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Loved by God…

…a sanctified sinnerJuly 17 2018

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  The most recent session of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” has visited the spectacular grace revealed in the Scriptures on the subject of “God’s Electing Love.” 

Discussion questions always accompany the study sessions, and I typically dig deep into them. The online study participants are always encouraged to share their answers on the Ligonier Connect community portal where other fellow participants can comment and interact with us.

Each session has a theme verse for the topic. The topical verse for the session entitled, “God’s Electing Love” follows:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

—Ephesians 1:3–6

The particular discussion question which provoked my little grey cells to address dealt with the relationship between being a sinner chosen by God’s grace to be set apart for holiness and that of actually living as one sanctified by God’s grace while yet a sinner:

In what ways can sinners be holy as He is holy? Do you ever struggle with your own sanctification? In what ways have you progressed in this area of personal holiness?”

Before I could even form a thought on this question, I was driven back to the Scriptures to meditate again on the truths which my little grey cells tend to blur in the daily dust kicked up in the “helter-skelter” of the “ME” kind of life this side of Heaven. Laying hold of the Scriptures and feeding richly on the spectacular grace of the God who is the Ever living King of the cosmos cut through the accumulated “cataracts” on the eyes of this  mind He gave me and exposed the reality of being set apart by His own grace.  In realizing again that I am loved by God through His own electing grace, He “killed me softly” with His Word. What follows are the reflections on the subject of “God’s Electing Love” and the treasures which I found in His Word, both new and old…

There are two ongoing struggles in my life in this dusty existence, while yet being called out in the dust to live as one who knows the redemption from it by God’s grace. The first struggle is to remember that I am LOVED BY GOD and all that is wrapped up in that spectacular love package. The verses I have explored in this exercise are a few which ignite the fire of reality in my little grey cells and my bones and a longing to love God back. These are a few of the passages from the Word of God for my mind’s struggle to REMEMBER in this world of deceptions:

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” Deuteronomy 15.15

“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’.” Isaiah 43.1

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’.” Jeremiah 31.3

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10.27-29

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15.16

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14.25-27

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2.9-10

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1.2-4

“…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1.14-16

  • Created in His image and likeness to belong to Him;
  • redeemed from my corruption and the corruption of this world to know Him and to LIVE as one alive and not perishing.
  • To know His Kingdom and to declare it—to LIVE as one who belongs to His Courts, His Service, His Royal children, lieges and loved ones.

Because I am loved by God, these are the things that the Holy Spirit reminds me about this spectacular sanctification of which I am privileged to live in Christ Jesus; and it is for Him and for His glory that I live and enjoy this calling.

The second struggle is a “good fight” (1 Timothy 6.11-13) as a sinner sanctified by the holiness of God and by His love. That “good fight” is YIELDING to the counsel, conviction, and correction of the Holy Spirit, and it is truly spiritual aerobics and a full and ongoing “cardio” workout.  Because I am loved by God, feeding on the Word of God and prayer without ceasing stays my mind on what is really real and true in a world of deceptions bombarding from every side. Because I am loved by God, by His grace, I am learning increasing tenderness to the conviction of sin and an increasing hatred for any “darling” sins which I admit to resisting and hesitating to surrender to Christ’s authority to cleanse; and I am learning the terrible effects of quenching the Spirit of God’s convicting work (1 Thessalonians 5.19) and the  grief such obstinacy brings to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.30). I am learning an ever increasing desire for the transforming and renewing of my mind that I would not “let sin reign in my mortal body,” and that I would “not present my members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin,” but present myself “to God as being alive from the dead,” and my “members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6.12-13) Because I am loved by God, there is that longing to more glorify God by living a “Romans 12” and a “Micah 6.8” and a “1 Thessalonians 5.16-18”  life as Christ who lives in me—the “good fight”Soli Deo Gloria!

Made in the Image of God…

photo of man carrying baby

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…but not children of God by natural birth.

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  One of the requirements of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” is to dig deeply into what the Scriptures actually say about the eternal love of God.  One overlooked truth about God’s eternal love is that God’s love did not begin at creation. Just as God is eternal, so are all His other attributes–eternal…including that of His love.

Most people might have some difficulty understanding how our status as image-bearers of God by His creation of us has anything to do with His eternal love or the reason why we cannot claim we are children of God by natural birth. I confess that before I studied the second session in the series, my little grey cells had not digested the clear facts leading to a rational dialog on the subject.  Realizing this truth and the impact it bears on the entire plan of redemption has made me love God more for the magnitude of who He is, the immensity of His eternal love, and helped me to help others think about why there is now a difference between being an image-bearer of God and being a child of God.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

QUESTION #1:

In what ways do many contemporary churches today misrepresent God’s eternal love? What sorts of teaching/preaching have you heard that endorses a universal love of God for His creation without distinction?”

My Answer: Many preachers in churches today have lapsed into a Unitarian view of God’s eternal love; and so they tell their audiences that God loves everybody the same way, unconditionally, just as they are—“warts and all.” They go on to exercise their misrepresentation by advancing their propositions that because God created us in His own image and likeness, they say that we are all children of God; ergo, God loves us all without distinction…This grave error in preaching has profound implications for the Biblical facts of God’s plan of redemption and the work of Christ in His atoning death…

         I have to say that I have never heard a preacher delve into the eternality of God’s love as Dr. Sproul has emphasized in this lecture: a vital point underscoring the eternal attribute of love which has always existed in Him who is self-existing—eternally. If anyone would have pressed me on this issue, of course I would have stated confidently that God’s love is a pure and holy attribute of His as eternal because He is eternal; but I am grateful for Dr. Sproul’s clearly spoken emphasis of this truth.

QUESTION #2:

How would you describe the object of God’s love before He made His people? Why is the work of redemption considered a Trinitarian work? Why would it be a mistake to think that the exclusive object of the love of God is the world or people?”

My Answer: God’s love is Trinitarian and covenantal; i.e., the covenant love in the plan of redemption, established between the persons of the Godhead from eternity past—in the complete foreknowledge that the fall of man was going to occur.

In Dr. Sproul’s words:It would be a mistake to think that the exclusive object of the love of God is the world or the people whom He is pleased to redeem. The primary object of the Father’s affection is the Son, and that is something that is often overlooked in the study of the Scriptures. It is absolutely true that God loves us, but we need to remember that He loves us (the redeemed) in the Son, and it is because of His great love for His Son that we are included in redemption.”

          And when I meditate on this truth, I see encounters with Christ in clear perspective in the Scriptures on the Trinitarian work of redemption declared from His own lips: “All that the Father gives Me will come to me” (John 6.37); “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6.44); “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15.26); “I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3.3, 5); “…make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28.19).

          The plan of redemption in this covenant love is for the glory of the beloved Son of God, Christ Jesus (Mark 9.7; 12.6; 2 Peter 1.16-18)—by whom and for whom all that was created is created (John 1.1-3; Revelation 4.11), and for whose glory the redeemed are bought for His possession (1 Corinthians 3.23; 7.22-23), and that in all things He might have the preeminence (Colossians 1.17-19). Glory be to God!

QUESTION #3:

Do you find it offensive or unfair that we are biologically born into this world void of the Spirit of God as children of wrath? How would you respond to someone who says that we are all children of God through creation simply because we are made in His image?”

My Answer: Saying that we are made in the image of God is only saying that we bear His image. In the material world, whose image an object bears is the one to whom that object belongs and is under sovereign subjection—even if that object denies it, it cannot be annulled. Saying that we are children of God is, in reality, claiming that God is our Father. The implications of such a claim mean that anyone who claims it acknowledges the sovereign authority of God as Supreme Patriarch over his life and conduct, and gives himself in loyalty, love and obedience to such a Father and Patriarch… 

          It might be offensive to our feelings, it might be painful to accept, but in fact we must face the real genetic implications of being in Adam and subject to the degenerative and lethal effects of his corruption upon the seed inside his loins. The effect of his rebellion—the denial of God’s sovereignty and the darkening of his understanding of the truth in his mind are real effects of his corruption which spread to every cell of his body—every seed in his loins. While his corruption did not nullify the fact of his being an image-bearer of God, he became a fallen image-bearer, corrupted and adversarial to the very God who created Him to be in His own image and likeness—and in his now-corrupted, natural, humanist state he and all his biological issue are worthy of God’s wrath. As a fallen image-bearer, Adam refused to acknowledge that he belongs to God and is subject to His sovereignty over his life—both the temporal and the eternal.  In his rebellion against God, he exalted his own humanist spirit above the Holy Spirit, and became an instrument in the hands of the Evil One. In his rebellion against God, Adam literally became the father of the children of wrath… “This Is Us,” in our natural, biological state. Adam changed his posture toward God, but God did not change His posture toward Adam and the progeny housed within his loins—as fallen image bearers, in our perverted condition, we still belong to God and are subject to His sovereignty over our lives—both the temporal and the eternal…

           If we are talking about what is “fair” or “unfair” on this subject, we must consider that if a holy God did what is “fair” toward us He would have annihilated Adam and Eve on the spot or pronounced an eternal and irrevocable curse upon them without possibility of remedy even by God Himself. But God is fair first to Himself—to His Trinitarian being—the Father cannot deny His Beloved Son His rightful inheritance from the creation. The Holy Spirit’s life giving breath cannot be quenched. It’s what the Godhead does. Therefore, if we examine the “fair” thing to do in the Father’s love for the Son, and the work of life through the Holy Spirit, it was to provide a way for some of Adam’s corrupted progeny to be made clean, reborn, regenerate. This could only be accomplished supernaturally by the regenerating work of God Himself in the lives of the Adamic seed born congenitally unregenerate—children of the corrupted Adam, no longer children of God. What is “unfair” to our constipated minds is the way this mechanism of regeneration would be accomplished—through the sacrificial death of The Father’s Beloved Son for the children of wrath—the Incorruptible for the corrupt—and the work of faith supernaturally given as a gift by the Holy Spirit to awaken the darkened minds of Adam’s children of wrath to life in God’s Beloved Son.

          All humans have been created in the image and likeness of God, and, as such, belong to God who is sovereign over their lives both temporal and eternal, to ordain what He chooses; but because of Adam’s rebellion against God, being an image-bearer of God in itself no longer qualifies all as children of God. All humans are born as fallen, rebellious image-bearers; no humans are born embracing the sovereignty and ownership of a holy God over their lives. We are not born children of God; we are born children of wrath. Until the regenerating breath of the Holy Spirit works in the heart of a fallen image-bearer of God—by grace through faith in The Father’s Beloved Son—he remains a child of wrath. Only those who believe in Christ Jesus are born anew, supernaturally, children of God…

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

–John 1.12-13

Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear; and may God the Father whose love for His Beloved Son is eternal be glorified by another fallen image-bearer being born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” by His grace in the work of His Holy Spirit.

Why Atheism is a False God…

person sky silhouette night

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

…and existence requires the self-existing God.

Here is a link to a message by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. In this careful and sensitive examination of the sincere arguments denying the existence of the God of the Bible, Dr. Zacharias explains the logical consequences of the rejection of the self-existing God.

The Existence of God

If you know dear ones who are still struggling with the futile musings of this world about their existence, perhaps you will find some light here to offer to them in their darkness. May the Spirit of the Ever-living God use the beauty of true wisdom to draw them to know who He is…

Your comments are welcome.

Why Words are Important…

crowd of people inside white building

Photo by Luis Dalvan on Pexels.com

…and a healthy society depends upon the truth.

Here is a link to a message given by Dr. Albert Mohler examining the trend in our 21st Century culture’s individualistic posture toward words and truth. It has sobering implications for all our relationships and for the entire scope of society…

If you do not know what “postmodernism” is, Dr. Mohler will make this cultural development in our times abundantly clear. Consider the consequences of postmodernism in the doctor’s office, or under the surgeon’s knife, or living/working in a structure engineered by a postmodernistic engineer…

Postmodernism and Society

Star Trek fans may recall the Ferengi “civilization” characterized by their treaties with other races in space. The principle upon which they base their treaties and covenants is this: “Our word is our bond, until we change our minds.”

Your comments are welcome.

Why Justification by Faith in Christ Alone…

…teaches us the truth about God’s exquisite love and righteous justice.

Here is a link to a message by Dr. Michael Reeves which exposes the moment of reckoning in Church  history when the truth of Scripture exposed the cruel darkness of “modern scholarship” of the culture of the day…

Here I Stand

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3.14-21

Here is a question posed in my current studies in the series entitled “Loved by God,” offered by Ligonier Ministries. Something to think about for such a time as this…

Have you ever found yourself interpreting Scripture based upon your own culture or situation?

Your comments are welcome.

Why the Wise Men Really Sought the Babe of Bethlehem…

Here is a link to a message by John MacArthur which exposes the historical background of the magi and the reason they embarked on their quest for the King born in Israel during the times of Roman occupation…

Who Were the Wise Men?

There is also a written transcript to the audio message on the site…

O Come! Let us adore Him!

 

Greetings and Blessings at the Feast of Tabernacles…

1890 Holman Bible - Tabernacle with Scripture

Graphic: Public Domain, The Tabernacle in the Wilderness; illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible
http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart/1890holmanbible/color/thetabernacleinthewilderness.jpg
Bible verse added by user

…On this Festival of Our Joy, sending a greeting and blessing to all fellow image bearers of the God of creation…

While you sojourn in this wilderness world in an earthen vessel, may you know the blessing of God’s true presence in Messiah Jesus, our Immanuel, wherever God takes you, whatever God ordains for your life this side of glory…

While you wait for what next unfolds in this wilderness experience, may you rest confidently in the knowledge of the purpose God has breathed into your life in all things…

While you walk through this world of shadows and barren places, may you drink deeply from the wells of the sweet water of salvation in Messiah Jesus…

While you contend boldly with the consequences of life in a fallen vessel, may you embrace walking in the light of the gaze of a holy God bathed in the oil of the joy of the Holy Spirit, clothed in the pure righteousness of Messiah Jesus…

May you know the joy and peace of His Kingdom and Government increasing in your heart and life.

Sukkot – Feast of Tabernacles

L’Chaim b’Yeshua – To LIFE in Jesus!

Pray for Awakening…

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” –Psalm 122.6

Greetings on Yom Kippur…

Yom Kippur Image - Fall Feasts on WP

Bible verse added by user

Taking this moment to share in the celebration of our Great Atonement in Messiah Jesus. For all who know the manifold grace of God through His Son, this day is a day of earnest intercession for all who remain in peril of missing the blessing of His forgiveness…

May all who realize the pure righteousness of Messiah imputed to them by God’s grace, remember, rejoice and walk daily as those whose names are written in Heaven…

May all who know the holiness and pure righteousness of the Lord Jesus declare the Truth with boldness and grace in a world which is on an irrevocable course to discover Him who holds the Books of men’s works and the Book of Life…

Yom Kippur – So Great an Atonement

To LIFE in Jesus!

Pray for Awakening…

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” –Psalm 122.6

God, Providence, Peace and Calamity…

…Thought questions from our community of study on “WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE”

Why did the word “providence” seemingly disappear from the vocabulary of the twentieth century? Are there any other theological words we might be in danger of losing?

WTC Damage

USAF photo by Capt. Jim Fabio: courtesy https://www.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2000030814/

The upsurge in secularist pressure to remove all things religious–particularly Christian–from the public square, from public schools, government-supported social service agencies, etc., has conditioned the American mindset to forget and even to suppress consciousness of God and His providential care in all the things of daily life. The consequences of that “big idea” are that the 20th-21st Century American is in grave danger of forgetting–even suppressing–the knowledge of God’s holiness and sovereignty over all things—even His dispensation of authority to those in place of government…

Herein I see the consequences of that philosophical departure from all knowledge of God. I understand the intent of our founding fathers to separate the Church from the state because of the calamitous effects of the abuses of the undisciplined Church in Europe. However, separation of Church from the state is one thing; separation of God from the state is disastrous, because it is from God the state receives its authority, and it is to God the state is accountable. To separate God from the state is to set the state up to become as abusive as the Church in past times in Europe when it stepped aside from its accountability to God. Separating God from the state is to repeat history and to bring upon those who look to the state for right judgment and governance the greatest calamity of all time…

When society abandons the truth that a holy and provident God is the Ultimate Personal Reality, it dives headlong into the poison pool of sophistry. Sophistry—or sophism—is that body of thinking which emerged in the fifth century B.C. Sophism advanced rhetoric (persuasion) rather than rational thought, the denial of any truth, the superiority of acquisition by any means, “might is right,” and true mastery belongs to those who prefer injustice…

It is said that to forget history is to repeat it…

This gives me chills and brings me grief to realize how close our 21st Century “civilization” is coming to the deadly world of sophism…


A biblical understanding of God’s providence necessitates the belief that it would extend over all things…The events of 9/11 exposed the inadequacy of…American humanism to embody the biblical view of God’s providence over all things…At the heart of the American reaction to the events of 9/11 was the slogan, ‘God Bless America…’ but still did not fully embrace the biblical concept of God’s providence. Despite the cry for God’s blessing on the nation, the idea that God could have been involved in the tragedy itself was still rejected…”

–Dr. R. C. Sproul, When Worlds Collide-Part 2: Peace & Calamity


ideas - consequences

“Creative Thinking” by BKnight – DeviantArt https://www.deviantart.com/bknight/art/Creative-Thinking-190682199 by permission Creative Commons License
“Ideas have consequences,” georgetownrose.wordpress.com/6159, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode

Knowing that God is sovereign over all things does not mean that we know the mind of God behind His providential workings…I do not know why God ordained 9/11, but I know that He did ordain it because if He did not ordain it, it would not have happened. Since it happened, I know for certain that God ordained it in some sense. That is one of the most difficult concepts even for devout Christians to deal with. Yet the concept is found on almost every page of sacred Scripture. It is at the very heart of the Christian faith.”

–Dr. R. C. Sproul, “When Worlds Collide: Where is God when Terror Strikes?”

 


While we remember the stunning blow to the soul of America on September 11, 2001, let us also remember the Word of the LORD:

I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity: I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

–Isaiah 45.7

 

Natural Theology…

In the last session of course in The History and Overview of Philosophy, there were discussion questions presented to the students. I spent a good deal of time thinking how to answer the question featured here, since I was not immediately certain I could articulate on the basis of the logical necessary being of God. Logical necessary being of God and natural revelation… Here is the question…

Creation: How much can we learn about God from creation?

This is an exciting question.  The painful thing I see in creation is that it seems troubled and put to grief–something my soul recognizes should not be so, unless a terrible event plunged it into trouble and grief. Perhaps I see in this the wrath of the God of all creation, His expressed grief and yet His carefully restrained justice, revealed from heaven against all that mankind thinks and does to deny Him and to exalt man above God–because in the natural, we think we are so very smart; we think we are God. When I look at me–one of the creation–I see that big old “I” problem at the center of SIN… and I am real good at seeing it in others, too…

Then when I look at nature, I think no wonder God sometimes expresses His anger toward us through the elements of creation… Actually, that’s not too far off from what the native Americans or the Incas or the Aztecs realized; the difference is that they responded by worshiping the creation as receptacles of spirit gods, denying the God who is King over all creation…

Nevertheless, I love meditating on the attributes of God which can be known of His Being and character from creation. When I see a thunder cloud advancing in the summer skies, I realize my dependence upon the sovereignty of God to control the natural forces building up inside it; so I see His power to execute wrath and His power to exercise mercy; and these attributes of God are communicated through the mediate medium of His own creation–how He governs the vapors of the firmament for the good or the remaking of the earth beneath…​ summer-clouds

When I see the young fawn grazing in the tall summer ferns along the paths of the Blue Ridge, I observe the providence of God for this creature and I remember His providence in my own life… White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawn, also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, in spring ferns at Mount Porte Crayon in West Virginia.

When I see the swells of sea water form only yards away from me as I bob buoyantly in the watery firmament oc waves2beneath skies, I feel and know the power of God to govern the motion of the water as it becomes a wave which can either delight me with its rhythmic movement, carry me in its curl to shore, or overtake me and plunge me tumbling and rolling like so much flotsam, till it releases me both laughing and sputtering and disheveled from the humiliation of its tossing…

I could go on and on and on… I could not in my lifetime realize from nature the Way God has provided as the means of redemption for my rebellion against Him to satisfy His grief and justice… But then, this extraordinary God who IS, revealed His necessary being from creation to my once humanistic heart, and then led me to His Word–37 years ago as time is counted. I have not been the same ever since…

What are you all learning about God from your observations and experiences in creation?

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