Angels Attend Me – March 6, 2017

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:11

Angels Attend Me


Daily Devotion – March 6, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 4:11

See series: Devotions

All too often I am tempted to think I’m on my own. No one is concerned. No one is paying attention. No one offers any help. The thought becomes especially strong as life becomes more complicated. I may wrestle with uncertainty in my job. I may be anxious over family matters. I may be overwhelmed with health issues. It seems when I really need someone, no one is there. I may even be tempted to think God has abandoned me as well.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. I can always rely on the Lord for his help, just as he sent angels to attend to Jesus’ needs.

Jesus had just completed forty days of grueling and incessant temptation. The devil tried to derail Jesus’ God-given ministry, but he was not successful. Jesus triumphed over every deceptive device his enemy employed, yet his faithfulness came at a cost. He was physically and emotionally drained. This is why the Father sent angels to attend him.

Today, I live with the same assurance. When I am physically and emotionally drained, when I feel abandoned, when I think I am on the verge of despair, I know where I can look for help. God will send his angels to attend me.

Angels attend me according to God’s gracious command. Angels attend me to strengthen and keep me safe. Because of what the Lord has done for me, and continues to do for me, I am never alone. By faith I know God’s angels will be there to attend me. Even more important, by faith I know God’s angels will work in perfect harmony with Jesus for my blessing.

My Savior wants me to be in heaven with him, and he gave up his life to give me this assurance. Through his blood-signed promise and his precious sacrifice on the cross I also know I will never be alone. Jesus will always be with me, and he will always strengthen, comfort, reassure, and forgive me. I also have every confidence he will send his angels to attend me.

Prayer:
O gracious Savior, I rejoice in your all precious promises. Keep me in your care. Strengthen me through your grace. Send your holy angels to attend me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Rescued – Week of February 27, 2017

Rescued – Week of February 27, 2017


Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice…but with you there is forgiveness.
Psalm 130:1,2,4




ECME Devotion – February 27, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 130:1,2,4

See series: ECME Devotions

It’s happened to every teacher and childcare worker at one time or another. You turn your head for just a moment and something bad happens to a child. We feel terrible. That’s what happened on October 14, 1987 in Midland, Texas. “Cissy” was helping at her sister’s in-home childcare program. When she turned to answer the phone, 18-month-old Jessica wandered across the backyard and fell into a well that was supposed to have been covered. “Baby Jessica” fell 22 feet into the well where she was trapped. The eyes of the nation focused on Baby Jessica as rescue workers dug another hole nearby and tunneled toward her.

Maybe sometimes you have felt as trapped as Baby Jessica was. Maybe the stress of your job, the grind of your calling and the worries of daily life leave you feeling trapped. No matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get things fixed and going smoothly. But what traps us worst of all is our sins. Try as we might, we cannot stop ourselves from sinning. And the more we do, guilt weighs us down further and further. Nothing we do can make up for our sins. We are trapped in them and, therefore, doomed to eternal death. That’s how the Psalmist felt as he wrote Psalm 130 and begged for help, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice.”

They managed to rescue Baby Jessica. She is now a grown adult and as far as we know living a happy and healthy life. Jesus Christ rescued you from the depths of sin and death by his perfect life and perfect death on the cross. Because of Jesus, your guilt is gone. Your sins are forgiven, and you will live a happy life eternally in heaven.

Wednesday, March 1, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the church season of Lent. For the next 40 days, we will especially focus on the suffering and death of Jesus. This is a wonderful time to remind ourselves, the children in our care, and their families of how much Jesus loves us and how much he was willing to endure in order to save us from the depths of sin and death. With Jesus, there is forgiveness.



Prayer: Lord, I confess that I am trapped in my sin and guilt. Thank you for rescuing me, through your Son, Jesus Christ. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Presidents Day – Week of February 20, 2017

Presidents Day – Week of February 20, 2017


I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4




ECME Devotion – February 20, 2017

Devotion based on I Timothy 2:1-4

See series: ECME Devotions

Few things get the hearts of childcare workers racing as the announcement, “The state inspector is here.” The state inspector can crawl through every inch and every file in your school. Even when you think that everything is correct, a state inspector can still find some form that isn’t initialed properly and “write you up.” It can be nerve wracking.

Even though a state inspector can make us nervous, we know that they are necessary. The state has the job of keeping its citizens—especially children who can’t defend themselves—safe from any harm or danger. Think for a moment how miserable life would be without a government to watch over us. With no military or police to keep us safe, life would be chaos. No one would ever be safe. The state is God’s agent for protecting us so we can live peaceful lives, raise our families, go to work and even work in a childcare facility or school where families can safely leave their children.

God took care of our greatest needs when he sent Jesus Christ to live and die for us. All of our sins are forgiven. Heaven is in our future. Our loving Lord also provides for our physical needs, quite often through our government. As we celebrate President’s Day, pause to give thanks to the Lord for all of the blessings that he has poured out on you through our government and its leaders. (Why not try to list 10? 20? More?) And then follow St. Paul’s advice to pray for our president and all government officials, even state inspectors.



Prayer: Lord, thank you for providing for all of my spiritual needs through your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, also, for providing for our physical needs through our government and its officials. Give them wisdom and strength to carry out their callings so that we can live in peace and quietness as we rejoice in your love and share it with others. Amen.

A Question to Consider: While it may be tempting to focus on the challenges our country faces, what are the blessings we have as Christians living in the United States? Collaborate with a colleague to create a list of those blessings.



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Our dearest love – Week of February 13, 2017

Our dearest love – Week of February 13, 2017


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14




ECME Devotion – February 13, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 3:12-14

See series: ECME Devotions

Everyone is excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day this week. Valentine was a Christian young man who lived in Rome in the third century. According to legend, he was deeply in love and planned to get married soon. At that time, Christianity was illegal and all Christians were declared guilty of treason. Rather than deny their Savior, though, many Christians boldly confessed their faith in Jesus. Valentine was one of those confessors who remained true to Christ and was arrested.

While he was in jail, awaiting his death in the arena, Valentine wrote a number of beautiful, impassioned letters to his would-be bride. He assured her of his great love for her. But he also made it clear that first place in his heart was reserved for Jesus, his Savior. History tells us that on February 14, in the year 269, Valentine was put to death, martyred for Jesus Christ. In the year 496—after Christianity was an accepted religion—the church declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

While the Christian significance of this day has been pretty well forgotten by now, we can let this background for Valentine’s Day bring us past superficial sentimentality to the greatest love of all—the love of God for the world. Jesus showed true love by giving his life for us on the cross in order to pay for our forgiveness so we could have eternal life in heaven.

The sacrificial love of Jesus touches our hearts and fills us with gratitude. It moves us to show “true love” to one another. “True love” is not just sweet emotions, but a commitment to help, regardless of the cost or consequence. The love we show to the children and to one another begins with the knowledge and joy of knowing that we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Filled up with God’s love, we will be kind and loving toward others on Valentine’s Day and always.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your unconditional and unending love that saved me. Help me to say “Thank You” to you by sharing that same love with others. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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With us in the storms – Week of February 6, 2017

With us in the storms – Week of February 6, 2017


Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:23-27




ECME Devotion – February 5, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 8:23-27

See series: ECME Devotions

Experienced fishermen were terrified that they were going to drown. Meanwhile, Jesus was sleeping – as if he didn’t care, as if he fell asleep on the job of protecting them.

Does it sometimes seem that Jesus doesn’t care or that he’s fallen asleep on the job of protecting you? What storms are stressing you out? What winds are buffeting you? Is your doctor concerned and ordering more tests? Are finances squeezing you? Are there problems with some children or their parents? Are there issues in your own family? Are there struggles with other staff members as you trudge through the long winter? If Jesus loves us, then why do these bad and sad things happen to us?

Even though Jesus was sleeping, he didn’t forget about his disciples. He could have woken up and calmed the storm before they panicked. He could have stopped the storm before it even started. But he stayed sleeping and he used the storm to teach his disciples to look to him in every need. He taught them that they couldn’t solve all of their own problems. They couldn’t keep themselves safe. They needed help. They despaired of their own efforts and turned to Jesus.

Jesus wants us to turn to him, too. He knows we need his help, not just to get through some stressful situation in our daily lives, but especially for the forgiveness of sins. He uses the storms in our lives to get us to keep our focus on him. Jesus will not fall asleep on the job. He will keep providing what you need for each day. He will keep forgiving. He is your Savior who even controls the winds and the waves for the good of his people. Stay focused on him.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for your constant attention to my needs, especially my greatest need of salvation. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are your storms right now? If you were encouraging someone else with your same storms, what would you say to them? What would be your prayer for them?



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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More about intimacy in marriage – Womens Devotion

More about intimacy in marriage – Women’s Devotion


The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.
1 Corinthians 7:4



A glimpse at 1 Corinthians 7:4

The beauty of marital intimacy doesn’t shine very brightly in this unfamiliar passage and we wince, imagining this is about a power struggle. Our flesh will see an excuse for selfishness and our renewed heart simply doesn’t understand. What place do these words have in the setting of a Christian marriage? Do they really apply? Maybe that’s not the right question because these words are from our Savior who knows more about yielding rights than we could ever imagine; so perhaps we should listen. The Lord is calling husbands and wives to look at the needs and desires of each other and yield their rights out of love. He is also making it clear that each belongs to the other and both made a promise to live as one flesh. Sexual intimacy is not a manipulative bargaining tool or spiteful move in a power play. There is no withholding sex to prove a point or get pay back. It is part of marriage—to fulfill needs, draw couples together and build love, a very special love.

You see, the love God has given us for life and marriage affects every part of our lives, including our intimacy. The Greek word for this love is “agape” and we see it most clearly when Christ laid down his life to earn our salvation. It is self-sacrificing love that looks for the benefit of the other. It is love that asks, “What can I give? How can I bless you?” It longs to see the other person grow and thrive. This beautiful, self-sacrificing love influences the sexual intimacy between a man and wife by compelling them to put the needs of the other before their own needs. Each is willing to yield to the other in love, ’s design for sexuality in marriage. A wife will yield to her husband. A husband will yield to his wife. Personal rights are set aside as each serves the other. Christians reflect Christ in their marriage with this love and it is radiant in their intimacy as well. Each understands the important part that sexuality plays in their Christian marriage and the responsibility they have to one another.

It is a perfect design—but living it is much more difficult than understanding it. The reality is, this is really, really hard. The daily life of a Christian is often spent working hard in or out of the home. It is unrealistic to think that after a long day of work the powerful desire for sexual intimacy can simply be set aside as one considers the needs of their spouse. The husband may face a thousand sexual temptations in a day: glances, flirtatious laughs, suggestive comments and unsought images that focus his thinking on one thing. The wife may face a thousand temptations in a day as men appreciate her work, make comments about her femininity, or show interest in who she is as a person. Perhaps the wife is home all day with children who absorb every ounce of her energy and share more than enough physical contact but not a bit of meaningful conversation.

Paul doesn’t address the daily collision of needs at 9pm. The husband does have sexual needs. He comes home to his wife and wants to want her—this is his faith in action! Marriage is the place that God has given for sexual intimacy. But even now, he is called to set aside those needs to think about his wife. It is an incredible concept, that the powerful motion of love can not only pause, but defer to the needs of another. And the wife has needs too, which are often a bit more complex. She may have sexual desires but they are buried under a list of more tangible needs, like help in the kitchen or time to talk about her day. She may recognize her husband’s sexual needs but what about her exhaustion? Now whose needs are more important? Who yields? The Lord answers by giving husbands and wives the directive to consider the needs of the other and yield. Conflicting needs will call each of us to be self-sacrificing in our love. Compromise, consideration, and communication are all so important, especially in times of exhaustion and hurt. Sighs of frustration and emotional isolation don’t resolve conflict. Spouses cannot guess or assume they understand each other’s needs. Talk about it and listen to one another! Speak in love to find a way through it.

A husband can come to see how his help in the kitchen communicates love to his wife and makes her yielding a joy. A wife will begin to understand the importance of her husband’s needs and speak the language of love he longs to hear. Each yields to the other and the bedroom is a continuation of selfless love. It all starts with Christ in each heart as we are washed clean and filled with agape love. Forgiven and empowered with the gospel, we live according to his calling and find new strength and joy every day. Yes, there will be hardship, failures and hurts, but they have all been covered by the blood of Christ. It is God’s love that spurs us on to love one another. Live in his peace, be blessed by his love.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the perfect example of selfless love that blesses others. The sacrifice you made brought us that love as it covered our sins and gave us peace with God. We want to live in that love but it is so hard. How do we give when we feel like we can’t give any more? How do we yield when there are so many reasons not to? Call us to hear your voice and follow, for we know that your words are true and give us the strength we need. Forgive us for the many times we fail.  Continue to teach us, remind us, and bless us so that we may honor you in our marriage and intimacy, and in all we do.  In Jesus name, Amen.



Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Pastor Gary Pufahl


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Intimacy in marriage – Womens Devotion

Intimacy in marriage – Women’s Devotion


The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.
1 Corinthians 7:3



A glimpse at 1 Corinthians 7:3

Conversations about sex can be uncomfortable. Even among Christians, we wonder what should be said. “Less is better” seems to be the advice that many follow. But in the private corner of our heart there is a longing to understand the God pleasing fullness of sexuality in Christian marriage. We desire all its riches, but over time we face a host of insurmountable struggles that attack us at a very personal level.  Intimacy can grow cold or loveless and we’re haunted by inadequacy. We have misperceptions, unspoken hurts and guilt. Our own flesh and a sinful world keep us from the beautiful life and delightful gifts God has given to married couples.

Then we read our text, “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.” At first glance it seems Paul isn’t doing us any huge favors here when he simply states that we have a “duty” to one another. He is talking about sex as if it were like keeping up with dishes or laundry. It’s your duty, so… not exactly how we want to describe our sex life.  But God is teaching us something here as he speaks of the responsibility we have to one another. In sharp contrast to the familiar message we love hearing, an individual’s desire to be sexually satisfied is not the foundation of a healthy sexual relationship.  It is sensitivity to the needs of the other that blesses the sexual expression of Christian spouses. Listen to Paul describe this “duty” and note where the responsibility lies! The husband has a responsibility to fulfill his wife’s sexual needs and the wife is called by God in marriage to meets the sexual needs of her husband. It is a desire to meet the needs of the other in an expression of love that draws a man and wife together.

And where is love? Isn’t it passionate love that drives a husband and wife to each other’s arms?  Yes, but Paul is making it very clear that self-centered erotic love isn’t the foundation of their union. The love that a husband and wife share does create sexual desire, but the focus of that passion is to delight the other person and show love, not to seek personal satisfaction. The marriage bed is a place where love seeks the good and fulfillment of the other. Loving intimacy is entwined with sexual desire, and such desires and personal needs are not wrong or sinful. This is part of the beautiful design given in the perfect Garden of Eden!  But Scripture is pointing us to see the loving, giving essence of sex in marriage.  It doesn’t look like one-night stands glorified as steamy sex between strangers driven by their own desire. Marital love is much deeper, more fulfilling and strengthens the relationship according to God’s design. Love, trust and commitment enrich marital intimacy and find their fullest expression as one flesh.  When God calls husbands and wives to faithfulness, he is not short-changing them. The gift of sexuality in marriage is not second-rate; it is rich and shines with beauty like a gem in the perfect setting.

Does marital intimacy for Christians always seem so perfect, selfless and loving? No, it does not. Sometimes it might seem like a duty, but hopefully that is rare. Don’t be surprised that even in the life of a Christian, life in a sinful world diminishes what the Lord gave as a holy and precious gift. It’s okay to be honest that life, marriage and intimacy aren’t perfect; God calls us to work at these things! This can be a reminder of his good gifts and the holy, selfless love he wants us to reflect in our marriages. The Lord is giving us a descriptive picture of how our intimacy seeks to bless each other. But lest we get caught up in all the grace-filled images of marriage, at its core this is a command of God that we are required to keep.

God’s demand is that we love each other perfectly and consider the needs of each other before our own, even in the bedroom. We know all too well how hard it is to make marriage and intimacy work and it is no surprise that we cannot do all that is required of us. Sometimes it feels like we can barely do any part of it. This is the weight of sin and the work of God’s law. When we see those failures we don’t just need to forgive each other, we look to Christ who forgives all our sins – who forgives all our sexual sins and failures – and we embrace his righteousness as we seek to move forward. This is the work of the gospel, peace and forgiveness in Christ that flows over to one another. He alone empowers us to do good in all our duties. So we do love one another. We do try to set aside our own needs and serve one another in Christ-like love. We live in the strength of the gospel to the glory of God, even in the bedroom.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, the gift of marriage and its many blessings come from your loving hand. Thank you for these gifts which enrich our home and strengthen our relationship.  Continue to work your love in our hearts that we may grow in grace and our understanding of your plan for marriage and sexuality. Give us an extra measure of selfless love in our intimacy as we strive to set our own needs aside and look to serve one another. Thank you for the grace that forgives us and spurs us on to forgive one another when we fail. Don’t let us lose heart in our journey and sustain us when we face overwhelming despair. Bring us your love and mercy every day as we look to honor you in our marriage and reflect your love to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 7



Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Pastor Gary Pufahl


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Body-building – Womens Devotion

Body-building – Women’s Devotion




It is Sunday morning. In church entryways and fellowship halls around the world Christians are greeting one another.

“Good morning!”

“Good morning, how are you?”

“Fine, how are you?”

“I’m good.”

“Do you think that storm they’re talking about is going to hit us?”

“I hope not, we’re going to a picnic this afternoon.”

That’s a pretty typical exchange. How often do the conversations in your church entryway stay at that level? Do you ever see people hugging in your fellowship hall? What about tears? Is there much exuberant laughter in the lobby of your church? Do people have an earnest look in their eyes as they speak to their brothers and sisters in the Lord?

Our Lord tells us, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:27) We are the body of Christ? That sounds a little strange at first, but it’s actually quite a beautiful analogy God uses in his Word to describe how his believers on earth are connected to Jesus and to one another. Christ is described as the head, and we the members are each a unique and essential part of his figurative body. “From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Eph 4:16) What a wonderful picture! There is support. There is love. There is work. There is connectedness. All of it is from Christ, our head.

It gets even better! The head of our body doesn’t just direct and connect. He also sacrificed. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:25-27) Christ really did that for us – even if that’s not the immediate impression we get when we look around in the fellowship area. We are full of stains of sin, wrinkles of worry, and blemishes of bad decisions. But by his amazing grace, even as we continue to struggle with sin, worry and bad decisions, we are radiant, holy, and blameless in Jesus! He makes each one of us a perfect, unique, essential part of his body. With that in mind, our conversations can get a little deeper and more personal. We might make ourselves a little more vulnerable. We might get a little more invested.

“Good morning!”

“Good morning, how are you?”

“I’m good—just tired.”

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine—it’s just that yesterday the kids were bickering and fighting all day long. By the time they were finally in bed, we were so exhausted and frustrated that we stayed up way too late watching a movie. I hope I don’t start nodding off during the sermon.”

“Ugh. We’ve had days like that. They are exhausting. Should we sit behind you and poke you in the shoulder from time to time?”

(laughing) “Maybe you should! Hey, whatever works, right? Anyway, what about you?”

“Doing well. We’re really excited to go to a picnic this afternoon. Did I tell you about that neighbor of ours who’s been going through cancer treatment?”

“You did. How is he doing?”

“He’s good! He finished his treatment and his most recent scans were clear. The treatment was successful.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful! So many answered prayers…”

“Yup, so this afternoon they’re having a picnic to celebrate, and we’re planning to go. I just hope it doesn’t rain…”

Jesus, our head, gives us opportunities to build one another up, “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:13) As we express genuine interest in our fellow believers, and as we share our own hopes, fears, joys, and struggles in a way that is more intimate than casual, we are building up the body of Christ!

When we talk to each other about how God’s Word applies to the intimate details of our lives, the word of Christ dwells in us richly as we teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. (Col 3:16) As we encourage one another in our lives of faith through the Word, the Holy Spirit works in us. The body of Christ increases in unity, in knowledge of the Son of God, and in maturity. Day by day the body of believers grows closer to attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Together we look forward to the day when we enter into our heavenly fellowship hall, and that process will be complete.



Suggestions for Prayer:

  • Praise God for his beautiful design for the family of believers.
  • Confess times when you have not taken the time or risked the intimacy of investing yourself in your brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • Thank Jesus for making you a member of his body, for giving you the other parts of the body for mutual support and encouragement, and for his sacrificing headship.
  • Ask the Lord to work within the body of believers so that we grow in unity, knowledge of him, and maturity.


Written by Tracy Siegler
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey


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A Tall Order – Week of January 30, 2017

A Tall Order – Week of January 30, 2017


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.
Romans 12:12-16




ECME Devotion – January 30, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 12:12-16

See series: ECME Devotions

This verse is a tall order – a command, in fact. Be patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, share, bless those who persecute you, and finally live in harmony with one another. It looks really impressive in writing. Wouldn’t life be so wonderful if we followed this command? But in reality, life is messy and we fall short daily. It is hard to be patient when it feels like the world or sometimes even your close family is against you. It is hard to share with the homeless person on the corner when we selfishly wonder why he is in this situation. It is hard to be hospitable when people seem to look down on you. It is hard to bless those who show hatred toward us in the form of discrimination for what we believe. It is hard to rejoice with others when deep-down we wanted that same blessing for ourselves. Living in harmony is hard too. Hardly a day passes without feeling offended by someone’s words or actions, or knowing you have offended someone.

It’s hard, impossible even, when we look at how others have wronged us. We may think that they don’t deserve our kindness. And it’s hard, impossible, when we look at how we have wronged others. So we must look elsewhere. We look to Jesus Christ who is always patient, always kind, and always loving to us. His unending love motivates our kindness and eagerness to follow through on this tall order. His love is the reminder of our opportunity to reflect him to others so they see his patience, his faithfulness, his love.

God doesn’t say these things will be easy. He simply says “be” this way. We are NOT by nature joyful, patient, and harmonious! We are quite the opposite – grumpy, impatient, rude, selfish, and the list goes on. Thankfully, God sent his Son to be our Savior, to offer forgiveness to us each and every time we fall short of living up to this command. We thank him for his overwhelming and indescribable gift! And with hearts of humble gratitude we are more able to be patient, faithful in prayer, generous to others, and to strive to live in harmony with others around us. We look at those we know as someone for whom Christ came, for whom Christ suffered and died, for whom he rose, and for whom he returned to prepare a place for in heaven we are eager to reach out to them in love.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me be patient in suffering and faithful in prayer. Give me opportunities to share your love through my hospitality. Give me wisdom to know how to live in harmony with the people around me. Forgive me when I fall short each day. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Favor that Never Fades – Week of January 23, 2017

Favor that Never Fades – Week of January 23, 2017


The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3




ECME Devotion – January 23, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3

See series: ECME Devotions

What a year-if you were a Cub fan or even a new Cub fan in 2016. 107 years is a crazy long time to wait and hope for the outcome they experienced -World Series champs. Cub fans everywhere celebrated in the streets, in local establishments, in their homes. But when you read the opening words of this paragraph, did you feel that same excitement or even close to that of the day of that final game? Likely not even close. Time has faded the enthusiasm of the day.

Our verses today include a reference to “the year of the LORD’s favor.” What is the year of the Lord’s favor? It comes from an Old Testament law where during the Year of Jubilee all debts were forgiven, property was returned to the original owner, and anyone enslaved because of debts were released. Did you notice the next phrase- “the day of vengeance of our God?” We have a God of both law and gospel. He expects perfection which is impossible for us. He freely gives us his grace, his undeserved love, his mercy. Some will say that God’s favor is all about success, winning an award (or World Series) or getting that scholarship, doing kind things for others, always trying to do our best.

The Lord’s favor is not about success in our earthly endeavors or our attempts at doing our best. Isaiah’s prophecy is all about God looking on the unsuccessful with his favor. The poor, the brokenhearted, the prisoners, and those who mourn are in a position to recognize their need for God to accomplish what they and we could not. Because he looked on humanity favorably, the Heavenly Father sent his Son to defeat sin, death, and the devil for us. Despair is replaced by praise, ashes by a heavenly crown, mourning by gladness.

While earthly success (even for Cub fans) does not last, God’s favor does. World Series winners eventually lose again. But God’s favor, God’s gift of love, grace, and forgiveness are ours each day and for eternity. It is a gift that will never fade! We are in a unique position to be instruments of showing God’s favor, not only on the each of the children and families we serve, but to all with whom we come in contact – as God’s favor is for all.



Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, use me to proclaim and reflect your gospel message of grace and favor to all around me with joy. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The Bonds of Peace – Week of January 16, 2017

The Bonds of Peace – Week of January 16, 2017


I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3




ECME Devotion – January 16, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:1-3

See series: ECME Devotions

When I consider the highs and lows that I have felt through previous school years, December was more often a challenging time. I faced the lows, feeling overwhelmed, being behind in my lessons in the middle of a full holiday schedule, and facing student or parent issues coming to a head at the end of the semester. I always needed Christmas break – a well-timed respite. After that break, January has regularly been a high point.

Maybe you have noticed a regular pattern similar to mine, or maybe it’s different for you in January. And even if you haven’t seen a pattern develop year to year, you certainly have experienced life’s roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Good classroom experiences can be followed by center challenges. Thinking, “I’ve got this; I can do this!” is soon followed by, “Why would God allow me to go through this?”

God tells us in Ephesians to be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and live in unity. Wow! That command can bring us back to our low feelings. How can we live that way all the time? We lose our patience with a parent who was irritated this morning. We are still upset and holding a grudge with our coworker who didn’t finish a project on time. We think we are better than our coworker who is facing a temptation. It is easy to use this verse to look ourselves in the mirror and become discouraged or want to give up!

Paul’s words to the Ephesians remind us of the important constant that does not change; God has called you. Wherever you find yourself on life’s rollercoaster, his love for you remains constant. You are living under his constant grace. He has called you, undeserving as you are because of sin, to believe that Jesus Christ has rescued you from the penalty for your sins. You have been called to be a member of God’s family. When you know the calling you have received, you have a motivation and a power to make every effort to live up to the wonderful calling you have received. By faith we eagerly “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” with all those around us.



Prayer: Jesus, forgive me for the times I have not been gentle, humble, and loving. Remind me it is not my faithfulness and my ability that makes you love me. Your loving grace called me to faith. I pray that you strengthen my faith and so empower me to be completely humble, gentle, patient, and loving to those around me. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: In a previous devotion, we talked about finding ways to pray for each child in our classrooms on a regular basis. How can we do the same for those with whom we serve and for the parents of the children in our rooms?



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Sharers Together – Week of January 2, 2017

Sharers Together – Week of January 2, 2017


This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6




ECME Devotion – January 2, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:6

See series: ECME Devotions

Happy New Year! It’s a time where many make New Year resolutions. New Year’s resolutions – have you ever noticed how they can easily become self-centered. I want to do this, or that – or accomplish my goal. Even as you resolve, “I want to be a better person”, selfish pride shows his arrogant head.
In our text today, Paul speaks of a mystery. The mystery Paul speaks about provides a wonderful and unselfish starting point for a Christian resolution, “Lord, let me be a sharer!” What we do in our classrooms, homes, and churches this year is not about us being better. It’s about the promise of Christ bringing people together on the way to heaven.

Permit me to tell you about Katherine. She sat in my class each day with her big, brown eyes filled with reverence. She was being raised in a combination of cultures and languages: one parent from the Middle East and the other from Latin America, yet living in the Southern United States. Katherine was taught to be submissive. She was about half the size of her fellow first graders – frail, her legs dangling from the smallest chair we had in the room. She did not speak unless spoken to, and then it was in the quietest whisper voice.

Katherine had never been introduced to this Jesus we talked about every day. When it was time to study the history of Jesus’ death and resurrection, she was obviously anxious. Our story ended with Jesus hanging on the cross . . . the next day we would study the resurrection. However, for Katherine, the suspense was too great. She could not wait until tomorrow. During math class she nervously held the Bible story book on her lap, trying to keep it hidden from me. She would never think of disobeying during class time and not paying attention, however, she was desperate. She needed to know how the story ended. I saw her – her eyes intently reading the next part of the story. I did not stop her. In fact, I smiled at her and gave her an approving nod. How could I make math class more important than the resurrection of her Lord and Savior?

So, our resolution for this year? “Let me be a sharer!” As you look at each child in your room or classroom, consider the amazing story of Jesus’ grace and mercy for each child, each family, each staff member, and you! Like little Katherine, may we never lose that sense of urgency to know more and to share more about our precious Savior.



Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for making each of us sharers of the mystery of salvation. Empower me to take this promise you have given to me and share it with others this year, and always. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: Consider each child and family in your room or classroom. Beginning by praying for each of them on a regular basis can help you to be more aware of ways to share the gospel with them. Are there ways to be sure to pray for each child and each family individually? Would a calendar work? Or a prayer partner on your staff? Or?



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Clean slate – Womens Devotion

Clean slate – Women’s Devotion




What is it about January 1st that makes us feel so hopeful? Why do we set so many more goals, feel so much more motivated, and leave behind the past so much more easily than we do any other time of year? There is something so nice about a fresh slate. A new calendar does seem to symbolize a new chance at things. Out with the old and in with the new. THIS year is the year. No failures so far. No distractions. New.

It’s like a fresh coat of snow on the ground. Untainted. Can you imagine a small child standing on his back porch steps after the first heavy snow? He is the first to look out at what seems like acres of possibility. The biggest snowman that’s ever been built in the history of mankind. A fort and wall that will defend itself admirably in a battle so great that the local news will come by to report it. And legions of angels.

For me, a clean notebook with not so much as a scratch or scribble makes me feel for the very first minute that I could one day be listed among poets and philosophers, quoted alongside the great writers of our time. There is not a word written so far in this book to suggest otherwise.

A fresh, clean, perfect start is invigorating. It doesn’t take things terribly long in this world to deteriorate. I don’t want to spend too long reminding you of that, because life itself will, but it makes those brief immaculate moments that much more exhilarating.

Now consider Christ whose mercies are new every morning.

As redeemed children of God we have incomprehensible possibility, hope, and perfection in store. Every day we live covered in a robe of righteousness, dwelling in the promise of heaven, and capable of all things through Him who strengthens us.

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).

With Christ as our head each moment is full of that same possibility. Don’t be discouraged by failures, doubts, and insecurities. Your future in heaven is secure. You are purchased and won. You can live every moment looking out at your own acres of possibility.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You are not captive to the limitations of this world! God has covered you over! You DO have acres of possibility! I hope that you see that fresh start Christ gives you by his mercy each morning and it lights a fire in you!

With Christ as our head and our focus, there is nothing we cannot do. There is no need to wait for the New Year to set “reasonable” goals. Each moment in grace is a chance to build your life into a stronghold of faith that people feel the need to talk about it. Construct a plan and use what God gives you to build that snowman. And walk in the knowledge that when you’ve lived out your possibilities, creating, building, and inspiring by faith that you will rest joyfully and eternally with legions of angels.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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, forever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:16-21).



Prayer: Dear Lord God, cover my sins and guilt with the righteousness of your Son, my Savior. Create in me a pure heart and help me live a new life in you! Amen.



Written by Jes Woller
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey


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Joy to the World? – Week of December 26, 2016

Joy to the World? – Week of December 26, 2016


“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34




ECME Devotion – December 26, 2016

Devotion based on Matthew 10:34

See series: ECME Devotions

So, how was your Christmas dinner discussion?  If your Christmas discussion went great, then be thankful for that.  Some of you reading this possibly didn’t have a very good Christmas discussion.  I know that some of you out there found yourself in a discussion (argument?) about Christian truths and values.  Some of you may have even found yourselves defending the Christmas message, the very reason for your gathering, against the attacks of your own families!

Let’s move this discussion away from the Christmas dinner table for a second.  How have your Facebook discussions gone?  Have you found yourself in a similar argument on the internet?

At this time of Christmas, we often talk about peace and joy.  The heart of faith finds these in the message of the Gospel.  When the world around us is crashing down, we find safety, security, and spiritual peace in the fortress of God’s Word.  But why do we often find the exact opposite of peace and joy–hatred and discord–seemingly everywhere?  Didn’t Jesus promise that he would bring peace to the earth?

Yes, he did.  He promised peace on earth between God and his believers.  But that same Jesus also promised enmity and hostility between his people and the unbelieving children of Satan.  In fact, when the believer lives according to the Word, he often finds himself in conflict with others, even those who are closest to him.  The words of Jesus in our passage above remind us that we can’t expect peace and joy when we follow his commands.  Instead, we can expect to get challenged every step of the way.

In our schools and childcare centers, we are preparing the next generation to know God’s Word.  We want our young ones to know Christ, but we also want them to make him known.  That might put them in situations where they are hated, put down, and left feeling defeated.  That’s OK-Jesus promised the believer to expect exactly that.  That is why we also teach our children to find refuge in the saving message of the Gospel.  We want them to remember the words, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)



Prayer:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 62)



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Gentle Mary Laid Her Child – Week of December 19, 2016

Gentle Mary Laid Her Child – Week of December 19, 2016


“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:7




ECME Devotion – December 19, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:7

See series: ECME Devotions

For all intents and purposes, the entire night was underwhelming. A poor husband and wife returned to the town of their ancestors to be counted for a census. There was no room for them in the town to stay, so they stayed in a stable with animals (and everything that comes with animal housing). While they were there, the poor mother gave birth. With nowhere else to put her newborn son, she lay him in a manger, a place where cattle eat.

Yes, the events of the evening were underwhelming–even that might be an understatement. And, yet, here we are, 2,000+ years later celebrating the events of that night. Who in the world would ever come up with such a cockamamie story about the salvation of the world? Well, no one in the world would–the story is literally “out-of-this-world”. This story doesn’t come from the mind or the pen of a human being. This story is told by the master of the universe, God himself.

God, in his infinite wisdom, knew what we needed for the cure of sin. He knew that his anger needed to be appeased by a human being–after all, it was human beings who misused their free will to rebel against him. And God, in undeserved and immeasurable love, provided the salvation for those very rebels. It was a plan that no man would ever devise, which makes it so perfect.

When Mary laid her son in that manger, he was a stranger to everyone except those who looked with eyes of faith. When we lay the Christ child in the manger by telling the story again, we pray that our young ones look to him with eyes of faith. This Christmas and always, we pray that the Holy Spirit create and strengthen the faith of others, that they may always look with eyes of faith to the manger and say, “There is the Savior. For me!”



Prayer:
Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;
There he lay the undefiled, To the world a stranger.
Such a babe in such a place–Can he be the Savior?
Ask the saved of all the race Who have found his favor.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 56)



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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I Am So Glad When Christmas Comes – Week of December 12, 2016

I Am So Glad When Christmas Comes – Week of December 12, 2016


But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19




ECME Devotion – December 12, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:19

See series: ECME Devotions

Have you ever collected something?  Maybe it was coins or seashells.  When I was growing up, I collected baseball cards.  I had a joint collection with my brother and my father.  At our highest point, we had somewhere between 3,000-4,000 baseball cards.  There was one card that we treasured more than any other card.  It was the 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr., Upper Deck rookie card.  That card was one we wouldn’t have traded for anything.  We put it in a hard plastic case so it would stay in mint condition and we put it in a safe place away from all of our other cards.  You’d think, since we treasured that card so much, I would know where that card is today.  Truth be told, I have no clue.  It could be somewhere between the three houses we all call home, but I have no idea the exact whereabouts of that card.  It could be lost, never to be seen again.

Mary treasured and collected something that she would never lose track of.  The life stories of her son, our Savior, Jesus, were her prized possessions which could never be taken from her.  With a heart of faith, Mary pondered the events of that first Christmas, and no doubt the rest of her son’s life, and locked them away where they were safe, in her heart of faith.

Do we follow Mary’s example from this passage?  Do we ponder and keep in our hearts the words and works of “God made flesh”?  Do we walk away every single Sunday in awe of God’s grace, that he gives us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus?  If we don’t, why not?  Let’s make this even more seasonal.  Do we look forward to Christmas with a childlike faith, not because of the meals, family, and presents, but because of the simple, pure, and unadulterated message of sins forgiven through that babe in the manger?

At this point in December, you are probably either preparing or putting the finishing touches on your individual Christmas services.  Every day, you have the awesome privilege of teaching children where they can find something that can never be lost, no matter what forces try to have us lose it.  Every day, you take your children to the feet of Christ, where they learn of sin and grace; love and mercy.  You give them the most valuable collection they can ever have–a collection of 66 love letters from the God of the universe.

This Christmas, and always, may we ponder in our hearts of faith all that the Lord has done for us.  Especially, let us never forget where to find that precious Gospel message.  For that is a message that can’t be lost or stolen from us.



Prayer:
I am so glad when Christmas comes,
The night of Jesus’ birth,
When Bethl’em’s star shone as the sun,
And angels sang on earth.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 51)



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Your Little Ones, Dear Lord, Are We – Week of December 5, 2016

Your Little Ones, Dear Lord, Are We – Week of December 5, 2016


“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Mark 10:14




ECME Devotion – December 5, 2016

Devotion based on Mark 10:14

See series: ECME Devotions

“Children should be seen and not heard!” This phrase, though readily accepted by many, is a sad commentary on how some view the presence of children, especially young ones. It is somewhat surprising to see this attitude in the twelve disciples. In their view, and in the view of some that we come into contact with today, the implication is this: Children are too immature to profit from the Lord’s attention.

Jesus’ words in our passage above are a comforting reminder of how highly Jesus, the ruler of creation, loves and treasures each of his children. How highly? So highly that he says, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Why is it that our Savior holds these children in such high esteem? The key to answering that question comes from a different portion of Scripture. In Matthew 18:2, Jesus says, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Faith alone grants entrance into the kingdom of heaven. So why is it that all people must become like children in their faith? The faith of a believing child is unquestioning! It simply trusts what God has to say, never once doubting that God’s promises hold true.

As a worker in an early childhood ministry, you see that faith on display every day. When your children loudly sing the songs of Jesus’ love, they don’t care what others think about them. When they go home and tell their unbelieving parents–or even their believing ones–what they learned about Jesus that day, they teach us a lesson about going and telling. When they fold their hands at the lunch table, even when you don’t remind them, they serve as a good reminder to stop and say thanks for all that you have been given.

Hopefully, we haven’t ever hindered a little one from coming to the feet of Christ. Jesus’ words to us in this passage do serve as a gut check for us as we witness and reflect the love of Christ to our children, our co-workers, and our parents. Do we ever act like the disciples in one way or another by preventing others from seeing the love of Christ? Chances are, there are times when we have. But be assured, dear reader, that Christ’s blood covers up those times we have done just that. And we ourselves remain a child of Christ.



Prayer:
Your little ones, dear Lord, are we
And come your lowly bed to see;
Enlighten ev’ry soul and mind
That we the way to you may find.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 46)



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The power to love – Women’s Devotion

The power to love – Women’s Devotion


This is my command: Love each other.
John 15:17



Jesus spoke these words to his disciples just hours before his death on the cross. As he speaks them to me today, I am filled with eagerness to keep his command. Then discouragement washes over me. Jesus’ words convict me of my failures: impatience with my husband, anger toward my beautiful child, irritation with fellow believers, avoidance of others who need my love. How can I possibly show true love, Christ-like love, in every circumstance, to everyone whom God has placed in my life?

Yet Jesus did not give this command without also making it possible for me—and for you—to fulfill it. Jesus spoke these words during his last Passover meal with his disciples, the night before his crucifixion. After having loved perfectly everyone he encountered throughout his life, he was about to show the world the extent of his love. He would be taking on himself all our failures to love, and paying for those sins on the cross. Now, through faith in Jesus, God sees in us not the failures, but rather Jesus’ track record of perfect love. What a tremendous gift! Yet God gives us even more. We can love as Christ commanded, because we have the gift of God himself inside us, powerfully and wonderfully at work in our hearts.

Jesus’ last conversation with his disciples assured both them and us that God, the source of our power to love, lives and works inside each believer. Jesus taught the disciples about the believer’s intimate connection with all three Persons of the Trinity. Earlier in John 15, Jesus used the word picture of branches growing from a main vine to describe the connection of believers to himself. While the individual branch stays connected to the main vine, it naturally will bear fruit. We as branches will bear fruit—not by our own power, but by the power flowing to us from the main vine, Jesus. This includes the fruit of Christ-like love! In fact, we will bear “much fruit” (vs. 5). Sisters, let us remember our intimate connection with our Savior, draw in the nourishment of the Word and sacraments, and joyfully anticipate the fruit that we are promised will develop in time.

Jesus also assured the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit—the Counselor and Encourager. He told the disciples that the Holy Spirit “lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). This promise was fulfilled for the disciples at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit transformed the disciples from loveless deserters of Christ into bold lovers of God, distinguished from the rest of the world by their sacrificial love for one another and for those who hated them. Jesus’ promise is fulfilled for us today, sisters in Christ. As we study the Word, the Holy Spirit comes to us and transforms us into bold lovers of Christ and of everyone God places in our lives.

Jesus’ words provide even more encouragement. Jesus promised that he and the Father “will come to [the believer] and make our home with him” (John 14:23). God does not stop by briefly to give us a little boost when he sees we are running on fumes. He has taken up permanent residence inside us! God’s power is ours, every day, in every situation we face. It never runs out. It never fails. As Paul told believers in Philippians 2:13: “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Be encouraged, dear sisters! When we feel we have no strength and cannot manufacture a loving thought, let alone act accordingly, let us remember who resides in us. The almighty Creator of the universe even now is creating in us the desire to love others as Christ loved us. The Provider of everything necessary for the world’s welfare even now is producing through us the acts of love that serve the needs of those around us.

Yes, we can love as Christ loved us. We can fulfill Jesus’ final command before his death on the cross. The power for such constant, complete, and sacrificial love resides in us, because our God resides in us. Jesus assured his disciples of this truth in so many beautiful ways. Sisters, with boldness, with joy, with the power of our almighty, triune God working in us, let us love each other!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I confess to you my failures to love. I thank and praise you for your work of paying for all those failures, and loving perfectly in my place. I trust your promise that the Father will give me anything I ask in your name. I now pray for greater and greater Christ-like love in all my relationships. Work in me to bear more and more fruit, to your glory. In your saving name, I confidently pray. Amen.



For Further Reading:
John 15:1-17

Written by Mollie Schairer
Reviewed by Professor Lyle Lange


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My Heart Leaps – Week of November 21, 2016

My Heart Leaps – Week of November 21, 2016


The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:7




ECME Devotion – November 21, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 28:7

See series: ECME Devotions

There is nothing quite like the zeal and passion we see on a child’s face as they sing praises to Jesus. At times I have wished I could let go of inhibition and dance and sway during particularly moving hymns that accompany our service. What stops us from doing this? What stops us from demonstrating our thanks to God with our whole bodies? We tend to get more animated at sporting events or more emotional at the movie theater than we do in response to the message in church on Sunday. While customs and personality play a part, could it also be that sin has dulled our zeal? This is an area where we can appreciate the little children of our congregation, and even learn from them. Appreciating their joy is the first step. What follows is incorporating a child-like faith by putting our desire to praise God into action.

My heart leaps for joy—what an amazing proclamation! I doubt that David sat still as he sang about his heart leaping with pure delight. Just as we witness children’s ability to proclaim their love for Jesus while dancing or shouting praises to our God, likely so was David as he pondered Christ’s strength and goodness in his life. While we may not physically dance or sway, that overwhelming zeal comes from knowing God’s grace, that he is our strength, our shield, and we can trust in him. What a wonderful thing to be excited about! It is only right we declare with enthusiasm the love that Christ has shown to us and share that incredible message with the young children and families we serve, our own families, friends, and acquaintances.



Prayer: Dear Lord, my heart leaps with joy as David’s did when I think of your goodness in my life. Please help me demonstrate my zeal for you to all those around me in all that I do, reflecting you and your love. I pray in your 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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My Room – Week of November 14, 2016

My Room – Week of November 14, 2016


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:1-4




ECME Devotion – November 14, 2016

Devotion based on John 14:1-4

See series: ECME Devotions

My two 4-year-old sons have lots of questions, some of which I feel unprepared to answer. Recently the topic of Jesus being in heaven came up and one of them expressed fear over going to heaven stating, “I don’t want to go to heaven to be with Jesus. That is scary for me!” I could relate. I recall being nervous on several occasions when I was confronted with near death experiences. How could I blame my boy for feeling the same way?

Then I recalled the comforting passage in John about Jesus preparing a room for us in heaven. What a beautifully simple analogy! I read it to them and we talked about the coolest room they could possibly imagine. We pictured Jesus getting it ready for them and how he was taking great care to make sure it was welcoming, special, and far better than anything we could even dream of. And we talked about the best part of all-Jesus will be there! When we were done my son exclaimed, “I miss Jesus; I want to visit him now!”

That discussion really turned their thoughts towards death being something desirable for a Christian. Now when the topic of death comes up, we recall with anticipation the room that Jesus is preparing for us in heaven. Heaven is our home and our Father is waiting excitedly to greet us rather than a distant God who will usher us into the unknown. I am happy that my boys can share with me in the knowledge and reassurance of Jesus’ promises.



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the promises you have given me about my heavenly home. Please help me remember that heaven is my home and it is far greater than anything I have here on earth, especially knowing you will be there. I pray in your 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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He Will Be with You – Week of November 7, 2016

He Will Be with You – Week of November 7, 2016


The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 36:8




ECME Devotion – November 7, 2016

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 36:8

See series: ECME Devotions

It is fairly easy to grow discouraged in day-to-day life. Whether it be a co-worker complaining, a disturbing story on the news, or a family issue that is plaguing your heart, reasons to become disheartened or even afraid are plentiful. Our sinful nature latches onto these situations and our mind runs wild with anxiety.

We cannot change the sinful nature we were born with. However, we can rewire our thoughts and center our hearts on Jesus and his promises. Deuteronomy 36:8 tells us that we do not need to be afraid or discouraged because the Lord will never leave us. What a reassuring thought! No matter what challenges we are going through our Lord is standing by our side, waiting for us to turn to him for the strength and courage we need to continue. When we remember that we do not walk this path of life alone the journey becomes less daunting. When we fix our eyes on Jesus it becomes easier to put our day-to-day hardships into perspective. Our confidence comes from him, from what he has done and what he continues to do for us.

He is with us now as we experience this earthly life. He will stand by us as we leave this earth and he will greet us with open arms in heaven one day. What a comfort!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for the reassurance that you are always by my side. Help me to remember your protection when my heart is filled with anxiety. I pray in your name. Amen.

A question to consider: Are there any worries in life that you need to turn over to Jesus? If so, how can you do so?



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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A New Covenant – November 2, 2016

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34

A New Covenant


Daily Devotion – November 2, 2016

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:31-34

See series: Devotions

You get a new job. Before you go to work, you have to sit down with your employer and come to an agreement on your wage, benefits and the tasks you are expected to complete. When all of those details are ironed out, you and your employer put those details down on paper and sign it, stating that each of you will honor your end of the deal. You promise to work a certain amount of hours completing a certain task or tasks. Your employer promises certain compensation to you for your work. It’s a contract, a legally binding agreement between two parties which outlines what each party does for the other.

While it is not an exact parallel, the word “covenant” in the Bible is much like a contract. In Jeremiah chapter 31, God says, “The time is coming… when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” God speaks about two covenants, the new one and the one which had been broken but not by God.

God had made a covenant with Israel. It is summarized in Exodus chapter 19, verses 5 & 6, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession… you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Simply put, God would make Israel his special people for a special purpose, and on the other side Israel was to obey God fully. Sadly, the Israelites were just like all of us: sinful. They forsook God and broke his covenant. We’re no different. Daily we choose sin over righteousness, lies over the truth, hurtful words over kindness, grudges over forgiveness, anger over patience, selfishness over selflessness. The list could go on.

If our status before God depended upon holding up an agreement with God, eternity would not look good for us. But here is where God’s “new” covenant comes in. This is a one-sided covenant, where God does something for us and that’s it. He says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This sin-forgetting forgiveness is accomplished by the sinless life of Jesus, his death on the cross, and his victorious resurrection from the dead. Through faith in Jesus, God does not hold our sins against us because he held them against his Son. Through faith in Jesus, the God of heaven and earth is our God and we are his.

The only covenant, the only contract that matters for you is one-sided: God declares you his forgiven son or daughter and he signed it with the blood of his Son, your Savior, Jesus.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 389):

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; Let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed be of sin the double cure: cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy laws demands. Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone. Thou must save, and thou alone.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A shaking faith turns to a mighty Lord – Womens Devotion

A shaking faith turns to a mighty Lord – Women’s Devotion


The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14



The Israelites had just finished a terribly long sentence of slavery in Egypt—4 centuries worth! God allowed Pharaoh’s hardened heart to soften just enough to give the Israelites their long-awaited freedom. Pharaoh was stubborn, and as soon as he realized what he had really done, he ordered his huge fleet of chariots and officers to pursue the Israelites. Seeing his army close in on them, the Israelites resorted to complaining to the Lord and to Moses. Their impending doom at the hand of Pharaoh terrified them. So Moses, by divine inspiration, reminded them of God’s power over everything and gave them these words: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).

Then comes the rest of the story. Just after Moses told the Israelites to be still, the LORD told Moses to get the people going! God was ready to show his mighty power to the Israelites and the Egyptians once again, but he wanted the Israelites to move and do it quickly! Can you even imagine about a million people trying to escape this 600-plus chariot army? Nothing is impossible with God, and he held the deep waters of the Red Sea back as every last one of the Israelites passed through safely. As promised, he showed his glory and power by keeping the Israelites safe, while allowing those waters to sweep over the Egyptian army which was right on their heels.

The mighty torrents of a hurricane whip against our coasts. Mental illness knocks on our minds and hearts like an enemy trying to pummel us to the ground. Financial burdens bring frustration and we just can’t see a way to recover. Children wander away from their childhood faith, swallowed up by the evils of this world. All these circumstances may leave us feeling like the Israelites—worried and scared. Our faith shakes and we complain to our Lord—Why do you let me suffer so, Lord? God, how do you expect me to deal with the hardship and heartache?

Remember, dear sisters, the God you serve is the same God who created the entire universe. The God you serve is the same God who fought for his people by holding back an entire sea. The God you serve is the same God who brought his Son into the world and allowed him to go to the cross and sacrifice his life to give you salvation from all your sins that you may live forever with him in a glorious heaven. This same God will fight for you against whatever enemies are threatening your faith. He promises it! And even in the darkest of times, when your fears and wavering faith immobilize you, God helps you get going just like he did for the Israelites. Yes, he tells us to be still for he is God. Let him calm your worries; calm your heart with his forgiveness for your shaking and complaining. But then each day find in him your strength to continue to press on toward the goal, dear Christian. The LORD will fight for you and will continue to fight for you through all of life’s struggles until you finally reach your heavenly goal beside your Lord and Savior.



Prayer:
Lord Jesus, since you love me,
Oh, spread your wings above me
And shield me from alarm.
Though Satan would assail me,
Your mercy will not fail me;
I rest in your protecting arm.
Christian Worship 587:3



Written by Paula Sulzle
Reviewed by Pastor Joel Gerlach


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Grace – Week of October 31, 2016

Grace – Week of October 31, 2016


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




ECME Devotion – October 31, 2016

Devotion based on Esphesians 2:8-9

See series: ECME Devotions

One of my favorite things about early childhood is watching each child approach a task in their own way. I especially love it when they are given a blank piece of paper and crayons or paint. Some get right at it as if they’ve been planning for this all day. Some may sit and think about what to create and where to begin. Some may need some nudging. Then there’s the moment of completion. When are they done? For some, it’s a quick process and they are satisfied before some children have even put brush to paper. Some are methodical and will work step by step, carefully reviewing their work before determining they are finished. Still others will paint and paint until the paper is worn through.

Our reading today reminds us of the gift of grace. We are saved by that grace through faith. We know that. We know that God has done it all for us. We know that what Jesus did on the cross, in the grave, on Easter morning and at Ascension has completed everything for us. That is amazing! But as human beings, sinful human beings, this is so hard to grasp!

Sometimes we can be like the children in their work at creating their painting. We keep working and working, striving and striving, so often led by guilt or a feeling of not having done enough. We want to please God, and that’s a wonderful goal. But our works, our efforts, are not a means to draw us closer to God or heaven. All that we do should be a reflection of what God has done. It’s never about us. It’s always about him. We help the struggling child and use words of comfort to point them to Jesus’ comfort for them. We reach out to a family in need to reflect Jesus’ heart of love for all. We strive to provide excellence in our classrooms so that nothing gets in the way of the children hearing about their loving Savior. This side of heaven, it’s hard to grasp and understand this. But his grace is sufficient; his grace has done it all. We get to live a life of joy and peace because of what he has done. Put your paintbrush of good work down. Your painting of forgiveness has been completed by Jesus. Instead, live each day rejoicing in that gift of his grace and sharing it with others.



Prayer: Dear Father, you provide a peace that is beyond human understanding. That peace is in the grace you have given to us through faith. “Thank you” seems so inadequate but our gratitude is overwhelming when we consider all your grace has given us. Help us to live as a reflection of your grace, pointing to you. In your name we pray. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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A father to the fatherless – Womens Devotion

A father to the fatherless – Women’s Devotion




I was just nine years old. I knew almost nothing about cancer. I didn’t know anyone who had cancer. It was only something I heard about when adults talked to each other, or I would catch glimpses of a public service announcement on television that told about the effects of cancer. Then it happened to my daddy. And just like that “cancer” became a word I despised.

It sounded bad. Really bad. Lung cancer. By that time I had already heard enough to know that smoking is bad for you—how it damages your lungs and how it can even kill you. I was old enough to put two and two together. My dad smoked, and now he had lung cancer. Deep down I think I knew he was nearing the end of his life.

Nine months later cancer claimed my dad’s earthly life, but death did not hold him. As Jesus told Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25,26). I wrote these words in the front of my school Bible and looked at them often. I believed the promises of Jesus; I knew my dad believed those words too. He was washed in the waters of baptism and lived his life as a redeemed child of God. Now he lived with Jesus in the glorious realms of heaven.

I heard God’s promises in my life daily and believed them, but in the upcoming days and years I would let doubt and anger creep in. My dad’s death occurred at a time in my life I really felt I needed him most. I needed my dad’s secure arms around me so I could feel his love for me. I needed his loving but firm voice to tell me words like, “I am disappointed in your decision. You used poor judgment and what you did was wrong. Now let’s talk about what you can do differently next time.” I needed his soft voice to tell me the words I needed to hear, like “I love you; I’m proud of you!”

“A father to the fatherless…is God in his holy dwelling” (Psalm 68:5).

I felt the need for loving guidance from my father, but God had different plans for my life. Instead, he gave me an earthly father for a short time—a time during which my dad continually pointed me to Jesus and his saving work. Then God placed other Christian family and friends in my life, not to replace my dad, but to continue his legacy of faith. These people were not in my life by chance. God used them to nurture and encourage me in his promises.

God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Did I ever cling to those promises! What else could have pulled me out of the deep, dark places that I allowed very few people to see? My heavenly Father knew how I struggled to cope, and he knew exactly how to rescue me from my heartache and sadness. His Word gave me the comfort and true guidance I needed. No matter how much I thought I needed my earthly father, this need could never compare to my need for my heavenly Father. God led me to see my need for him, at that time and in the many years to come.

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

In the coming years, there would be many times I would feel the need for a father in my life. I missed the special father-daughter relationship I saw so many of my friends experience. At those times I knew I should turn to my perfect heavenly Father, yet I didn’t always do this. I would turn to people who seemed to fill the void…until I realized I was idolizing those special people in my life. That’s not what God intended either. Thankfully, God used those same people I clung to so desperately to point me back to him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God allows us to go through difficult times to draw us closer to him. It might take months; it might take years to work through the pain and loss. Yet he promises to never let us go. No earthly father can ever give the perfect peace, stilling comfort and unending love we receive from our heavenly Father! He is the Father who will give me the gift of heaven—the gift of seeing my dad again! And for that I rejoice!



Prayer: O Lord, you are my only true Father. In Christ you redeemed me; through Baptism you made me your own dear child. Thank you, Father! In the times when I wander away from you, bring me back to your loving embrace. In the times when I am tempted to turn to loved ones before I turn to you, keep my eyes focused on your promises. Thank you for loving me. I love you, Father! Amen.



Written by Paula Sulzle
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey


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Why – Womens Devotion

Why? – Women’s Devotion


As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1



(A devotion for the Christian who is under great, long-lasting stress)

My heart is in pain and cries out for help. I know God has everything planned out and under his control. I know he has promised me that he will care for me, provide for me, never give me more than I can handle. I even know he loves me. I do believe his promises and can quote Scripture passages tucked away in my memory that reassure me of these truths. But then, why do I feel so distressed? Why do people seem to annoy me so? Why do I feel as if I just can’t make any progress? Why do I feel so unappreciated when I work so very hard to please? Why do I feel so alone? Why can’t I just get a break now and then?

I just want to sit in a corner and weep—no, not weep, but cry great big tears! But I’m God’s child. He calls me by name. He cares about me. He knows how I feel without my shedding even one tear. He doesn’t leave me alone! These are the days when the Holy Spirit hears my moans, and through the Word, he begins to guide my thoughts.

He tells me about Elijah who sat under a broom tree, quit eating, and asked God to just end his life. Elijah had just witnessed an amazing display of God’s power and sovereignty, but he allowed Satan to totally distract him with the real fear that Jezebel wanted to take his life. Then Satan kicked him while he was down with thoughts of isolation which made him feel as if there was no one in the whole world who cared.

What was God’s remedy? Get up, eat, and get to work! God didn’t come to Elijah in almighty power, but in a gentle whisper, with mercy and compassion and yet with a firmness that made Elijah see the world as a humble servant committed to doing God’s will. Maybe I should read 1 Kings 19 again and see how these verses might apply to me right now. Maybe I should listen for that gentle whisper.

Who is the Jezebel in my life? Is it someone in particular who just always seems to criticize, discourage, attack, gossip? Is it a situation that seems to take on a life of its own as it grows and overshadows everything I do? Is it something of my own making where I can’t seem to live up to my own expectations? Is it my own insecurities or fears, real or imagined? Jezebel takes on many different forms, but they are all Satan in disguise, getting me to take my eyes off Jesus and the purpose he has given me in life.

In 2 Corinthians 12, I read about Paul repeatedly begging that God would remove the thorn from his flesh. To Paul it was huge and sapped the joy out of every day. It just wouldn’t go away. If only that thorn was gone he knew he could do his ministry so much better. Let me see, why was that thorn there in the first place? It was to keep Paul from being conceited, to make Paul realize that God’s grace provides all that is needed to accomplish God’s plan for him in this world.

What’s my thorn? Do I feel as if I am so gifted that I’m irreplaceable? Do I feel that I know best and others just don’t get it? Do I try to be so perfect that I can never, ever be criticized? Do I focus on me and what people think of me instead of on humble service to God’s glory? Do I try too hard on the wrong things or try with a tainted attitude? On any given day I’m probably guilty of all of these things. Yet once again, God knows these things about me and reassures me that when I lean on him, my work and my life are acceptable to him. For when I am weak, then I am strong. I’m strong because God has me in his hand!

In is times like these the Spirit reminds me of Psalm 42 and I ask God to make my soul pant after him like a thirsty deer in the forest. What a picture! What a singular focus! How refreshing as that first gulp removes the intense thirst. Let my thirst for God, the hope and confidence he gives me, thunder louder than anything Satan has to offer.

I know the same situations will be here in the morning. However, my attitude can be different. My focus can be different. My confidence won’t be in me, but in God. My attitude will be one of submission to God, his chastening and his will. My God wipes away the tears and lets me shout with joy and thanksgiving in the most desperate of situations.



Prayer: Lord, lead me. Give me wisdom, give me patience. Set my priorities and change my heart. Remind me daily that when I am weak then I am strong. Amen.



For Further Reading:
Psalm 71:12, Psalm 118:24

Written by Marilyn Miller
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey


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The difference – Womens Devotion

The difference – Women’s Devotion




My life has been under some pretty major reconstruction lately. I could make an elaborate bulleted list for you with the dates and changes in my life in an effort to make your head spin the way that mine has been, but I’ll spare you.

During this time, there have been an unbelievable amount of unknowns. I have found myself repeating a few scripture verses and hymns to help refocus when I’m feeling especially stressed out. Plenty of “I Am Trusting You, Lord Jesus,” “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:11), and a whole, whole lot of “lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:1-3).

“Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.
I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name” (Psalm 61:1-5).

As I’ve reflected on that picture of being led to that higher rock, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those people who don’t see that refuge in their lives.

Even unbelievers know that life isn’t going to be perfect, that “in this world they will have trouble” (John 16:33). Try to imagine life with that alone. The idea that this life is all there is, and you have one shot at health, wealth, and happiness is harrowing for more than one reason. Not only are you missing the entirety of all the incredible joy and perfection that comes after death, but it makes this life a whole lot harder too!

It sure feels like the devil works harder on the lives of Christians, making it at least seemingly less pleasant than that of unbelievers. Even the lost, though, are wandering through life’s journey on a battle ground. The difference is that they don’t know. They aren’t holding the map that says, “This is (I am) the way”, so they’re trying to find it on their own. When bullets are flying and they feel under attack on this journey, it’s so often unexpected. Not only are they unsure of which way to run, but they haven’t put on the breastplate of righteousness, and they don’t even see the sword of the Spirit. Never mind knowing where to turn for true and lasting refuge.

Life in this world is hard. But take heart!

“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” (John 16:33.)

Even on my most exhausted, defeated, despairing nights, I have the comfort that I’m just a stranger here. This is all temporary. There is so much more. Rather than feeling so disappointed and frustrated that I’m missing out on valuable time here in my one shot at health, wealth, and happiness, that I’m being robbed of peace in this life, I know that this life is never where I was supposed to look for peace in the first place.

“You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal” Isaiah 26:3-4.

Even in your darkest, hardest moments, you are so, so blessed. Not only were you warned about troubles you would face, clued in on your purpose here, and equipped for what was to come, you know where you’re going.

I’ll say it again: Life in this world is hard. It’s hard for us, and it’s hard for unbelievers. The difference in this life is great. The difference after this life, though, is the point of the matter. We will continue to face hardships, but at the end we rest in perfect, perfect joy and peace. Even those who seem to evade life’s onslaught are to be mourned if they aren’t heavenward bound.

You’ve heard the quote by Ian Maclaren (or Plato, depending who you ask) “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” but I believe our calling goes beyond kindness. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Imitate Christ. Dear sisters, we are in this war together, and not all people are heavenward bound. Becoming an ally in a battle may help determine where someone finds herself at the end of the war.



Prayer Suggestions:

  • Pray that God lead you to his Word and promises every day—whether busy or blessed or burdensome.
  • Pray that you can accept the good and the bad, knowing that God will use all things for your good.
  • Pray that God will help you see past your strife and to look to the cross where Jesus laid his life down for you.


Written by Jes Woller
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey


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Womens ministry—a gift – Womens Devotion

Women’s ministry—a gift! – Women’s Devotion




It’s always fun to get a gift isn’t it? It’s fun for both those giving and those receiving. This morning we’d like to take a few minutes to talk about gifts.

Have you ever thought of women’s ministry as a gift? Think of it this way: the service God provides his church and the world through us is a gift, and the privilege of using the individual gifts he gives each one of us is also a gift! God blesses his church when he calls his people into service to carry out his purpose—it’s everything we do to bring Christ to the world. And what a blessing it is to be a part of it.

The idea of service being a gift is not new. It was established way back in the Old Testament. Here’s what the Lord spoke to Aaron and his sons. This is from Numbers 18:7b: “I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift.” God said this when establishing the priesthood in the Old Testament.

The verses before this state the responsibility of the kind of service Aaron was called to do (to bear offenses, to perform the duties, to care for the whole Tent of Meeting) but all of it was a gift from God—the bearing, the performing, the caring—it was God’s grace at work for his people, and it was the only hope of deliverance for them. We also want to note that this was the LORD, the Covenant Savior/God who was speaking here.

God made a significant change in the New Testament. The priesthood was no longer limited to a special group, Aaron and his descendants, as in the Old Testament. It was given to all God’s people. The Bible calls this the priesthood of all believers. Women’s ministry is an integral part of this gift of God to his church—God serving his people through his representatives.

The Bible study Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Professor Rich Gurgel and Kathie Wendland, a WELS publication, talks about it in this way: “God has given us grace upon grace to set before us the eternally important work of being his priests, his representatives, in this world. Our calling is to let his light shine, in all that we do, wherever we are. God’s grace gives meaning and purpose to every activity of life.” (p. 22)

In 1 Peter 2:4-5 we read: “As you come to him [Jesus], the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

We also read: “So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12).

When gifts are given, they oftentimes need to be unwrapped. That’s what we’re doing here today. We’re initiating and unwrapping a women’s ministry effort to discover how we might serve and offer ourselves in whatever way the Lord determines, in a God-pleasing way according to the callings and order established for us in Scripture.

As we unwrap, we discover that there are many responsibilities involved as noted in the verses we read, but even when it’s heavy and we get tangled up, it’s still a gift! It’s a gift when the church is built up, providing a way for individuals to respond to God’s gracious gift of a Savior, affirming that our faith is living, and giving unbelievers an opportunity to see the love of Christ at work among our own, and also in the world.

The Lord has equipped our women with gifts to serve in many ways here at [congregation]. We are eager to have all gifts put to use, and pray for even more to be discovered, unwrapped and used. The Lord gives us great assurance that each one of us is included!

Let us read two more sections from Scripture. “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:4, 11-12, 27).

We thank God for each one of us gathered here today and for the many ways so many have served already in the past. What a gift to the church you are! Let’s close with prayer on this special occasion.



Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, creator of all things and Savior of all mankind, with this gathering of women, we ask you especially to open our eyes and hearts to know your Word of Life. Through this Word, you show us our sin and comfort us with the gospel promise of forgiveness and salvation. And then you also equip us to see that you have gifted all your people, and you give us specific callings and opportunities so that these gifts are not wasted. You want others to know the joy of being part of the body of Christ and you use us, unworthy servants that we are, to welcome and nurture them. Dear God, bless our efforts in the name of Jesus, your Son, our Savior and friend. Amen.



Written by Sally Valleskey and adapted from her presentation, “Reaching Women in the Church,” 2010 WELS Women’s Ministry Conference, Mequon, WI, Revised 2013.


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Trust in the Lord – Week of September 26, 2016

Trust in the Lord – Week of September 26, 2016


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6




ECME Devotion – September 26, 2016

Devotion based on Proverbs 3:5-6

See series: ECME Devotions

Two-year old Milly worked at it and worked at it. You could see the determination on her face with furrowed brow and pursed lips. Finally, her mom walked over and offered to help. “I do it myself”, Milly said with conviction. She was certainly working at it with all her heart. Don’t you love the tenacity? Don’t you love her “I can” attitude? But I wonder if her mom might have been able to give her an idea of how to get it done a little easier or provided the support she needed to accomplish her task?

How often are we just like little Milly? Do you sometimes find yourself struggling on a problem for days? Do you find yourself spending time stewing over the same thing day after day? Has a problem or issue ever woken you up in the middle of the night at a time when the problem seems to fill the room? And is it then that finally the lightbulb comes on and you find yourself with hands folded in prayer? Does your prayer begin with the heartfelt expression of your need for God’s help and an admission that your self-reliance is too often focused on you and what you can do rather than what he can do?

If you’re like me, that prayer most often begins with a penitential sigh that asks for God’s forgiveness. I too often think that I have the answers or the ability to solve everything that comes my way. Too often I neglect turning to him and the Word. Too often I rely on myself. It’s a challenge to balance leaning on God’s guidance and taking action. We don’t want to find ourselves sending up a prayer and then sitting passively waiting for God to fix things. But we also don’t want to take it all into our own hands and avoid reliance on him.

The solution? It’s the Word. As we continue to be in the Word we are reminder over and over of God’s incredible grace for us. We learn of the struggles of others in both the Old and New Testament and God’s guidance for them. He loves us so and wants to hear from us. He wants us to always be growing more and more in his grace. He wants us to come to him in prayer and lean on him. Like little Milly, we need to be working at it with all our heart as we prayerfully lean on him, acknowledging his love, his forgiveness, and his guidance for our path. You can trust in him with all your heart!



Prayer: Dear Father, I can so easily become overwhelmed by the tasks and challenges before me. Forgive me when I become self-reliant and help me to continually look to you for guidance and direction. Bless all that I do in your 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Our cup matters

Our cup matters – Women’s Devotion




I have a favorite cup. I drink out of it almost every day. I like it so much that I’ll sometimes even wash it when there are other clean cups available! I feel like the cup represents me in a way. It’s kind of goofy, a little bright and loud, has a weird sense of humor, and was made in the 80’s! It’s a unique cup, and I love it! Usually, though, if someone comes to my home, it is not the cup I would choose to serve them. This is especially true if we don’t know each other very well.

What is your cup like? Is the cup that best represents you the same cup you would choose to serve to someone else? What if someone were to pop over to your house unexpected? She sits down on the couch to chat and it feels appropriate to serve her a beverage. If your cup is anything like my cup, it’s perpetually dirty. Let’s say you’re a minimalist or in the middle of a move and this cup, your cup, is literally the only cup in your house! Maybe it’s even got banana chunks stuck to it from your grabby toddler, it may have been dropped and is chipped. Your cup is in pretty rough shape. And, for the sake of the analogy, you’re unable to wash it. So you have a guest and you have to decide whether you should serve her a dirty, maybe chipped cup or just let her sit and have a nice beverage-free conversation.

Maybe you would serve it to her. Probably not.

Well, what if she looked thirsty? Maybe she mentions that she was on a long run and turned onto your street and decided to just stop in. You know she would benefit from some water, but your cup is almost embarrassing, especially if you can’t even wash it!

What if she’s showing classic signs of dehydration?? She is complaining of a headache, seems to have a dry mouth, and her eyes look at least a little sunken. You’re probably less inclined to care about the condition of your cup when you see how badly she might need it to drink water!

What if she had crawled to your doorstep, and faintly knocked with the little strength she had left because she was literally dying of thirst? You open the door and all she can get out of her mouths is a dry, raspy “Water”!!

I don’t think any one of us would deny someone water that could save their life just because we had inhibitions about the cup we had to offer.

You are your cup. I am mine. We are dirty, at least a little broken, and less than perfect sinners. Christ is the life giving, thirst quenching, pristine water that everyone needs, but not everyone has.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:13-14

I have been guilty, too many times, of overthinking my cup when it comes to sharing that water. I have worried that someone would know the imperfections in my life, and that they’d see me as a hypocrite, noting only the smudges and cracks of my cup as I held it out to them. I’ve avoided using my cup to offer that life-giving water because I was too concerned what reaction I would get. I worried that I would damage relationships because I was coming off as judgmental, politically incorrect, or self-righteous. Sometimes I’m just too scared. I don’t know what to say or if I would have an appropriate response to questions or accusations. I’m more inclined to set my cup on a coffee table and subtly or casually mention that I am more than willing to share if they’d like a drink. Most people in my life know I’m a Christian, and that has too often been good enough for me. They can come if they have questions. They can approach me when they’re ready. I’m not doing much to help them realize their need for that water, and I’m certainly not doing justice to advocate for the true life-saving benefits of Christ. When I think of the reasons that I don’t share Christ more often, it always boils down the same way.

“The problem is that because of sin, each and every one of us has doubts and misgivings, fears and misconceptions that inhibit us, that diminish our resolve to act in certain situations. Each one of us may know (the above) things intellectually, but we have trouble putting all these things into practice spiritually.

“The apostle Paul wrestled with this problem. He writes about this in his letter to the Romans. ‘What I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do….For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing!’ (Romans 7:15, 18-19)” Educating the Congregation for Friendship Evangelism, Rev. Howard Festerling

It is sin in the world and sin in ourselves that stops us from sharing the saving Word of God. Scripture has so much to say to help us overcome this sin and refocus on the Great Commission.

When sharing our faith, it is important to remember the significance of creating relationships, coming from a place of genuine love and concern, and not just following an impersonal script. Know that you are a wonderful and beautiful creation of God, called for his purpose, and well equipped to offer that pristine and miraculous water that will make those who drink it never thirst again. Stop worrying about your cup. You are a vessel lovingly created by a powerful God. He wants to use you and your flaws can not detract from the benefits of that water of life.

For Further Reading: Read the following passages to help you refocus on the fact that we are called to share our faith and that Scripture continues to both remind and equip us to do so.

1 Peter 3:14-16
Philippians 4:13
1 Corinthians 2:4-5
Philippians 1:18
2 Timothy 1:7
Romans 10:17
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5
Matthew 28:19-20
1 Corinthians 6:19



Prayer: Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I have missed opportunities to share your Word with others. Remind me that I am your messenger and you are the Creator of faith. I trust you to not let your Word return to you empty. Amen.



Written by Jes Woller
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey


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