Tag Archives: wisdom

Thou Shalt Love the Lord Thy God With All Thy Heart, Soul, Mind, Might or Strength

reading boy
Solomon described this same amount of effort to acquire wisdom. Wisdom is of utmost importance, therefore get wisdom, and with all your effort work to acquire understanding. (Proverbs 4:7 ISV)

Everyone knows the rigorous training the military puts their recruits through. The training of professional athletes is on billboards, TV and radio ads is deeply ingrained in every culture, ancient and modern. Olympic athletes train their entire lives. And just putting forth the effort is not enough. It is the way they train, the techniques, the coaching, and the encouragement from others.

But we as Christians simply “add Jesus” to our already busy, overcrowded lives. The Messiah might even be the most important part or the most important person in our lives. But do we put all of our effort into pleasing Him?

One aspect is knowing His Word. If God makes His Word available to us, that comes with the obligation of studying it and becoming familiar with it. That includes setting aside regular time in it.

A second aspect is the regular assembling together with other believers. When Jesus said, “where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20 ISV), he was not being figurative or allegorical. He meant what He said.

Another aspect is regular prayer. The context of Matthew 18:20 is asking God. That is prayer. I tell you with certainty, whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven. Furthermore, I tell you with certainty that if two of you agree on earth about anything you request, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven, because where two or three have come together in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:18-20 ISV)

Another aspect is by continued obedience to become skillful. In fact, though by now you should be teachers, you still need someone to teach you the basic truths of God’s word. You have become people who need milk instead of solid food. For everyone who lives on milk is still a baby and does not yet know the difference between right and wrong. But solid food is for mature people, whose minds are trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 ISV)

Often being able to distinguish good from evil requires being filled with God’s Holy Spirit. Evil is clever, sophisticated, seductive, enticing, knowledgeable, desirable. Evil is everything you have always wanted and includes wonders we did not even know about. Lucifer (light bearer) was the anointed Cherub, clothed with dazzling jewels fixed in engraved gold settings. The light bearer in his shining clothes walked among the fiery stones.

The last and most important aspect of loving the Messiah is to guard our own hearts. Every king of Israel, without any exception, fell into sin. Our accuser, Satan was once perfect. Your heart grew arrogant because of your beauty; you annihilated your own wisdom because of your splendor. (Ezekiel 28:17 ISV)

I do all this for the sake of the gospel in order to have a share in its blessings. You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious. Everyone who enters an athletic contest practices self-control in everything. They do it to win a wreath that withers away, but we run to win a prize that never fades. That is the way I run, with a clear goal in mind. That is the way I fight, not like someone shadow boxing. No, I keep on disciplining my body, making it serve me so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:23-27 ISV)

We must be properly motivated and trained, but the most well-trained and properly-motivated athlete can disqualify himself. Life does not consist of recommendations and resumes, but accomplishments. But if we disqualify ourselves, sin will negate our accomplishments. So whether we are at home or away from home, our goal is to be pleasing to him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of the Messiah, so that each of us may receive what he deserves for what he has done in his body, whether good or worthless. (2 Corinthians 5:9, 10 ISV)

 

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Belief Excerpts from Antidisestablishmentarianism I from Chapter 11. What Is Science to a Secular Humanist?

Like any religion which enthrones man in God’s place, there is a desperate and irrational need to attack true religion. “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence,”3 says Richard Dawkins. In the Bible, in the founding documents of US history and in the US court system prior to the liberal takeover, belief was (and still is in reality) a legal term. Belief is the decision of a juror based on evidence. Faith is the action one takes based on belief based on tested evidence. The modern Secular Humanist twists the word “faith ” to mean the opposite of its historical definition. “Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”4 This is the “blind leap of faith ” of Karl Barth and neo-orthodoxy, not the historic meaning of faith found in the Bible and US history.

The faith of the secularist, which is truly “in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence,” has a religious belief that the material universe is all that is, was or ever will be. The material universe is the ultimate reality. “Who is more humble?” asked Carl Sagan, “The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book [the Bible] must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?”5 Sagan is pretending humility while arrogantly dismissing the possibility that God might have actually written down His words out of love for his creation.

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1 Pierre Charron, De la sagesse (Of Wisdom, In Three Parts), French version, 1601, Translated by Samson Lennard, Eliot’s Court Press for Edward Blount and Will, Aspley, London, c.1615.

2 Charles Watts, “The Secularist’s Catechism,” complied in an undated book published by Watts & Co. entitled: Pamphlets by Charles Watts, Vol. I, originally written in 1896.

3 Richard Dawkins, from a speech at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, April 15, 1992.

4 Dawkins, The Richard Dimbleby Lecture: “Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder,” BBC1 Television November 12, 1996.

5 Carl Sagan, in an interview with Charlie Rose, late-night PBS talk show host, 1996.

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Permission to Fail?

Our daughter told me about a Bible study where the teacher mentioned Proverbs 31 and said something like, “We all know that the Virtuous Woman is an ideal. She’s too good to be true.” Suppose a military commander gives his troop an order. The men whisper to the lieutenant, “Permission to fail, sir?” The lieutenant whispers back, “Permission to fail granted.”

The chapter isn’t stated like a commandment. In fact, the writer laments, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” Yet I believe the Scriptures are our “orders.” We should not give ourselves and those we teach permission to fail.

Let’s assume she meant that it’s not likely that anybody will achieve all that is listed for the virtuous woman. Perhaps it’s a composite of all the godly traits to aspire to. Some of the parables are not literal events. That doesn’t mean He was giving suggestions or passing the time. I would take the possibly composite traits and treat them like a “to do” list. Maybe you won’t check off every item but you’d better be working on the list. A Bible study teacher should not hand out a pre-license to smile and say “Wow, I could never be all that woman was. Nobody could.”

In Old Testament times, rubies were the crown of jewels. That’s how a man was supposed to be able to think of his woman. His heart was supposed to be able to “safely trust in her.” Everyone’s heard songs and stories of jealous men. This man never heard of such nonsense. Oh, to so capture and captivate a man’s heart. Even a Christian man can have his doubts, especially if a temptress works to make herself attractive. But not this man, it would appear. The passage also says he “has no need of spoil.”

I know that in the Iliad, ancient Greek poem about the Trojan War, spoils were frequently women as well as valuables. Didn’t seem to matter to Agamemnon that he was already married when he took Cassandra as a spoil of war. His wife was unfaithful to him, as well, but this Proverbs couple shines like the sun with fidelity. Whether it’s riches or sexual rewards, this man needed nothing beyond what he had. They say men are hard to satisfy, and that it is hard to conquer their hearts. Yet Proverbs is a book about relationships between the sexes, good and bad, and the power a woman has to captivate a man, for good and for bad.

Modesty, whether it is true or feigned, teaches women to undervalue their power and influence, but it is there. Men are girl-watchers for more than just great gams and other parts. “Behind every great man is a great woman” is not just a saying. Women have been making and breaking their men throughout history, beginning with Eve. Do you suppose it’s just barely possible that Adam valued Eve’s company more than God’s when he envisioned what would happen to his disobedient little wife? The Bible says Eve was deceived but Adam was in the transgression. Part of his transgression may have been choosing Eve over God.

Picture the scene earlier on in Proverbs, that adulterous wife grabbing a gullible fool by his proverbial nose ring and leading him off, ox-like, to the slaughter. How must her husband have lived his life? In jealousy, dread and rage. “No one who touches her shall go unpunished,” we are told, but clearly the woman was out on the prowl and a man cannot trust his heart to such a wife, no matter how many of her conquests he punishes. He might have had a purse full of money but oh, how empty his heart. The next time you even think about turning the head of some fool, lady, think about this woman who seems to have been doorkeeper at the mouth of Hell. Not somebody you want to emulate.

The evil Duessa from the Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

The Scriptures are clear about even entertaining wrong thoughts, in the woman’s mind or in the man’s. Captivate your husband, and nobody else. Don’t be responsible for a man’s fall. Don’t hurt your husband’s heart. Be those rubies, and far more, to that man, and keep him and all the other men safe. Well, that’s just one or two points on the to-do-list, unfortunately, but it’s enough to meditate on. Be far above rubies. Be that thing a man can trust his heart in. Be powerful for God, ladies. Never forget that you have power, whether you acknowledge it or not, and put it on your to-do list to use it Wise-Woman Proverbs style.

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Wisdom Says, “Can You Hear Me Now?”

Proverbs Chapter Eight is absolutely amazing. We try to read through Proverbs day by day each month and this one just stops me in my tracks every time.

Why does God say that wisdom is a woman? I don’t know. A friend commented on the fact that Proverbs is mostly advice from father to son. Yet we have this personification (a literary device where an abstract concept is treated like a person) of Wisdom in many places as a woman. She’s stretching out her hands, she’s going around to the high or chief places, she’s standing at the crossroads, and here in Chapter Eight, she’s shouting at the top of her lungs right in front of the city gates. You can’t miss her! Or can you?

She is talking to men, apparently, like most of Proverbs does, but I think we women can listen in. As long as we can handle being called simple and fools like the men. Our culture today tends to depict women as smarter than men, but only this woman, Wisdom, really has the right to call men fools, and I think women better humble their hearts and listen up as well.

“Be ye of an understanding heart!” She cries in verse five, after calling her audience fools. Boy, these listeners better gather the shreds of humility the “I’m OK, You’re OK” secularist world has left them. Do not get all hurt and walk away from this, men and women alike. “Excellent things” are coming. “Right things.” Wisdom is going to speak truth, and her lips can’t stand wickedness. She also promises that what she says is going to be “plain,” and “right.” She’s going to speak righteousness only. The only catch is that you have to “understand” it. It might seem contradictory that Wisdom calls you a fool in one verse and then expects you to understand her in another, but that’s the way it is with believers sometimes. We’re still struggling with that sin nature, but the Holy Spirit still lives in us to teach us and give us understanding if we let Him. You don’t need silver. You don’t need gold. You need instruction straight from the mouth of Wisdom herself. In the ancient world rubies were the most valuable gemstone. You don’t even need them. No comparison. You need this.

When I get to heaven, I want to ask what “witty inventions” are to make sure, but I think for now I’ll settle for understanding that phrase as the ability to come up with good ideas.

People complain about the very thought of “fearing the Lord.” God is a God of love, isn’t he? He is to be loved and feared, like a dad who would do anything for you but is not going to let you get away with being a fool. So stop complaining and listen. Hate evil, hate pride. What’s a “froward mouth”? One that says vulgar, crude, bad, wrong things. Especially when you say them just because it’s entertaining to vulgar, crude, bad people. Why exactly do you want to impress them again? You don’t.

You want to be a counselor. You want to be strong. You want to tell kings and princes and judges how to rule, how to be just. You want honor and “durable riches.” Wisdom has a revenue-sharing plan that can’t be beat. Her dividends are eternal. Those that love wisdom will “inherit substance.” Not talking about material wealth here. You might get that, or you might not, but what you get from Wisdom will last forever.

Who is this Wisdom anyway? What’s her authority for telling us what to do? How’s older than the oldest of God’s works strike you as a tried and true source of solid teaching? Wisdom predates Creation. She witnessed it all, and starting with verse seven she shares her view of it unfolding before her delighted eyes. Depths of oceans and canyons, fountains of water, mountains, hills, earth, fields, even dust gets a mention. She was before it all, and saw it all come to be. Wisdom saw how God arranged and organized things from the beginning, setting boundaries, defining limits. Wisdom is like God’s best friend, watching Him do it all, right there by His side all the way, rejoicing that God made a habitation for man, and, once again, delighted with that special, crowning creation of human beings.

So Wisdom’s got the right to speak to man, to call us her children, to say, “Listen up!” Don’t refuse her instruction. Yes, you’re struggling with sin, with the pride that says, “I don’t have to listen to you!” But that’s what she’s there for, to tell you what to do. She’s God’s best friend, and she’s yours, too. That’s why she’s yelling at the top of her lungs. That’s why you should be this guy (or girl).”Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.” The consequences of being too proud to hear Wisdom’s voice are severe. “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”

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The Conflict of the Ages

Every good writing teacher tells us to narrow our topic because the sure sign of a novice is a paper entitled “The Universe and Everything in It.” Yet The Conflict of the Ages can rightfully include every thought every man has ever made. Augustine’s City of God, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae are three attempts at this daunting task, yet they are incomplete. This brief overview, The Conflict of the Ages, will include information not available to Augustine, John Calvin or Thomas Aquinas. I also hope, by the grace of God, to make this much shorter work easier to understand for the modern mind. All Scripture references are from the KJV, unless otherwise noted.

The Conflict of the Ages references hundreds of authors, yet one source needs special mention. The website Sacred Texts by J.B. Hare is the largest collection of public domain material of which I am aware. The entire website of over one thousand books is available for purchase on either CD ROM or DVD ROM. All of the ancient texts I source are public domain books from this collection. A problem with this or any other collection is proving the validity of the primary sources. Though I do not know anything about J. B. Hare, except the information posted on his website, I believe that he faithfully and accurately scanned the texts. The problem is, are the texts reliable? Since they are public domain, they are older and sometimes not the latest translations. I am confident, however, that they are acceptable. Some sources I use are books where Westerners lived among a tribe and wrote down oral traditions. Though we trust that the authors accurately recorded the oral traditions, how much ‘contamination’ with outside influences shaped these oral traditions? The Lore of the Whare-Wananga, a New Zealand tribe, is well documented by the translator S. Percy Smith to be older than outside influences and free of ‘contamination.’  Myths of the Cherokee by James Mooney, however, was published in 1900 after more than 250 years of wars and close contact with outsiders. The level of outside influence on the oral traditions of the North American Indians is impossible to measure or deny.

Introduction

I. Desire and Interest

No power on earth can substitute for desire and interest. In the oldest written human record, The Epic of Gilgamesh, men are controlled by gods and goddesses through their desires. Children who want something can do unimaginable amounts of work to fulfill their desires when no amount of coercion can force them to fulfill their responsibilities. God has given us the responsibility is to control our desires.

A. Personal Responsibility

Some responsibilities we can ignore and others can do them for us, such as washing dishes or taking out the trash. Some can do other responsibilities for us with great difficulty, such as bathing an invalid. But some responsibilities cannot be done by anyone else. No one can memorize for us. No one else can change our will. Other people can change circumstances to force us to do something against our will, but no one can honestly change another person’s will.

1. Get Wisdom and Understanding

The purpose of this is to help us obey the command Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:7. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” The way Solomon uses the word wisdom is close to our idea of skill. It means a combination of the knowledge necessary for a task and the discipline to do the task correctly. Solomon exhorts us to use all of our strength and ability to become knowledgeable and skillful in doing what is right and best. He put it another way in Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

2. Study Commanded

However, even when we have no burning desire, we are still commanded to sturdy. 2 Timothy 2:15: :Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” This is not referring to bookwork only, but is similar to what Solomon calls wisdom. It means learning what is right and doing what is right. This is a little clearer in Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 4:1: “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”

3. Keep at it; a little at a time

Isaiah said in 28:10 and 13, “Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” A strict interpretation of the passage is Israelites listening to another language in captivity. However, the same principles apply to any type of study, even involuntary. Keep at it, a little at a time.

B. Attitude of the World

Charles Stanley has often said that attitude is what controls us, that it is the most important thing in our lives. The attitude of the world is self indulgence, pleasure. Self-discipline is only important when the end result is greater pleasure.

1. Love not the World

I John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The attitude of self-indulgence is at war with the love of God. This is a simple, though difficult, decision which everyone must make. 1 John 2:17: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

2. Learn not the way of the heathen

Jeremiah 10:2: “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen.” Where John writes about the attitude of the world, Jeremiah writes about that attitude carried out into action. Once again a simple, though difficult command.

C. Study is difficult

Some people might find study a way of escaping other responsibilities. A very tiny number of people find study enjoyable. Most people, however, would rather do just about anything rather than study. Remaining focused on the subject of study is tiring and difficult.

1. No end to book.

Solomon said, in Ecclesiastes 12:12, “Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” No one has the time to do all the studying he believes that he should. Other responsibilities interfere. No one could have ever read all the books he should have. There simply are too many books and life is too short.

2. Study wearies the flesh

Study is one of the most fatiguing tasks God has given to the children of men. He has given us the responsibility to balance the tasks in our lives for His glory. But just because a task is difficult does not mean that we should ignore it.

II. Honesty

Proverbs 23:23: “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. “

Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Honesty and truth are similar, but not quite the same. Diogenes searched for an honest man, yet he never claimed to be one. Searching for honesty in others is certainly frustrating, but searching for truth can be quite fulfilling. Truth is an absolute, independent of the sinner. Honesty is a character trait. Since we are all sinners, each of us can be honest and truthful at one time and dishonest at another. A man unfaithful to his wife might be trustworthy with large amounts of money. A woman who lies to get a promotion at work might never even consider stealing from that same employer.

A. We are self-deceived.

Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

I John 1:8-10: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

We are born self-deceived and nothing we can do will change our basic nature.

1. We do what we want to do: Pride

Putting our own desires ahead of doing or thinking what is right is the essence of pride. Monks in the Middle Ages who gave up all their personal goods and rights would fight over a pen, simply because it was assigned to them. Apart from yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit, we are all proud. We ignore our pride by looking for pride in others.

2. What we want to do is not what is best.

This is a more subtle form of pride. We choose to do something that we are convinced is best, simply because it is what we want to do. The first and more obvious form of pride is simply doing what we want. This is convincing ourselves, and often others, that our course of action is best. True love is doing what is best for the ones we love. It is also honest.

B. Honesty is the greatest need on earth.

Complete honesty will begin by admitting that we are sinners and finish in Jesus Christ. Without honesty, neither individuals nor the human race has any hope. Wars are the result of national dishonesty. Endless fights are the result of personal dishonesty. Dishonesty is the root cause for personal destruction. Dishonesty is the root cause for family disintegration, national disintegration and ultimately, wars.

C. According to the Word of God, everyone who was ever born or ever will be born falls into one of three categories.

1. Believer

The Bible is a record of believers. Adam is a believer. So also are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, Daniel, John, Mary, Peter, Paul and many more. They are also, as we are, sinners. Their sins are recorded along with their faith.

2. Unbeliever

The Bible is a record of triumph over unbelievers. Balak, Goliath, Jezebel and her prophets of Baal, Sennacherib, the Philistines, Tobiah and many others openly defied the living God. Their destruction is accurately recorded.

3. Compromiser

These are men who knew the Living God and chose to rebel against Him. Today we might say that these are men who want their freedom. Lot, Balaam, Samson, Saul the first king of Israel and Esau fall into this category. Without additional revelation, it is not possible to know if these men were believers or not. Their sins destroyed others and their life stories are great tragedies.

III. Tools

Very few people who look at beautiful cabinets wonder what kind of tools made them. Like those cabinets, very few people who look at our lives will wonder what kind of tools shaped us into what we are today. Tools, and skillful use of those tools, however, are essential for shaping us. We must not get wrapped up in the tools themselves, but keep our eyes focused on the ultimate goal, the ‘finished product.’

A. Designed for unbelievers or weak believers

If we look at ourselves honestly, each of us must admit that in at least some area of his life he is a weak believer. Only pride will toss aside these tools with the attitude of ‘I have progressed beyond this.’

1. Apologetics: Francis Schaeffer, Josh Mac Dowell

The science of Apologetics is the systematic defense of the Faith. It does not mean to apologize for. I am not endorsing any of the men I mention simply because I do not know enough about them. All men change from day to day. I am, however, endorsing these books. Josh MacDowell wrote two excellent books, Evidence that Demands a Verdict and More Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Both books now have been combined into The New evidence that Demands a Verdict. These books use an outline format that makes the information easy to understand. It is similar in format to many doctrines books, with a lot of information in a small space.

Francis Schaeffer, who is now with the Lord, wrote many books in prose. His books are easy to read, though the subject matter is difficult. His major apologetic work is The God Who Is There. Francis Schaeffer not only shows that God exists, but also that He is a God of Love. Each work of his that I have read remained focus on his main point and was a delight to read. If you do not enjoy outlines, I highly recommend Francis Schaeffer.

I realize that most people either skimmed over or skipped entirely my emphasis on honesty and the dangers of pride. The following is one example of why honesty and avoiding pride are so important. The source of this piece is the website http://www.infidels.org. Jeffrey Jay Lowder lists himself as editor. “Many readers will recognize me as the editor of a comprehensive Internet rebuttal to Volume I of McDowell’s Evidence. Yet McDowell completely ignored our criticisms in his “fully updated” New Evidence. This cannot be due to ignorance. I have personally tried to correspond with Mr. McDowell twice; each time I received no acknowledgement.” When I clicked on the rebuttal, I found a series of authors, with Mr Lowder writing the introduction. In the introduction he writes that the purpose for writing these articles is that “ETDAV is also arguably the most influential Christian apologetics book on the Internet, which is what led the Internet Infidels to write The Jury Is In: The Ruling on McDowell’s “Evidence”.” The first author, Farrell Till, writes in his opening paragraph:

“In ETDAV, McDowell begins his defense of the Bible with the claim that it is unique. He parades before us an array of ‘scholars’ to testify to various features of the Bible that qualify it to be considered ‘different from all others [books],’ as if anyone would seriously try to deny that the Bible is unique, i.e., different from all others. At the very beginning of my analysis of this chapter of ETDAV, I will concede that the Bible is undeniably unique. Certainly, there is no other book like it, but this fact, as we will see, becomes more of an embarrassment to the Bible than proof of its divine origin.”

This is character assassination, a tactic they frequently use, as well as flawed logic. The poor writing style makes any kind of an intelligent response difficult. Rather than angering these people with points they do not understand, we need to look at the real issue, honesty.

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