Saturday 20 April, 2019

John 18:28-40

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. 33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

In this passage, Pilate concludes Jesus is innocent and tells the crowd that he finds no charges. When he asks if he should free Jesus, the crowd shout back a giant ‘NO!’ and request for Barabbas instead. If this were me, I would feel so let down knowing that the governor believes I am not guilty but has chosen to follow the crowd. However, this is no surprise to Jesus as he knows this is exactly would what happen. He knows he needs to go through this penalty, so all of humanity can be saved.

When reading the passage again, I am also reminded of the way that Jesus informs Pilate that he is from another kingdom that is ‘not of this world’. This encourages me to always stay kingdom focused and reveal God’s truth in whatever way I can, even in the worst of situations. It reminds me that while living on earth, my life should reveal his truth everywhere I go and I should speak his truth to all that I can.

God, I thank you that you sent Jesus as a sacrifice not only for me, but for all. I pray that you continue to reveal your truth to us, so that we may live our best lives that honour you.

Written by Rachel Tomc

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Friday 19 April, 2019

John 18:15-27

15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” 18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. 19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

This is an uncomfortable passage. Our hero, Peter, the passionate disciple, suddenly turns his back on Jesus. I puzzled over this change of heart, given Simon Peter is one of his followers who stood by him in the garden, and v15 tells us, even followed behind when Jesus was arrested. This exposed Peter to being arrested himself.

However when confronted he caves.

I can identify with Peter. Why isn’t Jesus fighting back? Jesus has so much power he could easily escape. Doubts creep in, and steal away hope. His spirit fails him and he abandons what he knows is true. Could this stem from Simon Peter’s reliance on himself? He has relied on his strength, and his conviction. Now, under challenge, he cannot withstand the scrutiny, the disappointment, giving way to doubts.

Relying on myself rather than relying on the creator of the universe who knows me really does seem crazy. But it is so often my fall back position – call it human nature or whatever. But my gracious God is waiting for me no matter when I fail him.

The contrast between this Simon Peter and the Peter of Acts couldn’t be more dramatic (see Acts 2-4 for example). The 2 things Peter received are what transform me – hope and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, thank you for transforming me just as you did in Peter’s life. When doubts and feelings of hopelessness creep in, you are there for me.

Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Thursday 18 April, 2019

John 18:1-14

18 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. 4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” 5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” 12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him (verse 4) and yet, he went to a familiar place that his betrayer (Judas) knew (verse 2). Jesus did not hide. When they came near he asked them “Who is it you want?” They replied “Jesus” and he said “I am he”. Twice he asked them and twice he identified himself. No mix up of identity or communications here.

On the first occasion of him identifying himself, those coming to take him fell over backwards onto the ground. This is Jesus, “I am”, the all-powerful Son of God.

Jesus wanted no violence. He was not hiding. He clearly identified himself and he handed himself over to his accusers.

In John 10:11 Jesus said, I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep.

Jesus, the all-powerful Son of God, knew all that was going to happen to him, and he willingly gave up his life for all.

 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

What a prophetic statement, the Jewish leader Caiaphas unknowingly made, “Better that one should die for all” (verse 14).

Jesus thank you for giving up your life for me. I am so grateful, forever indebted, that you choose to die so that I may have eternal life. Help me to live my life for you each and every day.

Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart

1 (reply)
  1. Claire Moore says:

    Thank you Zoe for these insights. Lots God spoke to me in what you wrote.
    Jesus’ active submission whilst Gods power was clearly evident through him. Thank you God

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Wednesday 17 April, 2019

John 17:20-26

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[a] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

This is Jesus praying directly for you and me (and all who have believed because of his disciples’ message). This is significant. This is personal.

His prayer for us focuses on two related things: glory and unity.

Glory is not a word I use often, so I looked it up. With reference to God, it is the revelation of who he is: his appearance in thunder and lightning, in a cloud and a pillar of fire, in his tabernacle and his temple and sometimes in person; in his character; through what he does: in creation and in miracles; and in the person of Jesus.

He prays that we would

  • Be his glory. As we are united in relationship with him, and with each other, we reveal Jesus to the world around us. We testify that Jesus was sent by God; and that God loves us as much as he loves Jesus.
  • See his glory. It’s exciting that he says he will continue to reveal his glory to us.

(By implication disunity goes with a damaged relationship with Jesus and his glory being hidden. That’s serious!)

I’m challenged in three things:

  • It begins with unity with Jesus. If I want to see Jesus’ glory revealed (and I do), I need to focus on my relationship with him first.
  • I should look for Jesus glory to be revealed in my brothers and sisters in Christ (not look for fault).
  • Jesus will reveal his glory through me most readily when I’m working with other Christians, not alone (and certainly not if I’m working against them).

Jesus, I want to see your glory revealed today.

Written by David Cornell

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Tuesday 16 April, 2019

John 17:1-19

17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

What Jesus prays grows out of the fact that He is going away.  He is entrusting the disciples to the Father He has known and loved throughout His own earthly life, the Father who, He knows, will care for them every bit as much as He has done Himself.  He is aware that the disciples are at risk.  The world, which hates them as it hated Him, will threaten and abuse them.  They don’t belong to it, but they are to be sent into it, and they need protecting.  That’s what the prayer is about.  Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

A sense of opposition, persecution and suffering are part and parcel of the Christian faith – not because we do the wrong things (we should live righteous, pure, blameless lives) or believe wrong concepts (we follow the One who is the Truth) – but because we are followers of Jesus – who Himself was opposed, persecuted, and suffered.  We have an adversary, the devil, and we should never be surprised by these opposing forces.  So join James and count it all joy when various trials come upon you – James 1:2

Father help me to live in such a manner that you are truly glorified by my lifestyle.  Help me to endure hardship, opposition, suffering and persecution as a good soldier of Christ (2 Tim. 2:3)!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Monday 15 April, 2019

John 16:25-33

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” 29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” 31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In this chapter Jesus is preparing his disciples for his coming departure, how they will react & then be treated. He is also telling them something radical, they no longer need to go to a priest for prayer requests but can pray & ask the Father directly in Jesus name because they believe in Jesus (v26-27). This is still a radical concept for many, that we actually have direct access to God through Jesus Christ.

Verse 33 speaks the loudest to me, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace”. Peace not turmoil, peace not fear, peace in the midst of grief. Praying to our Heavenly Father in Jesus name giving him my burdens & anxieties, joys & dreams gives me peace knowing that He has this, He has me.

Thank you Heavenly Father that you care so deeply for me that Jesus came & died for me, my sin forgiven, access directly to you restored & your peace comforting me. Thank you for your great grace toward me. Amen

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Sunday 14 April, 2019

John 16:16-24

16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” 17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.” 19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Jesus promises his followers that one day (soon) all the troubles and confusion they are experiencing will be swept aside. Like a woman who has just birthed a baby and now holds the newborn for the first time, all the momentary pain is forgotten and they are carried into a new realm of joy. With this as context, Jesus proposes a radical new way to talk to God. The disciples are to use his name when asking God for what they want and it’s as good as done. Surely this is way too radical to take at face value? Jesus’s bold invitation seems to open the gates to excess or abuse. Consider: what were the disciples of Jesus likely to insert into this invitation?

* ‘overthrow the Romans’, or
* ‘give us our nation and land back’, or
* ‘re-fill the temple with God’s glory’, or
* ‘expel the foreigners from amongst our midst’

Via this shift in focus and with the confidence that Jesus is true to his word ‘Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete’ was fulfilled to the disciples just as it is fulfilled to us, today.  Jesus answered their prayers and delivered on their concerns, but via the resurrection. Are not our requests basically connected to exactly the same human aches, desire for significance, place to belong, need for daily bread, need for family, an identity. Jesus will give us all that we need and more!

Jesus, thank you for hearing my prayers and thank you for allowing me to ask you directly for what I want. Thank you that you always answer, always keep your promises and satisfy my hearts desire.
Till we meet face to face, Amen.

Written by Sam Stewart

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Saturday 13 April, 2019

John 16:1-15

16 “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. 3 They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4 I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 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. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 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.”

Jesus is not physically present with me. I can read of him, I can know how he acted, behaved and believed in a wide variety of circumstances. I can read of his power, wisdom and love. I can make note of his recorded teachings. But it is not quite the same as having him with me, daily. The physical Jesus would provide advice and perspective in the very moment I need it, he would see when I am discouraged and speak the words I need to rise up again. He would rebuke me when I was headed down a destructive and evil path.

No wonder his disciples grieved at the thought of losing him. How wondrous and incomprehensible it must have been to hear Jesus talk of this ‘helper’, this ‘Spirit of truth’, that would step into their lives as he seemed to depart.

I have the advantage of standing on the other side of two thousand years of the Church’s existence testifying that Jesus was not lying or using hyperbole. Truly, it was good for Jesus to leave and send us this Spirit of truth (the Holy Spirit). He is now with every disciple of Jesus, and if I learn to listen to him he is just as much present as the physical Jesus was with his disciples and he is just as trustworthy, speaking to us only what is passed on to him from the Son, who in turn received it only from the Father. Even more, he can do a work on the inside of us that turns my hard heart into an obedient and responsive heart.

Lord, I am living in the days of your Spirit poured out, your Kingdom is alive in our souls and is being revealed to the world in our lives. Truly I am not alone, you are with me, speaking to me and working thorough me to the ends of the age! Amen!

Written by Andrew Mellor

 

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Friday 12 April, 2019

John 15:18-27

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Reading this passage I am filled with both hope but also dread.  No one wants to be hated, suffer and struggle in life through judgment because of his or her faith. Jesus is sharing this right before he goes to the cross.  He knows what is coming, Judas has already left to betray him, he knows that it is just a matter of time before Peter denies him and God, the Father, turns from him on the cross.  Jesus knows what is coming but uses this opportunity to encourage his disciples and now us, that we will suffer for our faith just as he did but that we can take heart because he is with us.

The passage just before discusses that Jesus is the True Vine and that when we remain and abide in him we bear much fruit however it is well known that the best grapes for wine are from plants that have suffered in life.  It is often the oldest vines, the ones who have gone through droughts, fires etc that produce the tastiest wine.   We as Christ followers will suffer for our faith however it is through this suffering that what is inside of us comes out and fruit is produced.   Jesus in verse 26 talks about the Advocate who he is sending to help us and who will testify about Jesus through us.  I love this.  That Jesus knew we weren’t ever going to be able to walk through the suffering and the hatred of this world alone so he sent the Holy Spirit to be the advocate.  The one who will support us throughout our afflictions.

Lord, I thank you that whatever I walk through, you understand it because you walked far greater suffering.  Help me to surrender to you and allow you to use me in great ways for your kingdom.  Help me remember that you have sent the advocate to live in me to represent you to this world. In Jesus name! Amen

Written by Ps. Annique Botta

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Thursday 11 April, 2019

John 15:1-17

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

In this passage, Jesus says that if we remain in Him, we will find ourselves living fruitful lives. He also says in verse 10, that our obedience will keep us in His love and will also lead to joy.

So we could say that obedience to the commands of Jesus will lead to fruitfulness and joy. That sounds like a good deal to me! And what does obedience look like? Loving each other, just as God has loved us.

It’s easy to gloss over love, as if it’s cliché, trite, or we’ve “heard it all before”. Yet God is love. His love is endless, abounding, persistent and true. If anything, love is the imperative of the gospel, and we shouldn’t treat it like a known quantity. Indeed, a world filled with love would look very different to this world we know now. We have a lot to learn.

Jesus, please help me to love you with all my heart, and love my neighbour as myself. Help me to obey this command, so that I may glorify You with my life, and find fruitfulness and joy abound. Amen.

Written by Ps. Matt Samperi

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