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South Fellowship Church

The Holy Spirit, With Us, In Us, Enabling Us.

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) The Amplified Bible

And I will ask the Father and He will send another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener), that He may remain with you forever, The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him nor know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you constantly and will be in you.
(John 14:16-17) The Amplified Bible

But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in my place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will remind you of everything I have told you.
(John 14:26) The Amplified Bible

But when the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener), comes Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He (Himself) will testify regarding Me.(John 15:26) The Amplified Bible

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of Truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
(John 16:12-15) NIV

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; (Acts 1:8a) NIV

Various versions use different descriptive titles for what and how the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, will act as he lives inside us. The Amplified Bible puts them in each of the sentences above so we can think about the different ways he has been sent to represent the Father and Jesus and to act on their behalf in our lives.

I researched the antique meaning of the word “power” in both the Greek, “dunimus”, which meant “potential and ability”, and the Latin “potere”, which meant “to be able to“.

As I read the above scriptures, the descriptive titles for the Holy Spirit, what Jesus said the Spirit of Truth would be about, the definitions of “power”, I am in awe of all that the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit desires to do in each one of us that have come to believe in and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
For me, it is learning and being Holy Spirit-enabled to live the kind of love described in 1 Corinthians 13.

How about you? Take time to read and ponder the above scriptures. Pray about what the Holy Spirit may desire to enable you to do as you continue to learn to walk in the way of Jesus with his heart.

The Holy Spirit, With Us, In Us, Enabling Us.2022-06-05T21:57:59-06:00

A RAINY CONCERT

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?” Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” Acts 2:1-13 NIV

Acts 2 had a new meaning for me this week because of an experience I had at a rainy concert at Red Rocks. My husband bought us tickets to see Chris Tomlin at Red Rocks on Tuesday and we had a very rainy and somewhat cold night. But the worship music was wonderful! Most of us in the audience were doing our best to stay warm and dry while we sang along with the songs being sung.

I had a poncho over my winter coat and a blanket over my legs. The hood of my coat and poncho kept me dry, but I also felt like I was in a cocoon, I had tunnel vision. At times, I could only hear the singer and myself singing. It was a unique concert experience. I was in a crowd of thousands, but for much of the concert it felt like I was in a concert with Chris Tomlin all by myself. It felt uniquely personal, like I was worshipping God alone – yet in the midst of many other people doing the same thing.

I highlighted the words above, because I wanted us to focus on the uniquely personal part of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The whole group of Jesus’ followers received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, but “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them,” (Acts 2:3). The Holy Spirit came to rest on each of them – they could tell that each person had its own distinct flames on or above each person. Then Luke told us that those who heard the disciples preaching said, “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11b). Many of these Jews visiting Jerusalem for Pentecost came from all sorts of nations. Yet – each heard the good news about Jesus in their own tongue – the message was being given to each one alone – to each one personally. God loves the world, but He loves each of us personally.

Have you ever experienced a unique, meaningful, or special worship experience like this? Being with God, being with others, but also it being a uniquely personal worship experience? If so, reflect on that time and thank God for the many ways He is with each one of us because He sent the Holy Spirit.

A RAINY CONCERT2022-06-05T21:56:13-06:00

Inclusive Gift

“We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”” – Acts 2:11b-12

Imagine yourself amidst the crowd of Galileans staying in Jerusalem that day. Jerusalem is swarming with God-fearing Jews from across the known world and you are feeling the energy in the city. The Jews are gathering for their traditional fe”stival of Firstfruits. Perhaps you don’t understand the meaning of this festival but are mesmerized by how this one day has gathered people from every nation.

As you’re enjoying the sights and taking in the wonders of this festival, all of a sudden, something unusual starts to happen. The crowd bursts into laughter and tears start flowing. The sound of this massive crowd causes an uproar. You can see them. People of differing colors and ethnicities are connecting in ways you didn’t think were possible. All because they were speaking in each other’s native language. You were among a crowd of diverse people, but that day you truly felt “with” them.

No wonder the Scripture notes how the crowd was amazed and perplexed – wondering what all this means. All separation that once existed from language barriers was gone, in the blink of an eye.

This is precisely what the Spirit of God does. He breaks down barriers so he can be “with” his people and his people can be “with” one another. God is sometimes called Immanuel, “God with us”. Yet, there are three Greek words for “with” in the New Testament – meta, para, and en. Over the next few days, we will explore the nuances of all three.

Today’s word for “with” is meta, meaning together or among. Think about how many barriers we create between people – divisions of race, gender, political positions, socio-economic status, etc.. Truth is: humans create division but God’s presence includes. God’s Spirit brings humans together. Separations among us cease to exist when God’s presence enters the room. Find at least one person today with whom you can break down barriers because you walk with the Spirit. Ask God what creative actions you might take which would allow for the Spirit to be “with” or among your relationships today.

Inclusive Gift2022-06-08T14:14:20-06:00

The Heavenly Gift

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4 NIV)

The signs of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the centerpiece of all history and the source of our salvation. We understand these signs are unique to Jesus as Messiah and cannot be replicated (He died and rose – once, for all). Likewise, the signs of Pentecost (the Harvest Festival) – the mighty rushing wind, the tongues of fire, and the disciples speaking the glories of God in languages they didn’t know (but were known to their hearers) constitute a distinctive, concentrated explosion of the indwelling and power of the Holy Spirit.

This phenomenon recorded in Acts 2 was foretold by the prophet Joel around 825-809 BC.

“…I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29 NIV)

The fulfillment of this passage was the Holy Spirit’s unique, inaugural address to the Unseen World, the Jewish people, and all nations. The Holy Spirit’s indwelling in Jesus’ followers exerted the same power that raised Christ from the dead. This indwelling enables the proclamation of His Kingdom to all nations until the end of the age. Here’s what Jesus foretold:

“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:45-49 NIV)

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

Later in Acts, Luke recorded two other prophetic utterances of Jesus’ followers exalting God in languages unknown to the speakers; first with gentiles (Acts 10:46) and second in Ephesus (Acts 19:6). In later generations, some have conjectured that this was a formula for replication of this tongues phenomenon and is almost a mandate. I’ve observed that those efforts too often cause unnecessary frustration and unhelpful practices. Why do human efforts at replication fail? A closer look at these signs in Acts clarifies they were sovereignly initiated in heaven (Acts 2:2 and 10:44-48 and 19:2-6), not generated by humans following formulas.

So how should we regard this first Pentecost after the Resurrection and the subsequent occurrences in Acts 10 and 19? At the very least they are a reminder that bringing in the Harvest of all nations is graciously enabled by the filling and power of the Holy Spirit. They also remind us that God’s worldwide expansion of His kingdom is accomplished by the full participation of every member of the body of Christ…male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free (Galatians 3:28).

Does the Holy Spirit have full access to every part of your life? Does an artificial barrier hinder the power of the Holy Spirit? Ask God to reveal obstacles that obscure bringing glory to Jesus.

NOTE: The unknown tongues manifested in Acts 2, 10, and 19 don’t appear to be in the same category as the private prayer language or individual gift of tongues accompanied by the individual gift of interpretation described elsewhere in the letters of Paul.

The Heavenly Gift2022-06-05T21:53:29-06:00

Spirit Week

“Do you have the Holy Ghost?”
“We need to make sure the Holy Spirit leads us.”
“I’m just asking the Holy Spirit to lead me.”
“Jesus, take the wheel.”

My thoughts and feelings about the Holy spirit are hazy. By nature, the Holy Spirit is a subject that is invisible and abstract. When we talk about him (Holy Spirit), What are we talking about? Who is the Spirit? How does he work? How are we supposed to interact with him? This week we intend to explore some of those things, but today I want to focus on the biblical words used for Spirit and how they might help us explore some of our questions.

The Hebrew word for spirit is ruakh. Interestingly, it is the exact same word for wind and breath. God’s spirit is an animating force in the world for the Hebrew mind. Something is moving the trees, ruakh. When someone stops breathing, they are dead and stop moving. That too must be ruakh. At first glance, that may seem like a primitive understanding of spirit, but what if that understanding is more accurate than we realize?

For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ – Acts 17:28

‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, ‘ – Hebrews 1:3

There is a power in the universe that animates it. The scriptures speak of that animating power as bing Him. He animates the world, and he animates us. It’s no wonder we sense something transcendent when we attend a ball game and feel the energy of a crowd. God is sustaining the individuals in that crowd.

The question for us today is, do we let the Holy Spirit animate us? Are we really alive if we are now affected by his wind, breath, and spirit? How can we cultivate a life blown in the direction he wants us to go? Maybe the first step is to acknowledge that even your physical life is sustained by him. That may not feel very supernatural, but it is. Now ask him, Spirit, animate my life in the way you want me to go today.

Spirit Week2022-06-05T21:49:21-06:00

TRUE REWARD

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James… (I Corinthians 15:6-7 ESV)

This week we’ve been looking at the life of James, one of the brothers of Jesus, leader of the early church in Jerusalem, and author of the book of James. We’ve explored what his relationship with Jesus might have been at various times in his life. Here’s a synopsis of Hegesippus, Historia 5, a record of how James died:

During the festival of Passover in 62 AD some of the priestly class, eager to deter the Christian sect from spreading, crowded around James and urged him to denounce Jesus while standing on the parapet of the temple. Instead of denouncing Jesus, James said with a loud voice “Why do you ask me about the Son of Man? He is sitting in heaven at the right hand of the Great Power and He will come on the clouds of heaven.” As a result of this testimony, some onlookers rejoiced and others placed their faith in Jesus. Seeing their mistake, the priests shoved James to the ground below. When James fell he was still alive, so some stoned him, but the final death blow was administered with a club.

Why did the priests think James might denounce Jesus? It likely was because the priestly class regarded him as a righteous, honest man who would respect their authority. Here are some of James’ urgings to us:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing….Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:22-27 ESV)

How did James have a winsome way with those priests even though they viewed Christianity as a dangerous heresy? Again, James wrote:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 ESV)

The account of James’ earthly end reminds me that Jesus followers who are kind listeners, gentle helpers and above reproach are not assured protection from persecution by virtue of those character qualities. In fact, just the opposite can occur.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)

Maybe it’s the Sunday School exhortations and rewards some of us received as children that make us think we’ll get lots of automatic “likes” for godly behavior. At any rate, it’s false hope to think the world around us is eager to give us kudos for obeying Jesus and giving Him the glory for it.

Take a minute to remind yourself – when you please Jesus with your actions (especially if it seems no one else notices) – rejoice that your reward is great in heaven.

TRUE REWARD2022-05-29T21:17:49-06:00

James’ Ministry

When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. Acts 15:13

He hears the sounds of Jerusalem waking up. As the city awakes, it beckons his eyes to open. His mind begins the acknowledge the new day. Thoughts of what the day holds begin to meander through his mind. Then all of a sudden, the magic of his life and calling begins to hit him. His day would be filled with teaching, encouraging, and fanning the flame of this fledgling movement of Jesus followers. To think, not long ago, he wouldn’t have been caught dead associating with this movement. Now, he was part of the leadership of it. Everything had changed since he had seen his brother resurrected.

This week in our daily writings, we have explored the character of James, the brother of Jesus. We saw his childhood, rejection of Jesus’ ministry, and conspicuous absence at his brother’s crucifixion. If you fast forward to the book of Acts, you find James standing up and leading the Jerusalem church. It’s somewhat jarring to observe James’s massive change of heart. His entire life is spent advocating for the reality that his brother is God and savior.

This is the power of resurrection. If the resurrection is real, it can change everything. It didn’t just win James over; it caused him to rise as a leader in the church.

Do you have someone you have given up on, someone you have prayed for but rejected your faith? Don’t give up hope. James was an unlikely character to become a leader in the early church. Yet, he becomes a leader in the movement he had rejected before seeing his dead brother rise again. Don’t give up hope on your loved ones. If God can raise the dead, he can also change everything for those around you. Ask God to make his resurrected presence real. When people encounter God alive, they can’t help it; they will be changed.

James’ Ministry2022-05-29T21:15:03-06:00

BECOMING A DISCIPLE

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. I Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV

When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:13-14 NIV

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

Today we are looking at the 50 days between Jesus’ crucifixion and the day of Pentecost in James – Jesus’ brother’s life. But to fully appreciate it, a little background is needed. James is listed as Jesus’ brother in Mark 6:1-3, and was not yet a disciple of Jesus when he, his mother Mary and his brothers came to Jesus, “they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind,’” Mark 3:21. So – as Jesus’ ministry progressed – James was not a member of Jesus’ disciples. It is also notable that the only family members mentioned at the crucifixion were Mary – Jesus’ mother and her sister.

After the crucifixion, on the first day of the week, the resurrection occurred and the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus began. The gospels tell us of 9 of these different occasions when Jesus appeared in his resurrected body to one or more people. I Corinthians 15 tells us of 2 occasions not mentioned elsewhere. One of these was to James, Jesus’ brother. “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,” I Corinthians 15:7. Paul was writing a letter to the church at Corinth, and was emphasizing the importance of Jesus’ resurrection and the proof of his resurrection by listing many of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances in I Corinthians 15.

The next mention of James is in Acts 1:14. “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Jesus ascended to Heaven 40 days after His resurrection and he told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit. What changed? James and his brothers are now listed as being a part of the group of disciples in the upper room, praying and awaiting the coming Holy Spirit. Why do you think James and his brothers are now listed as believers? Could it be that James now understood, believed, and was now committed to following his brother – Jesus – the Messiah?

Paul told us James saw the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes. The presence of Jesus made the difference in James’ life.
How about you? Can you think of a time when the presence of Jesus, an answer to prayer, a time of worship has made an impact on your life? Thank Jesus for His presence in your life.

BECOMING A DISCIPLE2022-06-01T11:58:35-06:00

TENSION WITHIN THE FAMILY

“Jesus left [the region of Galilee] and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.”
‭‭- Mark‬ ‭6:1-5‬ ‭NIV

Jesus could not do miracles in his hometown. Does this surprise you? Perhaps you’ve heard this story, but have you considered how Jesus would have felt as the authority of God’s Kingdom is limited in his own backyard? Jesus’ authority is limited not by lack of power, but by lack of belief. And notice WHO are the ones lacking in belief – Jesus’ closest friends and family.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we catch glimpses of his family dynamics. At one point Jesus’ family thinks he’s out of his mind, not taking care of himself, and they go find him in hopes of straightening him out (Mark 3:20-21). Another time we see his mother and brothers unable to get to Jesus because of the crowds. And Jesus flat out says, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put them into practice” – as if to say, “though my mothers and brothers are related to me, they do not necessarily hear God’s words and put them into practice” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:19-21). Ouch.

Limiting God’s authority by lack of faith must have been a major disappointment for Jesus and created some tension within his family dynamics. But, imagine how it would feel to be on a journey of discovering your God-given identity and not be fully supported by your mother and brothers. That’s painful.

If you follow Jesus, I’d imagine you can relate. Sometimes the things Jesus calls us to do create tension in relationships, perhaps even rejection. In what ways has your choice to follow Jesus brought about tension in your closest relationships? Tell Jesus about how this makes you feel and let him sit with you in empathy.

TENSION WITHIN THE FAMILY2022-05-29T21:08:34-06:00

To See Jesus More Clearly

As soon as Jesus was baptized he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,” (Matthew 3:16-17)

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “Isn’t this the Carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
( Mark 6:1-3)

Some forty years ago, because of the above scriptures, I went on a hunt for clues to the thirty years of Jesus’s ordinary life before he was baptized, traveled all over Galilee and Judea teaching and healing, was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. I wanted to get to know Jesus as not only my Lord and Savior, but also as a companion in the dailiness of my life.

Matthew 2:13-23 records Joseph and Mary traveling with Jesus to and later from Egypt. Luke 2:2-39 tells about Jesus at 8 days being presented at the temple in Jerusalem and their return to Nazareth. Luke 2:40 says, “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him”. Luke 2:41-51 is the story of Jesus at age 12 staying behind in the temple and his parents searching for him. Jesus asked, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” but his parents didn’t understand. Then Jesus went back to Nazareth and was obedient to his parents.
Luke 2:52 says “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.

Philippians 2:5-8 describes the humility of Jesus during his whole life on earth.
Hebrews 5:8 says that “although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered”. and Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are—yet was without sin”.

So what does this mean to me? As a child,I heard from adults,“When you get out into the REAL world”! As adults, we forget the “real world” of our childhood.

For thirty hidden years, from birth to adulthood, Jesus experienced our “real world” with and for us. He knows about learning to walk, talk, go to school, live in a family with siblings and in a community as an apprentice carpenter, then as a businessman. It helps me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live more in the way of Jesus with his heart.

Take some time to meditate on the scriptures above. Ask Jesus to show you what he knows about everyday living that can help you in what you experience. Thank him for what he shows you. Get to know Jesus as your daily companion as well as your Lord and Savior.

To See Jesus More Clearly2022-05-29T21:05:55-06:00
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