An Angel Visit- Week of December 11, 2017

An Angel Visit – Week of December 11, 2017


But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:30-33



Imagine this…you are a young adult. You think you have your life planned out. Then an angel appears before you with a very important, life-altering message! What thoughts are running through your mind? Are you suddenly frightened by the changes that will happen? Are you humbled that you are the ‘chosen one’? Are you excited at the thought that an angel just appeared to you and gave you great news?

Mary was just a young adult when the angel, Gabriel, appeared to her. At this time, she was a virgin, engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. In the text for today, Luke describes the visit from the angel that Mary received. The angel greeted Mary with “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God.” These first words spoken by the angel are meant to calm Mary and prepare her for the good news about to be shared with her. “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus”. At this point, Mary must have been amazed at the miracle that was about to happen! Mary, a young virgin, was God’s chosen servant to be the mother of Jesus! The birth of Jesus is foretold by this angel and Mary will now give birth to a baby boy, and give him the name Jesus. The angel goes on to explain that this baby that Mary will carry, give birth to, and raise is the Most High. His kingdom is not of this earth, but rather he will rule a Heavenly kingdom that will never end.

Mary, a humble servant, received an angel visit that would not only change her life, but is good news for all people everywhere! The birth of Jesus is foretold and Mary is the chosen one to carry out God’s plan for the birth of his Son.



Prayer:
 “I come from heav’n to tell the Lord’s decree:
A blessed virgin mother you shall be.
Your Son shall be Immanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored maiden.” Gloria.!
Christian Worship 24:2

A Thought to Consider: Read Mary’s Song recorded in Luke 1:46-56 to learn about Mary’s reaction to the good news the angel shared with her. How do her words apply to you?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



A Promise Fulfilled- Week of December 4, 2017

A Promise Fulfilled- Week of December 4, 2017


“The days are coming” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.”
Jeremiah 33:14



I promise…two simple words, that are often spoken without much thought. These words might seem simple, but a promise is not to be taken lightly! How many times has a promise been made to you, only to be broken soon after the words were even spoken? Think about yourself for a moment. Have you recently made a promise that you fell short on delivering? The truth is, many promises that are made are unfulfilled or broken.

The comforting news is that any promise made by God is a promise that is true and will be fulfilled! The Bible is filled with promises and the fulfillment of promises. In the text for today, God is speaking the promise that there would be a Righteous Branch from the line of David who would be both God and man, priest and King. This promise is of course referring to the birth of Jesus. When reading the context of the Bible text for today, the promise is explained in further detail. The promise attached to Jesus is that he is both God and man. This means that Jesus would live a perfect life, die for the sins of the world, and would be raised from the dead. Jesus fulfills the gracious promise made by God, and the result is peace and forgiveness of sins!

The promise of God is a promise that we can continue to trust! We have the peace that whatever God promises is the pure truth. We never have to worry that a promise made by God will go unfulfilled! So, throughout this week, take time to meditate on the promises of God, specifically the promise of the Savior. The promise of the Savior is a promise made to each one of us and it has been fulfilled! A promise of God will never return empty!



Prayer:
Born your people to deliver, born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us forever, now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all sufficient merit raise us to your glorious throne.
Christian Worship 6:2

A Question to Consider: Take 10 minutes today to meditate on the promises of Advent. How are the promises of Advent fulfilled for you?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful During Times of Need- Week of November 27, 2017

Thankful During Times of Need – Week of November 27, 2017


The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 27:8



Have you listened to a child talk about her favorite superhero? The child might talk about what the superhero wears, says, or does to defend the world. It’s obvious, in the way the child excitedly stumbles over their words to tell you about him, that they trust and care for this character that can perform super-human tasks.

Isn’t this also how we feel about our God? He is our strength, our shield, in him we trust. We believe every word that he says, and he helps us through the day! He helps us. He helps us even if we don’t think we need it, even when we do not know we are approaching danger. We are so thankful for our strong God!

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful during times of need. Being “in need” is uncomfortable, and often painful, both physically and emotionally. This often causes us to take our eyes off our God. We instead focus on worldly matters, further pushing ourselves away from the very one who helps us!

Yet like any good super hero our God doesn’t wait for us to get our priorities straight before he springs into action.  Putting that strength and protection to work for us, he sent his Son into the world to be our Savior.  In Jesus, he helped us with our greatest affliction: sin separating us from him and his protecting power.  Through Christ we have been restored to God where he promises continued protection and support in difficult times.

So, let us be thankful for the one that fills our every need, especially the need to be forgiven. God has forgiven us through the death and life of his son, Jesus. Let us be thankful for our Savior in times of need and always.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I praise you for your love and all-knowing power! I trust you will always provide for me. Help me continue to seek you in times of trouble, taking comfort in your promise to keep me safe. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can you show your thankfulness to God for what he has done for you?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful for Prayer – Week of November 20, 2017

Thankful for Prayer – Week of November 20, 2017


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 every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:4-6



Have you watched a toddler struggling to open something, put an article of clothing on, or climb up onto a chair? When they can’t accomplish the task they set out to do, they may throw something, or perhaps themselves, onto the floor in limp exasperation. You want to help, you know what they need, and you could even just complete the task for them—but instead you give them the words, “If you need help, say, ‘I need help’”. We want them to ask us for help when they need it, even if we know what they want. How happy we are to help when they ask!

God wants us to say, “I need help”. Even though he knows what we need before we pray it, he wants us to ask. He wants us to come to him with thanksgiving for all he has done for us and humbly ask him for what we desire. In this he keeps our focus on him, the only source of help, comfort, and blessing in this world. And when we reach out to him, our loving, all-knowing God is so happy to hear and answer our prayers!

We are reminded that we can be joyful even during times of trial. Even when we are suffering, we rejoice because Jesus came to us when we most needed help. Without him we would still be stuck in our own sin. We rejoice because Jesus died for us, he destroyed sin on the cross, and promises to return to take us to heaven. We rejoice, even when we are suffering, because God has promised to help us. We thank God for this first, and then humbly bring our requests to him. How happy our loving God is to help us!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I need help! Give me a joyful heart always. I rejoice that you have forgiven me and promise to listen to my prayers. Today I would like to pray for (insert a concern, or request, or pray for someone that is going through a troubled time right now). Please help me through this challenge, knowing that all things work for the good of those who love you. Amen.

A Question to Consider: God wants us to pray! Make a short list of concerns that you have or people that you care about and pray for them this week. And Christmas cards are going to come soon! Every time you get a card in the mail, say a prayer for them and their family. God listens, every time.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful for Peace – Week of November 13, 2017

Thankful for Peace – Week of November 13, 2017


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15



What rules your heart? What has “first place” in your heart and mind? Is it something worldly like money and status? Does family life and the daily schedule occupy your heart and mind the most? The devil doesn’t care what is in your heart, as long as it isn’t the peace of Christ!

God tells us to let the “peace of Christ” rule in our hearts. This peace comes from knowing that God has saved us through the death of Jesus, who took all our sins on the cross when he died. We feel peace because we know that Jesus always forgives us.

Our Christian colleagues, friends and families have this same peace. We were all together lost in our sins, and Christ died for all. For this we should be thankful! We are also thankful that God gives us co-workers and families that share the same peace in Christ. When this peace is in our hearts, we can work through challenges even when plans, opinions, and personalities clash.

With peace in our hearts, it is easier to forgive others. A peaceful, forgiven heart is happy to forgive others. We are “sinners living with sinners” and want to share the forgiveness and peace God has given us with those God has placed in our life. How thankful we are that God places others in our life to work through the challenges in this world! How thankful we are for the peace of Christ!



Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the peace of Christ. Let this peace rule in my heart as I work with children, parents, families, and co-workers. Let my words and actions reflect your love and the peace that you have given me through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Think of a specific challenge that you have with a co-worker or family member. How can “having the peace of Christ” help you work through this challenge?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful for God’s Love – Week of November 6, 2017

Thankful for God’s Love – Week of November 6, 2017


Give Thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 106:1



I don’t know how the argument would start, but my brother and I routinely got into a “who is better” feud that escalated to “I’m better forever”, and then “I’m better as far as outer space” and then “I’m better to infinity” and, my brother’s final word “I’m better infinity plus one”. He always won, because who can argue with infinity plus one?

God’s love endures forever. His love endures “infinity plus one”! No love is greater than God’s love for us. This is especially amazing because he is perfect and we are not. He is always faithful to us, even though we are not. God is always good—and we are not. We continue to disobey our good, loving God by hurting our colleagues and family, by our evil thoughts, words, and actions. We fail to regularly learn his Word through church and personal study. We fail, but God’s love never does.

We are thankful for God’s undeserved love. That love moved him to send Jesus to be our substitute. Every imperfection, every moment of unfaithfulness, every instance of evil actions, words or thought were placed on him, paid for, and removed forever. We call this love grace—the love that God has for us even though it is not deserved, and even though we fail. We give thanks to God for his goodness and love that is ours forever. God’s grace and love endures “infinity plus one”!



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for showing me your love and goodness every day. Help me show my thankfulness to you by my work, thoughts, and words. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: How can you show your thankfulness for God’s grace, his undeserved love, in your work and your home life?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Be Still – Week of October 30, 2017

Be Still – Week of October 30, 2017


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46: 1-3, 10-11



Have you seen the painting of a raging waterfall and the illustration of peace depicted by the artist? (“Peace in the Midst of the Storm” by Jack E. Dawson) Under the raging waters, in a small cleft in the rock is a bird sitting quietly on her nest. The waters around her are roaring and foaming as stated in today’s verses, but the mother bird sits peacefully.

Are there days where the waters around you seem to roar and foam or that the mountains are falling down around you? God says in John 16:33, “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.” He does not promise a life without struggle and heartache. In your own life, you likely have experienced things that seem like the very ground you stand upon is threatening to break apart and crumble. You likely have family and friends who are battling against what can seem impossible. The evening news is full of stories that illustrate the challenges of sin in the world.

In John, God says, “Take heart!” In the Psalm for today, he says, “Be still.” These two words are both a command and an encouragement. He commands us to just stop and be still in order to remember that he is God, the ruler of all things. He also encourages us to just be still and exhale and remember that our loving God has all things in his hands. He is the LORD Almighty. He is our fortress guarding and protecting our faith.

This month we’ve been considering selected verses that reflect on the themes of the Reformation. We’ve looked at verses that highlighted God’s grace, faith, and that the Word of God is eternal. Martin Luther, who led the Reformation in 1517, was at one time living in hiding due to death threats on his life. His place of hiding was the Wartburg Castle. It was here, in the midst of crisis and tumult, that Luther wrote one of his most famous hymns: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Luther was certainly in the middle of a storm raging around him. The church was in upheaval and his own life was in danger. Psalm 46 reminded Luther and reminds us that God is our protector, our fortress against a sinful world. While not immune from trouble and hardship, we can have peace and confidence that God is with us during those challenging times. He is a fortress protecting us from all that Satan wants to do to snatch us away from faith in God.

So, like the mother bird in the painting, and like Luther during his time of persecution, we can be still, we can be at peace. Our faith is secure, our salvation is secure because of what God has done and continues to do for us. “The LORD Almighty is with us” indeed! “God is our refuge and strength.”



Prayer: Dear Father, the struggles of this world can so easily overwhelm me. Remind me and encourage me to take the time to be still and be reassured that you are my refuge and strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Question to Ponder: The hymn referred to in today’s devotion may be well known by some and new to others. (Christian Worship 200) Take a few minutes and read through each stanza, pausing to consider what each phrase means. The hymn describes the evil foe (Satan), the prince of this world (also Satan), and the one God sent to fight for us (Jesus). If you were to create a picture to illustrate this hymn, what would you include?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Change and Unchanging – Week of October 23, 2017

Change and Unchanging – Week of October 23, 2017


All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.
I Peter 1:24-25



Raise your hand if you love change. While I know there are some of you that may have raised your hand for given situations or types of change, by nature we aren’t overly fond of change. We recognize some change is good, maybe even great. In my lifetime, we went from phones with party lines (more than one of you could use the same line at the same time) to answering machines to Facetime! That’s an awesome change-especially if one has family or friends a distance away.

Change can also be unnerving and unsettling. For some parents, the first day of school for their child is exciting and yet a marker that reminds them that their child is quickly growing up and will not always be with them. As parents age, the discussion of moving to assisted living can be comforting and unsettling at the same time.

Today’s verses remind us that we are like grass. We don’t last. Like blades of grass, eventually we all die. All the things that we work so hard on, all our tasks and accomplishments are like a flower. They may look wonderful in the moment, but over time they fade. We look at the world and see the endless changes that come so quickly. We see changes in values and lifestyle, morals and expectation of what is right and what is wrong. It doesn’t seem to stop. Change is unsettling! The world keeps changing! What can we hang on to?

“But the word of the Lord endures forever.” That phrase makes me exhale in relief. In a world with so little, if anything on which to cling, “the word of the Lord endures forever.” God is the same God who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He is the same God who spoke to Moses and lead the Israelites to freedom. The Word that the disciples heard and proclaimed is the same Word that you and I hear, read, and proclaim today. God’s promises to Adam, Jacob, Noah, and Abraham are the same promises for you and me. God’s promise of salvation given to us in his Word is always the same. It has not and will not change. We can count it. Our changeless God has given us his changeless Word. There we find comfort and confidence to know he will be unfailingly faithful. There we find comfort and confidence that all he does is founded on his immeasurable love for us. That will never change.

So, in a world of uncertainty and constant change, you and I can be confident of this-God’s love, his promises, and his Word remain the same. What God says to us in his Word today will be the same tomorrow, next year, and always. The most important things in our lives as God’s children will never change: he loves us, he has forgiven us, he has redeemed us, he has prepared a place for us in heaven. “The word of the Lord endures forever!”



Prayer: Dear Father, as the world around me changes constantly, help me to always look to you and your Word. When the ever-changing world tempts me to be anxious, remind me of your Word that endures forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Fix Your Eyes – Week of October 16, 2017

Fix Your Eyes – Week of October 16, 2017


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2



One of the things that I love about early walkers is watching them learn to maneuver in the world from their new perspective. Now on their feet, the world takes on a whole new look with a multitude of distractions. As they toddle across a room, the slightest thing to the right or left can take their eyes off where they are going. We find ourselves urgently guiding them away from a wall or table or other obstructions to avoid potential injury. Often unaware of the pending pitfall, they toddle on. As they become more savvy, they naturally learn to keep their eyes on the path ahead.

We are so often like those early walkers, aren’t we? We toddle along on our walk of faith easily distracted by things that take our eyes of faith away from Jesus. We continually reset our goal from today’s reading to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” We recommit to Bible study, daily devotions, family devotions, faithful worship attendance. And along comes the ever-present distractions. Our morning list of things to do seems especially long today–“I’ll read my devotion and Bible reading later.” And then later gets filled up with other tasks. “I’ll do them before I go to sleep tonight.” And the fatigue of the day carries us off to sleep before we even recall that we had made that goal. We know it’s important. We know the blessings that come from being in the Word. We know, but like the toddler, we are so easily drawn away.

The beginning of this section refers to a great cloud of witnesses. It is referring to the previous chapter that lists so many heroes of faith that faced some of the same challenges we face. Their faith was challenged. The problems of life hit them hard just as they do you and I. This recounting of these individuals isn’t meant to highlight what great people of faith they were but rather what God had done through their faith. Their faith, like ours, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. And that faith grows only when we are in the Word, fixing our eyes on Jesus. When we fix our eyes on him, what do we see? We see all he has done out of his incredible love for us: he endured the cross and now sits at God’s right hand as intercessor for us. He tells God that we are his, that he has paid the debt we owe to God so that heaven is ours. Our faith is from him (the author) and grows because of his work in us (the perfecter).

As we look at the little ones making their way across a room, we often scurry along moving this and that out of their way so that the distractions and potential dangers are at a minimum. As God’s people, we need to continually do the same for ourselves. What distracts us from focusing on Jesus? Throw it off! What pulls us away from our time in the Word? Throw it off! What is it that hinders us from growing in our faith and living in grace? Identify them and throw them off!

Our walk of faith is much longer than the toddler’s journey across a room. It’s a life-long journey filled with obstacles, but also covered with God’s grace and mercy for us. And as we grow in faith, we see more and more clearly all that God has done for us. In him and in his Word we find comfort, we find peace, and we find joy in focusing on him and his Word as our motivation and our guide along the way until he takes us home to him in Heaven. In faith, fix your eyes on him!



Prayer: 

My faith looks up to thee, thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine.
Now hear me while I pray; take all my guilt away; oh, let me from this day be wholly thine!

May thy rich grace impart strength to my fainting heart; my zeal inspire!
As thou hast died for me, oh, may my love to thee pure, warm, and changeless be, a living fire! Amen.
Christian Worship 402:1,2

A Question to Ponder:

Make a list. Write down those things that distract you from focusing on Jesus. Is it the list of things to do? How can you be faithful in your tasks and make being in the Word a priority? Is it television? Something else? Make an honest list and ask God to bless you in your commitment to being in his Word. Write down things you can do to help you stay focused on Jesus.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



I Can Do It… or Can I? – Week of October 9, 2017

I Can Do It… or Can I? – Week of October 9, 2017


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9



If you serve children between ages two and five, you likely hear the following phrase fairly often: “I can do it myself!” Conquering a zipper alone is a big deal! Holding a cup or juice bottle by themselves can bring a great sense of accomplishment. From taking those first steps to completing a puzzle to tying their shoes, each brings excitement in a young child. We celebrate those milestones with each child and their families.

Human nature seems to crave independence and the ability to handle life on our own. We find great satisfaction in being able to accomplish tasks and projects without someone else’s aid. The number of cars on the road are an illustration of our desire for independence. While we see the value in collaboration, there are still times when we find great satisfaction in accomplishing something ourselves. At graduations or retirements, we are likely to say, “I did it!”

So often God’s way of doing things is completely upside down from our way of thinking and doing. Today’s verse is no exception. Let’s take a closer look. The first word that stands out is the word grace. Grace is a word for God’s undeserved gift to us. At graduation or retirement, you may receive gifts because people want to note your accomplishment. Not so with our salvation. There is nothing at all to note but what God did. God sent his Son. Jesus lived a perfect life and then willingly laid it down to pay for our sins. We did nothing. God did everything. God did it. God accomplished it. And then, out of his incredible love for you, he just gave it to you. He gave it without any expectation of your participation or a list of prerequisites. He gave it because he loves you that much.

The next word that stands out is faith. Here we are tempted to say, “See, we have to have faith! We need to believe.” And then again we stop and consider. How do we receive faith? It is the power of the Holy Spirit alone that works that faith in us. We can’t bring ourselves to faith. We can’t decide to trust God’s promises. The Holy Spirit gives us the faith, the trust and confidence, in God’s promises.

The verse reminds us twice of what we are not able to do: not from ourselves, not by works. We can’t say, “I did it!”. But we can joyfully say, “God did it!” and “God gave it to me!”

So, as you watch and celebrate the young children you serve as they reach milestone after milestone, be reminded of what you can and cannot do. We cannot earn God’s love or favor but we can gladly receive it as the free gift it is. We cannot come to faith on our own, but we can have trust and confidence in our salvation because of what God has done. We can live our lives never worrying if we have done enough to earn God’s favor. It’s already done. God did it! Jesus did it! Remind yourself each day of the gift of faith you received at your baptism and live in joy and peace with God’s undeserved gift of grace that is yours.



Prayer: Dear Father, each day is a gift of your grace. Keep me focused on your Word each day so that I am constantly reminded of that gift of grace. Help me to reflect your grace in all I do. To you be the glory and thanks! In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



All Day, Every Day – Week of October 2, 2017

All Day, Every Day – Week of October 2, 2017


Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9



Stop for just a minute before you continue to read or listen and think of the number of interactions you have with each child every day.

How many did you list? It’s likely a significant number! With preschoolers you may have listed greeting them in the morning, helping them get settled for the day, inviting or encouraging them in an activity, talking to them about a project they may be working on, helping them sort through a challenge with another child, washing hands, and on and on. For infants you can add giving them a bottle, changing their diaper, interacting with them during tummy time, soothing them, and many more. Your day is so full with your focus on each and every child.

This month is a significant anniversary for the Lutheran church. 500 years ago Martin Luther challenged the teachings of the church that were in opposition to what the Bible teaches. Luther was known to be a great orator, writer, debater, and theologian. But, he also had a passion for encouraging parents to teach their children the truths of God’s Word. Luther found these verses in Deuteronomy to be an encouragement to himself as a father and to his goal to create tools for other parents as well.

The verses are found right after the section of Deuteronomy where God gives the ten commandments to his people. God tells them that these commands are to be on their hearts at all times. He tells his beloved people to love the Lord with all that they are: heart, soul, and strength. God reminds the people that these commands are not just for the adults but he stresses that they are to “impress them on their children”. How can they do so? How can we do so? All day long in everything they do and in everything we do.

Think of the comparisons with what you do with the children each day: “When you sit” and have a simple conversation with a child. “When you walk” around the play area together. “When [they] lie down and get up” at rest or nap time. “Write them on the” multiple areas of your classroom and school both inside and out. Sharing God’s Word with the children is not confined to Bible story time but permeates everything, every day. And the heart of that message is God’s amazing love for each child, each family, and you. God’s love is immeasurable for each of us. God’s love led him to send his Son to be our Savior and our substitute. Jesus’ forgiveness allows us to joyfully approach God’s commands rather than cower before them because he kept each and every one for us all day, every day. Overwhelmed by his love for us, we can share that love with each child, all day, every day.



Prayer: Dear Father, help me to see all the opportunities I have each day to share you, your love, and your grace with the children in my care. Guide my words and stir up my zeal. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



The Plan – Week of September 25, 2017

The Plan – Week of September 25, 2017


The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. .
Psalm 33:10-11



Water to the front, Pharaoh’s army to the back. When all seemed hopeless, the God of all power divided the waters, saved his people, and wiped out Pharaoh’s troops. A small army by comparison outside the imposing walls of Jericho. When all seemed hopeless, God’s unusual plan of action led to conquering the city. A boy named David and a giant named Goliath. When all seemed hopeless, God provided an unexpected victory. The plans of the enemies of God were foiled again and again. But God’s plans remained firm. God had a purpose then and he does now.

Isn’t it amazing to watch young children as you share these accounts of God’s incredible power? If the story is new to them, their eyes go wide with amazement. They may even ask if this really happened. If they have heard the stories before, you see the excited anticipation as they eagerly await the moment of victory for God’s people. Everyone loves it when the underdog is triumphant, when the “good guys” win. But these stories are not about the “good guys”. They are about THE good guy-God! Over and over God thwarted (spoiled) the plans of his enemies.

The people of Israel were as fallible as you and me. Over and over we read how they doubted God and how they mumbled and complained. They even turned to worshiping idols. They were eye-witnesses to God’s power and his judgement, and still they failed over and over. When enemies surrounded them, they would often cave in to fear and a lack of faith. But the LORD loved his people and had a purpose for them and generations to follow. God’s purpose included the promised Savior and no enemy would get in the way of that plan.

You and I have earthly enemies as well. They may not come at us decked in armor and carrying weapons, but they are there. They may not even look like enemies. They may be subtle, but they are there. We fight against complacency regarding our faith. We struggle with personal sins that, in spite of our efforts, come back again and again. The world would like us to believe that we can and should change with the moral expectations of the times. Satan would like us to believe that the struggles we have with people are someone else’s fault. Yes indeed, we have enemies that want to separate us from God and distract us from focusing on him.

But there is a plan and it’s a good one. In fact, it’s a perfect one! It’s the LORD’s plan of salvation. Here’s how it goes: God loves you and me. He wants us to be with him in heaven forever. The only way to get there is to be perfect. We’re definitely not perfect, not even close. God sent Jesus to take our place. Now, with sins forgiven-every last one-we are saved and heaven is ours! Jesus thwarts the complacency of our hearts by filling us with a message of loving forgiveness that so overwhelms us that we can’t help but love him back. Jesus thwarts our personal struggles with sin by announcing that not a single one condemns you no matter how often you stumble. What a plan! It is God’s good and gracious will that we are his children and that his child, Jesus, would go to the cross, rise on Easter, and return to heaven to prepare a place for us. And on top of all that, you and I get to share that plan each day with those around us!

So, as you share the dramatic stories of God’s power, remind the children and be reminded yourself, of his power, his grace, and the wonders he has done as part of his plan, “the purposes of his heart through all generations.”



Prayer: Dear Almighty Lord, thank you for your plan of salvation and that I am included in that plan. Give me the enthusiasm of a child as I share all that you have done in your perfect plan of grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Stand Firm – Week of September 18, 2017

Stand Firm – Week of September 18, 2017


Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
I Corinthians 15:58



Images can be powerful. Do you recall the iconic picture from June 5, 1989 of a young man in Tiananmen Square in Beijing standing in front of a row of tanks? He stands there with bags of groceries possibly, facing what seemed most likely fatal for him. During a time of unrest, he stands there alone and seemingly determined. Whatever his reasons may have been, his convictions over-ruled his concern for his safety. He took a stand against those who appeared far more powerful than he. We don’t know what happened to the man after that day but the photograph has been seen around the world.

The verses for today’s reading include two words of encouragement, “stand firm”. This verse begins with the word, “therefore”. This tells us to go back and see why we can stand firm. If we look at the text just before this one, we see a number of verses on the victory Jesus won for each of us through his death and resurrection. Because he died for us and in our place, we don’t need to fear death. Heaven is ours. Because he rose from the dead, we know that we will also live forever in his loving presence in heaven. Because of this, we can look at the challenges and disappointments of this world and know that they are temporary. They won’t last forever (even if sometimes they may appear to) but our home in heaven will last forever.

So, what does that mean for today? As you go about preparing your lessons and materials for the day, how does this verse apply? You and I have work to do. There are centers to be organized, observations to be documented, newsletters to be written and shared, books to be read, and so on. There’s lots to do. But you and I are so blessed to have more to do than these tasks. We are privileged to have the opportunity each day to share the amazing story of God’s grace to the children in our classrooms. We strive to build trusting relationships with the parents and families of the children so that we can support them in their God-given role and share the gospel with them as well. There are days when we are blessed to see the fruits of those efforts. But more likely, most days those fruits are not as evident. It can be easy to be discouraged. It can be easy to slip into more focus on the earthly tasks then the spiritual opportunities. But take heart. While God does not promise that we will always see the fruits of the work of the Holy Spirit, he promises in Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” We can carry on with all the tasks we have and the amazing privilege of sharing the gospel knowing that our work is not in vain. While we may not always see the results, the Lord can and will bless our sharing of his precious message of salvation through him. So, stand firm. Take on each day, each task, each opportunity with the confidence that you know how this ends. The Holy Spirit is at work. Heaven is yours.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, some days the work I do is hard. I can become discouraged and distracted from the privilege and opportunities to tell others of your grace. Forgive me in those times. Remind me of your promises and your faithfulness. Help me to stand firm on your promises and to eagerly share that with those around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Question to Consider: It’s hard to avoid discouragement and easy to give up. What are things you can do in anticipation of those times? Is there someone who can be an encourager for you? Is there someone for whom you can be an encourager? What other Bible verses can be reassuring to you and others?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



No Cape Needed – Week of September 11, 2017

No Cape Needed – Week of September 11, 2017


I can do everything through him [Christ] who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13



He sports his colorful super-hero cape. One bold fist is raised while the other is planted on his hip. With confidence like only a super-hero might have, he proclaims, “I can do everything!”. He can fly. He can see through walls. He can hear conversations miles away. He can lift cars and trucks. He can save a cat stranded in a tree or someone held captive by the villain. He is amazing! He can do anything.

He isn’t real.

But you are real and so are the challenges that are a part of each and every day. You may face a room of crying infants or a toddler in a tantrum. Your car may need costly repairs or need to be replaced altogether even if it’s not in the budget. Your enrollment is short again or your waiting list is longer than the number of staff needed to serve. You are facing such dry conditions that wildfires threaten or the threat of a hurricane or its aftermath loom. Get the cape, right? If only it were that simple.

Today’s verse is such a statement of confidence. But this is one that can be misunderstood. “I can do anything.” What does the apostle Paul mean by that statement? Let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. I’m sorry to tell you but you can’t fly. You can’t leap tall buildings in a single bound. You can’t heal your ill child. You can’t stop a storm. Having faith in Christ does not grant super powers. No cape.

So, what does it mean? To help understand what Paul is referring to, we take a peek at the verses just before this one. He’s thanking the Philippians for their help and their concern for him. He shares that he’s learned contentment whether he’s in need or has plenty, fed or hungry, living in plenty or living in want. Why? Because Christ is with him in all things. Christ isn’t the magic that takes away any struggle or challenge. This side of heaven, in our sin filled world, heartache and troubles will always be part of our lives. However, like Paul, we can have the confidence and the contentment or peace that comes from knowing that Christ is always with us. With him, we can do things that are God pleasing. We can’t fly, but we can forgive. We don’t have X-ray vision, but we can see evidence of God’s love and grace in his Word and in our lives. We can’t stop a storm, but we can reach out to others, reflecting God’s love for us and help in times of needs small or great. We can’t save others from their sin, but we can share the message of God’s grace with them. We may not have a cape, but we have the forgiveness of sins and are robed in Jesus’ righteousness. And knowing we are forgiven, that heaven is ours through Jesus, that we are God’s dearly loved child is better than any super power. We can face each day with Christ at our side in whatever that day brings. We can live in joy and peace and confidence through Christ who gives us strength! No cape needed!



Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the peace and strength that I can have because of you and all you have done. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Take a few minutes to think about times of struggle in your life. What blessings can you see that came because of the struggle? Write them down and include a prayer of thanks for those. How does this help when new challenges come your way?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Do Not Fear – Really? – Week of September 4, 2017

Do Not Fear – Really? – Week of September 4, 2017


So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10



Wind. Water. Harvey. Fear.
There was another verse and devotion planned for today. However, the news of this past week could not go unmentioned. Hurricane Harvey. This epic storm is one that will be remembered in our nation’s history. It continued to shatter records as the storm raged on. Day after day, you and I saw and heard story after story of heartbreak: people rescued from the roofs of their homes, mandatory evacuations, tornadoes, homes and buildings destroyed, lives lost, and on and on. “Do not fear”? Are you kidding?

No. He’s not kidding. From the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, God knew the havoc that sin would play in the lives of his people. He knew the hurt, the pain, the destruction it would have. Out of love for his people, he also knew the comfort and encouragement his people, including you and I, would need. The words, “do not fear” appear in the Bible many times. Over and over, God reassures us that we don’t need to fear. “But this thing I’m facing is frightening!” There are absolutely times in our lives that are frightening and can lead to anxiety and fear. But the Lord tells us not to fear and not to be dismayed.

Do you recall as a child a time when you were particularly afraid? Perhaps you were like so many young children who were frightened of the darkness of your room. But when your mom or dad came in the room, even if they didn’t turn on the light, you felt calmer and safer. The darkness was still there, but you knew that with them there, you would be ok and you would fade off into sleep. While disasters like Harvey and the tragedies that accompany it are very real, God’s presence and promises provide reassurance and hope even more than that of an earthly parent.

The words from Isaiah today were written about the people of Israel who had escaped years of captivity. They could so easily fall into despair. They could simply look around and wonder how this could possibly work out. And yet, these words provide comfort and encouragement to them and to us. God is telling them that he’s with them through it all. He’s there to comfort and help. It’s not a trite pep talk—“You’ve got this!” It’s a promise from a God who never breaks a promise—“I am with you…I am your God…I will strengthen you…help you…uphold you.” This is not a promise that we will be able to decipher the meaning of disasters. It’s a promise that we can trust God even when we can’t make sense of life or see the future. Fear is a natural response in the face of tragedy. “Do not fear” means that we do not need to remain captive to our natural fears. God’s promises for ultimate victory put these into perspective.

So it is for us in the times that our own Harvey rages. What is your “Harvey”? While it may not be on the scale of this historical storm, is there a storm in your life? Pain. Hurt. Loneliness. Perhaps your Harvey is a relationship that is strained or broken. Test results. Waiting. Treatment. Maybe illness of some kind is your Harvey. Debt. Bills. Budgets. Financial struggles can weigh so heavily. Guilt. Discouragement. Despair. Maybe your Harvey is a sin that you want so desperately to overcome and the cycle of slipping back continues. “Do not fear”? Are you kidding?

No. He’s not kidding. Even more than a parent holding the hand of their child, God holds each of us with his “righteous right hand”. This represents God’s power and strength and his amazing promise to save us from our sin by making all things right through Jesus’ death and resurrection. God gives us his grace, and in that grace is the peace that only God can give in the midst of the storm. We have peace knowing that our God loves us, he is with us, and heaven is ours.

The storms of our life, while they can seem overwhelming, are temporary. The storm will stop. A city and people will rebuild. But God’s grace and mercy and promises continue to all eternity and they’re yours and they’re mine. He is your God, your strength, your help in all things.



Prayer: Dear God of all things. This has been a week with stories of heartache and fear. Through it all, you are there with your grace and your mercy. We struggle with fear. Help and remind us that you are always with us. Calm our hearts with the peace that comes from knowing that you have called us to be your child. Be especially with those who are struggling as a result of last week’s storms. Be their comfort. May all of this bring people closer to you and your gift of grace. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Young children can be very aware of significant events like Hurricane Harvey. What are ways that you, your early childhood ministry, your pastor can calm their fears and concerns?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



I Thank God for You – Week of August 28, 2017

I Thank God for You – Week of August 28, 2017


We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Thessalonians 1:2-3



Will you permit me to start today with a few statistics? Did you know that there are close to 400 early childhood ministries in our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod? Those ministries serve almost 11,000 children and their families. There are WELS early childhood ministries in 30 states plus three in the Caribbean: one in Antigua, one in St. Lucia, and one in Grenada. In addition, over 70 congregations have reported that they have a Mommies and Me program of some kind. What a blessing! What an opportunity! What a responsibility! And you are part of all of that! Whether you serve as a director, a teacher, an aide, support staff, volunteer, or are a parent, you are part of this ministry that seeks to share the precious gospel with young children and their families!

The verses from Thessalonians in today’s devotion were written by the apostle Paul. He served and travelled as a missionary to the city of Thessalonica. This was a congregation that existed in a community that often opposed and persecuted Christianity (read Acts 17:1-9). And yet, this congregation held firm. In the beginning of this letter to them, Paul shares not only that he is grateful for them but that he includes them in his prayers of thanks continually. He goes on to note their “work produced by faith”, “labor prompted by love”, and “endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”. God had worked faith in their hearts and this faith motivated their deeds of kindness and obedience. All their labor was motivated by the love that God had shown in the gift of salvation. They were moved to share this love with those in need as well as efforts to share the gospel with all around them. Their work was not easy. But they had hope—hope that is sure and confident in God’s promises, particularly God’s promise of heaven.

While you may not feel the same kind of persecution that they did in Thessalonica, your work can be challenging. Working with young children is full of the unexpected. Much of it is joyful and exciting but at times, it can be stressful. Trying to understand the needs of a crying infant or toddler, having the patience to help a child learn to share and take turns, a sick child, staffing, budgets, and on and on. And then there are the moments that remind you why you do what you do. In the midst of a busy room, you notice a child quietly rocking a doll singing, “Jesus Loves Me.” You are not alone in all you do. First, you have a loving God who cares for you enough to send Jesus. The heart of what you do is to tell the children and families about his grace and mercy. But also, you have colleagues—lots of them. Many of them are praying for you, just like Paul prayed for those in Thessalonica. I’m praying for you—prayers of gratitude and prayers that God will bless all that you do and that you continue to grow in God’s grace. I encourage you to pray for each other as well. Pray for those with whom you serve and pray for those you don’t even know. What a privilege it is to do what you do each day. May the Lord give you joy, patience, and confidence in serving him and in serving the young children and families in your early childhood ministry. “We always thank God for you.”



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you, thank you for all those who serve young children and their families throughout our church. Thank you for their dedication, for their love of young children, for their commitment, for their joy in sharing your message of salvation. Keep their faith strong and bless them as they grow in faith through your Word. In your Son, Jesus’ name. Amen

A Question to Consider: Is there someone on your staff or who you know that could use encouragement? How can you and your staff be intentional about praying for each other?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



He is Faithful – Week of August 21, 2017

He is Faithful – Week of August 21, 2017


May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
1Thessalonians 5:23-24



If you say the name Bridget around my husband and his brothers, they all sigh—especially my husband. Bridget was one of the family dogs when they were growing up. But Bridget was special, particularly to my husband. The story goes that Bridget would walk along with him to school each morning and wait outside the school until the end of the day to walk home with him. I know, it sounds like a sappy children’s book, but each of the brothers would tell you that she was the epitome of a faithful companion.

Today’s reading begins with a prayer. The prayer is for fellow believers. It asks God to “sanctify” them “through and through”. In this context, the word sanctify simply means “to set apart”. God has freed them and us from sin through Jesus. The writer is asking God to keep them (and us) faithful to an ongoing life set apart for God. Because of all that God has done for us through Jesus, we can live a life of joy, a life of peace, confident in his love and grace. That joy and peace encourages us and motivates us to be faithful in our study of his Word. As we grow in our knowledge and understanding of all that God has done for us, we reflect that joy and peace to others.

The prayer goes on to remind the reader and each of us where our confidence lies. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” He is faithful! Those words may be few but they are mighty! God is faithful. God is faithful all the time. He always keeps each and every promise. His love for us is perfect and constant and immeasurable. His faithfulness gives you and me confidence in his promises, in his forgiveness, in his love. We don’t need to live wondering if God loves us or if he forgives us or if he will hear our prayers. He is faithful. He loves us. He forgives us. He hears and answers our prayers, always.

A loyal and faithful companion like dear Bridget can be such a blessing. As a young boy, knowing that his precious friend was waiting for him every day was a rare gift. But even more, the gift we all have knowing that God is faithful, God loves us, God forgives us, and God hears us, gives us the confidence and the peace that only he can give. May the Lord grant you that peace. May you continue to grow in grace and in understanding of all that God has done for you. May all you do each day with the young children you serve as well as their families, reflect that confidence, joy, and peace in God’s grace.



Prayer: Dear Father, bless me and all those around me with the peace that only comes from you and knowing that we are your dear children. Thank you for your faithfulness, for your love, for your forgiveness, for Jesus. Help me reflect your love in all I do each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are examples where you see God’s faithfulness in your life? Make a list and share it with a colleague or friend. Thank God for his faithfulness in those situations.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Immeasurably More – Week of August 14, 2017

Immeasurably More – Week of August 14, 2017


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21



Last week we talked about lists. As you prepare for the year, you likely have lists. We also talked about prioritizing those lists and making sure that our time in the Word never gets crossed off the list. Today, let’s talk about prayer. There are all kinds of prayers. Prayers can be full of thanks. Prayers can be centered on repentance. Prayers often include requests. In our prayers, we reach out to our heavenly Father. How incredible that our heavenly Father not only allows, but encourages us to speak to him in prayer. Even more than our earthly fathers, he is always eager to hear. No prayer, no need, no expression of gratitude is too small or too large for him.

There are two phrases in today’s verses that always jump out for me. The first is: “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” “Immeasurably more!” You can’t measure it! What can seem insurmountable to you and me, the things that pull the rug out from under us, the things that can lead to discouragement and even despair, are not even close to a challenge for our heavenly Father. When we pray, we can look back at the Old Testament and stand in awe of the God who brought the people of Israel through the Red Sea, who conquered Jericho, who aided young David in defeating Goliath, who then sent the only son he has as a young helpless baby to take all of our guilt on his shoulders. This is the God who listens and answers our prayers. The immeasurable love that sent Jesus for us is the same love that listens as you and I pray. If he loves us that much, we can pray boldly and with confidence that he will hear and that he will respond. While his response may be “yes”, it may be “not now”, or it may be “no”, you and I can be confident that his will is motivated by the love that sent Jesus.

The other phrase that stands out for me is “to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations.” We can be so self-focused in our prayers. Here’s what we want to say, here’s what we need, here’s what we want. But, when we look at this phrase, “to him be the glory”, it is an incredible reminder of God’s goal for our lives as his child. We are here to give him glory and to reflect that to all around us. Consider how our prayers are changed when they all lead to asking God to use all that we say and do, every circumstance in our lives, to give glory to him, to reflect that glory to others. Consider how our confidence in his response to our prayers shifts when it’s no longer about us, but about him. This prayer is one of confidence that the God who loves us so, will be with us, will listen and answer out of love, so that he can be glorified.

So, my dear colleagues, pray boldly knowing that he can do and has done immeasurably more than we can imagine. And pray with confidence and gratitude that those challenges in your life, those painful circumstances, and the joyful blessings are all ways to give glory to him who loves us beyond our understanding.



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for allowing and encouraging me to come to you at any time in prayer. May my prayers to you be full of thanks, full of awe of all you have done for me, and be bold and confident knowing you hear and respond and that you can do this and immeasurably more. May all I do in my home, in my classroom, and in the world, reflect your love and give glory to you. In your dear Son Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Question to Consider: You may have heard of prayer journals. While they can vary in format, a prayer journal can be a personal reminder of God’s answers to prayer. Try noting the content of your prayers for one week including what you are grateful for, what you praise God for, what you seek forgiveness for, and what requests you brought. Then be sure to go back and note how God answered those prayers when it is evident. To him be the glory!



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Making a List and Checking It Twice – Week of August 7, 2017

Making a List and Checking It Twice – Week of August 7, 2017


And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17



I love lists. Nerdy perhaps, but I love them. Like many other list lovers, I think my love comes more from crossing off completed items than anything else. I do love the process of writing a list and having a visual of what needs my attention. While not foolproof, I’m less likely to forget a task if I have it on my list. But oh, the crossing it off! It’s a sweet, sweet moment.

Even if you are not a list lover, this might be the time of year where you have an extensive to-do list. As you plan for the upcoming school year or the transition from a summer program to a school year program, that list seems to be a part of planning. August can be an incredibly busy month. There are class lists to prepare, home visits to schedule and complete, supply lists to be drafted and filled, cleaning, organizing, and decorating your classroom (with endless options thanks to Pinterest!), staff meetings, back to school events, and on, and on. It’s a time of the year when “what’s possible” motivates a spirit of optimism and excitement. There’s a feeling that no matter what hurdles are encountered, things will go well. You’re prepared.

The verse from Colossians is a wonderful reminder to stop and review your plans. Why do you do what you do? Why does your early childhood ministry exist? What are the early childhood ministry goals for the year? What are your goals for the year? “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed…” “Whatever you do” covers, well, everything you do! Lesson planning, conversations with new families, setting up each learning center, planning events for the year—everything! It can be easy to get so focused on the tasks and daily activities, that you fail to stop and refocus on why you are doing what you do and for whom you serve. Stop today, and each day and spend time, dedicated quiet time, with Jesus in his Word. Pray for his blessing on your day, on your planning, on your tasks, on every word and every deed. Pray that all you do reflects his incredible love for you. Thank him for the privilege to serve and for each child, family, and colleague you serve. Thank him especially for Jesus in whose name you pray and whose indescribable gift of salvation is yours.

So, as you compose that list, start at the top with your time in the Word and in prayer. While it’s a delight to cross off cleaning, organizing, decorating, lesson planning, never cross off your time with your dear Savior. May his love permeate and motivate all that you do this and every year!



Prayer: Dear Father, with you I begin the tasks for this year. When I think about it, I am overwhelmed that you have given me the privilege and joy to share your incredible story of salvation with the children, families, and colleagues in my ministry. I am easily distracted by the tasks of the day. Forgive me and help me to stay focused on you, your love for me and all those around me. Bless all I do that it gives glory to you and leads others to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: It can be challenging to find a time with an early childhood staff to pray together, have a devotion together, or study the Word together. What are some creative ways to address this vital goal?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 31, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 31, 2017


Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of your plans for us.
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time,
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, as your Church is built
And you fill the earth with your glory.
Christian Worship Supplement 735:3



The conventional wisdom for a while has been to treat people like they are uneducated. Don’t use big words. Don’t give people too much at once. It’s good advice for communicators but rarely do we seem to move beyond the basics. I wonder if the awe of the church’s message has sometimes been reduced to some trite phrases that sound like faith and a few songs that warm the heart but have no more lasting power than the latest ditty on the radio.

Our hymn writer today tries to break this self-imposed glass ceiling of mediocrity and calls for God to “Help us grasp the heights of your plans.” This is grandiose stuff these “truths unchanged from the dawn of time, that will echo down through eternity.” This message of Christ, this message of heaven and earth crashing together at his birth, this message of the world forever changed at his crucifixion, this message of death defeated at his resurrection, this message is the greatest movement the world will ever witness.

And here is the wildest part about that whole situation: the message has been placed on our lips. Do you realize that you speak the same message that Peter and Paul spoke? That you are one in mission with the martyrs of the early church and the martyrs of today? Do you realize that you recite the same words of the creeds, and pray some of the same prayers, and sing some of the same songs that Martin Luther did, that the Emperor Constantine sang, and Charlemagne chanted and countless others from all over the world and throughout time? Do you realize that as small as you are that you are a part of this, this message echoed down through all eternity? That when you pass this on to young ears they too are lifted above the trite and the small, the insignificant and the mundane to heights perhaps never thought possible by their parents or grandparents? We should never treat young children as small or insignificant. If God graces their souls with the most earth shattering movement ever, then they are worthy of our best. And if God uses you to be a part of the same, well, it means your work is pretty important, don’t you think?



Prayer: Savior of the world, you crashed into the world on the very first Christmas. Crash into our hearts with your Word so that we may be a part of your grandiose plan of salvation. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 24, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 24, 2017


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21



One of the tests to detect false doctrine is whether a teaching gives maximum glory to Christ or not. It’s not the only test but it is a pretty accurate one. If a teaching puts the burden of salvation on man instead of Christ, it diminishes Christ. It is as if to say, “Thanks Jesus for dying on the cross. That was nice, but I got it from here.” Not only is it wrong, but it takes away from Christ’s true glory, that is, his love and mercy at the cross for us sinners.

We may not fall into the outright false teaching of work-righteousness (that we make ourselves right/righteous by our own efforts) but we do diminish Christ when we show a lack of trust. Earlier this month we talked about anxiety. We made the point that worry often comes because we care and isn’t necessarily a sinful lack of trust in God. At the same time it can be just that, a sinful distrust of God.

Paul said that Christ can do so much more than what we ask for or even can imagine. Do we not rob him of his majesty by not putting before him our greatest problems and our most needed requests? He can do so much more (and does so much more) than we even understand. Can he not also take care of our problems today? I know that sometimes we think that our requests and problems are better kept to ourselves as if we shouldn’t bother our Lord but he wants to hear them. Remember he can do more than we can imagine. Sure, the answer might often be “No” but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t persistently come to him with our deepest concerns. He loves us. He wants to hear us and he can do more than we think.



Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, remove all fake humility from our hearts and bend our knees before you so that we are free to ask you, our dear Father, anything that troubles our hearts.

A Question to Consider: What does Matthew 25:34-40 tell us about how we serve Christ and give him glory?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 17, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 17, 2017


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Romans 8:38-39



Confidence is important. The smartest girl in the class can fall apart when asked to stand in front of a room and speak. The best shooter on the team can freeze at the free throw line. Confidence is important. Of course there is a fine line between confidence and conceit. As Christians we boast in the Lord. It’s not our glory but his. Yet his glory is not what we think glory might look like. His glory is found at the cross first and foremost. This is where we see love like nowhere else. But it is also found in our love of others, another cross. Notice that we give God glory not only with our praises but also, and I would say primarily, in our love of neighbor.

So our confidence is not really in our public speaking ability or shooting skills but in our Lord. This faith in him is translated to love in our lives. We are confident that he has saved us from sin, hell, death, and the devil. We are confident that he will take care of us in the future. We are confident that he will use us for good. We are confident. So much so that we can be bold in our confession to the world and bold in our defiance towards the devil and the death he wants for us. And the confidence is great. You can hear the confidence grow in the words of Paul:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These can be our words too. Bring it on world! We know where we are going. We know who is on our side. We know the truth. Bring it on. We have the Lord on our side. We boast in the Lord.



Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, guide us in faith and give us true confidence in our Lord.

A Question to Consider: Self-esteem is a big deal but the source of that self-esteem is the key to it all. Do we “give everyone a trophy” to build students up artificially or do we teach them their value in Christ?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 10, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 10, 2017


Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7



Grandma worries. She worries a lot. It’s not depression. She just has a lot of time on her hands and so she thinks and thinks and thinks. Some days she gets herself worked up beyond belief about the tiniest of matters. Does she sin by worrying so much? Shouldn’t she just trust God? I suppose so. But I know that she worries because she loves. If she didn’t care about her children, her grandchildren, her world, she wouldn’t worry so much.

Such is the life of a Christian. We go back and forth between worry and trust. We can’t help it. It’s a part of being a caring person. It’s a part of being a person who is cared for. St. Peter in this verse does not say that worry is wrong. It certainly can be, but here he doesn’t criticize us anxious souls. Rather he says throw those worries on Christ. Notice that he does not try to fix the problem by changing our attitudes. He does not say, “Here is a program for you to become less anxious. Step one…” No, he says throw it on Christ, the one who will take care of it all and in fact, already has. Don’t waste any time convincing yourself that you don’t need to worry, rather just throw the worry on Christ. That’s how it works. That’s how your faith responds.

Just consider what Christ has done for you. He lived in your place. He died an embarrassing and painful death. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He rules all things at the right hand of the Father for your benefit. He has prepared a place in heaven just for you and he promised to come to get you and take you to heaven. Considering what he has already done for you and how much he has invested in you, do you really think that he could forget you? Never! Do you really think that he will not also take care of the little things? Of course he will. Cast, then, all your anxieties on him.



Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, we look to you and realize all is done. By faith we need not ask what needs to be done but look to you and see it already done. Help us cast all our anxieties on you. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 3, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 3, 2017


O Lord of nations, hear our prayer.
We thank you for this land most fair,
Created by your might.
For mountain sunset, lake at dawn,
For woodland bloom and robin song,
For stars that lace the night,

Most grateful, gracious God, are we
That in this country we are free
To worship you above.
We gather here to speak your name,
Then leave this place to spread your fame
That all may know your love.

Christian Worship Supplement 785:1,3



It has been said that the Grand Canyon is one of the few places where reality surpasses the hype. A child on family vacation may yawn at the ocean – “I have seen this on TV” – but no picture of the Grand Canyon can do it justice. The gaping chasm echoes the glory of our creator God as does the smallest insect. But neither can tell of the love of God. In fact nature is as much about wickedness as it is about beauty. The Rocky Mountains are magnificent but its winter storms kill without mercy. The oceans are wondrous unless you are caught in an undertow. If we only have nature to tell us about God, then we must be honest, nature kills indiscriminately. Nature is a beautiful siren that lures us in but can turn on us in a moment.

So God gives us more. He gives us his Son. He gives us his Word. And in his Son and in his Word he is hidden. Mere ink and paper, the gentle voice of a preschool teacher or the stumbling voice of a preacher cannot compare to the Sequoia trees of California. And the bloody scene of the cross is the opposite of the beauty of a field of wild flowers on the American Plains that seems to go on for miles. Yet this is how he comes to us. He hides. He hides to be close to you. He hides to be revealed. There beneath the blood and the dirt, beside the insults and the injustice, there on the cross is the glory of God. That he would love you and I that much. And that forgiving love gives us the peace and freedom to live a life of love and to enjoy his beautiful creation without fear.



Prayer: Dear Creator God, move us to see your glory in this beautiful creation of yours. Help us protect it, preserve it, and enjoy it. Yet push us to the cross where we see your true glory on display, the mercy of Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider: If the natural law of God (the order of creation) cannot be the full story but must be coupled with his grace of the cross, how does this change the way we should educate little ones?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Not Done Growing! – Week of June 26, 2017

Not Done Growing! – Week of June 26, 2017


But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

2 Peter 3:18



The shiny pair of flats had a pretty teal and pink design on them, but they cost $40. My mom would not buy them because, as she said, my feet were “not done growing”. Years later, how happy I was when I was finally able to buy shoes that I wouldn’t grow out of!

Are you “done growing”? What about your spiritual growth? You know that Jesus died for you, and that we are saved from our sins through his coming back to life. You read the Bible stories with the children, and you know that you will be with him in heaven one day. So, are you done growing?

God tells us to keep growing! The end of the world, judgement day, should always be in our minds. One way that Satan can ruin our relationship with God is to make us believe that we don’t need to be close to God and his Word. Satan wants to separate us from God by separating us from his Word. This can happen even to you, even as you are daily surrounded by children that sing his praises. This can happen to you, even as you daily teach Bible truths in a Christ-centered environment.

Keep growing! Study his Word, attend church services, surround yourself with friends that also live for him. Grow in his grace, knowing that you are saved because of it! Grow in the knowledge of Jesus, all he has done for us in the past and promises to do for us in the future.



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for giving us all that we need to know in your Word, the Bible. Help us continue to grow in you through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Think of the opportunities in your life that will help you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. Is there a Bible Study you can join? Can you start a Bible reading routine? Is there someone on your staff or in your church that can help you get started?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.