Blog: Forest Lake Talks

December 12 Advent Devotional

December 12, 2020

“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2 Sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving every year, I pull out a trusty old double CD that lives in my car and start listening. It is the full recording of Handel’s Messiah – conducted by composer and conductor John Rutter and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cambridge Singers. It is glorious. Most of us are familiar…

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December 11 Advent Devotional

December 11, 2020

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife…;” – Matthew 1:24 The ‘angel of the Lord’ spoke to Joseph about Mary, to whom he was engaged, and pregnant with a child. Everyone dreams in their sleep. Some of us ‘day dream.’ During my childhood, an uncle, who preached, disclosed to his congregation…’An angel appeared to me saying God called me to preach.’ How might I respond if an ‘angel of the Lord’ appeared to tell me God called me to preach? That image left an indelible impression…

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December 10 Advent Devotional

December 10, 2020

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 As I sit here thinking and writing about Joy, nine months into a pandemic that has forced me to limit many of the things that bring Joy to my life, I am forced to look beyond what…

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December 9 Advent Devotional

December 9, 2020

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 This scripture was a letter by Jeremiah written to those carried into exile from Jerusalem into Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. All these many years later, we may not have been sent into exile by a King,…

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A Message from Ellen

December 9, 2020

December 9, 2020 Dear Friends, Henry David Thoreau is reported to have said, “It is not what we look at that is important, but what we see.”  And if that was ever true, it has been true of 2020.  But it is also a profound call to those of us who see life through the lens of a belief in God.  Because we believe in the God we see fully revealed in Jesus Christ we are not without hope, not crushed, not in despair.  We are ADVENT people.  That means that we believe that God will come. John Hudgens came…

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December 8 Advent Devotional

December 8, 2020

“Do nothing out of self ambition or vein conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 In his letter to the Philippians, Paul instructs the people of Philippi to value others above yourselves. He also says to do nothing out of self ambition. Too many times, we merge from these teachings to serve ourselves rather than the needs of others. We are naturally selfish people and want to fill our own needs before we can fill the needs of others. Paul asks us to do the opposite. Jesus came to earth in human form to serve us rather…

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December 7 Advent Devotional

December 7, 2020

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” – Psalm 40:17 I picked the last verse of this particular psalm because it forms a powerful conclusion. In the preceding verse, the psalmist reminds the hearer to “rejoice” and “be glad,” but in the next verse, the psalmist is needy. How can the psalmist be glad in the midst of being “poor and needy?” I believe the psalmist is able to distinguish between current state and an enduring, steadfast state. The…

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December 6 Advent Devotional

December 6, 2020

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”  –Isaiah 40:1 Isaiah first spoke these words into a situation of desolation and despair.  Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians, much of its leadership deported, and the rest of the people living under the rule of a foreign power that did not know nor respect their God. We celebrate Advent in a time of darkness, both literally as the days grow shorter, but also figuratively as we are seemingly dividing up more in more into our religious, social and political clans unable to recognize the humanity of and divine image in one another…

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December 5 Advent Devotional

December 5, 2020

“And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:16 KJV One of my favorite Christmas memories is when my son, Cole, was in preschool, and we were setting up our creche. I unwrapped the carefully packed figurines and handed them to Cole to arrange in and around the stable. After handing him the last figurine, I stepped back to admire his handiwork. Though all of us are big animal lovers, I was surprised to see only the animals in the stable with the baby, and all the humans relegated…

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December 4 Advent Devotional

December 4, 2020

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6 My soul waits. It seems that all we are doing now is waiting. Waiting on the election, waiting on the inauguration, waiting on a vaccine for Covid-19, waiting on test results, waiting on church to reopen, waiting on schools to reopen… waiting. But through his word, I hope. We have much to hope for, not getting sick, a vaccine, and now Christmas.…

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December 3 Advent Devotional

December 3, 2020

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 COVID; Pandemic; Stay Home; loss of employment; Masks; Social distancing; flatten the curve; protesting; rioting; looting; massive fires; hurricane after hurricane; tornadoes; damage to economic structure; addiction increases; domestic violence is on the rise; an election that is tearing apart families and friendships; hate seems to be common now on social media; etc. – Yes, 2020 has been surreal! Recently, while driving, I was listening to KLOVE on the radio and heard this: “2020 surprised you.…

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December 2 Advent Devotional

December 2, 2020

“This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life. To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God – to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.” – 1 Timothy 1:15-17 An excerpt from Paul’s first letter to Timothy in…

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December 1 Advent Devotional

December 1, 2020

“In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted. The lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion now and forevermore.” Micah 4:6-7 I have always been intrigued by looking backward in history and discovering what happened on a particular day in a particular year. Down through the ages what happened on December 1? 1862: President Lincoln reaffirms the necessity to end slavery as he stated in…

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November 30 Advent Devotional

November 30, 2020

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 I hear it often (and have said it myself), as I am sure many others have as well, “When will this all be over,” “I can’t take much more of this,” “I just want things to go back to normal,” “We just need 2020 to be over,” and so on in some form or other. We all yearn for normalcy to return. We all want the pandemic to be over so we can get back to our…

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November 29 Advent Devotional

November 29, 2020

It was a rainy, muddy, spring day in September 2012, when a Social Services vehicle drove into the yard of the newly renovated headquarters of Ministry of Hope Lesotho. The eight two- to ten-year olds, that had just moved into their new home, pressed their noses against the window, wondering what was going on. I grabbed an umbrella beside the front door and went to greet our visitors. A government social worker stepped out of the Landcruiser asking if this was the crisis care center known as Ministry of Hope. I agreed that it was, and accompanied her inside, together…

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