Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

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Does it ever seem that the circumstances you face are so complicated that there is no way out? No matter which way you turn, you only see trouble.  In those moments, we have a tendency to focus on the problem rather than God and His power to conquer any obstacle.  When problems arise, we begin to question.  What are we going to do?  How are we going to overcome this?  In Exodus 14 while escaping the oppression of the Egyptians, the Israelites began to question why they were brought to the desert, what Moses had done by leading them out of Egypt, and why they even agreed to follow him.

Exodus 14:13-14 says, Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.   They were focused on the obstacles, and their thoughts and actions were controlled by fear.  How often do we find ourselves in that same situation?  Instead of focusing on the problem, who to blame, and how we can fix it, we must turn our focus to God.

As stated above in Exodus 14, sometimes we must calm our fears, be still, pray, and trust God to make a way in His perfect time.  Other times though He may tell us to “get moving”.  Exodus 14:15 says, then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  In other words, “I’m opening the door, now you need to follow my instructions and just move on through it”.

Psalm 77:16 says, When the Red Sea saw you, O God, its waters looked and trembled!  The sea trembled at the power of God; there is no obstacle which is greater than His power!  Psalm 77:19 goes on to say, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters – a pathway no one knew was there!”  God was able to part the Red Sea leaving a dry path for the Israelites to cross escaping from the Egyptians, and He still has the power today to open doors for us that we may not even know are an option.

I’m sure it was terrifying for the Israelites to step out onto that ocean floor with an enormous wall of water on either side!  The door that God opens for us may be scary, but if we’ll just trust Him and move on through it, we will see the power of His deliverance.

When it seems as though the enemy is winning, God is still in control and knows exactly what to do. So instead of focusing on the problem and how we can fix it, we must not let fear control our actions.  We must choose to trust God and wait patiently for Him to make a way.  We must obey and move on through when He says it’s time.  Even when our problem seems as big as the Red Sea with no apparent solution, God has the power to make a way!

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This is something that has been on my mind lately, so I thought I would share it again.

Yesterday I hesitantly went with my daughter for her first visit to the chiropractor due to back pain.  I sat in the corner of the room preferring to be in the waiting room or shopping, but because she wanted me there, I went.  I recoiled as I watched him apply pressure, twist, and jerk her body.  Joints popped and her body twisted abnormally as the chiropractor made adjustments.  He assured me it looked much worse than it felt, but I don’t think he will ever be seeing me again!  My daughter however was astonished at the difference it made in the way she felt.  The adjustment appeared to be uncomfortable to say the least, but the results were worth it to her.

Often we must go through uncomfortable adjustments in life to get everything lined up just as God desires it to be. Those adjustments often come in the form of change.    I don’t like change, so when it is forced upon me, my life feels twisted and uncomfortable.  Changes in job duties, expectations, schedules, health issues, finances, leadership, and on and on but there is one thing we can count on that never changes.  In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (KJV)  Regardless of the changes making our lives uncomfortable, we can be comforted in know that God is the one thing that will never change.

Change is inevitable, so it is beneficial for us to have a godly approach.  Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)   When change is causing knots of frustration, we may need a spiritual adjustment.  We must simply go to him and receive the rest that only He can provide.

When life adjustments happen we can trust that God is the same today as He was yesterday, and He will remain the same tomorrow and forever.  Pressures of life may cause us to recoil and wonder how we will survive. It may be tempting to run away from the change, but doing so does not allow God to get things in proper alignment.  Instead we should go to Him for rest and trust Him as he gives us a spiritual adjustment.  The blessings will be worth it all!

Inspirational Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses (Photo credit: Isolino)

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Wait for the Joy

Weird School Bus

Weird School Bus (Photo credit: KB35)

A three-year old child just starting school was expected to ride the bus across campus to the building where her mother worked. Many children ride buses every day, but this was something totally foreign to her and caused much anxiety. As students were loading the bus, she walked right up to the door and then ran away screaming.

Finally her teacher took her by the hand and stepped onto the bus with her. She rode the bus to her destination without fear because the teacher she trusted walked with her through the situation that caused so much anxiety. When she stepped off the bus to meet her mother, she ran screaming with joy and glowing with excitement about what had been accomplished all because her loving teacher led her through it.

We often face frightening circumstances which leave us wanting to run the other direction to avoid the situation. Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as running away from the bus. Disappointment, grief, evil, and pain can strike at any time and can often cause us to feel hopeless because things are completely out of our control. There are no words to say, no instant fix, nothing left but to trust God.

Job was a man of integrity who feared God and avoided evil, but he still suffered many hardships. He lost his flocks, servants, children, and even his health. Things were so bad that his wife encouraged Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Yet he remained faithful and continued to praise God. To his wife he replied, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all of this, Job did not sin in what he said (Job 2:10).

Even though Job could not understand why God would allow these events in his life, he was confident that God would take care of him. However, there were times that he felt frustrated just as we sometimes do. He even complained and questioned God, but he never blamed God.

Job never got answers to his questions, but he became content with the understanding that through it all God had a plan. Finally, in Job 42:2-3, Job says, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. And I was talking about things I did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.” During those moments in life when we don’t understand and want to just run away from the pain, grief, disappointment, and evil in the world, strive to continue praising God, remain faithful, and wait for the joy to come. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, “We don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

Whatever has you frozen in fear or running the other direction to escape, may be the very thing that God is waiting to take your hand and guide you through. If you will just trust Him, He will be with you for the duration of the ride, sitting right beside you, and getting you safely to the destination He has planned for you.

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Photo credits: flickr.com

 

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As each of four women stepped into my car, I found myself amazed by their compassion. Each woman was facing significant trials in her own life, yet making the time to pray with a friend facing the nightmare of possibly losing her baby.  All of these women from different backgrounds, experiencing a variety of trials, made the time to support another friend in need.

The first was dealing with painful health issues that just a few days before led to hospitalization.  The second young lady was struggling to be strong as a loved one battles cancer.  The third was stressed by the uncertainty of her job as fellow employees were being laid off due to financial insecurities of the business.  The last was heartbroken after the grandmother who raised her was admitted to a nursing home.

As we drove to a nearby town, I shared my surprise that they were able to make the time for this last-minute trip considering each of their circumstances.  They quickly reminded me of the trials in my own life at the moment.   We discussed each of our situations, shared concerns and fears, and encouraged one another.  We discovered that although our trials were very different, there was one key element in each.  The trials had caused each us to rely more on God.  Each situation is beyond our control, and all we can do is trust God’s will for our lives.  We were even able to laugh at how the same scripture keeps popping up in everything we read.  Isn’t it amazing that God used one verse to encourage a car full of crying, giggling women?  The scripture we came across for weeks prior to and following this night was Proverbs 3:5 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

This trip was not about the women in my car, yet God used it to provide encouragement for each one.  Finally we reached our destination and as a group we prayed for our friend and her unborn baby with our hands on his mother’s stomach.  Specifically we prayed that the heart beat would be so strong that the doctor would be amazed by God’s power.  After a week of praying for this unborn child, we received the following message:

Praise The Lord!!! We got our MIRACLE. The baby’s heart rate has gone up to 174! The doctor has no explanation for it, but I do. It’s an answer to many many prayers!!!

I would like to tell you that the situation of every woman in my car that night has been resolved, but I can’t.   What I can say is that God is carrying each of us and our trials have helped us to rely on His strength rather than our own.  Isaiah 41:10 reminds us “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Whatever you are going through, you can trust that God loves you and is right there with you through the darkest times. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” 

Even though things may not happen as quickly or exactly the way you desire, trust that God has everything under control and has a plan specifically for you.  Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  Trust God, call out to Him, seek His will for your life, ask friends to pray, and finally put your hope in Him.

The Solid Rock by Edward Mote

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

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Overwhelmed?

Do you ever have moments when it seems as if your whole life has been turned upside down and you just don’t know if you can handle any more?  Sometimes life is overwhelming.

I recently found a garden snake in our elementary building. Considering that our students would be returning on Monday, I knew the snake had to be expelled from our school.  What seemed to be a fairly simple task became overwhelming when this harmless snake began trying to defend himself.  Although he was not venomous, he did a good job of convincing me that he wasn’t leaving without a fight.   I became overwhelmed by this aggressive little critter that repeatedly sprang at me the full length of his body.  I knew he wouldn’t hurt me, yet I just wasn’t sure I could even try anymore, so I finally called for help.  My husband came, made a quick capture, and calmed my racing heart.

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by the simple things in life which can be resolved easily, but often we are faced with moments which turn into days, months, or even years of being overwhelmed. Job demands, health issues, rebellious children, strained relationships, addictions, financial restraints, and so many other circumstances that may leave us feeling defeated.  Big or small, short-term or long-term, life is full of situations that stretch us emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

There are many examples in the Bible of people who were overwhelmed with their circumstances, from Martha who fretted over preparing a meal for Jesus to King David who feared for his life. So what can we do when life seems turned upside down for the moment, days, weeks, or even months and it feels like we just can’t handle any more?

Talk – We weren’t made to survive life alone.  After all, God made Eve because He saw that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone.  Find someone who you trust that has been through a similar experience.  Sometimes just talking helps us feel better.  Most importantly, talk to God.  James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering?  Then let him pray.”  In Psalms 61:2 David said, “I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed.”  God hears when we cry out to Him.  He can provide shelter, peace, and comfort.

Trust – Abraham was surely overwhelmed in Genesis 22:1-14 when his faith was tested, yet he trusted God.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength.” We may not understand why situations happen in our life, but we can trust God to give us strength to endure.

Tackle It – In Genesis 6:13-22, God called Noah to build an ark so large that God had to close the door.  What an overwhelming job he had!  He didn’t just sit back and hope God would take care of it for him.  Noah jumped in and tackled the task as God led.  Ephesians 6:10 reminds us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  You can’t do it on your own, but He will give you the power to get through those overwhelming situations.

Time – Joseph struggled for thirteen years before seeing God’s plan fulfilled.  As a child Joseph had a dream that he would become a ruler.  His brothers sold him into slavery, then he went to prison for a crime he did not commit.  Eventually, he became the most influential person in the world. (Genesis 37-41)  It took a lot of time, but Joseph did not give up and continued to be faithful.  We only see the current circumstances, but God sees our future.  Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”  Regardless of how long we are overwhelmed God will be there with us.

When life is overwhelming, and you feel like you just can’t take any more, remember to TALK to Him, TRUST Him, TACKLE IT with His strength, and allow TIME for God to work.  He loves you, and will see you through those moments when life seems turned upside down whether for the moment, days, weeks, months, or even years.

Related Articles:  Its OK Not to be OK (Encouragement for Everyday)

 

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Yesterday I hesitantly went with my daughter for her first visit to the chiropractor due to back pain.  I sat in the corner of the room preferring to be in the waiting room or shopping, but because she wanted me there, I went.  I recoiled as I watched him apply pressure, twist, and jerk her body.  Joints popped and her body twisted abnormally as the chiropractor made adjustments.  He assured me it looked much worse than it felt, but I don’t think he will ever be seeing me again!  My daughter however was astonished at the difference it made in the way she felt.  The adjustment appeared to be uncomfortable to say the least, but the results were worth it to her.

Often we must go through uncomfortable adjustments in life to get everything lined up just as God desires it to be. Those adjustments often come in the form of change.    I don’t like change, so when it is forced upon me, my life feels twisted and uncomfortable.  Changes in job duties, expectations, schedules, health issues, finances, leadership, and on and on but there is one thing we can count on that never changes.  In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (KJV)  Regardless of the changes making our lives uncomfortable, we can be comforted in know that God is the one thing that will never change.

Change is inevitable, so it is beneficial for us to have a godly approach.  Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV)   When change is causing knots of frustration, we may need a spiritual adjustment.  We must simply go to him and receive the rest that only He can provide.

When life adjustments happen we can trust that God is the same today as He was yesterday, and He will remain the same tomorrow and forever.  Pressures of life may cause us to recoil and wonder how we will survive. It may be tempting to run away from the change, but doing so does not allow God to get things in proper alignment.  Instead we should go to Him for rest and trust Him as he gives us a spiritual adjustment.  The blessings will be worth it all!

Inspirational Bible Verses

Inspirational Bible Verses (Photo credit: Isolino)

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The Lord goes before youThe journey of life is often long and difficult.  There are many obstacles in our way that cause discouragement, grumbling, and questions. Our circumstances may leave us feeling like the Israelites as God led them to the promised land.  God had promised something better than the life they were leaving, but they faced many struggles along the way.

Exodus 13:17 says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” Why not? The Israelites were finally free from slavery, and God was leading them to the Promised Land.  Why would He make them go the long way?  As we read on we see that travelling the  shortest route would result in being attacked by the Philistine army.  God knew if they faced a battle, they might turn and head back to Egypt. They simply were not ready. So He protected them from an immediate battle to prevent the Israelites from becoming discouraged and giving up. Ultimately, He knew what was best for them.

Eventually Pharaoh decided he had made a mistake and gathered his army to capture and bring home the Israelites. As they approached the Israelite camp to force them all to go back to Egypt, the people began to panic and cried out to God for help.  When trouble appears in our life, we often respond in the same way.  We panic and cry out to God to help us get through it.  Then they turned on Moses, complaining about his leadership, and wishing they had never left Egypt.  They feared the worst thinking they would surely die there in the desert.  They didn’t even wait for God to answer their cries for help before they began to fear the worst.  Satan uses fear to distract us from trusting God, and we begin to question why He is taking us down this path in life. In Exodus 14:13, Moses says, “Don’t be afraid be brave and you will see the Lord today.”  Moses had faith that God would be with them.

Then in Exodus 14:14, Moses says, “The Lord himself will fight for you.  You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense.”  Hmm…so if we encounter difficulty while travelling the path God planned, He will fight the battles for us!  He doesn’t even need our assistance or advice.  As long as it’s His plan for our lives, He will ensure that things don’t go awry.  There may be difficulties along the way, but ultimately God will protect us every step and nothing will happen that is out of His control.  What a comfort to know that whatever battles come our way, God has it under control!  All we need to do is be still and allow him to work.

At this point the Israelites appeared to be trapped between the wilderness and the sea as the Egyptians approached.  Then as God instructed, Moses held his staff over the water, and a pathway opened across the sea.  The Israelites walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground as water stood like a giant wall on both sides.  The waters closed up behind them and the Egyptians, their chariots, and horsemen were all swept into the sea. God had rescued them from what appeared to be an impossible situation.  There seemed to be no way to survive, but God not only protected them but also removed the threat completely!

Exodus 14:31 says, “And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”  They saw the lengths that God would go through on their behalf to achieve His will in their lives. They began to sing the following praises:  “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.”  (Exodus 15:2-3)

Our lives are like the Israelites journey to the promised land.  God has promised something better (heaven), but it’s often a long journey, and there are many difficulties along the way.  Difficult times help us to learn to trust Him, and our faith and relationship with Him will grow stronger.  Although we may grumble and get discouraged going through it, we can trust that He is with us, He has a plan, He will fight for us, and in the end we will see His power.

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God’s Unfailing Love

Psalms 13:1-6

1 O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?

2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

3 Turn and answer me, O LORD my God! Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die.

4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

6 I will sing to the LORD because he has been so good to me.

Do you ever feel as though God has forgotten you?  Does it seem that He looks the other way as your life crumbles around you?  You’ve tried so hard to do the right things, yet your life is full of anguish. David was struggling with feeling deserted by God, sadness in his heart, and attacks of enemies. Yet he ends this Psalm with praise and thanksgiving for God’s goodness.  From the desperation in verses 1-4 to the shift of attitude in verse six, David’s situation did not change, but his perspective did.  Instead of focusing on the problem, he has turned his attention to God’s love and other times God rescued him.  His honesty displays a truth that sometimes we feel defeated even to the point of depression.

Faith comes easy when things are going well, but the true test of our faith is determined by the trials that seem to tear us limb from limb. In those moments, when it seems there is no hope, remember these tips:

1.  God loves you and His compassion never fails. Remind yourself of this truth daily, or hourly if needed.

2. Reflect on God’s deliverance in the past.  From what situations has he delivered you previously?

3.  Talk to God.  Pray often and be honest about your feelings and questions.

4.  Talk to a trusted, christian friend or pastor. You don’t have to suffer alone.

David reminds us in this Psalm that even when we struggle through the sorrows that come in life there is one thing of which we can be sure.  God’s love! It never fails.  He has rescued you in the past and will rescue you again.  Keep singing and praising His name in the midst of your trouble.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

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Wait for the Lord

With my own children and even the students in my classroom, I’ve realized that children often interpret the answer “maybe” to mean “yes”.  They don’t consider the possibility that “maybe” could result in a negative answer. They often start anticipating the event or object for which they have asked even though they haven’t actually had that request confirmed.

Unlike children who assume “maybe” means “yes”, Christians usually interpret God’s “wait” answer to mean “no”. When things don’t happen as quickly as we would like, we get antsy and decide to take matters into our own hands. Such is the case with Sarah, the wife of Abraham. She had waited many years for a child, and finally assumed that God’s answer was “no”.  Afterall, she was well beyond child-bearing years. Like so many of us, Sarah devised a plan to create the family she wanted so badly. She convinced Abraham that they could have children through her maidservant, Hagar.  Things did not go as smoothly as she hoped, and Hagar began to despise Sarah.  The family she desired did not happen as Sarah had planned, and the situation actually lead to much turmoil for all.

Like Sarah, we have a tendency to take matters into our own hands when we don’t get answers as quickly as we would like.  What Sarah perceived as a “no” from God was actually a “wait” answer.  Later, God announced to Abraham that he would finally have a son by Sarah.  Genesis 17:17 says, “Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?'” They were old and had waited so long that it was difficult to believe. Sarah also laughed when she heard the news and questioned how this could happen when her body was old and worn out.  God responded in Genesis 18:14 with, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”  God doesn’t need our help! Regardless of how complicated things may seem, nothing is impossible for Him!

Genesis 21:2 says, “Sarah became pregnant, and she gave a son to Abraham in his old age.  It all happened at the time God said it would”.  Regardless of their age, Sarah gave birth to Isaac at the age of ninety. She had waited a long time, but what she perceived as impossible happened just as God had promised. It’s hard to be patient and understand when we aren’t getting the answers we want, but we must remember that God loves us and wants the best for us.  What we think we need or want isn’t always the best thing for us, and we may get a definite “no” answer.  But in some cases we just have to wait for the right time.  God has his own timeline, and He knows the perfect answer to every prayer as well as the perfect timing for those answers to be granted.

Are you waiting for God to answer your prayers?  Don’t give up, start to doubt, or take matters into your own hands.  Remember Sarah and the blessing she received at the exact  time God intended.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalms 27:14

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SHARE YOUR HOPE

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalms 78:4

Karen’s husband had made some decisions in his life that had caused a lot of pain and struggle in their marriage. After a few years, God delivered him from the hold that Satan had on his life. Karen and her husband were both ashamed of the turn their life had taken and did their best to keep it secret.

One day, God brought a family into their lives, which was experiencing the same trial they had. God impressed upon Karen’s heart to share how God had given her strength to stand by her husband and support him through his addictions. She was unaware, but her husband felt the same conviction and had also shared what God had done in his life. Their courage and obedience gave someone else hope at a time when it was needed most.

It is important that we share with others how God has helped us through trials. Oftentimes, it is very difficult to share the deepest pain and frustration of our lives, but it is necessary “so each generation can set its hope anew on God” (Psalms 78:7).

Simply sharing our knowledge with someone having struggles similar to what we have been through will encourage them. We all have a tendency to feel that we are the only one who has ever experienced our current problem, and it is true that no one else has experienced exactly what another has. However, we do often share similar circumstances. Just knowing that someone else has been there, survived, and grew closer to God through it can renew our hope and even our faith in God. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint”. When hope is renewed, strength and courage will follow.

Without people sharing what God has done in their lives, others may not know what God can and will accomplish. They may not know about the hope only He can offer.

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