Tag Archives: trusting God

Productive Preparation

I’m normally a person who goes above and beyond what’s asked of me. I like to say, “If it has my name on it, it has to be excellent because I represent more than myself.” However, sometimes i don’t give my best effort if I don’t understand the purpose of what’s being asked of me or feel like it’s not a productive use of my time. Several years ago my wife asked me to take the remote control to the cable company to exchange it. I had never noticed a problem with it, but i went anyway. When I arrived, I grabbed the remote to go in and it lit up. I thought, “What am i going to tell these people as to why i need a new one? It looks like it works.” So I took it back home. A few days later when it acted up on me, I had to admit I didn’t return it.

There are a lot of things we do in life that may feel pointless. There’s times when God puts in on our heart to do something for others that doesn’t make sense. In fact, a lot of what it takes to live out our faith daily can be exhausting or feel unproductive. We don’t always see the point. That should never stop us from being obedient to what God asks. In 2 Kings 3, the two kings of Israel and Judah decided to attack Moab. They took the desert road to remain undetected. The men were thirsty and about to die. They called on Elisha who told them to dig trenches all night. He then said, “For thus says the LORD, ‘You will not see wind or rain, yet that valley will be filled with water, so you and your cattle and your other animals may drink” (AMP). The next morning they woke up to water in the trenches and were victorious in battle.

They didn’t understand God’s reasons. They were exhausted, yet they did what was asked and God rewarded them. That principle holds true for us. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord [always doing your best and doing more than is needed], being continually aware that your labor [even to the point of exhaustion] in the Lord is not futile nor wasted [it is never without purpose].” You may not understand why God wants you to do something, but do it anyway. You may feel exhausted and not up to it, but do it anyway. You may feel like it’s a waste of time, effort and energy, but do it anyway. Nothing you do for God is wasted or unproductive. God is working behind the scenes on your behalf and your blind obedience is often the preparation for a miracle.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Trusting The Truth

I have a friend who is both a pilot and a flight instructor. Being a trainer myself, I asked him about ways he helps people to remember things. He shared that two things he tries to teach pilots are to trust the instruments and also to go to the manual when there’s a problem. He said that many pilots have died because they trusted what they thought they saw instead of the instruments. They have special visors that block the pilots view of everything except the instruments to teach them to trust them. To teach them to go to the manual, he distracts them mid flight, then he shuts off the engines when their not looking. He lets them panic until they remember to go to the manual. Once they do that, they go through their checklist, find the problem and restart the engines. It’s a lesson they never forget.

Both of those are great lessons for us to remember as well. We can’t trust what we feel or even see with our eyes. Feelings lie to us and manipulate us. They’re there as warning signs, but if we constantly live by our feelings, we’ll have a miserable life. We live in an age where people believe truth is relative to the individual. What’s true for me may not be true for you. Living like that is like flying by what you see and not by the instruments. It’s dangerous. Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. He is the absolute truth that we must use to guide our lives with beyond our feelings. He told us that we’re going to have trouble and face things that will cause us to want to lose faith, but He also said that He has overcome the world and will give us peace. We get that peace when we trust Him more than what we feel or see.

We’ve also been given an instruction manual in the Bible. It is also absolute truth. When the engines of our life shut off and we start to nose dive, go to the manual God gave us. I love how Philippians 4:8 starts. It says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true” (NLT). Don’t let fear dictate your thoughts and actions. Compare everything to what is true. If it’s not true, don’t give it space in your head. What God says is more true than your situational feelings. Fix your mind on God’s absolute truth and not on your feelings. Fix your mind on the truth of God’s Word and not what others tell you is true. This takes discipline, but it gives you peace when everything seems to be falling apart. Jesus has not abandoned you or forgotten you. He’s right there in the cockpit of life with you reminding you to trust His instruments and His Word to get you through.

Photo by Oskar Kadaksoo on Unsplash

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Remembering God’s Benefits

I used to work for a very large company, and change was part of the daily narrative. I would tell employees on their first day that if they didn’t like change, they weren’t going to like it there. Most of the changes they made were good, but there were times when the changes weren’t met with enthusiasm. Employee morale would dip during those times so I would do an exercise with groups. I would take an easel chart and ask the group, “What are some benefits you enjoy with this company?” One after the other the benefits would be called out and my chart would be full. I would remind them there there are still a lot of benefits available to them. Then I would ask for examples of changes that the company had made that turned out to be the right choice later. I reminded them that the leaders are looking at the big picture, and while we don’t understand the change, we can know that they’ve done well in the past and still offer a lot of benefits.

We’re living in a time of change right now. The old normal has gone and morale is getting low. It’s a good time for us to stop and reflect on the benefits God gives us as Christians. I can think of a few like: peace, comfort, hope, life abundant, power, love and a sound mind. Take a moment right now and think about what you would add to this list. What benefits has God promised us? Also, think back over your life. Look for how the hand of God has been on you and guided you through the toughest times. In those moments you probably couldn’t see Him, but looking back, you can now see that He has never forsaken you, nor abandoned you. He’s not going to start today. You are blessed beyond measure and serve the God who is our anchor of hope in troubled times.

Here are some Bible verses on God’s benefits.

1. If the only benefit of our hope in Christ is limited to this life on earth, we deserve to be pitied more than all others! But the truth is, Christ is risen from the dead, as the firstfruit of a great resurrection harvest of those who have died. For since death came through a man, Adam, it is fitting that the resurrection of the dead has also come through a man, Christ. Even as all who are in Adam die, so also all who are in Christ will be made alive. But each one in his proper order: Christ, the firstfruits, then those who belong to Christ in his presence.

1 Corinthians 15:19-23 TPT

2. But now, as God’s loving servants, you live in joyous freedom from the power of sin. So consider the benefits you now enjoy—you are brought deeper into the experience of true holiness that ends with eternal life!

Romans 6:22 TPT

3. Each believer is given continuous revelation by the Holy Spirit to benefit not just himself but all.

1 Corinthians 12:7 TPT

4. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.

1 Corinthians 1:30 NLT

5. Bless and affectionately praise the LORD, O my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle.

Psalms 103:2-5 AMP

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God Has Everything

I’m taking my annual sabbatical this week, but I want to continue encouraging you through God’s Word. Here’s a devotional from Timeout With Jesus.

Everyone was having fun and amazing things happening all around us when a beautiful little rainbow appeared in the clouds. It stopped me in my tracks and I thought “WoW” everyone needs to see this awesome 🌈 that appeared in thin air! I told everyone who walked by! To my surprise, it grew stretching out over the river. It was breathtaking! When we least expect something Awesome to happen, It does! It reminds me how we need to be awake and sober minded! We need to keep our lamp full and encourage and support everyone around us.

We can trust God completely because he loves us so deeply! His power holds everything and everyone together! Genesis 1 “Let there be light” And there was light! God parted the Red Sea, Exodus 14:21 and so many more! God took down the wall of Jericho without a single hit! Joshua 6:20. He raised Lazarus from the dead after he had been buried for 4 days! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, whoever believes in Jesus and accepts his free gift is a child of God! We can trust God completely because he loves us so deeply!In Isaiah 40:12, (NIV) “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Proverbs 30:4, (NIV)”Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind?Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?Who has established all the ends of the earth?What is his name, and what is the name of his son?Surely you know!

Isaiah 40:22, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” Isaiah explained in words about God’s awesome power! It is beyond our human understanding! We think we are in control but really God has everything under control! God is the same yesterday today and forever! Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” In Hebrews 13:8, (NIV) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” We can have confidence when things like the world shuts down and who knew schools would ever close down too! Yet, God opens the door for so many wonderful opportunities that only he could make possible! We can hear Him in the quiet but very loud everywhere in creation and through our sisters and brothers in Christ! He is in control and moving in a mighty way. Isaiah 40:28-29, (NIV) “Do you not know? Have you not heard?The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”I’m so thankful for everything God does for me and my family and the strength he gives me, because I cannot do anything without Him! It is only His strength in me that I can go and do what he has me do!

We can fully depend on God for our strength because He gives us everything we need to accomplish what plans he has for us! The world might not understand how it’s possible but through God everything is possible! Stand firm on Jesus and trust him even when it’s hard and confusing! As the pressures in life sneak in, keep going because through pressure, we grow as he pour into us! I’m not sure if I will see a harvest from my garden we planted, but I will keep planting and watering because I’m confident that God has only good in store for everyone including me and my family. He loves and cares for all of us deeply! I love praying scripture, Ephesians 1:17-21, (NIV) “17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” How high and how deep will we go in Jesus name to be the hands and feet we are called to be for His glory! It’s not easy to step out into the unknown but when you know God has already worked it out, peace comes in like a flood. As we live out what we believe, supporting and encouraging each other to keep going, we are living out the gospel by reaching all people. When leader come together working together as one body, our young generation will do the same! They will be drawn in by our Unity in Jesus! They are our future generation! When we all work together like Jesus taught, doors will be opened when the world tries to shut them! We are loving everyone the way Jesus loves. When we listen to the broken hearts who need to be loved! I’m so thankful! 😊 💗

Isaiah 40:28-29, “Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
Isaiah 40:22, “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”

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Clarity

I’m taking my annual sabbatical this week. I want to keep encouraging you with God’s Word while I’m away though. Here’s a devotional from one of the sites I follow B Is For Blessed.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;
Ephesians 4:17-18 NKJV

 The ice pictured here was photographed a few years ago in Alaska. It was so clean and clear because it lacked the impurities found elsewhere. Likewise, we need to get away to obtain that same sense of clarity in our mind and spirit. The chatter of people, things, and social media can cause us to forget our purpose and pull us away from the very things God tasks us to do.

There are several references in the Bible where Jesus left the crowds (and his disciples) to be alone and pray. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus stepped away from those closest to him to be alone. What’s interesting is that the disciples Jesus asked to stay up with him failed him three times that night.

Those closest to us can fail to meet our expectations as well. When we face trials, we may instinctively call other people to draw them into our troubles.

Yet, what if we choose not to solicit the sympathy and opinions of others in trying times and, instead, seek the God who sees the end from the beginning? What would change if we habitually went away—accessible to God’s ministering angels— to be strengthened for the crosses we must bear?

If Jesus had to be alone to gain peace and perspective, how much more necessary is it for us to remove ourselves and eliminate the noise of doubt and fear?

It doesn’t require a grand vacation to gain the clarity we need. Sitting alone and embracing the silence a few moments a day may be all it takes to organize our priorities. Praying in a closet or the solitude of a car can produce calm over chaos.

What could be more important than the ability to hear God and visualize His plans for our lives? What opportunities can we unlock by learning to shut out the things (or people) that steal our time and energy?

I challenge you to break away and create new routines in 2020. Put yourself in positions and places where you can abide with God. Do whatever it takes to gain the peace and perspective that will give you confidence to walk the path He has for you.

We receive salvation by grace. Yet, I’ve learned that peace of mind and clarity of purpose require effort on my part. Solitude renews my mind. Silence allows me to hear God. I’ve finally learned to sit down and be still which generates a fruitfulness that running around like crazy never produced.

Seek and hear God like never before.

What you focus on will inevitably determine what you see…

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Praying In Troubled Times

I was watching the Grow Leadership conference this week, and the last session was “Thriving In Storms”. There was a lot of talk during that session of how pastors can lead and grow during difficult times. However, it’s not just pastors who go through difficult times. We all do, and several of the things he talked about translate to you and me including his final point. In times of trouble, you and I need to be looking up instead of around. When there’s chaos in our life, the tendency is to be looking around at all of it in disbelief. Our brains are made for order, not chaos, and when it happens to us, we lose sight of our focus. John Maxwell often says, “What you think about grows.” Are you thinking about the troubles you’re going through or the one who can help you through them?

Chris Hodges also said something that we all need to be reminded of. He said, “Prayer is not just communicating with God. It’s also waging war against the enemy.” When we’re going through a troubled time, we send up a few 911 prayers, but after that, our prayer life tends to drop off. We can’t afford to get off our knees when we’re going through troubled times. We need the communication with the Father who will lead us through the valley, and we also need to be waging war against the one who is attacking us. Instead of letting troubles disrupt your communication with God, make a conscious effort to increase your prayer time. It will have a twofold effect: 1. Your faith will increase as your communication and focus on God increase. 2. You will pull down strongholds that are trying to keep you from thriving.

Here are some Bible verses on praying in troubled times.

1. Leave your troubles with the Lord, and he will defend you; he never lets honest people be defeated.

Psalm 55:22 GNT

2. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him from all his troubles.

Psalms 34:6 AMP

3. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

4. The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.

Psalms 9:9 NLT

5. Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times.

Romans 12:12 TPT

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Hoping In The Lord

My father in law loves watching Animal Planet and other shows about nature. There’s something fascinating to him about the shows where they narrate a lion stalking it’s prey. The animals travel in heards as they search for water, but are unknowingly being followed. When the lion shows itself, fear breaks out. Most animals stay together as they run in fear, but several scatter and peel off from the heard. One thing I’ve noticed about these shows is that the lion never goes after those that stay with the heard. He always goes after those who let fear cause them to be alone. I find myself rooting for the underdog in those situations hoping they find their way back to the heard. Unfortunately the lion almost always wins because fear causes the prey to make the wrong decisions.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil roams the earth like a lion seeking people to devour. He uses the same tactics real lions use: stalking, fear, intimidation and loneliness. I see this pandemic as a way of trying to separate people from the heard and to instill fear in people causing them to make poor choices. Fear does not come from God. Hope does. He has plans for us that give us hope and a future, but we can’t be ruled by fear. Even though this looks never ending, we must continually put our hope in the Lord and stay closely connected to the Body of Believers. The enemy wants to sift us the way he wanted to separate Peter. God is faithful and He’s working everything out for our good, so we must continue to hope and trust in Him.

Here are some Bible verses on placing our hope in the Lord.

1. Be strong, be courageous, all you that hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31:24 GNT

2. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.

Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT

3. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.

Romans 12:12 GNT

4. So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!

Psalms 42:5 TPT

5. So it is impossible for God to lie for we know that his promise and his vow will never change! And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat which sits in the heavenly realm beyond the sacred threshold, and where Jesus, our forerunner, has gone in before us. He is now and forever our royal Priest like Melchizedek.

Hebrews 6:18-20 TPT

Photo by Ahmed Hasan on Unsplash

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Perfect Peace

After months of social distancing, my 9 year old has had enough. He was frustrated last week and asked, “Why is everyone obsessed with COVID-19?” I explained that this is something new to the world and is affecting everyone. It’s causing some stores to close, and the ones that remain open have shorter hours. Businesses have shut down, people have lost their jobs and don’t know how to support their family. I also explained that no one knows how long this will last, and that the unknown causes fear. When people are afraid, they try to consume knowledge, but no one knows what information to trust because there’s a lot of misinformation out there. I said, “Because of all of those things, it appears to you that they’re obsessed with COVID, but really it’s just fear causing confusion and it shows up in people in different ways.”

Fear has been at work since the beginning. Adam and Eve were afraid that God was lying to them about the tree. Fear robs us of peace and does it’s best to distract us with the mindset that we can beat it with information. 24-hour news stations try to meet that need for people to have the most up to date information and often report things before they’re vetted. It’s easy to get addicted to the news and not realize that you’re feeding fear as it’s compelling you to keep watching. Internal peace is hard to find in an uncertain world, but it is possible. You won’t find it in the news, on the internet or from your favorite podcast. The only peace that overcomes the fear of the unknown is the kind that Jesus promised us.

John 14:27 says, “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” (TPT) Perfect peace is what we as believers have been given, but many of us have allowed ourselves to be robbed of it. We have yielded to fear and allowed ourselves to be troubled in this uncertain time. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take precautions or follow guidelines, but don’t let fear dictate our every move. The world is full of fear and we have the antidote with the Good News. God is still in control. He is still on His throne and has not abandoned us. Trust in Him, be courageous and yield to the Prince of Peace. I don’t need to know everything about COVID-19. I only need to know the One who holds my tomorrow in His hands and put my trust in Him to find peace in this troubled time.

Thanks to @Elijah_sad for making this photo available freely on @unsplash

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Godly Confidence

Almost every time I get on stage for work or church, I get nervous. What if I mess up? What if I don’t say things just right? I begin to doubt and my palms start to get sweaty. What if I drop the microphone? I’ve learned to step outside the room by myself to give myself a pep talk. I answer those questions with positive statements about myself and my abilities. I do it until I’m either out of time or until I’m full of confidence. I then march into the room with my head held high, ready to take on the challenge. Confidence is what gives me the strength to push through the doubts and questions in order to trust what I’ve done hundreds of times.

Stepping out in faith feels very similar. No matter how many times we do it, those questions echo in our mind. What if God doesn’t show up this time? What if He leaves you out here by yourself? What if this fails? The best thing to do is to go to God’s Word for a pep talk. Look at His character since the beginning. See how He delivered ordinary people extraordinarily. The Word of God should give each of us confidence to overcome our doubts, to get our game face on and to push past fear. I’ve found that you just need enough confidence to push past the initial fear. After that, momentum and faith can carry you to the finish line.

Here are some Bible verses on God giving confidence.

1. You will not be subject to terror, for it will not terrify you. Nor will the disrespectful be able to push you aside, because God is your confidence in times of crisis, keeping your heart at rest in every situation.

Proverbs 3:25-26 TPT

2. Lord, never forget the promises you’ve made to me, for they are my hope and confidence.

Psalms 119:49 TPT

3. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust [with great confidence, and on whom I rely]!”

Psalms 91:2 AMP

4. But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.

Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

5. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.

Romans 15:13 AMP

Photo by Juan Davilaon Unsplash

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The Valley Of Blessing

In 2 Chronicles 20, several armies declared war against King Jehoshaphat at the same time. It says he was terrified when he heard the news. He immediately began to beg The Lord for guidance and asked everyone to fast and pray with him. The people came to Jerusalem to pray with him and to be ready to fight this vast army that had risen up against them. While they were praying, a man spoke up and said, “Don’t be afraid! The battle is not yours, but God’s.” He also told the people they were to march out to the battlefield, but that they wouldn’t even have to fight.

When they showed up to the battlefield, the other armies had been fighting each other and not one was left alive. The Israelites walked through the valley and gathered up all the spoils. It took them three days to collect it all. On the fourth day, they decided to call that place the Valley of Blessing. After that, no other armies wanted to face Israel and the story ends with, “Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.” Not only had God fought his battle and given him the spoils, He gave him peace and rest.

When I think of valleys, I don’t think of blessings. I think of difficult times, dark times, hard times, wandering aimlessly, and pain. What I see in this story is that God can take our valleys and turn them into blessings. We don’t have to be terrified of them because the battles that we face there are not ours, but God’s. He is the one who goes before us. He’s the one who fights on our behalf. We look at the odds and think, “There’s no way.” God looks at the odds and think, “Nothing is impossible for me.”

I like that King Jehoshaphat had the people meet him in Jerusalem. The very name of that city means “God will see to it”. They were reminded of that while they were praying and fasting about what to do in the valley. They knew they were out numbered. They knew there was no way for them to win the battle. Fear had taken over. In the middle of all that anxiety, God reminded them that He would see to it. All they had to do was show up ready to fight. When they acted in obedience to the Word of God, their enemies were defeated and they gathered the spoils. What should have been a valley of defeat turned into a valley of blessing.

You don’t have to be afraid of whatever valley you’re facing today. God sees that the odds are against you. He sees the impossibility of your situation. He wants you to turn to Him in prayer so He can remind you that He will see to it. He will be the one who goes before you. He will be the one who says, “This is my battle not yours. Show up for the fight and watch what I do.” As verse 20 says, “Believe in The Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm.” No matter what enemy rises up against you, God will see to it that the place you are afraid of will be turned into a valley of blessing.

Photo by lucas Favre on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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