temptation, commit to trust and follow Him all of your days. Lay claim to His promises: The unchanging Lord and Savior (Hebrews 13:8) is committed to caring for you in all circumstances
(1 Peter 5:7) and will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by Permission http://www.intouch.org/

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Building Muscles of Faith

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Read: 1 Kings 18:22-36

I wish I had great faith.” These are words that almost every Christian has said at one time or another. But faith is like a muscle, which must be exercised in order to become strong; just wishing cannot make it happen.

Christians are to believe God, not only for salvation but for everything. Rather than a spiritual “plateau,” faith is actually a process that involves increasing degrees of trust throughout life. Little faith hopes that God will do what He says; strong faith knows that He will; and great faith believes that He has already done it.

Elijah was a man of great faith. He saw increased challenges as opportunities for God to do His work–and the prophet believed Him for the supernatural. So can you. The Lord may not do every miraculous thing you ask of Him, but He does some extraordinary work in and through each person who is obedient and willing to trust in Him.

You may be thinking, I am not good enough for the Father to use me. The Scriptures are filled with examples of weak and flawed people whom the Lord used to achieve His purposes. He is looking, not for perfection, but for individuals willing to believe Him. He not only works through people of faith; He transforms them.

Start by reading God’s Word to learn what He wants you to do. Each day’s situations and needs are opportunities to trust Him. Ask the Lord to bring to mind verses that apply to your circumstances. Trust Him and do what He says–your faith “muscles” will grow, and He will be glorified.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
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A Call to Godly Living

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The apostle Paul lived in an age when sensuality, the pursuit of pleasure, and rebellion against the Lord were prevalent. In response, he wrote letters urging Christians not to follow in the ways of the world. Like those early believers, we are to pursue godliness by…

1.    Presenting our bodies to God. Our total being–mind, will, emotions, personality, and physical body–are to be turned over to our heavenly Father
(James 4:7a). Submitting ourselves to the Lord requires a definite decision to give Him control and a daily commitment to remain under His authority. By surrendering to Him, we will position ourselves for godly living.

2.    Becoming living sacrifices. The Christian life is built around the concept of sacrifice. Jesus left the perfection of heaven to dwell among a sinful people so He might reconcile us to God. He offered up His life to make payment for our sins
(1 John 3:16) and brought us into His family. As believers, we are to follow His example. Paul called it a living sacrifice, because it is ongoing–one that is repeated daily.

Life is full of options. Many decisions involve a choice between following God’s way or our own. Maturing Christians will increasingly sacrifice their own desires and embrace His will.

A life of godliness is characterized by a heart and mind bent toward the things of God. Although we will live imperfectly, our focus is to be on obeying His will and pleasing Him. Let’s commit to becoming more like Jesus, the One who willingly gave Himself to God as a sacrifice for us

by Dr. Charles Stanley
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Developing a Tender Heart

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Read: Ezekiel 36:25-28

The Lord wants to give each of us a “heart of flesh” so that we will be pliable and responsive to Him. When touched by the finger of God, a tender heart yields to the pressure and assumes the form He desires, much like a lump of clay that allows the potter to determine the shape of the vessel.

To aid in this process, God has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell each believer and awaken responsiveness in him or her. By yielding to the Spirit’s promptings with ready obedience, the heart becomes increasingly tender and sensitive to His leading. The Lord is able to impart greater understanding of His Word to a soft heart because it has faithfully accepted and obeyed previous teachings.

Any resistance to God will result in hardening. But those who are accustomed to intimacy with Christ–which is the result of submission to Him–will be quick to deal with sin and return to the place of obedience and blessing.

People with tender hearts stay closely connected to the body of Christ, seeking to build up and encourage others in their walk of faith. Such individuals are not only receptive to what God wants to tell them; they are also teachable, in that they are willing to listen and be corrected by others.

This week when you read your Bible and pray, let your heart be soft toward the words of God. As He pokes His finger into each hard area, listen to His instructions, and rely on the Spirit’s power to help you yield and obey. Let Him shape you into a beautiful and useful vessel.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by Permission
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The Source of Our Adversity

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Read Isaiah 45:5-10

When we experience hardships, we usually wonder why God allows these painful situations to come our way. It just doesn’t seem to fit with His role as our loving heavenly Father. We struggle to reconcile our suffering with His love for us and His power to prevent or stop it. In order to understand what’s going on, we need to consider the possible sources of adversity.

A Fallen World: When sin entered the world, suffering came with it. God could have protected us from these harmful effects by making us like puppets who could not choose sin, but that would mean we’d also be unable to choose to love Him, because love must be voluntary.

Our Own Doing: Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble with our foolish or sinful choices. If the Lord stepped in and rescued us from every negative consequence, we’d never grow into mature believers.

Satanic Attack: The Devil is our enemy. To hinder anything the Lord wants to do in and through believers, Satan will never cease to harass us. His goal is to destroy our lives and our testimonies, thereby making us weak and useless for God’s purposes.

God’s Sovereignty: Ultimately, the Lord is in charge of all adversity that comes our way. To deny His involvement contradicts His power and sovereignty over creation.

For us to accept that God allows–or even sends–afflictions, we must see adversity from His perspective. Is your focus on the pain of your experience or on the Lord and His faithfulness? As believers, we’re assured that no adversity comes our way unless He can use it to achieve His good purposes.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by Permission http://www.intouch.org/

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Practical Ways to Bear Burdens

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Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”  1 Thessalonians 5:14

There are hurting people everywhere, but at times we just don’t know what to say or do to ease their pain. Here are six practical ways to bear someone else’s burden.

1. Be there. At times the best “method” of helping is simply to be present. During our darkest hours, we don’t need someone who tries in vain to fix everything; we just need a friend.

2. Listen. Don’t attempt to give answers or tell people what to do next. Injured souls frequently want simply a listening ear so they can express what’s on their mind.

3. Share. Never parade yourself as someone who has all the answers. Instead, allow your own pain and failures to help others.

4. Pray. There is power in speaking people’s names before the Lord. When they hear someone talk to Jesus on their behalf, healing often starts taking place.

5. Give. Sometimes helping others involves more than a handshake or warm hug. Maybe they need something financial or material. One of the best measures of sincerity is how much we’re willing to give to others.

6. Substitute. You may know an individual who bears the burden of caring for someone else. If you step in and take his or her place for a while, you are emulating your Savior–He, too, was a substitute.

Because we were unable to do it ourselves, Jesus bore all of our sin and sorrow, even unto death. As a result, we can live happily and eternally in communion with our Father. If Christ did that for us, how can we ever say, “I’m too busy to bear someone else’s burden“?

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by Permission  http://www.intouch.org/

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Our Heavenly Father’s Unconditional Love

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devotional on God's unconditional love

Read: Romans 5:6-11

Scripture tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7). So if you don’t believe that He loves you unconditionally, you’ll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define “love? It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him. Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies. In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-5). That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God’s commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn’t based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for “good” people who may strike us as more worthy. He loves us even in our sin, even when we don’t repent. Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.

Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord’s wondrous, absolute love for us. But to fully experience that love, you must receive it. Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by permission
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The Trap of Discouragement

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How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save.” Habakkuk 1:2

Do you feel stuck in discouragement? If so, you are not alone.

At some point everyone experiences dashed hopes. Disappointment–an emotional response to a failed expectation–is the normal initial reaction. But allowed to linger, it can turn into discouragement, which hovers like a dense cloud. When that’s the case, there is no sense of joy or contentment, no matter what you do.

The circumstances that trigger these emotions may be unavoidable, but the way we respond is a choice. We can either let sadness overwhelm our souls or face the situation with courage and bring it before the One who can help us.

Living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides our pain. Then as anger becomes habitual, we’ll look for someone to blame–whether God, people around us, or our self.

Frustration that isn’t handled well may develop into depression, which in turn can estrange us from others–people do not enjoy the company of someone who’s bitter and defeated. This isolation leads to a low self-esteem. Finally, in a fog of discouragement, we can make poor decisions based on crushed emotions instead of truth. Obviously, choosing this self-destructive path is not God’s best for our lives.

Though we’ll all face disappointment from time to time, believers are not to wallow in it. Instead, God wants us to trust Him with everything–even our unmet expectations and deepest sadness.

Remember, there is divine purpose for everything He allows to touch His children’s lives (Romans 8:28).

By Dr. Charles Stanley

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The Blessing of Inadequacy

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Our Insufficiency Drives us to God

Read: 2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Paul never claimed he was capable of accomplishing all that God called him to do. He simply learned to look beyond his own inadequacy to the sufficiency of Christ. If we’ll adopt the same practice, we, too, can discover the blessings hidden in our own experiences of inadequacy.

Our insufficiency drives us to God. When we realize a situation is bigger than we can handle, we’re quick to open the Bible and diligently pray for guidance and power.

Inadequacy relieves us of the burden of self-effort and self-reliance. The Lord has us right where He wants us–at the end of our rope with nothing left to give.

Inability motivates reliance on divine power. We’ll never be adequate until we draw from the Holy Spirit’s inexhaustible strength. He does in and through us what God never intended that we do on our own.

By using weak, inadequate people, God demonstrates what great things He can do. He actually delights in choosing unlikely individuals to carry out His purposes. There’s no limit to what He can do through someone willing to give Him full control.

Inadequacy challenges our faith. Paul says, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (v. 5). Those who focus on the reliability of this promise and step out in obedience will grow in faith.

Why go through all the fear, pressure, and frustration that accompany feelings of inadequacy when there’s an alternative? Let the Lord make you adequate: rely upon Him and allow Christ to live in and through you. He will replace your anxiety with a quiet spirit of contentment.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by Permission
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Refined by Fire

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Refined by Fire 1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,1 Peter 1:6-7

God is always at work in our lives. Even during seasons of adversity, He wants to accomplish something powerful and good. How should this knowledge affect our response? Today’s passage teaches us to choose to rejoice during difficult times. This doesn’t mean we have to be happy about the hardship itself. Instead, joy comes from drawing close to the Lord and believing steadfastly that through His redemptive power, He is growing and preparing us. If your usual response to trials is anxiety, anger, or depression, the idea of having joy in the midst of a negative situation might not seem logical. However, if you look beneath the surface, you will discover that this biblical directive makes sense for several reasons.

Often, our natural reaction to pain is to run in the opposite direction, and as fast as possible. However, God wants to teach us endurance–much like a long-distance runner builds up strength in training–so that we can fully benefit from what He is doing in our hearts. He uses trials as a refining fire to purify us like gold and bring us to greater spiritual maturity. As we realize that we are actually being made more complete through our adversities, we’ll begin to face challenging times with confidence that He always
has our best interest in mind.

While a worldly viewpoint sees hope and joy in the midst of dark times as naïve, a spiritual perspective discerns that we’re really progressing on a journey toward life at its fullest. We can be filled with supernatural joy, knowing that the Lord is making us into world-changing spiritual warriors.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
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Victory Over Unforgiveness

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Forgiveness is an  act of the will more than an act of the  heart

Read: Daniel 6   Immediately after teaching His followers to pray, Jesus gave a warning about allowing unforgiveness to reside in the heart. He said that those who refuse to forgive others won’t be forgiven by the Father.

Do not misunderstand Jesus’ meaning here. Believers don’t lose their salvation when they refuse to forgive. Rather, they break fellowship with God because their unrepentant attitude gets in the way of regular confession and repentance. The Lord cannot ignore sin, and His Spirit will bring wrong behavior to the believer’s attention until he or she deals with it.

Forgiveness is an act of the will more than an act of the heart. Often people don’t feel like being merciful to someone who has wronged them. But a resentful spirit grows into a terrible burden. The Lord knows that forgiveness is best, even when it is difficult.

You won’t deal with a sin until you see it as God does. So assume full responsibility for your unforgiving attitude, and acknowledge that it is a violation of His Word. Claim the divine mercy He offers, and ask Him to enable you to lay aside anger and resentment against the other person(s). As part of the decision to move forward in grace, make a habit of praying for those who hurt you. And if God so leads, seek their forgiveness for your wrong attitude.

A bitter and resentful spirit doesn’t fit who we are in Christ. Nor is it healthy to carry an angry attitude through life. That’s why Scripture emphasizes the need to forgive. Choose to be liberated from your burden–Jesus promised to make us free when we release our sins to Him

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
John 8:36

By Dr. Charles Stanley
Used by Permission http://www.intouch.org/


Do you have Jesus in your life?   Would you like to have a relationship with Him? If you do,  you can start today by committing and submitting your life to him. It starts with a simple heart felt prayer:

Lord, thank You for dying so we can be set free from all of guilt and sin — no matter how big or small.  Your blood has erased all of our sin. Thank You so much! Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen

If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.

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Prayer in Times of Inadequacy

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Read: Nehemiah 2:1-10

After Nehemiah heard about the desperate condition of the Jews who had returned from exile to Jerusalem, his heart was burdened (Nehemiah 1:3-4). By getting his attention in this way, the Lord could reveal what He wanted Nehemiah to do. Scripture doesn’t spell out the man’s reaction on realizing that he was to be a part of the solution, but we can imagine a sense of inadequacy probably engulfed him. How could he possibly help? He wasn’t even near Jerusalem, and as a servant of the king, he didn’t have the freedom to pack up and leave.

But whenever God puts a burden on our hearts, He will open a door to accomplish His will. In this case, the Lord used Nehemiah’s sad expression and desperate prayer to prepare a pagan king to send him on his mission.

How do you respond when you sense the Lord is calling you to a task that seems beyond your abilities? Do you list all the reasons you can’t possibly do it? God already knows everything about you and the situation. He’s not asking your permission to proceed; rather, He is calling you to move forward with faith and obedience. He didn’t make an error in choosing you for the task, but you will make a huge mistake if you refuse to do it.

God will equip you for whatever He calls you to do. Because the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer, we have all we need to fulfill the Lord’s mission. Instead of letting inadequacy hinder you from obeying, let it drive you to your knees so you can arise with renewed insight and power.

By Dr. Charles Stanley
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The Secret of Contentment

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Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-13

In today’s reading, the apostle Paul says he has learned the secret of experiencing contentment in all circumstances, good or bad. Does it surprise you that he wrote this when he was in prison, unsure of his future?

We’re often discontent even when all is going well. Consequently, we wonder how it’s possible to be truly content during our most difficult trials, especially when there’s no end in sight. So what is genuine contentment? Paul is speaking of a freedom from worry and frustration about everything in life–even unfulfilled desires.

It’s usually when we cannot control or change our situation that we feel discontentment. As long as our satisfaction depends on whether certain things actually work out, we’ll allow circumstances to cheat us out of peace. I’m not saying there’s some spiritual stage where you will never again experience anxiety or frustration. But what matters is how we respond when those feelings grip us.

This is something that the apostle had to learn. Paul endured amazing suffering, from shipwrecks and hunger to unjust imprisonment and beatings (2 Cor. 11:24-30). He had gone through countless situations that were uncertain, extraordinarily painful, and seemingly hopeless. But he finally discovered that contentment could not be dependent upon his circumstances.

How do you respond when circumstances are out of your control? Do you get angry? Do you try to escape? Does despair make you want to give up? Paul chose to give his anxieties to Jesus in exchange for peace that “surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:7). That same peace is available to you!

By Dr. Charles Stanley
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