Eye Hath Not Seen

Is it possible for the finite mind to conceive of something or someone superior to the infinite God? To anticipate anything more majestic, more beautiful, more glorious than the Creator of the universe? Or to conceive of some blessedness or pleasure exceeding what God provides for us in Himself?

If we’re capable of imagining something greater than God, something more worthy of worship, awe and admiration in any particular aspect of His being, God would be malicious in forbidding worship of this conceptualization of another deity, for by its nature it would be worthy of worship and beneficial to us to worship. This proves (by contradiction) that it’s impossible to imagine anything superior to God in any way; it’s inconceivable.

Being Creator of our soul, mind and body, God knows what will perfectly fulfill and satisfy us, and He has designed us perfectly, such that we are perfectly satisfied only by ultimate perfection: Himself.

How satisfying is God Himself, really? Well, until we know everything there is to know about Jehovah, our view of Him, and therefore our worship and admiration of Him, can be enhanced and improved, increasing our joy and delight in Him. And since a finite mind cannot ever fully comprehend the infinitude of God, our journey into pleasure in discovering God will be eternal and infinite. There is no upper bound to how much we can enjoy Him.

As a token of Jehovah’s amazing nature, of His willingness to lavish the most extravagant gifts upon us, God has already given us His Son. If He was ever going to withhold anything good from us, if there was ever anything of which we would be unworthy, or anything too much to ask of God, it would have been His beloved Son: Jesus Christ. Yet He didn’t even hold Christ back from us, but gave Himself up freely in Christ for us. (Is 53:10) What could possibly keep God from giving us what’s optimal for us in every possible way (Ro 8:32), and to actually Himself be that which supremely satisfies us?

The corrupt appetite may well long for something other than God (Ro 1:26), for something else than what He is and provides, which is invariably and infinitely inferior. (Ep 3:8) This is worshipping and serving the creature more than the creator (25); it’s an appetite and passion blind to the glory of God. (Ep 4:17-18)

But the transformed soul, walking in God’s perfect design, rejoices in God Himself with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1Pe 1:8) The pleasure and ecstasy is limited only by the capability of the redeemed soul to experience it.

Truly, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the unregenerate heart the things God has prepared for those who love Him (2Co 2:9), for such is foolishness to the world. (14) But God has revealed Himself to us who know Him by His Spirit. (10)

Yet the above is often abused to reference the glories of Heaven itself, rather than focusing on God, as if the beauty and splendor of Heaven is the prize. As a bride focused on family, friends and trinkets rather than her husband, so do many long for Heaven as a reunion with loved ones and the splendor of a sparkling city. (He 11:10) It’s the carnal mind posturing itself again in center stage, choosing over and over again anything but God Himself as an ultimate objective, and thereby missing the Pearl of great price. (Mt 13:45-46)

Whom have I in Heaven but God? What could possibly exist anywhere that I should desire more than God? (Ps 73:25) Anything or anyone that even slightly comes to mind — it’s an idol, a lie. (1Jn 5:21)

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Grace for Grace

Being saved by grace through faith (Ep 2:8), we might think salvation‘s all there is to grace. What else could we possibly need once we’re eternally safe?

Well, there’s so much more to salvation than being saved from Hell. Justification occurs the instant we trust Christ (Ep 1:13), believing on Him, fully persuaded that He’s paid our sin debt in full (Ro 4:21), and it’s certainly a key step in the salvation process. Yet there’s much more; we’re on an eternal journey into oneness with God Himself. (Jn 17:21)

The Way is one of sanctification, being set apart as holy in God, by God and for God. (1Co 1:30) This is why Christ set Himself apart to die for us (19), that we also might sanctified, holy, set apart, transformed into His likeness through the Word of truth. (17) There’s no other way to God. (He 12:14)

So, as we’re saved by grace, we’re also sanctified — equipped to live in God and for God, by grace, which is the enabling, the ability or power to seek God and live for Him. The divine life is impossible for us all on our own, yet abundant, inexhaustible grace (power and ability) is given — made available — to each and every believer (Ep 4:7), gifts enabling us to be more like Christ (8) in as many ways as we desire. (1Co 12:31a)

The power to live for God is truly at our disposal; it’s phenomenal, resurrection-level power (Ep 1:19-20a), and it’s ours for the taking. Just as we’re saved by faith, we access this sanctifying grace by faith. (Col 2:6-7)

Believing Christ lives in us and through us, by His power (grace) we expect Him to deliver us from sin, lies and our old man, and so He does as He promises. (1Co 1:9)

This grace to continuously reach out in Christ to access the grace we need from Christ to walk with Christ … is also from Christ (Ro 5:2): we need ability (grace) from God to appropriate the power (grace) to live for God.

In other words, we’ve already received all of Christ we’ll ever need, yet we also need from Christ grace for grace (Jn 1:16): God must enable us to appropriate the power He’s already given us to live for Him. So, this is what He provides; He gives us everything we need to live for Him, if we’re willing to seek Him out and receive Him. (2Co 6:1)

The opportunity before each of us is unfathomable — what shall we do with it? Shall the gift of the grace of God, given unto us by the effectual working of His power (Ep 3:7), be in vain? (1Co 15:10a) Only if we neglect to seek out the grace we need to walk in the power we already have to live for God; only if we’re content having divine power at our disposal, but never actually laying hold of it. How shall it go for those who neglect so great salvation? (He 2:3)

Let’s seek from Christ the grace we need to live for God, believing His life in us equips us in every way to actually live in victory for Him.

And as we find this grace in Christ and do actually overcome for Him, we know it isn’t merely us walking worthy of God, but the grace of God which is with us. (1Co 15:10b) By grace let’s live out the mystery and the miracle: Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)

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Receive the Grace

God says that by Christ we have access by faith into grace (Ro 5:2); in other words, the power to live the Christian life becomes available to us as Christ Himself enables us to know for certain that He is empowering us to live for Him.

Though God is the source of our strength to live for Christ, God doesn’t merely cause us live for Christ apart from our will, apart from our willing engagement with and pursuit of Him; there is a cooperation with God involved, yet it’s a cooperation which God also determines and enables. This access to grace involves a supernatural knowing (faith) as well as a supernatural willingness to become and to do.

So, it’s significant that God begs us to not receive His grace in vain (2Co 6:1); He pleads with us that we should not neglect His offer to enable us with the strength we need to live for Him. He challenges us and calls us out to act on His invitation to put this divine power into motion and actually live for Him.

Even though God is the Author and Finisher of our faith (He 12:1), and though without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:%), He expects us to engage our will to walk in this divine power based on His invitation and promise.

Yet even this practical working out of grace is itself another grace, or an additional divine enablement on a different level, such that everything we become for God and in God is also finally all from God and for God. We may only glory in Him. (1Co 1:31)

Paul illustrates this for us in his own experience: he is what he is by the grace of God (1Co 15:10a), and His grace (or enabling power) was not bestowed on Paul in vain (b) because Paul acted out this grace by laboring more prolifically than all the other apostles (c); but even this abundant laboring was not something Paul himself produced all in his own power — even this activity was due to the further enabling of God within him, equipping him to do so. (d)

So, until we both access divine power by faith, and then also act in accordance with our faith to see God’s grace working out in our life, we’re receiving the grace of God in vain. Both of these behaviors are each driven by grace, and are needed to fulfill God’s purpose in making grace available to us.

Perhaps it’s like being given a brand new cordless vacuum … exciting, but keeping it securely in the box out in the garage doesn’t clean the house. Surely, opening the box and putting it together helps, but still the house is filthy. Charging up the vacuum and turning it on, studying and admiring it — that’s moving in the right direction, but this still isn’t the point.

Amazing design and power may be at our finger tips, begging us to engage, but the vacuum still exists in vain. We may even write elaborately about the vacuum and tell all our friends how wonderful and innovative it is, but this is all still a sad waste of the vacuum. We may do all these things, and most sincerely, yet wonder to ourselves why this amazing gift isn’t working to clean our house.

It isn’t until we get off the couch, put our hand to the handle, and begin to move the empowered vacuum over the dust, actually using it per it’s design, that all the potential of the vacuum is realized and becomes practically useful. Until then the thoughtfulness of the gift, and all its power and design is in vain.

So, what aspect of our lives yet lacks the grace of God? What untapped power has God given us that’s still unopened in the box? (Ep 1:18-19) Where is it that we could we become more like Christ if He but enabled us? (Ga 4:19) He will show us the next step if we but ask, seek and knock. (Mt 7:7-8)

Then, as He shows us HIs way, step by step, we seek grace from God to believe, to know, to become, and to do the will of God. (Php 3:14-15)

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Cannot Be Broken

Debates about which Bible version is best generally focus on peripheral concepts: archaic language, the age of certain Greek manuscripts, or theological clarity. The primary evidence is often overlooked: the consistency of the Majority Text proves it’s the most reliable — random copying errors don’t account for it, as KJV critics claim.

To illustrate, suppose 127 college students transmit a 1000-word short story, where the 1st student makes 2 hand copies from the original and gives the copies to 2 more students; those 2 students each make 2 more hand copies of their copy and pass those 4 copies on to 4 more students, who each make 2 more copies, etc. Seven copy generations yields 254 new manuscripts to compare with the original.

Assuming unintentional, random copying errors, one may easily note that the earlier in the transcription process a mistake is made the more prevalent the error will be in the total set of manuscripts. Additionally, it’s virtually impossible for any particular error to occur in more than half the manuscripts; the only probable way for any single error to be prevalent in the majority is for the very first student to deliberately introduce the same error into both of their copies, violating randomness.

This fact proves the Majority text, which is generally consistent within itself concerning supposed errors, has a single original source: the general consistency of the manuscripts can only be rightly accounted for in this way.

Carefully consider: there are only two possible sources for the Majority text — the autographs themselves, or another set of manuscripts deliberately constructed to supplant the autographs. This fact forced the revisers of 1881 to propose the myth of the Syrian Recension to justify their preference for the Alexandrian Text.

The patent absurdity of the Syrian Recension proves the Majority Text represents the autographs, and therefore that most modern translations are based on a corrupt manuscript witness. This is the only proper foundation for a KJV debate.

Arguments focused on archaisms in the KJV miss the forest for the trees. After a 3-minute tutorial on thee, thou and basic verb tenses, only a very small percentage (0.16%, or 1-2 per 1000) of the words in the KJV are archaic. Learning new words from time to time is a given for anyone pursuing truth; it’s why we have dictionaries.

Debating which version better supports orthodox theology is irrational: theology depends upon scripture, not vice versa — we may not rightly argue for the validity of scripture based on how it supports our beliefs. This debate is about which words were in the autographs, not the doctrines implied by them.

And diminishing the value of the KJV by claiming certain verses are incorrectly translated, when the reasoning of its translators is no longer available, is subjective at best and does more harm than good. No imperfection in the KJV causes us to believe or act improperly as we trust and obey it (unlike most newer translations – e.g. His Virgin). This should be the whole of the matter … it’s the very reason we have the Word of God. What’s left to discuss?

God inspired His Word in written form to accomplish a purpose, which is unfulfilled merely by the autographs: to enable His elect, in many ages and nations and languages, to be mature and complete, thoroughly and completely equipped unto all good works. (2Ti 3:16-17)

God didn’t inspire His Word in vain: He says the scripture cannot be broken. (Jn 10:35) We can be sure He has preserved His Word across time, and across languages, sufficiently to achieve His purpose. That’s exactly what God does — faithfully keep His promises. So, find His Word in a language you can understand today; trust it, memorize it, and obey it as the very Word of God.

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The Seventh Day

I am intrigued by the fact that God blesses the seventh day (Ge 2:3), because it doesn’t actually exist: the seventh day is an abstract concept, like the number 7 — a concept describing a certain pattern or collection.

It isn’t that abstractions aren’t real, perhaps in some sense they’re more real, more permanent than what they represent. And the fact that God blesses this abstract concept of the seventh day, and how He actually does it, fascinates me.

The first sabbath day, the seventh day of time, is unique since it’s the very first day in which God doesn’t create something new and amazing; He rests, or ceases from creating, not because He’s tired, but because He’s finished: His work is complete, and it’s very good. (Ge 1:31) This first sabbath is indeed special.

To commemorate the 7th day, to help us remember the day God rested (Ex 20:11), God sets apart every 7th day, sanctifies each one until the end of time, making them distinct and different. But how does He actually do this?

You see, the very next day, the 8th day of existence, is just like the 7th day in every respect; from the 6th day on God doesn’t make the days materially different from each other — no special cosmic event marks any particular day. It’s only in the conscious mind where these sabbath days can possibly be distinguished, so that’s where God must sanctify them. We aren’t told explicitly how God does this, but there’s a clue in why He does it.

Christ, as Lord of Sabbath (Mk 2:28), reveals that sabbath is made for Man (27): God designs sabbath for the welfare of Mankind. This includes Adam and Eve, and every one born since.

However, if Adam doesn’t start keeping track of which day it is, starting on the 7th day, counting how many days have elapsed since the first sabbath, he won’t know when the next sabbath day is, or any sabbath after that. The fact God makes the sabbath for Man implies God tells Adam about the first sabbath and commands Adam to start keeping sabbath, to rest from his work every 7th day. Adam must understand that he’s to start counting the days and keeping track of them, else the sabbath will be lost. This he evidently does.

In other words, God’s sabbath command actually depends on unfaithful Man keeping track of which day it is, or the sabbath will be lost and God’s design in vain. So, what does Man do with this gift?

Man begins to defy God on every level imaginable (Ge 6:5), yet by the time Noah boards the ark, he not only knows what day of the year it is, he records exactly which day it is (Ge 7:11), and exactly what day the earth is completely dry. (Ge 8:13-14) Noah’s concern with time, keeping track of what day it is and telling us about it, indicates (to me, at least) that he’s stewarding sabbath, keeping it alive for us, along with the animals.

And by the time Israel’s being delivered from bondage hundreds of years after Noah, God doesn’t have to explain to Moses what day of the week sabbath falls on; He just tells Moses to remember sabbath, as if Moses already knows what day this is. (Ex 20:8) Evidently, Man’s unwittingly been keeping track of sabbath for God ever since He sanctified it, observing a 7-day week as a pattern of organizing life, even though, for the most part, he hasn’t been observing sabbath.

God does according to His will in Heaven and in Earth; no one can thwart His purposes. (Da 4:35) As He’s built so much of nature on mathematical patterns, He has imbedded the 7-day concept into the very fabric of civilization.

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What Thinkest Thou?

Jesus Christ, knowing all things (Jn 16:30), is always asking questions; it’s not because He doesn’t know the answers: He’s giving us unique opportunities to understand, leading us to new insights and answers.

For example, when Simon Peter is pondering whether he and Christ are obligated to pay the temple tax (Mt 17:24), Christ leads with a question: “What do you think, Simon? Do kings tax their own children, or strangers?” (25) The answer is obvious to Peter: “Strangers,” yet it’s the same question. Since the temple is God’s house, Christ’s own Father, He and the disciples are exempt. (26) Why is the question more effective than just telling Peter the answer?

In the Garden, as He’s being betrayed, Christ asks Judas two penetrating questions — as Judas is in the very act of committing the greatest crime in history: “Friend, why have you come?” (Mt 26:50a) Christ knows perfectly well what Judas is doing (46), so why the question? How is this better than just confronting Judas and accusing him?

The second question: “Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:48) The deed is done, but really? With a token of affection and loyalty? You thought this through?

Judas doesn’t answer either question, which is telling. He’s been deceiving himself, and is fully committed to walking in darkness. These questions were light in his darkness, showing himself to be what even he himself could not tolerate, (Mt 27:3-4a), and likely brought Judas to the end of himself. (5)

When Christ is exposing Simon the Pharisee, He tells a simple parable and asks Simon to interpret it. (Lk 7:41-42) Again, the answer is unmistakably obvious (43), and Christ agrees. Yet the parallels to their present relationship are undeniable, forcing Simon to face the coldness of his own heart, revealed by his own confession.

Christ asks us these kinds of questions because we need to consider them and look inside for answers. We know a whole lot more than we might think; if we’re seeking hard truths about ourselves, God reveals them to us through our own spirits. (Pr 20:27) When we ourselves come up with the answers it’s much more natural to accept them.

So, how do we emulate the Master here? How do we help folk find answers to the toughest, growth-spurring questions rather than spoon-feeding them? Perhaps by loving others enough to really care about helping them understand, rather than impressing them with our own knowledge. Perhaps by investing, taking time to get to know our audience, to understand them, listening, studying their strengths and weaknesses, asking God for wisdom to use common sense in illustrating spiritual reality.

And we must understand what we’re talking about, well enough to ask the right questions, surgically pointing others to God’s answers. We must study to show ourselves approved, not to men but to God. (2Ti 2:15)

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Better Not to Have Known

There’s great responsibility involved in how we respond to truth; God’s very concerned about how we receive truth and what we do with it; He holds us accountable.

God’s wrath is revealed from Heaven against all who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Ro 1:18), who have the truth but turn from it and don’t obey it. It’s worse to disobey the truth once it’s revealed than to disobey in ignorance.

In other words, we’re better off not to have known the way of righteousness than to turn away from the holy commandments given to us (2Pe 2:21) There’s mercy when we sin in ignorance (1Ti 1:13), but no mercy for presumptuous sin. (He 10:26-27)

And it’s not just the truth we actually know, but it’s all truth which we have the opportunity to know, which we could know if we love the truth and pursue it. (2Pe 3:5) This is how all will be judged. (Ro 1:20-21)

So, we should consider carefully the example of our Lord Jesus, how He was very selective in who He revealed truth to, and when. He deliberately hid the truth from those who were superficial in their interest, speaking vaguely in parables and riddles. (Mt 13:13-15) His pattern was to reveal Himself only to those who were seeking truth, and He often required significant obedience before giving them much revelation at all.* He didn’t cast His pearls before swine, and encourages us likewise. (Mt 7:6)

This isn’t cruel or unloving, to be careful with truth, thoughtful in who we speak to, strategic in what we tell them and when. It’s the most loving thing to do with those who hate the light, which is most people. (Jn 3:19-20) If we shine bright lights into the eyes of the wicked, they won’t respond well; it just reveals their hatred of the light and makes them more culpable. Then they get angry with us. Not good for anyone.

There’s Hell to pay, literally, for missing Christ, so we might reason that it doesn’t matter much if people don’t respond well and are more guilty as a result of our witness; perhaps we should just shove everything we know at them and hope for the best: they might get some of it. Yet we must remember that there are levels in Hell (Mt 11:22) as well as in Heaven; it’s not one-size-fits-all. (Mt 5:19) Spray and pray isn’t the example of Christ or of Paul (Ac 17:31), and we should soberly consider this.

We must also think carefully and soberly about ourselves, those of us who have found Christ and are following Him the best we know how: are we living in such a way that honors what we know, that gives it the heart, flesh and bone it deserves? Do we buy the truth, and sell it not? (Pr 23:23) counting it more precious than the trinkets of this world? Does our joy in God reflect His majesty? Does our love for others reflect His? Are we walking worthy of God? (1Th 2:12)

Is there anything we can do today that might move us closer to God? Anything at all that might align us more fully with His Way? Let’s ask God to show us the next step (Php 3:15), and then do this. Let us draw near to God, and work out our deliverance from the coldness and lifelessness of dead religion with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), for our God is austere, a consuming fire. (He 12:29) He has chosen us to obedience (1Pe 1:2), and is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24)

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Be Merciful

Mercy is that quality which finds no pleasure in pursuing justice to the full, in seeing the wicked destroyed; it doesn’t require all wrongs to be fully righted and paid for by the offender; it’s willing to forgive and let things go rather than seeking revenge. It’s a disposition of compassion, sparing a sinner the full penalty they deserve, with a view to seeing them healed and restored. (Ps 145:8) It’s grounded in benevolence, good will, and charity.

Mercy is only relevant in the context of transgression and sin, when someone has violated God’s Law. Mercy refrains from imposing the full penalty someone deserves as punishment for their crime. By definition then, mercy cannot be demanded, expected as a right: mercy is undeserved.

God delights in being merciful (Mi 7:18), especially towards those who fear Him (Ps 103:11), who are seeking Him and trying to obey Him. (Is 55:7) When one falls into sin, even against us, and then repents, we should rejoice in seeing them forgiven and restored, just as Father does. (Lk 15:10)

God commands us to be merciful (Lk 6:36), and promises mercy to the merciful. (Mt 5:7) This follows from the fact that God commands us to love our neighbor (Ja 2:8), and failing in mercy is failing in love; it’s preferring others suffer fully for their sins rather than repenting and being restored, requiring them to pay their sin-debt in full, and deriving satisfaction from their suffering.

Being unmerciful reflects a basic lack of understanding of and appreciation for how much we each need to be forgiven. (Mt 18:33) It is also a presumption of certainty in discerning what others deserve, and it is typically rooted in feeling morally superior to others, which is pride. Those who neglect mercy as a manner of life are thus revealing that they themselves are unforgiven, and shall in the end receive no mercy from God. (Ja 2:13)

God’s ultimate purpose in our lives is to reconcile us to Himself. (1Co 5:19) Whenever mercy serves that end, helps us draw nearer to Him and enjoy Him, enabling us to become more like Him, or gives us an extended opportunity to do so, we can count on His mercy. We should reflect God’s love for others in this way, and love mercy like Father does.

But those who seek mercy merely to avoid the consequences of sin, who haven’t repented and changed their minds about rebellion, who remain presumptuous and committed to their sin, who are not seeking to be restored in their relationship with God, will be sorely disappointed; such will receive ultimate justice from Him. (Ro 2:8-9)

God’s basic requirements for each of us are simple: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. (Mi 6:8) Mercy is central; having our lives marked with justice, a right treatment of ourselves and others, while also loving mercy, is godly maturity and wisdom. God’s calling us to be like Himself: both just and merciful.

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Diversities of Operations

When the disciples of Jesus came across someone casting out demons in Christ’s name, they tried to stop him; they simply couldn’t imagine God being in any ministry except their own. (Lk 9:49)

After all, they were the Twelve Apostles, following the Messiah literally, physically, participating directly in Christ’s work with Him. Clearly, anything less was unacceptable. How could anyone else be serving God and not directly involved in Christ’s earthly ministry, as one of Christ’s personal disciples and followers?

It’s a common temptation: we get something right, and then think ourselves superior to all those who don’t quite get it like we do. We tend to view our own particular ministry, denomination, or way of engaging with God as superior to all others, thinking everyone should do it our way. We fear that which is different and unfamiliar, and we want to diminish, control, extinguish or quarantine it.

Yet Christ Himself doesn’t view even His own ministry this way, and corrects the disciples here. (Lk 9:50) Christ wants some folk to be serving Him elsewhere; He’s working through them in a different place and venue. (Lk 8:38-39) This isn’t a problem; it’s God’s perfect plan.

The beauty of The Way is that it isn’t bound to a single organization, race, culture or time period, or to a single protocol or structure; it transcends all temporal divisions, customs and barriers. (Ac 10:35) It doesn’t favor a certain personality type or learning style; it recognizes diversity as the gift of God, enriching, strengthening and completing spiritual community. (1Co 12:4) The principles of righteousness can be applied in any context, and godliness can look very different from one setting to the next. (5-6)

Some of us prefer more structure and ritual in our worship, others more freedom and spontaneity. (Ro 14:5) Some of us are more emotional and expressive, others more reverent and still. In matters of preference, where God has not prescribed a pattern, style or format, we ought not to impose ours, or think any less of those who approach God differently. (4) Even when motives are evidently impure, we should rejoice whenever truth is proclaimed, in whatever style or fashion it’s presented. (Php 1:18)

Bold conviction in godly principles (Ga 2:14), which are thoroughly grounded in Scripture (Mt 15:9), and deference in our preferences (1Co 9:19); this is the way of love.

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