Jesus, Our Strength – Week of April 22, 2019

Jesus, Our Strength – Week of April 22, 2019


Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Isaiah 12:2



“I know that my Redeemer lives! What comfort this sweet sentence gives!” (Christian Worship 152:1)

We’ve waited months to sing those lines, and Easter is finally here! The words from Isaiah are also a song of praise for our salvation. Jesus is our salvation, that is, he saved us from our sins, when he died on the cross and came back to life on that first Easter.

It is finished—Jesus’ mission is complete! We are the ones that deserve the punishment, but instead Jesus was punished in our place. We praise him for his undeserved love!

But we still have a daily struggle against our own sin and temptation.
God gives us the faith to trust in him and the strength to turn away from sin. Although the world wants to lure us from him by encouraging our greed, deceit, and pride, we can daily ask God for the strength to help us resist temptation and thank him for the forgiveness that he freely gives when we fail.

One way that we can show our thankfulness to God for his grace, or undeserved love, is to study his Word at church and in our home. By reading his Word, the Bible, we are daily reminded of how frail we are and how mighty he is. We are daily reminded that God’s Word has the power to change hearts, starting with our own.

We do not need to be afraid of anything in this life, including our own death. Jesus is God, who rules over all things. May we praise him now and until he comes again!



Prayer:

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives;
“I know that my Redeemer lives! “ Christian Worship 152:7,8

A Question to Consider:
What routines can you put into practice so that you continue learning what the Bible tells us about Jesus and the strength he gives us?



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

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Jesus, the Truth – Week of April 15, 2019

Jesus, the Truth – Week of April 15, 2019


Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11



“Wait”, said a 3-yr-old boy, “ALL of these Bible stories are true? They really happened? Even the one about the cross?”

How blessed we are to be able to help children grow in their faith! The “one about the cross” is the most important truth we can ever share with young children and their families.

Just a few months ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus in the manger. This humble birth and life were planned by God for our own good, all for the events of Easter. Jesus IS God. He humbled himself and became man, but also showed that he is God by his many miracles on earth. Nature obeyed him. Sick people became well when he spoke. He even raised dead people back to life! These are things only God can do. Jesus humbled himself, but remained God, knowing that he would die for all.

Our human nature is not one of humility. We are selfish. We do not always love God with our whole hearts. We do not always want to serve others. We resent people that hurt us. We treat strangers with impatience and dishonesty rather than with love.

How good for us that Jesus’ humility was not permanent! Jesus was perfect on earth and died as our substitute. God declared his mission complete and exalted him, giving him “the name that is above every name”. Heaven is free for us because Jesus became human, suffered and died on the cross, and took all the world’s sins as if they were his own.

God tells us that in the end everyone will confess—believers and unbelievers—that Jesus is the Savior. May we tell everyone we meet about Jesus’ life and death with joy and confidence. Because of the “one about the cross” we will be in heaven with Jesus!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I am sorry for the wrong things that I do and say. Thank you for giving your life for me so that I may enjoy the gift of eternal life. Help me to look for opportunities to joyfully confess that you are Lord until I join you in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Young children slide back and forth between pretend worlds and reality several times during the day, so it can be challenging to help them distinguish between what is true and what is “just pretend”. How can you help them understand that “the one about the cross”, and all of the Bible lessons we teach are nonfiction?



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

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Jesus, the Life – Week of April 8, 2019

Jesus, the Life – Week of April 8, 2019


Jesus said to [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

John 11:24-27



Her brother had just died. When Jesus said these words to Martha, she was grieving the loss of her dear sibling. Can you imagine? Martha was looking at her Savior, Jesus, who is also God and can do anything—and yet he chose not to stop her brother’s death. The pain she must have felt that day!

And yet, even in her grief, Martha was hopeful. Jesus reminded her that we do not need to fear death because Jesus has given us a place in heaven.

Jesus’ question, “Do you believe this?”, is for everyone. Everyone disobeys God and needs a Savior. We fall short of perfection. We fail to trust and love God. We miss opportunities to study his Word in church and at home. We disobey God by doing what he tells us not to do. And so our sin causes us to doubt. It leads us to wonder if God’s promises are really for me.

Jesus’ words are his gospel invitation to see ourselves in his promises. He is our resurrection because he rose from death for us. We will live because the Spirit has put faith in our hearts to cling to that truth. In fact, nothing, not even death, can separate us from Jesus because even though we die, we will live because of him!

We are living not for this world, but the next. Yes, we will leave behind this world and all that we love in it, but death is not the end. In fact, death is the beginning!

Even when we have sadness, we place our comfort in what Jesus has done for us, knowing that we will someday leave this world and all the sadness behind. May we answer as quickly and joyfully as Martha: “Yes, Lord! We believe that you are the Christ!”



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, sometimes I am overcome with grief, sorrow, or troubles of this world. Thank you for being my source of comfort when troubles arise. Help me to remember that I am living not for this world, but for heaven. I say with Martha, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ!” Amen.

A Question to Consider:
How can you use these Bible verses to comfort someone who has lost a friend or family member? What words would you use to help them share your confidence that Jesus is the Christ?



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

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Jesus, the Way – Week of April 1, 2019

Jesus, the Way – Week of April 1, 2019


Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:26b-28



“I was first!”, says one child. “No, I want to be the first in line!”, says another. “Can I be first next time?” interrupts a third child. This opportunity for problem-solving in a preschool classroom occurs often. Young children need adult help to practice humility because they can only see things from their own point of view and naturally seek their own interests.

Although adults are more subtle about it than young children, we, too, fail to practice humility. Because we are sinful, we naturally seek our own interests. We find ways to serve ourselves, even if it brings others down. And even things that are good blessings—family, friends, hobbies, or our work—can be used by the devil and become merely selfish, self-serving pursuits which turn us away from the truth as they are placed higher than God.

In today’s verses, Jesus is teaching his disciples a lesson that he wants us to know, too. Jesus was nearing the end of his life, and the disciples didn’t understand all the suffering that Jesus would need to do for us. Jesus came to die for all. He did not come to be king of the world, but to be ruler of our hearts, and the king of heaven. For this he would need to selflessly give his life to pay for ours.
And in that sacrifice we see how Jesus can call on us to live selflessly like him. We can live selflessly when we find our every need met by Jesus. And if our every need has been met by him, what’s left to seek for our own?

Like the disciples, we want to devote ourselves completely to Jesus. We can daily repent of the times we give our earthly treasures more of our time than we give to our Savior. We can practice humility, remembering that Jesus humbled himself when he was born in a manger, lived a life of service, and then suffered and died for all.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life for all. Please help me humbly live a life of service so that I may teach others about you with my words and actions. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What acts of service can you do this week that will reflect the love Jesus has given us?



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

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God’s Gift of Love – Week of March 25, 2019


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8



A gift from a friend shows up on your desk. There is no reason for it. It is not your birthday or a holiday. “Just because…” the note reads. Sometimes those unexpected gifts mean more than the extravagant birthday or Christmas gifts. It was given in love with thoughtfulness, and not because we deserved or earned it. They really knew what you needed, even when you didn’t.

That is what Christ did for us! But his gift was beyond our thinking, more than we can comprehend. While we were miserable, dirty, rotten sinners, he gave his life to save us! We did nothing to earn or deserve it. He did not make us earn it. He didn’t wait until we were ready or asked for it. He just gave it, forgiveness, a gift beyond all understanding. Wow! What an amazing gift! He shed his blood to save us from God’s wrath. We deserve only punishment, yet Jesus took that punishment for us. What a blessing!

Now, because of his life and death, we rejoice in his gift to us. We sing praises to our Lord and Savior. We proclaim his glory! This blessing is for all people, all sinners. He wants all to be saved through his blood. He sends us forth in this world to share that same love and kindness to others. For many of us that starts in our classrooms, our schools, and our communities. Go the extra mile for your families. Take time to learn about them and their lives, needs, and wants for their child. Share Christ’s love with your students and their families. Let your light shine in your classroom, your school, and your community. When the world sees that light, let it reflect the love of our Savior for them.



Prayer:
All are redeemed, both far and wide,
Since Jesus Christ for all has died;
Grant us the will, and grace provide,
To love them all in you. Amen.
Christian Worship 499:4

A Question to Consider: Are there ways you can let your light shine in your community when you are out and about conducting your everyday routines? At the grocery store? At the gas station? How can you share the love of Jesus in your words and actions?



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

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He is Strong – Week of March 18, 2019

He is Strong – Week of March 18, 2019


My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26



It has been a very busy morning. The children are having a hard time adjusting after the weekend. You have many goals for the children to complete today. There are fellow faculty members out sick, so your staffing is stretched thin. You begin to feel flustered and anxious. Then one of your little two year olds begins to sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong!” (You take a deep breath.) Jesus loves me. He is strong when I am weak.

That young child just reminded you of an important lesson. That simple truth is a most valuable fact. God will not fail. He will not disappoint. He will make you strong, even when you do not feel that you are. Sometimes the hardest thing for us as adults is to trust in those promises. We do not need to do anything. God has done it all for us!

We get busy. We forget to complete tasks. We run out of time at the end of the day. We can get overwhelmed by all the tasks and responsibilities of being an early childhood educator. The list of tasks seems endless. We may even at times get frustrated with the children or our co-workers. These are some of the struggles of our work and our sinful nature which easily cause us to lose sight of what’s truly important. But when God’s strength is our comfort, the psalmist says that we also remember he is our portion forever. Remembering what God means for us now and forever helps us keep the important tasks at the forefront. He has asked us, commanded us in fact, to share his love with the little ones in our care. He has promised to be by our side as we share this message. Hold on to that. Let him be your strength. Let him guide your interactions, your tasks, and your words. Even when your flesh and heart are weak, remember God is your strength! Let him be your “portion forever.”



Prayer:
Dear Father, give me strength as I go about my day and my time with the children and families I serve. Help me focus on your strength and fill my heart with joy.
In your name I pray. Amen.



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

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Life Through Christ – Week of March 11, 2019

Life Through Christ – Week of March 11, 2019


For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19



“I am ready to try again.” It happens almost every day. A child needs redirecting. They are struggling with an activity, social interactions, sharing, or a group setting. The teacher redirects them to a new activity, but the child really wants to go back to what they originally were doing. The child says, “I am ready to try again.”

We are all sinners. Sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. We all struggle with choices, activities, peer pressure, or navigating this sinful world in a God pleasing way. The reality is we sin. Thankfully, God had a solution for this problem—the problem of sin. He sent his Son to offer the obedience we couldn’t. Christ lived an obedient life. He lived perfectly where we fall short. He did that for us that we might be made right with God. He humbled himself, obedient to death, even death on a cross for us. He died perfectly too. He did that so that God would no longer see our sins, but rather Jesus’ perfection! God made us new. We are his own dear children through Jesus’ life and death. He gives us a new identity through the obedience of his Son. He calls us his child!

Therefore, it is because of that love and that peace with God, that we can start each new day saying, “Lord, I am ready to try again!” Motivated by God’s love and this new life through Christ, we want to do better, and we want to share his love with those we meet daily. God has empowered us by the Holy Spirit. He has given us a gift that we can share daily with the children and families we serve. What a joy and privilege this is!



Prayer:
Dear Father, empower us with your Spirit. Give us strength and wisdom as we start each day as your dear child. Help us share this gift of love with all those we meet today and always. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are some ways you can share this message and the gift of forgiveness with the children and families at your school? Are there ways you can use Law and Gospel in your redirection and discipline that you are not already doing?



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

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Forgiven – Week of March 4, 2019

Forgiven – Week of March 4, 2019


If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.

Psal 130:3-4



It’s that time of year again. Parent-Teacher Conferences are just around the corner. Time to sit down with each family and visit with them about their child’s growth and development. As you prepare, you gather documentation of where each child is in their development. The pictures, the anecdotal records, and the work samplings all help you document their learning and growth. It also helps you track what they can and cannot do, what they need to work on and what they have done well.

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father does not keep a record like that. Because, if he did, “who could stand?” We all fall way short of God’s expectation—perfection. We all struggle with different things. We leave things undone. We shy away from difficult conversations as not to offend. We miss opportunities to share the message of Jesus, because we are afraid to push too hard. But thankfully, with God there is forgiveness. It is a gift from God. God assures us of the forgiveness of sins. These are such reassuring and comforting words. God answers our prayer for mercy. He is merciful to us!

If God were not forgiving, we as sinful beings could only run and hide from him in fright and horror. But instead our merciful God has forgiven us. We can stand before him forgiven. Because of his mercy, we praise and honor him. Because of him and his mercy and love, we can boldly share the message of salvation. We can proclaim his deeds to the children, the families we serve, and each other.



Prayer:

My guilt, O Father, you have laid
On Christ, your Son, my Savior.
Lord Jesus, you my debt have paid
And gained for me God’s favor.
O Holy Spirit, Fount of grace,
The good in me to you I trace;
In faith and hope preserve me. Amen.
Christian Worship 393:5

A Question to Consider: What are some ways you can reach out to families in your school? Is there a family struggling, dealing with illness, or looking anxious? How can you share Jesus’ love with them?



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

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God Makes the Impossible Possible – Week of February 25, 2019

God Makes the Impossible Possible – Week of February 25, 2019


Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20



Determination. It can be seen on any toddler’s face! You know exactly what it looks like and you know that a toddler can spend an amazing amount of time, fully determined, on one task. In a toddler’s mind, nothing is impossible. At a young age, toddlers feel they can take on the world and trust that they’ll win and succeed whatever the task!

Matthew 17:20 expresses that nothing is impossible. Many think Jesus is encouraging us to be just like that toddler. “Have confidence and determination and you can do whatever you set your mind to!” But Jesus means something very different. Jesus is teaching us that faith can do the impossible, not because it gives us determination, but because faith looks to the God who can do the impossible.

To emphasize this, Jesus talks about the power of faith even the size of a mustard seed. On average a mustard seed is one to two millimeters in diameter. It seems like mustard seeds can often be missed by the human eye. Jesus is using beautiful, figurative language by comparing something as miniscule as a mustard seed to faith that can do the impossible! His point is that it’s not the size or strength of your faith that matters. It’s that there is faith, period. And any faith, no matter how small, connects you to your big and powerful God. And with him nothing is impossible. For example, take your salvation. You couldn’t do a thing to save yourself. But God could and did. He came into this world to live and die for you. Faith gives you his perfection and his forgiveness. With faith, because it clings to God and his promises, nothing is impossible for you, not even overcoming sin and death.

“Nothing will be impossible for you”. This does not mean that everything in life is seen through rose colored glasses. There will be temptations, struggles, and sadness. The promise from God is that overcoming these struggles is not impossible…because GOD is faithful. God is always with us and has a plan for all that is happening in our life. God has promised to be with us and help us through all of life’s trials. Faith trusts this promise. The promise is fulfilled! God makes the impossible possible and gives us triumphs over the hardships in life!

This bible verse provides so much comfort! We find peace in the simple fact that God is faithful and faith trusts that his promises are fulfilled!



Prayer:

I know my faith is founded on Jesus Christ my God and Lord.
And this my faith confessing, unmoved I stand upon his Word.
Man’s reason cannot fathom the truth of God profound.
Who trusts in worldly wisdom relies on shifting ground.
God’s Word is all sufficient, it makes divinely sure,
And trusting in its wisdom, my faith shall rest secure.
Christian Worship 403:1



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

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For the Lord is Good – Week of February 18, 2019

For the Lord is Good – Week of February 18, 2019


For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:5



“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” Do these words sound familiar? These are the words that are used as part of the Common Table Prayer before eating. As a prayer, we are thanking God for goodness and expressing that his love will endure forever. In light of Psalm 100:5, these words go far beyond the Lord simply providing our food and drink.

The Bible verse begins with the words, “For the LORD is good”. This opening phrase gives a description of the Lord, he is good. The verse does not say that the Lord was good, or that the Lord will be good. Rather it is clear that the Lord IS good. The Lord is good, his goodness is in the present tense. His goodness is unchanging!

Psalm 100:5 gives the comfort and peace that the Lord’s love endures forever. Wow! What a comfort it is to know that the Lord’s love spans forever. The Lord’s love is not a love that fades away over time or comes and goes depending on the situation. It is a compassionate love! It is a love that we do not deserve but are freely given anyway! The Lord’s love is grace!

The verse concludes by saying, “His faithfulness continues through all generations.” The Lord is faithful. He is steadfast. This is a promise of the Lord, that he will be faithful throughout our lives and throughout the next generation. We can have faith and complete trust that no matter what happens in our life, the Lord is working through us and has a plan for our lives. This does not mean that we won’t have struggles in our life or that there won’t be sadness. However, this verse gives us peace that the Lord is faithful and his love endures forever.

Next time you sit down and pray the Common Table Prayer, take time to meditate on the goodness of the Lord. Reflect on the goodness in the simple gifts he gives, but also on his protection and guidance through our lives. Find peace in the truth that his love endures forever. He is forever beside you in all that you do!



Prayer:

My God has all things in his keeping; he is my ever-faithful friend.
He gives me laughter after weeping, and all his ways in blessings end.
His love endures eternally: what pleases God, that pleases me.
Christian Worship 414:4



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

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God is Faithful – Week of February 11, 2019

God is Faithful – Week of February 11, 2019


Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Deuteronomy 7:9



“Dear Jesus, thank-you for the firefighters. Thank-you for keeping me safe when I had to leave my house. I knew you would stop the fire and keep me safe. You are always by me.” This is a prayer that one of my 4-year-old pre-k students prayed the first week of school this year. As adults, we had all moved past the wildfires that ripped through our northern California community. However, the fires were still on the minds of the little students. As I listened to this child’s simple prayer I looked over at the little boy and I will never forget what I saw in his face. It was complete confidence in God. It was pure faith! This child had no doubt that God is HIS God and had been with him through the disaster. He also had the assurance that God would always be at his side. The phrase, “childlike faith”, came to my mind. This little boy, only 4 years old, gave a beautiful demonstration of faith with his simple prayer.

You and I have the same confidence of the little boy. God is our God! Deuteronomy 7:9, begins with the phrase, “Know that the LORD your God is God”. The word KNOW stresses that there is no doubt or question, the Lord God IS God. The further comfort of this small opening phrase is that God is your God. Faith is personal. Each person has a faith that God has given them through the Holy Spirit. God is YOUR God. He has you in his hands and is always with you.

The verse goes on to say, “He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” God is faithful. God never leaves us or forsakes us! His covenant, promise of love is real and unchanging!

God is your God! Have the same confidence that the 4-year-old demonstrated. God is faithful and he is with you! His covenant is fulfilled. Through thick and thin God is with you protecting you and showing his love to you!



Prayer:

Faith finds in Christ whate’er we need to save or strengthen us indeed,
Receiving grace from heaven’s throne and humbly sharing cross and throne.

Faith in the Savior brings us peace and bids the mourner’s weeping cease;
By faith the children’s place we claim and give all honor to your name.”
Christian Worship 404:2-3



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

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Faith Is… – Week of February 4, 2019

Faith Is… – Week of February 4, 2019


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1



Faith. A seemingly simple word, but as we all know it is not as simple as it seems. How would you define the word faith? Maybe the words “child-like faith” enter your mind. Webster’s dictionary defines faith as, “complete trust or confidence in someone or something without proof”. Is this definition similar to your definition? While this is certainly what many people mean when they speak of “faith”, let’s look at what the Bible teaches about faith.

Hebrews 11 is considered the greatest chapter in the Bible on faith. Therefore, it’s fitting that the author of Hebrews begins the chapter with a simple and concise description of faith. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. As Christians faith is not a blind leap. Nor is it a feeling that everything will work out just fine. Faith is so much more! Faith is a certainty of all of God’s promises. We all have the solid confidence that Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised on the third day. We were not eye witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection, yet we trust that it happened, and the promise of forgiveness was fulfilled.

Faith also gives us the hope of things yet to come, meaning Jesus’ second coming and the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. The hope of life eternal in heaven is a sure thing! Faith allows us to hope with the sure confidence that Jesus is preparing a room in heaven for us and one day will come again to bring us to heaven.

Faith, a solid confidence in God’s past and present promises! When life gets heavy and worries begin to set-in, we have comfort knowing with all certainty that God is with us! We eagerly live a life rooted in faith and hope for all to see.



Prayer:
Faith is a living power from heaven that grasps the promise God has given.
A trust that cannot be overthrown, fixed heartily on Christ alone.”
Christian Worship 404:1

A Thought to Ponder: Let’s make it a goal this week to set aside 15 minutes to read Hebrews 11 and meditate more on the beautiful description of faith that this chapter gives.



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

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Why We Labor – Week of January 28, 2019

Why We Labor – Week of January 28, 2019


I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:23



During World War II, there was a series of films, newsreels, and printed material that explained “Why We Fight.” The tyranny and raw aggression of the Axis Powers was detailed out to provide the reasoning behind the war effort. Young men were motivated to do their part in the fight oversees, even being willing to give up their lives. Those who stayed home did their part with rationing and producing war materials. The reasons for fighting became all the more clear as the end of the war neared and the atrocious labor and death camps of the Holocaust were discovered. Evil had to be stopped. That was why they fought.

When St. Paul wrote these words, he didn’t say that he fought. But he did work hard, or labor intensely, as the verses that precede these words indicate. Why did Paul work so hard? As he said, he worked so hard for the sake of the gospel. In the gospel we find that the main battle has already been fought. We didn’t have the ability to defeat our enemies, so Jesus did. Paul’s Savior had already fought the good fight and won by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. The evil of sin, death, and the devil had been defeated.

Paul does say he labored. And so do teachers! Why work so hard in the Christian classroom, at church, or making your home a Christian home? To share in the blessings of the gospel. Don’t jump to an incorrect conclusion, though! Our labor doesn’t defeat evil. Remember, Jesus already did that by paying for our sin. Our labor, like Paul’s, is an exercise for our faith. By focusing on the gospel, and working really hard to do so, we are reminded that the blessings of the gospel are eternal. They are much greater than a new car or another pricey gift. God blesses us by rescuing us from eternal evil and giving us membership in his family through faith in Christ.

Beneficiaries of this relationship with God want to share it with others, even if that means labor and hard work. Teachers have a unique opportunity to spend hours every day of the school year sharing the message of Jesus with children. The hard work is worth it for those who realize that the spoken Word is the tool that God uses to grow the faith in those young hearts. You are a messenger of rescue from the eternal holocaust of separation from God in hell. This is why we work: Those who have a share of the blessings of the gospel work to share it with others!



Prayer:
Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength and Christ your light.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be your joy and crown eternally.
Christian Worship 447:1



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

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Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019

Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019


[Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31b



Caleb’s parents had come to terms with his autism diagnosis. They had grieved when the doctor shared the prognosis that he may never speak. They realized that they would be full time caregivers for their son their whole lives. But they were not prepared for Caleb’s behaviors when he became a teenager, especially his tendency to run away. Caleb’s frustrations and inability to talk caused him so much agitation at times that he simply ran. He ran out of the house, and down the street. He ran into the nearby woods. He ran from the park. Caleb was taller, heavier, and stronger than his parents, so their efforts to keep him safe were often unsuccessful.

After a couple of years of being on high alert, worrying about the safety of their son, Caleb’s parents were exhausted. They had installed an alarm system in their home, but yet they had trouble sleeping at night as they worried their son would suddenly run. Their days were filled with constant worry that the school would call yet again to relay the news that Caleb had run out of the school building and was headed to the woods. This stress led Caleb’s parents to complete and utter exhaustion. They had not had a full night’s sleep in years. They had not had a vacation in years. They had not been able to spend time together as a couple as that meant leaving Caleb with someone else who could not guarantee his safety.

The words of this text are for Caleb’s parents. They are for you too, whether or not you are living in a situation of chronic stress. Jesus gives us rest. He may not give us the full eight hours of sleep we so desire each night, but he gives us an even better rest: spiritual rest with him. We are physically and spiritually tired here on earth. We are surrounded by sin in our world. The problems and stress sin causes are exhausting. The guilt of our own wrong doings causes us to lose sleep. The demands of the world weigh heavy on us. We need a rest that only Jesus can give: knowing our sins are forgiven and heaven is waiting for us. Jesus lovingly says to you and to me, “Come with me…and get some rest.” Whenever you read your Bible, read a devotion or a personal Bible study, you are spending time with him and doing what he’s encouraged you to do, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May the Lord bless your time with him and may you know his peace.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, please give me daily rest. Remind me of the eternal rest that is waiting for me in heaven. Remind me that today I have peace here on earth because Jesus died for me. Amen

A Question to Consider: What stresses do you need rest from? Make a list of things that God has done that can remind you of his love for you, his promises to be with you, and all that he has done and continues to do for you and his children. How does this list give you comfort and confidence, even in challenging times?



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

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Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019

Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019


I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:1-4



When Jay was 3 years old, he had a seizure. He had not been sick, and he had never had a seizure before. When his mother came in his room to check on him before going to bed herself, she felt his body seizing uncontrollably. It was one of the few times in his father’s life that he ever dialed 911. The paramedics came and a trip to the ER followed, along with hours of tests and scans. Nothing abnormal was found. Doctors concluded that a virus had induced a high enough fever to cause the seizure, which the doctors explained was how the body resets itself. Jay’s parents were thankful that help came so quickly when they dialed 911 that night.

The words of Psalm 121 can be considered God’s 911. Open up to Psalm 121 for help in any and every struggle. Read about the One who loves his people Israel, which includes you, enough to watch over you at all hours of the day and night. The Maker of heaven and earth doesn’t take breaks or naps that prevent him from taking care of you. “He…will neither slumber nor sleep.”

Have you ever experienced insomnia? Statistics say that on any given night one in four Americans is experiencing insomnia. Chances are that at some point you have been the one lying awake. When we head to bed for the evening or wake up in the night, our brain turns to the thoughts of yesterday’s challenges and tomorrow’s possible difficulties. Worry. Anxiety. Stress. Call it what you like, but whether you realize it or not, those struggles are a result of trying to have control over the things that are in God’s control. When our failures haunt us, and our challenges overwhelm us, trying to carry those burdens ourselves will only leave us worse off by far. Doing better next time won’t cancel your guilt and no amount of stressing out about the future can change a single thing.

But you have a God who is in complete control. Lift your eyes and find your help in him. He calms your troubled heart filled with your failure by pointing your eyes to the cross of his Son who paid for every one of your mistakes. He calms your worried and anxious heart filled with the unknowns of tomorrow by reminding you that if he went to all the trouble of saving you eternally, he’s not going to forget to watch out for you tomorrow.

The Psalmist assures us that God does not slumber, he does not sleep. He is awake all night long, so he can be watching over everything. He does this so we can sleep. He is our watchman both at night and during the daylight hours.

How can we keep our hearts and minds on things above? Paul tells us. Remember that you have been raised with Christ. Christ has made you a brand-new person. He has made you a forgiven and living child of God. You have been raised with him.

That puts your day to day preoccupations into perspective. Only one reality is forever. Only one concern is eternal. Set your hearts on such things. As a resurrected child of faith find and take advantage of every opportunity to be in God’s Word and surround yourself with fellow Christians who can encourage and remind you of what is truly lasting and important.



Prayer: Dear Lord, you know that I worry over so many things – little things and big things. Remind me that I am not the one in control, but you are. You have everything planned for my good. Most importantly, you have sent your son Jesus to pay the debt for every one of my wrong doings. Keep my anxious heart from worrying, knowing that you are my watchman. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What situations in your life are causing you to turn to your Lord for help so that you can sleep in peace? How could you use Psalm 121 and other verses from Scripture to remind you of the peace you have each day in Jesus?



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

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Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019

Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:1-2



Daniel was adopted after drug and alcohol exposure before he was born. He has brain damage. At age 12, he is beginning to understand some basic Bible concepts. It is a joy to hear him talk about the things he is learning from hearing daily Bible story lessons. He is even asking questions! His brain perseverates which means he gets stuck thinking about the same thing, replaying it over and over in his mind. This is not generally thought of as a positive characteristic of his brain damage, but lately he is perseverating on the thought of going to heaven. He daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes even constantly, repeats the same questions: “Where is heaven? Is heaven in the sky? Who is in heaven? Will we have toys in heaven? Can we come back from heaven? When will I go to heaven?” We have answered his questions repeatedly, but it is so calming and comforting to his brain to repeatedly ask and hear the constant answers about what he is expecting because Jesus is his Savior. “Jesus loves you. He died for you on the cross to take away your sins so that when you die you will live with him forever in heaven. It will be wonderful, and nothing will make us sad.” Upon hearing the comforting words about the wonders of heaven, that he will be there someday with all of the people he knows and loves, and that he will not even need toys while he is there, Daniel literally jumps for joy with a smile on his face every time he hears these answers.

Wouldn’t it be comforting if we could live with a repeated movie reel of heaven in our head? Daniel truly has his thoughts set on things above. With his continuous thoughts on things above, that is where his heart is set also. For us, it takes a little more effort. Our neurology allows us to think about many things throughout the day, even throughout every minute! We have responsibilities – work, spouse, kids, aging parents, financial worries, retirement planning, helping with church and community events, the list is endless. We have more thoughts in our head than our brain can handle processing. Yet, our loving Lord reminds us, “Set your mind on things above.”

How can we keep our hearts and minds on things above? Paul tells us. Remember that you have been raised with Christ. Christ has made you a brand-new person. He has made you a forgiven and living child of God. You have been raised with him.

That puts your day to day preoccupations into perspective. Only one reality is forever. Only one concern is eternal. Set your hearts on such things. As a resurrected child of faith find and take advantage of every opportunity to be in God’s Word and surround yourself with fellow Christians who can encourage and remind you of what is truly lasting and important.



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, you have given us a command that brings us peace: thoughts of eternity with you. Help us find ways each day to keep our focus on you and your heavenly mansion that awaits us. Amen

A Question to Consider: When do you get your daily dose of God’s Word? How do you share this focus of things above with your students?



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

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Light and Glory – Week of December 31, 2018

Light and Glory – Week of December 31, 2018


For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

Luke 2:30-32



These words were spoken by Simeon who had been told that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, that is, the Christ. After he met the young family of Mary and Joseph he spoke these words that we still sing today, an ode to the Christ child who would be light and glory.

Jesus was the light to the non-Jewish people who did not yet know about salvation in him. He would be the glory of Israel too. Being the nation that produced the Savior of the world was Israel’s greatest honor. We who are the body of Christ are also light and glory. We bring light to a dark world by showing the love of Christ. We work for the glory of God by giving him all credit for the good we do and, more importantly, for the good he has done to us.
However, while this is all true, it doesn’t always seem to fit reality. Maybe this is true for the people who seem to have it all together (they don’t, by the way) but not for regular people just trying to make it through the day. It seems a little pointless to call us light and glory. But we are light and glory precisely because it is not about us.

We are not light and glory because we do good. We are light and glory because we are sinners whom God loved. There is no need to hide our frailty in an attempt to look good to our students, to their parents, or to anybody else we meet. God’s greatest glory is dying for sinners. This is light in a dark world. And as if that were not enough, God uses sinners like us to carry out his work of love.

You are role models to your students and parents. You know this. However, this does not mean that you have to be perfect. In fact, that would work against being a good role model. Being sinners humbled by God’s demands but lifted up by his love and forgiveness to a startling degree is how we are his glory and light to the world.



Prayer: Jesus Christ, make us your light and glory. When our students see their teachers, may they first see sinners saved in your beautiful grace. Amen.



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

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God on the Move – Week of December 24, 2018

God on the Move – Week of December 24, 2018


The angel said to them, “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



When God moves the earth shakes. Caesar Augustus was moved to call for a census so that Mary and Joseph would travel to Bethlehem so that Jesus would be born according to the prophecy of Micah. Wisemen from the east stirred up Jerusalem looking for this new-born king of the Jews. Kings bow and tyrants plot all because of this baby boy. We even track time according to his birth (BC and AD). When God moves the earth shakes. The presence of God moved from the temple to Mary’s womb and then to the person Jesus Christ. This was where one went to encounter God, or better yet, how God encountered his creation.

No wonder then that shepherds were afraid when the angels came to them. So much so that the angels had to say, “Don’t be afraid”. No wonder the angels proclaimed that this event was for all people, that this was good news, and of great joy. God was on the move. Things would be different. When God is on the move the earth shakes.

God is everywhere, of course, but he has specifically promised to be in particular places with grace. He has promised to be in his Word and the Lord’s Supper, baptism and absolution. He has promised to be in the temple of the church. He has promised to be active in the proclamation of his Word. He is on the move and you are a part of and are in and around this movement. When his Word is proclaimed to you and by you, he works. He is present. He is the Word! What an exciting time in which we live. God is on the move all around us and the earth shakes. Do not be afraid though, his movement is gracious. His movement is so that you may know and believe his saving work on the cross.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, drive all fear from our hearts and replace it with the wonder of your gracious actions for us. Amen.



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

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Joy Filled Work – Week of December 17, 2018

Joy Filled Work – Week of December 17, 2018


Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9



We are told to “work hard” but also to have “life balance.” We are told to “go all in” but also to “put ourselves first.” So what gives? It’s a mixed message at best, flat out opposites at worst. Where can I find joy if I am always working hard and not thinking of myself? On the other hand, how can I have a meaningful life if I am only living for myself? We know that this kind of selfishness does not lead to a full life.

The answer is that we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. It is something that comes from outside. It fills us. It is a gift and the gift comes from the Holy Spirit. Christ has defeated death. How could we not be filled with joy? We have received the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls. How could we not leap for joy?

Of course, this is easier said than done when the half the class is sick, you are concerned one student is showing signs of autism, and the budget just got cut… and it is only Tuesday! Now the question becomes: how could we possibly have joy? First, Christ’s work of salvation cannot be undone. It is a fact of history not affected by your bad day or terrible week. This salvation is yours no matter what happens. Second, you get to be a part of this work of joy. You get to be the deliverer of love. You get to be the proclaimer of grace. You get to be the one, maybe the only one in a particular child’s life, that shows him or her what an undeserved kind of love looks like.

Oh, and one more thing. Christ will get his work done with or without you. The pressure is off. Not all depends on you. This is the freedom of the gospel. Work hard, have joy, and believe that Christ will fulfill his promises.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, give us the gift of joy in Christ’s salvation and the gift of joy in our work. May our witness of joy bring more to faith in Christ. Amen.



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

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Peace on Earth – Week of December 10, 2018

Peace on Earth – Week of December 10, 2018


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6



What does peace mean? Is it a personal euphoria? Is it the cessation of armed conflict? Is it a movement? Perhaps the best way to describe peace is “the way it’s supposed to be”. Peacetime (as opposed to wartime) is when the economy is good, schools are open, we feel relatively safe, and we have a certain level of prosperity. The way it is supposed to be. But peace was also a person, the Prince of Peace. So when the angels sang their Christmas song over Bethlehem, they proclaimed peace on earth quite literally. The Prince of Peace was born.

True peace is found in the Prince of Peace. It is one thing to attain success in business. It is quite another to know where you are going for all eternity. It is one thing to reach your earthly goals. It is quite another to be promised an eternal inheritance. It is one thing to teach your students how to read. It is quite another to teach them about Christ. No matter how big the 401k or how many awards are won, there is always one nagging question: What about after this life? The Prince of Peace answers the biggest question. He takes care of the most daunting problem. Only from there can there be true peace here on earth.

First, there is peace between you and God. You no longer need to worry about your standing before the Judge. Christ has paid the price for your sins and his righteousness covers your unrighteousness. Second, you have internal peace. You know that all will be right for all eternity. How much easier is it then to tackle today’s problem with that security? Finally, you have heaven. In heaven there is true peace, that is, the way it was always supposed to be. No war, no sickness, no frustration, and no trouble. All this comes about because of him, the true Prince of Peace. So we celebrate his birth with the angels and sing, “Peace on earth”, literally in the person of Jesus Christ and in our hearts right now.



Prayer: Prince of Peace, continue to bring your peace of forgiveness to earth so that we may live joy-filled lives and spread the Christmas message of peace on earth to the ends of the earth. Amen.



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

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Waiting for the Lord – Week of December 3, 2018

Waiting for the Lord – Week of December 3, 2018


But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7



“Hurry up and wait” was a phrase I often heard growing up. When a great event or important change in life was far off in the future, we had to “hurry up and wait”. The urgency was there but we had to wait. It is hard to wait. Ask any child promised a trip to Disneyland or to McDonald’s for that matter. It’s just as hard for adults to wait. Ask anybody waiting for a tax-refund or waiting for grandchildren to finally be born.

The person for whom we wait the most is Jesus. We wait for his return to take us to heaven. We wait for his promises of joy and peace to be fulfilled. We wait. But we wait in hope. And in this hope we will not be disappointed. We may not like the wait but we will not be disappointed. In heaven there is an ocean of bliss for every drop of frustration on earth.

Nor are we disappointed with Christ’s work here on earth. Again, we might grumble at the wait but not the results, that is, if we have the gift of a true hope. Think about the school year. At the beginning it might seem like speaking to little ones is like speaking to a wall. You are not quite sure anybody is actually listening. Why bother? But then the last weeks of the school year come and you remind yourself how far these kids have grown in a few short months. It was worth it, wasn’t it? And even if you did not see the results you were hoping for, you know that what you said might bear fruit the next year, the year after that, or even twenty years down the road. That’s out of your hands. So you hope.

In a more powerful way we place our hope in Christ not yet seeing all that he does behind the scenes through us and through others who serve us. This is hope. Hope is in what is unseen. Yet it is not blind. We see Christ’s track record. He has not let us down yet. He has fulfilled prophecy after prophecy. He has loved the unlovable. He died for us sinners and rose from the dead to defeat death for us. Why doubt? Sure, waiting is tough but with this hope we plug along in the sure conviction that Christ will make all things right for us.



Prayer: My God and Savior, give me the hope of a future great reward and lead me to love those around me in great joy. Amen.



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

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Fairy Tale – Week of November 26, 2018

Fairy Tale – Week of November 26, 2018


Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

I Chronicles 29: 11, 13



The trumpets sound, and the fanfare plays. The wise king waves to his loyal subjects. They love him because he works tirelessly to do what is best for them. Knowing this, his people work together to make their kingdom exceptional. And the king and his people lived happily ever after.

This sounds like a fairy tale we might read to our children, doesn’t it? In reality our leaders don’t always have their people’s best interests at heart. We don’t always show respect to our leaders and work our hardest to make our country great. Life just isn’t a fairy tale.

Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday. We are reminded that we actually do have the perfect King. We have a mighty King who knows exactly what is best for us because he created and sustains everything on earth. We have a compassionate King who never leaves us, never forgets us, never stops loving us. He gives us the ability to trust and praise and show him love by our thoughts, words, and actions.

Christ our King is with us day by day in this earthly life, but he has another kingdom waiting for us as well. Our exalted King humbled himself, so we might join him in this heavenly kingdom. Jesus came to earth and felt what we feel, was tempted, was mocked, and was rejected by many. Even when his people praised him as their king on that first Palm Sunday, Jesus knew that this was his path to suffering and death. Our mighty king laid down his life for us.

But that wasn’t the end. Christ, our King, rose from the dead. Through his victory, we also are triumphant. We know that we will join him in his perfect kingdom. With King David, we shout, “Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
We really do get the fairy tale!



Prayer:

Lord, as you will, so lead me still; your mercy fails me never.
My God I pray: teach me your way to my last day; from evil keep me ever.
Grant, Lord I pray, your grace each day, that I your name revering,
Your glory see and happy be eternally, before your throne appearing.
Amen.

Christian Worship 362:2,5



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

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Be Joyful Always – Week of November 19, 2018

Be Joyful Always – Week of November 19, 2018


Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18



“Be joyful always.” Wow, that’s a tall order! God blesses me daily, but I admit that there are many times when I don’t radiate joy. It’s difficult to be happy when I feel the press of many tasks to be completed or when I’m faced with challenging students or parents or difficult home situations. How can I be joyful always?

One thing to remember is that God’s definition of joy does not match the world’s definition. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines joy as being “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune.” God, however, does not promise us an earthly life without troubles. Because of our sin, we will face troubles and sad times. Even Jesus, the one who never sinned, felt sadness at his friend Lazarus’ death.

True joy goes deeper than happiness at good fortune. True joy is knowing that even in our deepest times of sorrow, our Savior is with us. He draws us closer to him through our suffering. He comforts and reassures us, promising a perfect life with him. Because that’s the goal, isn’t it? We walk this path of uncertainties and difficulties knowing that Jesus, our Savior, is guiding us to be with him forever. The apostle Peter wrote, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

With this outlook, our joy will show, but not necessarily by a smile or a cheerful face. Our joy in Jesus shines when we trust our Lord to help us in times of trouble as in times of contentment. It shines when we share the reason for our joy with the people around us. It shines when we talk to our Savior and thank him for all that he does for us. It shines because our joy doesn’t originate in us; it comes from the source and creator of all – our Lord Jesus Christ. So yes, be joyful always, confident that this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.



Prayer:

Lord of glory, you have bought us with your lifeblood as the price,
Never grudging for the lost ones that tremendous sacrifice.
Give us faith to trust you boldly, hope, to stay our souls on you;
But, oh, best of all your graces, with your love our love renew.
Amen.

Christian Worship 486:5



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

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Truly Blessed – Week of November 12, 2018

Truly Blessed – Week of November 12, 2018 – Week of November 5, 2018


“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



Just imagine: it is literally the last day on earth for all people, and Jesus, the King, is looking at you and saying, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father.” How can this be? Jesus is calling us blessed. We certainly don’t deserve that honor. Each day we have slipped in our mission to honor God and reflect his love to others. Yet Jesus looks at us and says, “You are blessed.”

We are blessed to receive an inheritance from God. Typically, an inheritance is passed down within a family. So the fact that God has named us his heirs means we are part of his family. Our heavenly Father claims us as his own because of the sacrifice of Jesus, his only truly innocent child. Now we are covered with Jesus’ holiness and can take our spot at the family table. We humbly receive the inheritance God has been saving for his precious children.

No earthly inheritance can compare to the one our Father has prepared for us. Since creation, God has been making our heavenly home ready for us. Already then, he knew what would happen: his perfect creation would be stained by sin, our sin. Yet he loved us so much that he prepared a place where sin will never separate us from him.

Thinking about the end of this world, whether it’s on the Last Day or at our death, might at first seem frightening. But then we remember Jesus’ words that he spoke to each of his believers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3). With Jesus forever — yes, we are truly blessed!



Prayer:

O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation.
Your saints are waiting patiently; come soon, Redeemer;
Make us free from every evil.
Amen.

Christian Worship 207:6



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

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There’s Nothing My God Cannot Do for You! – Week of November 5, 2018

There’s Nothing My God Cannot Do for You! – Week of November 5, 2018


Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:10-11



“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty; there’s nothing my God cannot do!” Perhaps you know this song and are humming it in your mind right now. It is a current favorite in my classroom. The students love singing about their strong God who can do everything.

What a blessing to know our God is mighty! It’s not so easy to be strong, as today’s passage encourages. We live in a world of temptations, troubles, and trials. The devil uses anything he can to draw our focus away from our Savior. On our own, we cannot stand up to him. But our almighty God can, and he did! He loves us so much he sacrificed his own Son. In Jesus we see the true strength of our God on display, the strength to set aside his power so that he might take our place and we might have salvation. “Jesus made himself nothing…and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8). Our all-powerful God has not forsaken us.

Not only did God save us, he also equips us to stand against the devil’s schemes. He provides armor that can withstand any enemy: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17). As we read and study God’s Word, we become stronger. Armed with God’s true, powerful word, we battle the devil’s lies and temptations. We get to help others put on their armor as we share Jesus’ love with our students, school families, and each other. God gives us his strength.

My students’ favorite part of singing “My God Is So Big” is the ending. After singing about the wonderful things God has done, they finish with, “There’s nothing my God cannot do FOR YOU!” No matter what we are facing, God is stronger, God is mightier. He gives us the strength and armor to be strong in the Lord.



Prayer:

Lord of love, we bow before you, humbled by your constant grace.
Word incarnate, sent from heaven, on the cross you took our place.
By your death and resurrection, we shall live through endless days!
Lord of life, we sing your praise.

Christian Worship 237:3



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

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