Daily Devotions

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Doing the Word​



But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth].
—JAMES 1:22




As a Christian, for a long time I didn’t understand that believers could know what God wanted them to do and then deliberately say no. I’m not talking about those who turn their backs on Jesus and want nothing to do with His salvation. I’m talking about those who disobey in the seemingly little things and don’t seem to be troubled by doing so.

In verses 23 and 24, James went on to say that if we only listen to the Word, but don’t obey it, it’s like looking at our reflection in a mirror and then going away and forgetting what we saw. But a doer of the Word, he says, is like one “who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience)” (v. 25).

Whenever Christians are faced with God’s Word, and it calls them to action but they refuse to obey, their own human reasoning is often the cause. They have deceived themselves into believing something other than the truth. It’s as if they think they are smarter than God.
I’ve met people who seem to think that God always wants them to feel good, and if something happens to make them feel bad, they don’t believe it is God’s will for them. Or they dismiss what they read in the Bible by saying, “That doesn’t make sense.”

One woman, referring to Paul’s instruction to “be unceasing in prayer” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), said that verse kept coming to her every time she prayed.

“What do you think that means?” I asked her.

“Oh, I think it means that day in and day out, we are to pray when we feel a need or when we want something.”
Her words shocked me. “What about fellowship with the Lord?” I asked. “Isn’t that a good reason? Or maybe God just wants you to spend time reading His Word and praying about what you read.”

“I have too many things to do,” she said. “That’s fine for people who like to sit and read and pray for hours every day, but that’s not the way for me.”

In our brief conversation, I learned that her decisions about obeying God’s Word depended on whether or not it was convenient for her lifestyle. When she read things in the Bible that didn’t fit with the way she lived, she explained it to herself in such a way that she convinced herself God didn’t expect her to do that.

By contrast, I remember a very dignified woman who had been a member of a traditional church most of her life. She often spoke of the noise and confusion in charismatic churches (although she had not been to one). Then she visited one of the services where I spoke and was transformed. “I couldn’t believe that God would ask me to do something like clap my hands or sing loudly or even shout. But when I saw the joy on the faces of those in the congregation and heard you quote the Bible verse that commands us to clap our hands and shout, what else could I do? That was God speaking to me.”

She had exactly the right attitude. She didn’t try to reason it out or wonder why God commanded her to take that kind of action. She believed His Word and simply obeyed.

When the Bible speaks about obeying the Lord, it is not a suggestion. His Word doesn’t ask, “Would you like to obey?” God commands us to take action by being a doer of His Word, and when we are obedient, He promises that we will be blessed.


Prayer Starter:
Dear holy Father, I thank You for the instructions found in Your Word. I may not always like what I read, and sometimes it may be difficult to follow You without hesitating, but I know it is for my good. Please help me to be always obedient and to bring glory and honor to You. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The Prince of Pretense​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 5:1-11
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
Acts 5:10-11

Why did this occur? Why was the Holy Spirit so severe? Is this what he always does with his church? Someone says, Thank God this doesn't happen any more; if it did, we'd have to put a morgue into every church. This is a picture of what happens in a life when pretense is indulged in. The moment you or I pretend to be something that we really are not, the second I assume before you a stance of spiritual impeccability which I do not possess, that moment death enters in. I am immediately cut off from the flow of the life of Christ. It does not mean I am no longer a Christian, but it means that the life of the body is no longer flowing through me. Instead of being part of a living, vital movement, I become a dead and unresponsive cell in that body.

That is what is wrong with the church today. It is the tragic sickness of the church in any age — pretense, sham, hypocrisy — to pretend to be something we are not. The most astonishing thing about this is that it is unconscious hypocrisy, for the most part. I seldom meet deliberate hypocrites. I am guilty of it frequently, and so are you — thus being an unconscious hypocrite. We think it is somehow religious, or Christian, not to show what we really are.

That is what this story of Ananias and Sapphira underscores for us. The minute they pretended to be something they were not — death! When we come to church we put on a mask of adequacy, but inside we are inadequate, and we know it. We are struggling with problems in our homes, but we don't want to tell anyone about them. We can't get along with our children, but we'll never admit it to anyone. The pride that doesn't want anyone else to know what is going on between husbands and wives, and between parents and children, keeps us from sharing. We come to church and put on a mask that says everything's fine! Everything's wonderful! Somebody asks us how are things going. Great, great! Fine! How's everything at home? Oh, wonderful! We're having a wonderful time! The minute we say that and its not true, we die. Death sets in. Soon that death pervades the whole church. That is why dishonesty is the primary characteristic of the church today.

How do we deal with this problem within ourselves? In Scripture the way to cure a spiritual disease is always the same: Repent and believe. Repent means to acknowledge that you have been doing it wrong. It means to face the fact that it has not been right. Then believe means to understand that God has already given you, in Jesus Christ, all that it takes to do what you should. Then start doing it! Start opening up and sharing your burdens. You will start in a rather small way, perhaps, and it will be difficult at first. But it is the sharing of lives that makes power and grace to flow through the body.

Father, Forgive me for my own pretense, and teach me to open up with my brothers and sisters in Christ so that when people look at us they might say, My, how these Christians love one another.

Life Application​

Am I personally contributing to the serious issue of hypocrisy? What steps must I take to address this threat to the very life of Christ in me and through me?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Remembering Past Successes​



David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee. (1 Samuel 17:37)


To be honest, a lot of us are negative thinkers when we find ourselves in challenging situations. But to move past trying times, you have to take your negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts.

God wants to take you on a "truth journey" through studying His Word that produces amazing results. It will help you purge your negative thoughts and give you the ability to see the positive in your situation. Being positive is powerful.

And a big part of being positive is simply reminding yourself of your past successes. When David faced the giant Goliath, he remembered the lion and the bear he'd already defeated, and it gave him courage in his current situation.

If you're going through a difficult time right now, let me remind you that this probably isn't the first challenge you've faced. You survived the last one (and probably learned some valuable lessons through it) and you will survive this one too.

Like David, remember your past successes. Then go to the Word and see what God says. Better days are on their way. God promises it!

Prayer Starter:
God, sometimes the situation in front of me seems impossible, but You have brought me through difficult times in the past, and I know You can do it again. Help me to remember past successes and to think positively about my present situation.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Trust God​



Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.
—PROVERBS 3:5

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of this law.
—DEUTERONOMY 29:29


I have heard many people say that reading the Bible is confusing. They say, “I have tried to read the Bible, but I don’t understand what God is saying, and I end up feeling frustrated and confused.”

In seeking God’s guidance regarding this situation, I sensed Him saying, People keep trying to figure out everything. Tell them to stop trying to reason and explain everything. As the above verses point out, we cannot always rely on our understanding. There are some things that we are not meant to know or understand.

Moses understood this concept, and he explained to the children of Israel that there are “secret things” known only to God. He pointed out that when God revealed His will—making things clear—those were the words they should obey.

It really is that simple. Like the psalmist, we can say, “Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law; yes, I will observe it with my whole heart (Psalm 119:34). We must ask God to show us what to do, and then we must not question it when He reveals it to us.

Too often people try to reason things out, but that can be dangerous. When we start trying to figure out why God says or does something, our first mistake is thinking we’re smart enough to understand the mind of God.

Reasoning can also move us in a particular direction that, although it may seem logical, may not be the will of God. A biblical account found in 1 Samuel is a good illustration of this point.
Saul, the first king of Israel, made a decision to offer sacrifices. As a part of the tribe of Benjamin, it was unlawful for him—even as the king—to offer sacrifices. The king and his army waited several days for Samuel, the high priest, to arrive. But eventually Saul grew impatient (or perhaps fearful) and offered sacrifices just before the holy man arrived. When Samuel rebuked Saul for doing such a thing, the king had what he believed to be a reasonable explanation: “I thought, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord. So I forced myself to offer a burnt offering” (1 Samuel 13:12).

Samuel rebuked the king, told him he had acted foolishly, and said the Lord was going to strip him of the kingdom.
That was Saul’s mistake. He reasoned that it would be wise to sacrifice, and he didn’t wait to hear from God.

The human mind likes logic, order, and reason. We like to deal with issues we can wrap our understanding around and come up with solutions that make sense to us. We have a tendency to think small because we are limited creatures, and we don’t have the perspective to understand from God’s point of view. We tend to put things in tiny, neat compartments in our minds, telling ourselves this must be right because it fits nicely there.

By contrast, we read the words of the apostle Paul: “I am speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me” (Romans 9:1). He was making the point that he was doing the right thing—not because he had figured it out or analyzed the situation, but because his actions bore witness in his spirit.

That’s the attitude you need in your life. You need to depend on God to show you things in such a way that you know—with an inner certainty—that what has been revealed to your mind is correct. You must not allow yourself to reason with your mind, searching for logical solutions. Instead, you must say, “My trust is in the Lord, and whatever He tells me to do, I will obey.”


Prayer Starter:
Dear God, thank You for loving me more than I can even comprehend. In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask You to help me love and honor You so much that when You speak, I will have only one thought in my mind, and that is to obey. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional

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True Healing​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 5:12-16
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
Acts 5:12-14

This sounds like the days of Jesus all over again, does it not? Here is a tremendous display of physical healing power at the hands of the apostles. The result was that multitudes were added to the church, increasing it far beyond the five thousand we had already noted before. Here is obvious evidence of the power of God at work.

But there are many people who are troubled by this account. They say, What is wrong with the church now? Why don't we have signs and wonders and mighty events like these taking place? Many people, feeling that such signs are the mark of power, have tried to reproduce these signs and wonders, and the result has been certain of the healing movements of our day, with faith healers who travel about declaring that they are able to heal as the apostles did.

We must notice some things about this account that are carefully given to us by Dr. Luke. First, he says, these were done by the hands of the apostles. These were not done by all believers. They constitute what the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 calls the signs of an apostle... (2 Corinthians 12:12). He said to these Corinthians, You are questioning my apostleship. You're asking if I really am an apostle because I'm not one of the twelve. Well, let me ask you this. Have you not seen the signs of an apostle that I have done among you? These signs you see were specifically to accompany the ministry of the apostles to whom was assigned the task of laying the foundations of the church, of giving the Scriptures upon which the church must rest.

Not only were the Apostles to manifest the power of God in physical ways, but this physical manifestation was to be a symbol, a sign, of the spiritual power that God would release among the people. It is always a mistake to put emphasis upon a physical miracle. Physical miracles, although they attract attention, also confuse people so that ultimately they miss the point of what God is saying. God wants to heal the whole of man, the hurt in man's spirit most of all. That is where the problem really lies. Every person ever healed by the Lord Jesus, or by the disciples in the days of the early church, died. The physical healing was a temporary thing, with no exceptions: they all died. But when God heals the spirit, it is an eternal event. There is an inward change that is never lost. When God heals a man from the inside out, he makes him a whole person. It does not really matter what happens to the physical — at best it is only a temporary thing. The great thing that God is after is the healing of the hurt of humanity in its spiritual sickness, its evil, its darkness and its desperateness. That is always where he desires to start. I do not mean that God has stopped healing physically; he has not. But the deepest need of man is spiritual healing, not physical. That is what this passage is saying. And when spiritual healing happens, multitudes will be added to the church.

Father, thank you for your power to heal, not just in the physical realm but in the deeper realm of the heart.

Life Application​

Are we trivializing God's healing at the deepest level of our souls by focusing primarily on physical healing? Do we trust His power to heal and His wisdom to choose both how and when?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Let the Storm Subside​



God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], A very present and well-proved help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas, Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah. (PSALM 46:1-3)


I have faced so many storms in my life, some like the quick afternoon storms that are common in the summertime and some that seemed like category four hurricanes!

If I have learned anything about weathering those storms, it has been that they don't last forever, and I don't need to make major decisions in the midst of them.

Thoughts and feelings run wild in the midst of crises, but those are exactly the times we need to be careful about making decisions. I often say to myself, "Let emotions subside before you decide."

We must remain calm and discipline ourselves to focus on doing what we can do and trust God to do what we can't do. Instead of drowning in worry and fear, get in touch with God, who sees past the storm and orchestrates the big picture.

He makes sure everything that needs to happen in our lives happens at the right time, moves at the appropriate speed, and causes us to arrive safely at the destinations He has planned for us.

Prayer Starter:
God, I know that I can't control everything, so I will do what I can and trust You to do what I can't do. The storms of life do not control me. I trust Your plans for me.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Nothing But Christ​



For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you. And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power.
—1 CORINTHIANS 2:2-4



I’ve tried to imagine what it would have been like to go to Corinth or other Greek cities at the time of Paul and try to speak to those wise, brilliant thinkers. After studying every parchment given to me, and gaining knowledge of all their arguments, I would have prayed for God to help me overcome their objections.

We don’t know what Paul did, but his answer is astounding. Instead of going after them with great reasoning and sharp logic, he went in exactly the opposite direction. He stayed in Corinth a year and a half, and many came to Christ because of him. Later, when he wrote 1 Corinthians, he said, “For I resolved to know nothing . . . among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified” (2:2). That’s amazing. If any man had the ability to reason with those Greeks and could show them the fallacies of their logic, surely that man was Paul. But, being led by the Holy Spirit, he chose a defenseless presentation—to let God speak through him and touch the hearts of the people.

Now, centuries later, I appreciate his approach—although I didn’t always feel this way. For a long time I wanted to explain and reason out everything, but when that didn’t work, I ended up feeling miserable.

I’ve always been curious, always wanted to know, and always wanted to figure out the answer. Then God began to work in my life. He showed me that my constant drive to figure it out caused me confusion and prevented me from receiving many of the things He wanted me to have. He said, You must lay aside carnal reasoning if you expect to have discernment.

I didn’t like loose ends, so I felt more secure when I figured things out. I wanted to be in control of every detail of every situation. When I didn’t understand or was unable to figure things out, I felt out of control. And that was frightening to me. Something was wrong—I was troubled and had no peace of mind. Sometimes, frustrated and exhausted, I would just give up.

It was a long battle for me because I finally admitted something to myself (God knew it all along): I was addicted to reasoning. It was more than a tendency or desire to figure out things. It was a compulsion. I had to have answers—and had to have them right now. When God was finally able to convince me of my addiction, I was able to give it up.

It wasn’t easy. Like people who withdraw from drugs or alcohol, I had withdrawal symptoms. I felt lost. Frightened. Alone. I had always depended on my ability to figure things out. Now, like Paul, I had to depend on God.
Too many people assume that relying only on God is something we do easily and naturally. It didn’t work that way with me. But God was gracious and patient with me. It was as if He’d whisper, You’re not there yet, Joyce, but you’re making progress. It’s uncomfortable because you’re learning a new way to live.

God wants us to be victorious—and I knew that all along. Now I walk in greater victory than ever before—and I no longer try to reason out everything before I act.


Prayer Starter:

Heavenly Father, thank You for being so patient with me and people like me who feel we must have all the answers before we can act or trust. In the name of Jesus, help me to simply trust in You, knowing that You will give me what is best for my life. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Confrontation!​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 5:17-42
They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 5:40b-42

I love that. They did not stop. They counted themselves fortunate to suffer dishonor for his name. It seems to take Christians so long to face up to the simple declaration of Scripture that, when they were called to be a Christian, they were called to suffer. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29). We are called to this. Suffering is an integral part of the Christian experience. It is not something that is unusual or reserved for just a few; it is for all. Peter wrote, Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12). Don't think it is strange. You go through problems, difficulties, heartaches, disappointments, ostracism and coolness from others, all for the sake of the Name. Don't think that is strange. It is that to which we are called.

In a world that is run by illusions, governed by deceptions, and is a victim of lies and maliciously evil falsehoods, what else can we expect if we stand for the truth? People will think we are strange, at times. People will think we react in funny ways. There will be some degree of coolness, even among those who are, in many other ways, friendly toward us. They will think we are a little odd. But it is they who are odd; it is we who are normal. When a normal person lives in a world full of oddballs, they think he's odd. But that is the suffering to which he is called. Like these disciples, we ought to thank God for it and rejoice in it. Jesus said that, didn't he? Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name's sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, ... for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you... (Matthew 5:11-12 KJV).

The church, then, is not to wring its hands, and say, Oh what a terrible thing! We're being opposed! What an awful thing! No! Rejoice, like these early Christians did. Count it an honor that you have been called to suffer a little for his name's sake. Stand up and be counted.

Father, help me to understand that we are the salt of the earth, we are the light of the world, and we must begin to act that way again.

Life Application​

When 'truth has fallen in the public squares' are we prepared to fulfill our calling to speak for Truth? Do we resist the forces of evil for Christ's sake, in His wisdom and with His Truth?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Nothing Is Impossible​



For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible. (LUKE 1:37)


People who think positively can see potential in even the most discouraging situations, while those who think negatively are quick to point out problems and limitations.

This goes beyond the proverbial idea of simply seeing a glass "half full" or "half empty" and extends to actually making decisions and taking actions based on either positive or negative thinking.

Have you ever noticed how negative thinking blows things out of proportion? Problems start to seem larger and much more difficult than they really are. Sometimes, a problem may actually be impossible...in the natural.

And a negative mindset forgets that nothing is impossible to God. Meditating on God's Word will rid you of negativity and help you refocus on who God is.

A positive mindset based on God's Word knows that nothing is beyond God. He is always present.

I've trained my brain to believe God and His Word, and I've experienced the power available to me through God when I've trusted Him more than my circumstances. We need to always remember that nothing is impossible with God.



Prayer Starter:
Lord, it's clear to me that I have nothing to gain from a 'glass-half-empty' mindset. Even in impossible situations, I know that You are there. I choose to see the positive side of things as I live in Your Word.

Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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A Doubtful Mind​



Elijah came near to all the people and said, How long will you halt and limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word.
—1 KINGS 18:21




Like many people, I assumed that doubt and unbelief were the same, because we usually put them in the same context. In recent years, however, I’ve learned that there is a difference. Obviously, doubt and unbelief do not honor God, but I want to show you how they function in different ways.

The story of the prophet Elijah is an excellent picture of doubt at work. King Ahab was the most evil leader the people had known. Elijah declared that because of Ahab’s wickedness, no rain would fall until he, the prophet, said so. For the next three-and-a-half years, drought scourged the land.

Now, that’s a pretty clear picture. There had been sufficient rain before Elijah’s declaration—but after he spoke, the skies quit yielding water. That is pretty obvious. Who would question God or His prophet? But apparently, the people’s fear of Ahab—as well as the lack of rainfall—caused their minds to be filled with questions.

Elijah finally called all the people together, along with the king and the false prophets, and asked them why they doubted. Why were they caught between two possible answers? That’s what doubt really is. Doubt isn’t simply unbelief—it’s more of an attitude that says, “I believe, but . . .” or, “I want to believe, but . . .”
Doubt often comes to reside where faith once lived. Doubt is active opposition to faith, and it tries to push faith aside. The people had believed the prophet, but as time wore on—three-and-a-half years—apparently questions arose and uncertainty crept in. If Elijah really did this, he ought to stop it right now. Maybe it just happened. Or, How do we really know that was the word of God? As soon as they seriously asked themselves these questions, they opened the door for Satan to bring doubt into their minds.

Doubt never comes from God—it is always in opposition to His will. In writing to the Romans, Paul pointed out that the Lord gives each of us a measure of faith (see Romans 12:3). When we cling to that faith, we push away doubts. But when we allow questions to enter in—any kind of uncertainty that takes our minds away from God’s wonderful work in our lives—that’s doubt. It is also a subtle, sneaky entry point for our enemy.

He plants doubt in our minds, hoping it will cause us to oppose God. We probably don’t think of doubt as something that strong, but it is—it’s the first step of opposition to what God declares. That’s why we need to know God’s Word. If we know the Word, we can recognize it when the devil lies to us and causes us to question.

Elijah wouldn’t allow the people of his day to move back and forth from doubt to belief. He made the options clear: Believe the true God or believe a false idol.

Don’t fall into the trap of saying you believe in God when your heart is filled with doubts and questions. Choose true faith and say, “Lord, I believe. I may not always understand, but I trust You.”


Prayer Starter:
True and faithful God, in the past, I’ve been weak, allowing Satan to make me question You, Your love, and Your plans for my life. Not only do I ask You to forgive me, but I also ask You to teach me Your Word and strengthen me so that Satan can never trick me again. Thank You for hearing my prayer. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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How the Body Functions​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 6:1-8
So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.
Acts 6:2-4

It would be very easy to read that as though the apostles were saying, We're too good to serve tables. After all, we're apostles. Let's pick out seven flunkies who can do that, while we devote ourselves to the tremendously spiritual work of prayer and preaching the word. If you read it that way you completely misread this passage because that is not what they did at all.

Remember that these apostles had been in the upper room with the Lord Jesus. They had seen him divest himself of his garments, gird himself with a towel, take a basin of water, and wash their filthy, dirty feet. They had heard his words, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.... (Luke 22:26). They were not, in any sense, downgrading the ministry of serving tables. They made this decision on the basis of a difference in spiritual gifts. Here we have a very clear example of the way the early church assigned duties upon the basis of the distribution of gifts by the Holy Spirit.

The glory of this church was that they were conscious of the superintendency of the Holy Spirit — so aware that the Lord Jesus himself, by means of the Spirit, was the head of the church. He was apportioning gifts, giving certain ministries to various individuals and sending them out, giving the orders. All through this book of Acts you can see tremendous manifestation of the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Here, then, they recognize that he had given various gifts. The apostles understood that their gift was that of an apostle. They were to lay the foundation of the church, for it was given to the apostles to lay foundations. That foundation is the Scriptures. It is on the Scriptures that the church rests. The minute the church departs from these Scriptures it loses its strength, its light and understanding, and its ability to operate. That has always been true. Whenever the church has rested upon the foundation laid by the apostles, the truth as it is in Jesus, the church has always had strength, power, and grace.

Therefore it was necessary that the apostles give themselves to the ministry of apostleship, which involved, prayer and the ministry of the word. As they met together in prayer they learned and understood the mind of God. The Spirit of God reminded them of things which the Lord Jesus had taught them, and they in turn imparted this to the church. At that time, none of the New Testament was in writing. Yet all of the truths which we have reflected in these New Testament pages were being uttered by the apostles as they taught the people from place to place. They taught them what we now have written down for us. And all we have, of course, is the word of the apostles. This whole New Testament is nothing but the word of the apostles given to us. So it was essential, as they understood it, to devote themselves to this.

But they recognized also that there were other gifts of the Spirit. There were gifts of helps and gifts of wisdom, and men and women in this vast congregation had these gifts. So all they are doing here is charging the church with finding among themselves men who had gifts which would qualify them to do this kind of work — gifts of helps and gifts of wisdom — that they might know how to solve these practical problems within the church. They are saying, every gift is important. We simply are sticking with the gifts that were given to us, and we want you to find among yourselves those who have other gifts.

Father, thank you for the gifts you have given me and I ask that you will teach me to serve you accordingly.

Life Application​

Do we seek to discover and put to use individual gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit? Do we honor each gift for its distinctive value, as we use them to serve His calling? Do we exhibit the beauty of Jesus' humility in our serving?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Truth Will Set You Free​



And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin]. (JOHN 8:32)


Many people today don't even bother to think rationally about what they believe and end up building their entire lives on beliefs that are simply not true.

Whatever the news media, a celebrity or a group of friends say suddenly becomes 'truth' to them.

Believing what others say rather than exploring God's Word for yourself will actually limit you and even keep you from doing what God created you to do. But, if you will contend for the truth, embrace it and build your life upon it, you will succeed in every endeavor.

If you want to stay on track with God's Truth, you have to make communication with Him a priority in your daily schedule. I can't urge you strongly enough to communicate with Him frequently through prayer, reading His Word, worship, and simply acknowledging His presence and guidance throughout the day.

When you know God, you know Truth. Living in His Truth will bring peace, freedom, and joy to your life.



Prayer Starter:
God, I don't want to be limited by my thoughts and beliefs about what is true. You are the only source of Truth. As I spend time communicating with You, show me and guide me into Your Truth.

Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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The Sin of Unbelief​



[For Abraham, human reason for] hope being gone, hoped in faith that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been promised, So [numberless] shall your descendants be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered the [utter] impotence of his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or [when he considered] the barrenness of Sarah’s [deadened] womb. No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised.
—ROMANS 4:18-21




Doubt, as I’ve said, raises questions. It makes us ask, “Did God really say . . . ?” “Does the Word really mean . . . ?” Doubt is often the devil’s entry point into our minds. Just such simple, easy questions are enough to give Satan a place to attack.

Unbelief is far worse than doubt. Doubt brings in the question, but unbelief is the result. I’ve watched Satan launch his attacks on Christians by first posing a question and then causing that question to bring doubt. The triumph of sin in the Garden of Eden began just that way. Satan said to Eve, “Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1b). That’s subtle. Satan doesn’t fight with God or argue with the Bible. He just raises a question and allows our minds to do the rest.

When the question comes in such a simple way, the obvious answer must be, “Well, He didn’t really mean . . .” With that reaction, Satan has established a stronghold in your mind, and it takes little for him to move you from there to a total lack of belief.

I’ve spoken with people who were led astray in just such a way. They started out as faithful, committed followers of Jesus Christ. But as Satan planted doubt and unbelief in their hearts, they turned their backs on spiritual things. One man said, “I was simple and naïve in those days. I believed anything I heard. I know better now.” Satan robbed him of his faith and, in the process, stole his joy and hope.

I am familiar with this battle. Because of my ministry, some people think I have everything all worked out and never have to battle for my faith. I can tell you that no Christian reaches that place this side of heaven. As soon as we let our guard down, even in the slightest, Satan sneaks up behind us and starts whispering his lies to us.

That may be the reason the story of Abraham is such an encouragement to me. When I have my battles with faith and taking God totally at His Word, I often go back and read Romans 4. The example of that godly man is absolutely amazing to me. In the natural, everything appeared to be against God’s promises to Abraham. I’m sure Abraham’s friends laughed when he said, “God will give me a son.” Satan’s scoffers must have been in place every day, but Abraham stood the test. The Bible says, “He did not weaken in faith . . . but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God” (vs. 19-20). I love that statement.

After the Holy Spirit called me into ministry, I was elated—and humbled. I thought, Who am I that God should call me? I could think of hundreds of reasons why anyone but Joyce Meyer should be used by God. But I believed in His call, and I had no doubt—not then.

In the months after the call, however, things moved more slowly than I wanted. More times than I can count, I found myself meditating on Abraham and God’s promises to him. If a human being like Abraham could believe and not stagger with unbelief, why couldn’t Joyce Meyer? I fought the battles, and with God’s grace, I won. That’s how it is each time—a fresh battle and a new and joyous victory.


Prayer Starter:
God and Father of Abraham, I thank You for Abraham’s example. Help me to push aside the devil’s advances by totally trusting You and standing on Your promises for my life—even if no one else stands with me. In Jesus’ name, I ask. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The True House of God​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 6:8-7:56
However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me?, says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?
Acts 7:48-50

Chapter 7 records the longest sermon in the book of Acts. It is Stephen's brilliant defense of what he believed, and is really a review of the history of the people of Israel. He answers the two charges against him, and he brings a third charge which he levels against the people.
Here in verses 48-50 he argues that God himself, through the prophet Isaiah, had predicted that the temple would not always be an adequate place to worship God. In fact, no building ever will be. God is bigger than buildings. God is the One who made all things, who makes the material from which a building is made, and who makes the men who put that building together. God has not designed that he should be worshipped in a building made with hands.

It is an important point he makes. I have always been disturbed by the widespread teaching that a building can be called the house of God. We should labor diligently to keep our teachers from saying that to our children. No building is the house of God, or ever was. Even the temple, as Stephen points out here, was not rightly called the house of God. When a church building is filled with people, who are indeed the house of God (for man is the house in which God intends to dwell — your body, and my body), there is a sense in which the building is the house of God, because God is there in his people. But when everyone leaves and the lights are turned out, the building is no more the house of God than any other building. It is no more holy, no more sacred. It is nothing more than a building, an empty building to be used for whatever purpose is helpful at the moment. It is not the house of God. You are the house of God. That is the great truth that Stephen tries to get across to these people.

Father, thank you that you have chosen to dwell with your people and make us the house of God. I pray that you would be completely at home in my heart.

Life Application​

Is it scripturally accurate to call a building the 'house of God'? What is the truly amazing truth about where Christ has chosen to live? How does this affect the way we regard His ownership of His residency?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Receiving the Holy Spirit​



But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)


In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will also come upon us, giving us power (ability, efficiency and might) to be Christ's witnesses to the ends of the earth.

Many Christians follow all the "right" rules, but wonder: "Is this all there is?" As a young Christian, I experienced that same emptiness. Doing the right things brought temporary happiness but not deep, satisfying joy.

I cried out: "God, something is missing!' To my surprise, I heard the audible voice of God and I knew He was about to move in my life. Only a few hours later Jesus filled me with the presence of the Holy Spirit in a way that I had never before experienced, and everything changed.

I felt His power in my life in a new way. When you spend time with God daily and receive His Holy Spirit, you're not signing up for a scary, weird experience. You are simply receiving His power to be more like Jesus and His wisdom to walk through ordinary events.

Don't be afraid of new things, just make sure they are biblical. I believe that God desires to take you to new heights in Him through the power of daily interaction with His Holy Spirit.

He is knocking at the door of your heart. Will you open it wide and welcome Him?



Prayer Starter:
God, I want to live as a Christian who is filled with the power of Your Holy Spirit. Show me how to live in the deep, satisfying joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. I thank You for the power and the wisdom to walk through every day and every situation.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Defeating Unbelief​



Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.
—1 PETER 5:8-9




Sometimes we unintentionally give the wrong impression about spiritual warfare. We know that our enemy is the devil and that we must fight daily to win, but that’s not everything. If the Christian life were nothing but battles, it would be discouraging to fight every hour of every day.
I would feel that I could never relax because as soon as I did, Satan would sneak back again. That’s not the picture I want to present. The Christian life is one of joy and peace. God gives us a great sense of fulfillment, and we’re at rest because we know we honor Him by the way we live.

Peter wrote to Christians about their enemy—warning them and urging them to be vigilant, which is where we often put the emphasis. Just before he wrote those words, however, he said, “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (v. 7). As we read that verse, it tells us that we must remind ourselves of God’s love for us—God cares. Because God cares, we can trust Him to take care of us.

We need that as part of our foundation. It’s not that we don’t have faith; it’s that Satan tries to destroy our faith with lies like: “If God really cared about you, would He make you go through this trial?” “If God truly loved you, would He treat you this way?”

Those questions that the devil throws at you are full of lies. If he can make you think you’re not loved or that God doesn’t have your best interests at heart, he can plant tiny seeds of unbelief. God wants you to remain strong and true like Abraham and other believers in the Bible.

One of the things I’ve learned from ministering to thousands of people is that the terrible and negative problems striking our lives are not what cause us to turn away from God. No, it’s our reaction to those situations that makes the difference. Think of Abraham again. When God promised to give him a son, he was an old man. He could have said, “How could that possibly be? I’m old and long past being able to father a child.” Instead, he said, “That’s wonderful! I believe.”

When struggles, trials, and hardships come your way—and they always do—you have a choice. You can heed Peter’s words and give God your cares, worries, and concerns. No matter how dark the night or how evil the situation, you must remind yourself that God is not only present with you in those situations, but He also loves you and will provide for you.

Your job is to be vigilant during those difficult times. You can rejoice in God’s love and blessings when all is going well—and that’s what God wants you to do. But in the dark moments, you need to remind yourself that the devil stalks you and wants to defeat you.

One more thing. Sometimes you may wonder why you have so many trials and problems. Is it possible that the devil may have singled you out because of God’s great plan for your life? The more faithful you are, the more you have to resist him and his lies of unbelief.



Prayer Starter:
Dear heavenly Father, the enemy often tries to fill me with unbelief and make me deny Your powerful love for me. But like Abraham, I stand firm on Your promises. Thank You for the comfort I find in Your assurance that You’re always with me. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The First Martyr​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 7:57-8:1
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Then he fell on his knees and cried out, Lord, do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of their killing him.
Acts 7:59-8:1

A vivid picture, is it not? It is noteworthy to see how God stands by his faithful martyr here. Stephen's eyes are opened, even in the presence of the council, and he sees the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. It is my conviction that every believer who dies sees this event, that when a believer steps out of time into eternity the next event waiting for him is the coming of the Lord Jesus for his own.

Here Stephen sees him waiting to step out and receive him in a few moments, when he will be taken out of the city and stoned to death. This is the sight that greets the eyes of those who fall asleep in Jesus, and Stephen sees it. He prays to him in words that echo those of Jesus himself on the cross. Jesus had prayed, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, (Luke 23:34). Stephen says, Lord, receive my spirit, and do not hold this sin against them. When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Twice in this account we have reference to young Saul of Tarsus. All of those who killed Stephen laid their garments at his feet. He kept the garments of the rest while they were doing the stoning. He had voted against Stephen in the council; he was consenting unto his death. But the idea the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp from this account is a truth that we have exemplified here and that has been manifested through the church many times since this day: The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. When the church suffers this way it always grows immensely. Out of the blood of Stephen there came the preaching of Paul. By the death of this first martyr there was brought to the church the heart and soul of the mighty apostle to the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul. Paul never forgot this scene. It was etched in his mind and memory so that he could never forget.

To this memory Jesus referred when he said to Saul, arresting him on his way to Damascus, Saul, Saul...It hurts you to kick against the goads... (Acts 26:14 RSV). What did he mean? This memory of Stephen was like a goad digging at young Saul's conscience, bothering him constantly, and preparing his heart for that moment when the Lord Jesus, who had received Stephen's spirit, would appear and reveal himself to this young man who would be converted and become Paul the Apostle.

Father, this account has sobered me that this life is a real battle and it can come to blood and sweat and tears. I pray that I may, like Stephen, be found faithful unto death, recognizing that the One whom I serve is the rightful Lord of heaven and of earth.

Life Application​

Heroes of faith have left us a heritage of their stoning, flogging, torture, imprisonment and martyrdom, perhaps never more prevalent than today. Are we prepared to submit to the suffering God may choose for us so that He may accomplish His sovereign purpose?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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The Evidence of the Holy Spirit​



And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)


There are too many unhappy born-again, Spirit-filled believers who don't know what it's like to remain full of the Spirit of God by acknowledging Him and pursuing His ways daily.

The Holy Spirit is in them, but they don't let the evidence of it show up in their normal, day-to-day life.

It is possible to fill a glass with water without filling it to full capacity. Likewise, when we are born again we have the Holy Spirit in us, but we may not yet be totally filled and have the evidence of His power in our lives.

Acts 4:31 reports that when people were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke the Word of God "with freedom and boldness and courage."

It does not please God when people leave Him out of their daily lives and then follow religious formulas to try to appease Him. Instead,

He wants us to live the Spirit-filled life of freedom, boldness and courage. I urge you to let God work freely in every area of your life through the power of the Holy Spirit.



Prayer Starter:
God, I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day. Help me to live with the freedom, boldness and courage You give in my daily life.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Keep Walking on the Water!​



And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid! And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.
—MATTHEW 14:25-28



Let’s focus for a moment on this part of a well-known New Testament story. The disciples were in the middle of the Sea of Galilee at midnight when they looked up and saw Jesus walking on the water. That is amazing, but as the story continues, Matthew wrote of the boisterous winds, yet Jesus kept walking on top of the waves.

The disciples were afraid—and that makes sense. Who would expect to see anyone walking on top of the water, even under the best of conditions?

Then Jesus cried out and told them, “Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!” (v. 27). This is the powerful moment in the story. What will happen now? Do they move over and give Jesus a place to sit in their boat? Should they get out and join Him on the waves? Do they huddle in fear, reminding themselves that human beings can’t walk on top of water?

Peter was the only one who responded in true faith. And let’s make no mistake here. For Peter to say, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (v. 28) was a tremendous act of faith. You’ll notice that he was the only one who spoke that way.

That was a powerful moment of faith. It was a defining moment that pointed out Peter’s great faith and belief in Jesus, the Anointed One of God. He was so convinced that Jesus truly was the Son of God that he was ready to get out of the boat and walk on top of the water with Him.
How many of you would get out of the boat? I emphasize this because it would be easy enough to say, “Lord, I see You walking on the water, and I believe I could walk on the water alongside You.” But would you? Do you have the kind of faith that would enable you to step out of the boat? Of the twelve disciples, Peter was the only one who took that step of faith.

I’m not citing this example of faith to discourage you or to make you feel that your faith is somehow lacking. I’m simply pointing out the great triumph of a man who dared to believe! Peter believed so strongly that he took a step of faith over the side of the boat and started walking toward Jesus.

Most of us know the rest of the story. Some might even smirk, saying, “Big deal! He got out of the boat, started walking on the water, got scared, and began to sink. And he also received a rebuke from Jesus: ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (v. 31). But think about it—Jesus didn’t say those words to the other disciples. He directed the words “you of little faith” to Peter. The implication is the others had no faith at that moment.

Think of these words not just as words of rebuke, but also as words of encouragement to Peter, the one who had enough faith to step out of the boat and begin walking on the water. “But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]!” (v. 30).

What if you saw this as Jesus’ great encouragement, not just to Peter, but also to you? What if you looked at this event as Jesus saying to you, “You started so well. You believed Me, and got out of the boat. You did it! You walked on water just as I did. But then you allowed doubt to enter, and when that happened, you began to sink.”

This powerful story is a wonderful reminder that Jesus is always with you, and He will suspend natural laws to reach out to you and care for you.



Prayer Starter:
Lord Jesus, please forgive my lack of faith. Increase my faith in Your Word, and help me to trust You enough to follow Your leading. When the circumstances around me threaten to pull me into deep waters of doubt, help me to focus on You. I ask these things in Your holy name. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional

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From Persecution to Proclamation​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 8:1-4
And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Acts 8:1-4

It was by means of the persecution that arose over Stephen that these early Christians were pressed out of Jerusalem, spurted out into the areas around, into Judea and Samaria, and began to preach the word, all according to the program of God. God used Saul of Tarsus, even before he became a Christian to accomplish this. God works to use the very obstacles thrown in the path of Christians to advance his cause. You can picture young Saul, enraged over what he regarded as a heresy, trying to stamp it out with all the energy of his flesh, entering house after house,

dragging off men and women and committing them to prison. This is the rage of a tortured conscience, which tries, by zealous activity, to cover up its anxiety, emptiness, and hurt. Yet God uses this as an instrument to accomplish his purpose.

God does two things with this rage of Saul's: He forces the church out of Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria to fulfill the divine program as he had outlined, and he makes the early church depend not upon the apostles but upon the gifts of the Spirit distributed to everyone — for these who were scattered abroad were not the apostles. Dr. Luke is careful to tell us that. These were ordinary, plain-vanilla Christians like you and me. And yet they had gifts of the Spirit. But they would never have discovered their gifts if they had not been pushed out, and put to work. So God used this pressure to place them in circumstances where they began to develop the gifts of evangelism, of witnessing, of helps, wisdom, knowledge, teaching, prophecy, and all the other gifts of the Spirit that had been made available to them.

Sometimes I think that God will have to do this in our day before people will begin to believe that they have spiritual gifts and put them to work. He may have to bring persecution upon us so that there cannot be dependence upon a central ministry, but each one will begin to utilize the gifts that God has given him.

Are you going through some kind of pressure today? Well, it is not punishment for our sins — Jesus took our punishment fully, on the Cross. The pressure, the trials, and the problems that come are by no means always the result of sin in our lives. Sometimes they are, but it may be God's way of moving you, of pressuring you into a new experience, into a new understanding of his truth and of his equipment in your life, and giving you a new opportunity to put it to work.

Thank you, Lord, that you are completely sovereign over my life and I can trust you to use me wherever you see fit to do so.

Life Application​

Jesus said, 'In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!' (Jn.16:33) Our 'cheer' (contentment) is not with our trials, but with God who is at work, causing 'all things to work together for His good.' (Rom.8:28) Will you rest in God as He works within your difficulties to make you more like His Son?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 
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