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THE POWER OF THE WORD IN THE BELIEVER’S LIFE - PART 2

How to Study the Bible   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The Word of God is a tremendous resource. Christians should not be handicapped in their own ability to study God’s Word for themselves. So we are going to be examining how to study the Bible.

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How to Study the Bible The Power of the Word in the Believer’s Life—Part 2

The Power of the Word in the Believer’s Life—Part 2

Review

Review

Let’s look back briefly at what we discovered last evening. We said that we should study the Bible because it is:
I. The Source of Truth
II. The Source of Happiness
How to Study the Bible II. The Source of Happiness

We should study the Bible not only because it is the source of truth, but also because it is the source of happiness or joy. Jesus, in Luke 11:28, says, “Blessed [happy] are they that hear the word of God, and keep [obey] it.” Now when we talk about obeying the Word of God we need to differentiate between two kinds of obedience: first, legal obedience, and second, gracious obedience.

See
Luke 11:28 NASB95
But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

LESSON

A. Legal Obedience

Legal obedience, or we could better call it legalistic obedience, pertains to the “covenant of works,” the “old covenant,” or the “Mosaic covenant.” Legalistic obedience demands absolute, perfect obedience without a single failure (). If you fail, that’s the end. One false move and you’re finished. Now that’s legal obedience. This is the “covenant of works,” but in contrast to that in the Scripture, we have the “covenant of grace.”

B. Gracious Obedience

Gracious obedience pertains to a loving, gracious, merciful, and forgiving attitude on the part of God. Legalistic obedience says you had better keep every rule or you’re finished. Gracious obedience says if God sees in your heart a spirit of grace; if He sees a sincere and loving and humble willingness to obey; if He sees a positive response to His Word, even though there are times when we fail, then He counts us as obedient because that’s the spirit in our hearts. Even though our gracious obedience may be filled with defects, it’s the proper attitude that God is after. That’s a tremendous principle, and I want to illustrate it for you because it’s so important.
obedience pertains to a loving, gracious, merciful, and forgiving attitude on the part of God. Legalistic obedience says you had better keep every rule or you’re finished. Gracious obedience says if God sees in your heart a spirit of grace; if He sees a sincere and loving and humble willingness to obey; if He sees a positive response to His Word, even though there are times when we fail, then He counts us as obedient because that’s the spirit in our hearts. Even though our gracious obedience may be filled with defects, it’s the proper attitude that God is after. That’s a tremendous principle, and I want to illustrate it for you because it’s so important.

1. Commitment reduced ()

A favorite passage of mine, , graphically illustrates several spiritual truths. It’s all about Peter, who had gone fishing when he shouldn’t have. The Lord had already called him into the ministry, but he went fishing instead and violated the Lord’s call. He and some of the other disciples were fishing, but they didn’t catch any fish. They had fished all night, but it was totally fruitless. When morning came, Jesus appeared on the shore and asked them if they had caught anything. Peter, like the rest, had nothing to show. It was a great lesson for them because God was saying, “If you think you can go back to fishing, you’re wrong. You’ve been called to the ministry, so your fishing is finished. I can reroute every fish in every sea you approach.” So Jesus called them over for breakfast.

2. Commitment revealed ()

The Lord had made breakfast, and I imagine He made breakfast like He made anything: “Breakfast!”—and there it was. After they had eaten, verse 15 says, “Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me more than these?” Now that was an interesting statement. Jesus used the most grandiose word for “love” that was in the Greek language, agapaō from which we get the word agapē.
In other words, Jesus said, “Do you super love Me? Do you love Me to the limit of love?” Peter responded, “I sure like You a lot.” Peter used a different word that spoke of a lesser love, phileō. And the Lord said, “Feed My lambs.” The second time Jesus said to Peter, “Peter, do you super love Me?” Peter replied, “Well Lord, I like You a lot.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep” (v. 16). Do you know why Peter kept saying, “I like You a lot,” instead of the word Jesus used? Simple. His life didn’t match such a claim. He knew if he said, “Lord, I super love You,” Jesus would have said, “Oh, is that why you don’t obey? Have you forgotten that I told you a long time ago that if you love Me you’ll keep My commandments? How could you say you super love Me when you don’t even do what I say?” Peter wasn’t about to get himself in that trap, so he said, “I like You a lot.”
“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me?” (v. 17). Jesus said, “Peter, do you like Me a lot?” Now that hurt. You see, Peter thought he was being fair; he wasn’t even going to claim super love, but Jesus questioned the love that Peter did claim. The verse continues, “Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? (Do you like Me a lot?) And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Peter said, “Lord, You know everything, You know I like You a lot.” He appealed to the doctrine of omniscience. He wanted Jesus to read his heart because his love wasn’t obvious from his life. The doctrine of omniscience is a great reality, but when I was a kid I thought it was bad; I thought God was going around spying on everybody. Now I realize that if God wasn’t omniscient there would be plenty of days that he wouldn’t know that I loved Him because it wouldn’t be obvious from my life. So Peter says, “Lord, You know everything—You know that I love You.”

3. Commitment required

And do you know what the Lord Jesus told Peter? The Lord is so good. He looked at that disciple who couldn’t even claim the supreme love, that one who couldn’t even obey, that one who couldn’t even stay awake at a prayer meeting, that one who stuck his foot in his mouth every time he had an opportunity, that one who almost drowned when he could have walked on water, that one who wanted to tell Jesus not to go to the cross, that one who grabbed a sword and tried to chop up the Roman army, and Jesus said to that character who had fouled up almost every opportunity he had, “You’re My man.” Three times He said, “Feed my lambs.… feed my sheep.… feed my sheep” (vv. 15–17). Jesus took Peter on the basis of his heart attitude of willingness to obey, even though he blundered. God works with us on the premise of gracious obedience—not legal obedience. Here was a man who failed to obey over and over again, but in his heart he really wanted to do it. The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. The Lord Jesus knew that, and that’s how God looks at us. He says, “My Word is the source of joy if you obey it, and if you obey My Word, I’ll fill your life with joy.” No, He doesn’t mean that if you ever fail one little bit in His rules, that’s the end of joy, and then you have misery. Instead, He says, “If I read as an attitude of your heart a style of life that shows a commitment and the desire to obey, I will pass over those failures.” It’s the deep commitment He’s after, and that’s the source of joy.

4. Commitment rewarded

As you study the Word and hear what it says, and you draw out its principles and obey those principles because it’s in your heart to obey them, then God pours out the blessing and joy. But if you crank out obedience in every legalistic manner possible, and if in your heart you don’t want to do it, He will never give you the joy. To do good deeds without the right heart attitude doesn’t count. Let me show you what I mean. The Bible talks about different kinds of fruit, and it talks about the fruit of the Spirit. Before there’s ever fruit in your life, such as winning people to Christ, and before the fruit on the outside means anything, it has to come from the fruit of the Spirit on the inside. Action fruit, things you do without the proper attitude fruit, is pure legalism—Pharisaism. If you crank out all the stuff you want to on the outside and you are a legalist to the teeth like the Pharisees, then you’ll never know joy. On the other hand, if you have a heart of obedience with the right attitude, even though you may fail on the outside, God will give you joy because He sees the gracious, obedient spirit in your heart. That’s what He desires.
So, why should we study the Bible?
Number one, it’s the source of truth, and number two, it’s the source of rejoicing.

I study the Bible, but I’ve got problems

MacArthur, J., Jr. (1985). How to study the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press.
How to Study the Bible I Study the Bible, but I’ve Got Problems

One thing we must realize is that God doesn’t tell us exactly when we’re going to get the joy—we might have to wait a little while. In John 16 Jesus said to the disciples, “I’m leaving” (v. 16). Well, they just sat there moping because they had put all their proverbial eggs in one basket. Everybody had left his trade and had been following Jesus for three years. Then Jesus said, “One day soon I’m going to leave, guys.” They all thought, “Now wait a minute—we joined this deal thinking the kingdom was going to come. What’s wrong?” They were very sorrowful, so Jesus says in John 16:20, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” In other words, “You’ve got to realize that sometimes there’s going to be sorrow before there’s ever going to be joy.” In fact, if we didn’t know sorrow, we wouldn’t understand joy when it came. If we didn’t know pain, we wouldn’t know pleasure.

I read an interesting article that said the difference between an itch and a tickle cannot be defined medically. Yet, a tickle is something that makes you happy, and an itch is something that irritates. The difference between pleasure and pain can be a very fine line. For example, sometimes there’s nothing more wonderful than a real hot shower, but you have to ease in because of the pain; then all of a sudden—ahhh!—the thin line between pain and pleasure. If we didn’t know pain we wouldn’t know the joy that pleasure could bring. I think one of the reasons God allows sorrow in our lives is so we will understand joy when it comes. Listen, if we obey the Word of God, He’ll give us that joy. Maybe not instantaneously when we want it, but always when we need it. I’ll tell you, no matter what happens in my life, externally and circumstantially, when I study the Word of God, there’s an exhilaration and a joy that is untouched by any circumstance

A third motivating force, and the third reason to study the Bible, is that the Word is :

The Source of Victory

A. Victory over Satan

Matthew 4:1–11 NASB95
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will command His angels concerning You’; and On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Matthew 4:1

B. Victory over Demons

Luke 4:33–36 NASB95
In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm. And amazement came upon them all, and they began talking with one another saying, “What is this message? For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits and they come out.”
Luke 4:33-

C. Victory over Temptation

Ephesians 6:17 NASB95
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Eph
The fourth reason we should study the Word of God is because it is also:

The Source of Growth

A. Prerequisites for Growth

1.Sanctification

How to Study the Bible 1. Sanctification

In 1 Peter 2:1 it is interesting to see how some ground work must first be laid. It says, “laying aside all malice (Gk., kakia, ‘general evil’), and all guile (which means ‘deceit’; the same Greek word is also used for ‘fishhook’), and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings.” In other words, we must set aside all evil things, confess our sin, get our life straightened out, and hit the Word with a tremendous desire—then we begin to grow. The more we grow, the more exciting it becomes. The Word is a source of life that helps us mature and grow stronger; then we are able to defeat Satan, and we come to know more about God and His character. We are enriched in every possible way.

2. Study

In John 6:63b Jesus says, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Jeremiah said, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them” (15:16a). That’s feeding on the Word of God! James 1:18a says, “Of his own will begot he us with the word of truth.” The Word is a life-giver, a life-sustainer, and a life-builder. It is tremendous nourishment. First Timothy 4:6 states, “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith.” Therefore, the Word nourishes us, it feeds us, it builds us, and it causes us to grow.

B. Patterns of Growth

How to Study the Bible B. Patterns of Growth

God wants us mature; He wants us built up; He wants us strong. In 1 John 2:13 we find the pattern of growth. Listen to what it says: “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.” There are three categories: fathers, young men, and little children. Now those are three categories of spiritual growth—they are not literally little children, young men, and fathers. It’s talking about three levels of spiritual growth.

1.Little Children

How to Study the Bible 1. Little Children

Now we all start out as little children—we know the Father. That’s spiritual Da-Da. You don’t know much when you’re a new Christian, but you know “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” You realize God is your Father and it’s great, but you’re not very mature spiritually. So you don’t want to stay there; that would be sad. You go to the second level:

How to Study the Bible B. Patterns of Growth

God wants us mature; He wants us built up; He wants us strong. In 1 John 2:13 we find the pattern of growth. Listen to what it says: “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.” There are three categories: fathers, young men, and little children. Now those are three categories of spiritual growth—they are not literally little children, young men, and fathers. It’s talking about three levels of spiritual growth.

2. Young Men

How to Study the Bible 1. Little Children

Now we all start out as little children—we know the Father. That’s spiritual Da-Da. You don’t know much when you’re a new Christian, but you know “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” You realize God is your Father and it’s great, but you’re not very mature spiritually. So you don’t want to stay there; that would be sad. You go to the second level:

What is the characteristic of a young man? He has overcome the wicked one—past tense. Who is the wicked one? Satan. “Are you telling me that I could reach the point in my life where I actually overcome Satan?” That’s right. How? Verse 14 says, “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” Now listen to this: To overcome Satan you’d have to be strong, and there’s only one way to be strong—that’s to have the Word abiding in you. Do you know what a spiritual young man is? He’s someone who really knows the Word.

Here’s why I say that: Satan, according to 2 Corinthians 11:14, comes disguised as an angel of light. I believe Satan spends 99.0 percent of his time in false religious systems. I believe the problems we have with bars, prostitution, crime, the lust of the world, and all the rest of that evil is pretty well taken care of by the flesh. Galatians 5:19–21 lists the works of the flesh. I don’t think Satan is running around poking us in the ribs about every little sin; I believe Satan is developing world-wide systems of evil. Satan is appearing as an angel of light, and his ministers are angels of light, and he works in false religions.

Now a spiritual young man is somebody that overcomes Satan in the sense that he knows enough about the Word of God that he is not enticed by false religions. Rather, he is angered by it. For example, the characteristic of a spiritual child, according to Ephesians 4:14, is that he is “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” Spiritual babies have trouble with false doctrine. Spiritual young men are people who know their Bible. They know their doctrine, so false doctrine from Satan doesn’t appeal to them at all.

3. Fathers

In verse 13a John says, “I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning.” Do you know who the fathers are? They are the ones that have gone beyond the page. They don’t just know the doctrine—fathers have a deep knowledge of the God behind the doctrine.

In these three steps we have the progress of spiritual growth. We start out as babies, and as we feed on the Word of God, we become strong. We never totally overcome the flesh, but we can overcome the world; our faith does that (). The flesh will always be a problem, but we can have the joy of overcoming Satan’s false systems of religion. I can tell every time men or women get to the place of being spiritual young people. They invariably get to the place where false religion makes them angry, so they want to go out and fight the cults. Then as they mature, they’re not so concerned with fighting the cults—they begin to get a taste of who God is. They begin to plumb the depths of the mind of the eternal God and stretch toward being a spiritual father, walking in the presence of the Holy One. That’s where we ought to go in our growth. Listen, you cheat yourself if you stay a baby. You cheat yourself if you stay a spiritual young man and all you know is doctrine. You’ve got to get to the place where you’ve begun to walk in the very presence of the God of the universe, where you really begin to touch the Person Himself. That’s the ultimate end of growth.
we have the progress of spiritual growth. We start out as babies, and as we feed on the Word of God, we become strong. We never totally overcome the flesh, but we can overcome the world; our faith does that (). The flesh will always be a problem, but we can have the joy of overcoming Satan’s false systems of religion. I can tell every time men or women get to the place of being spiritual young people. They invariably get to the place where false religion makes them angry, so they want to go out and fight the cults. Then as they mature, they’re not so concerned with fighting the cults—they begin to get a taste of who God is. They begin to plumb the depths of the mind of the eternal God and stretch toward being a spiritual father, walking in the presence of the Holy One. That’s where we ought to go in our growth. Listen, you cheat yourself if you stay a baby. You cheat yourself if you stay a spiritual young man and all you know is doctrine. You’ve got to get to the place where you’ve begun to walk in the very presence of the God of the universe, where you really begin to touch the Person Himself. That’s the ultimate end of growth.
So when you study the Word, it becomes the source of growth. But also, the Word of God is to be studied because it is:
MacArthur, J., Jr. (1985). How to study the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press.

The Source of Power

A.

Hebrews 4:12 NASB95
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

B.

Romans 1:16 NASB95
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

C.

Ephesians 4:23 NASB95
and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

D.

Romans 12:2 NASB95
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

E.

2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB95
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3 NASB95
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

F.

So we’re to study the Word of God because it is the source of truth, the source of happiness, the source of victory, the source of growth, the source of power, and one more: We are to study the Bible because it is:
How to Study the Bible F. Ephesians 1:3–3:20

Ephesians 1:3–3:20—In the first three chapters of Ephesians the apostle Paul lists several things he wants us to know. They are full of theology and contain some great truths.

First, in chapter 1:

1. Verse 3b—“God … who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

2. Verse 7b—We have “the forgiveness of sins.”

3. Verse 7a—“We have redemption.”

4. Verse 6b—“He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”

5. Verse 8b—We’ve been given “all wisdom and prudence.”

6. Verses 9–10—We’ve been given the knowledge of the ages to know the eternal plan of God.

7. Verse 13c—We’ve been “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.”

8. Verse 14—We have the Holy Spirit “who is the earnest of our inheritance.”

In chapter 2:

9. Verse 22—We are the “habitation of God through the Spirit.”

10. Verse 19b—We are “fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”

11. Verse 14b—Christ “hath broken down the middle wall” between Jew and Gentile.

12. Verse 16—We’ve come together “unto God in one body by the cross.”

Then, in chapter 3:

13. Verse 8c—We have “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

14. Verse 9—We have been made to “see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which … hath been hidden in God.”

All these incredible riches are ours, and Paul wants us to know them. Paul says in 1:17–18 that he prayed that God would “give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know … what (are) the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” So he said if you would learn these truths, then you would realize the truth of what he says in 3:20; “Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Do you see the resources? Did you ever think about the fact that you can do everything you can think? Did you ever think about the fact that you can do above everything you can think? Did you ever think about the fact that you can do exceedingly, abundantly above all you can ask or think? That’s a lot of power, isn’t it? Frankly, there’s no sense flopping around on one cylinder with those kinds of resources. As you feed on the Word of God it has a powerful effect. It makes your life an energy source that can confront anybody, any time, with the truth.

MacArthur, J., Jr. (1985). How to study the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press.

The Source of Guidance

How to Study the Bible VI. The Source of Guidance

Whenever I want to know what God wants me to do, I go to the Word. You hear people say, “I’m searching for the will of God.” Is God’s will lost? They think God is the universal Easter bunny who stashes His will in the bushes and then sits in heaven saying, “You’re getting warmer.” That isn’t true. God’s will is easy to find; it’s right in His Book. When we study the Bible, we find over and over again the phrase, “This is the will of God.” We can know the will of God by studying the Word of God. What does Psalm 119:105 say? “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” That’s pretty simple—the Word is a guide. As I open the Word of God, it guides me. It’s amazing how God speaks to me through His Word. If I have a decision to make, I find the place in the Bible where possibly someone in the Old Testament or New Testament grappled with a similar decision. I try and see how God led them. Or I’ll go to a text in the Bible that gives me a direct answer. God guides and directs us out of His Book.

But there’s a subjective element here also: as Christians we have the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9). First John 2:27 says, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things.” When you study the Bible, the Holy Spirit in you takes the Word of God and makes a personal application that will give you guidance. That’s an incredible combination—to have the truth and the resident truth teacher. It’s that combination that guides the believer. What have we learned? There are great benefits to studying the Bible. It is the source of truth, happiness, victory, growth, power, and guidance.

Conclusion

But what should be our response? If this is really true, if the Bible is going to do all these things, then what shall I do? Let me give you a few things to consider

1. Believe it

2. Honor it

3. Love it

4. Obey it

5. Fight for it

6. Preach it

7. Study it

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