Jun 30, 2015

POD - Psalm 63

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Psalm 63


63:1 God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you.
My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you,
in a dry and weary land, where there is no water.
63:2 So I have seen you in the sanctuary,
watching your power and your glory.
63:3 Because your loving kindness is better than life,
my lips shall praise you.
63:4 So I will bless you while I live.
I will lift up my hands in your name.

63:5 My soul shall be satisfied as with the richest food.
My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips,
63:6 when I remember you on my bed,
and think about you in the night watches.
63:7 For you have been my help.
I will rejoice in the shadow of your wings.
63:8 My soul stays close to you.
Your right hand holds me up.

63:9 But those who seek my soul, to destroy it,
shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
63:10 They shall be given over to the power of the sword.
They shall be jackal food.

63:11 But the king shall rejoice in God.
Everyone who swears by him will praise him,
for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be silenced.

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Jun 29, 2015

Think Spot 29 June 2015

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Think Spot 29 June 2015


Here we are Monday again. Are you pleased? Are you ready for a new day at the office, or at college or in the factory or at a desk? You are a Christian right? So what are you thinking as you resume where you left off last week?

Did you pray before you left home? Great for that's the best way to start off. You spent a little time with the Lord in His Word and have sought his leading through the day. That is also commendable. Have you sought protection from the Lord also? Have you realised there is someone who is anxious that you don't triumph in Christ today. That of course is satan. He is someone who wants to safeguard his territory and his prisoners – those who are already under his control.

So look at this day as an exciting day with all kinds of great prospects. If you are walking and talking with God you couldn't be in better company or stronger. He will be your shield and refuge a very present help in time of trouble. He is at your right hand and will be in control as you yield yourself confidently to His direction through the day. Ok a lot of routine stuff but do it as well as you can and cheerfully. But you don't know my boss?

No but God does and he has you there in that place for a reason never doubt. You may not see anything terrific happen today no miracles but you are a light shining for Jesus and will make an impact upon someones day today as you come into contact just your presence in the same room. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify God in Heaven.

Trust in the Lord and be not afraid. Watch your behaviour and enjoy God's presence with you. You are in the centre of his will and its going to be a great Monday. Our confidence is in the Lord.

Psalm 23 reads “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake”



Believe and act upon those words spoken by David and at the end of day you may well be able to also say with him “My cup runs over”


(Originally published by Jim Allis)

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Jun 28, 2015

The Practice Of The Presence Of God - Brother Lawrence - 16

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The Practice Of The Presence Of God:

The Best Rule Of A Holy Life

(being Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence)



Letters - Letter 12



To the same correspondent probably, and expresses his own abiding comfort through faith.

IF we were well accustomed to the exercise of the presence of GOD, all bodily diseases would be much alleviated thereby. GOD often permits that we should suffer a little, to purify our souls, and oblige us to continue with Him. Take courage, offer Him your pains incessantly, pray to Him for strength to endure them.

Above all, get a habit of entertaining yourself often with GOD, and forget Him the least you can. Adore Him in your infirmities, offer yourself to Him from time to time; and, in the height of your sufferings, beseech Him humbly and affectionately (as a child his father) to make you conformable to His holy will. I shall endeavour to assist you with my poor prayers.

GOD has many ways of drawing us to Himself. He sometimes hides Himself from us: but faith alone, which will not fail us in time of need, ought to be our support, and the foundation of our confidence, which must be all in GOD. I know not how GOD will dispose of me: I am always happy: all the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual, and so great, that I can scarce contain them.

I would willingly ask of GOD a part of your sufferings, but that I know my weakness, which is so great, that if He left me one moment to myself, I should be the most wretched man alive. And yet I know not how He can leave me alone, because faith gives me as strong a conviction as sense can do, that He never forsakes us, till we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His presence. Do you pray for me, as I for you?



(Caveat: Partakers would say that if you are ill, go seek medical advice. Remember Brother Lawrence was writing at a period of history when medical help was not particularly good or widely available to the general populace.)




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Jun 27, 2015

The Normal Christian Journey of Faith - Part 07

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The normal (Christian) journey of faith


Chapter 7: Organizing Your Devotions


This is a tricky one! It is very much a product of my own experience – failing to organize my own devotions for many years because no one told me how to do it. So it is a very personal argument I am going to present. Please, forgive me for that.

When we start along the Christian path there are plenty of people telling us how we should organize our devotions. The trouble is, or was for me, that they all seem to be written by those wonderful people who are full of energy all day long and have a great ability to organize that energy to good purpose. So they tell us we should bound out of bed at some unearthly hour in the morning; read our Bibles, and pray for an hour or preferably two; then proceed to breakfast and a full day’s work. Waaah! I just don’t operate like that. Perhaps you don’t either. Until I have had my breakfast my mind is out of gear. For you that early necessity may be the first cup of coffee – even worse! We are not all super-man or super-woman, are we?

So, if we are just ordinary, how should we organize our devotional lives?

I believe the answer is that we should think about it very carefully and construct a schedule that suits us in the sense that it is one that we can adhere to without too great difficulty even if it is not at all what the people who write books and articles on the subject say we should do.

Let me give you an example: I had been a Christian for very many years before I realized that by far the best thing I could do was to set aside one evening a week to spend reading my Bible, reading a good commentary on the same passage, thinking about it (the posh word is meditating), praying about all sorts of things and generally getting close to the Lord. The rest of the week my encounters with the Lord were, I must admit, rather thin and short affairs, fitted into the gaps in my very busy life. Sorry, Lord, but that is what worked for me. I was happy with it; I hope You were.

Do you see what I am driving at? Most of us, most of the time, are rather busy people. It may be a workload, not helped by emails and mobile phones. It may be that you are a mother with two pre-school age kids, in which case there are few or no gaps in your days at all until they are both horizontal and your spouse is home and has eaten. Even then you have to dodge the television and bury the phone if you are to get any peace and quiet. But space can be made if you stop and think about how it can be created. However busy we may think we are, however busy we actually are, there are gaps in our week. Your television set will be able to tell you how much spare time you really have!

The sort of personality we are deeply affects how we operate in this area. A few years ago we joined in a small group of 8 people, 4 couples, for prayer and mutual support. We managed to get into some deeper sharing than is usual in our culture. To our surprise we discovered that of the 8 of us, all of whom could have been counted as senior Christians, long on the road of faith, only 2 could claim anything like a well organized spiritual life with daily prayer, Bible reading and meditation. Both these 2, who did not include me, were people who quite clearly by the nature of their work were accustomed to a neat, well controlled and organized daily work experience and both had personalities that fitted well into that sort of situation. The other 6 of us were much more haphazard in our spiritual lives. 8 people constitutes a very small sample from which no statistically sound conclusions can be drawn, but it made me, and I think the other 5 non-achievers, wonder.

A good, God honouring daily prayer life does not come easily. Ever since that experience of the 2 and the 6 I have wondered when people talk about praying for this and that, whether they really do – if they are honest.

So much for the organization side of things. Now – what should we organize? Here are some ideas, not all of which you could reasonably use in one session. First: Bible reading. I am surprised at how many apparently senior Christians use comparatively ‘thin’ Bible study notes. They are a good way to start into the Bible (along with the Study Bible I mentioned earlier) but must surely rate as the ‘milk’ Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 3 and the ‘basic teaching’ the writer to the Hebrews talks about in Hebrews 6. Commentaries on the Bible will usually provide deeper things to think about and meditate on. We, my wife and I, find the NIV Application Commentary series very good in the way they not only explain the text but lead one’s thoughts forward to deeper understanding and meditation – all of which advice is dependant, of course, on whether you are in a position to get hold of them. Then, of course, there is all the material Dave puts into these Partaker notes, which are usually also deep and thought provoking (this particular series is not designed to do quite that) and will be available to you since you are reading this!

For prayer, again subject to availability, there are many sets of Prayer Notes provided by many of the mission societies and some churches and it is good to use them. My wife uses a book of fairly old hymns to lead her on in the way of Worship prayer and to avoid the temptation to make a time of prayer just a list of the things one would like to happen. Being a well organized person she has a bundle of Prayer Letters from various full-time workers on the Mission field and she reads and uses the top one of these each day before putting it to the back of the bundle.

So what?

It should be obvious by now that there are many things one can do by way of prayer. I haven’t mentioned things like the way some people say they pray as they drive the car to work (not for me!). There is great value in having one particular spot, a chair or a room, which is the place we pray. If closing your eyes to pray tempts you to go to sleep leave them open! You will have understood by now that what I am trying to do is to make you, and everybody else reading or listening to these notes, think about how you should go about your relationship with the Lord. There are many different ways of going about it and not everyone will use every way or the same way. We don’t all have the same amount of time or energy or the same sort of personality. There is no exact precise set of rules about how we should go about it in our Christian faith, unlike some other religions that make a great play about having everyone do the exact same things in the exact same way at the exact same times. Perhaps our way is harder – but true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was never promised to be easy! And it shows up much more clearly what our faith means to us.



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Jun 26, 2015

Friday Prayers 26 June 2015

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Partakers Friday Prayers

Order of Service

Welcome to Partakers Friday Prayers. Let us pray together!

Order of Service

  • Opening Prayer
  • Prayer for the Churches meeting this weekend around the world.
  • Prayer for the world
  • Time for your own prayers
  • Closing prayer


If you would like to post a prayer request in the comments below, either named or anonymous, we will pray for you.

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Jun 25, 2015

Issues - Universalism

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 Partake - Issues

Universalism

John writes in John 1v1-5, talking about Jesus "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."

Jesus talking about Himself John 14v2, 6: "Trust in God; trust also in me. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 17v1-2 "O God, Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him."

Most modern societies, particularly in the West, are pluralistic with many cultures evident within any city and country. With the advent of pluralism, comes the widely held belief that all religions, creeds, beliefs and non-beliefs are equal, which all ultimately lead to God and that after death, every person will enter heaven and have everlasting life with God.  That is universalism, and sadly, some Christian churches hold this belief.  However, that is contradictory to what Jesus said in the bible passages I read earlier.  That is not to say that each religion does not have an element of truth within it.  But only one religion is ultimate and absolute truth and that is Christianity. As Christians in the twenty first century we are often informed that Christianity is wrong, and that Jesus Christ can't possibly be the only way to God, even if a God or Gods exist.

Just a scant look at each religion throws up the incompatibility between them. For instance the great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam all profess that there is only one God.  Contrast this against the religion of Hinduism, which has millions of God, or Buddhism where there may well be no God at all! So Universalism could really be just a form of functional religious atheism.

If we were all going to be with God anyway, why would God bother having a plan of salvation as revealed in the Bible? If Universalism is true, why bother with morals or ethics now during this life as each religion has differing codes of morality and behaviour.  Now as soon as a Universalist says that morality is what defines the human (as some do), we can then say well which God, and therefore religion, decides what morality as different religions have different rules of morality!!  Taking it even further we could say why would God bother interacting with His creation at all, if humanity is going to be spending eternity with Him anyway! Why would there even be a thing called death at all, if universalism is true! So why is Universalism wrong? Lets have a look very briefly together, how superior Christianity is to Universalism.

Universalism Denies Salvation by Grace


Universalists inevitably proclaim that it is due to God's nature of love and mercy that everyone will have everlasting life with God. Surely a merciful God will allow all to live with Him, regardless of the path they took in this early life!   However the Bible states that while God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of justice and the sins of people need to be dealt with.  That is where God's grace comes in. How does God promise salvation to those reaching out for it? Through His unfailing love, kindness and tender mercy, which is enacted through Grace!  Salvation can be attained by no other means, but only through the combination of God's mercy and grace - God's twin actions working in unison.  Grace is easily defined as: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  So what about Jesus Christ?

Universalism Denies Jesus' uniqueness being human & divine



That Jesus was a man is not really disputed.  But why did Jesus need to fully human? Firstly, so Jesus death could appease God's anger with us. Secondly so that Jesus can empathize and pray for us.  Thirdly, Jesus exhibited true and perfect humanity.  Fourthly, due to his perfect humanity, Jesus is to be our example to follow.  Fifthly, true human nature is good.  Lastly, while God is both above and beyond, He is not so far removed from us, that He cannot interact with his creation.

But he was more than human, He was also fully God - He was fully divine!  God's salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave.  However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this.  Because of this, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved.  This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death.  This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave.  Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature. That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity truly unique amongst the world's religions.  It is why Jesus' claims to be the only way to God are true and make sense.  It is why universalism is shown to be a fallacy. Universalism is wrong because it makes Jesus Christ out to be either a liar or a lunatic or worse - both.

Universalism Denies Jesus' cross



As all paths under universalism lead to God, why would God have to send Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world?  Surely, if all paths lead ultimately to God, then there would be no need for Jesus to suffer the agony of the cross.  On the cross, Jesus died so that all sins - past, present and future sins - can be forgiven.  Salvation is to be found only through God's grace and mercy exhibited by God the Son on the cross.  Moreover, it is only to those who acknowledge Him as Saviour in this earthly life that He will acknowledge before God the Father.

Universalism Denies Jesus' resurrection



The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1v22; Acts 4v33, Acts 17v18). But what significance is there in Jesus' resurrection? The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus' teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to his being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53v10-12; Acts 2v36; Acts 3v13-15; Romans 1v4). The resurrection declared God's approval of Jesus' obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, Jesus' resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15v12-58, Romans 8v10, 2 Corinthians 4v14; 1 Peter 1v3 & 21) As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow him (Romans 5v10; Hebrews 6v20, 1 Peter 1v21).

Universalism Denies Jesus' authority



Jesus has authority (Matthew 28v18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. Over all religions, leaders and people - Jesus has the authority and supremacy. This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey him and live a life worthy of him. As we grow to rely and depend on Jesus' authority, we continually gain wisdom, guidance, and power.  Because of His authority, Jesus has authority and supremacy over all things - created, non-created, religious and non- religious.

Either Jesus was who he said he was - God - or he was a liar and a lunatic not to be trusted.  Universalism and Christianity are non-compatible - the Jesus of the Bible and therefore Christianity, is uniquely superior to all other religions and beliefs encompassed in Universalism.

For more to think about please do read John 14v1-6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1.  How does my life of worship to Christ denounce Universalism?

Q2.  How does the call for me to be a witness for Jesus affect views of Universalism?

Q3.  How have I witnessed universalism in my community or country?



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Jun 24, 2015

Wednesday WOW Worship - 24 June 2015

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Worship Wednesday

Order of Service

G'day and welcome to Partakers Wednesday Worship on the 24th of June, 2015.

Opening Prayer


Song

Steve Gooden singing "Amazing Grace" (In the public domain at http://ffmp3.firefighters.org/gooden.asp).

Bible Readings

Old Testament - Psalm 117

New Testament - Colossians 3:1-4

Prayers

Be exalted, Lord, above the heavens, let your glory cover the earth. Keep our nation under your care, and guide us in justice and truth. Let your way be known by all people, your saving power among all nations.

Send out your light and your truth, that we may tell of your saving works. Lord, hear our prayers, for we put our trust in you.

Amen

Message (Outline)

We are marked as Christians, but not outwardly visible marks, but internal one! Paul tells us what marks us out as Christians is:

  1. We died with Christ
  2. We are raised with Christ
  3. We live with Christ
  4. We are hidden with Christ
  5. We will be glorified with Christ

These marks cover our past, our present and our future! So what? How do we apply this to our life?

Benediction

May the love of God the Father, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, evermore. Amen


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Jun 23, 2015

POD - Psalm 23

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Psalm 23


1 The LORD is my shepherd,

I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,

he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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Jun 22, 2015

Think Spot 22 June 2015

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Think Spot 22 June 2015


G’day. Welcome to Partakers Think Spot at the start of this new week! Reading from Matthew 11:25-30:

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Jesus is strong enough and capable enough, to carry any burden that is laid upon Him. Jesus Christ gives a solid and sure foundation for all aspects of life, which will not fall or be destroyed. Indeed Jesus Christ will never fall or decay such is His imperishability as the everlasting God. Jesus Christ is solid, dependable and strong; nobody and nothing can stand against Him. Jesus’ strength means I can go to Him for protection and strength when I am weak and knowing He will supply my needs. Just as He has done for the last 35 years of following Him and will continue to do so throughout my life here on earth.

Unlike people offering self-help approaches and quick fixes for life, Jesus offers us Himself. He is able to help because of who He is – the giver and author of life. He is entirely and utterly dependable. Just as your body needs water to survive, so do the souls of people need Jesus in a personal encounter with Him. That is how dissatisfaction with life is beaten – Jesus reaching out to grasp you by the hand. Let him take your life and He will change your life. That is His promise – as He satisfies the urges in your soul it is as if a spring of water bursts into you – life giving, sparkling streams of water… WOW!

Go into this week with that promise of Jesus.



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Jun 21, 2015

The Practice Of The Presence Of God - Brother Lawrence - 15

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The Practice Of The Presence Of God:

The Best Rule Of A Holy Life

(being Conversations and Letters of Brother Lawrence)



Letters - Letter 11


To one who is in great pain. God is the Physician of body and of soul. Feels that he would gladly suffer at His wish.

I do not pray that you may be delivered from your pains; but I pray GOD earnestly that He would give you strength and patience to bear them as long as He pleases. Comfort yourself with Him who holds you fastened to the cross: He will loose you when He thinks fit. Happy those who suffer with Him: accustom yourself to suffer in that manner, and seek from Him the strength to endure as much, and as long, as He shall judge to be necessary for you. The men of the world do not comprehend these truths, nor is it to be wondered at, since they suffer like what they are, and not like Christians: they consider sickness as a pain to nature, and not as a favor from GOD; and seeing it only in that light, they find nothing in it but grief and distress. But those who consider sickness as coming from the hand of GOD, as the effects of His mercy, and the means which He employs for their salvation, commonly find in it great sweetness and sensible consolation.

I wish you could convince yourself that GOD is often (in some sense) nearer to us and more effectually present with us, in sickness than in health. Rely upon no other Physician, for, according to my apprehension, He reserves your cure to Himself. Put then all your trust in Him, and you will soon find the effects of it in your recovery, which we often retard, by putting greater confidence in physic than in GOD. Whatever remedies you make use of, they will succeed only so far as He permits.

When pains come from GOD, He only can cure them. He often sends diseases of the body, to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of soul and body. I foresee that you will tell me that I am very much at my ease, that I eat and drink at the table of the LORD. You have reason: but think you that it would be a small pain to the greatest criminal in the world, to eat at the king's table, and be served by him, and notwithstanding such favors to be without assurance of pardon? I believe he would feel exceeding great uneasiness, and such as nothing could moderate, but only his trust in the goodness of his sovereign. So I assure you, that whatever pleasures I taste at the table of my King, yet my sins, ever present before my eyes, as well as the uncertainty of my pardon, torment me, though in truth that torment itself is pleasing.

Be satisfied with the condition in which GOD places you: however happy you may think me, I envy you. Pains and suffering would be a paradise to me, while I should suffer with my GOD; and the greatest pleasure would be hell to me, if I could relish them without Him; all my consolation would be to suffer something for His sake. I must, in a little time, go to GOD. What comforts me in this life is, that I now see Him by faith; and I see Him in such a manner as might make me say sometimes, I believe no more, but I see. I feel what faith teaches us, and, in that assurance and that practice of faith, I will live and die with Him. Continue then always with GOD: 'tis the only support and comfort for your affliction. I shall beseech Him to be with you. I present my service.

(Caveat: Partakers would say that if you are ill, go seek medical advice. Remember Brother Lawrence was writing at a period of history when medical help was not particularly good or widely available to the general populace.)


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