Verse of the Day

Daily Devotion 

By:  Bro. Bob Maynard
 

2 February 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                             Grace Perfecting Strength in Weakness

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness . . . He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (2Co_12:9 and Isa_40:29-31)

When the subject of spiritual strength is raised, our thinking often turns in one of two directions. Either we consider how we can muster up our own strength, or we dwell on our own weakness, doubting that adequate strength can ever be found. Well, it is clear from the scriptures that God is not expecting that mere human strength will be sufficient for our spiritual callings. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.” Natural strength is never more abundant than in youthful lives. Yet, even that supply is not what people need for spiritual endurance.

God’s word is also clear that an awareness of our weakness need never lead to despair over finding strength. Actually, the opposite is true. When we realize our drastic insufficiency, that is a reminder of our qualification to receive God’s supply of strength. “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” Those who admit that they are weak are the very ones to whom God offers His strength. Those who confess that they have no might at all are the people in whom God increases His strength.

It is an amazing truth that God’s strength is perfected (displayed the most fully) in the arena of our own weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Whenever we agree with God concerning our complete frailty in any given area of life, His grace is available to meet the need. Whenever we personally look to Him to pour out that strength, we will find that it is sufficient. “Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength.”

Waiting upon the Lord involves hoping in Him, placing our expectations upon Him and not upon ourselves. For all who depend upon Him in view of their own weakness, “they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Thereby, our confession can be: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Php_4:13).

Prayer:

Lord, You are my only hope and my sufficient strength. On my own I am hopeless and powerless. Thank You for Your gracious patience, when I think my human strength is enough. Lord, I am weak; give me Your power. I have no might; increase Your strength in me. I wait upon You. I put my expectations in You. Unleash Your glorious grace in me, perfecting Your all-sufficient strength in my life, in Jesus name, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


1 February 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                                        Strengthened by Grace

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2Ti_2:1)

Great strength is necessary for living as God intends. The grace of our Lord Jesus is where that strength is to be found. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Some of the specific reasons why we need strength are listed here in the immediate context of this verse.

Part of our calling as believers in Christ is passing on to others the biblical truths that God has taught us. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Ti_2:2). Discipling others in God’s truth can be demanding and discouraging. Strength is needed. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Another aspect of our life as disciples of Jesus is functioning as spiritual soldiers. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2Ti_2:3). We are the Lord’s warriors in a worldwide, lifelong spiritual battle. The battle has been won by our Commander, Jesus. However, the enemy will not stop striking back until he is confined forever. As Jesus’ soldiers, we face many hardships. Again, strength is needed. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Another perspective on following Jesus is that of an athlete.”And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2Ti_2:5). As it is in athletics, the Christian life requires discipline, training, and the exertion of great measures of energy. Yet again, strength is needed. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

One additional analogy of our life in Christ is that of a farmer. “The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops” (2Ti_2:6). As with farmers, we are to sow the seed of the word upon people’s hearts. We are to water the seed through prayer. We are to reap a harvest of righteousness. Farming is strenuous work. Once more, strength is needed. “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

How wonderful that God did not limit His grace to justification. We need it just as much for sanctification. We need His grace to strengthen us for the extraordinary spiritual roles that God has for us as disciplers, soldiers, athletes, and farmers. For all of this the only sufficient resource is to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer:

O Lord of all might and power, I desire to be a faithful discipler, a sacrificial soldier, a disciplined runner, and a laboring farmer. Lord this sounds so right, so good. Yet,You know that I am intimidated by it all as well. I hear the call, and I want to respond; but my strength is so inadequate. So, I look to You and implore You to strengthen me by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


31 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                                  God’s Grace Teaching Us

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. (Tit_2:11-13)

Time and again, we have considered the connection between grace and justification. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Rom_3:24 andEph_1:7). Now, we have an opportunity to ponder once more the relationship between grace and sanctification. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” It is God’s grace that brings salvation to mankind. For nearly 2,000 years, that saving grace of the Lord has been offered to humanity through the preaching of the gospel. This particular verse now adds another function to the work of grace. “For the grace of God [is] teaching us.”

The grace of God not only saves the souls of all who believe; it also works in believers’ lives to teach and instruct them. God’s grace, working through His word (“The word of His grace“—Act_20:32), instructs and shapes our thinking and living: “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” It is the will of our Heavenly Father that His children turn away from that which is worldly and spiritually compromising. He wants us to walk in godliness, in Christlikeness. God works this into our hearts by His grace.

God’s grace also develops expectant lives, eager to have the Lord Jesus return for His people: “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

The grace of God impacting our hearts through His word by His Spirit is His divine means to bring about such transformation in us. To view sanctification as something we can produce through our own performance (that is, by law) is akin to overlooking God’s grace and underestimating the provisions of the cross of Christ. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal_2:21).

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, my great God and Savior, I want to live in eager anticipation of Your return. Meanwhile, I desire to please You by growing in godliness and in applied righteousness. Thank You for Your longsuffering love, patiently teaching me by Your grace—the grace that I sometimes neglect, attempting to produce all of these realities by the striving of my flesh. From such vanity I turn to hope in You, Lord Jesus, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


30 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                                  The Ability of God’s Grace

And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance. (Act_20:32)

God’s grace has such marvelous ability. It is able to give the eternal inheritance of God to His children. It is also able to build up their lives here on earth for greater service and increased fruitfulness.

It is by the grace of the Lord that we can anticipate being recipients of a heavenly inheritance. “The word of His grace, which is able to . . . give you an inheritance.” An inheritance is obtained by being born into a family. We have been born again into the family of God. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born . . . of God” (Joh_1:12-13). We who believe in Jesus are God’s children, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom_8:17). We are blessed beyond measure to know that heavenly treasures of fellowship, worship, and service await God’s children in glory above. All of these eternal riches are ours by the grace of God alone.

God’s amazing grace also has the ability to build us up as we await our inheritance here on earth below. “The word of His grace, which is able to build you up.” The Lord wants our spiritual roots of hunger and trust to be growing deep into Himself. He wants our lives to be undergoing continual construction in Christ. He wants our character to become increasingly stabilized in the faith, that is, in His word. “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” (Col_2:6-7).

It is the will of God that we be edified. “Let all things be done for edification” (1Co_14:26). All along the way from new birth into His family until our full heavenly inheritance as His family, God desires that His children be spiritually strengthened and increasingly developed in Christian maturity.

Our ministry to one another can be an effective part of this edification process. “Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another . . . Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Rom_14:19; Rom_15:2).

It is essential to remember, however, that God’s grace is what accomplishes the building up process. “The word of His grace, which is able to build you up.”

Prayer:

My God and Father, I rejoice exceedingly as I think of the inheritance that You are preparing for me by Your grace. O Lord, my Strength, I need Your mighty work of grace that I might be edified myself, and be edifying to Your children. Please purge my life of any matters that are not edifying, all by the grace of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


29 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                      The New Covenant: Grace, Not Law

I will make a new covenant . . . not according to the covenant that I made . . . the gospel of the grace of God. (Jer_31:31-32 and Act_20:24)

The old covenant of law was the covenant that God made with Israel “in the day that [He] took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” The promise through Jeremiah was that the Lord would make a different type of covenant some day, “not according to [that] covenant.” This new covenant would be a covenant of grace, provided by the Lord Jesus Christ. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Joh_1:17).

The law of God was an impossible way to relate to the Lord. It required perfection, but it offered no perfecting assistance. It was able, however, to convince people of their need for the grace of Christ found in the new covenant. “The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ ” (Gal_3:24).

Now, we live and proclaim this new covenant of grace, the”new and living way which He consecrated for us” (Heb_10:20). This was the mission and message of which the Apostle Paul spoke. “The ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Act_20:24). The gospel is all about the grace of God, not about law. “The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you . . . the grace of God” (Col_1:5-6).

Gospel means “glad tidings,” or “good news.” The good news of the grace of God provided through Jesus Christ is the preeminent message in all of creation. In fact, the gospel of grace is such good news that some unbelievers initially reject it as “too good to be true.” Indeed, it is an astounding reality to consider that forgiveness, justification, and new birth are all available “by grace . . . through faith . . . the gift of God, not of works” (Eph_2:8-9).

Perhaps we should not be surprised that some believers react in this same manner when they begin to consider the message of grace for growth and sanctification. To hear that the entire Christian life is to be “grace upon grace” (Joh_1:16) may at first seem “too good to be true.”

At times, we may ask (or have others ask us), “Isn’t there any human responsibility in God’s plan of salvation?” The saved and unsaved alike must always be willing to respond to the offer of God’s grace in Christ. We must all relate properly to the Lord Jesus for every work of grace, because it is “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Co_8:9). In all matters, we must seek Him and trust in Him.

Prayer:

Lord God of the New Covenant, how glorious is the good news of Your grace! I praise You for Your patience when I act as though transforming grace is too good to be true. I want to seek after the Lord Jesus and trust in Him this day, with all my heart, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


28 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                           Growing in the Grace of God

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2Pe_3:18)

Let’s reflect upon some of the heavenly territory we have explored thus far. Grace is for spiritual growth and progress in the Lord. It is not intended only for birthing and starting out with the Lord. “But grow in the grace . . . of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Growth in Christ is to be produced by God’s grace at work in us.

Often, God’s people are apprehensive about an emphasis upon His grace. We become concerned that irresponsibility, ungodliness, laziness, or indulgence will result. We can rest assured on the promises and purposes of God that true grace does not produce such consequences. Such effects are produced by the flesh of man, either by licentiousness or by legalism.

Licentiousness hopes to turn grace into a means by which sinful indulgence is acceptable. “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jud_1:4). Legalism aspires to add religious performance to grace, thereby appealing to the self-righteous hopes of man. “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal_3:2-3).

When a person truly lives by the grace of God, righteousness results, not ungodliness. When a person increasingly learns to draw upon the grace of God for daily living, Christlikeness develops, not worldliness. When grace becomes more and more the resource for life, sin diminishes; it does not increase. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom_6:14).

The temptation is to rely upon the law of God in order to generate godliness. The demand of the law to be holy, loving, and perfect becomes a false security to our flesh. We think that by hearing, repeating, or depending upon this demand, we can thereby accomplish it. Let us not forget that “the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope” (Heb_7:18-19). God’s grace is the “better hope” that does not fail to bring forth what God desires.

The Lord has ordained for us a life-long involvement with His grace. He wants to work “grace for [upon] grace” (Joh_1:16) for the rest of our days. This is the “new and living way” (Heb_10:20). Perhaps this could all be summarized in another acrostic on grace: Glorious Realities As Christ Empowers.

Prayer:

Gracious Father, how bountiful is Your provision for my spiritual growth. How foolish of me to think that I need more for developing in godliness than Your grace supplies. O Lord, I long to grow in the image of Christ. I beseech You, remind me and convince me that Your grace is the only sufficient hope. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


27 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                                 The Ongoing Grace of God

I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts . . . it is good that the heart be established by grace. (Jer_31:33 and Heb_13:9)

Our initial encounter with the grace of God involved forgiveness and justification. “In Him we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph_1:7). Rich measures of God’s grace washed away our sins and gave us new life in Christ. Of course, that initial justifying work of God could not exhaust His grace. Rather, it was “according to the riches of His grace.” There are unlimited riches yet available for our daily sanctification, our ongoing growth in Christ.

Heb_13:9 is one of the many places in scripture that indicate progressive sanctification, that is, growth in godliness, is by grace. “It is good that the heart be established by grace.” This truth clearly pertains to sanctification and growth, not justification and new birth. At regeneration, we are given a new heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Eze_36:26). Then, after receiving a new, soft, responsive heart, the spiritual stabilization of that new heart must follow.

It is from within the heart that the development of practical righteousness must proceed. What is eventually seen and heard in our daily Christian lives sources from within the core of our inner being. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Pro_4:23). The Lord wants to work from deep within us. “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts.”

If an unstable, inconsistent life is being expressed outwardly, an unestablished heart within is the cause. Jesus taught that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mat_12:34). Whatever is developing and filling up our inner man will eventually come out to be seen and heard.

In order to develop in us an increasingly mature, Christlike walk, our heart must be established. The law of God is not designed to change men’s hearts. God’s grace is the essential and sufficient cause to bring about this desired work of godliness. “It is good that the heart be established by grace.”

Once more we have powerful biblical insight showing us that grace is not only God’s provision to forgive and birth us into His family, but grace is also His resource for maturing us as His children.

Prayer:

O Lord, my strength, would You do a powerful work of Your grace deep within my heart. I do not want to displease You or dishonor You by an immature and unstable life. Lord, forgive my feeble and futile attempts to change my heart by striving before the law. Your gracious work in me is my only hope, through Christ I pray, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


26 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                                      The Initial Grace of God

I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Jer_31:34 and Eph_2:8-9)

Again, we have the opportunity to compare justifying grace and sanctifying grace, initial grace and ongoing grace. This is always an edifying and valuable exercise, since we tend to forget that we are sanctified through the same means that we are justified.

The initial grace that impacted our lives forever was the justifying, forgiving grace of God. The prophets of old proclaimed this hope. The apostles of the church age applied it to us today. “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer_31:34; also in Heb_8:12). When we repented of our sins and called upon the name of the Lord, we were forgiven and justified, declared not guilty and righteous in His sight.

This saving work of God on our behalf was all accomplished by the grace of God. “For by grace you have been saved.” The saving grace of God is applied to lives as they trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. “By grace you have been saved through faith.”

None of this process originates in man. All of it comes from God. “And that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” No aspect of salvation derives from the efforts of man, so no one will ever be able to brag about their contribution in being saved. “Not of works, lest anyone should boast.” All glory, now and forever, will go to the Lord Himself. “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1Co_1:31).

Yes, even faith does not source in man. Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb_12:2). When we believed upon the Lord Jesus, it was in response to an authoring, revealing work that He was doing on our behalf. Jesus manifested Himself to us through the gospel as One who was able to save us sinners. The Holy Spirit was convicting us of our need. We trusted in His saving work for us. Thereby, He authored faith in us. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev_5:12).

As we have seen previously, and will have opportunity to examine again and again, the grace of God of which we partook for new birth and justification is the same grace that must continually be at work in us for growth and sanctification.

Prayer:

O Lord God of my salvation, I clearly see the full extent to which my being saved depended upon Your saving grace! Thank You for this priceless gift of grace. How glorious it is to stand justified in Your sight. Now, that I might grow daily in a life of sanctification, I look to You and Your necessary grace, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


25 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                             New Covenant Provided by the Blood of Christ

This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you . . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (Luk_22:20 and 1Pe_1:18-19)

The well-known Lord’s Supper words from Luk_22:20 remind us that the glorious riches of grace found in the new covenant are all purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, as He died on the cross for us. “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Customarily, believers in Christ think of forgiveness of sins when they hear these words. Forgiveness is certainly included in the blessings secured by the death of our Lord. Notice, however, that Jesus did not say “this cup is forgiveness in My blood.” He said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood.”

The new covenant is far more than forgiveness of sins. As previously indicated, the scriptures reveal that the new covenant has three basic areas of blessings. First is the forgiveness of sins. “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb_8:12). Second is an intimate relationship with the Lord. “All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Heb_8:11). Third is an internal work of God producing an increasingly godly life in and through us. “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts” (Heb_8:10). The word of God further confirms that all of these grand blessings depend upon God’s provision, not our performance. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” (2Co_3:5).

How can it be that such measureless spiritual abundance becomes ours through the new covenant of grace? Well, consider the amazing and effective redemption price paid to establish this new covenant. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.” This new covenant was not purchased with limited earthly wealth, like silver and gold. Rather, it was paid for by infinite heavenly treasure, the blood of Christ. No wonder the new covenant provides such amazing and effective resources for all who depend upon the One who died for them.

One final reflection—realizing all that the cup of the new covenant represents can turn the Lord’s Supper from a “religious snack” into a “spiritual feast”!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, You have surely provided for me grace upon grace – – complete forgiveness, intimate relationship, divine enablement! Yet, how could any less be supplied by such a rich price! Lord Jesus, thank You for pouring out Your life’s blood to make such irreplaceable necessities available to me. Father, please bring to my remembrance day by day the wondrous riches of the new covenant that You want me to draw upon by faith, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 


24 January 2017 Verse of the Day

Today’s VOTD comes from Day-By-Day By Grace from the pen of Bob Hoekstra.

                                                 Other Descriptions of New Covenant Living

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me . . . be filled with the Spirit . . . I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (Luk_9:23; Eph_5:18; and Joh_10:10)

Living as servants of the new covenant is not some exclusive, esoteric religious concept, available only to an initiated few. Rather, it is just another way to speak of the life that is to be, and can be, lived by all who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The difference is that the language used is unfamiliar to many Christians.

Some familiar terminology that speaks of the same biblical reality would be “Christian discipleship.” A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. In Luke 9:23, Jesus explained what was involved in following Him as a disciple. “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me’.” In order to follow the Lord, a person must be willing to renounce the self-life, which is produced by one’s own sufficiency. Then, that person must agree that such a self-produced life deserves to be judged and separated from God. Finally, everything that is needed for godly living must be found by pursuing a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some other terminology that describes the essence of new covenant living would be “the Spirit-filled life.” “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” The Lord calls His people away from earthly influences that can dominate and diminish lives and urges us to live by the fullness of His Spirit. When Christians answer this call, they are willing to live by God’s powerful, unlimited resources, instead of by man’s feeble, finite means.

One other familiar phrase that depicts the same reality as life in the new covenant is “the abundant life.” “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” When Jesus came into this world, His mission was not only to rescue us from the consequences of our sins but also to provide us with “abundant life,” a spiritually enriched life that only He could produce in us.
New covenant living—it is the same reality as “Christian discipleship,” “the Spirit-filled life,” and “the abundant life.”

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for speaking of life in Christ in diverse terminologies. I want to be your true disciple. I want to be Spirit-filled. I want to live the abundant life. Each perspective offers beautiful insights and necessary confirmations. Lord, help me also to understand and embrace the refreshing language of the new covenant of grace. Dear Savior, I need all of the life-giving insights that Your rich vocabulary is designed to unfold, in Your name, Amen.

Yours in Christ,
Bob Maynard

 



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