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Heart for Competition: Week 4

Worship:

Memory Verse

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Competitiveness Definition
1.
possession of a strong desire to be more successful than others.
“a lot of people get wrapped up in competitiveness and jealousy”
2.
the quality of being as good as or better than others of a comparable nature.
“the competitiveness of the agricultural sector”

Day 1: Winning Over Others

Read Luke 10:38-41 three times
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A38-41&version=NIV

First of all, I feel everyone of us has been Martha at some point or in some situation. I can see myself working hard and becoming bitter inside as I observe a slacker on the sidelines reaping the rewards while I’m “having” to slave away.

I think you know what I mean. It’s those moments when that internal dialogue has two voices encouraging you to get angry which ironically causes you to scrub harder without realizing it.

And yet, we don’t stop working. Instead we side lip a sarcastic remark intent on continuing to prove that we are better and proceed to slave a way.

Ugh. When the flesh rises up, it isn’t pretty.

1. What was Martha’s role in this scenario and how did it differ from Mary’s?

2. Do you ever find yourself weighing the work God has called you to do with the work God has called someone else to do?

3. How is Martha being competitive?

4. What is she competing for?

5. When we are competing for someone’s attention or heart, what do we have to do mentally to the other person to “stay in the game?”

6. What do you have to do mentally to yourself if you sense you are going to lose and therefore withdraw yourself from the “game?”
Day 2: The Model of Paul

As a person made of the flesh, embarrassingly I admit that I suffer from competitiveness. It’s a small sliver in my heart, but it exists. I hate it. It bothers me. It is stupid and I’m praying, begging, pleading even for God to remove it. It rises up, even when I don’t want it to. “Go away! I tell it. I don’t want you in my heart.”

Thankfully, it doesn’t consume or control me. Therefore, I can encourage, promote, and share with those that unknowingly trigger this rise in my heart. But the fact that it exists bothers me.

My pep talks to myself run like this.

“Erica, God is calling you just like he is calling others to advance the kingdom.”
“Erica, God doesn’t love you or them anymore or less.”
“Erica, your calling is real. Don’t second guess it because you can’t see all of it.”
“Don’t be afraid. You are still special and unique…..and so are they.”
“Erica, remember the time God did …….”

Read 1 Timothy 1:1-11 once and verses 6-11 twice.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+1%3A1-11

1. How did Paul encourage Timothy instead of compete with Timothy?

2. In your ministry, church, or work place, who can be your Timothy?

3. Reflect on your past and identify the specific people who have made you feel threatened and moved you into compete mode? Analyze what they have in common and try to identify what are you specifically measuring yourself against them with.

Day 3: What if?

Read Luke 9: 43-50 Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+9%3A43-50&version=NKJV

1. How would you describe the importance of Jesus’ message?

2. What were the concerns of the disciples and how does that connect with our own competitiveness?

3. Does it surprise you that this group of men struggled with this sin?

4. If competitiveness was allowed to control the dynamic of the disciples, how would that have impacted the kingdom?

5. How can competitiveness impact the collective mission of Christians?

Day 4: Heart for Purification

Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13 twice
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Samuel%2016

1. Did Samuel hesitate to go when sent?
2. What concern kept him from going immediately and how did God respond?
3. How does that make you feel when you compare it to your worries/fears and prayer requests to God?
4. Why was David chosen?
5. Do you find it odd that his family did not recognize the value of his heart?
6. How does this bring you comfort when you feel overlooked, or your calling is unrecognizable to others?
7. Although David was called, why do you think he was not made king at that moment?
8. While you are in the midst of your calling, what do you feel God is providing you training for and what areas of your heart need further purification?

Prayer

Dear God,
Thank you for loving us in our sinfulness. Thank you for willingly working with our heart and waiting for us to be ready to be moldable. You are the only surgeon who can do such a work.

 

 

 

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Heart Transplant Week 3 Heart for the Rebellious

Worship:

Grace Wins Every Time by Matthew West

Memory Verse:
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19

Day 1
Definition of rebellion
1
: opposition to one in authority or dominance
2
a : open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government
b : an instance of such defiance or resistance
Read part of The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Luke 15:11-16 three times.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A11-32

When I think of someone who is rebellious, they display disrespectful, devious, and deliberate actions.

These actions stem from the authority’s wisdom, boundaries, or guidelines being rejected or in question by the rebel. What is really being said with an act of rebellion is that the rebel’s way is higher and better than the institution they are defying. Historically, there have been times when this has been necessary and Biblically supported.

In the book of Luke, the parable starts with a rebel son.

1. Read verse 12. DISRESPECT #1
How would that make you feel if your child or a child came up to you and said that?

2. Read verse 13. DISRESPECT #2
How would you feel if you worked and saved an inheritance for twenty-five years and when you handed it over to your child, it was gone in two weeks?

3. The father had two choices. He could have told his son “no,” or complied as he did. What do you think would have been the atmosphere of the household with the rebellious child if he was not given his inheritance early?

4. If he would have said “no,” what would continue to build in the son’s heart?

Ultimately, we all have to learn from our mistakes. If the father would have held onto the inheritance, the son would have a deeper root of rebellion growing which would have been much harder to get rid of.

Second, it would have shown the son that the money was more valuable to the father than him. The son needed the money, but didn’t value it or he would have used it differently. So the father needed to show that he would rather lose the money, then his son forever. Had he prolonged giving him the money, rebellion would have continued growing in the son’s heart. It may have hardened so hard that he would have been lost forever.

Day 2: What Does Rebellion Forever Look Like?

A rebel is different from someone who is just unaware of the authority. That is someone who is lost. A rebel has full knowledge of the gospel, knows the Father, and knows the ways of the enemy and yet their heart leads them to believe their ways are above the Father’s ways. Eventually, they rise up against the father.

Read the following scriptures:

2 Peter 2:20-22New International Version (NIV)

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[a] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Hebrews 6:4-8

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[a] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Hebrews 10:26-28

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?


1 Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later timessome will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Luke 8:13

13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

1. Can you think of anyone that you know that falls into this rebel category?

2. After reading these scriptures, what are your thoughts in relation to the rebel that you mentioned above?

3. What are the scariest parts of those verses to you and why?

4. What is more important to focus on? Your hurt or their hell?

5. Therefore, what is required to have a heart for the rebellious?

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Day 3

Read of The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Luke 15:17-31 once.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A11-32

1. The younger son has arrived home, yet notice he doesn’t have to PROVE through action that he is sorry or his love. A verbal pure heart statement clearly declares his sincerity.

Notice the actions of the father:
1. Ran to his son
2. Threw arms around him
3. Kissed him
4. Bring the best robe
5. Put ring on his finger
6. Bring fattened calf
7. Kill the fattened calf

How would describe these items and what did the younger brother have to do to receive all of this?

2. In our human nature, would we model the father or would we want someone to prove that they are sorry?

3. Sometimes, people are not really sorry when they say they are. We should still model the father’s grace, but what does not need to continue or what may need to be different?

4. Thinking about Day 1, what was more valuable to the eldest son?

5. How is that a form of rebellion? Can you relate to that brother?

Day 4: What If?

Read of The Parable of the Prodigal Son
Luke 15:1-31 once.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A11-32

1. What if the father was bitter about giving the inheritance and how would his days to follow be?

2. What if the father was wanting repayment when the son arrived?

3. What if the father expected his son to work his debt off on his return?

4. What if it was the eldest brother did everything the father did instead and the father acted like the eldest brother?

Do you think the outcome would have been the same?

5. How critical is the role of a loving father?

6. Who is the only father who can love us flawlessly?

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Dear God,

Thank you for not wanting anyone one of us to remain lost. Help us to have a heart for the rebellious and extend grace including at a distance if necessary.

To God be the Glory

Heart Transplant Bible Study: Week 2

Worship:
Lauren Daigle: Trust in You

Memory Verse:

Psalm 34:18
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Day 1: What does it look like to be broken in spirit and yet receive God’s peace by going to him in prayer, conversation, and reading the Word.

Part 1

Part 2

Day 2: Cry Out and Pray

Read Psalm 141 three times.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+141-145&version=NIV

1. How would you describe David’s emotion in verses 1-2?

2. Describe your body position in times of unbelievable heartbreak, heartache, or hurt.

3. What kind of energy would be needed to lift up your head, chest, arms?

4. When we are experiencing brokenness, pain, and despair, what are we tempted to want to do to others or ourselves if it was self-inflicted pain?

5. Is David leaning on his own strength with this temptation?

Day 3 and 4: Read the Bible

Read Psalm 30 three times
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+30&version=NIV

1. In this chapter, there are three words that describe the situation: depths, realm of the dead, pit.

What times/situations have you been able to relate to this level of hurt, depression, and/or oppression?

2. In this chapter, there are several things that David said God did for him when he cried out: lifted me, healed me, brought me up, spared me, favored me, merciful to me (asked for this).

During our pits of despair, do you really believe that that God’s rescuing is available to you too? Explain why or why not or even if you feel it depends on the situation.

3. The Holy Spirit contradicts what is possible in the natural. It works at a supernatural level which seems impossible. Although a circumstance may not change, the ability to emotionally not be drug down into a pit forever is available to all.

This passage has the following natural reactions superseded by the supernatural intervention of the Holy Spirit.

Weeping to rejoicing
Wailing to dancing
Sack cloth to cloth of joy
Silent to singing

What attitudes or emotions are you dealing with that need a supernatural intervention, so you don’t remain under a cloud of despair, frustration, and/or worry?

Day 5: Reach out
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A9-12&version=NIV

1. In this passage Paul is talking to Timothy.

Categorize the people Paul named into the following category: (some may be used twice)
1. Deserted Paul
2. With Paul
3. On mission for Paul
4. Will be with Paul
5. Will drop everything to be there for Paul

In your own life, reflect on who has deserted you and pray to God to help you forgive that hurt and heal from that hurt.

2. Reflect on who can you reach out to for help when you need prayer or encouragement.

3. Reflect on who would drop everything to go and physically be with you?

The #2 and #3 category are very important. If you are struggling to identify people, let me encourage you to go beyond attending a church service and get involved in your church ministries and small groups.

If you are not currently attending church, then let me encourage you to take that step to grow a spiritual extended family who will be with you through thick and thin.

Prayer:
Lord I thank you for your companionship and comfort. It may not always be the way I think it will be or in my timing, but the Word says you make all things beautiful in your timing.

Let God be the Glory

Heart Transplant Bible Study: Week 1

A Heart for Jesus

Worship: King of My Heart

Memory Verse:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Day 1: Introduction
Heart a transplant Eligibility:
According to the Mayo Clinic website, people with serious heart conditions leading to heart failure may be most appropriately treated with a heart transplant if other treatment options have been considered or tried. Heart failure may be caused by many medical conditions….

Reading this I immediately identified with why I needed Jesus in my life. Jesus has always been there by my side. But where I had him was not in my heart. He was in my mind. I believed in Jesus. I believed, that going to heaven meant I needed to be an overall good person. Of course, the deeper my sin, the lower the bar of “good” fell. I believed in going to church and when I didn’t I felt that I should.

This seems pretty normal and from the outside even put together. But the truth is, I was broken. Like the serious heart condition above, I was going about life applying treatments trying to fix this brokenness that I was blind to. I tried to heal it with relationships, accomplishments, and competitiveness. But those treatments were not meant to heal my heart.

God knew this self-treatment was ineffective.

He knows this about all of us. This is why he offers us a “Heart Transplant.” It is an opportunity to let Him perform a mighty spiritual surgery on us that brings us salvation. Will you agree to the operation? It requires your consent.

Day 2: Read Acts 9:1-9 three times https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+9

In verses 9:1-9 there are three types of blindness occurring. First, Paul is blind to the fact that he is persecuting the one true God. I love the line, “breathing out murderous threats.” It really showed his zeal and passion to exterminate who he saw as the enemy. It is pure, fervent, and an unwavering passion that would later be used to save instead of kill.

The second blindness occurred after his conversion. His physical blindness required him to depend on others to get to Damascus. How humbling this must have been for him.

Third, he was blind to his future. Suddenly what he thought his tomorrow would be like was no longer going to be the case.

Reflection:

1. Do you relate to Saul’s blindness in any way?
2. Did Saul choose the day of conversion?
3. When Jesus told Saul to get up and continue to Damascus in verse 6, did he force Saul to go?
4. What words would you use to describe Saul’s decision to follow the Lord’s instructions?

When you agree to let God perform a heart transplant, He has called you to let you know something is wrong. He tells you He has the remedy that will fix it. You have to agree that you need Him in your heart. Then you have to just close your eyes and lay on the operation table and trust God with it.

Day 3: Read Acts 9:10-19 three times

The University of San Francisco Medical Center describes the initial heart transplant recovery below:

“After your surgery, you will wake up in a special sterile room to ensure that you aren’t exposed to infection. Staff and visitors must take measures to make sure that they do not bring in bacteria and infections by scrubbing their hands and wearing protective masks and gowns.
Once you are able to breathe on your own, the ventilator will be removed. However, you will continue to be hooked up to various monitors and catheters for awhile.”

Reflection:
Just like a medical heart transplant, there are “staff” and “visitors” that God brings into your life to assist you. These people will understand the protection you need. They will not be people who will entice you to go back to your old ways. These people don’t want you sick or infected anymore.

1. Who were the “staff” and “visitors” that the Lord brought into Saul’s life to help start and walk along side him in his new journey?
2. Who are people in your life that have a heart for Jesus that can walk along side you?
3. Who can you walk along side?
4. Is there anything that you are doing that could “infect” you or others?

Day 4: A Heart for Jesus

Read Acts 9:20-22 three times

In this passage we witness two things occurring as a result of Saul’s, “Jesus hating heart,” being transplanted with a heart for Jesus. First, people were shocked because it was not in line with his past. Second, we witness that with his new heart, he was becoming more powerful because he not only believed, but trusted the one true Messiah.

Below is the rest of the initial heart transplant recovery according to The University of San Francisco Medical Center.

“When you are stronger, you may be moved to a more general hospital room.
You will have to take precautions to prevent your exposure to infection for the rest of your life. Much of the rest of your hospital recovery will include education and training about taking care of yourself. This includes learning about the anti-rejection medications you will need to take, how to follow a heart-healthy low-fat diet and other changes.”

Reflection:

1. It is normal for people to be shocked at the “new” you. The “You” on the road to spiritual recovery. However, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Sometimes, we won’t forgive ourselves or forget the sin even after we have confessed it and acknowledged that Jesus died for our sins. Do you feel you or anyone else is focusing on your “old” self? Explain.
2. Where can you be trained and educated on living a life that reflects you have a heart for Jesus?
3. Why would this be important as you enter a more “general” room?
4. Does a spiritual heart transplant mean that you can continue your previous lifestyle or is it a complete lifestyle change?

Prayer:
Lord, I want to thank you for calling me. I want to thank you for coming into my heart. I became alive in Christ the night I asked you into my heart. The days before were purpose less. My heart had no reason to beat. But, you gave me a new heart. A kicking beating heart that stirs up and desires your will all the days of my remaining life.

To God be the Glory
,

Remarriage

Often times I wonder what remarriage will look like if it’s in God’s will for me. In a marriage of any type, there is a rhythm that develops over time. It is a muscle memory of how things are done. Not major things, but simple things.

1. What sitting on the couch looked like when watching TV.
2. Morning routines
3. Night time routines
4. How we greeted each other at the end of the day.
5. The way we shopped for groceries.

Sometimes these little things worry me and I wonder will these “muscle memories” pop up because I did them a certain way for so long.

Walking this evening, God gave me a peace about these worries and remarriage. These routines that I’m worried about are like religion.

Religion focuses on tasks and rituals that become muscle memory. The commitment is in the physical action and not in the emotional/spiritual commitment to God’s truths and principles.

I need to realize that if it is God’s will for me to remarry, then it will mimic a relationship with Jesus Christ. That marriage will be able to override these worries because it will not be based on routines or appearances. The commitment will not be seasonal. Instead it will be a relationship that will involve mutual commitment, respect, loyalty, and a growing emotional intimacy that will be God centered.

This model of marriage will reflect what God desires to have with us. A connection that is emotional, intimate, and active.

1 Samuel 16:1
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

Random Submission

Walking on a trail awhile back, I noticed something odd out of the corner of my eye. As I approached the object, I realized it was a pretty big snail shell sitting on top of an ant pile.

Several thoughts and questions went through my mind.

1. What kind of snail is that? I’ve never seen one that big in the suburban “wild.”
2. How did it get there?
3. Is this a really clever geocache?
4. Is it alive?

The last question was the one that really had me wondering? If it was, then it was in a pretty bad situation. Any attempt to escape the mound would result in a stirring of ants that would eventually flood out and eat the snail.

Instantly, I could relate.

Every once in awhile, we find ourselves in these random yet scary and uncertain situations. We haven’t planned for them and we can’t plan our way out of them.

So what do we do? Submit

The snail shell is a great illustration of that. It literally looks like it is kneeling. Submitting acknowledges that we are literally facing (face to the ground) a peculiar situation. However we are choosing to be in a position in which a spiritual shell of protection can be placed on us.

The snail shell has three protective layers:
1. Periostracum-Outer protective layer
2. Ostracum-Central layer
3. Inner smooth layer

Our spiritual submission shell has three protective layers as well.
1. Father
2.Son
3. Holy Spirit

Choose submission over trying to control a situation you can’t get yourself out of.

Psalm 145:14
The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.

To God be the Glory

Esther Everyday Moment

What would I be without you Lord?

Everything is beautiful in your presence                     The Everyday.                                                             Even the Mundane.                                                Is beauty in your presence.

Sitting still in silence,

You remind me.                                                     Surround me.                                                         Protect me.

What would I be without you Lord?

Everything is beautiful in your presence.

In the MIdST

This morning I was looking back in my journal to previous entries. Lately, I have been rolling over in my mind how awkward this holding pattern in my life is.

It’s interesting how engrained planning out our life is.
Be a good person.
Make good grades.
Go to college, so you can get a good job.
Do good work, so you can buy a nice house.
Be a good wife, so you can have a good marriage.

Follow these steps and it will all be good.

Although, these are all good things and it is good to have a plan, the reality is so different when God has a different plan for you.

I think plans should have this disclaimer: Be flexible and attentive to God’s guidance. Walk out that plan, but be ready to step off the beaten path when he calls you. Don’t get so fixated on this plan that you aren’t allowing God to take you where he really wants you. Have your Bible handy, this is a hike.

For me being in the MIdST means I’m out in the water in a boat. I can see the shoreline, the people, the buildings lined up along the coast, and just where I’m suppose to dock.

And then, suddenly, a mist has formed and all that I was seeing is now hidden from me. Why? Because I’m so focused on the land I’m trying to reach, that I take my eyes off of God. I’m rowing really hard to get to that dock that I think I’m suppose to get to  and now I can’t even see it or how to get there.
What I’m needing to do is put my back towards land, relax, and be excited about being in the presence of God as he rows me to wherever he wants me. He has a GREAT plan and wants to surprise me.

image
Let God row the boat. 

Luke 5:4-6

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

To God be the Glory

 

My Testimony

I’ve always felt that I didn’t have a clear testimony. I’ve always thought a testimony had to be a sudden miracle or personal transformation.

Looking at my Bibles that I have had since becoming a follower of Christ, they tell a different story.

My first one on the left is used, but when I look inside, the pages reveal the hunger and curiosity I had when my personal relationship began with Jesus Christ. Inside was this burning fire to know HIM more, learn his wisdom, and know how I should be shaping my life.

image

It taught me how to STAND on God’s truth and conformed my mind.

The second one has definitely been through the fire and more. You can see from the outside and inside the scars, broken dreams, and uncertainties I had taken to Him. This Bible has seen many things and has been what I had clung to in order to endure the fire.

image

It taught me how to KNEEL and hold tight to the only One that could save me.

The last one is my newest one. I didn’t want a new one. It was hard to let go and start over when I had been through so much with the other Bible. But, it had been damaged and I needed one. Picking it, required much thought. I had to like the cover and what was inside. It had to “calI” me too. The cover shows its newness, but the inside shows where I left off.

image

This one I can tell is going to teach me to walk in faith, WALK out my calling, and SPREAD the fire  

(Side note: I’m writing and laughing to myself because it’s like I’m writing about a relationship with a guy. Which I guess is a good thing when Jesus is my guy and the Bible is how he talks to me.)

So, looking at these three Bibles side by side, I realize I do have a testimony over time. The enemy has tried to crush my heart, silence my spirit, and steal my calling. But, I have come out with a heart still able to love, a spirit still full of joy, and a calling being confirmed.

image

I can testify….
Let God be the Glory

Daniel 3:24-25 NIV
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”
They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

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