I Want to Know Christ
Comments for Study 3
Memory Verse: 10
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I. That I May Gain Christ (1-11)
>1. Note the theme about which Paul doesn't mind being repetitious. (1) Why does he keep repeating this?
* Philippians 3:1 "Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you."
* "rejoice in the Lord!" -The Lord is the true source of a believers joy. We may have joy because of other things; marriage, children, salvation of others, etc. Yet, God is the source of true joy. Jesus said, "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:9-11)
* "!" -Ancient writers showed exclamation through pressing hard while writing, thus making the letters bold.
* The Philippian believers in Jesus had several reasons to not be joyful; persecutions, Paul's trials and prison time, and some infighting.
* "write the same thing again" -rejoice in 1:18, 2:17, 4:4, here and joy in 1:4 and 2:2.
>Why is it important for a Christian to rejoice in all circumstances?
* "it is a safeguard for you" -The Spirit brings joy. (John 16:24) If we don't rejoice we are rejecting the will of the Holy Spirit. Then we become a bad influence and witness to others. How can we rejoice? We must draw near to the Spirit and Worship Jesus. Why can we rejoice? Because of the saving grace of Jesus. (John 15:10-11)
>2. Who are the dogs about whom Paul warns? (2)
* Philippians 3:2 "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh."
* "dogs" -Revelation 22:15 "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."
* "mutilators of the flesh" -In the following verses Paul is speaking of the flesh referring to his Jewish heritage. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh." (6:12-13) Amongst Christians were also former Pharisees and Sadducees. Pharisees brought into the new congregation strict following of Jewish customs and culture including circumcision. The Sadducees brought into the new congregations Greek teachings, beliefs and lifestyles. The two blended with Jesus' teaching. The apostles saw the error in these ways and spoke against them.
* "dogs" -In all the ancient world with the possible exception of Egypt dogs were wild animals who hung around garbage dumps looking for food. They ran in small packs that would on occasion attack sheep herds. Sometimes they would attack lone travellers muling their flesh in search of food. Travellers would often carry fresh water, bread, and dried meat to sustain them until they reached their destination. Similar carnal men were packing together with the intent to rob the Christian pil1im as he made his progress towards the eternal destination, the kingdom of God.
* 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 "You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
* Galatians 2:11-13 "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray."
* Titus 1:10-11 "For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach--and that for the sake of dishonest gain."
>Why does he use such strong language?
* "those men who do evil" -They acted spiritual, but were full of sin.
* Paul in pointing out people who were either in the congregation at one time or perhaps knew someone who was in the congregation. They were making trouble for the Philippians. They are here described as Jews or Jewish converts who believed in an early form of Hellenistic and Chrstian blend, later to become Gnostism. "Gnostism is a modern designation for certain religious and philosophical perspectives that existed prior to the establishment of Christianity and for the specific systems of belief, characterized by these ideas, which emerged in the second century and later. The term gnosticism is derived from the Greek word gnosis (knowledge) because secret knowledge was so crucial a doctrine in gnosticism. ...(They believed) the separation of the god of creation from the god of redemption; the division of Christians into categories with one group being superior; the stress on secret teachings which only divine persons could comprehend; and the exaltation of knowledge over faith." (Holman Bible Dictionary)
>3. Who are the true circumcision? (3)
* Philippians 3:3 "For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh."
* "circumcision" -Cutting the retractable fore-flesh of the male organ. Hebrews practice this as given to Abraham to remember the covenant he made with him. The Lord God gave circumcision immediately after he had slept with Hagar, and had a son by her at his wife's suggestion. (Gen. 16 & 17) In doing this Abraham was seeking his own solution to God's promise for a son. Thus Abraham slipped from having faith to trusting in the flesh -that is, his own ideas about what God said. By being circumcised Abraham would every day remember that he must believe the Lord God and not seek his own way, trusting in himself.
* "we" -Paul, a Jew and believers in Philippi.
* Romans 2:28-29 "A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God."
* Gentile believers do not need to be circumcised to be in the kingdom of God. (Acts 15) Paul even stated that we should stay as we are when the Lord Jesus called us; whether circumcised or not. (1 Cor. 7:17-20)
* 1 Peter 2:24 "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."
* "we who worship by the Spirit of God" -Jesus told the Samaritan women, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24) And Paul wrote, "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind." (1 Cor. 14:14-15)
* "who glory in Christ Jesus" -Jesus is our glory.
* "who put no confidence in the flesh" -We know that circumcision is not the basis of salvation. "We are saved by grace through faith. And this not from ourselves, it is a gift of God. Not by works so that no one will boast." (Eph. 2:8-9)
>4. What are the human achievements and background in which Paul might find human pride and confidence? (4-6)
* Philippians 3:4-6 "though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless."
* "I have reasons for such confidence" -Paul had confidence in being saved by works of the flesh -that is, the things that he did in his Jewish religious actions.
* "circumcised on the eighth day" -Circumcision on the eight day was according to what God told Abraham. (Gen. 17:11-12)
* "of the people of Israel" -God made a covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai. (Ex.19:3-6)
* "of the tribe of Benjamin" -The Jewish nation who was brought in and out of Babylon captivity consisted of men and women from the tribe of Judah, Benjamin, and some Levites. They were called Jews.
* "in regard to the law, a Pharisee" -Pharisees were strict teachers, enforcers, and followers of the law of Moses and customs, laws, and regulations that they made.
* "as for zeal, persecuting the church" -Paul did anything in service to the Lord and to please the religious leaders, even things that many Jews would not do.
* "as for legalistic righteousness, faultless" -Paul kept all the Pharisee way.
>5. What did Paul lose in order to gain Christ?
* Philippians 3:7 "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ."
* "whatever was to my profit" -Paul was moving fast up the Pharisee track of importance. He was personally gaining a lot; honor, popularity, fame, power over others, possessions, and monetary gains.
* "I now consider loss" -All that he did turned out to be sin and displeasing to God because it was gain for himself at the expense of others. His former life was the opposite of Jesus' life as Paul wrote of in chapter 2.
* "for the sake of Christ" -Paul stopped all his old ways and began to live for Jesus and the gospel of Christ.
>6. Why did Paul have no regrets about the things he had lost for Jesus' sake?
* Philippians 3:8-9 "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."
* "I consider everything a loss compared to" -If an action did not contain worship, praise, and honor to Jesus, it was a loss.
* "knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" -"Knowing" is a continual thing. Knowing is not happening one day, one hour or one minute and then not the next. Knowing Jesus is a continual lifetime pursuit.
* "I have lost all things" -Anything not profitable to knowing Christ, Paul did away with.
* "gain Christ and be found in him" -Jesus lives in us and on judgement day that is all that will matter to gain eternal life in the kingdom of God.
* "the righteousness that comes from God is by faith" -The only way to be right with God is through faith. Paul brings this out very well in his letter to the Romans which he wrote just before he left for Jerusalem where he was put in chains. He also brings it out well in Galatians, though not as good as in Romans, which was written several years before Romans.
* "rubbish" -Things that are first place in the heart other than God; people, power, wealth, money, physical pleasure, glamour, praise, beauty, etc.
>7. What are Paul's heart's desires in verse 10?
* Philippians 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,"
* "know Christ" -Do you know Christ like Paul? Do you desire Christ above all else? Does he have first place in your heart? Abraham was told to sacrifice his son to determine if he loved the LORD more than his son. (Gen. 22:12) Paul sacrificed a successful life as a Pharisee. What is the most valuable thing in your heart? If it isn't Jesus, then sacrifice it.
* "fellowship in sharing in his sufferings" -If suffering for Christ does not exist in our life, then we will not know the suffering of Christ.
* "becoming like him in his death" -Paul died to himself, his selfish ambitions and desires.
* Our motivation is not for ourselves. Rather our motivation is to know Jesus who is full of grace and truth. Jesus said, "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." (John 17:3)
* "fellowship" -I've heard this word described using the analogy, "Fellows in a ship going to the same destiny."
* Acts 20:24 "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
>What did Paul do his best to attain by sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death? (11)
* Philippians 3:11 "and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
* "the resurrection from the dead" -A true physical resurrection just as Jesus was resurrected.
* Jesus’ bride will die a physical death and will arise a physical resurrection because Jesus, the resurrected King, is the power of his bride's resurrection. Isaiah 26:19-21 states, “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the bloodshed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.”
How do we know that Jesus is the power of resurrection? Three days after Jesus was crucified he rose from the dead. When he left the tomb, “The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matt. 27:52-53) Jesus' resurrection was so potent that other dead people also came out of the grave (Hades) to display his power.
Even the Old Testament has examples of dead bodies coming back to life by the power of God through his prophets. Ezekiel 37:1-14 records a field of dried bones receiving flesh and coming back to life. Through the prophet Elijah a woman received her son back from the dead. (1 Kings 17:17-24) All Israel knew that God could bring the dead back to life, though some did not believe what they read and heard. For the Jew (especially the Pharisees), Jesus bringing back to life those who where dead was quite possible. (Acts 4:2, 23:6-8, 24:21)
Jesus raising people from the dead was common knowledge among Jews by the time he was crucified. Even those who crucified him declared as he hung on the cross, “He saved others, but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.” (Matt. 27:42) Mark 15:31-32 records, “In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe." Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” Luke 23:35-37 records, “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One." The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’"
Jesus did save himself, but only after he had died to save his bride. After dying and being buried he reentered his dead body and walked out of his tomb. What was his body like? It was exactly like it had been. And so for forty days, between the feasts of Passover and Pentecost, Jesus walked on this earth in the same body he had since he was born in Bethlehem. (Acts 2:22-36)
Jesus interacted with his disciples after he rose from the dead. Just after Jesus rose from the dead Mary Magdalene and the other Mary saw his empty tomb and ran from it out of excitement and/or confusion. When they were running, suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.” (Matt. 28:9-10) Jesus told her, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and our Father, to my God and your God.” (John 21:1) “Tell them to meet me in Galilee.” (Matt. 28:10)
* For a continuation of this please read the manuscript that this was taken from, The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
II. I Press onto the Goal (12-16)
>8. How does Paul describe his own spiritual struggle?
* Philippians 3:12-13 "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,"
* "not that I have already obtained all this" -Paul was making it clear that the resurrection had not taken place yet. Some were going around and telling believers that the resurrection was a spiritual resurrection and had already taken place. (See 1 & 2 Thessalonians which were written before this letter.)
* "or have already been made perfect" -When Jesus comes to get his bride, the church we will be transformed. (1 Cor. 15) For a continuation of this please read the manuscript The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
* "I press on" -When I was a teenager and in my twenties I ran long distances. At times the running was hard. I had to press on with all my body, mind and strength to continue.
* "to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me" -When Jesus called Paul many years before this, Jesus took hold of him. Now at times the world pulls back in the tug-of-war. So Paul takes a stronger hold onto what Jesus gave him, his blood, and pulls against the world.
* "forgetting what is behind" -In our lives of faith we make mistakes and sin. Paul knew this, perhaps thinking of the problem between him and Barnabas. We can get very discouraged if we concentrate on the past, things lost and mistakes made. We can not dwell on the past. Forget it, leaving it to the Lord.
* "straining toward what is ahead" -Again the illustration of a runner who does not dwell on the path behind, but the path ahead. How can a runner do that? verse 14.
>Why did Paul press on and strain toward what is ahead? (14)
* Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
* "toward the goal" -Jesus is the goal. The Lord said to Abraham, "I am your very great reward." (Gen. 15:1)
* "to win the prize" -God will give rewards and prizes according to our life of faith here and now. Salvations from sin and death is not a prize, it is a gift. Paul is not talking about eternal life. Paul is talking about gifts that Jesus will pass out at the "Bema" seat to those who had trusting in him to save them. Jesus taught this in many parables. (Matt. 21; Luke 12, 19, 20)
* "in Christ Jesus" -Its all about being a part of Jesus. Jesus is the every great reward of the saints.
>What could happen to a person who does not press on, who stops growing?
* Philippians 3:15 "All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you."
* "mature" -Not all believers have the same spiritual age. Spiritual age is definitely not the same as physical age. "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14) I know of those considered to be elders who do not study the Bible and when quoted to them they could not tell if it is from the Bible.
* "on some point you think differently" -There are many opinions about things, even of spiritual things and of the Bible.
* "God will make clear to you" -The Holy Spirit reminds us of Jesus' words. "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:13-15)
>What can we learn from Paul?
* Philippians 3:16 "Only let us live up to what we have already attained."
* "live up to" -We need to obey what the Lord had already given us in his word. Jesus said, "That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:47-48)
* "what we have already attained" -The written word of God is a big book. We have also received gifts of the Holy Spirit, also referred to as talents. These are to be used for others especially the church of God.
* If we want a greater reward in at the resurrection, we need to work more for the Lord. "The first will be last, and the last will be first."
III. Follow My Example (17-21)
>9. Who are the enemies of the cross?
* Philippians 3:17-18 "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ."
* "following my example" -If there is someone we know of who lives according to the word of God we should follow their example. However, the best example is Jesus himself.
* "live according to the pattern we gave you" -For us this is found in the New Testament. The Old Testament is good to, but only in the light of the New Testament.
* "many live as enemies of the cross" -Not a few continually work hard to deny who Jesus was and what he did. If there were many in Paul's day, there are even more now. Jesus said, "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away." (Luke 21:8-9)
* Some of the worse enemies are those who claim to be of Christ and are lazy. They don't work for the gospel and they don't read and study God's word. They do not live by faith and they love the world. Like Hezekiah they only care about themselves and thier lifetime. (2 Kings 20:19, Isaiah 39:8)
>In what respect are our most dangerous enemies those within?
* Philippians 3:19 "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things."
* "their destiny is destruction" -Just because one believes there is a god and shutters means nothing if they do not live by faith. (James 2:19) Hearing, understanding, and knowing truth is just a beginning. Wisdom acts on truth without end. Faith, hope and love are all acts that please God.
* "their god is their stomach" -They only look to better themselves and save themselves.
* "their glory" -That which they do to make them look good in front of others.
* "their shame" -On judgement day Jesus promised he will sort out the good from the bad. The bad will be shamed.
* "Their mind" -All they think about.
* "earthly things" -Not having to do with the kingdom of heaven. Not having to do with resurrection. Not having to do with judgement. Not having to do with righteousness. Not living by faith. Not sacrificing self. Not living for the gospel. They have nothing to do with Jesus, the one from above.
>10. What is the great conclusion of our spiritual race? (20a)
* Philippians 3:20s "But our citizenship is in heaven."
* "citizenship" -We are Jesus' ambassadors while in this world. Abraham considered himself an alien and a stranger in this world as does all of God's people.
>What is our great goal and hope? (20b-21)
* Philippians 3:20b-21 "And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
* "eagerly await" -Jesus used the parable of ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom. (Matt. 25:1-13)
* "a Savior" -Jesus has saved us from sin. Jesus will save us from death. Jesus will save us from the body of decay. Jesus will save us from the decaying world. Jesus will save us from this evil generation. Jesus will save us from sinful human rule. Marvin R. Vincent wrote in his Word Studies in the New Testament, "Saviour has no article, and its emphatic position in the sentence indicates that it is to be taken predictively with Jesus Christ, and not as the direct object of the verb. Hence render: we await as Savior the Lord, etc. Compare Heb. 9:28.
* "Lord" -meaning King
* "Jesus" -meaning He saves.
* "Christ" -meaning Anointed One.
* "by the power" -Jesus' has ultimate power.
* "everything under his control" -Not everyone is under Jesus' control now, but when he returns all will be. This doesn't mean that he is not able to accomplish his will for Jesus is God.
* "will transform" -Jesus will take the exact body we have in this life, whether decayed or not and make a new one. How this is done is a mystery to all but God. Marvin R. Vincent wrote in his Word Studies in the New Testament, "See on Matt. 17:2; and 1 Cor. 4:6, 9:13. Also on form, ch. 2:6; and fashion, Philippians 2:8. The word thus indicates a change in what is outward and shifting -the body. Rev., correctly, shall fashion anew, Refashion.
* "our lowly bodies" -The body that we are in is described in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body."
* "so that they will be" -This is future tense.
* "like his glorious body" -Does this mean that our new bodies will be physical in essence? Yes, for Jesus' body is physical in essence? Does this mean that our new body will be spiritual in essence? Yes, for Jesus' body is spiritual in essence? Does this mean our new bodies will be better than our bodies are now? Yes, in ways that we can imagine and can’t imagine. Does this mean that God will restore our bodies to that of Adam and Eve? Our new resurrected bodies will be better than Adam and Eve's bodies. Does this mean our body will radiate? Yes, for Jesus radiates with the Glory of God as pointed out in the verses already quoted. This does not mean that we will be like angels who have been made flames of fire. (Heb. 1:8) We will be and are the King's bride.
Some may think it strange that we will radiate with the Glory of God. However, when Moses received the Ten Commandments his face was radiant to the point where he wore a veil when he was among the Israelites. For a long time after that when Moses went in to meet with God in the Tabernacle and came out his face was radiant. (Ex. 34:29-35) Paul points out, “if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (2 Cor. 3:7-11)
Moses was not the only person who radiated with the glory of God because the Spirit of God was on him. When Stephen was standing before the Sanhedrin being judged by them and about to be condemned Acts 6:15 states, “All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”
Another verse that states the bride will radiate with the Glory of God is Matthew 13:43a. Jesus said, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Col. 3:4 says we “will appear with [Jesus] in glory.” Daniel 12 also states that we will shine forever and ever.
* For a continuation of this please read the manuscript that this was taken from, The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
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