Strength in Suffering – Week of February 26, 2024

Strength in Suffering – Week of February 26, 2024



Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5



My friend wrote about a recent bike ride that she started the ride strong but during the last hour, she needed to take frequent breaks. She was frustrated and disappointed about how quickly she became tired. But when they got back to the car, she realized that the front tire had popped and she had been riding on a flat tire for at least an hour. She said “I guess there’s a life lesson there: when tempted to be hard on oneself, it’s always a good idea to first make sure we’re not actually trying to push ourselves along on a flat tire”.

Do you feel as though you are pushing yourself along on a flat tire? God tells us that we will have suffering in our lives. There will be pain, disappointment, and death. We will have flat tires. But he also promises that he will help us through these sufferings by giving us three things: peace, prayer, and hope.

God gives us the peace that we are truly forgiven through the death and life of his son, Jesus Christ. This peace is not just a “feel-good” emotional kind of peace, because this peace doesn’t come from a human—it comes from God, through Jesus. This peace gives us strength and confidence to work through challenges in this sinful world.

God also gives us “access” to him through prayer. He wants us to come to him with any fear or need, and he promises to hear us. We can come to him at any hour, all day. While we may not always get the end result that we hope for, we know that God listens and answers.

Finally, God gives us hope. He gives us hope for the future—not only hope for our life on earth but the hope that we will be in heaven after our sufferings in this world are over. This type of hope isn’t a wish. It is not the same as when we say something like “I hope I get the job”, or “I hope it doesn’t rain today”. This type of hope is already a “done deal”. We know that we will go to heaven. This hope is reliable because God is reliable.

So we can look at our problems and trials of this world with different eyes. When we feel like we are pushing along on a flat tire, we can remember the peace that we are forgiven. We can come to God in prayer for strength to endure and persevere. And we can rejoice that, no matter the outcome of the earthly suffering, we have hope for our future in heaven.



For further meditation:
See Christian Worship 870 O, Church Arise, especially stanza four.

A Question to Consider:
What words of comfort can you give to a friend (or yourself!) who seems to be “pushing along on a flat tire”? How can the gifts of peace, prayer, and hope help in hard times?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Forever with Christ – Week of February 19, 2024

Forever with Christ – Week of February 19, 2024



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

Romans 8:38-39



It happened twice before, but experience doesn’t make the process any less terrifying. First the mammogram, then the ultrasound and on to biopsy the “highly suspicious mass”. Then the waiting for results. The devil works really hard during that wait! I’m not afraid to go to heaven—in fact, leaving this world of illness and fear to be with God in heaven is something I look forward to! What scares me is the thought of separation from my children. I want to be with them while they grow up and I don’t want someone else helping them learn how to navigate this world. I don’t want to leave them.

God knows that we are afraid of separation from our loved ones when we leave this world. He knows how important it is for humans to feel connected to each other. And he knows that the worst feeling of ALL is to feel separated from HIM, our creator, Savior, and protector.

And yet, every day, we do things to separate ourselves from God. Our biggest problem, sin, separates us from God and his love. Nothing that we can do—no acts of kindness, no gifts of love and money, nothing we do can bring us closer to God and fix the problem of our sin.

But there is good news! God tells us that nothing, NOTHING can separate us from him, because Jesus has filled our need. He has fixed our problem of sin. Jesus allowed himself to feel the separation from God that WE should feel. He took all our sins on him, separating himself from God, so that we never need to feel that pain.

And so now, nothing can separate us from “the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. We can face challenges, illness, and the life and death that we see in this world knowing that we will always be his children. In the same way that we want to love and protect, and always be with our own children, God chose us as his own. No evil forces, no height or dimension, no trials of this world, nothing can “counterbalance” God’s love for us.

In view of this, my fear about being separated from my children seems a little silly, arrogant even. When I am gone, God will be with them, and he will continue to be with me. He promises this to all of us that he has called his own.

God has chosen us to be his own. He sent his son to die in our place, and he promises to continue to love and protect us until he takes us to be with him in heaven. Let us endure our days on this earth with the strength that God gives us, knowing he will hold us close forever. Nothing can separate us from our God!



Prayer:
Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank you for choosing me to be your own. Thank you for sending your son to die for me, so that I will never be separated from your love. Continue to hold me and all believers close to you, and help us to daily remember the promises that you have already fulfilled. Amen.

For further meditation, see Christian Worship 502, Children of the Heavenly Father, especially stanzas three and four.

A Question to Consider:
When you think of the scary things in this world that try to take your mind off of Jesus, how do the words “nothing can separate us from the love of God” bring you comfort?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


This Little Light of Mine – Week of February 12, 2024

This Little Light of Mine – Week of February 12, 2024



For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6



My family visited a cave in the Burren Region of Ireland. Carved from limestone, the cave has magnificent caverns, chasms and even a waterfall. At one place during the tour, the guide told us to hold on to the railing (and our children!) before they turned out the lights. It was SO dark! Deep underground there is no light at all. The guide said that this intense darkness could even cause people to lose sense of direction, lose their balance and fall.

The devil works really hard to keep people from seeing “the light” of Jesus. Without the light of Jesus, we stumble and fall. The devil wants us to stay lost and unbalanced, separated from our God. The devil fights to keep us from sharing this light with others and will use anything in this world to try to keep us from knowing and sharing the truth in God’s Word.

When we try to be the light for others on our own, we fail. Oh, we try to serve others and live a life that pleases God, but we can’t do this on our own. God created light in this world, and he also creates light in our hearts. God beat the devil when he sent Jesus, the light of the world, to live and die for us.
Now that God has rescued us from our problem of sin, we want to share that light with others. We reflect the light of Jesus when we serve those people that he placed in our lives. God gave us a glimpse of his glory through Jesus, and he wants us to share that “light” with everyone.

When we walk through our days on earth, it might sometimes feel as if we are in a dark cave. We lose our balance when we forget to cling to Jesus, the true light of the world. We see a little piece of God’s glory every time we read and study his Word. When we read the Bible, we hear the love story of Jesus coming into the world to die for us. The light of Jesus works in our heart, preparing us for our work here on earth. May we continue to let our light shine for Jesus, the light of the world!



Prayer:
Christian Worship 884
Lord, when your glory I shall see and taste your kingdom’s pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be, my joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before your throne, your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me. And there, in garments richly wrought,
As your own bride I shall be brought, to stand in joy beside you.

A Question to Consider:
Who has God sent to be in your life as a “light” for him? How can you be a “light” to others?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


We are Weak but He is Strong – Week of February 5, 2024

We are Weak but He is Strong – Week of February 5, 2024



Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even you grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31



There are pictures of my nephew sleeping everywhere. On the table, under the table, on a bench at the playground, and even on top of a garbage can during the Disney World parade. When he is tired, he sleeps—no matter where he is or what is going on around him.

Have you ever been THAT tired? So tired that you can sleep anywhere? Or perhaps you feel very fatigued but can’t stop to rest. You feel as though you have to “push through” the busy day, only to get up the next day and do it all again. It’s difficult to do tasks well and faithfully when we are tired. It’s hard to give the best that we have when we are weary and don’t have the energy.

What’s more, the devil knows our weaknesses. He sees our fatigue and uses it to try to separate us from God. The devil wants us to give in to our fatigue and doubt God and his promises. And then we do–we give in to his temptation and our selfish desires. We do the things that we know we shouldn’t do, and then excuse ourselves by saying “I was just tired.”

Yes, the devil knows our weaknesses. BUT the good news is, so does God. God is our creator and we are his creatures. In six days, he made the world and everything in it, using only his power and his words. God understands our needs and weaknesses because he is the one who made us!
We grow weary and weak, but God does not. He never tires. He always gives his best and never leaves a task incomplete. His promises stand firm forever, and his strength goes far beyond our understanding.

We are made strong through the death and resurrection of Jesus, who took all our weaknesses upon himself when he died on the cross. And now that we are his own, he strengthens us. When we trust in God and his promises, asking him for strength, he gives it. God gives us the strength to complete our tasks faithfully.

When we try to rely on our own strength to resist temptation, we fail. It is only through faith in Jesus that we find the strength that we need. And when our body is so fatigued, so weak that we cannot take another breath—God will strengthen us once again. He will take us to our true home, heaven, where we will never grow weary or weak. May God renew our strength as we continue to serve him until he brings us home!



Prayer:
Dear Everlasting Lord and Creator,
You know my weaknesses and failures. Help me to trust in you to give me the strength to resist temptations and complete the tasks that you have set before me. Renew my strength so that I may live for you until you take me to be with you in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What truths from God’s Word can you remember the next time that you are tired or weak?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Builder of Everything – Week of January 29, 2024

The Builder of Everything – Week of January 29, 2024



Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Hebrews 3:1-4



There’s a Victorian house in the heart of St. Paul, MN that was built in 1889 and then purchased by newlyweds in 1983. The house had been converted to 6 apartments, and the couple spent years bringing the house back to the original one-family dwelling. They spent hours researching the time period and then even more time working with their own hands– sanding and stripping wood to bring back the original floors and banisters, searching for wall paper and furnishings for the time period, and living in less-than-comfortable conditions as the bathrooms and kitchens were worked on. It is a beautiful home, and I am proud of the work that my aunt and uncle put into this home. The “builder of the house has great honor”.

It is easy for us to look at man-made work with honor and respect, forgetting that everything that we do, even our “best work”, is tainted with sin. There is nothing that we do that is without sin. We complain about the work we have to do, or covet the skills or means of others, or we get weary and only do the bare minimum. God is faithful; we are not.

God wants us to focus our eyes not on our earthly home, but our heavenly home. He wants us to honor not the builders of things in this world, but the “builder of everything”. The creator is superior to his creatures. God made the world, and when his creation was destroyed by sin, he made a plan. God, the “builder of everything”, made a blueprint for our salvation, a path to heaven. His plan was to give us a Christmas miracle, a tiny baby that would live the faithful life that we cannot, and then take on the sins of the entire world that he created.

God wants us to “fix our eyes on Jesus”, the ONE that saved us from our big problem of sin. God has absolute authority over heaven and earth, and he sent his son, Jesus, to destroy the sin in this world and in our hearts.



Prayer:
Dear Lord, all power in heaven and on earth is yours. Thank you for giving us this world to live in. Most of all, thank you for sending your son to die for the sins of all people. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus until the day that you bring me to him. Amen.


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Committed to Christ – Week of January 22, 2024

Committed to Christ – Week of January 22, 2024



We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21



The little girl slipped into the living room and asked meekly “Daddy?. . . . Umm, never mind. . . “ bowed her head and walked out of the room. She came back, moments later, and tried again: “Daddy? Can we, can we. . .never mind”. For the third time, she tried again, as meekly as she had the first, eyes wide and pleading: “Daddy? Can we have. . . Can we have some. . . . . . . .popcorn?” Before he even finished saying “Of course, sweetie.” she turned on her heel and yelled robustly to the back bedroom “He said YES!” The big-eyed 3-yr-old had been selected as the neighborhood ambassador on a mission for popcorn, and she performed her duties masterfully.

An ambassador speaks on behalf of someone else. “Christ’s ambassadors”, don’t speak for or about themselves; they speak about Jesus. The words that Christ’s ambassadors say are not their own, but what God wanted them to say, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The writers of the Bible wrote the words that God wanted us to have.

God has already done all the work that needs to be done, through Jesus. In this sense, we are already “reconciled to God”. But the words that his ambassadors are telling us here mean that even though Jesus died for all people, only those that believe this message in their hearts will receive the benefits that come from it. These benefits include true peace that comes from the forgiveness of sin and, when we die, eternal peace in heaven.

Sometimes we talk about the work that God did through Jesus as “The Great Exchange”. The last verse shows that exchange well: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us”. Jesus had no sin. He never had wrong thought, never a wrong action, never once waivered from God’s Word or God’s commands.

We, however, are the complete opposite of perfect. Our thoughts are impure, we hurt other people, we fail to live as God wants us to live, and we sometimes forget to trust God and the promises in his Word. But God allowed Jesus to “exchange” his perfection for our imperfections. Jesus took all of our sins upon himself and gave us the salvation that he earned. God gave us the “credit” of righteousness that Jesus earned for us. Jesus became sin for us. Jesus died, that we might live. How thankful we are for this gift of salvation!

May we continue to live as his ambassadors until our work here is done and God calls us home.



Prayer:
CW 869 v 1
Onward, Christian Soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ the royal master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle see his banners go!


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Buried with Christ – Week of January 15, 2024

Buried with Christ – Week of January 15, 2024



We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:4



One family told me that they celebrate their baptism days by eating dessert first. They eat dessert before supper because “nothing can be sweeter than remembering the day we became a child of God, and knowing that we will one day be called Home!”

What is baptism? Baptism gives us the forgiveness of sins, through water and God’s Word. We can use the picture that, through baptism, our sins are “drowned” and that we are “washed clean” through the power of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Another picture that we can use to explain the blessings of baptism is found in our passage for today. Through baptism we were “buried” with Christ. This means that, when Jesus died on the cross, he took on our sin for us. He gave up his perfection for our sin and unfaithfulness. When Jesus died, our sins were “buried” with him. He became sin for us, and when he came back to life on Easter Sunday, he wrote our name down in the book of Heaven. We “have a new life” in heaven because Jesus died in our place.

From the day we are born, we are not fit for heaven. Every day we rebel to God by our sinful living. Some people think that if we “live a decent life and try not to hurt anyone” God will give us heaven. But not so! Even “trying our best” is not good enough. We cannot earn our way to eternal glory. No one on this earth can do anything to make himself fit for heaven. . . .except. . . . .Jesus! Jesus lived the perfect life that is impossible for us and every other human. Jesus already won that battle when he died on the cross and came back to life.

Although we cannot earn our way to heaven, we still want to live our life for Him who saved us. God wants us to be faithful to him. We do this by reading and obeying God’s Word, the Bible. We show that we are thankful for what God has done by serving him and others. How sweet it is to know that God calls us his own, and to know that we will one day enjoy a new, perfect life in heaven!



Prayer:
CW Hymn 680 v1

Baptized into your name most holy, O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, though weak and lowly, among your saints, your chosen host.
Buried with Christ and dead to sin, your Spirit now shall live within.

A Question to Consider:
What can you do to daily remember your baptism? Some ideas might be to start the day with prayer of thanksgiving, write in a journal, or talk to others about their baptism.
(If you are not baptized and/or would like to know more, talk to your director, pastor, or look for a church to call at WELS.net)


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Glory to God in the Highest – Week of January 8, 2024

Glory to God in the Highest – Week of January 8, 2024



May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed. Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.

Psalm 72:17-19



We visited the science museum a few weeks ago and now my son wants to tell everyone about “how they make power”. There was a display that showed how electricity starts with the sun, which feeds the trees, that go into a chipper. Then that converted energy goes into the broiler, then the turbine, then the generator. . . . . . and that’s how we get electricity into our home. “But wait!”, my son will bellow, “WHO makes the sun? GOD!” God, of course. So it is really God that begins the chain. God gives us power. It’s God that “alone does marvelous deeds.”

Our God, who made heaven and earth, who holds the seasons and time and space in his hands, included us in the greatest love story of all time. This love story started with God creating our beautiful world, a perfect world, that we ruined with the sin and evil that we brought into it.

Some like to blame the devil for our sin, and others try to push the blame onto Adam and Eve, the first people that doubted and disobeyed God. Those first people also tried to pass on the blame. Adam said, “Eve gave me the fruit!” and Eve said, “The snake tricked me!” But we can’t hide our sin from God. God saw the truth when Adam and Eve and all people after them—yes, you and me as well! —brought sin into the world. We are to blame.

And yet God made a promise just after Adam and Eve sinned. He promised that Jesus would come and “crush the devil” and rescue us from our problem of sin. He made that same promise to Noah and Abraham and all of their decedents, and he fulfilled that promise on Christmas Day. The fulfillment of this promise is great news for all people!

The month of January can be tough for some people. Christmas is over, family scatters, the days are short, and the winter is long. In some parts of the world, winter can make us feel as though we won’t ever feel the warmth of the sun again. But wait! WHO made the sun? God, the one who created the sun and world and all things, promises that he will come again. The whole world will know his name when he comes again to take us to heaven. The whole world will see his glory on that day. Let us praise his glorious name forever!



Prayer:
CW Hymn 629 v 1
O God from God, O Light from Light, O Prince of Peace and King of Kings,
To you in heaven’s glory bright the song of praise forever rings.
To him who sits upon the throne, the Lamb once slain but raised again,
be all the glory he has won, all thanks and praise! Amen! Amen!

A Question to Consider:
What “marvelous deeds” that God has done for you are you most excited to share with others?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Holding Jesus’ Hand – Week of January 1, 2024

Holding Jesus’ Hand – Week of January 1, 2024



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



Lego set number 41720. That’s the one that she wanted. This set is a waterpark with two slides, an octopus sprinkler, and even a popsicle stand. She waited, and shopped at different stores, and waited some more. Until FINALLY! She found it on sale! She was so excited to put the set together and move the Lego people through the waterpark! But now the set sits, in a box, untouched since that first day of play. The toy she waited for only gave her momentary happiness.

Has this happened in your house? Do you have Christmas gifts that were exciting last week but now sit on a shelf? Are the treasures that your family waited for and longed for now forgotten? The truth is, even the best presents will eventually be outgrown, or broken, or placed in the donation box. The treasures of this world will never bring lasting joy and peace.

The only Christmas gift that brings lasting peace is Jesus. God’s people waited, with great longing, for thousands of years for the Savior to come. Finally, on that first Christmas, the promised Savior came!

Jesus gives us the peace that only a Savior can give—true peace, true rest in knowing that Jesus rescued us from the dangers of sin. Yet we often look for peace in all the wrong places: specialists, our family and friends and the internet. We try to find rest in a good book, taking a walk, or by relaxing on vacation. All of these can be healthy places to find rest for your body and mind, but the rest is only temporary. Things of this world will always only bring temporary peace.
The peace that Jesus gives is lasting. This peace is the tranquil, restful feeling that we feel when we remember that Jesus loves and forgives us. This peace gives us confidence that God always has and always will care for us. As one children’s song says, “Peace is holding Jesus’ hand”.

God has taken care of our biggest problem, sin, and now calls us to “let peace rule in our hearts”. Let us remember that Jesus fought for us on the cross and now calls us into his restful arms. Let us thank God for the peace that Jesus gives, and may this peace rule our hearts always!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for the gift of peace. Let this peace “rule in our hearts” and give us a renewed energy to share this gift of peace with others. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Think of times that you have been “at peace” (on a hike? After a well-check at the doctor?). Now consider how much MORE at peace we are knowing the peace that Jesus gives. Think of the metaphor “peace is holding Jesus’ hand”. How is this true peace different from other times that we are “at peace”?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Immanuel – Week of December 25, 2023

Immanuel – Week of December 25, 2023



Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14



My relatives bought their tickets months in advance. A ride to the airport was arranged, and we all hoped the flight would not be delayed or cancelled. We would have Christmas together. Spending Christmas with family is truly special.

The first Christmas started with a family traveling. Joseph and Mary made the long trek to Bethlehem. They didn’t find family there to greet them; they couldn’t even find a place to stay. They made do with a stable where the Savior of the world was born. As Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years earlier, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).

Jesus has been called by many different names, and each tells us something about his nature. Immanuel means God with us. What a fitting name for the Son of God and son of man! Jesus came all the way from heaven to live as a human being with us. He came to do what we could never do. He used his life to serve, love and forgive perfectly. He knew his trail on earth led to the cross, yet he walked that path willingly and perfectly so that he might take away all our failures. As we celebrate the Savior’s birth on Christmas, we look also to his ultimate sacrifice and victory over sin, death, and the devil.

Knowing what this little baby was destined to do brought the angels with their Christmas song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14). On hearing about this wonderful peace, the shepherds hurried off, first to see the Christ child and then to tell others about him. We get to do the same. We hurry to the manger to wonder at the Christ child. We gaze in awe at the terrible cross which brought us such peace. We jump for joy at the news of Jesus’ glorious resurrection. This Christmastime and throughout the year, hurry to God’s Word and revel in his salvation. Spend time hearing and praying and praising our Savior with others. Then go and tell. We have the best news ever, the news that makes us all part of God’s family.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) May God bring you peace and joy this Christmas, my family in Christ!



Prayer:
Dearest Immanuel, thank you for bringing peace and joy to us. Help us share your love with others so they may know that same peace and joy. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
Christian Worship 330: Peace Came to Earth


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Joyful Always – Week of December 18, 2023

Joyful Always – Week of December 18, 2023



Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, 23-24



Always, continually, in all circumstances. When working with children, we quickly learn to avoid such strong words. No child is always on task or continually disobedient. We learn to celebrate the little victories as the students grow in their abilities.

Yet Paul used these strong words as he finished his letter to the Thessalonians. The expectations he sets forth are unrealistic, aren’t they? I might try, but I just am not always happy. As for continually praying, well, I know some of my thoughts and words are definitely not prayer-like. And when I’ve spent a long day trouble shooting problems at school and home, it’s pretty difficult to give thanks. Yet this is what God expects; it is his will for us.

The first instruction given is to be joyful always. God created us with a large range of emotions. We cry tears at a loved one’s death. We feel righteous anger at the injustices of this sinful world. We experience fear and concern. And yes, so many times we feel happiness. We revel in God’s wonderful creation, we laugh at the antics of our students, we are excited to see those little victories as our students learn and grow. But happiness is not the same as joy. Joy is present in each emotion because true joy only comes from our Savior, Jesus. Even in our sorrow, we are not despondent, because we know that God is still with us, guiding us through the most difficult of times. When we are afraid, we lean on God’s promise to always do what is best for us. Our happiness is colored by the joy of experiencing God’s blessings. Through all these emotions, God draws us even closer to him.

Paul also tells us to pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. Praying continually doesn’t mean walking around with our hands folded and heads bowed, reciting prayers. We pray continually when the faith that God puts in our hearts shines through in our words and actions. We pray continually when we look to our heavenly Father for help in difficult situations. We pray continually when we share God’s Word with those around us and give thanks and praise to our Savior. Even when circumstances are difficult, we thank God, knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28).

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? As much as I want to, I am not always joyful, my life is not one of continuous prayer, and many thankless words have come from my mouth. Paul doesn’t leave us hopeless. He tells us that God keeps us blameless. Jesus lived a joyful, prayer-filled, thankful life for us. He got rid of our imperfections and now God sees us clothed in Jesus’ holiness. So be joyful, my friends! Our Savior has come!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, through your death and resurrection you put true joy into my heart. Help me each day to show joy and thankfulness in my thoughts, words, and actions. I love you, dear Savior. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
Christian Worship 319: Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Come, Lord Jesus – Week of December 11, 2023

Come, Lord Jesus – Week of December 11, 2023



But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
2 Peter 3:13-14



We’ve been looking forward to Christmas for quite a while. The children hang ornaments with great care on our tree. We count the number of days until Christmas during calendar time. We open paint jars to make some super-secret gifts for parents. Voices join in singing Away in a Manger and Go, Tell It on the Mountain. Bible time is spent in wonder at God’s awesome love in sending us baby Jesus. Yes, we look forward to Christmas every year.

In our Bible reading, Peter wrote about looking forward to Jesus’ second coming. Throughout his ministry, Jesus promised his return. He comforted his followers saying, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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.” (John 14:2-3). What comfort we receive knowing Jesus is preparing a place in heaven for us! We can’t count the days on our calendar, but we trust this wonderful promise.

In the meantime, we get ready. Just as we prepare our homes and classrooms for Christmas, we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ return. Peter advises us to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. God has given each of us gifts and abilities to share his word in this world. We join together to worship and sing his praises and then we go out to share the good news in a world that knows Jesus less and less. We comfort a struggling coworker. We share the peace of Jesus through words and actions as we go about our daily lives. We teach children and their families about the wonders that await us in heaven. We look for ways to share Jesus’ peace with the people in our community and throughout the world.

But spotless and blameless? We will struggle and miss opportunities. But Jesus can still use us, as imperfect as we are. He sends us out, covered with his forgiveness. We are at peace, knowing that baby came on the first Christmas, lived the perfect life we cannot, and ultimately suffered and died for our failings. Now we look for his return, at peace and sharing his peace. Come, quickly, Lord Jesus!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, we praise you for your first coming and look forward to your return. Help to spread your precious word to all around us. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
How can you use your gifts and abilities to spread God’s Word? Who in your life especially needs to hear of Jesus’ salvation?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The King Is Coming – Week of December 4, 2023

The King Is Coming – Week of December 4, 2023



Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24: 7-10



The King is coming! Imagine the red carpet rolled out, the best food prepared, the beautiful music. We would give our very best to show our love and support for a great leader.

As we look forward to Christmas, we prepare for a different king. This psalm was written by King David, one of the greatest kings in Israel’s history. He told his people to prepare for an even greater king. This king would be a King of glory, one who is strong and mighty in battle.

And then the king came. Born in a stable to parents who didn’t have much, he may not have looked like a king. There was no glory evident as he was placed in a feed trough. Yet never before and never again would such a king be born.

This king fought our biggest battle. He didn’t carry a sword or shield. He spent his short life on earth telling and living God’s love and forgiveness. He certainly didn’t look like a mighty king as he hung on the cross, beaten and bloodied. But just a few days later, the victorious king came back to life, assuring us of victory over sin, death, and the devil. This King of glory won the battle for us.

And so we get ready for this glorious king. We lift up our heads to welcome the Christ child, our hearts full of joy at the salvation he brings. We lift our voices to sing his praises. We lift our feet as we run to tell the good news of our King, just as the shepherds did that first Christmas Eve.
And this doesn’t end with Christmas. Our King of glory is coming back. When Jesus returns, we will lift our heads with our fellow believers and all the angels, singing his praises in eternity. We will be with our King of glory forever. The King is coming!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you are the king of glory! We praise you for defeating sin, death, and the devil for us. We look forward to when you come again and we get to join you in heaven for eternity.
Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
Christian Worship 305: Lift Up Your Heads, You Mighty Gates


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


A Heavenly Home Worth Waiting For – Week of November 27, 2023

A Heavenly Home Worth Waiting For – Week of November 27, 2023



Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Matthew 25:34



What are you looking forward to? Checking a project off your to-do list? Seeing a friend or family member? A holiday break from school and meetings? Purchasing a certain Christmas gift? Sleeping in next weekend? It’s natural for us to look ahead to things we’re excited about, to things we’re looking forward to.

Do you know what God’s looking forward to and excited about? Welcoming you home. God has a future so amazing planned for you that it’s beyond your imagination. A place without sin or heartache or pain or fear? Hard to imagine. A place where we will continually live in joy and harmony with one another? Hard to imagine. A place where you’ll see God’s glory and sing his praises day and night without reserve? Hard to imagine. And yet. It’s true. God has prepared a heavenly inheritance for you, and through faith in Jesus, God brings you into his family to receive it. You don’t have to earn it or purchase it or get on the wait-list. In Jesus, it’s already yours, and God can’t wait to share it with you.

If only, we let that be enough. Instead, we find ourselves comparing the materials and opportunities someone else has to what we have. We congratulate ourselves for completing a task more effectively than someone else. We do something to be recognized or praised rather than to genuinely help someone out. We fail to be the perfect people God has called us to be. In summary, we get caught up in sinful thoughts, words, and actions rather than looking for opportunities to serve in joy and gratitude for the grace God has shown to us.

When we recognize these sins and failures and bring them to God in repentance, he gives us more good news – in Jesus, our sins are completely and forever forgiven. They cannot keep us from God’s love, and through faith in Jesus, that heavenly reward is still ours.

Therefore, we can see each new day as another opportunity to serve God in love by loving and caring for those around us – in the classroom, at the grocery store, at home, out at the park, in rush-hour traffic, or in your neighborhood. Let people see God’s love and forgiveness evident in you as we wait for Christ’s return. Look ahead in joy and anticipation, knowing God can’t wait to welcome you home!



Prayer:
Dear God, it’s so easy for us to lose sight of the incredible gifts you give us – love, forgiveness, a place in your family, and an eternal home. Thank you for making all of that possible through the death of your son, Jesus. Help us to look ahead to that day when we will see you face to face. And while we wait, help us to make the best of each opportunity to share your love with those around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Take a moment to reflect on and praise God for the incredible gift of heaven. Tell someone you love about God’s incredible gift of forgiveness and eternal life. Listen to “Heaven Changes Everything” by Big Daddy Weave for some inspiration.


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


A Time for Faithful Service – Week of November 20, 2023

A Time for Faithful Service – Week of November 20, 2023



Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

Revelation 2:10b



What does faithfulness look like in your work? Showing up on-time each day? Completing given tasks to the best of your ability? Taking time to help or speak to a child on his or her level? Supporting a coworker as she implements a new teaching or management strategy? Being a faithful employee (or friend or spouse or parent) is important.

In fact, God calls us to be faithful. Not merely in our work, but in how we live our lives for him. “Be faithful, even to the point of death.” God is calling us to trust him, to rely on him, throughout our life and one day, as we face death. As we serve those around us, we can confidently cling to his promises to be with us, to fight for us, to provide for us, and to equip us for the work we do.

Sometimes, that seems easy. Things are going well. Students and families are happy. You’ve got a balance between work and home. You’re taking time to be in God’s Word. But, other times, we get off-track. We’re disappointed. We’re unhealthy. We’re exhausted. We complain and worry and act selfishly. We lose sight of who we are and what God calls us to do. We fail to find our purpose and identity in him, and we’re anything but faithful servants.

Thank goodness, we have and serve a perfectly faithful and steadfast God. His faithfulness doesn’t depend on our actions or on our faithfulness. He doesn’t only remain faithful to us if we meet a certain benchmark or do a “good enough” job. Knowing we would struggle and fail, God still sent his Son, Jesus, to give up his life on our behalf. In Jesus, every sin of unfaithfulness and misplaced priorities is forgiven. In Jesus, we are free to joyfully – and yes, faithfully – serve God and those around us.

And there’s more. God promises, “I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” In Jesus, this reward is a sure thing. He has already won against sin and the devil so we can be certain of eternal life. This isn’t a reward we need to earn; this is a free gift from our loving, faithful God.

So, while we wait for his return, let’s remain faithful servants. Let’s trust God and his goodness, in good times and bad. Let’s encourage each other to remain steadfast to the work he has called us to do. Let’s model God’s love, that others may come to know him, too. Let’s live in hope, knowing our eternal future is secure.



Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for your overwhelming faithfulness to us. When we fail, you forgive. When we lose heart, you encourage and sustain us. When we go in the wrong direction, you lovingly lead us back to you. As we live and work, fill us with your love and your strength. Keep us faithful to you, even into death, and help us stay focused on our eternal home, the heavenly reward you have prepared for us. Amen.


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Be Prepared – Week of November 13, 2023

Be Prepared – Week of November 13, 2023



Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Matthew 25:13



We recently had our local health department representative visit our campus for the annual renewal of our childcare license. Visits are always unannounced so we’re never sure when someone may stop by. It’s important to ensure student and staff files are up to date, our facility is clean and running properly, and that staff are aware of and following safety and educational guidelines on an ongoing basis so we’re always prepared for a drop-in visit.

In our text for today, Jesus reminds us of something similar, but with much greater consequences than a satisfactory health inspection. He tells us to keep watch, for we do not know the day or hour of his return. We know Jesus will come again on the last day to judge the living and the dead, but we don’t know if he’s coming tomorrow, or next year, or decades from now. So, we must be prepared.

Just like we would prepare for a visitor to our classroom or our home, we want to make sure we are spiritually prepared for the life to come. It’s easy for us to become distracted by our day-to-day tasks, responsibilities, and schedules. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world around us, a world focused on success and possessions for life here and now. But, if we fail to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and intentionally spend time in his Word, we may find ourselves unprepared when he returns.

To stay alert in our faith and carry out the work God has called us to do, we need to schedule time to be in God’s Word. We need to make time to spend in prayer, confessing our sins, asking for and trusting God’s forgiveness for those sins, and asking for God’s help and guidance in our lives. As we worship God and reflect on his goodness to us, we can’t help but look ahead to the day we will see him face to face. And when we prioritize our own spiritual growth, we are best ready to encourage the students and families we serve to be prepared for Christ’s coming, for eternal life, as well.

Ultimately, we can live in joy and confidence, knowing that in Jesus, we already have all we need – forgiveness of sins, membership in God’s family, and a perfect, eternal home in heaven to look forward to. In Jesus, you are prepared!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us enough to prepare a home in heaven for us. Strengthen our faith and confidence in you as we spend time in your Word. In you alone, Jesus, we know we are prepared for your return. Fill us with a sense of urgency to share that message with the students and families we serve. We eagerly look ahead to the day we will live with you in our heavenly home. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
How do you prepare during a time of waiting or when you’re anticipating a certain event or visitor? How can you stay alert and prepared in your spiritual life?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The Best is Yet to Come – God Says So! – Week of November 6, 2023

The Best is Yet to Come – God Says So! – Week of November 6, 2023



See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
1 John 3:1-3



Morning messages can be an important part of classroom routines – a way to let students know about any changes to the schedule, any special visitors, an upcoming event, or even just the approaching “stay home days” of the weekend. These reminders help the class prepare for and look forward to what’s coming. In our text for today, we hear some messages that help us be prepared for our life here on earth and our eternal life to come.

First, we are reminded that we are children of God – it’s who we are and where we find our purpose and our value. Before we can fully appreciate this status, though, we must remember who we are by nature, enemies of God trapped in our sin. And yet, despite our sinfulness and failure to obey God’s law, God “so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son” to pay the penalty for our sins (John 3:16). Jesus came to pay the price and defeat sin and death on our behalf. Through faith in him, we are now forgiven children of God, our heavenly Father, and like a good father, God is there to provide for our needs, protect us from harm, and guide us through the ups and downs of life.

We can get so caught up in the things – the possessions, the vacations, the opportunities, the finances – of this world, but next, we hear a reminder that this world is not our forever home. We have something much better, much greater, to look forward to. When Christ appears to take us to our heavenly home, we will see him in his glory, and we will be like him. We don’t know exactly what our heavenly bodies will be like or how they will be the same or different from how we know them to be now, but we can be confident they will be perfect because they will be like Jesus. And we will live with God where tears and exhaustion and heartache and worry will no longer exist. The best is truly yet to come!

So, finally, as we look ahead to our eternal home, we live with this heavenly perspective in mind. As God’s children, we now strive to stay away from sin and sinful behaviors, and when we fail, we confess our wrongdoing, trust in God’s free and full forgiveness, and with God’s guidance, make a conscious effort to change. Our identity as God’s children changes the way we talk, act, and serve, and whatever our days may bring, we ultimately look ahead to future glory – an eternal home in heaven. And that’s not just a nice message; it’s a true and certain fact. Live in the confidence of being God’s child today!



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us your children, valuable members of your family. Forgive us for the times we doubt your love for us and fail to keep you as the priority in our lives. Fill us with joy, hope, and encouragement as we look ahead to our heavenly home with you, and point the families and children we serve in the same direction. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
It’s easy for us to get distracted in the day-to-day to-do lists of this world. What would help you keep things in perspective and stay focused on the heavenly glory awaiting you?


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Our Refuge – Week of October 30, 2023

Our Refuge – Week of October 30, 2023



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



I was just about asleep in a room on the 14th floor of a large hotel near the airport in San Francisco. Suddenly it felt like someone had slammed a door really hard and then the room felt like it was moving, almost rolling. The thought occurred to me that in a hotel that size, no one could slam a door hard enough for me to feel it in that way. Oh. My. It’s an earthquake. It lasted less than a minute or two. I walked to the window to see the water in the pool sloshing from side to side and onto the walkway. As quickly as it began, it was over. It was only a 4.2 which, for an earthquake, is a minor one. (Unless you’re trying to fall back to sleep.)

Life can feel like that hotel room or the water in that pool. There may be days where we feel like we’re standing on top of a mountain with a spectacular view of God’s creation. There are also days that feel like that mountain may as well be made from sand. Our lives get upended so often. Many times the challenges of life spring on us like that earthquake. We didn’t see it coming. We can feel like everything around us is undependable, unreliable.

What might it be for you right now? Relationships that are struggling or broken? A serious illness that has frightening possibilities for you or for someone you care about? Financial instability and concerns? The news in your city, state, our country, or the world? Something else?

The purpose of making that list is not to focus on the heartache and uncertainty of this world. While that is true and is part of every day, that’s not the goal. It’s true, the world around us can feel like a mountain quaking. However, we can focus on our God, what he has done, what he continues to do. We have a place to go or rather, someone to whom we can go. God is our refuge-our safe place. His promises don’t include a carefree world. Just the opposite—he promises that in this world, trouble will always be there. What he does promise for us is clear in Psalm 46. He’s our comforter, our protector, our strength. Like the frightened child who climbs into Mom and Dad’s bed for safety and comfort, we can have peace knowing that we are being held close in God’s loving arms.

The craziness of life isn’t going away but even more, God isn’t going anywhere either. He’s right beside us, behind us, all around us. He’s like a shelter in the middle of a torrential storm. We can exhale knowing that while the storm may continue, he’s there with us. He’s taken away our greatest fear—the consequences of our sin and covered us with his grace and mercy. While the world is shaky, we have peace in our unshakeable, immovable, ever-present God and Father.



Prayer:
Dear God, it’s true. Sometimes the world just feels like a mess. There are things around me that are frightening. Hold me close in your arms and remind me that you are there, my refuge from all that troubles me. Thank you. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:

For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:

CW21 834 Still, My Soul, Be Still

Also, take a few minutes and read all of Psalm 46. Read it slowly and consider each phrase and sentence. The Psalm reminds who God is, what he has done. Our refuge. Our fortress.


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


We Trust in Him – Week of October 23, 2023

He Knows You. He Loves You – Week of October 23, 2023



You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, Lord, know it completely.
Psalm 139:1-4



You walk into a room where you know there is a young child, but it is eerily quiet. As you enter, the startled little one looks up at you with a priceless face that says, “Oh dear. She caught me. Now what do I do?” It might be a mess in the room, paint where paint doesn’t belong, a face full of makeup or worse, marker. She thought she was pulling it off until you walked into the room. Busted!

As you look at her, you may be disappointed, frustrated at what it will take to restore order to the room or to clean her up. But that face. Can you picture it? She knows she’s disappointed you and the look of remorse can touch your heart. You do everything you can to keep her safe and guide her in her growing and learning because you love her so dearly. But you also know she needs to learn. And when she fails, then what? Do you turn your back and leave her to her self-created mess? No. You’re right there with her and for her with a loving response that helps her learn.

As you and I read today’s verses, we can feel like that little one. How does it make you feel to be reminded that the LORD knows every thought, every action, every step, every word, even before it happens? Busted? It is incomprehensible to us that God has that kind of knowledge of every single person including you and me. If another person knew even some of this, especially some of our private thoughts and struggles, the shame or embarrassment would be overwhelming.

But this is not another person. This is our God, our Father, our LORD. The one who created us—formed us in our mother’s womb. He looks at us through what Jesus has done for us. His eyes are full of love. His heart is full of forgiveness. We can be at complete peace because of that forgiveness. We can be comforted knowing that no matter what happens, God’s loving hand is on us. He’s always with us, never leaving us alone to face the world and our own sinfulness. He looks at us as a father looks lovingly at his child. We are indeed, his own dear children.

As you look at her, she can see the look of love on your face. Her relief shows in her eyes. As you wrap your arms around her, she is comforted by your loving embrace. So it is with us. God does indeed know everything—the good, the bad, and the really bad. And still he loves us. He knows weaknesses in us that others may never know. And still he loves us. He is our peace, our comfort, our reassurance, our heavenly Father, our Savior. The look of love on his face gives us peace, relief, joy in him.



Prayer:
Dear Father, I know that you are with me at every moment of my life. Remind me to be comforted and encouraged by this. Remind me that I’m your child who is redeemed by what Jesus has done. Thank you for the comfort and peace knowing that I never need to come find you—you’re already right beside me. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:
CW21 579 His Mercy Is More


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


We Trust in Him – Week of October 16, 2023

We Trust in Him – Week of October 16, 2023



In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Isaiah 25:9



Trust. When you have someone in whom you trust, it’s an amazing gift. It’s the person you can tell anything, a confidant. You know that if you ask that person to keep it between you, it will stay there. If they say they’ll do something, you can count on them.

Why do you trust someone? It really doesn’t have anything to do with you. You trust someone because they are trustworthy-worthy of your trust. They’ve shown over and over that you can count on them. They keep their word, their promises. It’s a great gift to be able to say to someone, “I trust you.” You feel safe and secure in your relationship with them.

But when it’s broken—that’s so hard. It’s a deep hurt when you realize that someone has broken or abused your trust. Getting that trust back is incredibly difficult. It may take a long time, or it may not ever be fully restored. Fallible people trusting fallible people is challenging to attain and maintain.

Not so with God. “This is our God.” There is so much in those four words. There is one God. He is a God of promises kept. Let’s consider a few:

  • The promise to send a Savior-from Adam and Eve to fulfilling that promise in Jesus.
  • The promise to Noah to spare God’s people in the ark.
  • The promise to protect the people of Israel from Pharoah, from the attack of Egyptian soldiers at the Red Sea, from the perils of wandering in the desert for 40 years.
  • The promise of Canaan-the land God promised at the end of those 40 years.
  • The promise to take away our sins, rise on the third day, return to heaven to prepare a place for us-all through Jesus.

The list could go on and on. No matter how long that list gets, we will see that God has kept every promise and will keep every promise. That trust will never be broken by God.

What does that mean for you and for me? We can confidently say to each other and to others, “Surely this is our God!” God has shown over and over that he is trustworthy. We can trust in him-period. There is no hesitancy, no concern about the potential that God will break a single promise to us. The most critical need that we have, that of being saved from our sins and given the gift of grace is done. If God was willing to send Jesus to live a perfect life, die an innocent death, rise from the dead and return to heaven on our behalf, he will surely keep all promises.

Are challenges going to be a part of life? Yes. Will struggles be present each day? Yes. Will people disappoint us at times? Yes. Did God promise us a life without hardship? No. However, we can trust his promise of forgiveness, his promise of grace, his promise to be with us in and through the challenges of life. And we get to share all this with others, “This is our God!” You can trust in him.



Prayer:
Dear Father, there is no trust on earth that comes close to the trust we have in you. Thank you for keeping your promises, especially the promise of salvation and the promise to be with us in all things. In the challenges of life, remind us to look to you. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:

Christian Worship 21 -810 The First Song of Isaiah (based on the words of Isaiah 12)


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Not Up to Me-It’s Grace – Week of October 9, 2023

Not Up to Me-It’s Grace – Week of October 9, 2023



For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10



Last week we talked about a new piece of paper that reflects the possibility of starting fresh. We want so much to get it right. We constantly want a new piece of paper so we can try again. And yet, we continually find ourselves looking at an outcome that is less than we’d hoped. We can be like that toddler who stomps her foot, hands on hips and says, “I can do it myself!” We look at her with loving eyes knowing that her expectations of her ability aren’t the reality. We know that she’ll either give up or, hopefully, come for help.

We are wired to strive for a level of independence. From our first steps to our last, we want to be able to do things ourselves. It’s not easy for most of us to acknowledge our need for help. We want to try to get it right. It can be tempting to carry that over to our view of faith. God tells us in his Word that faith and salvation are a gift from him with no strings attached. “Thank you!” we cry out. And yet, we so soon follow that with a spirit that feels that our “getting it right” makes some kind of a difference in God’s eyes.

Today’s verses are such a clear and beautiful reminder of God’s grace for us. It’s not from us, not at all. It’s a gift. God just gives it to us out of love from him. He doesn’t want any hint of our role in our salvation. You want to boast? Boast about all that God has done for you.

Back to the piece of paper. When a talented artist or illustrator turns that piece of paper into a priceless work of art, it would be absurd to credit the paper. “Look what an amazing work of art that piece of paper created!” said no one ever. The credit and accolades go to the artist, the creator of the work of art.

God is our creator, our artist. He created each of us for a specific purpose. He gave you features, a personality, a set of gifts designed just for you but even more so, for him. He created you to do works, to accomplish things. However, those things are designed to give glory back to the artist, the creator—God. We can go about each day serving and showing love to others around us with the goal of sharing and reflecting God’s love and grace to everyone around us. It’s why we’re here—children of our heavenly Father who get to tell people about him in our words and actions. It doesn’t get us points. It gives us an opportunity to continually point to God.

[We] are God’s handiwork, created in Christ to do good works. What a joy it is to approach each day knowing that we get to serve, we get to share God’s message of grace, we get to reflect God’s love to others. Not because we need to in order to gain some kind of favor. Rather because everything we need for salvation is done. What a beautiful picture of God’s grace for us through Jesus.



Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you for your grace, your gift that is completely free and frees me from the burden of sin. Help me to be grateful for all you’ve given me and that you’ve also given me an opportunity to show you to others through me. To you be the glory each day! Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:

Christian Worship 21 – 572 Not What My Hands Have Done


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


A New Piece of Paper – Week of October 2, 2023

A New Piece of Paper – Week of October 2, 2023



Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10-12



I read an article once about a well-known children’s book author and illustrator and what inspired him on the path to becoming an illustrator. For him, it was an art teacher who always had another piece of paper when he wanted to start over. While I would imagine that he learned to take what he saw as a mistake and turn it into something to learn from, he also learned the gift of a new start with each piece of paper.

It’s October. The bloom of those first few weeks may be starting to fade. That perfectly set classroom is looking more lived in. That ideal teacher we imagined we’d be as the year began isn’t quite what we see in ourselves every day. As we reflect on each day, it’s not too hard to note a number of things that didn’t go as we’d hoped or planned. “I did this and wish I wouldn’t have.” or “I wanted to do this and failed to do so.” You may be thinking you need a do-over, a fresh start, a new piece of paper.

Sin can leave us feeling ashamed, disappointed, discouraged. We try so hard to commit to not repeating sins and still find ourselves failing. Today’s verses may put into words how you and I feel at those times. “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” What a beautiful plea asking God to work in our sinful hearts and, through Jesus, clean our hearts of those failures and give us a willing heart and spirit. Failure and sin are and always will be part of each day. However, God’s loving grace removes those sins from our picture. Forgiveness is complete and completely ours. God doesn’t cast us away but rather, draws us back through the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.

And then what? Joy! Not the joy we get from so many earthly things that are temporary—not at all. This is such joy knowing that we are forgiven, saved through faith in Jesus, recipients of salvation—not at all because we got something right. It’s ours because Jesus got everything right-for us. Remember the story where Jesus heals the man who was unable to walk his whole life? (Luke 5:17-26) First, Jesus forgave his sins. He also told the man to get up and walk. Picture this man walking, hopping, skipping, running down the street with a face that expresses remarkable joy. Walking? What a blessing. Forgiven? Dancing with joy that’s hard to put in words.

So, start each day with that prayer. Ask God to forgive you and to create a new heart of faith every day. Each day is like that new piece of paper. At the end of the day, you can look at that paper and see God’s hand and blessings throughout the day. You can have peace knowing that the sins and failures of the day are gone from your picture in God’s eyes. They are forgiven. We take sin seriously and we take it to God our Father. We respond with a joy that reflects God’s immeasurable love for us and get to share that to all around us.



Prayer:
Dear Father, create in me a pure heart. Restore in me the joy of your salvation. Grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. All through Jesus. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion

Christian Worship 21 – 942 Create in Me a Clean Heart is a beautiful setting of today’s verses.
See also Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Because of His Love and Faithfulness – Week of September 25, 2023

Because of His Love and Faithfulness – Week of September 25, 2023



Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
Psalm 115:1



“I did it! I did it!” One of the best sounds of an early childhood room is hearing a child shout for joy when they accomplished a task they struggled with. They worked and worked, and their diligence paid off. What a moment! They’re so proud, and we’re proud of them.

You and I have tasks that challenge us as well. I would imagine everyone reading this can name at least one item on their to do list that pushes their abilities. After a lot of effort, trial and error, you get it. You also might shout out just like that child, “I did it!” What a great feeling.

“Not to us, LORD, but to your name be the glory.” This verse was written at the time that the people of Israel celebrated Passover in the magnificent temple in Jerusalem. The Israelites had been freed from their captivity under Pharaoh. All of this could easily tempt them to say, “Look at us and what we’ve done! We are an amazing nation to be feared and respected.” When we look closer at their story, we know they did nothing to cause their freedom from Pharaoh. God made that happen. That temple in Jerusalem? God’s direction and blessings to them provided the temple in all its splendor. The Israelites are a story that reminds us over and over of God’s love and faithfulness. They struggled. He provided. They sinned. He forgave. They turned their backs on God. He drew them back.

Because of your love and faithfulness. Those words are meant for us as well. You and I approach each day with a prayer that God would bless our tasks and our activities. We know that every day brings joy and disappointment, successes and failures. Each day we struggle with our biggest battle-our sin. And every day God is faithful in his love for us, his forgiveness, his work in us and through us.

What does all this mean for us? We do make progress in learning and growing. We have difficult challenges that with perseverance, we overcome. Is it wrong to rejoice in our accomplishments? No. Be glad in those moments. But never lose sight of where that success comes from—it comes from God. He who with unending patience and love, faithfully provides for all our needs. He gifts us with the ability to think and question and persevere. He gives us opportunity to use those gifts to serve him and those around us. And greater than all of this, he gifts us with his forgiving grace that gives us peace in him.

“I did it!” A moment to celebrate wrapping it all in gratitude for God who is full of love and faithfulness for each of us and for all his dear children. “I did it! Thank you, God, and to you be the glory!”



Prayer:
Thank you, God. You created me and gave me just the set of gifts you thought were best for me. Every day it’s my prayer that I use those gifts faithfully. Every day there are some successes but every day I also sin. I’m so grateful for your forgiveness and humbled that you use me. Help me always to reflect you in all I say and in all I do. Use it all to point people to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:
CW21 582 Not unto Us


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Forgiven. Forgiving – Week of September 18, 2023

Forgiven. Forgiving – Week of September 18, 2023



Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4:32-5:2



What you do each day serving young children is one of the most important roles anyone can have. One of the many joys and blessings is watching a young child’s faith grow. But there are also plenty of hard things. Sin doesn’t pass by the early childhood classroom. It’s there and Satan works to interrupt and disrupt our efforts. One of Satan’s most effective tools is getting in the middle of our relationships.

We are imperfect humans serving imperfect children and with other imperfect adults. Like the children, the adults have wonderful gifts, and they also have areas of weakness. Like you and me, they have their own struggles with sin. Some may be tempted to talk about their concerns for a person rather than talking to that person. As you know, this is gossip, which hurts everyone including the gossiper. Working with young children can be stressful. Sometimes that stress shows itself in impatience with the children or with each other. Satan knows that a relationship that is fractured distracts us from our ministry. He’s good at it and is relentless in his efforts.

Our verses today start with the words—be kind and compassionate. It’s not hard to be kind to someone who is kind. However, the verse doesn’t say to be kind only to those who are kind. It says—to one another. It says forgiving each other. There’s no qualifier. The verses include the following encouragements: just as Christ forgave you. Follow God’s example. …just as Christ loved us.

Struggles, stress, and strife with our colleagues is going to be part of all we do. God’s words encourage us to look at his example. God’s forgiveness for you and for me is undeserved by us and generous from him. We don’t deserve it but God, out of incredible love for us, forgives us over and over. And then he asks us to do the same for each other. Last week we talked about each child in your room as a brother or sister in Christ for whom Jesus died and rose. The same is true of the adults around you. As you serve together, intentionally look for the gifts God has given your colleagues and thank God for them. He has given us each other to support and encourage one another. Satan wants to mess it up. Recognize his attempts and pray to God to guide you and give you grace and strength to overcome Satan’s attempts.

You’re dearly loved by God who is compassionate and forgiving. Keep striving to teach the children in your class to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving. And as you consider the adults around you, look for opportunities to be supportive, understanding, compassionate and when needed, forgiving—just as in Christ God forgave you.



Prayer:
Dear Father, sometimes it’s easy to be kind. Please help me especially when it’s not easy. Help me to see all those around me as someone dearly loved by you. And then help me recognize when someone needs kindness and compassion. Help me to forgive just like you do for me each day. It’s in Jesus’ name I ask this. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:
Christian Worship 21 731 Oh, How Good It Is


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The LORD is Gracious – Week of September 11, 2023

The LORD is Gracious – Week of September 11, 2023



The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Psalm 145:8-9



Take a minute and think about the children in your room or class. As you think about the children, write down 2-3 words that describe each child. You may be thinking of things like thoughtful, eager, impatient, inquisitive, impulsive, creative, nurturing. Your group is very likely a mixture of all kinds of traits and personalities. You grow to care very much about each child. Over time you learn their strengths and struggles. As a teacher, you strive to find a way to connect with each child to help them build on their strengths and address their struggles. Some, as you know, are easier than others.

As I read today’s verses and think about the key words, I’m humbled in so many ways. Gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love, good to all. Oh how I would like to have those gifts! I think of my own struggles, my continuing battle with my own sins and shortcomings. I would expect it to be so frustrating for anyone around me but especially for my LORD. “There she goes again!” would not be a surprise for me to hear said about me. I think those words about myself at times. Thus, “gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love, good to all” are words of overwhelming comfort to me. God has never said that sins are excusable. Sin permeates our world and our own lives. And yet, there is our God, our LORD, our Savior. He looks at us with his grace, with compassion. His love is endless for all.

And then we think of our class. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Each child in your class is someone who God has made. Each child is someone for whom Jesus lived a perfect life, died a horrific death, and rose again from the dead. He looks at each child with compassion, with his grace, with his love. And on top of that, he asks each of us to be one of those who shares all that with them. Humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude for the compassion and grace he has for us, we can look at each child with love and strive to be patient, compassionate, reflecting God’s grace for them. We can look at them as a fellow brother or sister in Christ who was redeemed by Jesus. What a privilege to be able to be one of those who encourages their gifts and guides and supports them in addressing their struggles. All with grace, compassion, and full of love.

Take another look at your list. As you consider the strengths and struggles of each child, consider how you can help them see how dearly they are loved by the LORD. Consider how you can build them up, help them work on their struggles, and comfort them with knowing that God looks at them with grace, compassion, and love. And as you do, remind yourself as well. You are dearly loved by God who is gracious and loving to all he has made—including you.



Prayer:
Dear LORD, thank you for your patience, love, and grace for me. Help me to reflect all of this with the children I serve and with all those around me. Help me to be a reflection of your grace that draws people closer to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

A Thought to Consider:
Take a few minutes and write down the name of each child in your class or a list of people you know. Write 2-3 words that describes them. Then thank God for their gifts. Consider ways you can encourage them in their strengths and as they struggle. Write down 1-2 ways that you can strive to be a blessing for them. Pray for them and for God’s help in reflecting him to them each day.


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Celebrate, Sing, Tell! – Week of September 4, 2023

Celebrate, Sing, Tell! – Week of September 4, 2023



Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
Psalm 145:3-7



There they are! Your new group! It’s so exciting! They’re so excited! Well, many of them are. Two children are hovering in the corner barely making eye contact. Some are racing around the room like it’s an outdoor track. One is clinging to Mom with no hint of letting go. Here they are! Your group. Your class. It’s just like the teacher videos, right? You take a breath and plunge ahead.

The first days of a new group of children can include all the above. Even for veteran teachers, it’s a time of settling in and building relationships one child and one family at a time. Soon this space will feel like home to the group. Routines will become, well, routine. Relationships will grow. Activities and lessons will provide the opportunity for each child to grow and develop.

Of all the things you teach and all the things you share, you get to share something even better than colors, numbers, letters, and how to function in a group. You get to wrap it all in the gospel. Every day, you get the opportunity and privilege to tell the children and sometimes their families, about Jesus.

Do you ever feel like, “Me? I’m not sure I’m equipped to do this.” It’s a humbling privilege that the Lord asks of us. But you’re not alone. God is with you each day. The Holy Spirit promises to bless it all. And you have the best prep book of all-the Bible. It’s full of all the things today’s verses talk about. God is so great we can’t completely understand all he is and does. His works? They are amazing beyond words: Creating the world and each of us. Parting the Red Sea for the Israelites. Keeping his promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Turning water into wine and raising Lazarus from the dead. The list goes on and on. The more you know about all God has done, the more you can share with the children before you.

God has done amazing things, but most amazing is what Jesus has done. Because of Jesus, all those sins with which we struggle are forgiven. Because of Jesus, God looks at us as his daughter, his son, his child. Because of Jesus, we have the promise of heaven. And you get to tell that everyday in the Bible stories, the prayers, the songs, and the simple conversations with children and their families.

This year, make it your goal to spend quiet, focused time each day in God’s Word and marvel at all he has done. Then praise, celebrate, joyfully sing, and proclaim! Tell and tell about God and his love and grace for you, for the children, for their families, for all. There they are! God be praised. May he bless their growing faith and yours as well.



Prayer:
Dear Father, sometimes I can’t believe what I get to do each day in my classroom. Most of all, I can’t believe that you have chosen me to share your gospel message. Help me to grow in faith and in faithful commitment to tell and tell about you. Then bless those who hear that they can grow in faith as well. Bless this new year, this new class, and all we do together. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
For further reflection on the thoughts of today’s devotion:
Christian Worship 21 755 A Life Begins, a Child Is Born


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Who is Jesus? – Week of August 28, 2023

Who is Jesus? – Week of August 28, 2023



When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:13-17



Life is full of big questions. You probably hear some of those big questions from the young children you serve or know. “Why is the sky blue?” “How do flowers grow?” “How come birds can fly but we can’t?” It’s fun to hear how their developing minds notice and wonder about the world around them. I was reading a book to a young boy and commented on how amazing it is that God had not just made birds but made them in so many amazing colors. The young boy looked up with curious eyes and asked, “Who is God?” It stopped me in my tracks and I thought for a minute how to answer that so he would understand.

Who is God? Who is Jesus? It’s such a simple question but may not be simple to answer.

Jesus had been travelling with his disciples. As they were returning from their travels, Jesus asks them what they had heard. What had people said about him and who he was? The answers included prophets and even John the Baptist (who had been executed.) Jesus turns the question to them when he asks who they say he is. Peter, so often a bold disciple, says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Messiah—what does that mean? Messiah is defined as the “anointed one” or one sent to save a group of people. The people at Jesus time had heard from generation to generation that God would send a Messiah, someone to deliver them. Jesus was that promised Savior.

Today we hear all kinds of explanations of who Jesus was or who he is. Who do you say he is? If someone asks, how would you respond? Such a simple question with such a complex answer. Jesus is God. Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is the one whom God sent to do everything we couldn’t do—live a perfect life, take all the punishment for our sins, rise from the dead showing his power over death and over Satan. As a child of God, Jesus is our brother. He’s our truest Friend. He is our King, our Savior, our Lord, our Redeemer.

One of the most important questions you may ever be asked is, “Who is Jesus?” What a joy it is to share all that he is and all that he does as our Messiah, our Savior. He’s the one who made us and all of creation. Jesus is the one from whom, by faith from the Holy Spirit, we receive grace, mercy, and the gift of heaven with him. Who is Jesus? Let me tell you about him!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, it’s hard to put into words all that you are and all that you do in love for me and for all people. When I think about it, it’s overwhelming in the best way! Help me to be eager and excited to tell others who you are and give me opportunities to do so. It’s in your name I pray. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
This hymn is full of the joy and amazement we have in Jesus, our Savior. Consider starting a list of things God blesses you with and for which you can be joyful and grateful. Add to the list each day or every time you think of another one.
CW21 607 Ten Thousand Reasons


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


I’m Glad You’re Here – Week of August 21, 2023

I‘m Glad You’re Here – Week of August 21, 2023



May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May all the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you.
Psalm 67:1-2



We were going to dinner with friends several years ago and decided to try a restaurant none of us had been to before. It had a quaint look and touted a great fish fry. As we opened the front door, we entered the main part of the restaurant. Almost every seat was full. Slowly the room became almost silent with a significant number of individuals turning to take in our group. The look on their faces seemed to clearly say, “You’re not from around here.” They were correct. We felt more than a little awkward. We haven’t been back.

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to visit your church? “We’re a really friendly congregation,” you might say. What does that mean, exactly? Does it mean that you have someone to talk to and catch up with as you wait for the service to begin? Does it mean that there is a buzz of conversation in the entryway or even in the sanctuary before the service? Does that define “friendly?” Do you notice a new face and when you do, do your fellow members instinctively turn to greet them? Or do you note them and then continue on with your conversation, intending to introduce yourself only to realize you missed the opportunity. You hope someone else greeted them.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us.” Oh my! God has done this in ways that are hard to count! We are blessed first with his grace and forgiveness. That alone is more than we deserve and yet he also overwhelms us with earthly blessings. That’s something to share, isn’t it?
And there’s that visitor. Do they know about God’s grace? Are they in need of a reminder of God’s mercy and the Savior who loves them dearly? Are they here for the first time or for the first time in a long time? How can I help them feel comfortable and welcome so that they come again and again to hear the message of God’s grace?

“May all the peoples praise you, God.” God is so clear all over the Bible—with all his heart he wants all people to know him, believe in him, worship him. He wants everyone everywhere to be a part of his family, of your family of fellow children of God. And he uses you and me to tell people just that. It’s not all up to you or me. The Holy Spirit works through each of us as we care about the individuals we know and meet and as we share with them our joy, our peace, our confidence in our gracious and loving Savior.

The next time you are in worship take a look around. Who could use your kindness, your welcome? Who could use a friendly face that simply says, “I’m glad you’re here. Let me show you around, introduce you to some of my friends, and listen with you as we learn together about our Savior, Jesus.” And then we pray, “May all the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you!”



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, open my heart and my eyes to see those who need a warm welcome in my church. Help me to see each person as someone for whom Jesus went to the cross. Then bless my words as I tell about you and your gift of grace. In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
The following hymn can be used as a prayer asking God to bless our efforts to share God’s message of grace.

Christian Worship ’21 768 Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace

 


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Take Courage! It Is I – Week of August 14, 2023

Take Courage! It Is I – Week of August 14, 2023



But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27



My husband grew up in a town that is right on Lake Michigan. He’s a strong swimmer. He has great respect for the power of the water. As much as he loves the lake, he will readily admit that there are few things as frightening to him as being on the lake at night. There is something ominous about the darkness of the water once the sun has set.

Our reading today comes from the story of Jesus protecting his disciples while they were on a boat on the Sea of Galilee during a storm in the middle of the night. Many of the disciples were veteran fishermen who knew the lake and its unpredictability. They knew that storms could come up at the blink of an eye. This particular night, they had ended an incredibly full day with Jesus. He put them on a boat and sent them on their way. Likely in the middle of the night when they were about halfway across (about 3.5 miles from shore), a violent storm arose. Even as experienced fishermen, they were terrified. In the midst of the wind and waves they see Jesus coming, walking towards them. Yes—that’s a miracle with no explanation! However, his words to them are far more powerful. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Imagine the impact of those words on the disciples. They likely exhaled deeply. They may have looked at each other in relief. Jesus was there and all was well.

All of us have storms in our lives. You have storms. We all have times that may feel like sitting in a dark lake in the middle of the night. Maybe not today or maybe there is one right now in your life. The storms of life can shake our confidence and test our faith. They can leave us frightened and sometimes feeling helpless. The good news is that Jesus is there in the midst of our storms, walking alongside us. Sometimes he takes away the storm. Always he walks with us through the storm. Recall that God didn’t take away the Red Sea from the people of Israel. He parted it and was with them through it.

God has blessed you with the gift of faith. That faith is yours because of him. It was Jesus’ power and not Peter’s faith, that allowed Peter to walk to Jesus. The same is true for us. The Savior who went to the cross to remove our sins, is the one who promises to be with us in all things. We don’t have to work it out on our own. In faith, we can look up and look at our Savior Jesus who says to us, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, the challenges of life can be overwhelming. Please remind me to look to you with confidence knowing that you are with me always. Amen

A Hymn to Consider:
Christian Worship 21 847 “Be Still My Soul” is a timeless hymn of comfort and encouragement in the storms of our lives. It reminds us of the Lord’s protection and care each day.

 


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


His Love Endures Forever! – Week of August 7, 2023

His Love Endures Forever! – Week of August 7, 2023



He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1



I really need… How many times do we say this? Now think of the ways that we fill in that blank. I really need some coffee. I really need something to eat. I really need a new jacket. We have such a “need” mindset that is often focused on material things in our lives. Our selfish, self-focused heart is rarely satisfied, and we find ourselves in complain mode wishing for wants on a pretty regular basis.

And then we read today’s verses. There are two verses included today by design. The Romans verse can make us stop in our tracks when we read it slowly and take in all that this verse is saying. God gave up his only Son for us who absolutely don’t deserve it so that we can have the peace of knowing we are his own dear children. Our greatest need has been met. Forgiveness is ours. Heaven is ours. Because of Jesus. If God would go to that length so that we can be with him in eternity, it would make no sense to think that he’d turn his back on our earthly needs. And not only does he provide for our earthly needs, most often he overwhelms us with blessings over and above that. God could have fed us in so many ways, but he chose to do so with amazing foods that include the pleasure of eating delicious meals. He could have provided plants and animals for our needs but also created them as things of spectacular beauty. He is a God of gracious blessing and generosity. Are there times when we can be concerned about our earthly needs? Of course. But when we read this verse, we can have confidence that the Lord is with us, knows our needs, and can supply all those needs according to his will.

Psalm 136 has 26 verses. Each verse begins with a reminder of something about God or something he has done. He is good. He is Lord of lords. He freed us from our enemies. He gives food to all living things. He is the God of heaven. Each verse ends with, “His love endures forever.” He will never leave us. He will never run out of love and mercy for us. He is always with us, providing for us, protecting us from the Evil One. We are his children who are saved because of his son, Jesus.

So, give thanks to the Lord for providing for all you need. Give thanks to the Lord for Jesus. Set worry aside. Focus on the things you need that the Lord continues to provide. Be overwhelmed by the way that God has provided so far beyond our basic needs. We can trust that even when things in life go bad, God’s love is with us for our good. His love endures forever! Thank you, Lord!



Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, take away my selfishness and help me to have a heart of gratitude for all you provide for me. Thank you most of all, for Jesus, your son, my Savior whose endures forever! Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:

For reflection on today’s devotion, consider the hymn “Across the Lands” found in Christian Worship 21 549.

 


Early 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email