Posted by: missionventureministries | February 7, 2019

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT – Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and make Him the Lord of our live, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of us and will guide us and help us understand the word of God. Because of that help, we can become more like Jesus and demonstrate the gifts of the Spirit.

LOVE

Love is the first fruit of the Spirit mentioned. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and love one another (Mark 12:30-31). When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves, we show the world we belong to Jesus. However, until you know God loves you, it will be difficult to love God and love others.

It is only when God’s love starts to flow and enter into our life that we can begin to love Him, and love one another to the degree and to the intensity that God would really like to see from each one of us.

Love chooses to set aside one’s own preferences and desires, to put the other person first (Philippians 2:1-3).

JOY

It’s easy to have joy when things are going our way. It’s a different story when life is hard. However, followers of Jesus are called to have joy all the time—not just when life is good.

Joy means “gladness and delight” – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). As we cling tight to Jesus, abiding daily in our relationship with Him, we will experience the fullness of joy that Jesus tells us in the account of the vine and the branches; and in the last verse Jesus says: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:4-11).

PEACE

Unfortunately, the world doesn’t offer much peace; and the reason the world does not have peace is because they do not know the Prince of Peace. Jesus said: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (John 14:27).

Jesus also said: “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

And Scripture tells us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

PATIENCE

As we live in this fast-paced world we don’t see much patience today. But Christians have the Holy Spirit living in them longing to demonstrate patience to those around us. Patient people display endurance, longsuffering, and perseverance.

Just as God is patient as He waits for the lost to come to Him, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), He calls His people to be patient as we extend the offer of salvation in Christ to others. “Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another” (Ephesians 4:2).

We should also remember that: “Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace” (Proverbs 15:18).

KINDNESS

We open ourselves to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit when we ask Him to produce in us a kind heart, because kindness yields marvelous fruit both in our lives and the lives of those around us. Scripture says:  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)

We should always remember that a kind word, a kind action to another person can really do wonders for them. Proverbs says: “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor” (21:21).

GOODNESS

The Bible says that it is the goodness of God that will lead sinners to repentance and salvation. God demonstrated His kindness and goodness to us in our salvation (Titus 3:4) and will continue to “show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us” for all eternity (Ephesians 2:7).

Many people say that what drew them to want to know more about God was the love and goodness they saw shining through a believer. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

FAITHFULNESS

To be faithful is to be reliable, steadfast and unwavering. For the Christian, it means being faithful to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who redeemed us. Christian faithfulness therefore is continued and consistent submission and obedience to the same Spirit who provides the ability for us to be faithful.

Being faithful to God means not putting other things above Him; “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3:3-4).

Christians are to respond to God in faithfulness, just like Paul remained faithful to God in spite of tremendous pressures: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service” (1 Timothy 1:12).

The word also describes someone willing to suffer persecution and even death for Christ’s sake. “Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

GENTLENESS

Gentleness is closely linked to humility; it is not weakness, but instead it is strength under control. Paul instructed Timothy that, the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,  and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:24-26). And in his letter to the church in Galatia, he wrote that those who have been caught sinning should be restored in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1).

Gentleness involves humility and thankfulness toward God, and polite, restrained behavior toward others. The opposites of gentleness are anger and a desire for revenge. If, however, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we will be filled with fruit of gentleness.

SELF-CONTROL

One of the proofs of God’s working in our lives is the ability to control our own thoughts, words, and actions. Self-control leads to perseverance and godliness (2 Peter 1:6) instead of the instant gratification of the world.

Self-control is a gift that frees us. It frees us to enjoy the benefits of a healthy mind and body. It frees us from a guilty conscience. Self-control restricts the indulgence of our foolish desires, and we find liberty to love and live as we are meant to in Christ Jesus.

As the Spirit gives us self-control, He gives us the ability to refuse sin, because we know: “that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).

As true born again Christians, we have the Holy Spirit producing His fruit in us and we have the Holy Spirit’s power available to conquer the acts of the sinful nature. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The fruit of the Spirit is what God desires our lives to exhibit and, with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can!  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

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Posted by: missionventureministries | January 31, 2019

CHANGING BAD HABITS INTO GOOD HABITS – Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 

Habits are by definition behaviors we do on a regular basis and they are formed by practice and repetition. Our goal as Christians is to practice good habits that will lead us towards God and His purpose for our life and to break bad habits that will separate us from Him, which the Bible calls sin.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 6:1-2

We all commit sin, however, it is the habitual sin in our lives which is often the most frustrating and causes the most pain to ourselves, those around us and will forever separate us from God if we do not wake up and change our ways.

Many earnestly desire to be free of their sin but with constant temptations from the devil and his demons, our flesh and the world, individuals who do not know the power of God, can keep being pressured back into it.

The Bible instructs us to develop good habits when we become Christians such as prayer, bible reading and meeting with other Christians; developing these new habits will also help us to develop ‘fruits of the Spirit’ and overcome sin in our life – Galatians 5:22-26.

By the grace of God, we are ‘To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness, Ephesians 4:22-24. This is the best antidote to replace bad habits with good habits.

When we become new creations, we see that God wants us to leave our bad habits and sins behind and take on new Christ-like behaviors. If we trust in Him, He will help us change, because, as Hebrews 13:5 tells us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So how do we accomplish this? First, we need to realize that there is sin in our lives; then we need to confess them to God and accept His forgiveness. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

The Bible and the Holy Spirit will tell us what we need to change and which areas of our lives aren’t in line with His Word as we read in Galatians 5:19-21, Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Once you acknowledge the particular habit you need to change, you need to start monitoring your behavior and becoming aware of when this happens. You should pay attention to what triggers the habit. Is it certain people or situations that cause you to sin? Do certain TV programs trigger your habit? What thoughts or feelings do you have right before you sin?

Gathering this information will help you recognize patterns and make a plan for overcoming the bad habits by seeking God’s help.

To begin, you need to decide and take action and see with which godly behavior you should replace your bad habit with; otherwise another bad habit may emerge in its place. Because, as the Bible teaches, “when the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.” Matthew 12:43-45

You need to have a positive behavior to replace the negative one. Pray and ask God to show you the way.

Remember what Ephesians 4:22-24 says: To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self.

You need to ensure your new goals are specific, achievable and realistic. For example: I will get up at 6:45, which is 15 minutes earlier than I normally do and I will read my bible for 15 minutes every day and pray.

While 15 minutes might not sound like much, it is better to start with an attainable goal because it is difficult to form new habits as our brain prefers routine to change. By making small changes, your brain and body will protest less.

As Christians, our key motivation to change bad behavior is to obey and please God, so we can become more Christ like. Jesus said: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15

Therefore, you should, commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act. Psalm 37:5

Stay accountable to other Christians and have them pray for you and with you. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Honesty, faith and determination are a great factor in overcoming. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. 1 John 3:21-22

As you see, the key is that you need to ask according to God’s will, and it is vital to also understand what James states: You must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8

Having an accountability partner is vital, because, if one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Ecclesiastes 4:10

Accept advice from mature Christians, particularly those who have overcome a similar habit to yours. Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom….. Proverbs 19:20. Because, without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Avoiding temptation is another key to success. Whatever the source to your downfall is, stay away from them, and instead: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:14

Remember to avoid people who will trigger your bad habit and, do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33

Follow the psalmist advice and hate the assembly of evildoers, and do not sit with the wicked, Psalm 26:5. Instead you need to submit to God who will help you to overcome your bad habits if you are sincere. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.   Proverbs 3:5-6

Keep your focus on Jesus and concentrate on doing what is right and do not give the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:27); always remembering that, if you have died to self, meaning you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and have made Him the Lord of your life, you have been raised up with Christ, therefore, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Because as a believer, you have died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-3

Jesus defined the only people who are truly born again as those who have come to the light as He said: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21

Renewing your mind is one of the most important steps in changing your habits. You need to think new thoughts and form new beliefs in regards to your habit and most importantly you need to believe that you can change. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

As you read this message of hope that is filled with God’s word you should realize that once you start reading His word you will find it renewing your mind. Your desire will change and you will no longer want to sin and you will acknowledge that: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

If you memorize scriptures they will come to mind when you are tempted by bad habits. Jesus overcame temptation by quoting scripture, you can do the same! Read Matthew 4:1-11.

God tells us we can change and that the victory has been won in Christ Jesus; because, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37

Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

The key message being that: All things are possible to them that believe! Mark 9:23 

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Posted by: missionventureministries | January 24, 2019

SIN GIVES BIRTH TO DEATH – James 1:14-15

“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15) 

Satan knows our individual weaknesses and tempts us accordingly. Many Christians fall into sin through pride, covetousness, compromise or laziness.

So let us understand what sin is. It is the transgression of God’s commandments which separates us from God.

God has given His Commandments for the good of men. They are the instructions by which men must conduct themselves, in order that we might live in peace and orderliness, and remain in communion with Him. Sin is the violation of God’s law, the break-up of order, the disruption of peace, and the interruption of communion with our Creator.

No man is the same after sinning as he was before. The sin may be forgiven, but the scar remains on his soul.

First, sin blinds. We are commanded to grow in Christ, adding to our initial faith the attributes of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, and love (2 Peter 1:5-7). Otherwise, “whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins,” (2 Peter 1:9). 

Sin binds, it may not be with chains, as it did with Samson, but unconfessed sin quickly enslaves those who practice being sinful; because, “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them” (2 Peter 2:19). 

When we look at the life of Samson, he did return to God again before his death, but he was still blind, and bound, and grinding. “But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.” (Judges 16:21) 

God forgives, but the effects of sin are not easily removed. How much better it would be if we never yielded to the temptation at all.  

The sad end of mighty Samson, who once had been so greatly utilized by the Lord, is also a grave warning to every Christian.

James says that “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust (1:14). If we associate this with fishing, this is what takes place. The fish sees the bait and is lured toward it, thinking that he will get a free lunch. Instead, he gets hooked and becomes the meal. The temptation to sin is like that. We think that sin will satisfy us and get us something good that we want; but instead, it hooks us and leads us to destruction.

In the beginning, temptation promises excitement. “This will be fun! This will meet my needs. This will get what I have been looking for. It can’t hurt I’ll try it!”

Temptation never comes with flashing lights of warning, “Would you like to destroy yourself and your family? Would you like to dishonor the name of your God?” If you take the bait, you’re on the course that leads to death.

There is always that deceptive element to temptation that is strengthened by the powerful emotions involved. As believers, we are not to live by our feelings, but by faith and obedience, based on the knowledge of God’s word. We need to follow it, no matter how strongly our feelings pull us in a different direction.

Remember, to overcome temptation, it is important to realize that although the initial thought that leads us to sin stems from sinful flesh, it is not sin unless we pursue it. Instead we are to yield ourselves as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13); and since we are “risen with Christ,” we are to “mortify” the fleshly appetites, “put off” emotional outbursts that reflect an ungodly nature, and “put on” godly attributes so that whatsoever we do is done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-17).

If we do not repent and get back on the path of righteousness, it may indicate that we never were truly saved. This might sound harsh but Jesus told the parable of the sower where the seed is “the word of the kingdom.” The stony ground pictures a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed; and the seed has no firm root; he believes for a while, and in time of temptation falls away.

The point here is that, a man’s reception of God’s Word is determined by the condition of his heart. Therefore, someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it.

Please remember that: “God will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:6-8).

If you desire to call people to humble, holy living that honors God, you will be resented and even hated. Jesus warned His true followers that: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (Matthew 24:9).

And the verdict is that: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:19-21).

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Posted by: missionventureministries | January 17, 2019

LORD WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE FOR MY LIFE? – John 3:27

“A man can receive only what is given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

Many people and Christians have ruined their lives because of bad decisions made apart from God’s will.

We need to realize that the individual that trusts in his own understanding will make wrong decisions, because of man’s fallen nature. We must seek God and trust Him explicitly. We need to be aware that even though the believer has a new nature called the “new man,” the “old man” is still there and can still lead us astray.

We might say, “I am allowed to do anything,” but not everything is good for me. Again we say, “I am allowed to do anything,” but not everything is beneficial – 1 Corinthians 10:23. As we see by this passage the “old man” still shows up at times.

We need to seek God will for our life through prayer. Instead of trusting in our own understanding, we need to ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance in everything we do, and especially during a major decision. He has promised to lead His people, but we must seek His guidance, trust in Him and not rely on our own understanding – Proverbs 3:5-6.

Scripture tells us that we are not to worry about anything; instead, we are to pray about everything. We should tell God what we need, and thank Him for all He does. Once we do this, then we will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live a life that is pleasing to Him – Philippians 4:6-7.

We are to trust the Lord and not our own understanding, Proverbs 3:5; because those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom are kept safe, Proverbs 28:26.

When we have a decision that needs to be made and we seek God’s will, it is very important to avoid haste; because when we are rushed, it is easy to make the wrong decision. We must wait until we are certain that we know the mind of the Lord; and the way we know this, is through the joy and peace God gives us when we rely on Him. Paul told his readers: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

When we seek God’s will, and faithfully wait on Him we gain a tranquil spirit as a result. When making any decisions we should ask ourselves are we growing in peace or is doubt increasing? If something is of God, peace will grow and faith will increase, but if not, there will be doubt and a lack of peace.

God’s will is worth waiting for because decisions have consequences that last throughout one’s lifetime, and if an individual makes wrong decisions, he will not only live to regret it but he will have to bear the consequences until he dies. Not waiting on the Lord for the mate He has already chosen for us is one of these decisions, and of course, there are many others.

At times we might need to seek the advice of wise and experienced believers; as even Paul and Barnabas did. People around us may give useful advice in their areas of expertise, and friends may try to tell us what to do, but the counsel of a true believer has a different level of advice, and shouldn’t be neglected.

God knows our emergencies, and he deeply cares for our needs. He will not leave us when we really need an answer. But He may make us wait patiently in order to allow our attitude time to change to be open and receptive to His answer.

Unfortunately we live in an age of instant gratification, and are not accustomed to wait patiently, but God’s answers are worth waiting for, so we need to be alert to the pressures the world and well intended family or friends might place on us.

We need to be persistent in prayer which is the greatest gift God has given us. How often we see Jesus take refuge in His quiet time with His Heavenly Father. If Jesus needed to pray to align His heart with God, how much more do we need to pray?

As we wait patiently in the Lord and immerse ourselves in the word of God, we must allow it to penetrate and exert influence in our life. Here are some questions we might want to ask ourselves when making decisions:

  • How will this decision affect me spiritually?
  • How will this affect my family? Will this draw us closer to God or further from God?
  • Is this going to bring more peace or less peace to my life?
  • Is now the best time for this decision? Would waiting be better?
  • Am I willing to let God close this door if it is the wrong one for me?

An important element to making good decisions is to make sure that we are completely submitted to God’s ultimate plan for our life. Sometimes we get it into our heads that we want to do a certain thing, and then we struggle immensely when we begin to realize that God may not want us to move forward with that particular choice. The disaster however, comes when we place our desire above God’s plan because; it will never have a good outcome.

The best decision we can ever make is to submit our choices to God’s plan and be willing to give up an opportunity when we sense God does not want us to move forward with that decision; remembering that the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them – Romans 8:27-28.

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Posted by: missionventureministries | January 10, 2019

HOW TO IDENTIFY A TRUE CHURCH – Acts 2:42-47

It is vital to have humble godly leaders who teach people to live a holy life and reinforce those teachings by living honest, humble and holy lives themselves. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only. Otherwise, you are deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

First, the Scriptures are the foundation for everything in the church and they must be taught accurately and without deviation. It needs to be a church that prioritizes in biblical expository teaching and preaching the truth of God’s Word.

The most effective way to build disciples over time is called expository preaching and teaching. Expository means to go verse by verse, paragraph by paragraph and chapter by chapter in order to teach, explain and apply the meanings of the Scriptures.

Only a church that knows the Bible can hope of having a church that pleases Christ!

Second, a church that humbly praises God through song and worship. Where people are filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:18-19).

True spiritual songs are composed, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of bringing worshipers into the throne room of heaven. Hymns were written to teach great biblical truth; and contemporary worship songs that follow those guidelines can offer this as well.

There should be a reverential joy when singing and worshiping the Lord.

Third, a church that prays develops intimacy with God. Very few times, if any, does the Bible record Paul praying for someone to be healed; however, he prayed often for the human spirit to be matured: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

We as the invisible church of God need to pray for and with others. This is important because research shows that and astonishing 98 percent of all Christians fail to lead anyone to Christ.

Fourth, a church where people tithe regularly and give generously. Tithing and giving are part of worshiping God. It is more than giving money for things that appear to be material. The believer needs to realize that he is giving back to God what He provided for them. They should be grateful to be able to help the church grow and to help other in need.

Fifth, a church where fellowship permeates the believers. When the church first was birthed at Pentecost, after Peter addressed the crowds we read where the fellowship of new Christians began to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer… Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

Fellowship involves pouring our lives into teaching and helping others.

Sixth, a church that focuses on helping hurting people by feeding and taking care of their sheep. Jesus taught Peter a valuable lesson after he had denied Him three time; and motivated him to love others when he told him: “Feed my lambs…Take care of my sheep…Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-18).

We need to remember that a church that loves God is hated by Satan, therefore, the body of believers needs to be alert and of sober mind because the enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

As a result, the church needs to teach that every area of our lives that is not surrendered fully to the Holy Spirit is open to attack by Satan.

Fortunately, God has given us every tool necessary to be victorious in spiritual warfare. In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul describes the spiritual armor necessary to find victory. And James 4:7 tells us: “Submit to God; resist the devil; and he will flee from you.”

Therefore, as Paul taught his congregation that, in view of God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1). This is what every true Christian should do as well.

And we should never be lacking in zeal, but keep our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:11).

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Posted by: missionventureministries | January 4, 2019

WHEN WE ARE UNSURE, WE NEED TO PRAY – Psalm 143:8

“Teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143:8)

When life is going well, we often keep going without giving much time to prayer. Many of us pray but our prayer often fail to draw us deep into fellowship with God. When problems or tragedy hit, that is when our prayers tend to increase and become more fervent.

King David wrote numerous heartfelt prayers asking God to be with him, to protect and avenge him, and to remember him according to God’s love and righteousness. We see his anxious prayer to God in Psalm 27:7 –“Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.” As we see, trials force us to turn to and rely on God.

Sadly most of us live our lives on autopilot. We get up, work, eat, go to bed, and repeat everything over again. Even when difficulties arise, our self-reliance increases, pushing us further from God. But when things get tough and our ability to maintain even a semblance of normality and control, then we tend to run to God.

We should not wait until this happens, to discover that God’s is always there to comfort us and to guide us.

If we belong to Christ, we’ve got the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, and one of the Spirit’s role is to align believers with God’s will. This process occurs progressively over time as He alters our thinking, desires, and priorities to more closely align with His. This process often accelerates during trials and problems. We need to remember that if we obey the Lord “The Spirit of truth . . . will guide me into all truth” (John 16:13).

When we are unsure of God’s will for our life, we should pray and meditate on His Word because it guides us: “Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8) and, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:5).

When in doubt we should ask Him: If I am making a wrong decision Lord please let your Holy Spirit stir up my conscience and if I am leaning towards the right decision give me peace and encourage me to proceed according to Your will, because “You my Lord will guide me always” (Isaiah 58:11).

The Lord will guide us, and if He is calling us to walk in faith, we need to ask Him to encourage us by His presence. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). And we need to remember to, “cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).

We need to “Trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding, and in all my ways submit to Him, and He will direct our paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If what we are asking is according to God’s plans for us, He will give us the peace that transcends all understanding and open up the way; and if not, He will show us another direction that He already has in mind for us.

Proverbs 16:3 tell us to “commit to the Lord whatever we do, and He will establish our plans.”

Whatever our need or fear is today; we need to go before the throne of grace in confidence because Christ has already made the way. We need to tell God our worries and concerns. Ask for rescue and deliverance. Instead of despairing over what could or might happen, we need to run to the One who holds the world in the palm of His hands. We need to rest in the Jesus who said: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27).

We need to find our peace in the knowledge that He is the Alpha and Omega, the One who knows the beginning and the end. Nothing in our future will surprise God because it is all under His sovereign rule and care. And because we are His, we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

Always remember that once we ask we need to start thanking God for His faithfulness in guiding us and showing us the way. So let us “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of humility and dependence on God.

The promise is that: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

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Posted by: missionventureministries | December 27, 2018

WHAT IS THE FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF FAITH? – Hebrews 11:1

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1

Hebrews chapter 11 is called the “faith chapter” because in it great deeds of faith are described; and as we read through them we clearly see that faith is demonstrated by action.

Biblical faith is the basic ingredient to begin a relationship with God. It is by faith that we understand that the whole world was made by God’s command, therefore our unseen Creator has given us evidence and proof.

Faith is the assurance that the things revealed and promised in the Word are true, even though unseen, it gives the believer an assurance that what he expects by faith, will come to pass.

It is impossible to be saved without faith and “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

There are many biblical accounts where we see that when people believed and had faith, amazing things happened!

We read in Matthew 8:5-13 about the centurion who came to Jesus because he had a servant who was paralyzed, and he believed Jesus could heal him. When Jesus told the centurion he would go with him and heal his servant, the centurion told Jesus he wasn’t worthy to have him under his roof, and with faith, asked Jesus to “only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus marveled at his faith and said, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

In Matthew 9:20-22 we read about the “woman with the issue of blood” who saw Jesus and believed she could be healed if she could only touch Him. She had faith, and “touched the hem of His garment.” Jesus then told her “your faith has made you well.”

Another example is found in Matthew 9:27-30 where two blind men came to Jesus and asked Him to heal them. Jesus first asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” and they replied, “Yes, Lord.” “Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened.”

Their faith and assurance that Jesus could give them sight was the substance, reality they hoped for. It also gave them the conviction that they would receive what they asked for. They believed; that is, they had faith in advance that it would be done.

We should never loose faith even for others, as we read in Luke 5:17-26 where the friends of a paralytic man believed Jesus could heal their friend, and they brought him to Jesus. Now, because of the large crowd they could not get to Him; so, by faith, they climbed to the roof of the house where Jesus was staying, and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, Jesus said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you” and He healed him.

There are also amazing examples of faith in the Old Testament. In the book of Daniel we see where Daniel’s three friends refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s image of gold. Those who refused to bow to the image were threatened with being thrown into a fiery pit alive. They had faith in God and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

They did not know in advance how God would deliver them from the fiery furnace, whether at that time by saving their physical lives or later in the resurrection. Their faith was the substance of what they hoped for, and it was the evidence of that which was not yet seen or received. Their faith was established on serving God and obeying His commandments. They believed God would deliver them because they obeyed His commandments and did not bow down to worship any others gods.

Real faith is more than just believing in God; it includes acting on that faith by serving God and obeying His commandments.

Faith is increased when we draw closer to God through prayer.  Paul told the Philippians to “be anxious for nothing in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). They believed God’s Word, and they obeyed His commandments. As they listened and followed Paul’s instruction on giving their cares to God and believing in the power of prayer, their faith was increased.

The Bible is God’s inspired Word to mankind, therefore, when we read the Bible, our faith increases and through trusting and believing in His promises, by faith, it brings us through impossible situations.

In times of trials, when it seems as if Christ is not with us; by faith we remember that, “He promised to be with me even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), “He promised never to leave or forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5).

In summary, faith is trust, assurance and confidence in our heavenly Father. Living faith is not only believing that God exists, it is demonstrated by one’s service and obedience to God. He will increase our faith if we ask Him.

Remember, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17); and God will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in Him, (Isaiah 26:3).

Faith is a precious possession! It is not visible or tangible; however, Jesus said to doubting Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

 

When we have faith and trust God, we find out that He keeps His word; this in turn makes our faith grow and helps us trust Him even more. Faith opens the door to a victorious life!

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Posted by: missionventureministries | December 20, 2018

GROWING IN CHRIST – 2 Peter 3:18

The Bible teaches that the Christian life is one of constant growth. When you are born again, you are born into God’s family. When this occurs, God’s purpose is that you grow and become mature in Christ. In 2 Peter 3:18, the Bible says: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”  

To grow implies to develop, increase in wisdom, expand knowledge, to grow in awareness.

For one to grow properly in the knowledge of Christ there are certain things that must be practiced for us to grow in spiritual maturity.

We need to read the Bible daily and hide God’s Word in our heart. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tell us that, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Please do not be content to just skim through the Bible merely to satisfy your conscience. We need to take time to hear what God is saying to us as we read His Word.  

We need to learn the secret of prayer. Prayer is communicating with our heavenly Father. Jesus said: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14). Every prayer that we pray will be answered. Sometimes the answer may be “Yes”, sometimes we need to “Wait” for His time, and sometimes the answer will be “No,” because God knows what is best and He has something even better for us, if we trust and obey.

We need to rely constantly on the Holy Spirit for guidance and discernment. The Spirit gives us understanding of the gospel and makes it effective in our life (1 Corinthians 2:4, 12). The Spirit opens our understanding to know God better (Ephesians 1:17), strengthens us in our inner being (Ephesians 3:16), and fills us with the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Christians should attend church regularly. They need one another; we need to gather together to worship God. Remembering that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), so that we may understand and grow.

New believers grow by going to witness with mature Christian. Witnessing your faith begins with honoring Christ in your heart and as you do this God will prepare your mind and give you the words to bring others to Christ.

Christians should love on another. Jesus said to those who followed Him, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). The greatest demonstration of the fact that we are Christians is that we love one another.

We need to be obedient Christians. Therefore; it is vital to let Christ have first place in all the choices of our life by honoring Him in everything that we think, say and do.

We need to learn to say no to temptation. Temptation is not sin; it is yielding to it that becomes sin. Scripture tells us that, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We need to reflect Christ in our life. Our life, actions and appearance should exalt what the Gospel teaches and make it attractive to others. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13). How do you know when you are in the presence of a true Christian? Jesus is always the center of attention and a true Christian has a humble spirit.

We should not let our circumstances get us down. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We must learn to live with gratitude for what God has given us, realizing that the Lord is always with us.“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).

We need to respect God with our bodies. We need to remember that, “everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16).

The Bible tells us that Christ himself gave us evangelists, pastors and teachers, to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, (Ephesians 4:11-13).

We are praying that you will have the desire to grow in God’s knowledge and grace.

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Posted by: missionventureministries | December 13, 2018

JOSEPH – JESUS’ FATHER ON EARTH – Matthew 13:55

Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? (Matthew 13:55)

The biblical account of Joseph the earthly father of Jesus is found in the New Testament books of Matthew and Luke. Joseph was a faithful man who obeyed God’s laws. He not only strived to do what was right but also to do it the right way. When his betrothed Mary came to him with the news of her pregnancy, he knew the child was not his.

Joseph loved Mary so he decided he would annul the engagement, but determined to do it in such a way that it would not bring shame to her. Because of Jewish laws he could not marry her under these circumstances, but he wanted to be just, acting with love. He had great respect for Mary’s character but her story of being miraculously impregnated by God’s Holy Spirit was difficult for him to believe.

As he was considering all these things, the Lord sent an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)

God confirmed Mary’s story and told Joseph that Mary had not been unfaithful and that she had been chosen to be the mother of Messiah. The angel told him what Isaiah had professed about this about 700 year before: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). So God instructed Joseph to marry the young woman and honor her virginity until the baby was born.

This must have been initially very difficult for Joseph to reconcile in his mind. But Joseph was faithful and a man of integrity and He obeyed the Lord.

It is not known how long Joseph was in the life of Jesus but he realized, from the moment of the heavenly visit, that Jesus was to be very special.

 

The last time Joseph was mentioned in the Bible was when Jesus was 12 years old and they went to Jerusalem to celebrate the yearly Passover celebration.

We can assume, that being the honorable man he was, Joseph fulfilled the role of father to the best of his ability and with all the love any man can have for his son. Even though Jesus was the Creator of the World, Joseph and Mary brought Him up in a spiritual environment teaching Him the Torah.

Joseph also taught Jesus carpentry, as we see Him referred to in Mark 6:3, “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”  

Joseph fulfilled the role of protector, provider and teacher, raising the young boy without any hesitation. God provided Joseph with assurance, strength, and the abilities of leadership to raise the child who was born to be the Savior of the world, “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).

Just as God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, He also chose Joseph to be His earthy father and provided Joseph the honor to personally name the child . . . “and you shall call his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:21)

This is deeply significant because, it means that Joseph, in naming the child, acknowledges Him as his own son and thus becomes the legal father of the child according to Semitic law. As a result of this legal adoption, Joseph’s ancestry as a descendent of David transfers also to his lawful Son.

Biologically, Jesus is begotten by the Holy Spirit and is thus the “Son of God” (Luke 1:32), but legally He is the son of Joseph and heir to the promises of David, Joseph’s ancestor.

The angel Gabriel had promised Mary that, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32). In Joseph naming the boy, and therefore adopting him, David becomes Jesus’ earthly ancestor since the bible states that Mary was a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David, Luke 1:27.

The lineage of Joseph is further explained by the census that was decreed by Caesar Augustus where everyone went to be registered, everyone to his own city. “Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,  in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.” (Luke 2:4-5)

As we see, God honors integrity, obedience, and faithfulness. Our obedience to Him will also bring increased guidance and blessings from Him. With God’s help, any situation or appearance of things gone wrong can be used for good when we remain steadfast and have a personal relationship with God. If you seek Him and listen for His direction, He will answer you with provisions of a blessed outcome for you as well.

Even though our Savior was most probably born in September-October, let our hearts joyfully celebrate Him all year through.

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Luke 2:14

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Posted by: missionventureministries | December 6, 2018

THE MAGI FROM THE EAST AND – HIS STAR – Matthew 2:1-16

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-2) 

As we read this passage we need understand who the Magi from the east were. Magi is a Persian term for a priestly class of wise men who specialized in astrology, medicine, and natural science; and would naturally would have been interested in any unusual heavenly phenomenon. 

Historically, it is very likely that they would have been familiar with the writings of Daniel who gained great notoriety as a wise man and interpreter of dreams in the Persian court of Nebuchadnezzar. If so, they would have also known Daniel’s prophecy of “the seventy weeks of years” which is recorded in Daniel 9:24-27. 

This remarkable prophecy established the general time period of the Messiah’s coming by indicating it would be 483 years after a Persian ruler issued an edict to rebuild Jerusalem. The magi throughout this time period had probably been counting down the years since the Jews had been sent back from Babylon to rebuild Jerusalem, and they therefore knew the approximate time period when the Messiah would be born. 

As we read these verses they seem to imply that the “star of Bethlehem” appeared only to the magi in the East, who were most likely from the area of Persia, or modern-day Iran. There is no biblical record of anyone else observing “the star of Bethlehem.” 

The “star” could have been what the Jews called the “Shekinah,” that is, a physical manifestation of the glory of God in the form of a supernatural radiance. They knew that no ordinary star could do what it did and many also assumed that the star was an angel or some other entity that God had created for this specific occasion. 

Shekinah, is a word that does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression, signifying that it was a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth. The Shekinah was first evident when the Israelites set out from Succoth in their escape from Egypt. There the Lord appeared in a cloudy pillar in the day and a fiery pillar by night: “So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people” (Exodus 13:20–22). 

God spoke to Moses out of the pillar of cloud in Exodus 33, assuring him that His Presence would be with the Israelites (v. 9). Verse 11 says God spoke to Moses “face to face” out of the cloud, but when Moses asked to see God’s glory, God told Him, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” (v. 20). This clearly seems to indicate that God’s glory is too awesome and powerful to be seen completely by man. 

The magi in the East saw “the star of Bethlehem” that alerted them to the fact that the Jewish Messiah was born. However, the magi do not call “the star of Bethlehem” by that name; in Matthew 2:2 they refer to it as being “His star,” since it was a sign to them that a king was born. The star guided the magi to travel in the direction of Jerusalem. 

In Jerusalem, the magi visited King Herod and after inquiring, were told that the new King they were looking for would be born in Bethlehem, not in Jerusalem (Matthew 2:5). The wise men left Herod’s palace, and “the star of Bethlehem” appeared to them once again. In fact, the star “went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed” (Matthew 2:9–10). The “star of Bethlehem” then astonishingly guiding the way, led the magi to the precise place where they could find Jesus.

As we continue in Matthew 2:11-12 we read, And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

In reading theses verses, we become aware that modern portrayals of the Christmas nativity scene usually show the wise men visiting Jesus on the night of His birth, which does not agree with the truth found in the Word of God.

We also learn that the magi may have first observed the star of Bethlehem the night of Jesus’ birth, meaning they may have first seen it up to two years beforehand. The Bible tells us why: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). 

Many Bible scholars suggest a natural explanation for “the star of Bethlehem”, their theories range from a supernova to a comet to an alignment of planets. However, there is evidence to suggest that the “star of Bethlehem” was not a natural stellar phenomenon, but a sign from God and something unexplained by science.  

The fact that the star of Bethlehem apparently only appeared to the Magi indicates that this was not an ordinary star. Also, celestial bodies normally move from east to west due to the earth’s rotation, yet the star of Bethlehem led the magi from Jerusalem south to Bethlehem. Not only that, but led them directly to the place where Joseph and Mary were living, stopping above the house. There is no natural stellar phenomenon that can do that. 

The final thing to consider is why God would open the eyes of a group of gentile wise men who specialized in astrology, medicine, and natural science and draw them to the Christ Child. Undoubtedly it was for the purpose of symbolizing the universal importance of His birth, and to emphasize that although salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22), it is intended for all peoples. 

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

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