Special Talk

Follow Him

AUDEE VILLARAZA: Come on, put your hands together. Somebody bring the praise to Jesus…

I remember a very good friend, Feast Preacher George Gabriel Feast — remember him? He is all the way now in New Zealand with his family.

George said to me, many years ago, he attended an international conference, and he asked a volunteer about a class — who the speaker would be. And the volunteer said, “I actually don’t know.”

George asked, “Why?”

And then this guy said the most beautiful thing. He said, “It’s because it’s not important who gives the message— what’s important is the message.”

Yes. And I want you to know that you did not come here because you wanted to see Bro. Bo, or you wanted to see me, or you wanted to see Bro. Alvin, or Bro. Tony, or our regular preachers here.

You came here because you love God. You came here because you want to hear a message from God. That’s why we have prepared such a fantastic message for you today And I hope that you get to lean in. Just lean in and let God speak to you today.

Join me in praying our favourite prayer:

NOVENA TO GOD’S LOVE

Today, I receive all of God’s Love for me

Today, I open myself to the unbounded, limitless, overflowing abundance of God’s universe

Today, I open myself to Your blessings, healings, and miracles

Today, I open myself to God’s Word so I would become more like Jesus every day Today, I proclaim that I am God’s beloved, I am God’s servant,

I am God’s powerful champion

And because I am blessed, I blessing the world. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

My dear friends, allow me to introduce my dear, dear friend who has become part of my family, and I know you will be blessed by his message. I want you to give the same warmth, the same love that you extend to Bro. Bo, to me, every week, as we welcome, Bro. Doc Didoy Lubaton!

DIDOY LUBATON: Please look into the message, not into the messenger.

Altogether:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

 Today’s one big message is:

Reading from the Gospel of Luke 5:1-11:

St. Luke says: 5 One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee,[a] great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. 2 He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. 3 Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon,[b] its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is

deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

8 When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” 9 For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11 NLT Wait a minute, this is the time when Jesus started His Ministry. If you go to a few verses back, you’ll see how Jesus was baptized, the temptation of Jesus, how Jesus was already performing miracles, teaching people.

But in Luke 5: 1-11, this is the first time He called disciples. He called Peter

— at this time, he was still named Simon. Let’s continue…

Our Message Today

Let’s read Verse 4:

4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

Remember what Jesus said to Simon at this time… And this is our message for today:

10 Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

And God is speaking to you through this: “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”

Imagine that. Feel that. That beautiful Good News— the Gospel of the Lord.

Put your hands on your heart and have this moment with Jesus:

Lord, You brought us again into this place of commitment. Today, we hear Your call to follow You. Speak to us some more. Disturb us as needed. Break what You have to break. Build what You have to build. Today, we’re Yours.

And forever. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Let’s sing together as loud as we can.

Honor the Word:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Endless Loop

Oh, yes, God is calling you today. What is your response? It’s up to you.

How many of you have watched Doctor Strange, the first movie? Okay? Spoiler alert. Forgive me. But I want to use that today.

At the end of the movie, Doctor Strange faced his biggest threat at that time. And it is the cosmic enemy called Dormammu. Towards the end,

Dr. Strange was fighting him and Dr. Strange found the ability to time travel—to loop time. The power to use and control time. And so, that’s the key how he was able to beat Dormammu.

Dr. Strange looped time.

And it was suffering. What do I mean? If you’ll see through the movie, Doctor Strange was there— dying every single time, for almost an eternity… There was a loop of dying, and then going back to where they came from, and they saw each other again, and fighting again, and Doctor

Strange was just dying… then you know how the story ends…

But the endless loop… Sometimes, that’s how I feel when I wake up. Wake up one day… Haay, Monday again… You wake up and you see your husband or your wife again. You see your kids again. You see your dog again. You see your bills again…

We had a Grand Easter Feast last week. Yeah… And it was beautiful.

And then the next day, I woke up…It’s Monday again. Oh yes, you are a preacher yesterday, but you’re a doctor again today. Now, people need you. You have a duty to your company, blah, blah blah…

Can you be honest with me and say, “I can relate to that?”

When there’s an endless loop of tasks, things-to-do lists… It doesn’t end.

It doesn’t end. It doesn’t end.

Peter’s Problem

Looking at Simon Peter. Probably he must be feeling that endless loop as well. You see, before he met Jesus, he was a fisherman. And as a fisherman, he needed to fish. But the context is different.

At that time, Israel was conquered by Rome. And Rome was known for its majestic buildings,

for its glory. You know where that glory was coming from? From taxes. And this explains how they were able to build their massive infrastructures left and right.

The ones that suffered most during that time, one of them, were the Jews. Because they were conquered by Rome, they had to pay a lot of taxes and their contributions built the empire.

For example, Terumah:

For a moment, I was thankful that I’m paying less taxes than this one… And there was also Machatzit Hashekel:

For an ordinary fisherfolk, there were many forms of contributions as part of the culture of the Jews. But remember, Peter, would you imagine the body of the fisherman? Would you imagine the lifestyle of a fisherman? How early that man has to wake up? And the manual labor… how energy-consuming that may be— how your body is exposed to the sun, to the elements…

Could it be possible that Peter also felt an endless loop? You see, he had to pay a lot of taxes, just like anyone else. And every day he had one goal: to fish, to gather as much as he could, so he could cover for his tax deficit.

Encountering Jesus

In Luke, it says Simon had to fish all night. And he was at that point when Jesus asked him to go to the deeper waters and fish again…

He replied:

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”

A breakthrough, not a break up.

How many of you can relate to that?

You work so hard, as honestly as possible, to try to maintain your integrity, and doing all this work— and yet you did not catch a break.

How many here want a break?

You know, that morning, everything was about to change for Peter.

And if it happened to Peter, this morning, it could happen to you.

Remember? He was a fisherman. He met Jesus. Something happened in their conversation. Afterwards, he wasn’t a fisherman anymore. He was a fisher of men. There was transformation. There was a Good News. Peter was working hard for fish. Peter was just trying to catch more fish. Peter was just trying to pay his taxes.

And God did not give him just fish. He caught a Lamb. The Lamb of God.

He had a new, renewed relationship. He had a new purpose.

I speak that to you. You coming out, seeing, being one with our Community again. And if you are watching online, the same blessing comes to you— whether you’re here or there. But I hope you can come here.

May we encounter Jesus with all our struggles, with all our bills to pay, with all our sicknesses, with all our hurts. And once we encounter Jesus, we will never be the same again. Amen.

Let me go back to the Bible verse:

4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

Imagine that. Jesus asked them to cast their nets on the other side. Look, He is a carpenter talking to a fisherman. It doesn’t make sense.

Peter Said It So Well

5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again…

 Peter had the passive, aggressive tone when he said, “Look we already did it all night, and we didn’t catch anything.”

But he recognized Jesus—not in his work as a carpenter. Peter recognized Jesus as a Master. As a Miracle Worker. As a Healer.

How do you see Jesus? Who is He in your life?

Today, you’ll never be the same again. Because we believe the lesson here is, this:

As the song goes:

GOD WILL MAKE A WAY

Oh, God will make a way.Where there seems to be no way He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me He will be my guide. Hold me closely to His side

With love and strength for each new day He will make a way, He will make a way

 I speak this to you: He will make a way. He will supply what you need.

Make Him Your Master.

You’ve been building your business for so long. You’re trying to make your relationships work. You’re trying to recover from an illness. It’s like an endless loop, an endless loop, and endless loop.

But once you encounter Jesus, here’s the difference… It is not when you just attend The Feast. It is not when, you know, you say “Hi!” Enjoy. Ang saya— it’s fun. But it is not just there.

Receive Your Miracle

Something happened to Peter. A miracle happened for him because of one thing. You know what’s that?

Peter, Simon at that time, followed Jesus. He followed the instructions of Jesus. He was all ears…

You have doubts? You have doubts that you’ll be able to pay your bills, you’re going to rise from your debts? You have doubts you may not be able to recover from this illness, you’re too much in pain? You may have doubts about your purpose?

Encounter Jesus today and receive your miracle.

And not just see Him.

Follow Him.

And following Him is not easy. But you and I, we are one family. I welcome you home.

Receive your miracle today by following Jesus. Are you ready to follow Jesus? It’s your choice. But I hope you will. And when you do so, receive His miracle into your life. Imagine Jesus picking a fisherman to be one of his first disciples.

And by the way, the context here is, when Jesus performed that miracle, it wasn’t for Simon Peter alone. Remember, he had to ask for help.

Because they were a ton of blessings that came from obeying Him.

Want to bless your family? Would you like to bless your colleagues, your company? Would you like to bless your country? You are part of God’s Plan. Your vote counts. Your lifestyle counts. Your posts count. Your mindset counts.

Be part of God’s miracle in your life. Be part of God’s miracle in your family, in your community, in your company,, in your country.

By following Him, you say: If you say so, Lord…

Let’s come into prayer. Put your hands on your heart again..

Father, again, here we are. We need you. We surrender to you .

Continue to speak to us and transform us inside and out. Lord, it is Divine Mercy Sunday. For those who are feeling unworthy, receive Your Mercy. We receive Your Healing. And You said in Your Gospel today, “Peace be with you.”

And Lord, we receive that peace of heart, peace of mind. Peace in our relationship, peace in our life. And with that grace, Lord, we trust in You. We will follow You this day and for the rest of our life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Three Practical Ways To Follow Jesus

AUDEE VILLARAZA: We’re talking about following Jesus. How do we follow Jesus? I’ll give you three practical ways.

The first way for us to follow Jesus— it’s very simple— is we first need to believe in Jesus.

And you know, belief is something that is so relevant now, because belief is something that’s personal. Like, you have your beliefs, right? And when you believe in something so much, I mean, you would die for that belief. You would fight people for that belief. Some people would even kill others for that belief.

That’s why, you know, fake news is real— when you believe in something and then you make it your own, you think that it’s the truth, you make it the truth. But here’s something interesting that I found out this week.

The Greek word for belief is pisti.

 That’s the same word that you would use to describe a nuisance candidate:

Isa siyang pisti— he is a pest. Ha-ha.

Pisti means trust, and confidence. So, when you believe in someone, that explains why you trust that person. Because you believe and you have confidence in that person.

May I ask you something very personal? How many of you believe in Jesus?

Raise your hands. Do you believe in Jesus? Let me ask you this: How come there are times when you don’t actually trust Him? Like, you don’t have confidence in what He says will come to pass?

Here’s my theory: It’s because, yes, we have doubts. Nothing wrong with having doubts— we’re all human, after all.

Mythbusters

I remember there was a show in the early 2000 called Mythbusters.

Mythbusters was a very amazing show. It was from the Discovery Channel and it features a group of guys who did a series of experiments— to test whether a myth— a folk tale, a belief— was true or not. And they refer to Science to either debunk or prove if it was real.

Like, they had an episode where they tested this myth : if you shoot the gas tank of a car, will it explode? You ever wondered if that was true? Like, Hollywood movies would portray it? So they tested it, using scientific methods.

And then, another myth that they tried to debunk is: if you stepped on quicksand, will you sink really quick and disappear from the face of the earth?

One of my favourites: they tested this hypothetical theory when they asked this question: Is it possible that Jack —in the movie Titanic— could have survived if only Rose was not too selfish to hug that floating door? Could it be possible? Would it be possible that Rose might have killed Jack?

That would completely change that song of Celine Dion: Every night in my dreams, I see you…That’s not a love song anymore.

It becomes a horror story: Every night I see you in my dreams…

Jack is haunting Rose because she’s guilty of killing him.

So, you would be surprised with these Mythbusters — revealing that some of the things that we thought was impossible was actually possible.

Download: Who Is Jesus to You?

Sometimes whenever we read the Bible, when we look at the stories in the Bible, that’s what we say. We’re like, you know, “This is not real: You cannot split an ocean into two then walk in the middle of them. That’s not true. You cannot kill a giant with just one rock. That’s not real. You cannot turn water into wine. That’s not true. And you cannot raise people from the dead.”

NEWS FLASH, my friends: That’s why it’s called belief. The Bible says that we walk by faith and not by sight.

 Sometimes, we tend to just over-analyze too many things in this life that we cannot comprehend and we say, “That’s not real. That’s not true, I don’t believe that.”

But that’s why it’s called faith. There are places where Jesus will take you to today that will require you to trust Him and not to think about it any more. Just as He asked Peter who followed Him and obeyed Him— even though they fished all night in that same exact spot. I mean, would you believe that? “Uh, Jesus we did this already all night.”

Do you have that kind of faith to trust Jesus even if it doesn’t make sense?

Even if you are unsure, even if it’s unknown. That’s the kind of belief that I believe we should have. And make no mistake about this: your belief should also mature.

You need to grow in belief.

Our son Ethan, he’s turning 5 years old this year. I don’t know if parents can relate to this. Parents, you have teenagers at home, or young adults at home.

Correct me if I’m wrong. Is there ever a time that you still treat them like they’re 12 years old? Ethan is now 5 years old, but time to time, I still treat him like he’s only 2 years old. I’m stuck with that definition of Ethan as this little boy who doesn’t know how to walk or run, or he’ll get into danger.

Let me just say this: Some of you are stuck with an old definition of who Jesus is. Like, you’re stuck with this 20-year-old definition of who Jesus is. You’re stuck in that grade school definition of who Jesus is. And I know that you know God doesn’t change. But we also all know that God is constantly revealing Himself to you and me. And so, if you’re with that thinking that “This is Jesus to me. This is it.”— You need a new upgrade. You need a fresh download of who Jesus is.

Because if you only know Him as the Savior, He’s so much more than that. God is more. He’s more than just your Savior. He’s more than just your Provider. He’s more than just your Companion. He’s more than just your Encourager.

God Is More

God is more. And He wants to get to know you. He wants you to also get to know Him.

That’s why grow in belief. I believe that believing in God is not just a one-time event that you’re doing. That’s it.

Growing in God, believing in God, is a daily decision that you need to make. Just like loving your spouse, you know. Like loving people. It’s a daily decision that you make. Even if you don’t feel like loving that person today— because you said you’re going to love that person, you make that decision every day.

The second way to follow Jesus is a little still simple. So, after you believe in Jesus, now you start to belong.

I want to introduce to you somebody I met just last Sunday. Her name is Aisha. I met Aisha here during our Grand Easter Feast. She’d been messaging me on. Instagram, asking stuff about The Feast, and she was able to attend. And I met her right after the Grand Easter Feast, by accident, outside, and she told me she came all the way from Mindoro. Mindoro is a little far, but she comes from the farther part of Mindoro.

So, guess how long it took her to get from Mindoro to here: 13 hours. Some of you were not able to join us in our Grand Easter Feast.

That’s fine. What’s important is that you’re here. God is more concerned about your present than your past. He’s more concerned about your story now than your history. He’s more concerned about your future.

And so, Aisha told me she came to The Feast alone. And by the time that she left, she wasn’t alone anymore. She left with a spiritual family.

Here she is with the friends she met— the Light Group friends she reunited with.

You Belong Here

Following Jesus brings people together. It brought together Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John. And yes, they were business partners already— but following Jesus brought them together even more. It brought Nathaniel and Philip to find the other disciples to follow Jesus.

How many of you can admit this? That it brought some really good people in your life— when you started following Jesus? Isn’t that true? Some of the best people I know in my life, that I’m privileged to call as my mentors, my best friends, the sponsors in my wedding, the ninongs, godparents of my children — they all believe in Jesus as well.

Because following Jesus makes you feel you belong. Even if some of you feel, “I don’t belong here, Bro. Audee… Because of my sins, the things I did 20 years ago…I’ve been abused, molested… I don’t belong in the Church of God…”

I’ve got news for you: You belong here. Not because of your credentials. Not because of your achievements. Not because of your status. You belong here because your admission was purchased by the Blood of Jesus Christ.

You belong here.

I believe that the Church of God is not a country club

— where because you are

somebody, you belong. That’s how membership works, right?

The Church of God is not like that.

The Church of God is more of a community that because you already belong— while you were still a sinner,

Christ already forgave you, He already accepted you— because you already belong, you can believe that you can become somebody.

That’s the second way. As you believe in Jesus, you start to belong.

You start to belong to this beautiful, crazy, loud family.

And then the third way: You start to:

How do you follow Jesus? Believe in Him. Belong to Him. Spend time with Him.

Learn from Him.

The more you behold Him, the more you become like Him.

I want to explain this, and walk with you in this point because this is something that I struggled with all week long, trying to understand this.

The reason Jesus blessed Peter with a miracle that day was not because He wanted to just solve the problem of Peter. We all know that Peter had problems. The reason Jesus blessed Peter with a miracle that day was not simply to bless him, and remove the problems. It was so much deeper than that. Usually, when Jesus works, He doesn’t just work on the surface level. He works on the deeper level,

or the source of what needs to happen in your life. He works deep within— Spiritual surgery. And what was Jesus doing here?

Imagine that, you know, Peter had been problematic— trying to pay off his debts. Some of you here doing the same thing— trying to experience financial freedom. Some of you are praying for the same thing.

And Peter thought that he needed fish. So, he fished. He even fished at night. And on Shabbat, the holy day of rest— is which is illegal to the Jews, by the way. But Peter did it. Why? Because he was desperate.

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about— because you know what it’s like to be desperate, don’t you? To know the problem that you have experienced, and sometimes you get so desperate, you don’t know what to do.

And so, that morning, after Peter fished all night, Jesus came. And Peter had a problem. And Jesus knew Peter had a problem. Jesus knew what Peter needed. Peter thought he needed fish. But Jesus knew he needed a Lamb instead.

Sometimes, when you get too preoccupied with the problems you have, you know what happens? You tend not to focus on the bigger issue— the deeper issue. You think that your problem is the most important thing. But what’s more important than your problem? It’s the Presence of Jesus in your life.

Christianity Is a Relationship

Jesus has the power to solve all your problems. He’s the source of all solutions. Peter needed fish to sell. But what did Jesus do? He filled up an entire boat with fish— to simply say, “You needed enough? I’m going to give you more

than enough.”

That’s what Jesus wants to do in your life.

You think that, “I only need this much, Jesus.”

But Jesus says, “I’m going to give you more than what you need.”

Because the moment that Jesus removed the problem, what happened? Peter now saw and he felt the Presence of Jesus.

You know, sometimes what happens to us is that when we have a problem, we don’t run to Jesus right away, do we? Do you agree with me? He becomes the last option. He becomes, you know, the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency.

The last resort: “I did everything everything I could, Jesus. Now it’s your turn.”

Again, how many of you are parents? Parents, would it be okay if your child, will only approach you whenever there’s a problem? And, you know, good times, they’ll just ignore you. That’s terrible, right?

God is a father. If we only approach God whenever times are bad, guess what? It’s not a relationship.

At its essence, you want to know what Christianity is? Christianity is not just following a bunch of rules and behaving like you’re a good boy or a good girl so that you can get to Heaven one day. Christianity is not only helping people but at its core, Christianity is about following Jesus. That’s it. It’s about a relationship with Jesus. And so, if you don’t even have that relationship, you’re just running

to Him very time you need something—“Lord, there’s a bill that needs to be paid. Lord, there’s a sickness that needs to be healed. Lord, there’s a relationship that needs to be restored.”

That not’s a relationship.

Catch a Break

I remember the story about a young man who was asking advice from an older man who has been married for 50 years.

The young man says to the old guy, “What is your secret to staying married, you know, for that long? Um, how do you tell your wife that you love her every day?”

The old man smiles and says, “It’s easy young man. Fifty years ago I married her and I told her I love her. And then, I said, if anything changes after that, I’ll be sure to let her know.”

Somebody say, that’s not a relationship. If you want to grow in a relationship with Jesus, you got to be with

Him as much as you can. And tell Him, “I love You.” Tell Him, “I thank You.” That’s what a relationship is.

I want to close with this part of the story. I try to imagine Peter with this problem…And I imagine you are also gripping and struggling with your own difficulties…

I imagine that with all the things going on in the life of Simon Peter, he was always thinking… he tried to do his best. He fished all night. He fished during the day. He was a fisherman but he couldn’t catch fish. Couldn’t catch a break.

I wonder if some of you feel like that. Been working so hard but just can’t catch that promotion. Been trying so hard to have kids but can’t seem to catch that break. Been trying so hard to look for a date but can’t catch that break.

Sometimes, that’s how it feels: Peter thinking, “I can’t catch a break.”

Until that fateful morning. When Jesus showed up, He just completely turned the life of Peter around.

Peter had been praying and he had been working to get fish. But what he thought he needed was actually not the thing he really needed. What he thought was a solution to his problem was actually just a short-term solution.

And that’s what I want to speak to you today: That sometimes, the solution that you’re praying for is actually not really the long-term solution— because the long-term solution is Jesus Himself. He is the solution in your life.

And so, maybe, I imagine Peter was saying, “I can’t catch a break…”

Let Jesus Break the Endless Loop

The break that Peter actually needed— and the break that you actually need— let me just say this:

The break that Jesus gave to Peter — that he did not expect —was that Jesus broke that endless cycle.

Jesus wants to break the cycle that you have.

The cycle of dependencies. The cycle of bad habits that you’ve planted in your life. He wants to break those old addictions that you have. That endless cycle that’s controlling your life.

And right now, this is the beautiful moment that we are in front of Jesus.

I know that you have that problem deep within you. But don’t just pray for Jesus to solve that problem. Pray for Jesus to break that whole cycle. So that you will start seeing Him for who He is. Yes, the problem sometimes will still be there.

But hey, when you see Jesus, you know that there is Somebody bigger than your problem.

So, in the Presence of Jesus right now, I want to lead you in this moment of Worship. This moment will be complete if you allow the Power of Jesus to penetrate through you. I can’t do it. Bro. Didoy can’t do it. None of us can do it for you. You need to be the one to do it.

And so, with your arms stretched outward, I want you to think about it: the endless loops that get repeated again and again every day in your life. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s a dependency. Maybe it’s a belief. Maybe it’s an old thinking. Maybe it’s something that was passed on to you — by your parents, by your grandparents, by your friends. Maybe it’s a bad habit that’s controlling you.

Allow Jesus to come, to be around us— front, back, center, and all around us — to heal the broken parts of ourself, so that we can finally see Jesus for who He is and what He can do for us. And so with our arms stretched outward, let’s pray:

Father we offer to you the thing in our life that does not come from you. That comes from the world that has broken us, that continues to break us. And we offer this to you right now as we put it at your feet. We surrender it to you Jesus. We’re tired— tired of running around, tired of being scared, tired of being cautious, tired of being insecure. Jesus, we want you to come so that we can see You and know You.We want to trust You and have confidence in You. We believe in You, Jesus. We declare that we belong to You. And Father, as we worship You make us more like You.This is our prayer. In Jesus’ Name.

Until that morning that he finally caught so much fish, that he had so much to pay for his debts.

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