Lent Devotions

Lent Devotions

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 31, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Hope by Design

THE WORD:

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14, NIV)

THE FLESH:

Today, because of technology, we are able to view life formed before our very eyes.  Ultrasound helps us to clearly understand these words of the Psalmist, “I know that full well.”

Luther’s Small Catechism puts it this way:  I believe that God has made me and has given me my body and soul, my eyes, ears, reason and senses, and protects me from all evil and guards me from all danger.  Why does He do this?  All out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it.

Notice, it says not because we deserve it.  He knows us, our comings and goings, and He is familiar with all our ways.

We dwell in God’s security and, most of all, His love.  We are in a relationship with God because of our relationship with His son, our Savior Jesus.  This knowledge is too wonderful for us to understand.  It is created by the cross and the empty tomb, which guarantees us life, new life, and life everlasting. 

All of which prompts Paul to say that neither death nor life nor angels or demons, neither present or future, or any other power or anything else can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ our Lord. 

Let us remember these truths, meditate on them and live them, for we are wonderfully made and redeemed through Christ. 

THE CALL:

We thank You, our Creator, for being with us in the past, even as we were formed, the present, and the future.  Be with us, walk with us, beside us, behind us, and lead us. Now and forever, amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 30, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Hope in the Stillness

THE WORD: 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; fret not yourself over one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:7)

THE FLESH:

King David said that we should be still before the Lord. In being still before Him, I realize that he is still our Holy Father, He is still our redeemer, still our creator, still sovereign over all, He is still our great I AM, He is still the way, the truth, and the life, and He is still our all-in-all. When we come to this time of understanding, in our silent time, we can do nothing but to fall on our knees and give all praise and honor to our Lord and Savior.

David also said that we should wait patiently for our Lord when we find ourselves in times of turmoil and stress. In these times of anxieties, we have a very hard time being patient. We need to remember that patience, being a fruit of the Spirit, comes from God through prayers and faith. David goes on by telling us that we need not stress over those who seem to get ahead in life by doing selfish and evil deeds. Paul said in Romans 2:16 that God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus, so we need not get ourselves bent out of shape. We just need to give these worries over to our Lord. We just need to have faith in His promises. We need to believe in and obey His words when He says in Matthew 6:25, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,” and in John 14:27, “Let not your heart be troubled, nor afraid.” Further, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29 to take His yoke upon us for it is easy and His burden is light, and in so doing we will find rest.

Yes, there is much hope in the stillness.

THE CALL:

O holy and merciful God, You have taught us the way of Your commandments. We pray that You will pour out Your grace into our hearts. Cause it to bear fruit in us that we may always be directed to Your will and daily increase in love toward You and one another. Enable us to resist all evil and to live a godly life. Help us to follow the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to walk in His steps until we possess the kingdom that has been prepared for us in heaven. We pray these things in your holy name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 29, 2020 Psalms of Hope Devotional

Heart of Hope

THE WORD:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10, ESV)

THE FLESH:

For decades, congregations sang this verse following the sermon. 

Yes, “wash me, Lord, and I will be as white as snow.” 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed my transgressions from me.” 

You have forgiven them all, and I start with a clean slate.  And yet, the devil nags at me, “What about _________? Do you think God has really forgiven that one?” 

So, I cling to and trust His Word, “It is finished,” as Jesus said.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, ESV).

Come Holy Spirit!  Restore me to know to the depth of my being that I am your precious, redeemed child without spot or blemish!  Fill me with clean thoughts and right desires; breathe holiness into me.  Cover me with your wings and replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh, filled with love for you and others.

THE CALL:

Lord God, Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.  Amen.  

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Friday, March 27, 2020

Click here to listen to the March 27, 2020 Psalms of  Hope Devotional

Hope on the Path

THE WORD:

Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105, NASB)

THE FLESH:

What parent has never been awakened in the middle of the night by a crying child, afraid of a bad dream, afraid of a monster under the bed, or afraid of the dark? Often, a word of comfort and an assuring hug are all that is needed to calm the crying child.

We, too, have fears. When our lives are looking really bad, when we are afraid to go on, when we can’t see a way out, our God comes to us to show us our way. He offers us forgiveness for our sins, comfort for our fears, and hope for our lives. He shows us His promises and assures us in His word.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1).

“I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 20:20).

God’s word is the light that shows us, in verse after verse, in Old Testament and New, over and over, that He loves us and is with us.

Whether it is the Coronavirus, or a loved one with cancer, or an addiction that is taking over our lives, or sadness, or loneliness, God is there, in His word and with His Spirit, to strengthen us, be with us, show us the way, and lead us as we walk with Him through the darkness. As shown in His word, God is not only the light at the end of the tunnel but at the beginning, the middle, and with every step along the way.

THE CALL:

Lord, Thank you for Your word and Your promise to be with us.  Thank You for Your love and guidance. Be with us in these days when we are worried and scared, when our lives are disrupted, when we miss our loved ones, and when we feel like we are in the dark. Give us your strength to trust in You and follow your path. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Click this link to listen to the March 25, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Answer Me

THE WORD:

And they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” (Mark 11:28 ESV from Mark 11:27-33)

THE FLESH:

What things were the religious leaders talking about here? Jesus did a lot of things on his road to the cross; teaching, praying, healings, miracles…but they were likely speaking of a recent event that, for them, hit very close to home. Just the day before, an impassioned Jesus brought all commerce in the temple area to a halt by flipping over tables, driving out money changers and pigeon merchants and teaching that this house of prayer had been made into a den of robbers (Mark 11:17). Reacting with fear to Jesus’ ability to amaze the crowd, the religious authorities proceeded directly to seeking a way to destroy him. Without any apparent pushback as to Jesus’ allegations (Jesus, of course, was right), they attempt to fabricate fatal evidence by challenging his authority, hoping to trap him in his words.

Although scripture provides reasons for the leader’s destructive action, at a personal level, I wonder what produced their apparent disregard for the possibility that Jesus might be the messiah who he claimed and demonstrated himself to be? Had they become so cynical that they stopped believing that a real messiah was even possible? Were they so wrapped up in their day-to-day lives that they couldn’t address a question that didn’t have to do with the immediate world in front of their eyes? Whatever blinded them, their object was clear – get the evidence by any means and destroy Jesus. An injustice was born this day which Jesus would bear to its conclusion on Good Friday at Golgotha where he would use it for mankind’s salvation. But giving the religious leaders what they wanted was not in his plans this day. As quickly and surely as he set the wheels in motion for his journey to the cross with his triumphal entry and the temple cleansing, Jesus checks the leader’s questions with but two sentences. Cutting through their agendas and self-centered concerns with divine clarity, he forces them to consider the real spiritual question at hand and frustrates their efforts to be rid of him. Instead, they are left embarrassed in front of the crowd knowing that they have no answer as to the sanctity of John’s baptism or who it was that his baptism foretold (Matthew 3:11-12). In this confrontation and those that follow throughout holy week, Jesus brilliantly reveals his divine, eternal understanding and authority every step of the way. It is satisfying that Jesus’ response disrupts their plans to get rid of Him with such apparent ease, but His reply seems devoid of triumph and he demands “Answer me” (Mark 11:30) – words that echo down through history to us today.

THE CALL:

Jesus, you were so deliberate about each of your steps to the cross. Your responses to all of your challengers highlight your divine mastery of every situation and a consistent love for all, even those who reviled you and put you to death. Almighty God, of everyone you demand an answer. But gracefully, to all you provide the answer in your son Jesus. Give us faith to believe in you and send your Holy Spirit to clear away the clutter of our oftentimes self-centered lives and provide us a clear view of Jesus and your love in our daily journey with you. Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Monday, March 23, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Hope in the Valley

THE WORD:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

THE FLESH:

From where I’m standing, it sure looks like we’re in a valley.

It’s interesting how valleys don’t have the greatest reputations. Nobody says, “I want to spend time in the valley.” No, we yearn for the mountaintop experiences. We hope for bull markets, world peace, and perfect health. And when one or all of these things start to create a landslide in our lives, sending us cascading down the mountains and into the valley, it can be easy to assume the end is near, to forget Truth, and allow fear to take hold. Let’s name the fear today: it’s called COVID-19.

As Christians, we know and have faith in Christ. We know in our heads the words of scripture and the truths we have been taught. And, yet, with the voices of the media and the world around us, it’s hard to keep away from the panic. It’s hard to not be afraid. So what is going on here?

Martin Luther, actually, explained this best in his letter entitled, Whether One May Flee From A Deadly Plague:

He is such a bitter, knavish devil that he not only unceasingly tries to slay and kill, but also takes delight in making us deathly afraid, worried, and apprehensive so that we should…have no rest or peace all through our life. And so the devil…tries to make us despair of God…and, under the stormy and dark sky of fear and anxiety, make us forget and lose Christ, our light and life, and desert our neighbor in his troubles. We would sin thereby against God and man; that would be the devil’s glory and delight.

 The devil delights in our fear. When we are afraid, we forget that we are to love one another more than ourselves. We forget to be thankful for the many blessings we have, and we jump on the bandwagons of complaint. We forget that we are supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds – not conformed to this world (Romans 12:2), and we begin to look more like everybody else, instead of set apart, as we are called to be (Romans 8:30). We forget that, while it is OK to have the feelings of fear, we don’t have to hold onto them, because Jesus is in charge and he’s already won the victory; we can release our fear to Jesus. So, what can we do when we are in the valley to prevent fear from settling in and stealing our hope?

We can stop, take a look around, and notice that this is where there is growth. This is where we see vegetation, where streams and rivers flow, and where life is abundant. Though the mountaintops look good from a distance, they lack the things we need for healthy daily living. The trees don’t grow on the mountaintops. The water doesn’t flow. The air is thin. It’s in the valley where we find the lushness of growth, and it’s here where God will grow us spiritually, too. In the valleys of life, amidst this time of pandemic, we need not fear, for our hope is still found in Christ Jesus.

Let us pray in the manner that Martin Luther encourages when the enemy threatens to overcome us with fear as we consider ministering to our neighbors in need.

THE CALL:

Get away, you devil with your terrors! Just because you hate it, I’ll spite you by going the more quickly to help my sick neighbor. I’ll pay no attention to you: I’ve got two heavy blows to use against you: the first one is that I know that helping my neighbor is a deed well-pleasing to God and all the angels; by this deed I do God’s will and render true service and obedience to him….[H]ow could any fear of you cause me to spoil such joy in heaven or such delight for my Lord?…If you can terrorize, Christ can strengthen me. If you can kill, Christ can give life….Get away, devil. Here is Christ and here am I, his servant in this work. Let Christ prevail! Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Wednesday, March 18, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Undefeated Prayers

THE WORD: 

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have it and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

THE FLESH:

There are two factors that will defeat the result of our prayers.

First is the lack of trust in efficacy, producing a desired result, in a prayer. There are many needs such as financial, health, relations and wants, that we bring to our Lord in prayer, but we tend to lack assurance. We exhibit hesitation and fear as to the outcome. We seem to not believe in Christ’s words that every prayer in faith is heard. It could be that our Lord’s answer to our prayers may not be the one we were hoping for. It might be yes or no, or may not be answered at the same time we pray. We just need to keep our faith strong in believing his words.

The second factor is the condition of our hearts. There cannot be in our hearts any enmity, hatred, rancor, ill will, or any other unfriendly feeling, which is at variance with the demand of God. A forgiving spirit must dominate our action. We need to be filled with forgiveness towards all men. By not forgiving, we erect a wall, an insurmountable obstacle between God and us. This means God’s forgiveness of our sin is impossible and God will not hear our prayers. If we refuse to forgive our neighbor, we will shut ourselves out from God’s mercy and goodness, which will render our prayers ineffective. We need to choose to forgive others, and to receive God’s forgiveness, so that we may live in closer relationship with Him who hears and answers all our prayers.

THE CALL:

Gracious Heavenly Father, we give you all honor and glory for you are our all-in-all. We pray that you will give us strength and wisdom to keep our faith strong in you. We pray in your name Lord Jesus, Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Wednesday, March 11, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Den of Robbers

THE WORD:

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17, NIV)

THE FLESH:

But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’

I first interpreted this part of the verse as a customary criticism.  It is understandable that Jesus is upset with his house being used as a house of trade. In the past I would gloss over this story and move on, but I find my eyes trained on Jesus’ words: “Den of Robbers.” An interesting statement…why did he put those words together? I was moved to search a dictionary to clarify the definitions and meanings:

  • Den is essentially the lair or shelter of a wild animal, especially a predatory mammal. (Interesting to note that humans are part of the mammal family.) Also, I looked up predator: one who injures or exploits others for personal gain or profit.
  • A robber is someone who takes something from (someone) by unlawful force or threat of violence; steals from or deprives (someone) of some right or something legally due.

So, Jesus was calling these people predators and robbers. It seems harsh, but looking at it closer, it makes sense.  These “predators” were only out for their own gain and were essentially depriving the faithful their rightful sacrifice they desired to give to the Lord. These “robbers” were out to make a profit, which usually means cutting corners and creating a less than desirable sacrifice, putting the faithful at risk in not offering their best.

Also, when I look at the word den, I am reminded that Satan is represented as a snake in the Bible and find it interesting that some snakes curl up in a huge mass, in a den they robbed from a mammal. The image of the temple courts teeming with numerous tradesmen yelling and haggling to get a deal comes to mind. It would make the temples look like a hissing, withering mass of snakes, who are predators…robbers…instead of the view Jesus wants to see: prayer with incense, love and peace to all in attendance, and complete devotion to the Lord.

Wow…definitely not just a customary criticism.

THE CALL:

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for watching over places of worship and desiring our pure and sincere sacrifices. Thank you for reminding us of your deep love for us and ultimate sacrifice, your blood for our sins.  Amen.

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Wednesday, March 4, 2020 Lenten Devotional

An Ordinary Donkey

THE WORD:

Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it…’” (Mark 11:2b-3)

THE FLESH:

Do you sometimes feel inadequate or unqualified to play a role in God’s plan of salvation?

Perhaps we see ourselves somewhat like the donkey in our story. We may think Jesus really should be looking for a racehorse or a thoroughbred, not just a plain old donkey. But no, “The Lord needs it.” God was able to use an ordinary donkey in his grand story of salvation. Notice that Jesus didn’t ask the donkey to be or to do anything that it wasn’t, just to serve exactly as it was.

So, too, can God use us exactly as we are, with all our “ordinariness.” That’s not to say that we can’t stretch and strive to be more or better than we currently are. But God can and does use us as we are. We should never think we can’t serve because we aren’t as smart, as “spiritual,” as someone else. God can use our skills and abilities, our kindness to others, our generosity, our words to share his love, our service, to reach others and share his love and his gift of salvation.

God isn’t asking us to save the world, only to be faithful and let him use what we have for His glory. “The Lord has need of you…”

THE CALL:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us exactly as we are. Thank you for your gift of salvation. Help each of us to be open to your calling, to hear the words “The Lord has need of you.” Help us to use the gifts you have given us to reach out to others in love and share the good news of salvation with others. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Click this link to listen to the Sunday, March 1, 2020 Lenten Devotional

Made Well

THE WORD:

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. (Mark 10:52)

THE FLESH:

The story of Bartimaeus receiving his sight in Mark 10:26-51 (echoed in Matthew 20 and Luke 18) invites us to pause and reflect. This isn’t a simple story about a miraculous healing. It’s a story that teaches us how our faith can persist despite active discouragement from those around us. About how Jesus hears us crying out and listens to our prayers. About how the Son of David makes us well.

The story opens with Bartimaeus begging by the roadside outside Jericho when he becomes aware that Jesus is passing by. He yells after Jesus repeatedly, calling Jesus the Son of David and begging Jesus to have mercy on him. People hush Bartimaeus. He’s making a scene.

But Bartimaeus persists. He cries out even louder: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48).

Jesus stops. He calls Bartimaeus to Him. He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51).

Bartimaeus wants his sight returned. The phrase the ESV uses is “recovered.” Think about that for a minute. It implies that Bartimaeus has not always been blind. He remembers and yearns for the better days of the past, when he could see. What do you yearn for Jesus to recover for you?

A childlike faith?

A healthy marriage?

Strong friendships?

Passion at work?

Our Jesus is a deliverer of recovery. He heals us – our past, present, and future – so that we can go our way. There is nothing we have done, are doing, or could do that can separate us from His love. It’s when we are covered in his love that we experience made-well moments. Our faith – or rather, the person in whom we put our faith (Jesus!) – makes us well.

Now go your way so that others may see that you are well – and glorify God because of it.

THE CALL:

Jesus, thank you for coming and making us well. Thank you for giving us faith that persists despite active discouragement from some of the people and situations in our lives. Thank you for stopping and calling us to you and listening to our wants. Help us to show others proudly how you have made us well as we go our way so that in all our interactions, we would bring glory to Your Name. In your Name we pray, amen.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Ash Wednesday

February 26, 2020

Click on this link to listen to the Ash Wednesday Devotional

The Road to Glory?!

THE WORD:

“We’re going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34)

THE FLESH:

Our journey together begins today.

The journey will not be easy. It will be hard.

We will experience joy but not without struggle, suffering, and even death.

Together we will reach our destination. Heaven awaits! Jesus is there!

Listen in now and take in these many days of devotions to follow Jesus and his disciples on “the road to glory.”

Jesus took his disciples aside for the third time to tell them what would happen to him. He told them he was “going up to Jerusalem.” “Going up to Jerusalem” was a literal going up in elevation and a spiritual going up to the Holy City of God. The people of God at that time would make an ‘aliyah’ or “journey of ascent” to the greatest of all cities, the City of God, Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem? Worshippers would go to draw close to where God is in his Holy Temple.

The Passover was near. Jesus went ahead his disciples following to Jerusalem. Christ was making this trip for the last time for a purpose.

According to the Bible, 8 things happened on the long road to glory.

Jesus is betrayed to the chief priests and rulers by one of his own disciples. A fake trial would be held at night and he would be unjustly condemned to die. The religious leaders would not kill Jesus. He was turned over to the Romans. Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, would give the death sentence and hand him over to the soldiers. They would mock him, whip him, spit on him, and take him to Golgotha Hill for crucifixion and kill him.

But that’s not all. On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. He is alive!

The road Christ traveled was done for all people. His journey was God’s plan to solve the problems of the human heart to bring us life – eternal life.

Christ made the journey out of his deep love for you and all people. His death paid the price for our sins and gained for us a new life today and hope for tomorrow with him in the glory of heaven. (John 3:16)

Walk the road with Jesus this season of Lent!

THE CALL: 

Lord, I walk the road with you. I no longer walk without you. Lead me today, tomorrow, and forever down your road to glory. Amen.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

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Click on this link to listen to the Introduction.

Welcome to our Lenten Devotional Page!  We are working hard as a congregation to assemble a thoughtful and prayerful collection of devotions to read together with all who come to visit this space. Our goal is that this would be a place for you to come to meet Jesus in His word, reflect upon His message, and share with others in Christ. We will publish a devotional entry each Wednesday in Lent starting with Ash Wednesday, and then have a daily entry each day during Holy week all the way through Easter Sunday.  We hope that you will come here to join us on our Lenten devotional journey on February 26!

 

Thank you for taking the time to read and meditate on this devotion. To request prayer or to respond to this devotion go to wordbecameflesh@gvlc.net

 

Golden Valley Lutheran Church
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Golden Valley, MN 55422
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