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Listening to the Voice of God (Moses pt2)

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Listening to the Voice of God

Exodus 3:1-4:17                     February 7, 1999



          My great grandfather was hard of hearing, or so it was supposed.  He was well into his 80’s as I remember him growing up as a young child.  His name was John Will Glover.  If I could have thrown in another middle name before the “Will”, it would have been “Iron”.  He migrated west after the Civil War and homesteaded the farm I grew up on.  He had quite a reputation as a horse trader.  He lost that place, Cedar Grove Stock Farm, during the depression, but was able to keep another farm he had purchased nearby.  My father told me lots of stories about his determination.  By the time I knew him, he had retired to a house in the little hometown of Lawton where I went to school.  Many times he would watch my brother and I after school.  Our family even lived next door for a year or two.  When my brother or I would talk to him directly, we would have to yell or repeat what we said several times.  But when my brother and I were planning mischief, grandpa could hear through walls.  It made me wonder if he really wanted to hear what I would say to him.  But then, on the other hand, I wonder if grandpa thought we didn’t want to hear what he had to say because we seldom minded very well.  Listening is a two-way street observed by following signs.  There are many mitigating human circumstances, but we can generally tell how well someone is listening by observing how well they pay attention or respond to what we are saying.  Listening is an art that can be developed.  Listening to God is an art that must be developed.

          God had to prepare Moses about how to listen if he was to be used by God to deliver his people, Israel.  In 2:11, Moses began a search for his identity.  Notice he was now 40 years old (Acts 7:23) by the time the Bible calls him “grown up”.  Now, perhaps he had been grown up for awhile, but it is interesting that he is now 40 years old before he steps over the line in identifying with his people.  This middle age seems to be a common time when most of us begin to take stock of our lives.  We wonder just where the time has gone.  We wonder just where it is that we are going.  We begin to look back and see patterns that weren’t clear when we were younger.  We have a desperate need to confirm our identity that is now in a crisis state.  Moses knew he wasn’t Egyptian.  The blood of the covenant was in his veins.  It must now become his by personal experience – like his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob experienced before they could be used by God. 

          Now perhaps Moses, schooled in Pharaoh’s court, thought himself the ruler type.  He had taken zealous vengeance on the Egyptian slave driver, but when he tries to lord his advice over his own people in 2:14, he is unaccepted.  Not only was his crime observed by his own people, but his own people whom he was trying to identify with didn’t want to identify with him and probably tattled on him as he feared.  His fear was justified since we are told that Pharaoh tried to kill Moses.  Sin does find us out, and wrong methods hardly ever work for very long.  His fear drove him into the schoolhouse of God’s desert for the next 40 years.  This was a necessary action on God’s part because the enslaved Israelites were not yet in enough pain to accept God’s deliverance, and Moses was not yet focused enough on God to be used by God to do it.  God is not slow as some count slowness (2Pet. 3:9).  Have you ever noticed God is not in a hurry?  We are the ones who are always in a hurry but slow in learning to listen. 

Both Moses and the Israelites had to come to grips with their identity crisis.  They had to learn to listen.  And the flip side of listening is obeying.  Those next 40 years saw the death of the Egyptian king, and a great increase in the cry of the Israelites to God about their slavery, and the unique and marvelous preparation of Moses whom God called to deliver them.  The Israelites had to want to leave their slavery instead of being a kept people, but the period of their slavery taught them much about the skills of civilization in preparation for their establishment in the Promised Land - remember they came as shepherds.   And 40 years of herding hungry, thirsty, stubborn and needy sheep helped make Moses the leader he imagined himself to be when he was younger and searching for his identity.  The timeless desert makes one patient.  The harsh desert makes one humble.  Perhaps you also have been made to search the desert for the waters of patience and the winds of humility.

At the age of 80 or so, God began to speak to Moses.  Moses’ responses still revealed the ongoing crisis of identity, but at least he was able to work through it with God’s help now.  Five times, Moses finds excuses and needs additional prompting and persuasion.  But this is after Moses’ curiosity is set on fire.  Imagine – there you are on the far side of the desert.  Perhaps your tongue is on fire for water.  Unknown to you, you have stumbled on to a holy place, the mountain of God.  But he wants to set your soul on fire.  What would you do if you saw a burning bush that was not consumed?  You may think you have become delusional.  You would check it out to see if it was real – to see if you were real.  God wanted Moses to see that he was real.  So did this suitor want his beloved to see that he was real:

Title:  A Hunk-a Hunk-a Burnin' Bush

I worked my way through Bible college by running a small printing business. Fellow students provided steady work ordering wedding invitations.

One day I was surprised when Jill Ann ordered invitations. She had long maintained that God would have to speak to her out of a burning bush before she would marry.

          "Why did you finally accept Allen's proposal?" I asked.

           Jill Ann explained that, one day, as she left the dormitory, she saw an old, dead shrub in flames. From a hiding place nearby, in a slow, deep voice, Allen called, "Jill Ann! Jill Ann! I want you to marry Allen!"


-- John D. Wild, Portland, Ore.  Christian Reader, "Rolling Down the Aisle."

This burning bush is quite symbolic.  God manifests himself, but we must have enough desire for the truth to come the rest of the way to him.  How has God revealed himself to you?  Have you written him off as an aberration, a fluke, a chance imagination?  Do we want to see his revelation and hear what he has to say?  Now notice that when Moses didn’t write it off and went over, God called his name.  Certainly God is a consuming fire.  We are to be consumed with him, but he does not consume us.  We shall be preserved, but there is one stipulation.  The place where we meet God is holy ground – wherever that is.  God deserves better than the dirt of the street and the heel prints of our shoes.  The honor of his appearing demands the light tread of intimate respect.  It is a sole to soul contact with the Almighty.  When God calls, you listen.  When God speaks, you obey.  Moses had to wait until he was 80 years old to hear God.  I think that most of us here have heard him much earlier.  The question is whether we heeded what we heard.  Will we say, “Here I am Lord”?

Title:  Honoring God for Our Own Sake

We pay God honor and reverence, not for his sake (because he is of himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything), but for our own sake.


Thomas Aquinas, medieval theologian. Men of Integrity, Vol.1, no. 1.

When we obey, God reveals himself further.  He told Moses, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.  We see that we are not the first ones to experience God.  We see that we are next in line.  We see the importance of that line.  But because we realize we are in communion with the God of the Ages, the God of all generations, we shrink back in terror at the reality of who he is.  He is the great “I Am” who has compassion on his people, all people, and wants rescue them and preserve them.  He wants to bring them into a good and spacious place of freedom and joy.  But notice that he says it is already occupied, vs. 3:8.  He wants to prevail through them and us over all those who will not listen, so that perhaps they will listen, and at least have no excuse for not listening.  He wants to save us so that he can use us to save others.  It all starts with someone who will listen to God – Moses – or perhaps you.  In 3:10, Moses gets a direct order from the Commander in Chief.  He is commissioned, “So now go.”  It sounds very much like the direct order of commissioning that Jesus gave in Mt. 28:19-20 to all those who would be his disciples.  And he precedes his direct order with the statement that all authority on heaven and earth is given to him.  It is with this same mandate of authority that God appears with his message of commissioning to Moses.

How many of you saw the burning bush and heard the voice of God this Founder’s Week?  Perhaps the burning bush is the souls of all those he is asking you to have a burning passion for, and out of that bush those souls cry out for you to say, “Here I am for you.”  God is calling you to lead his people out of slavery and into the Promised Land of his eternal kingdom where life is forever and Jesus saves.  Here again we see the picture of the burning bush.  God’s people may be in the fires of affliction, but by the faith that God wants to bring to them, maybe through you, they will not be consumed.  These are the ones for whom Christ died - even you – even them.  There is no greater joy than seeing someone come to Jesus.  I must have cried with renewed joy several times this week as I heard the message fresh and new for my own spirit.  Oh, the glory of it!

But perhaps you, like Moses, are still struggling with your identity.  Moses takes God’s order seriously enough to know it requires a serious commitment he seriously isn’t sure he wants to give.  He is filled with as much self-centered doubt as we all have.  But God is patient and persistent.  God will have his way with those whom he chooses to serve him.  Moses comes up with a lot of excuses, but notice God’s response to each one:

I.       The excuse of having no significance.

          A.      Moses’ excuse:  Who am I?

But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11 NIVUS)

          In essence, even though this is an excuse from Moses, it is a truth we must realize any time we come to God.  Negative thinking says I have no part with God because he is so great and I am not.  But positive thinking realizes that my significance resides within who God is because I am in his image as his servant.  Without God, we are insignificant.  With God we can do all things (Php. 4:13).  But it doesn’t mean we won’t have struggles.

Title:  Good Preachers Struggle

The fact that you are struggling is not a sign that you are inadequate as a preacher (Christian). If you were never perplexed about what to preach on (say), it might indicate that your preaching has fallen into a predictable pattern that makes for easy preparation but dull listening. And it would suggest that you have lost a sense of the audacity of the task: a human being trying to speak for God.


          -- Thomas H. Troeger, Leadership, Vol. 3, no. 4.

But Notice:

          B.      God’s response:  It is not who you are, but who I Am.

And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." (Exodus 3:12 NIVUS)

          God’s response to Moses speaks of this truth.  Moses’ significance would be in the fact that he is one sent by God.  This would be further proven in its successful fulfillment that they would all worship God in the place where God was now meeting with Moses.  God speaks to Moses of what is already accomplished in God’s provision and strength – the people would be brought out of Egypt.  We might also add the truth of Luke 7:35,    “But wisdom is proved right by all her children."


II.      The excuse of having no knowledge.

          A.      Moses’ excuse:  Who are You?

 Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" (Exodus 3:13 NIVUS)

          Moses is struggling with how to explain this God who is commissioning him.  And the truth is, how does any of us finite creatures explain him.  God gives the only response that can ever make any sense to us this side of glory.  It is an answer that requires the faith that pleases God (Heb. 11:6).

          B.      God’s response:  I Am all that any of you ever need to know.

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14 NIVUS)

          It is enough to know that God exists.  What other introduction does he need?  But God goes on here further to say, “Let me tell you who I Am.”  In vs. 16a, God wants Moses to say something, to give a message to the people.  So God explains that not only has he been around for a long time, but he (in 16b) is One who is intimately concerned about his people, that he remembers his promises (17), that he knows the future (19), and that he has the power to make good on his promises no matter what the obstacles might be (20).  Not only will they escape Egypt, but they will escape with treasures as plunder willingly given (21-22).  Just to know God is more that sufficient for every need.

III.    The excuse of having no credibility.

A.      Moses’ excuse:  They won’t believe me.

 Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?" (Exodus 4:1 NIVUS)

I think we do have a legitimate fear that people won’t listen to us, especially when we speak in our own name.

B.      God’s response:  I Am all they need to believe.

Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied. (Exodus 4:2 NIVUS)

But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it." (Exodus 4:17 NIVUS)

          God says that they don’t need to believe you if you are speaking for him.  If we obey the voice of God in speaking what he gives us, then the problem lies with those who don’t believe God, not us.  God supplies his own credibility.  For Moses, it was the staff through which God would work miracles.  God says in effect that they will believe Me as I work miracles through you.  For us, it is the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit (Jn.  16:8) that speaks through us as we speak for God.  Perhaps our own testimony is all the miracle that many people need to see the saving power of God worked out as a possibility for them.  But certainly, we will encounter skeptics – like this little girl in the Sunday School class:

          Title:  Ketchup Miracle

During one Sunday school lesson, my daughter, Susan, and her assistant, Readah, were dramatically portraying Moses' three miracles for their class of four- to eight-year-olds.

While Susan narrated, Moses (Readah) first threw down his staff on cue, and with impressive sleight of hand, a plastic snake materialized. Next Moses slipped his hand into his robe. Amazingly, a "leprous" hand emerged--realistically depicted on a white sock. For the finale, Moses turned a pitcher of water into blood with the help of hidden ketchup.

At the end of class, Susan reviewed the lesson. "What was the first miracle?" she asked.

                   "Snakes!" came the enthusiastic reply.

                   "The second?" she inquired.

                   "Rotten hand!" one boy gleefully shouted.

                   "And the third?" she asked.

           After a momentary pause, one little girl jumped up waving her hand and shouted, "Ketchup!"


-- Judi Edwards, Chehalis, Washington. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."

IV.    The excuse of having no capability.

          A.      Moses’ excuse:  I can’t speak well.

 Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." (Exodus 4:10 NIVUS)

          Does anybody here have the fear of speaking?  Surveys taken show that this causes more stress than most other things we might imagine. 

Title:  Statistic: Fear of Public Speaking

          Percentage of Americans whose biggest fear is public speaking: 26. 


-- The Roper Organization, reported in Psychology Today, 3/89.  Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4.

But stress or not, it is the call of God upon our lives – to speak about him to others.

Topic:  Christian Calling

An uneducated miner in Scotland began to preach among his fellow workmen with great power. Soon his witness took him far beyond the confines of the mining towns. Someone asked him how he had received his call to preach. He replied thus:

Oh, I had such a burden on my soul for those who did not know the gospel, I argued with the Lord that I had no education and no gift. But He said to me, "Jamie, you know what the sickness is, don't you?"

                   I answered, "Yes, Lord, the sickness is sin."

                   "And you know what the remedy is, don't you, Jamie?"

                   I answered, "Yes, Lord, the remedy is the Lord Jesus Christ."

          And He said to me, "Jamie, just take the remedy to those who are sick." That is my call to preach.

This is God's call to every believer.


-- Donald Grey Barnhouse, Let Me Illustrate, (Fleming H. Revell Co., 1967), p. 33.

Title:  Fear of a Boring Sermon

I fear preaching in such a way that when people hear about God, they'll want only to yawn.


          -- Haddon Robinson, Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 2.

          B.      God’s response:  I Am (will be) speaking through you.

The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." (Exodus 4:11-12 NIVUS)


          God’s requirement is that we get over our fear.  The only fear we are to have is of him.  The truth is that God can speak well and that is all we need to know.  He will show us how.  It is true that we might have deficiencies as Moses did, or thought he did.  But when God taps us for a task, he also equips us.  Do you fear to share your faith?  God has a message to tell through you as he did through Moses.  Remember the passage in Lk. 12:11-12 where Jesus tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them what to say?  God will show us how to speak when we are on the spot for him.  This also becomes another miracle as people observe that it is not, even cannot, be us speaking, but God through us.  Maybe we can’t walk on water, but we can learn to swim.

V.      The excuse of having no courage.

A.      Moses’ excuse:  I can’t do it.

 But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." (Exodus 4:13 NIVUS)

Now Moses almost goes too far.  See how strong his fear of speaking is?  This is what has driven all his questions.  Like Asaph said in Psalms 73:2,  “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.”  He came perilously close to irreversible sin.  Now in Christ that is not true.  But Jesus also reaffirmed the O.T. truth in Mt. 4:7 that we should not put God to the test.  God was speaking directly to Moses.  Would we dare say, “no”?  But God also speaks directly to us through his Word.  Dare we admit how strong is our own fear of rejection if we speak about Jesus to someone?  Where is our passion?  Is it for souls or for self?

          B.      God’s response:  You will do it because I Am with you.

Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.  You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.  He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. (Exodus 4:14-16 NIVUS)


          God is very patient with Moses and assures him he already has a plan in place to deal with his fear.  Evidently Aaron does not fear speaking as much as Moses.  But none of this negates the fact that Moses is God’s choice.  God is not letting Moses off the hook.  God doesn’t let us off the hook either.  This situation with the team of Moses and Aaron may illustrate the truth of 1Cor. 3:5-9, that one plants, another waters, but God causes growth.  We work together as a team with God at the head.  There is no sense in which it is all up to us alone.  And when God speaks, whether to us or to another, it is for his glory, not ours.  We have nothing to fear but disobedience in fear of God, nothing else.


          When we are put to the test to speak for God and about God, he will affirm our significance in who he is – not who we are; he will give us sufficient knowledge to share about who he is, what he is doing, what he requires; he will bolster this with divine evidence; speak through us with the convincing power of the Holy Spirit; and will help us do it in any way that is necessary for him to be successfully glorified in us and through us.  With this assurance we cannot fail in his call for us to carry out his passion for souls.  It begins with learning to listen to the voice of God, however he may speak to you.

          Moses was consumed with personal fear.  It was the voice of God speaking to him, but there were also other voices he heard.  He, like us, had the option of listening to the voice of the world or to the flesh or to the devil as well as to the voice of God.  God doesn’t like competition in his conversations with us.  He wants us to focus on what he alone is saying.  His is the only voice that will consume you even as it leaves you intact – like the bush.  The other voices consume as well as destroy.

  Does your job as a Christian seem hard to you?  Remember the parable of the talents in Mt. 25:14-30 where the one who was given one talent had it taken from him because he didn’t reproduce it?  The man’s excuse was that the master was a hard man.  But I think that our problem of witnessing about God’s saving grace through faith in the finished work of Christ is only as hard as we make it.  It depends on the voices we listen to.

Title:  Ministers Are a Flame of Fire


          God makes his ministers a flame of fire.

          Am I ignitable?

          God, deliver me from the dread asbestos of "other things."

          Saturate me with the oil of thy Spirit that I may flame.

          Make me thy fuel, Flame of God.


           -- Jim Elliot.  Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 2.


I.       The excuse of having no significance.

          A.      Moses’ excuse:  Who am I?

B.      God’s response:  It is not who you are, but who I Am.

II.      The excuse of having no knowledge.

          A.      Moses’ excuse:  Who are You?

          B.      God’s response:  I Am all that any of you ever need to know.

III.    The excuse of having no credibility.

A.      Moses’ excuse:  They won’t believe me.

B.      God’s response:  I Am all they need to believe.

IV.    The excuse of having no capability.

          A.      Moses’ excuse:  I can’t speak well.

          B.      God’s response:  I Am (will be) speaking through you.

V.      The excuse of having no courage.

A.      Moses’ excuse:  I can’t do it.

          B.      God’s response:  You will do it because I Am with you.









When God Calls; Answer the Phone

          Do you believe that God not only loves you, but also knows where you are and what you're doing every minute of the day? I certainly do after an amazing experience I had several years ago.  At the time, I was driving on I-75 near Dayton, Ohio, with my wife and children. We turned off the highway for a rest and refreshment stop.

My wife, Barbara, and children went into the restaurant.  I suddenly felt the need to stretch my legs, so waved them on ahead saying I’d join them later.  I bought a soft drink, and as I walked toward a Dairy Queen, feelings of self-pity enshrouded my mind.  I loved the Word and my ministry, but I felt drained, burdened.  My cup was empty.  Suddenly the impatient ringing of a telephone nearby jarred me out of my doldrums.  It was coming from a phone booth at a service station on the corner.  Wasn't anyone going to answer the phone?

Noise from the traffic flowing through the busy intersection must have drowned out the sound because the service station attendant continued looking after his customers, oblivious to the incessant ringing.  "Why doesn't somebody answer that phone?" I muttered.  I began reasoning, it may be important.  What if it's an emergency?  Curiosity overcame my indifference.

I stepped inside the booth and picked up the phone.  Hello, "I said casually and took a big sip of my drink.  The operator said, "Long distance call for Ken Gaub."  My eyes widened, and I almost choked on a chunk of ice.  Swallowing hard, I said, "You're crazy!"  Then realizing I shouldn't speak to an operator like that, I added, "This can't be! I was walking down the road, not bothering anyone, and the phone was ringing..."

"Is Ken Gaub there?" the operator interrupted, "l have a long distance call for him."  It took a moment to gain control of my babbling, but I finally replied, "Yes, he is here."  Searching for a possible explanation, I wondered if I could possibly be on Candid Camera!  Still shaken, perplexed, I asked, "How in the world did you reach me here?  I was walking down the road, the pay phone started ringing, and I just answered it on chance.  You can't mean me."

"Well," the operator asked, "Is Mr. Gaub there or isn't he?"  "Yes, I am Ken Gaub," I said, finally convinced by the tone of her voice that the call was real.  Then I heard another voice say, "Yes, that's him, operator. That's Ken Gaub."  I listened dumbfounded to a strange voice identify herself.  "I'm Millie from Hamsburg Pennsylvania.  You don't know me, Mr. Gaub, but I'm desperate. Please help me."

“What can I do for you?"

She began weeping.  Finally she regained control and continued. "I was about to commit suicide, and had just finished writing a note, when I began to pray and tell God I really didn't want to do this.  Then I suddenly ---- to you, you could help me.  I knew that was impossible because I didn't know how to reach you.  I didn't know anyone who could help me find you.  Then some numbers came to my mind, and I scribbled them down."

          At this point she began weeping again, and I prayed silently for wisdom to help her.  She continued, "I looked at the numbers and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had a miracle from God and He has given me Ken's phone number?  I decided to try calling it.  I can't believe I'm talking to you.  Are you in your office in California?"  I replied, "Lady, I don't have an office in California.  My office is in Yakima, Washington."  Little surprised, she asked, "Oh really, then where are you?"

          "Don't you know?" I responded. "You made the call.

          She explained, "But I don't even know what area I'm calling. I just dialed the number that I had on this paper."

          “Ma'am, you won't believe this, but I'm in a phone booth in Dayton Ohio.  

          "Really?" she exclaimed. "Well, what are you doing there?"

          I kidded her gently, "Well, I'm answering the phone. It was ringing as I walked by, so I answered it."

          Knowing this encounter could only have been arranged by God, I began to counsel the woman.  As she told me of her despair and frustration, the presence of the Holy Spirit flooded the phone booth giving me words of wisdom beyond my ability.  In a matter of moments, she prayed the sinner's prayer and met the One who would lead her out of her situation into a new life.

          I walked away from that telephone booth with an electrifying sense of our heavenly Father's concern for each of His children.  What were the astronomical odds of this happening?  With all the millions of phones and innumerable combinations of numbers, only an all-knowing God could have caused that woman to call that number in that phone booth at that moment in time.  Forgetting my drink and nearly bursting with exhilaration, I headed back to my family, wondering if they would believe my story.  Maybe I better not tell this, I thought, but I couldn't contain it.  "Barb, you won't believe this! God knows where I am!”

          God also knows where you are. Place yourself in His hands, concentrate on knowing His will for your life, and He will never forsake or forget you.

          By Ken Gaub       (Submitted By ShineNLite@aol. com)

I.       The excuse of having no s _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

          A.      Moses’ excuse: 

B.      God’s response: 

II.      The excuse of having no k _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

          A.      Moses’ excuse: 

          B.      God’s response:

III.    The excuse of having no c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

A.      Moses’ excuse:

B.      God’s response:

IV.    The excuse of having no c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

          A.      Moses’ excuse:    

B.      God’s response:

V.      The excuse of having no c _ _ _ _ _ _ .

A.      Moses’ excuse: 

          B.      God’s response:

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