New Wine for New Wineskins February 2011

By , February 1, 2011 4:35 pm

Let the Weak SpeakLet the Weak Speak (Part 30)

The Prophets – Walking the Talk (5)

Remember – the purpose of this series is to release the potential that is within us to build successful ministries, kingdom businesses, and to be world changers who really make a difference in this world.  That will always involve change but we don’t need to panic because all of the change God requires from us is by way of exchange.  And so we simply come to the place of exchange – the Throne of Grace – where we have the opportunity to trade our weakness for his strength!

We are no longer wearing ourselves out chasing signs and wonders – we are signs and wonders and so we are destined to be the most exciting thing that is going on wherever we are!

Isaiah 8: 18

18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

Joel 3: 9 – 10

9 Proclaim this among the nations:
“Prepare for war!
Wake up the mighty men,
Let all the men of war draw near,
Let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”

IT’S TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

We have been going through the Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith” and looking at the lives of some of those listed there who although they were far from perfect were successful in overcoming the weaknesses of their flesh and fulfilling God’s purpose in their generation by faith!

In the past few sessions we continued doing what the writer of Hebrews does and began to race on through the rest of the folks that are mentioned here who all overcame their weaknesses by faith and saw the supernatural strength and power of God manifested in and through their lives!  So far we have looked at Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel.

Hebrews 11: 31 – 40

31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.

Joel’s name means “Yahweh is God”.  His name is very appropriate because the message of Joel lays stress on God as the Sovereign One who has all creation and the nations under His power and control as the God of History.

Remember – God raises up prophets to bring a word to his people directly from his throne.  True prophets don’t philosophise – they say, “Thus says the LORD – this is what the LORD says!”

Budding prophets and preachers begin to see a sermon or a message in everything.  They become very sensitive to the reality that God speaks in many ways and they have prophetic insight and ability to translate what they are seeing into what God is saying!

Joel uses a recent drought and locust plague that strikes Judah without warning as an object lesson to warn of a future invasion of Israel in the Day of Yahweh. In just a very short time, a matter of hours, every piece of vegetation is stripped bare. The message is that if the nation will repent and return to the Lord, God will restore His relationship with her and bless her. This was true in the historical situation in which Joel was writing and still holds true today.

Remember 2 Chronicles 7: 13 – 14

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

For the ultimate blessings and restoration promised by Joel to occur, God’s people must experience deep repentance leading to the outpouring of the Spirit of God.

Joel 2: 11 – 13, 27 – 32

11 The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?  12 “ Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “ Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm…
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame. 28 “ And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. 30 “ And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 32 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the remnant whom the LORD calls.

The ministry of the true prophet is not usually the easiest to fulfil as the prophetic call to repentance is not often a popular message but it always results in great blessing for those who respond to it!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Amos was a farmer and his name means, “burden or burden-bearer”  which again is very apt in light of the prophetic burden that he was given.

The message given to Amos was primarily one of judgment, though it does end with words of hope. Amos warned that the Lord God would come as a Warrior to judge the nations that had rebelled against His authority. Israel in particular would be punished for her violations against God’s covenant. Amos sought to bring the prosperous and materialistic northern tribes under Jeroboam to repentance as the only escape from imminent judgment.  This book demonstrates God’s hatred of evil because of His holiness and that His justice must act against Israel’s sin for He cannot allow it to go unpunished.

Sometimes we forget that our God is the righteous judge of all the earth.  It is when we forget this truth that we also lose our reverent fear of him and inevitably stray into trouble.

Amos 3: 1 – 3; 4: 11 – 12; 8: 11 – 12

1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: 2 “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” 3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? …

We use verse 3 in relation to our faith walk with one another and rightly so but even more importantly it refers to our covenant relationship with the LORD!  We cannot expect to walk in the fullness of his blessing if we are not living in agreement with his word.

4: 11 “ I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. 12 “ Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

8: 11 “ Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.

A famine of hearing the words of the LORD.  We live to a great extent in that day.  The prophetic word has been replaced with a synthetic word of mixture – a man-made fabric of philosophical blurb that carries no covenant blessing in the fullness of salvation, healing, and deliverance.

We should never lose sight of the reality that it is also true under the New Covenant that God disciplines his children – in fact it is clearly stated in Hebrews 12 that God disciplines those whom he loves and scourges (strong language) all sons whom he receives!

But all of God’s discipline comes to redeem and restore us and to train us in righteousness so that his purposes can be fulfilled in our lives, and so that his design for his church can be accomplished.  It is at the end of Amos’s message that God makes this prophetic promise that the apostle James said was being fulfilled in the new covenant church (Acts 15: 16).

Amos 9: 11

11 “ On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the LORD who does this thing.

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Obadiah is the author of the shortest book in the Bible having only twenty-one verses.  His name means, “servant or worshipper of Yahweh”.  He is basically an unknown quantity and his message is a short one but it is still counted important enough by the LORD to be included in the canon of Scripture.  Remember – God uses the weak to confound the mighty and things that are nothing to bring to nothing the things that are something.

Basically, Obadiah’s message is that you will always reap what you sow! If you show mercy you will receive mercy but if you show no mercy then you will receive no mercy!  It’s as simple as that!

Obadiah 15

15 “ For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head.”

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Jonah doesn’t need much of an introduction for most of us as his name will forever be associated with the short period of his life spent in the belly of a whale!  Jonah’s name means “dove” and so it suits him pretty well since he is famous for “taking off” in the wrong direction.

We could spend a long time looking at Jonah and the lessons to be learned form his life but the main things to be gleaned from his experience are (1) that when you pray to the Lord of the harvest you just never know where he might send you, (2) you can’t out-run God, (3) the LORD has ways of turning our negative experiences around for his glory.  I mean, no wonder the people of Nineveh repented when a man who had just spent three days passing through the digestive tract of a whale showed up preaching God’s impending judgement!  He would have been bleached white, had more wrinkles than a prune, would no doubt have been seriously smelly, and probably still had seaweed coming out of his ears!  (4) Don’t get mad when you see God blessing your enemies.

You’ve probably heard the one about the lady on a plane who was reading her bible. The man sitting next to her gave a little chuckle and asked, “You don’t really believe all that stuff in there do you?”
“Of course I do. It is the Bible.” the lady replies!
“Well, what about that guy that was supposedly swallowed by the whale?” he asked.
“Oh, Jonah … Yes, I believe that, it is in the Bible.” she replied.
“Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t really know. I guess when I get to heaven, I will ask him.” said the lady.
“What if he isn’t in heaven?” the man asked sarcastically.
“Then YOU can ask him.” replied the lady!

Seriously though, the message of this book is that God loves everyone enough to send a message of his willingness to forgive even the most wicked people if they will respond to his mercy and repent and turn to him.

Jonah 3: 5 – 10

5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?” 10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Don’t ever let your pride, prejudice, or pre-conceived ideas get in the way of obedience to God’s commission to go into ALL the world and preach the gospel.  Jonah’s (albeit reluctant) preaching led to a revival the likes of which had never been seen as every person in Nineveh – from the king down to the lowest pauper and everyone else in between – repented of their sin and cried out to God for mercy and were saved!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Micah was a contemporary of Jeremiah.  His name (a shortened form of Micaiah) means, “Who is like Yahweh?”

Micah exposed the injustice of God’s people and showed the righteousness of God in that he was just in disciplining them. He indicts the people of God for sins like oppression, bribery among the judges, prophets, and priests, and for covetousness, cheating, pride, and violence.

Although the main theme of this prophet’s message is once again the failure of God’s people to remain faithful to his covenant it also reinforces the truth that this discipline on the nation demonstrated His love for them and that He would eventually restore them. One of his statements echoes the meaning of his name when he asks:

Micah 7: 18 – 20

18 Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. 19 He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old.

Micah also includes a wonderful synopsis of the life that God desires each one of us to live.

Micah 6: 8

8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Nahum means, “the bee is dead”.  Well actually it means, “comforter” but I couldn’t resist that!  Nahum’s message concerns the doom of Nineveh.  Unfortunately their conversion following the preaching of Jonah was apparently short-lived and they soon reverted to their former ruthless and wicked ways.

Nahum 3: 5 – 7

5 “ Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts; “I will lift your skirts over your face,
I will show the nations your nakedness, and the kingdoms your shame. 6 I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, and make you a spectacle. 7 It shall come to pass that all who look upon you will flee from you, and say, ‘Nineveh is laid waste! Who will bemoan her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?”

Our God is longsuffering towards us because it is not his will that any perish but that all come to repentance and so he always sends a prophetic warning and call to repentance before judgement comes.  Jesus said that in the last days it would be the same as in the days of Noah and of Lot where ample warning and invitation were given to flee from the coming judgement.  We must be diligent to continue producing the fruit of repentance in our lives otherwise we will be unprepared when the judgement comes.  Take heed!

Hebrews 10: 26 – 27

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Habakkuk comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “embrace”.  It should probably be best understood as meaning, “one who embraces or clings” since even though the main theme of Habakkuk’s message is his perplexity over the imminent invasion of Judah by Babylon he clings to the LORD as the God of his salvation and strength.

Out of this determination to embrace and cling to the revelation that he has of God’s ultimate goodness and faithfulness comes the scripture that we are all so familiar with concerning vision and the need for faith in order to see God’s purposes fulfilled!

Habakkuk 2: 1 – 2

1 I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. 2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4 “ Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.

There is also a wonderful faith-filled statement at the end of this prophetic message that the LORD has used in the past to deliver me and restore my focus on what is most important – complete trust in the one who loves us the most and who is working all things together for our good!

Habakkuk 3: 17 – 19

17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.
To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

What a song of faith!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Zephaniah’s name means, “hidden of Yahweh”.  This prophet’s ministry comes to God’s people whose lives have been compromised morally and spiritually by the influence of two wicked kings.  Again, the theme is that God’s holiness must be vindicated in judging sin.

Zephaniah 1: 12

12 “And it will come about at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!’”

But because God is also a God of mercy and grace there is also a strong emphasis call for repentance with the promise of blessing. Zephaniah’s prophecy can be clearly divided into three sections: retribution or judgment for sin, a call for repentance, and a promise of future redemption or blessing.

Zephaniah 2: 3

3 Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden In the day of the LORD’S anger.

There is also the most incredible promise for those who trust in the LORD for deliverance and an awesome revelation of how the LORD feels about them.

Zephaniah 3: 16 – 17

16 …“Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. 17 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness (be greatly happy with pervasive, irresistible joy), He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice (spin around with intense motion) over you with singing.”

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Haggai is the first of the three so-called minor prophets who prophesied to those of God’s people who had returned from exile.  His name means, “festive”.

Following the return from exile an altar had been re-built for burnt offerings and by the second year the foundation had ben laid for the temple.  However, work on the temple had ceased after the foundation was laid.  Haggai was raised up by the LORD to spur his people on to rebuild the temple.  His book is the second shortest in the Old Testament and its message is straight-forward and direct.  He doesn’t beat about the bush and is very clear in stating that he has no doubt that his message is from the LORD!  He tells the people in no uncertain terms that God’s blessing is dependent upon the right priorities – God’s house must come first and our own house must come second!  The word that he brings cuts through everything and exposes what is in the hearts of the people.

Haggai 1: 2 – 5

2 “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.”’” 3 Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!

The LORD then speaks through Haggai exhorting them to bring the materials – their time, their talent, and their treasure – and invest them in the LORD’s house.  The word he brings stirs their spirits and they get involved in the rebuilding of the LORD’s house.  God then promises them that his glory will be there in all of its fullness!

Haggai 2: 6 – 9

6 “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

IT IS TIME FOR THE LORD’S HOUSE TO BE BUILT! LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Zechariah means “Yahweh remembers”  which is a theme that runs through his prophetic message.   Zechariah was written to encourage the returned remnant to complete their work in rebuilding the temple. The prophet also reveals that God was at work in the world restoring Israel to their spiritual inheritance in preparation for the coming Messiah.

There is possibly no other Old Testament book that is more messianic than Zechariah.  He prophesies both the first and the second coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

Zechariah 9: 9

9 “ Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 14: 3 – 5

3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. 4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south. 5 Then you shall flee through My mountain valley, for the mountain valley shall reach to Azal. Yes, you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Thus the LORD my God will come, and all the saints with You.

Hallelujah! What a promise!  What a hope!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Malachi means, “My Messenger” which is very appropriate because he prophesies the coming of John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus.

Malachi’s prophetic message came at a time when both the priests and the people had grown cold in their walk with God and had become external and mechanical in their observance of the law. Though they were guilty of the sins Malachi denounced (priestly laxity, neglect of the tithes, and intermarriage with foreign women), the people acted bewildered over why God was dissatisfied with them.

How often is this the case?  People point their finger at God when things go wrong not realising that there are three fingers (interesting number in light of the Trinity) pointing back at them!  If we would expect God to be faithful in keeping his covenant promises then why do we think that we can be sloppy with our side of the covenant?

Malachi 3: 6 – 9

6 “ For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
7 Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. “But you said,
‘In what way shall we return?’ 8 “ Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.

Malachi spoke in answer to the questions of the priests and people who seemed to be ignorant of their covenant obligations and responsibilities.  Is this not the same today?  How many of God’s people have been lulled to sleep with an unbalanced message that has not reminded of them of their need to walk in obedience to God’s word.  How many of God’s people don’t have a clue what God’s word requires of them because they never take time to study it for themselves.

2 Timothy 2: 15 (KJV)

15 Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Malachi’s message exposed and rebuked the people for their sins, their backsliding, and their lousy attitudes.  But he also sought to encourage them by prophesying the coming of the Lord’s messenger who would clear the way for Messiah.

Malachi 4: 5 – 6

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

What an awesome way to close out the four thousand years of drama recorded in the Old Testament with all of its ups and downs.  We can always trust God to finish on a high note and to give us a word of hope that we can anchor our faith to!   This prophetic promise ushered in four hundred years of silence but we find Simeon and Anna the prophetess still standing in faith all these years later.

Luke 2: 22 – 38

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord,  “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord,  “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 “ Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;  30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” 33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” 36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

It doesn’t matter if its a while since the LORD spoke a definite ‘rhema’ word to you regarding the direction of your life or ministry.  It simply means that the last word he spoke to you is still relevant!

LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

Isaiah 8: 18

18 Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion.

Joel 3: 9 – 10

9 Proclaim this among the nations:
“Prepare for war!
Wake up the mighty men,
Let all the men of war draw near,
Let them come up.
10 Beat your plowshares into swords
And your pruning hooks into spears;
Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’”

IT’S TIME TO LET THE WEAK SPEAK!  LET THE WEAK SAY, “I AM STRONG!”

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