(For the PowerPoint presentation for this sermon, Click Here)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
August 23, 2015
Please turn to Matthew 10:5-15. The parallel passages are Mark 6:7-11 and Luke 9:1-5, but since they only briefly recount what is explained in depth in Matthew, we will only be examining the account in Matthew.
I find this morning’s text to be confrontational though it is not a text that is confrontational in either tone or message. It is a text that is instructional and only somewhat cautionary. What Jesus says in this passage is meant to give direction and some warning to the apostles. There is only one statement that tells of the consequences of failure. Jesus warns that there would be a severe judgment upon those that fail to listen and heed the message, but even that statement is not directed at the apostles. It is directed at those who will not listen to the apostles.
I find this passage confrontational because of the contrast it makes with American Christianity which has become weak, insecure, ambivalent, fractured and failing. The rapid social changes and rising societal antagonism toward Biblical Christianity demonstrate that failure. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is the church has increasingly turned to the wisdom of man in trying to carry out ministry instead of following the directions Jesus has given which includes the principles He lays out in this passage.
There are many who claim to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ and are doing all sorts of things in His name. They claim to represent the Lord to a lost and dying world, but too many have a false claim for they do not know Jesus. They are the people Jesus describes in Matthew 7 who do all sorts of things in His name including prophecy, casting out demons and miracles (vs 22), but they are false prophets (vs. 15), ravenous wolves (vs 15), trees bearing bad fruit (vs. 16-20), they are those that practice lawlessness (vs. 23), and Jesus does not know them (vs 23). Then there are the many others that do know Jesus and seek to represent Him, but they do so poorly because they do not do it in the manner that He has directed. They remain either ignorant of what Jesus has taught or are too heavily influenced by those who are considered successful by worldly standards such as crowds of people and large budgets. Whether it is envy or intimidation, such worldly models are detrimental in producing what Christ desires. We must remember that ministry is God’s work and therefore it must be done God’s way in order to produce what God wants.
This morning we will be examining Matthew 10:5-15 to see the principles of ministry Jesus gave to His apostles as he was sending them out. There is no doubt that as we do so we will see both areas in which are doing well and areas in which we are not, but both are healthy for us. It is encouraging to know we are doing some things correctly, and we want to know any areas in which we are not so that we can make the appropriate changes. Let me quickly remind you of the context in which these instructions were given for that is the only way we can properly understand and apply the text in our own lives.
Jesus is talking with the twelve disciples that He has chosen to be His apostles (Matthew 10:1-4). A disciple is simply a student who attaches himself to a teacher to learn, and Jesus had many disciples following Him. An apostle is someone that has been given specific authority to be the representative of the one sending him. Jesus chose twelve from among His many disciples to be His apostles and He gave them His authority and sent them out as His representatives. (See: The Twelve Apostles)
These twelve men had been with Jesus throughout His ministry in Galilee. They had seen the many miracles over disease, sickness, nature, demons and even death that attested to the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior foretold by the Hebrew prophets. They were present at the Sermon on the Mount to learn about the nature of His kingdom and the true measure of righteousness. Jesus has pointed out the multitudes to them and called them to have compassion upon the people even as He did. Jesus pointed out the need for more workers and called on them to beseech the Lord of the harvest so send out more workers. Jesus is now sending these chosen twelve men as His apostles to be workers in the harvest. (See: Workers Needed)
Our passage for study today will be the first section of Jesus’ instructions to them concerning the ministry they would perform. These are very ordinary men, but they will accomplish extraordinary things because they are called and equipped by God. As we go through this chapter over the next few weeks, we must keep in mind that the instructions and warnings given are specific to a particular group of men at a particular time. They are not instructions that we can carry over verbatim and apply to ourselves. They are to the twelve apostles when Jesus sent them out for the first time. Notice verse 5 specifically states that, “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying . . . “ We cannot apply every thing Jesus tells them directly to our own lives, but we must examine these instructions for principles of ministry that do apply to us.
Please follow along as I read this section. We will then come back and look at some principles that can be drawn out from it.
5These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give. 9Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, 10or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. 11And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away. 12And as you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13And if the house is worthy, let your greeting of peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your greeting of peace return to you. 14And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. 15Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
A Focused Ministry – Matthew 10:5-6
The first principle we can draw out of this text is that ministry needs to be focused. “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
These verses reveal that they were sent out with a focus of ministry. They are sent only to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” They are not to go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans. This is according to God’s order and plan. Israel was God’s chosen nation which was to take the knowledge and understanding of God to all the other nations. That is why the message of the kingdom needed to go to them first and why Jesus focused His ministry upon the Jews and had the Apostles do the same. The Apostle Paul kept that same priority even on his missionary journeys through the Gentile nations. He went to the Jews first and then the gentiles (Acts 13-21; Romans 1:16).
This focus also makes it very clear that this passage is specific to the apostles at a particular time in their lives, for later on the Apostles are called by God to go to the Samaritans and to the Gentiles. In Acts 10 Peter even received a vision from the Lord prompting him to go to Cornelius, a Gentile Centurion, and deliver the gospel to him and his family and friends. In Acts 1:8 Jesus told the Apostles just before He ascended into heaven that they were to be His “witnesses both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
The principle here is that ministry needs to be focused for no one can do everything there is to do, and without a focus to your ministry, then it will be doomed to mediocrity with nothing being done well. God’s design is that we function together as a body – the body of Christ. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both give a clear description of that design. Each Christian plays a vital role in the total design of what God wants to have accomplished. Notice back in Matthew 9:37-38 that when Jesus called the disciples’ attention to the fact that the harvest was plentiful but the workers were few that He did not immediately send them out doing whatever they happened to see. He first had them start praying for God to send workers. They needed to focus first and seek God in it. And as I pointed out a couple of weeks ago when we examined that passage, that also needs to be our first response. Need does not constitute a call to action, but rather a call to think. That is true even in an emergency room. The medical personnel have to think about what they need to do before doing it and there someone is in charge to direct everyone else otherwise there would be chaos in the ER and the risk of the patient dying would increase dramatically. The person in charge examines the needs, sets the priorities of what to do first, then directs the staff to act according to their skills to meet those needs.
The focus needed for ministry is also seen in that Jesus did not send all His disciples out. Instead, He choose twelve of them, made them His apostles, equipped them, gave them instructions and warnings, then He sent them out to do a specific ministry.
In the same way we need to first seek the Lord to see what He wants us to do. Just because you see a need does not necessarily mean you are the one that God wants to meet it, but then again, you may be the one. Pray first and seek His will. Second, consider your spiritual gifts and abilities. If it fits within those, the door is open wider for involvement. If it does not, then it will mean either getting someone else involved or try it out to see if you have a gift you did not previously know about.
If you do not know what your spiritual gifts might be, it is not difficult to discover them. First, as you walk in holiness with the Lord, consider what the Lord puts on your heart. What burdens your heart? What do you feel compelled to do? What would you like to do? Second, start getting involved in ministry and see if the Lord uses you in it. Are you effective in it? If you are, that is a good confirmation. If you are not, but are still compelled to be involved, then maybe you need to learn from someone who is good at it, and if you still are not effective, then consider something else. Ask other mature believers what they see in you and for them to evaluate the effectiveness of what you are doing.
The disciples were men searching for God’s will. Jesus called and trained them. His sending them out is part of their continuing training to be increasingly used to meet the needs of the harvest around them. These instructions were specific to them for that place and time, but the principle of having a focus in ministry applies to everyone. Be careful to pray, think and plan, and then act. Have you prayed about what God wants you to do? Have you thought about it and planned? Are you doing it? Are you haphazard or focused in what you do?
A Clear Message – Matthew 10:7
The second principle is in verse 7, “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” The message must be clear. It is failure in this area that is a major cause of the weakness of American Christianity. The gospel message is not difficult, but it has become watered down and mixed with many other things. The essence of the gospel includes the following. God is the holy creator who made man, but man turned away from God and sinned and is now not only deserving of God’s holy judgement, but is incapable of escaping the bondage of sin on his own. God is loving and determined to redeem man by paying the penalty of sin Himself through the death of the second person of the triune Godhead, His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross of Calvary. God offers salvation from sin and its effects to those who believe His message and place their faith/trust in Jesus Christ alone. Those who do believe are forgiven their sins, adopted into God’s family, given access to the Father, and guaranteed Heaven as their future eternal home. Or to be very succinct, through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, God turns people from sin, self and Satan to sanctification, saints, and the Savior.
That message, though simple, has become muddled and confused. Some groups placed stained glass windows of tradition and liturgy in front of Christ and obscure Him. Others concentrate on doing good works to earn their way and remain lost because they trust themselves, not Jesus. Still others focus on philosophy and speak of the various traits of Jesus that model that philosophy, but they fail to recognize their own sin and need of a Savior. Even evangelicalism has had a long running love affair with psychology that has destroyed the gospel by replacing the authority of Scripture with the authority of psychologists. According to them, man’s problem is not sin, but a bad self-image and victimization. The warnings of sin and hell are exchanged for toleration and affirmation even of what God declares to be abominations. Even in fundamentalism the message becomes blurred by a host of minor issues that are magnified into disputes that have given the movement its negative image.
We need to be careful that in the midst of doing whatever it is that God calls us to do that we make sure to keep the message clear. Do not let it get lost in the secondary issues we may be dealing with at the time. The apostles were to “go and preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven was at hand.’” Keep the priority on the message of God and make sure it is clear.
Here is a quick Example. You are talking with a homosexual man. Don’t let the message get confused in the issues of Homosexual marriage or rights. He must know all the elements of the gospel starting with the bad news that he is a sinner by nature and action. Don’t even let the conversation focus on his particular sin of sexual perversion since he would be prepared to be defensive about it. Take him to the Ten Commandments and show him he does not meet God’s standards. It only takes a couple of minutes so show a person they are lying, lustful, coveting thieves who are blaspheming idolaters. He is currently under God’s condemnation and headed for Hell. If he is convicted he is a sinner, then it will be easier for him to also be convicted of the sinfulness of his particular perversions. Once there is conviction of sin, then continue on to give him the hope of the gospel that God loves him and has made a way for him to escape that condemnation if he will turn from sin, self and Satan to have faith in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep the message clear.
A Life of Ministry – Matthew 10:8
The next principle is found in verse 8, “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.” Again this is specific instruction to the Apostles. Miraculous signs were part of the confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mark 11:4-5) and they also confirmed that the apostles were sent by Jesus. Paul confirmed his apostleship in 2 Corinthians 12:12 saying, “The signs of a true apostle where performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles.” Despite the claim by some in the present time to be apostles, there are no believers today that manifest such supernatural apostolic credentials. They were restricted to the Apostles during the apostolic age.
While we cannot minister in the same miraculous manner as the apostles did then, there is a principle we do need to follow and that is to live a life of ministry. Note that the end of the verse says, “freely you received, freely give.” All that you have, your spiritual gifts, your natural talents, even the things you own, are yours because of God’s grace has given them to you. You are not to be stingy in using what you have to serve the Lord by serving others. You are to serve freely.
The basis for this thought is also reflected in verse 9. The apostles could have gained great wealth through their miracles. People then, just like people now, will pay a lot to get healed from whatever is bothering them. The woman with the issue of blood (Matthew 9:20-22) had spent all her money on physicians trying to get healed. There were Jewish exorcists who would try to get rid of demons – for a price. The same is true today and many charlatans take advantage of the innocent and naive. The apostles were not to charge for their ministry. They had received from God freely, and they could trust Him to continue to provide, so they were to give freely. What a contrast that is to many today.
A Trusting Heart – Matthew 10:9
A characteristic of a life of ministry is a heart that trusts God. Jesus told them in verse 9, “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.” This was part of their training to see that God would meet their needs. The reference to gold, silver or copper was to money which would normally be carried in the fold of the belt around their waist whether it was made of cloth or leather. He was also specific that they were not to take along extra clothes, shoes, a staff or even the bag (phvra / pāra) used by travelers to carry such items and food that might be needed on the journey. The reason was simply that “the worker is worthy of his support.” They would earn their living as they ministered. They would have to trust God to provide along the way.
Some have taken the specifics of this and tried to apply it to the present, but again, the specifics were for the apostles on this training exercise. At a later time in Luke 22:35-36, Jesus will give them opposite instructions telling them, “‘When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ And they said, ‘No, nothing.’ And He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one . . . ’”
The specifics of what you take with you are determined by the circumstances, the goals and wisdom. If you are going to a country in famine, take food or not only will you be hungry, but more importantly, you will be a burden on the people to whom you are going to minister. The principle here is that you need to trust the Lord and not worry and fret and try to make provision for every possible circumstance that may come up. It is the same as in Matthew 6:25-34 in which Jesus commands us “do not be anxious for your life . . .” which would be food, drink, clothing, but instead . . . “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” We are to plan for the future for that is the prudence spoken of throughout Proverbs and the point of Jesus’ story in Luke 14:28 about building a tower. You first sit down and plan and count the cost. But if you are planning without trusting in the Lord, you are doing it in the flesh, and so you will be anxious and you will not please God. Do you have a heart trusting in the Lord? It will show up by genuinely seeking first His kingdom and righteousness with confidence that He will provide what you really need.
A Concentration on Those Who Respond – Matthew 10:11-13
The next principle is that we need to concentrate on those who respond. “11And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away. 12And as you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13And if the house is worthy, let your greeting of peace come upon it;”
By way of explanation, the house referred here is whatever home they would stay in when they came into the city or village. It is considered worthy based on how the host or hostess received the apostles and not on the condition of the house itself. In doing some missionary travels myself and in talking with missionaries, sometimes the places you stay are very nice and at other times they are nothing more than shacks. One of the more extreme stories I have been told is about a missionary that was to stay with a family in a two room house. As the evening progressed, different members of the family excused themselves and went into the other room and went to bed. Finally it was time for the missionary and the host to get some sleep, but the missionary did not know where he was to lay down. The host asked him to help him move the table they had been sitting at, then reached down and lifted up a trap door revealing a cellar. The missionary was told to climb down, and in the morning when he wanted out to bang on the pipes and they would let him out. He crawled down, the table was moved back over the trap door, and the missionary thought, “I’m sure stuck in here if they do not want to let me out.” The house was not worthy by the nature of its accommodations, but it was worthy by the family’s receptivity to the message given.
The idea of a greeting of peace being received is that the “shalom” given by the apostle, the wish for those in the house to have total well being in mind, body and spirit, would be confirmed by their receptiveness to the apostle’s message. Some additional insight into this is given in verse 41, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward . . .”
The principle here is that we need to concentrate our efforts on those who respond to the message of the gospel. It is the same thing we see Paul telling Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2 that the things he had learned from Paul he should “entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Certainly we proclaim the gospel to everyone for the command in Mark 16:15 is to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” However, the time spent with any particular people needs to be concentrated on those who respond so that we can fulfill the commission of Matthew 28:19 of making disciples of all the nations, by going, baptizing, and teaching them all of the Lord’s commandments. To relate this to the harvest analogy given in Jesus’ parables, we are to be busy gathering in the wheat and not making extended examination of the tares.
A Departure from Those Who Do Not Listen – Matthew 10:13-15
The final principle for this morning’s study is to remove yourself from those who do not listen, “but if it is not worthy, let your greeting of peace return to you. And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
The tendency is to often think that everyone is the one lost sheep out of a hundred and we should leave the 99 to look for it. We need to remember that the gospel message is also one of judgment. People are in sin and it is a warning they will pay the penalty of that sin unless they repent and receive God’s forgiveness.
Someone may be kind and put you up, but if they do not respond to the gospel, then there is no basis for the extension of peace, for without a positive response to God’s message of love, there is not peace with God. The same is true of everyone else that hears the good news of Jesus Christ but rejects it. The apostles were directed to give an outward sign of shaking the dust off their feet. This is a sign that arose from the practice of Jews who had traveled in a Gentile land and would shake off the dust from that country before returning to Judea. The idea was an outward sign of protest against the people who had rejected God’s message. Paul & Barnabas actually did this when leaving Pisidia of Antioch.
You can try that if you want, but few people would understand the meaning now. You might be more effective if you just gave them a stern warning – “You have rejected the word of God and you remain condemned before Him. You are responsible for yourself, but we are going elsewhere to find those who will listen and heed. If you change your mind, let us know.”
It is not that we necessarily turn away from those who reject the gospel at the first hearing or even after several hearings, for from 2 Peter 3:9 we know that God is patient “not willing that any should perish but for all to come to repentance.” This principle is not applied against those that are slow to understand or believe, but against those that have had a clear presentation of the gospel so that they clearly understand it, yet they continue to resist and oppose it. Their condemnation will be greater than that of Sodom and Gomorrah because they had been given the words of life, the message of salvation, and they have rejected it.
We make diligent effort to win the lost, but when a person clearly rejects the message, then we come to understand that they are the hogs and dogs the Lord was speaking about in Matthew 7:6. We are not to give them what is holy. We are not to continue to cast our pearls before them. It is time to move on and leave them in their condemned state.
The gospel is too precious and there are too many that have not heard to waste time on those that reject it. Tell them you would happily talk with them further if they change their mind and ask, but you need to move on and spend the time with those that are responding to it, and as you do, remember the other principles we examined today: Have a focused ministry. Give a clear message. Live a life of ministry. Have a heart that trusts the Lord so that you can freely give what you have received.
Jesus’ instructions to His apostles serve as a ______________to Christians who neglect them
Many who claim to serve Jesus are _________for they do not even know Him – Matthew 7
Those who do know Jesus must be careful to do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s __________
Background – Matthew 10:1-4
Jesus is specifically talking to the _____________disciples He has chosen to be His apostles
This passage contains ____________instructions for them in carrying out a ministry as His apostles
While the specifics do not apply to us, there are _______________in the instructions that do
A Focused Ministry – Matthew 10:5-6
The focus on the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” was according to God’s ________and plan – Rom. 1:16
This is specific for them _______at that time, for later they were to take the gospel to the Gentiles – Acts 1:8
Principle: Ministry needs to be ____________in order to avoid mediocrity
_______first and seek the Lord’s will, then consider your spiritual gifts and abilities, then try or get someone
Determine your spiritual gift by 1) The ______does God puts on your heart. 2) Get __________and evaluate for spiritual effectiveness. 3) Get ___________if still burdened. 4) Have mature believers evaluate you.
Be focused by praying, thinking, planning and then __________
A Clear Message – Matthew 10:7
The gospel is often watered down and muddled in American Christianity resulting in _____________
By God’s grace through faith people are _______from sin, self & Satan to sanctification, saints & the Savior
Religious traditions, work based salvation, human philosophy and legalism _________& confuse the gospel
Do not get sidetracked by ________________issues from the primacy of a clear gospel message
Example: Use the 10 Commandments to show a person’s sinfulness instead of focusing on a ________issue
A Life of Ministry – Matthew 10:8
Miraculous signs were _______________that Jesus was the Messiah and that the apostles were sent by Him
Despite the claims, there are no ________Apostles for none manifest such supernatural apostolic credentials
You cannot perform miracles, but you can freely _________what you have received – live a life of ministry
The Apostles served without concern for gaining ____________- and so must we.
A Trusting Heart – Matthew 10:9
Jesus prohibited them from taking money, extra clothes or even a food bag to teach them to __________God
This was a specific command for a specific _____for later Jesus told them take along provisions – Lk 22:35f
The principle is to trust the Lord instead of being _____________about food, clothing, etc – Matt. 6:25-34
Plan wisely (Proverbs, Luke 14:28) and seek ______God’s kingdom and righteousness, and He will provide
A Concentration on Those Who Respond – Matthew 10:11-13
A house was considered worthy based on the reception of the apostle’s _________, not its accommodations
The greeting of peace was the wish for those in the home to have total ___________in mind, body and spirit
The principle is to concentrate your ____________on those who respond to the message – 2 Timothy 2:2
We go to all to proclaim the gospel (Mark 16:15), but we spend time gathering ______, not examining tares
A Departure from Those Who Do Not Listen – Matthew 10:13-15
The gospel is also a message of ____________of judgment to those who do not repent
Without a positive response to God’s message of love, there is _____________with God
God is ___________(2 Peter 3:9) and this principle is applied only to those who resist and oppose the gospel
When a person clearly ___________God’s message, then Matthew 7:6 applies – they are the hogs and dogs
Remain open to talk with those who change their minds, but be ______with your time and move on to others
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times a reference is made to the gospel. 2) Discuss with your parents how you can apply the principles explained in the sermon in your own life.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is your assessment of the influence of self-professed Christians on American Society? Why? What are some of the reasons that some self-professed Christians are not in fact Christians according to a Biblical definition? Who is Jesus speaking to in Matthew 10? Why is that important to know? What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle? Can the instructions given in Matthew 10 be applied to Christians living now? Why or why not? Why does Jesus prohibit the apostles from going to the Samaritans in Matthew 10 but directs them to go to those same people in Acts 1:8? Why is important to have a focus in ministry? How can you determine whether you should be involved in a particular need you recognize? How can you determine your spiritual gifts? Explain the message of the gospel? What are some of the ways the gospel is commonly perverted or watered-down within American Christianity? How would you share the gospel with a homosexual man that advocates his lifestyle? What was the importance of sign miracles to Jesus and to the Apostles? Are there any Apostles in the present age? Why or why not? Why didn’t the apostles use their ability to heal miraculously to raise money for their ministries? Why does Jesus prohibit the Apostles from taking with them money, extra clothes and a traveling bag in Matthew 10, yet later in Luke 22:35-36 He instructs them to take those things with them? What factors should determine what you take with you in carrying out a ministry? What is the practical means of demonstrating that you are trusting God to provide even while you seek to plan in wisdom (Consider Matthew 6:25-34)? What determines whether a house is “worthy” or not (Matthew 10:11-15)? What is the “greeting of peace” ? Why would it be given to a worthy house and withheld from an unworthy one? What is the significance of shake the dust from your feet? What factors can help you determine whether you should spend time in ministry to someone or not? What factors can help you determine whether a person is a hog or a dog as described in Matthew 7:6?
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