Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

Just a week ago I was in the hospital after having a procedure on my heart and guess what? Here I am, thank God! But not everybody makes it through surgery. In fact, not everybody makes it home from work.

It brings up the question of the ages: What happens to us after we die? Well, that depends.

What if I died on the operating table? First of all, this video wouldn’t exist. My body would’ve been prepared for a funeral, and my spirit would be on its way to be with my Master and Savior in Heaven; the One who created us all.

You may be thinking, ‘how can I be so sure?’ Faith. The Bible offers assurance of eternal life with Christ in Heaven for those who believe.

I realize most people would rather not think about it, but ten out of ten people die. Life comes to an end for people from every country, of all different ages, for various reasons. No one is exempt.

It’s just a matter of time.

Almost everyone has heard the Bible verse, John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Jesus died on the cross to bridge the gap between us and a holy God. Every one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and when Jesus returns, He will judge those still living as well as those who have died.

For better context, let’s keep reading. Here’s John 3:17 and 18:

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”

Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ can save us from our sins.

Prior to my surgery last week, I had to sign a consent form. Even before that, I was told of all the possible risks and complications including a torn heart muscle, punctured lung, torn artery, partial paralysis, stroke during the operation or even death.

The list of possible risks was long, but the absolute greatest risk we can take in this life is denying God by refusing to believe in His Son, Jesus, and not accepting the free offer of the forgiveness of our sins.

Acts 4:12 states: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

And Philippians 2:9-11 says:

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day, even those who refused to believe will bow before the King of Kings upon His return.

I was at peace going in to surgery because I trusted Jesus with my life years ago, and knew regardless of the result, it would be a win win. This life is a vapor and for the Christian, we live for Him and to die is gain!

Forgiveness for our sins is mankind’s greatest need. In America, we’ve heard so much about a loving God and rarely hear about His coming judgment. It’s true God is loving, but He is not tolerant of sin in any form.

We’ve also heard the man-made idea God just wants us to be happy, problem-free, and give us favor so that every day’s a Friday and we can live our best life now.

Do you really believe the Bible teaches about personal gain and happiness rather than about denying ourselves and holiness? In addition, if every day were a Friday, let’s just party like it’s 2099. Finally, if we could live our best lives now, here on earth, then why would we need God and what’s Heaven for anyway?

Now, plenty of people think all it takes to go to Heaven is to be a good person, but the question is, ‘good’ by whose standards? Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)

Sure, we can do good things, but can we truly be good without God?

The Bible teaches there is nothing we can possibly do to earn salvation. If we could do it on our own, then Jesus didn’t have to be die for our sins and be raised from the dead. In Ephesians chapter 2 it says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Open your hands and receive the free gift of life. Salvation is not a result of good deeds – but of faith. It’s true God prepared good things for us to do, but – what we do doesn’t save us; it’s who we believe in and why.

So repent of your sins, confess them to God. Trust in Jesus Christ, and tell others this good news, the gospel, the power of God to save us (Romans 1:16). He will be faithful to complete the work He began in us and then, take us to glory when our time here is done.

*Originally published at Freedom Project Media

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It’s hard to run the race and press on to what lies ahead without forgetting the past. For some of us, it’s about time to let go of excess baggage – and that includes idealizing parts of our past. According to the Bible, our best days are yet to come! Do you believe this? We must not fall into a trap of dwelling on the past – good times or bad – or we might miss what God wants to do today (Is. 43:18-19).

Every day we’re alive is one day closer to Heaven and the return of Jesus Christ. But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

With all that’s going on in this country, things can appear darker than ever. Biblical morality, common decency, and Godly values have eroded over many decades and religious freedom has been chipped away. But our faith does not rest in the things of this world.

When we make the quality decision to give our anxieties, past experiences, and concerns to the Lord, we can have that peace that passes all understanding, the peace which can guard our hearts and minds in Christ (Phil. 4:6-7).

…For those tempted to think about the good old days, God gives us some wise instruction:

Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?”
For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Ecclesiastes 7:10

Be honest. Have you heard someone reminisce about a fond memory and ask, ‘why were the old days better?’ Maybe you’ve done so yourself, perhaps with a sigh.

We fall into this trap of the temporary when we lose sight of the eternal. We think we should be comfortable, prosperous, and pain-free. This is the abundant life, we are told, which is a residual effect of American churchianity (not biblical Christianity) and “Your Best Life Now” theology. Where does Scripture support these ideas?

Are we living for Christ with eternity in view, concerned about people’s souls or are we living for self and things of this world? The reality is life isn’t all fun, games, roses, vacations, and laughs. Let’s regain our biblical perspective, grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus and understand our days are numbered.

…Hold memories loosely, set your mind on things above, and live in the present – in His presence – so you can do the work God prepared for you to do. (Col. 3:1-2, Eph. 2:10)

Be thankful for how far God has brought you and for what He has allowed in your life. Keep the faith and always remember you and I are (still) here to glorify the name of Jesus and point people to salvation through Him.

Read the full post by David Fiorazo:

path-of-least-resistance-sign

What are the consequences when Christians back out of culture and take the path of least resistance? Many of us do not recognize America as the shining city on a hill we once were, but what can we do about it now?

As the church goes – so goes America. One reason we are seeing an increase of godlessness in our society today is because many of us have become too busy or comfortable, forgetting God’s purpose for our lives. As a result, we are having less influence on morality.

Revelation 3:2 says,

It’s time to wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die…”

It is true God is doing some great things in lots of churches, but America is suffering the effects of decades of sin and Christian apathy. In addition, our religious freedoms are being threatened more every day. Are we failing to learn from history?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said,

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless…”

But too often we find ourselves backing down from the slightest opposition and ducking the issue of sin. Rather than accommodating sin in culture, we should be confronting and exposing it (Ephesians 5:11). What are we so afraid of?

Even when Peter and the Apostles were ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, they refused and said:

We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

And in Galatians 1:10, Paul said,

If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

The early church understood this important truth: silence never saved anyone.

If we really love others, wouldn’t we tell them the truth that sin separates us from God? Sure it’s unpopular. Why do you think Christians who do preach the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ alone are often called hateful, intolerant, or judgmental?

This is exactly the environment our silent indifference has helped create, but there’s more to it than that. What happened to the salt and light? We also need to live what we claim to believe because when Christians blend in with the world, it weakens our witness and our credibility.

Rather than retreat and hide the influence of Jesus, we need to know the word of God and then stand up for what is right! 1 Peter 3:15 says we always need to be ready to defend the gospel and give an answer to others for the hope we have. Are we ready to have these debates about God, the Bible, truth, sin, eternity, and who Jesus is?

Look around. People are seeking answers and it is up to you and me to lovingly direct them to the only God who can save their lives! Some will refuse to believe no matter what, but as culture becomes more dark and people more hopeless, others will be open to hearing the truth.

If most Christians remain silent, fewer people will be saved, society will continue to collapse, and history will show that we were part of the problem. It is indisputable: there is a cost to our silence.

God is still working in a remnant of truth defenders and proclaimers. However, it is also obvious Christianity is not having the impact He desires and our founders intended. The question is – what are we doing about it?

Learn more and get involved! Please go to: DavidFiorazo.com

chicago

My wife and I were blessed with free tickets to see the band, Chicago, recently. We don’t get to many concerts so it was a special treat for us. Chicago has been around for nearly 50 years and in the last three decades, they’ve outlasted many other bands from the past as they continue touring and putting out new music from time to time. I was surprised by how many songs I knew in their two-hour concert.

Prior to the concert, I hadn’t thought much about their career success, the legacy they are leaving from their music, and what it must feel like to travel around the world performing before millions of fans that love your music.

But I went to bed that night unable to get a few of their songs out of my head. I’ll elaborate on this in a moment. It made me realize how important it is to read, speak, and repeatedly listen to things of eternal value such as the Word of God more frequently than we do anything else. The Lord was doing something in my heart, but I couldn’t pinpoint what would soon become obvious.

How many of the men in the band know Jesus Christ as their Lord? Also, when the world worships you, who do you worship? Do they have anyone higher than themselves to go to or do they not even feel the need to look to anything above themselves? People handle fame, wealth, and power differently. (Insert the band, artist, Hollywood actor, celebrity, professional sports team or athlete of your choice, etc. here.)

The next morning, I came across some Bible verses that were timely reminders for me including “keep yourselves from idols” as well as the instruction to set our hearts and minds “on things above, not on things on the earth.” (1 John 5:21, Colossians 3:2) These were batched in with a few other Scriptures I read such as:

“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

I played drums for several decades and used to wonder what it would be like to have a career as a musician. Traveling the country as a drummer for three years in the 80s, I learned how addicting the fawning attention can be; the show, the autographs, screaming fans. I admit I used to idolize many professional bands, but as I watched Chicago perform the other night, I was content to be a spectator. They put on a quality concert and didn’t need gimmicks, special effects, or any shock factors to impress people. Road life is tough and these guys have been doing it for decades. It took me years, but I’m thankful I no longer idolize or covet the fame, success, or the possessions of others. It’s about time.

The record sales, concert revenue from ticket sales and merchandise, and song royalties must be amazing for successful bands. Looking at these things can cause us to feel discouraged or less significant, which is a good reminder to maintain a healthy view of money, remembering “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Finally, it took me another day to process why I was feeling so emotional about the whole experience, particularly the songs that were foremost in my mind. You see, my two older sisters bought lots of music growing up including the early Chicago albums, so I became quite familiar with their songs. Then it hit me: the music was nostalgic and brought me back to good times when life seemed happier, less stressful, and the country was a drastically different place than it is today. Times sure have changed.

Does anyone really know what time it is?

This may sound strange, but Chicago’s music reminds me of how brief this life can be, and how much I miss some family members that have died including a sister, my Dad, uncles, and grandparents. I also miss those summer days at our cottage in the 70s with my whole family while my sisters blasted their music loud enough for people across the lake to hear. I used to long for the ‘old days’ and wish we could magically go back to the good times we remember. This however, is not a biblical way to think because for Christians, the only direction in which we should be looking is up as we learn from the past and press on to what God now has for us.

Do not say, “Why is it that the former days were better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. Ecclesiastes 7:10

Our focus must now be on the task at hand: understanding our time is short and sharing the love of Christ with as many people as possible, including those we don’t know. God broke my heart for people I had never met – and this is a good thing.

Being in the front row during the concert was interesting. It seemed more personal as we made eye contact with several band members throughout the night. A few of the older members looked a bit tired toward the end, and I have a new respect for their perseverance. So now, I think about the guys in Chicago and, not knowing who or what their faith is in, I’m praying for their salvation.

A friend reminded me about how the early saints simply had Jesus and family; no social media, entertainment or other distractions that we have today, and they were so much more content, successfully impacting their world for Christ. For those of us that believe, are we disciplined in the use of our time, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ so that we may point others to Him and speak the truth whenever possible? Is there anything else that really matters?

True success is only achieved by accepting God’s free gift of life in His presence. We all live forever; the question is on which side of eternity. I’d like to imagine the band Chicago as part of a massive orchestra worshiping the Lord in Heaven one day. I hope they all make the trip.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36

 

Robertsons praying

UPDATE: A&E has lifted their suspension of Phil Robertson – no surprise here. The Robertson’s released this statement to Fox News:

“The family is excited to keep making a quality TV show for our dedicated fans, who have showed us wonderful support. We will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty and our many projects that we are currently working on. The outpouring of support and prayer has encouraged and emboldened us greatly.”

Much has been written regarding the fallout and many good points have been made. Most of us are tired of hearing about it however, this debate is way too important to dismiss.

I submit to you the biggest reason these public squabbles rarely get resolved: we now have a clear cultural, moral divide in America and both sides cannot coexist peacefully any longer. There is too much at stake.

Though I agree with Phil Robertson’s views of the Bible and sin, I wish he would have answered the question on homosexuality with more tact in the GQ interview. Regardless, what did we learn?

In one corner of the public battle are those that believe in the Bible as well as America’s founding principles of Christianity; in the other corner are those who not only oppose us, but claim they are offended (threatened) by the presence of practicing Christians. The minority has the loudest voices and the support of Hollywood, the mainstream media, and government. Because of this ungodly alliance, we sometimes think conservatives and people of faith are now outnumbered.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Less than 4 % of the U.S. population is LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender), and in a recent census of American citizens, less than 1% were verifiable same-sex couples. Moreover, about 73% of the media favor same-sex marriage while over 75% of Americans support Christianity.

This lopsided dichotomy was revealed a few years ago during the attempted intimidation of Chick-fil-A after the CEO had the audacity to say he runs his company on Christian values and believes in marriage between one man and one woman. Gay activist groups cried “hate” and after the intense, media-trumpeted backlash (bullying), millions of Americans supported Chick-fil-A by eating at their restaurants and rallying on social media.

You may also remember in 2009, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was asked a question about legalizing same-sex marriage during the Miss USA competition. One of the judges, homosexual activist, Perez Hilton, viciously attacked Prejean and later admitted she would have won the Miss USA crown had she not answered the question in support of traditional marriage. What an interesting twist to ‘judge ye not.’

In the Duck Dynasty controversy, we again witnessed the political and public pressure by homosexual activists from GLAAD (Gay and Lesbians Alliance Against Defamation) and the Human Rights Campaign to not only force suspension of family patriarch Phil Robertson, but also insist he undergo sensitivity training and tolerance education.

Often ignored when discussing Robertson’s interview is the fact he also referred to many other sins even heterosexuals commit (1 Cor. 6:9-10). We all sin and fall short of God’s glory, and every one of us needs forgiveness. To Robertson, sin is sin no matter who you are, but opportunistic activists cried fowl.

The LGBT community claims it’s all about love and equality, but if you don’t agree with or approve of their lifestyle, they often resort to hateful attacks and refuse to permit speech that opposes homosexuality. This is totalitarian intolerance.

If we love someone, we’ll tell them the truth. If we believe Jesus is the only way to salvation (Acts 4:12) and we fail to warn others, we don’t really care about them. The way Christians demonstrate their love for non-believers is by addressing sin so they can repent and receive the grace God offers which leads to everlasting life (Ephesians 2:8).

One major issue at stake here is the First Amendment: Do all Americans, including Christian conservatives, still have legal speech protections or not? I purposely mention “conservatives” because there are far too many liberal Christians as well as those who profess Christianity and fail to accept the Bible’s authority or strive to live in obedience to its precepts. Some of these folks don’t think we should speak openly about our faith or quote certain Scriptures. Thanks to the emergent church, Christianity has been watered-down.

The foundational issue is whether or not the Bible is a divine source of inspiration and truly God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). Are there moral absolutes or not? God’s truth never changes and cannot be altered or adapted to a compromising culture.

The reason sin has become such an explosive topic is many Christian and religious leaders don’t teach or preach the undiluted gospel – the whole counsel of God – as much as they used to and therefore, many Christians don’t talk about sin; especially homosexuality.

How selfish of us who believe the Bible if we don’t share with non-Christians the only good news that can save them! Ironically, sin is the reason God sent His only Son, Jesus, to be sacrificed for us. He was brutally tortured and crucified and we don’t talk about WHY He had to die? Sin separates all mankind from a holy God.

Did you know originally, A&E’s plan for Duck Dynasty was for viewers to laugh and mock a family of ‘backwards’ Christian rednecks? Instead the show became the most popular cable program in history averaging 14.6 million viewers. The very plan that backfired ended up making them millions. A&E knew what they were getting with the Robertson’s.

Sadly today in culture, evil is considered good and good is considered evil (Isaiah 5:20), and activists will no longer tolerate those who say their behavior is sinful. Some believe we’ve reached a tipping point.

As for the media in America, they freely give liberals a platform, but rarely report the whole story. For example, are they not being hypocritical by refusing to mention the intolerance of Islam toward both gays and Christians? Muslims hang homosexuals. They also burn Christians, and destroy their churches & villages; and gay activists are bent out of shape when someone warns them about their sinful behavior?

We cannot remain neutral any longer. The lines have been drawn in the sand. This present darkness is not about Duck Dynasty, A&E, the Robertsons or Hollywood. It’s not even political, it is spiritual and the battle has just intensified. Take up your positions or hide under a table.

Author Michael Brown suggests:

“Those of us who agree fundamentally with Robertson make clear that: 1) We are unashamed of our belief in Jesus and in biblical morality. 2) We stand against the mistreatment of all people, including gays and lesbians. 3) We will not support the radical redefinition of marriage, regardless of the cost involved, nor do we see cultural capitulation to gay activism as inevitable.”

This never would have been a debate 50 years ago, so what changed? God, or America? Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We’ve reached the point where activists are forcing conformity and calling it tolerance. I believe this is good for a comfortable Christian church.

Know this: God is at work orchestrating events and warning us to understand the times.

The problem has been diagnosed. The moral decline in America is evidence we cannot rely on church leaders because people are obviously not getting the message. If Christians fail to speak about the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the issue of sin; our society will only grow worse, the battle more intense, and the hostility more volatile.

One thing is certain: silence never saved anybody.

David Fiorazo is the author of ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA

Phil Robertson silenced

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Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.  2 Corinthians 13:5-6

God has been leading me to take an honest and thorough look at my own faith and what I often see is an Americanized version of comfortable Christianity. I understand how easy it is to waste years on selfish interests and worldly pursuits. 

Thankfully, He has brought me to a point where my heart is softening again and I can’t help but notice things that must grieve our loving Creator and Father. This new journey has caused me to ask some important questions beginning with:

If the Bible teaches we need to examine ourselves, test all things, be discerning, evaluate our faith, and make judgments on sinful behavior starting with our own, are we following and obeying these instructions?

Perhaps one of the least discussed Scriptures in the New Testament is Jesus speaking to professing believers in Matthew 7:22-23, stating ‘I never knew you; depart from me,’ further proving lip service does not fool a holy God. Luke 6:46 sums it up clearly:

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

It’s that important to walk our Christian talk and obey the commandments. I recently heard a message in which the pastor said, “You’re looking around at others or nodding your heads as if this doesn’t apply to you. When I suggest some of you may not be saved because there is little evidence you’re living for Jesus Christ, I’m talking to you.”

He was preaching about repentance to professing believers. Remember, John the Baptist said to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). The two go together.

According to the Apostle Paul, it is possible for some to fail the test and not recognize Christ is in them and therefore, not live according to the gospel they supposedly received. 

Paul wrote this to Christians in the church at Corinth whom he was preparing to visit for the third time. After getting to know them and hearing about their behavior he basically told them to make sure they were saved! 

Even with eye witnesses of Jesus still around at that time, some believers had conformed to the world instead of resisting sin. Paul felt it necessary to confront them about exactly what they believed and how they were living. 

When we mention this today some accuse us of judging or being intolerant. Here’s a memo for those who have not studied the whole Bible: GOD IS INTOLERANT OF SIN.

Paul confronted and challenged believes on their hypocrisy, warning them to repent. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus Christ by preaching repentance from sin. Revelation 3:2-3 further warns Christians:

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Why are there so many Scriptures telling people that are already saved to wake up?

Why don’t we have a sense of urgency as we watch the moral decline of America and witness more corruption and godlessness than ever in our history? Have we lost our influence?

One of the questions I attempt to answer in my book, ERADICATE: BLOTTING OUT GOD IN AMERICA, is, if a majority of Americans (77%) profess some form of Christianity, why does the evidence (fruit) overwhelmingly show secular culture has more influence on Christians than we have on culture?

If we fail to preach the whole gospel message, we limit the Holy Spirit rather than inviting Him to work. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8) Without conviction of sin there can be no repentance and without true repentance there can be no salvation!

Leonard Ravenhill said, “There’s one thing we need above everything else; it’s something we don’t talk about these days. We need a mighty avalanche of conviction of sin.”

 Isn’t this what the true gospel is all about?

But don’t miss the good news, that while we were still rebellious sinners, God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so we might be forgiven. Jesus bridged the gap between sinful mankind and a holy, righteous God.

We should never back down from the same truth Jesus warned the early Church about when He confronted lukewarm believers. (Rev. 3:15-16)

Examine yourself, my friend! Please do not put this off any longer. At the risk of stating the obvious, a person is not saved because their family used to take them to church or because their parents are Christians. 

If we believe what the Bible teaches about Heaven and Hell, shouldn’t we care about the authentic salvation of others? What about the sin that is all around us infecting both our culture and the church? Do we understand we are called to be set apart from the world (sanctified)?

Compromise seems to be the new tolerance, however, biblical truth must be the foundation of our worldview and that truth should affect everything we do and say. 

When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, He told them that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name (Luke 24:27). Think of the last three sermons you heard at church. I hope your pastor is following His lead.

What kind of lasting fruit are you and I producing? Are we abiding in Christ? He is glorified when we abide in Him, and when we bear good fruit it proves we are His disciples! (John 15:8-9)

Let’s seek Him first in our lives and then live what we believe. 

Let’s not be ashamed to speak up about Christ and love others by telling them hard truths. We are commissioned to preach the Word in every season (2 Tim. 4:2) because the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:18).

If Jesus has truly changed our hearts and if our minds have been transformed, our lives will show it. Regardless of whether the message is accepted by others, you and I are called to be His messengers. Peter said, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40) 

No more hypocrisy, please. When Christians say one thing and then live just like the world, why should unbelievers want the Jesus we profess to believe in? We can have this world or we can have Jesus Christ, but never both. If we love the things in this world, God’s love is not in us (1 John 2:15).

Let’s examine ourselves to make sure we are fully in Christ. 

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