Day 153 Bible Reading Plan

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A Soul's Cost

A Soul’s Cost Cannot Be Measured

In a world where abortions terminate unwanted lives, the value of life has been minimized. But there is no price that could define human life. If we gain the whole world and lose our soul, we have paid the highest eternal price for temporary gain. A soul’s cost cannot be measured, but it can be treasured.

We are in the book of Luke 9-11 today. Luke the physician shares the commissioning of the 12 disciples. Reading from Luke 9:1-6, CSB translation, it says:

“Summoning the Twelve, he gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. 2 Then he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 “Take nothing for the road,” he told them, “no staff, no traveling bag, no bread, no money; and don’t take an extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. 5 If they do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 So they went out and traveled from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing everywhere.”

Friends, do you realize that you have power and authority? We can be so beat up by this world and the enemy of our souls that we forfeit what is ours in Christ. Perhaps we have expectations of what we think this walk with God is supposed to look like. But Jesus said they were to take nothing – no food and no money and that there was the potential for suffering and rejection. The disciples were to depend on God. And this is the challenge we have—to depend on God, not self, or anything in this world.

Carry Our Cross

Like the disciples, we are to carry our own cross. Suffering is not what we anticipated. But there is a secret in the midst of suffering. We learn that gaining the world is not a blessing. But denying ourselves helps us to keep a godly perspective. It feels opposite or counter-intuitive because we are accustomed to responding to the flesh instead of the Spirit. We were not promised a life of ease, but we were promised that He would be with us.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 9:25-27 (NLT)

“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

A Soul’s Cost is eternal

The world system all around us is a distraction trying to keep us from God. We can pursue worldly gain, but it will not satisfy and it is only temporary. In Luke 10 Jesus sent a number of disciples ahead of him on his journey to Jerusalem. 72 of them. Jesus teaches His disciples how to follow God. He teaches them about serving and caring for others: The Parable of the Good Samaritan. He teaches them about being like Mary and seeking God. In Luke 11 Jesus teaches them the LORD’ prayer and teaches them to ask, seek and pray. He teaches them to not be divided, but to live out what they say they believe.

Luke 11:28 sums up this teaching: “He said, ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.'”

But Christ did more than teach His followers. He modeled it perfectly. Jesus exposed the hypocrites, the Pharisees who also taught, but did not model the truths of God’s word. When we walk the talk and live according to God’s word, we find more joy than any worldly gain.

Application:

  • A soul is too high a cost to pay.
  • We have the same challenge as the disciples—to depend on God, not self, or anything in this world.
  • Following Christ means we will have to bear our own cross.
  • When we hear the word of God and keep it, we lose the world and gain all of eternity.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #153: Luke 9-11

Scripture of the Day: Luke 9:25-27

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Luke.9

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Day 152 Bible Reading Plan

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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Fear God and fear nothing. Do not fear God and fear everything. God has given us wisdom in His word and He promises to give wisdom to all who ask, without finding fault (James 1:5).

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #152: Proverbs 1

Scripture of the Day: Proverbs 1:2-4

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Prov.1

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Day 151 Bible Reading Plan

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God is for us!

God Is For Us—Who Can Be Against Us?

Well, man can. But we don’t have to justify ourselves before man—God has already justified us completely. And when what others say about us isn’t true, we don’t have to defend ourselves because God is our Defender and our rescue.

We are in the book of Psalms 59-61 and David is crying out for rescue from his enemies and from those who practice sin.

Psalms 59:1-4 says, “Rescue me from my enemies, my God; protect me from those who rise up against me. 2 Rescue me from evildoers and save me from men of bloodshed. 3 Because look, Lord, they set an ambush for me. Powerful men attack me, but not because of any sin or rebellion of mine. For no fault of mine, they run and take up a position. Awake to help me and take notice.”

When we are thrown underneath the bus, God is for us!

David recognizes he needs to be rescued. Surely when we have enemies, it sends us to God. Having enemies when we have not done anything wrong is the worst. That struggle has caused me so much angst in the past. We wish people could just know the truth as we were thrown underneath the bus and slandered. But the truth is that even though what they say about us might not be true, something else is true about us.

God is our Stronghold.

In humility, we understand that we make mistakes and we are not perfect. But the good news is that we don’t have to justify ourselves before man. God has already justified us. But we will have to lay down our desire for their acceptance, which can sometimes be an idol. Instead of letting men be a stronghold of strife to us, we can let God be a stronghold of refuge for us.

As we place our enemies in His hands, we choose God’s acceptance and justification and let go of the perpetual need to defend ourselves. We can let out a big sigh, right? We can stay on the cycle of trying to please man or we can skip the drama and run to God. When our enemies rise against us, our God is our refuge and our Defender.

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 59:9-10

9 You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. 10 In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.

David had learned to rely on God’s strength. He had learned to go to God for His rescue, not to fickle man. David asked God to rescue and restore him, not man.

Psalm 60:11, “Give us aid against the foe, for human help is worthless.”

We can go through so much hardship because we depend on man. Or we can forgive and give man grace when he is fallible and depend on God. Do we wait for God’s rescue? Friends, we have a place we can go to when life gets to be too much. We can take a prescription from David.

Psalm 61:1-3, “God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer. 2 I call to you from the ends of the earth when my heart is without strength. Lead me to a rock that is high above me, 3 for you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.”

  • Call out to God.
  • Pray to Him.
  • Carry our burdens to God.

Application:

  • We don’t have to justify ourselves before man.
  • God has already justified us completely.
  • Nothing else on this earth can be our rescue.
  • Only God can rescue us for eternity.
  • Trusting in God never leads to disappointment.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #151: Psalms 59-61

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 59:9-10

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ps.59

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Day 150 Bible Reading Plan

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Are you a Watchman?

If so, what are you on the watch for? We are starting a new book today, the book of Ezekiel 1-6. Ezekiel was a prophet who was called to be a Watchman for God, to warn God’s people of their sin and its consequences.

Whenever we start a new book, I like to give a brief history and overview of the book. Below is from the Easy English Bible Commentary.

Commentary

“After the death of King Solomon, the Israelite nation became divided. 10 of the 12 tribes set up a separate country with their own kings. These 10 northern tribes turned away from the Lord their God. After several centuries, God sent the nation called Assyria to fight against them. In the year 722 BC the 10 tribes went into exile in Assyria.

At that time, God did not remove the two southern tribes. These two tribes formed the nation called Judah. But during the next 100 years, the people in Judah became very evil. They became as bad as the 10 tribes, or even worse.

Ezekiel does refer to Judah as Israelites. During Ezekiel’s life, Judah was all that remained of the original nation called Israel. But some of the prophecies in the book are for all the Israelites.

God Sends a Warning

The agreement that God made with Israel warned the people. It said that the people must obey God. If they did not obey, God would send them into exile among the nations. This happened to the 10 tribes. It would soon happen to the people who lived in Judah.

Ezekiel the prophet

All that we know about Ezekiel is in this book. His name means ‘God gives strength.’ Ezekiel was born in the year 627 BC. He was a priest, the son of Buzi the priest. He belonged to the family of Zadok, who was a famous priest. Ezekiel went into exile at the same time as King Jehoiachin in the year 597 BC. Ezekiel lived with other *exiles at the river called Chebar. His home was in Tel-Abib town. His wife died in the 9th year of his exile.

Ezekiel lived at the same time as Jeremiah the prophet. But Ezekiel does not mention Jeremiah. Jeremiah was still in Judah while Ezekiel was with the exiles.

The Book of Ezekiel

Ezekiel is divided into four parts. The first part of the book (chapters 1-24) deals with the failure of God’s people. Ezekiel tells how God will punish them. He tells the exiles that God will destroy Jerusalem. When this had happened, he changes his message. Then he tells about the punishment of the nations (chapters 25-32). Chapters 33-39 look forward to the future. These chapters describe the return of the people from Israel to their country. The last part of the book (chapters 40-48) describes the future temple. And the tribes of Israel will divide the country in a new way.”

The shape of the book of Ezekiel

Part OneThe Sin of Judah and the Judgement of God1:1-24:27
Part TwoPunishment of the Nations25:1-33:20
Part ThreeGod will bring *Israel back to their Country33:21-39:29
Part FourThe Future *Temple and *Sacrifices40:1-48:35

Are You a Watchman Who Lives Out Your Message?

God intended Ezekiel to give a message to Israel by means of the experiences in his life – Ezekiel 24:24. This aspect of Ezekiel’s ministry has rung true in my own life, as well. How can I tell others if I have not first lived out what I am telling?

And all of the experiences I go through serve a purpose—to comfort others with the comfort I have received from God. Ezekiel went through some pretty hard things. God had him to speak to God’s people through symbolism from those hard things.

The book of Ezekiel opens up with Ezekiel in exile with God’s people and God gives Ezekiel a vision in chapter one. This vision to me is reminiscent of some of the visions the Apostle John had in the book of Revelation. It feels like a sci-fi thriller.

“The vision of the glory of God was an incredible experience for Ezekiel. He felt the power of God and saw the special angels called cherubim. He saw God’s throne and an impression of God’s *glory. And then God spoke to Ezekiel.” (Easy English Bible Commentary).

Are You a Watchman Who is Called?

Ezekiel’s calling is similar to Jeremiah’s. Speaking to a stiff-necked, rebellious people. We see this calling in Ezekiel 2:3

” 3 Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. 4 They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ 5 And whether they listen or refuse to listen—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.”

I think in our culture we picture our calling as being about us. Maybe we see it like a Norman Rockwell image. But if you look at Jeremiah and Ezekiel, their callings were hard. They were not received well by the people they were trying to reach.

Are you a Watchman Who Serves Even When it is Hard?

It is easy to serve when all is well. But are we willing to serve when people are resistant to the Gospel? What would you think if God called you to do the things Ezekiel had to do?

  • In chapter 3 he ate a scroll
  • Then in chapter 4, Ezekiel had to lie on his left side with cords on him so he could not move for 390 days for the iniquity of God’s people, then another 390 days on the right side, cooking his food over human excrement, but God let him cook it over cow dung.
  • And in Chapter 5, Ezekiel shaved his head and beard, burned some of it and slashed some of it with a sword, and had some off his hair on his robe.

These dramatic things that Ezekiel did were because the sins of God’s people were horrific. Sin separates God’s people from Himself and the deplorable acts of people who knew better deserved a radical response.

God’s Judgment

Ezekiel 6:11-14 describes God’s judgment:

“11 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Clap your hands in horror, and stamp your feet. Cry out because of all the detestable sins the people of Israel have committed. Now they are going to die from war and famine and disease. 12 Disease will strike down those who are far away in exile. War will destroy those who are nearby. And anyone who survives will be killed by famine. So at last I will spend my fury on them.

13 They will know that I am the Lord when their dead lie scattered among their idols and altars on every hill and mountain and under every green tree and every great shade tree—the places where they offered sacrifices to their idols. 14 I will crush them and make their cities desolate from the wilderness in the south to Riblah in the north. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

When the Task Seems Impossible

Ezekiel was called to be the watchman on a post that seemed impossible. But what is impossible with man is possible with God. We just have to prove faithful and let God complete the work.

Scripture of the Day: Ezekiel 3:17-19

17 “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. 18 If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.”

What is a Watchman?

“Watchmen in the Bible were guards responsible for protecting towns and military installations from surprise enemy attacks and other potential dangers. Ancient Israelite cities often stationed watchmen on high walls or in watchtowers. Their job was to keep watch and warn the townspeople of impending threats.

The Hebrew word translated “watchman” means “one who looks out,” “one who spies,” or “one who watches.” Sometimes watchmen were scouts who looked out for approaching friends as well as enemies.” (Easy English Bible Commentary).

Are you a Watchman for God?

The Bible also refers to watchmen in a spiritual sense. God appointed prophets as spiritual watchmen over the souls of His people: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 33:7; also Hosea 9:8).

“A prophets’ job as watchmen was to urge God’s people to live faithfully and warn them of the perils involved in falling away from the Lord and doing evil. As watchmen, the prophets were also called to warn wicked people of the judgment and destruction that would come their way unless they turned from their evil ways.” (Easy English Bible Commentary).

Application:

  • Are you being a watchman? Who does God have you to watch over?
  • When we are called by God, it will not be easy, but He will enable us.

Sometimes God calls us to do things we don’t understand. God went through radical measures to reach us—will we be used to reach others, too?

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Day 149 Bible Reading Plan

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God is our support

God is our support.

He is enough. And when we struggle, He wants to be our support for every need we have. But we need to see our need in order to be saved.

We are finishing the book of 2 Samuel today, 21-24.

God is our support in times of famine.

2 Samuel 21:1 opens up with the land in famine for three years.”During David’s reign there was a famine for three successive years, so David inquired of the Lord. The Lord answered, “It is due to Saul and to his bloody family, because he killed the Gibeonites.”

David’s heart is sensitive to God. He does not complain about the hard time or accuse God. He knows God better than that and goes to God. This is such a simple yet profound principle that if we would apply it in our lives we would have more peace and joy. Simply, Go to God in hard times.

God is our support in times of trouble.

But we can tend to go away from God because we get offended that the LORD allowed hardship in. We don’t understand His heart. But David wants to know if there is anything he or God’s people have done wrong that brought on the hardship. What humility and integrity. Oaths are a big part of what we see in chapter 21. The Israelites made an oath to the Gibeonites. David made an oath to Jonathan.

According to one commentary, “There are about 30 biblical references to vows, most of which are from the Old Testament. The books of Leviticus and Numbers have several references to vows in relation to offerings and sacrifices. There were dire consequences for the Israelites who broke vows, especially vows to God.” (www.gotquestions.org).

God is our support even when we are faithless.

Be careful what you promise to God. God will hold you to it. And in 2 Samuel 21 David discovers that the Israelites had not kept a vow. The Gibeonites had been mistreated – decimated, really, by Saul.

This is from one commentary: “Joshua chapter 9 records the story about the Gibeonites. Joshua promised that they could live safely in Israel. But King Saul had not kept that promise. The Bible does not record what Saul had done. But the Lord knew about Saul’s cruel actions. The people called Amorites lived in Canaan (Joshua 12:1-3). This was the name of the country of Israel before the Israelites arrived. Gibeon was near Saul’s city, called Gibeah.” (Easy English Bible Commentary).

Sometimes we become aware of sin in our camp. And the consequences we are bearing from something in the past make us realize there is something wrong. Even if the consequences still remain, if we will go to God and examine ourselves and our tribe for hidden sin, sometimes we will find a reason why God’s blessing has been withheld from us and we can do something about it.

God is our support even when we sin.

When there was the discovery of sin being in our family, it was devastating and shock and shame can keep you broken from it all. But going to God is our healing. There God meets us and reveals what the sin did to us. We can overcome.

The rest of chapter 21 feels a bit like a cross between Lord of the Rings and the Princess Bride. There are four giants and a 6-fingered man. David became exhausted almost was killed, but Abishai, son of Zeruiah came to his aid. David’s men said David should never go out to battle with them again after this close call.

Eccl. 7:8 reminds us that “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” After David had been pursued by Saul for 15 years according to some commentaries, David wrote a beautiful song of Thanksgiving. And David starts with a vivid description of who God is. He could not see God, but he could describe God by what he could see.

God’s support is indescribable. (But still we try).

It is impossible to completely define God, and so we try to define God with the creation around us. This is what David did in this beautiful Psalm.

2 Samuel 22:1, “David spoke the words of this song to the Lord on the day the Lord rescued him from the grasp of all his enemies and from the grasp of Saul. 2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, 3 my God, my rock where I seek refuge. My shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold, my refuge, and my Savior, you save me from violence.”

We see this same language from David in Psalm 18:2

Psalm 18:2 ESV, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Most of us don’t live in an area where we are surrounded by rocks. But David did. A rock shields people who live out in undeveloped land. Fortresses are not all that common today, either. Let’s take a look at some of these words David used to describe God.

God is our Support – God is our Rock 

  • David was speaking of God’s Strength and faithfulness.
  • Rocks were used as a memorial after God parted the Jordan River so His people could cross.
  • Water flowed from a rock when the Israelites were wandering in the desert.
  • God hid Moses in the cleft off the rock.
  • Rocks embodied strength, security and stability.
  • Rocks are to be in our foundation, not sand, if we want to stand. (Matt 7:24).
  • Jesus is referred to as the stone rejected by men.
  • God’s church was built on a rock, namely Peter.

“Rock” in the Bible

Matthew 16:18 ESV And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

1 Samuel 2:2 ESV “There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.”

Isaiah 51:1 ESV  “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.”

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

Deuteronomy 32:24 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”

Psalm 18:46 “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation.”

Psalm 18:31 “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?”

The word “rock” is used about twenty-four times in the book of Psalms with reference to God. I think of the word rock as something that lasts. It is strong. Our God endures forever. He is eternal.

God is Our Support – God is our Fortress 

David was speaking about God’s protection and safety. I found 100 occurrences off the word, “fortress” in the Bible. The definition of a fortress is a military stronghold or “a person or thing not susceptible to outside influence or disturbance.” Don’t you love that definition? We are surrounded by people who can turn on us in a moment from influence. But not God. He is steady. A fortress was a protected space.

We know the Hymn – A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing. But do we know what we are singing? This is from the Gospel Coalition:

Martin Luther wrote this hymn based on Psalm 46. These were the metaphors used to describe God as our defense. He is mighty to guard, protect, and keep his people safe. A “bulwark” refers to a defensive wall or fortification that is part of the fortress. So a bulwark that never fails is a wall of a fortress that can never be breached or broken into. A fortress is a military stronghold. Walls protect you. Here are some Scriptures about fortresses:

2 Sam 22:33 “God is my strong fortress, And he maketh my way perfectly smooth.”

1 Chron. 11:7 “David occupied the fortress, so it was named the City of David after him.”

God is Our Support—God is our Deliverer

Speaks of someone who rescues or saves. God is His Savior.

God is Our Support—He is our God 

Speaks of God as our Creator. Definition of God in the dictionary: The creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

God is Our Support —A Rock where I seek Refuge

He is our shelter.

God is Our Support—The Horn of my salvation

Speaks of God as Savior and of His power. In Luke 1:69 Zechariah praises God that “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” In this case, the “horn of salvation” is a reference to Jesus Christ, the powerful deliverer, and the king who was soon to be born. Horns of an animal meant protection and power. They were used as a Shofar and horns were also on the altar. People would grab a hold of the horns to plead for mercy. (1 Kings 1:50). They are symbolic of powers and leaders in prophecies of future wicked kingdoms (Daniel 7:24, Rev. 17:12). From Christianity.com: “The “horn of salvation” from Jesus Christ reflects an eternal and everlasting reign.”

God is Our Support—God is Our Stronghold 

  • Speaks of control and strength. 78 occurrences in Scripture but only 1 from NT.
  • From Gotquestions.org, “The word stronghold appears only once in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 10:4), and the Greek word translated “stronghold” means “a fortification such as a castle.” In this passage, the apostle Paul is instructing the church at Corinth on how to fight against and “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God”
  • A stronghold has a strong hold on you.
  • This can be an evil stronghold; a struggle or it could be that God is our stronghold. The One we surrender to.
  • I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have something else controlling me, such as a stronghold. I just want to give control over to the One Who is in complete control.
  • A stronghold is a place of danger when it is being captive by the evil one and a place of refuge and safety when God is our stronghold. Nothing can penetrate the stronghold of God.

God is Our Support—God is Our Refuge 

  • God is our safe place.
  • Refuge appears 141 times in Scripture.
  • The word refuge is synonymous with fortress or stronghold – but I think it adds another dimension.
  • A refuge feels a bit more caring than stronghold. It is a shelter.
  • We don’t have to fear – we can trust God completely.
  • If God is our refuge, we run to Him and hide ourselves in Him.
  • If things are our refuge, we run to those things.

God is Our Support—God is Our Savior 

  • Sometimes we don’t know that we need saving.
  • God can’t be your Savior if you won’t let Him. We have to see our need.
  • We can run to many “saviors”, but truly there is only One Savior.
  • Isaiah 43:11, “I, I am Yahweh, and there is no other Savior but Me.”

Scripture of the Day: 2 Samuel 22:18-20, 31 (NLT)

“He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. 19 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord supported me. (CSB: The LORD was my support) 20 He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. 31 “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”

Don’t we often try to go to support from people or things? We try to make our own rescue. We just want out of the pain. But God’s support is all we need. God can comfort us with others, but it is when our comfort is in Him that we find lasting comfort. David told of the essence of who God was and then all that God had done. We see David’s final words in 2 Samuel 23. David gave glory to God. He did not take the credit for what God did through him. 2 Sam 23:2, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me, his word was on my tongue.”

In 2 Samuel 24 David takes a census of the army. Don’t you just wish this book would have ended on the high note of David’s song in 2 Samuel 23? But that is life, right? We experience mountaintops and valleys, but God is our God through it all.

God is enough for everything we go through down here. He is our support. Who is God to you? How has He supported you?

Application

  • God’s support is all we need.
  • When we want to run to false saviors, or abide in strongholds that enslave us, God can set us free, but we have to see our need.
  • There is not satisfactory definition for God.
  • Yet we can give glory to Him or how He works in our life, just like David did.
  • And we are defined by God. Our identity is hidden in Him.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #149: 2 Samuel 21-24

Scripture of the Day: 2 Samuel 22:18-20, 31

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/2Sam.21

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Day 148 Bible Reading Plan

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Bible Reading Plan Plan

God is with us

The presence of God makes all the difference in the world. But sin separates us from His presence, We are finishing the book of Exodus 33-36. In Exodus 33 the LORD is doing what He promised Abraham. He is leading His people to the promised land God tells Moses to go up with the people but then says he would not go with them. This is in Exodus 33:3-4 CSB:

3 “Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go up with you because you are a stiff-necked people; otherwise,                                                                                                   I might destroy you on the way.” 4 When the people heard this bad news, they mourned and didn’t put on their jewelry.”

God is with us as we seek Him.

Moses pitched a tent outside the camp and would go and meet with the LORD. 11 “The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend, then Moses would return to the camp. His assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.”

Moses went in to make an appeal to God that He would go with them, which brings us to the Scripture of the Day Exodus 33:12-16 (NLT):

12″ One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And  remember that this nation is your very own people.” 14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

(CSB: says my presence with go with you). 15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth. 17 The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”

Moses’ request to know God’s ways is beautiful. When we love someone, we want to know all about them. We are fascinated by them. Is this how we feel about God? Moses said he wanted to understand God more fully.

Knowing God is not the same thing as knowing about God.

The CSB of these verses says in v. 13, “3 Now if I have indeed found favor with you, please teach me your ways, and I will know you, so that I may find favor with you. Now consider that this nation is your people.”

When God is with us—His favor is, too.

Moses wanted to continue to enjoy God’s favor. When we walk in relationship with God, we walk in His favor. Why would we ever want to leave that or Him? We get deceived by the enemy of our souls. Moses asked God to go with them. This is something God has promised us. God is with us.

God said that he would personally go with Moses. How about us? Do we really want to know God?

God is with us—Are we with him?

The presence of God is with us, friends unless we allow sin to separate us from God. It is God’s presence among us that sets us apart from the world.

God is with us and in us.

We are carriers of His presence! Christians were not meant to “fit in” and be worldly, but to be other-worldly. As Moses said, “For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth. We see this beautiful relationship between Moses and the LORD played out in Exodus 33. Moses asks to see God’s glory. When we love someone, we want to see them. We want to know them more. For us, this would equate to spending time with God in His word, praying to Him.

Scripture of the Day: Exodus 33:13-16

“18 Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.” 19 He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘the Lord’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”  20 But he added, “You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.” 21 The Lord said, “Here is a place near me. You are to stand on the rock, 22 and when my glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back, but my face will not be seen.”

Can We See God?

“”Nobody has seen him, and nobody can see him (1 Timothy 6:16). People can see something about God only when he has passed by them. They can remember his actions in the past. And they can realize his great kindness to them. Then they can begin to understand how he loves them. The best knowledge about God’s character came with Jesus Christ. Those people who saw Jesus had seen the Father (John 14:9).” (Easy English Bible Commentary)

Application:

  • God is with us—Are we with him?
  • Knowing God is not the same thing as knowing about God.

There is an invitation for you today, friends, from the Lover of your souls. Will you accept it? God is with us—are we with him? Knowing God is not the same thing as knowing about God. And a relationship with God is the most dynamic, intimate relationship we can ever have.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day 148: Exodus 33-36

Scripture of the Day: Exodus 33:13-16

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Exod.33

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Day 147 Bible Reading Plan

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When the pain remains in your life, how do you handle it?

We are finishing the book of 2 Corinthians 11-13 today and in it Paul reveals the struggles he went through—even “boasts” about them, but not in a way we would think of as boasting.

Paul boasts of his weaknesses and of his struggles—not because he is a martyr, but so those he is serving are aware. He sacrificed so the Corinthians could know the truth. This is part of the fight for our faith. We have to adhere to and hold up truth or we will be deceived.

Faith is a Fight.

Faith is not passive. And we will all have to fight our own fight of faith, through the struggles we each face. But Paul is not too worried about his struggles. He is concerned with and for those he is trying to reach.

2 Corinthians 11 opens up with Paul sharing his concern for the church at Corinth that they would lose their pure devotion to Christ by being pulled away by false religions.

2 Corinthians 11:2-3 “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

Know Your Faith to Live it

Just as we have cults today that stray from the pure Gospel and the true identity of Christ, there were Gnostics, cults, false religions, and false prophets back in the time this book was written.

Today there is political correctness added into the mix that makes it difficult. We are purportedly in error if we say one way is right. Everybody has to be a winner and every faith has to be right.

But if every way is right, then no way is right.

Jesus said there was one way that leads to Heaven. (Matthew 7:13-14). In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”

Some see this as exclusive; others recognize the grace in being able to hear the truth so they can know. God is so kind to have an absolute. We have a target for how we should live. We can know God and know how we are to worship Him and what we are to believe. Even when we believe correctly, true faith will be tested.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes this incredible supernatural experience he had, but he does not admit it is him who had it. Man tends to praise man when it is God who does things in our midst.

When the Pain Remains God is at Work

Paul resorts to talking about his struggles because this keeps him in the right place or the “sweet zone” of remaining humble. We can forget that everything we have and are able to do is given to us by God.

And sometimes pain is our tutor. And when the pain remains, our faith is tested.

We have talked about this here. Is God still good when life hurts or is hard? Yes, friends. This brings us to the Scripture verses of the day:

Scripture of the Day: 2 Cor. 12:6-10

“If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul’s takeaway

Paul recognized that the incredible things God was doing in him could lead to pride. But a thorn in his flesh, a suffering of some sort, humbled him. I have wondered about the possible shame or discouragement Paul must have felt and had to battle that he could pray for other’s healing, but not be healed himself.

But Paul discovered a secret in his weakness and suffering. It made him abide in Christ. It taught him humility. Weakness became strength as he recognized that God alone was his strength.

My Struggle with Pain that Remained

I was diagnosed with a pack of autoimmune diseases in 2001 and greatly discouraged because it made it very hard to function. And the thing about autoimmune diseases is on the outside everyone says you look fine, but on the inside, you are suffering greatly. One night, while attending a small group bible study, God whispered to my soul, “ask me to heal you.” Friends, I had been asking God to heal me. I had even written songs about it.

But this time was different. God was initiating something. And He spoke to my Spirit what he was going to do. So I asked the small group to please lay hands on me and pray for me—that God was going to take away what was too difficult for me, but a remnant of my suffering would remain to humble me.

When Healing Comes

I understand this flies in the face of the “name it, claim it” faith healers, but friends, I don’t believe we are called to tell God what to do. I can only humbly ask. He can do anything, but His purposes and ways are so much higher than mine. The question is, will it bring Him glory? This matters more than my comfort, which can easily become an idol.

And in that room many years ago now, God moved. He healed me. The muscular pain that had crippled my existence was gone. In a moment. But a remnant of that suffering has remained to this day.

I am a stubborn one, friends. Maybe you are, too. I still suffer physically, but I have learned to cry out to God and to trust Him in that place. I have discovered what Paul has said is true: His grace is sufficient for me. His grace is sufficient for you. ❤

When the pain remains

Our faith is tested. Will hardship cause us to doubt that God is with us?

When the pain remains

God is still good. Hard places in this life do not mean that God is not kind.

When the pain remains

God is breaking chains. It takes an irritant to make a pearl. Our desire or a pain-free life is not a good desire. Pain gets our attention and reminds us how we should live.

When the pain remains

God is shaping our character. He is molding us into His image.

When the pain remains

We learn to abide in Christ and His strength, not our own.

When the pain remains

Perhaps God wants us to comfort others with the comfort we have received. This also helps us to focus on others instead of ourselves. Suddenly our pain is put in a different light.

Paul challenges us in 2 Corinthians 13 to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Trials test our character and faith. Will we still worship Him when pain remains, as Paul did? What is it in your life, friends, that you wish would go away? What pain remains for you? And can you see God’s goodness and purposes in it?

Application:

  • God’s law is not just rules to govern our sin but to change us from within.
  • When we have a question for God, He has a question for us.
  • When Christ is LORD, then we change to His view, and lay down ours.
  • God’s blessings are higher than any blessing in this world.
  • The truly blessed life is blessed because of Christ’s sacrifice, not the world’s blessings.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #146:Luke 6-8

Scripture of the Day: Luke 6:8-9

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Luke.6

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Day 146 Bible Reading Plan

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The Truly Blessed Life is not blessed because of materialism.

The truly blessed life is counter what this world would define as blessed. In Luke 6, Jesus takes us through a list of blessings called the Beatitudes and a list of woes. But before we get to these beatitudes, the groundwork is laid for a new paradigm that would turn the Pharisees’ world upside down.

Happy Memorial Day! When we remember what others have done for us and what God has done for us, we live differently. We are blessed, indeed. What is a blessing to you? It might look different in the Kingdom of God. The beatitudes reveal true spiritual blessing in a world that is focused on external blessings. God’s law is not just rules to govern our sin but to change us from within.

In today’s reading, we are finishing the book of Luke, chapters 6-8. The Pharisees questioned Jesus on the Sabbath concerning him working on the Sabbath and accused Jesus of being unlawful.

Scripture of the Day: Luke 6:2-9

“But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David and those who were with him did when he was hungry— 4 how he entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat? He even gave some to those who were with him.” Then he told them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

8 But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. 9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”

Did God Break the Law?

God’s law allowed a person to pick the heads of grain by hand. We see an accommodation for this actually in God’s law in Deuteronomy 23:25, “If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to their standing grain.” So the disciples did not do anything wrong as they picked the heads of grain. But the Pharisees’ interpretation of the law was based on their view, not God’s.

Answer a Question with a Question

Jesus answered their questions with questions and they did not have an answer. We talked about questions we have for God yesterday and how Job discovered that he was a fool to think he knew more than God or that he should ever question God. It is ironic that Jesus asked them if good or evil should be done on the Sabbath and the Bible describes the evil in their hearts after Jesus just did something good:

Luke 6:11 “They, however, were filled with rage and started discussing with one another what they might do to Jesus.”

The Pharisees were misjudging Jesus according to his outward actions, but Jesus looked at their heart. Jesus then lays out this new covenant. To people who say we don’t have to live according to the OT, friends, the Old Covenant was fulfilled by Christ, but not abolished. The Ten commandments still stand and now with the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are held to an even higher standard. God examines our hearts.

God’s law is not just rules to govern our sin but to change us from within. God’s ways are not our ways. The Beatitudes spoken by Jesus in Luke 6:26 reveal a new attitude and way of thinking about things.

The Truly Blessed Life—The Beatitudes

Our entitled culture does not think it is a blessing to be poor, hungry, hated, or insulted. We think the woes Jesus describes are the blessed life. This calls for a heart and mindset change. The blessed life is not being fat and happy and comfortable. When we are living like that, we are ignorant of our spiritual mindfulness.

One commentary I read this morning had this to say about the beatitudes: “The Beatitudes are the eight declarations of blessedness spoken by Jesus. The Greek word translated “blessed” means “happy, blissful” or, literally, “to be enlarged.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the word to refer to more than a superficial happiness; in this context, blessed refers to a state of spiritual well-being and prosperity.

The Beatitudes describe the ideal disciple and his rewards, both present and future. The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still outside the kingdom.” (www.gotquestions.org).

Let’s look at these beatitudes:

The Truly Blessed Life Experiences Lack.

20 Then looking up at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours.

The Truly Blessed Life Experiences Hunger.

21 Blessed are you who are hungry now, because you will be filled.

The Truly Blessed Life Experiences Sorrow.

Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh.

The Truly Blessed Life Experiences hatred.

22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy. Take note—your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.

Woe is Me.

The blessings (beatitudes) are curses to our world. God’s ways are upside down in a fallen world where the economy is based on pleasing man. And the woes are considered blessings in our culture.

Woe to the Self-Satisfied. This is what my Bible says. Because those who lack in any way will be satisfied in Christ rather than by temporary measures.

Woe to the Rich.

Luke 6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort.” When we have all we want down on this earth, we don’t see our need for God. But spiritual needs cannot be satisfied with the physical.

Woe to the Full.

Luke 6:25(a) 25 “Woe to you who are now full, for you will be hungry.” When we are full, we don’t ask God to help. We try to live on what we can provide.

Woe to those who are Laughing.

Luke 6:25(b) “Woe to you who are now laughing, for you will mourn and weep.” Laughter is good medicine. It is not bad to laugh, but when we surround ourselves with partners and live for this life, we miss the point and end up living for self rather than for the Kingdom of God.

Woe to those Who are Well Spoken Of.

Luke 6:26″ Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the false prophets.”

This is a paradigm shift friends. From a mindset focused on self to a Kingdom mindset.

Jesus then tells us to love our enemies and to not judge.

In Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? 47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.”

How are you building, friends? God’s economy is different than man’s. If we say He is LORD, then we will live like He is Lord.

Application:

  • God’s law is not just rules to govern our sin but to change us from within.
  • When we have a question for God, He has a question for us.
  • When Christ is LORD, then we change to His view, and lay down ours.
  • God’s blessings are higher than any blessing in this world.
  • The truly blessed life is blessed because of Christ’s sacrifice, not the world’s blessings.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #146:Luke 6-8

Scripture of the Day: Luke 6:8-9

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Luke.6

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Day 145 Bible Reading Plan

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Questions for God
Bible Reading Plan Plan

Questions for God fill our minds . . . when we don’t understand His heart or His purposes.

Questions for God arise from a place of unresolved pain that is resolved when we entered His presence and examine our questions with God’s truth rather than examining God. We are finishing the book of Job today with a speech from God to Job in chapter 41 and Job’s reply in 42. And it has been an up-close and personal view of Job’s suffering in this book, as well as the spiritual battle to trust God in the midst. Job’s friends judged Job or his questions and his suffering. And we have learned many lessons from Job’s inquiry. The blame game/accusing God does not set us free from our struggle. It just deepens our struggle.

Job thought it was God’s fault that he encountered suffering.

God does not cause evil. He wants to be our comfort and our rescue in times of trouble.

Job thought that being a good person should mean certain blessings.

There is no one good.

Job thought that God was unfair.

God is always fair. He is perfect.

Job’s friends thought Job was to blame.

It was the enemy of our souls who was.

Are Questions Ok?

It is prideful for the created beings to think they know more than the Creator. In humility, we understand that God can do whatever He wants. He does not answer to us. The wrong thinking on Job’s part and on ours is that we make ourselves “god” and think our understanding is right. We question the One Who made us. The wrong thinking stems from an entitlement mentality based on humanism. It is a revolt and rebellion against God. And the enemy of our souls deceives us into believing lies about God.

The Role of Influence

Have you ever had someone gossip to you about someone else and try to influence you against them? This is what the enemy does. Influence us against God and one another with LIES. God invites us to a relationship with Him so we can really know Him. Satan attacked Job because Satan wanted to accuse God. Job was God’s servant. But Satan thought that he could make Job insult God. And, that Job would not trust God if Job was suffering. The enemy of our souls wants to get us to doubt God and to turn away from our faith. He wants to destroy us and condemn us.

Have you ever questioned God?

We probably all have at some time or another, right? Questions aren’t wrong. It is the heart behind the questions that matters. Are we judging God or seeking to understand? It is when we accuse God’s character and goodness rather than trusting Him that we can get into trouble. But answering those questions ourselves with truth from God’s word sets us free from doubting the only One Who is trustworthy.

We question His justice when innocent people suffer.

God is just. Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” We deem suffering as bad and only want happiness. But this is not Heaven. God is not unjust because we live in a fallen world. We caused that. He is our comfort in this world.

We question His character when bad things happen to good people.

But there is no one good. Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good; not even one.” We deserve hell, but God has given us Heaven. This is not Heaven. Also, see Psalm 14:1-3, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

We question His purposes when his plan is not to our liking.

God’s plans are good. Jeremiah 29:11, “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.” God invites us into a relationship and we don’t have to commit intellectual suicide.

The Point of Questions

Job is not the first person to question God and He won’t be the last. It is the motive of our hearts when we approach our Maker that matters. It isn’t wrong to seek to understand, but when we ask because we are judging God, as we saw last week, And as we see from Job, questioning God will leave us awed. God is so much greater than our minds can explore or fully know.

There is nothing vile in Him. No purpose of His can be thwarted. He is just . . . and merciful. He is good, so good!

What makes us question in the first place?

  • Expectations. We expect blessings.
  • Pain.
  • Ignorance. We simply don’t understand God’s ways or His plan.
  • Pride. We think we know better.
  • Anger. We don’t like God’s plan for us.

Scripture of the Day: Job 42:3-6 (NLT)

“You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance? It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.’ I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”

Application:

  • What are our expectations for this life?
  • The devil is our adversary just as he was Job’s.
  • We will have troubles in this world. Jesus promised us this. But He also overcame them (John 16:33). We can, too, through Christ.
  • Sometimes we want to hold onto promises that were never promised.
  • Questioning God will leave us awed.

Job is not the first person to question God and He won’t be the last. It is the motive of our hearts when we approach our Maker that matters. Don’t let expectations, pain, ignorance, pride or anger keep you from God’s goodness. He wants to be our comfort in all of our suffering. When we examine the truth behind our questions of a good, good God, we are set free from the lies that keep us bound in endless questions.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #145: Job 41-42

Scripture of the Day: Job 42:3-6

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Job.41

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Day 144 Bible Reading Plan

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When man’s schemes have us under attack, God always has our back. Fear is a stronghold but trusting in God is our strength. Don’t be a sunshine patriot who only praises God when all is well. Hard times do not mean we are forgotten. Praise God in the fire then leave your burden in His Hands. He does not necessarily remove us from the fire, but He is in the fire with us. And He is enough.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan

Day #144: Psalms 56-58

Scripture of the Day: Psalm 56:2-5, 9

Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ps.56

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