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Kip Cone

Kip Cone

Friday, 17 September 2021 00:00

Organ Transplant

organ transplant

1 Peter 1:21; Romans 1:1-6

What would it be like if the organs in our bodies no longer functioned? What if our stomach, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and both small and large intestines were full of disease?

Obviously, we couldn’t eat, receive nourishment, go to the bathroom. We simply couldn’t live. To have transplant surgery for one organ is serious enough. But imagine it for the whole digestive system! Impossible!

Last week I was stung four times by yellow jackets while mowing the lawn. There was a nest in the ground, and unknowingly I mowed right over it. Ouch! The first day was serious pain. The second, serious swelling. The third, serious itching. I was awake at night. But that’s nothing compared to a dysfunctional digestive system. That’s beyond serious.

Phillip Hanks is an example of someone whose digestive organs failed. Death was near. At 50 years of age, his stomach, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and both small and large intestines were full of disease, and he couldn’t keep on living.

As reported in the Warsaw Times Union (8/28/21), Voila! Phillip Hanks received a multi-visceral transplant at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. It was just this past April. His diseased organs were removed and replaced by healthy ones—from someone he had never met who died unexpectedly. It turned out to be an amazing make-over edition: a multiple-organ transplant!

If anyone is in Christ, Voila! the new creation has comeThe old [organs] have gone, the new [ones] are here! (2 Cor 5:17).

It’s true. Every person on the planet needs a multi-visceral transplant. Spiritual surgery! Our old selves are helplessly full of disease, and we can’t receive spiritual nourishment, we cannot truly live, until Jesus is transplanted into us. Not just part of Jesus—not just an organ or two—but every part of Jesus.

Life Application Questions

  • What is a Christian? Who is a Christian? The answer has become less and less clear in our society. Maybe some are “secular” Christians; they’re Christian only because they’re not something else. Maybe others are “family” Christians; they’re Christian because it was part of their upbringing. Maybe others are “childhood” Christians; they remember asking Jesus into their heart many years ago, and they think they’re going to heaven because of that; but being a Christian hasn’t made any difference in their lives. There seem to be a lot of “church-going” Christians: they’re Christian because going to church is a good thing. But. Have any of these received the organ transplant of Jesus into their lives? Have they repented of their sinfulness and committed themselves to faithful obedience and complete transformation into the likeness of Christ? How would you define a true Christian?
  • Paul wrote that just as Jesus was raised from the dead . . . we too may live a new life(Rom 6:4). What does this new life consist of?
  • For Phillip Hanks, transplant surgery was an event followed by lengthy recovery. For us, is spiritual surgery more of an event or an ongoing process?

~ dbs

Thursday, 16 September 2021 00:00

Redemption’s Story

redemptions story

1 Peter 1:18-20; Romans 5:6-10  

Redemption is a celebration. Redemption’s truth causes a continuous celebration. Disciples lift hands in praise because through Christ, our lives are entirely different. 

One apostle writes, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1Peter 1:18-20).

Another leader crafted redemption’s story emphasizing, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

His next thought follows precisely, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:6-10).

A group of contemporary followers set redemption’s truth into music. Thank you to disciples who published, as North Point Worship in 2017, “Death is Arrested.”

Alone in my sorrow and dead in my sin
Lost without hope with no place to begin
Your love Made a way to let mercy come in
When death was arrested and my life began…

 

Oh, Your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with You
It's your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with You

 

Released from my chains I'm a prisoner no more
My shame was a ransom He faithfully bore
He cancelled my debt and He called me His friend
When death was arrested and my life began.

Life Applications

What part of redemption’s story calls to you?

Are there other songs which enhance your understanding of redemption?

If you were challenged to write a song celebrating redemption which images would you use?

William James Kirkpatrick (1838-1921) using the poetic words of Fanny J. Crosby (1820-1915) crafted a forceful hymn which is available online at www.hymnal.net. “Redeemed how I love to repeat it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.”

~ajs

Wednesday, 15 September 2021 00:00

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine

this little light of mine

1 Peter 1:17, Hebrews 11:1-40

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear (1 Pet 1:17). 

By faith, all these in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) believed and by faith were justified. And yet, their faith was made evident to man by their works… 

By faith, Abel brought a better offering.

By faith, Enoch pleased God.

By faith, Noah built an ark.

By faith, Abraham obeyed and went out to a country not knowing where he was going.

By faith, Sarah was enabled to have children because she considered Him faithful who had made the promise.

By faith, Abraham offered his son Isaac.

By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.

By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons.

By faith, Joseph spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

By faith, Moses parents hid him.

By faith, Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God. By faith, he kept the Passover. By faith, the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land.

By faith, the walls of Jericho fell.

By faith, the prostitute, Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

By faith, Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jepthah, David and Samuel and the prophets, conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised: they shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; their weakness was turned to strength; and they became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - The world was not worthy of them.

Each of these people showed their faith by their works (see James 2:14-24). The world was able to see their faith by their works. God could see their faith, because He could see their hearts, but man only sees the outward appearance. 

“Let us not rob God of His glory in seeking to add any works of our own to the finished work of Christ for our salvation: and on the other hand, let us not forget that we who have thus been saved by grace through faith plus nothing, should be careful to maintain good works, letting our light so shine before men that they, seeing our good works, may glorify, not us indeed, but our Father which is in heaven (Matt 5:16).” (William L. Pettingill, Into the Holiest - Simple Studies in Hebrews. p.146)

Life Application Questions

  • What actions are a result of faith in your life? How have you lived out your faith?
  • Is your light shining brightly in this dark world, or is it “hiding under a bushel?”
  • How has the light of others shone so that you were attracted to the light?

~jlh

Tuesday, 14 September 2021 00:00

Clothed in Holiness

clothed in righteousness

1 Peter 1:14-16, Leviticus 11:44-55, 19:2, 20:7, Colossians 3:12-15

What does it look like to be a man? This was the question that Tunch Ilkin asked as he was growing up. Being a Turkish immigrant and living in Chicago, he believed that being a man meant being tough, fighting, demanding honor, cussing, drinking and drugs.  He still believed that these were the ingredients that gave a man value when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then he met The Steel Curtain, men who wore the uniforms of toughness and football excellence. Some of these men were also clothed with holiness. He had trouble understanding how these men defined what it meant to be a man. Their beliefs were in opposition to what he had learned about the religious beliefs of Islam. Thus began Tunch’s journey to understanding what it meant to have a relationship with the Creator God. Men like Donnie Shell, Mike Webster and John Cole were influential in verbalizing their faith and living it out. As Tunch interacted with them, he said, “I fell in love with the body of Christ before I fell in love with Christ.”

What does holiness look like? Read Colossians 3: 12-15 and note the things that we should be clothed with. Choosing your power suit as you prepare for that meeting at work, or choosing your workout clothes as you get ready for the gym are easier than choosing to grow in holiness and put on the very things that demonstrate our obedience to Christ. “The heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11…obeyed by faith…obedience is the pathway to holiness…no one will become holy apart from a life of faith. Faith enabled us to obey the commands of God” (Jerry Bridges) Tunch talks about his Steeler brothers in Christ and how they asked him the hard questions that led him to salvation and how they discipled him after he came to faith. He watched them live their faith and practice holiness on and off the field. He observed Donnie Shell deliver a hit and then stop to pray over the player from the other team; and that Donnie never passed up a media opportunity to express his faith in Christ.  C.S Lewis said, “How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing, it is irresistible.” What does practical holiness look like when it is lived out in people’s lives?

 

We may not suit up in a football uniform, but God has still called us to holiness. “…Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) To be a dedicated believer there is no such thing as the “secular” and the “sacred”. All life is holy as we live to glorify God. Tunch left this side of heaven last week and his friend and teammate Craig Wolfey said, “He hit heaven’s gate at full sprint with a lot of high fives and hallelujahs.” Tunch chose to pursue a life of holiness because he found his Steeler teammates’ holiness irresistible. How can you embrace living a life of putting on the attributes described in Colossians 3 that will lead others to find your holiness irresistible? “Let me be a woman (or man), holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.”

lkb

Monday, 13 September 2021 00:00

Holy. Who Me?        

holy. who me

1 Peter 1:13 and Colossians 3:1-11

Don't you love it when your boss or coach, parent (or God for that matter) tells you exactly what to do? There's no doubt in your mind about what they expect. It's even better when they tell you how to do what they've asked of you. 

So, if you are wondering how you're going to "be holy" as this week's Scriptures are teaching, here are some instructions from Peter and Paul that you'll find in today's texts. Hint. . . look for the ACTION WORDS!

Prepare your minds - and exercise self-control (1 Peter 1:13). The NIV puts it this way: "with minds that are alert and being fully sober... " It should go without saying that we can't focus on or do well at several things at once. So, in our "pursuit of holiness," we must have control of our minds. Philippians 4:8 (NLT) says it this way: Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

Take action; exercise your thought control.

Put all your hope in what? Stay alert and fix your hope firmly on the marvelous grace that is coming to you. For when Jesus Christ is unveiled, a greater measure of grace will be released to you (The Passion translation). It's difficult to have hope when you are in trouble. It must have been almost impossible for those exiles in the first century to be hopeful. They had to intentionally place their hope in Christ just as we must. When you take the initiative, he will enable you by his grace. 

Where are you placing your hope?

Put to death (Colossians 3:5) whatever is keeping you from living a holy life. Kevin DeYoung writes: 

The hole in our holiness is that we don't care much about holiness. Or, at the very least, we don't understand it. And we all have our reasons too: Maybe the pursuit of holiness seems legalistic. Maybe it feels like one more thing to worry about in your already overwhelming life. Maybe the emphasis on effort in the Christian life appears unspiritual. Or maybe you've been trying really hard to be holy and it's just not working! Whatever the case, the problem is clear: too few Christians look like Christ and too many don’t seem all that concerned about it. (The Hole in our Holiness, Crossway publishing)

Will you begin your pursuit of holiness by taking action to "put to death" whatever belongs to your earthly nature? (Colossians 3:5a). Be specific!

Put on your new nature (Colossians 3:10). This seemingly impossible task is made possible because the Holy Spirit is present in us and is waiting for us to call on him for the help we need to take action. He's the great "enabler." Without him, you can't prepare your mind, put your hope in Christ, put to death your self and sin, or put on the new nature.         gmd & jbd

Friday, 10 September 2021 00:00

Whitewater!

Matthew 11:13; 13:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-4

Ever been whitewater rafting? Maybe you were bold enough to climb into an inflatable raft and push out into turbulent water only to be tossed about in the competition between water and rock. A narrow gorge with millions of gallons of water pushing through is a rush of adrenaline. Hang on for dear life!

Massive hydraulics, towering liquid walls, deafening sound, class V rapids—powerful enough to stand your raft straight up in the air with you and your comrades in it—maybe! You are there to experience adventure, to behold beauty, to stand in awe, to feel the power. 

Prophecy is the whitewater of the Bible. Listen carefully and you will learn respect, stand in awe, feel the power. The competition between majesty and mercy, doom and gloom, hope and help is unparalleled, unequalled, unrivaled. It is God speaking in his loudest voice. He has important things to say.

The Name of the Lord comes from afar,   with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire; his breath is like a rushing torrent,   rising up to the neck (Isa 30:27-28).

Why would God speak this way? Maybe like a coach, when the players ignore what they were told and end up losing the game, God can become pretty upset, even angry. But also like a coach, he can be the quintessence of patience.

For many years, Lord God, you were patient with them; by your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention (Neh 9:30).

Probably more so than any other place in Scripture, we learn in the prophets how God thinks, how he has acted, how he will act. It’s fairly important information! Duh! Unfortunately, the prophetic portions of Scripture are probably the least understood.

For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves (Mal 4:2). That’s energizing language, but exactly what is it referring to? Maybe we don’t need to know. The point is we’re supposed to get excited! Feel the power!

Even the prophets themselves did not grasp the full significance of what God was saying: Many prophets longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it (Matt 13:17). Would it be fair to say that the prophets spoke better than they knew?

Life Application Questions

  • In the Old Testament, there are 187chapters in the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy), 249chapters in the historical books (Joshua through Esther), 243 chapters in the poetic books (Job through Song of Solomon), and 250 chapters in the prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi)! It’s probably that last section that Christians know the least about. Why? Are those books less important? Would we understand God better if we understood the prophets’ messages better? (Recommended reading: Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Prophecy and Apocalyptic.)
  • Why hasn’t Jesus returned already? It’s been more than 2,000 years since he announced that he was coming soon (Rev 22:7, 12, 20)? Is he waiting patiently for something?
  • If God were still speaking today through prophets, what would he be saying? Would it be whitewater? Hang on for dear life?!

~ dbs

Thursday, 09 September 2021 00:00

Faith’s Demand  

1 Peter 1:10-12   

Peter’s sentences shine through Heaven’s windows revealing thunder and lightning. He sees redemption’s certainty and for disciples, contrasting mystery. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest careEven angels long to look into these things.” Peter’s words accurately describe God’s hiddenness (1 Peter 1:10 &12).

Reading the Bible means you are opening profound certainty as well as mystery. The long term strategy of God playing out in day-to-day events intrigues us; but there are also concealed truths. Disciples can be challenged with questions such as, “Why are these things (as in certain events) happening?”

Some apparent disciples will claim, at various points along the way, “God is doing this or that because….” Such disciples typically mean well, but they are not to be accorded the authoritativeness of Scripture. 

We trust redemption’s certainty while accepting mystery, in following Jesus. Truly, there are uncomfortable and disturbing times of waiting while wondering, “Why is this happening?” Using our deepest faith, we seek the peace which passes understanding.

Travel to the city of Indianapolis, Indiana. The hospital is accessible from 10th Street near downtown. Nearby is White River Parkway. Riley Hospital serves children. It is a Level-One Trauma Center and provides a resource for the Indiana School of Medicine. 

There is an Emergency Department, a Newborn Intensive Care Unit, numerous specialty surgeons, oncology teams, tropical disease specialists and additional outpatient clinics serving more than 2,500 patients each week. Why do we need such institutions? Because children, the most innocent among us, are suffering. Disciples know, “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12).

Life Applications

Which of faith’s certainties bring you great confidence?

Which of life’s puzzles trouble you most?

When the innocent suffer, how do you understand their suffering?

Are you becoming more aware some questions will never be answered outside of God’s presence?

~ajs

Wednesday, 08 September 2021 00:00

Dry Bones – Come Alive!

dry bones come alive

1 Peter 1:8-9; John 20:24-29; Romans 15:13 

“As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive 

We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive 

Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise 

We call out to dry bones, come alive God of endless mercy, God of unrelenting love 

Rescue every daughter, bring us back the wayward son. 

And by Your Spirit, breathe upon them, show the world that You alone can save

As we call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive 

We call out to dead hearts, come alive, come alive 

Up out of the ashes, let us see an army rise 

We call out to dry bones, come alive!” (lyrics by Lauren Daigle)

How do dry bones relate to a living hope? What is more hopeful than our living hope – salvation in Jesus? It’s easy to get discouraged with our world and COVID, but God…but God has a plan for such a time as this.

The first step in experiencing living hope is believing the Gospel. Thomas would not believe unless he had seen the scars of Jesus’ crucifixion on His resurrected body. We may not physically see, but we can believe with faith and hope. For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Pet 1:9).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13). “’The God of hope. ’What is hope in the abstract? Nothing! It may mean anything. But the Christian hope is a definite thing; it is the hope!... “There is no other place where joy and peace and fellowship and unity can be had” (Alva J. McClain and Herman Hoyt, Romans - the Gospel of God’s Grace, pp. 242-43). 

Step 2 is fellowship together. The church is a powerful place. “People need the church more than ever before. If you’ve gotten in the groove of bacon, eggs, and PJs on Sunday morning you’re not in a groove, you’re in a rut. Come home to church” (Kevin Green, “Airborne Church” Sunday, 8/29/21).

Why should I physically attend church? “I don’t need to go to church to have a relationship with Jesus,” you may say. When you are saved, and you resist attending church, you are left as prey from the enemy without the benefits of the church body. Freedom from gathering together is not freedom! It rather leads you to rebellion. Jesus is building His church today. He said, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matt 16:18). Is that not a living hope?

Life Application Questions

  • Do the trials of these last days have a purifying power? If so, how?
  • What do you find that best gives us hope? Maybe that the best days are ahead of us--the day when God is manifested . . . to all the earth?
  • Do you have dry bones in your life that need to come alive?

jlh

Tuesday, 07 September 2021 00:00

The Gift

the gift

1 Peter 1:6-7, James 1:2-4,12-18

How do you respond to receiving a gift? We give and receive gifts for a variety of occasions. Some people spend time in creating the gift; others have the ability to wrap the gifts creatively and some of us are really good at finding the right gift card. In James 1:17, we read “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  What kinds of gifts should we anticipate from the Father of heavenly lights?

 

Gifts we receive from our Abba Daddy may come wrapped in many ways. We should expect gifts of trials and expect temptation struggles on our faith journey through life. Read James 1 and 1 Peter 1: What various (picture the word, variegated-many colors) trials and temptations do James and Peter write about“…though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:1) Trials are varied. God has grace sufficient to meet the need. God matches the trials to our strengths and needs. These “gifts” are good and used as preparation for our future ministry in eternity. One of the enemy’s tricks is to convince us that our Father is holding out on us, that He does not really love and care for us; That these “gifts” are not good after all. Have you ever felt like God was unresponsive to you during a time of trial? What trials can you identify in your life? How did you respond to these “gifts”? These gifts from God may not appear wrapped in pretty paper and tied up with a bow. They may arrive in the guise of an unmarried child’s pregnancy. It may masquerade as cancer or be wrapped in the plain brown paper of betrayal. These “gifts” can be filled with tears and pain and yet the Father of lights gives good gifts and does not change like shifting shadows. 

There is purpose in the pain and there is a way through the trials and temptations. “These (trials) have come so that the proven genuiness of your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7) God keeps us in the furnace of suffering so we can reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10) Read Daniel 3. After the Hebrew boys walked through the fire, the king declared: “They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” (Daniel 3:28) What fire have you walked through that Jesus revealed himself to you or others? “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2) God says we will pass through. Life as a Christ follower means that obedience will gift you with, and take you through some difficult places. BUT “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) How do you view the “Father of lights” good gifts? “Faith enables a man both to live and to die without fear.” (Charles Spurgeon)

lkb

Monday, 06 September 2021 00:00

YOUR INHERITANCE

your inheritance2

1 Peter 1:3-5; Ephesians 1:9-14

The thing about inheritance is that someone has to die for the heirs to receive it. You may not even know that you're going to get anything until an attorney writes or phones to tell you the good news that you have been included in someone’s will. 

Think of it this way. Your Father (Yahweh) has included you in his "will." But in order for you to receive the promised inheritance, his Son, Jesus had to die. The Apostle Paul explained it this way: And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit. . . . The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us [you] the inheritance he promised . . . (Ephesians 1:13b-14a). Did you notice that the entire Godhead is involved in your inheritance (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit)? And the best news is, the only thing you have to do to receive this wonderful legacy is to be "born again" into the family of God. 

Do you have the assurance that you have been born into God’s family? How did your new birth come about?  

As you anticipate receiving your inheritance, do you wonder how you will be cared for until you actually receive it? Does it come with a guarantee? Is there some kind of provision that you can draw on while you’re waiting? Yes, verse 14 above assures us that the very Holy Spirit of God is the guarantee. He is in you, a constant companion, counselor, comforter, and guide. 

Are you drawing on the amazing provision God has made for you in the Holy Spirit? If so, how? If not, how are you going to begin?

When you know that you’ve been included in someone’s will, aren’t you curious about what's in the inheritance? Again, Paul tells us: God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10). God graciously planned to include Gentiles in the family by offering salvation to the nations, not just to his chosen people, Israel. 

What’s more, the plan includes bringing everything together under the authority of Christ at the right time. Does this include wars, hurricanes, the death of Christians, and pandemics? Yes, it does! Or does it mean that you won't be persecuted for your faith? No, it doesn't! There is no way of knowing what God may allow in your life or the cause of your death. But, like the persecuted church around the world today, the Holy Spirit will be with you every step of the way. Peter assured the exiles he wrote to that ... through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation . . . (1 Peter 1:5a) 

Your inheritance is ready. In the meantime, how are you living in the expectation of your inheritance? And how can you share this great hope with those who are not aware of this amazing legacy?                                                                            gmd & jbd

 

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