Faith that Delights in Duty – Week of October 3, 2022

Faith that Delights in Duty – Week of October 3, 2022



We constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12



So, how is it going? You are a couple of months back into the routine. How is it working out for you? Are you still tackling each day as if it were your first? Are you still excited to welcome the students into your classroom each morning? How’s your energy level? How’s your attitude?

What an incredible privilege it is to be a teacher. Think of how easily your students proclaim their love of their Savior. They know that they love him, but most importantly, they are learning how much he loves them! Their faith in Jesus overflows with such joy and gratefulness, that one could only hope for an attitude like that!

Is this devotion too positive for you? Are you wanting me to be a little more “honest” in my writing? I understand. Every day is not rainbows and butterflies. Dealing with hardships, both in life and in the classroom, can make this privilege feel more like a duty. Something that we “have” to do. Something that we don’t always feel worthy or qualified to do.

The devil would like for us to forget who we work for. Every good deed, every detailed lesson plan, every newsletter, and so on, is done for Jesus. We can delight in our job even when things aren’t easy. Our hearts can burn for our Savior the whole year through and the ability to do that doesn’t come from ourselves. No, we don’t just pull up our bootstraps and be better—God is better. God is best! We don’t complete our duty through our own ability, but rather through his.

Try making it a habit to thank God for this position that he has you in right now. Thank him for the privilege it is to teach the Gospel message to the littlest of his lambs. And remember that sometimes it’s not actually saying the words, thank you, but rather doing thank you, through your daily duties. Know that even your least delightful duties are a delight in the eyes of the Lord.



Prayer:
Jesus, you are a delight. Forgive me when I see my calling as just a duty. Please strengthen my desire to serve you and let it burn all school year long. Help my students have a heart for you and carry out their classroom duties with joy. Thank you for the privilege it is to teach the gospel. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Are you aware of tasks that your co-workers dislike doing? Maybe surprise them by completing the task for them. Make their 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


My Hope – Week of September 26, 2022

My Hope – Week of September 26, 2022



Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
Psalm 146:5



Several years ago, I was presenting a workshop on parenting with a group of mothers and fathers. Everyone was asked to pick a card from a stack of illustrations of children’s toys. They were given a few minutes to consider the card they chose and complete this phrase, “Parenting is like…. because…” There were some wonderful answers. “Parenting is like a set of blocks because you are constantly working to build and strengthen your child.” One father of five raised his hand. “Parenting is like a merry-go-round because life can feel like it’s spinning out of control and inevitably someone always throws up.”

Do you sometimes feel like that? You try to get your bearings and move ahead only to find that things have changed. Even outside your work with young children, you look at the world and can find yourself asking, “When did that become a thing?” What used to be wrong is now not just ok, it’s encouraged and celebrated. It’s not unusual to feel like you are on the outside of the opinion of those around you and not sure how that happened. Where is the solid ground that you need?

Blessed. Dictionary.com defines blessed as: divinely or supremely favored; fortunate. As we look around and try to find that solid ground, we crave something to hang on to that will not shift and change. How easy it is to forget that we have it already. God. He who never changes. He who never waivers. Our heavenly Father, whose every word is grounded in love for us. His love is immeasurable and unwavering. We are so blessed! In Lamentations 3:22-23 we are reminded:

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.

We are indeed blessed as God’s children. We have a pillar, a plumb line, an anchor, a sure foundation in our heavenly Father. His Word never changes. His love and forgiveness are without limitations. As we read the Word, we know with certainty that not one word of it will change. The world may change, but not the Word. We have hope. Not a hope that is wishing for something. We have hope that is sure, founded in God’s grace and mercy for us.

The merry-go-round of life will continue. It’s a little slower some days and other days can feel out of control. You and I can be confident and at peace in the midst of it all. God is with us. God is faithful. We are so blessed knowing we are children whose hope is in the LORD!



Prayer:
Lord, thank you for your faithfulness. You are my Rock and my Anchor. Help me to turn to you, confident in your love and faithfulness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

Hymn:
The following hymns are a wonderful reminder to us of the hope we have in God our Savior.

He Will Hold Me Fast
CW21 813

Though Thoughtless Thousands Choose
CW93 466


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


If Only… – Week of September 19, 2022

If Only… – Week of September 19, 2022



Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33



If only. Do you ever have that thought? If only the one child would be calm for a few minutes. If only we had more children to enroll. If only our staff was full. If only the budget was balanced. If only her health were better. What’s on your list? The list is different for each one of us, but we all have a list. If only these were solved, we could be at peace. We wouldn’t have to worry.

Worry is a beast, isn’t it? Take a couple of minutes and read the verses just before today’s reading. Matthew 6:25-34 takes us to task on the topic of worry. The illustrations have always struck me. “Look at the birds of the air.” True. God provides for them each day as they flutter about. My sinful nature wants to challenge that illustration. They don’t have to pay bills. They don’t have relationship challenges. They don’t… you get the picture. And then I read on. “Are you not much more valuable than they?” My heart is convicted.

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

He, my heavenly Father, created and redeemed me and you. He designed each one of us for a purpose. His purpose for each one of us includes sharing his message of grace with others. If God created us and gave us life and redeemed us, won’t he also provide for what we need? It makes no sense that God would give us physical and spiritual life and then have no concern for us. His love for us is immeasurable and is demonstrated so clearly in sending Jesus as our Savior.

God also created us to praise him. We do so when we seek him and his kingdom and are in the Word learning and growing in faith. We do so in our lives of service to others, reflecting his love and grace. We do so in our example of gratitude for the blessings God has given each of us. We do so as we trust in him to provide for our needs.

Our biggest if only… that our sins were forgiven and that we would have peace with God our heavenly Father. That “if only” is complete. That peace that comes from sins forgiven was taken care of on the cross and on Easter morning. Might we still have a couple of “if only’s?” Sure! If only more knew about God. If only more had the peace that comes from faith in Jesus, the Savior.

My friends, take your worry to your Father in heaven. Go with gratitude for the gifts he has given you and with confidence knowing how dearly he loves you. Seek him as you continue to learn about him through the Word and leave “all these things” to his loving care.



Prayer
Dear Father, it is so hard for me to avoid worry. Forgive me when I lack trust in you. When challenges come, remind me of your promise to be with me in all things. Remind me how dearly you love me and that the most valuable treasure of all is already mine—forgiveness and the promise of heaven with you. In your name I pray. Amen

Hymn
The following hymns are a wonderful reminder to us that we can trust in God.

My Worth Is Not in What I Own
CW21 753 especially stanzas 1 and 5 and the refrain

Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me
CW93 439


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 Lost Are Found – Week of September 12, 2022

The Lost Are Found – Week of September 12, 2022



There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:7 (Read all of Luke 15:1-10)



As someone who works with young children each day, you can likely relate with a shepherd. You come in from recess and realize one child didn’t make it back to the classroom. Suddenly you spot the child, huddled behind a bench in tears. “I didn’t know where you went,” she sobs. You wrap your arms around her and utter a prayer of thanks.

Today’s reading is from a chapter of Luke that is sometimes referred to as “the lost and found” chapter. This chapter tells about the one lost sheep, the lost coin, and the father whose younger son was lost from the family. In each parable, the point of the story is the same—the angels of God rejoice over the one that returns. Imagine the sound of their rejoicing! What a moment—all for one.

What can we learn from these parables? First—every individual is precious to our heavenly Father. You are precious to him. When he says he wants all to be saved, he means it deeply. Second—he wants the lost to be brought back. In the parables, the shepherd went after the lost sheep and the woman took significant measures to find her lost coin. They were relentless in their efforts. You and I get to be a part of that. Each day as you serve young children and their families, you have the privilege and opportunity to tell them about their Savior and also to model and share Christ’s love and forgiveness for them. The heart of all we do in early childhood ministry is sharing the gospel—the good news of our Savior Jesus.

You may know a family member, friend, or neighbor who is lost. Perhaps they were once connected to their faith and have wandered away. Some may be struggling with sin and its impact on their lives. They weigh heavily on your heart. You want them to know grace and the peace that comes from God’s forgiveness and mercy. Sometimes you have the opportunity to speak directly to them. Pray for God’s guidance and blessings on those conversations. Sometimes the way that you show love and grace can be an encouragement and witness. Ask God to draw them back to him. Pray for opportunities to share your faith with them, and then ask with confidence for the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts.

You and I don’t always get to see the lost return to faith. If you don’t, continue to pray, reflect God’s love, and share his message of grace with patience, trusting the work of the Holy Spirit. When God blesses you with an opportunity to see someone who was lost come back, let the rejoicing begin along with God’s angels. Wrap your arms around them, literally or figuratively, and thank God for someone lost who was found in Jesus.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, our hearts ache for those we know who are lost or wandering from you. Give us a balance of urgency and patience along with guidance in knowing how to reach out to them. Remind us of the confidence we can have in you, knowing how dearly you want all who are lost to be with you. Thank you for your immeasurable love for all, including us. It’s in your son Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Hymn: Consider the following hymn of praise for further reflection.
How Great Thou Art
CW21 612 especially stanza 3 and the refrain
CW93 256


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 Cost: Everything? – Week of September 5, 2022

The Cost: Everything? – Week of September 5, 2022



Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:33



Sharing toys. Sharing snacks. Sharing time with grownups they love. Young children have so many things to learn about living in a world with others. They learn that being part of a world with others means that they give up a little to get a lot. It’s not an easy lesson for young ones nor for us. Today we hear what Jesus tells us about being one of his followers.

In our reading for today, Jesus is continuing to teach the crowds that follow him. At times they had questions for him. Jesus often used parables or illustrations to teach. Today’s question—what does it take to follow Jesus? His answer is not sugar coated by any means. Take a couple of minutes to read Luke 14:25-35. In these verses he lays out three conditions for following him and none of them are easy.

  • Family: Yes, family is a gift and important. However, in verse 26 Jesus’ strong words teach us that our relationships with others are never to be more important than our relationship with him. It is, of course, God pleasing to be a loving member of your family. However, our time and focus on Jesus must always take first priority.
  • Cross: Followers of Christ will carry a cross (verse 27). If you and I were living in the times of Jesus, these words would have vivid meaning as people were familiar with how the cross was used. Following Jesus means complete dedication. Satan loves to challenge believers to distract them from their faith. We face persecution, doubt, hardships. However, we also have the promise of our heavenly Father that he is with us in all things with his love and protection. Our crosses can help us grow in faith and in our relationship with God.
  • Possessions: All earthly possessions—verse 33. What? Is Jesus saying we need to own nothing—no home, no furniture, no car, no material items at all? No. Jesus is again reminding those listening that nothing should ever come before our faith in him. God blesses us with earthly blessings and wants us to view them as just that—blessings from him to be used out of thankfulness to give glory to him.

Family. Cross. Possessions. That’s a lot. Our human nature wants to resist on all points. But it’s nothing compared to what Jesus has given us. Following Jesus comes at a cost. However, we have a treasure that is beyond anything this world can offer. We have Jesus. We have his promises, his forgiveness, his unfathomable love for us, his gift of the endless days of joy with him in heaven.

“Take the world, but give me Jesus! Oh, the height and depth of mercy! Oh, the length and breadth of love! Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above!” (CW ’21 699/CW ’93 355)



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me to always remember the tremendous cost you paid for me. Help me to never let anything distract me from you. Help me to use the blessings you have given me in my family and friends and all other earthly things to reflect and glorify you. In your name I pray. Amen

Hymn: Consider the following hymn for further reflection.

Take the World, but Give Me Jesus
CW21 699
CW 93 355


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


Me First! – Week of August 29, 2022

Me First! – Week of August 29, 2022



“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 14:11



Me first! Anyone who’s spent even a few minutes in an early childhood center has definitely heard this sentiment at some point in time from the mouths of little ones! But in truth, it’s the default for every human; we just become better at masking it as we grow older.

“Me first!” can play out in employee situations where some employees never volunteer to take an extra shift to ease the burden of work for others, while others might often volunteer, but do so in hopes of receiving some notice or reward. “Me first!” can show itself in parents when the needs of their own child trump the good of everyone else in the building. We could go on and on with examples from working as well as living within our own personal families. By nature, our human hearts desire to put ourselves and our needs first.

Except one human heart was different: the heart of the God-Man, Jesus. The book of Philippians tells us that Jesus “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself.” Jesus is number one, over all, yet he left his heavenly home, he humbled himself, and he lived on the earth which is so filled with self-service and pride.

Philippians goes on, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-even death on a cross.” When God looked down at our earth and saw the truth that “there is no one who does good, not even one,” (Psalm 53) he planned a solution in the form of his very Son. Jesus came to earth and lived humbly, then even more, he died humbly for all of us, who so often do only what is best for ourselves.

And so now, we, too, strive to humble ourselves. We know all too well who we are, the sin that comes into our hearts, even if filtered out of our words and actions, each and every day. But we know, too, the forgiveness that Jesus won for us. In that forgiveness, we walk humbly as we go about our day. We work to take into account the good of others and to serve our Savior selflessly. Since Jesus has already made us number one by giving his life for us, then we have no need to push ourselves to the top or to leave others behind. Jesus has already exalted us. Now we can live for him!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us such selfless humility in coming to earth and living and dying in our place. In your forgiveness, help us to serve each other humbly until we stand exalted with you forever in heaven. Amen.

A Thought to Consider:
Brainstorm as many times as you can when Jesus put others first during his earthly ministry. Say a prayer thanking Jesus for his selfless love for all.


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’re Invited! – Week of August 22, 2022

We’re Invited! – Week of August 22, 2022



People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
Luke 13:29-30



Silas came to school today bursting with excitement over his upcoming birthday party. Soon, the air was humming with birthday news. Conversations over snack and lunch quickly turned into discussions of who’s invited and who’s not. Imagine everyone’s relief (the teacher’s included!) when the parents clarified that everyone in the class was invited!

In our text for today, Jesus was speaking to a group of people who were also concerned about who would be invited, not to a party, but to the feast of heaven. Jesus’ words about who is invited give us a moment of pause but also assure us of his promise.

Earlier in this section of Luke, someone asked if only a few people would be saved. Jesus helps his audience to understand that the door to heaven is narrow. Jesus is clear in his Word; the way to heaven is found only in him, and the time to think about these spiritual things is now. Jesus also points out that “there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” Many of the people at Jesus’ time who had countless opportunities to hear him preach rejected him as their Savior. They may have thought themselves first in God’s kingdom because of the things they themselves had done, but Jesus says these who are first will actually be last. Others may have believed for a time and then became last as they fell away. Jesus wanted his hearers to know the urgency of the truth he is sharing. He is the way, and the time to believe in him is now!

But Jesus’ words also assure us of his promise. Though the door to heaven is narrow, through Jesus alone, people from every direction will take their places at the feast. We ourselves get to be part of it! As we were baptized, as we heard the Word, the Holy Spirit worked powerfully in our hearts to convince us that yes, Jesus is the way and with that, welcomed us to a seat at his heavenly table!

This promise is wonderful news for the families we get to reach, too. When Jesus died on the cross, he died for all! We get to be a part of sharing the good news about the way to heaven with the children and families we serve.

Birthday invitations in preschool can bring excitement and some nervousness as little ones figure out who gets to come. What a blessing that God allows us to hand out invitations to all to know Jesus as the Way!



Prayer:
Lord, you know how many people in our world today don’t know about or have misconceptions about heaven. Help us to be clear about the one way to heaven, through you alone, and help us to be bold in sharing your invitation of grace with all we meet. In your name we pray this, amen.

A Thought to Consider:
Think of one family you serve or friend you know with whom you’d like to share God’s invitation of grace. Brainstorm with a coworker or pastor how you might go about that work.


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


Eyes Fixed – Week of August 15, 2022

Eyes Fixed – Week of August 15, 2022



And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1b-2



In my time as a grade school teacher, we had a track meet each year for students in grades K-8. Runners, both little and big, enjoyed practicing for the meet, and grown-ups enjoyed cheering in the stands. Nothing brought more smiles to people’s faces, though, than the kindergarten 75m dash. Legs churning wildly, braids streaming in the wind, big grins…and feet that wound up all over the track. It was a common sight to see runners veer into the next lane or even further! The problem, of course, was that their eyes were fixed on their friends nearby or on their mom in the stands, rather than on the end goal.

In our text today, the writer to the Hebrews tells Christians where their eyes need to be fixed as they run their race toward heaven: firmly on Jesus. Why? Because unlike a grade school track meet, where the course is neatly marked, and the track has been cleared of any debris beforehand, our race looks a lot messier. As we begin the race, the track is already littered with the trash and chaos of a sinful world. Starting to run, our feet often wind up all over the track as our hearts chase after this or that and lose sight of the end goal. Added to that are the devil’s many attempts to make us swerve off course. In fact, the devil wants nothing more than to ensnare us in a sin so tightly that we leave the track altogether.

Thankfully, we’re not the first ones to have run this race. Because we could never make it through this race on our own, Jesus came and ran the race for us. The writer to the Hebrews calls Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Jesus did exactly what we cannot do on our own. He faced every obstacle of the sinful world. He threw off every one of the devil’s traps with the power of God’s almighty Word, perfectly. And he didn’t do that only for himself. The whole time he was racing, Jesus had his eyes fixed on the joy set before him. That joy? It was getting to bring us to heaven to be with him someday. To accomplish that, not only did Jesus live a perfect life, he died on the cross in our place, so that all the times we have veered from the path would be forgiven. As nails were being driven into his hands and feet, Jesus had his eyes fixed on you, on me, so that someday we could run a race that would end up at his side.

Races between Kindergarteners are so much fun to watch. Races for Christians can be painful to observe and to experience. But we have one who has gone before us to not only pave the way, but who is our Way. With time spent in his Word, we can keep our eyes firmly focused on him, all the way to heaven.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, just like a child, our eyes can so easily veer off of you as we run our race toward heaven. Thank you for never losing sight of your goal of saving us. Help us, in your grace, to keep our eyes focused on you each day. In your name we ask this, amen.

A Thought to Consider:
The idea of fixing our eyes on Jesus brings to mind our Savior’s words to Thomas shortly after Easter, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We can’t see Jesus physically, but in his Word, we get to see Jesus with the eyes of faith. Think about and plan some times throughout this week when you can open your Bible and see Jesus.


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


Do Not Be Afraid – Week of August 8, 2022

Do Not Be Afraid – Week of August 8, 2022



“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Luke 12:32-34



Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite children’s authors. In one of his classic “mouse” books, a character named Wemberley worries about, well, everything. She worries about big things, like whether or not her parents are still there and little things, like spilling juice on her doll, Petal.

In last week’s devotion, we talked about the importance of focusing on things above, rather than on earthly things. This text flows right along with that same theme, because as we ponder the many things our hearts often become distracted about, we realize that the root cause of that distraction is often worry. For example, we might fixate on purchasing something new because we worry over having enough or the right kind of enough. We concern our hearts with earning the praise of coworkers because we worry about being liked or fitting in. We aggressively check off items on our to-do list because we worry that our worth is tied up in what we are able to accomplish.

Jesus addresses all of these concerns in his words today from the book of Luke, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen to give you the kingdom.” Let’s unpack that sentence just a little more and think about the awesome promises tied up within it. First, the ending: “your Father has chosen to give you the kingdom.” Your Father! The King of heaven and earth! The one with power over absolutely everything is looking out for you, his child! And what has he been pleased to give you? Nothing less than the kingdom! In sending his Son, Jesus, to be our Savior and the Holy Spirit to work faith in our hearts to believe in that Savior, God has made us heirs of his heavenly kingdom. We have nothing less than the best!

And so, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” All of the things that we think we need in order to be happy? All of the feel-goods? All of the goals reached? We need not worry about any of these things. The kingdom is already ours, through Jesus. We can rest in our Father’s loving care about all of the things that we need for this life. He promises that he knows we need them.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you know how easily our hearts worry after the things of this world. Forgive us for our lack of trust in you. Help us to rest in you, just as a dear child rests in the arms of her dad, with absolutely nothing to fear. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A Question to Consider:
Think more about what it means to have been given the kingdom. What blessings come along with being an heir to the Ruler of all?


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


Focus! – Week of August 1, 2022

Focus! – Week of August 1, 2022



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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4



Focus! The preschooler flits from one activity to the next, unable yet to carry out a plan for any sustained length of time. The grown-up knows she’d better turn on her “Driving Focus” app if she wants to stay safe on the long road home. It is so easy for our brains to get distracted from whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing or thinking about!

God, through the apostle Paul, is speaking to exactly that kind of trouble in our verses for today when he says, “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.” In a nutshell, “Focus!”

Why do we need this reminder? Because God knows exactly the kind of unfocused mess we often are. He sees how our eyes drift so quickly to Facebook Marketplace to add to the list of our possessions. He sees how often our hearts yearn after the praise of people. He knows how easily we become consumed with ticking the boxes on our to-do lists, losing sight of why we’re doing what we’re doing at all.

Thank our God that for all of our lack of focus, Jesus came into the world ready to reach his goal with laser-sharp precision. Jesus lived without concern for his earthly possessions, kept his eyes on giving praise to his Father, and worked tirelessly every day, never losing sight of the mission for which he came: to die on the cross for every sin, including the many times that we have failed to stay focused on heavenly things.

We are forgiven, in Christ! Paul tells us that now “our li[ves] are hidden with Christ in God.” All those things we think we need, all those to-dos we face? That’s not our real life anymore. When the Holy Spirit worked faith in each of our hearts, our focus became completely changed. Our hearts now see and desire what Jesus desires. Our minds remember that it’s not for earthly things, praise, or achievement that we’re working, but rather to bring glory to God in everything we do. This side of heaven, we will never focus perfectly, but with Jesus’ help, in the strength of his forgiveness, we work daily to keep setting our focus where our focus should be: on our life with Jesus in heaven and the ways in which we get to share about him while we still go about our days on earth.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you know how often our focus wanders from what is truly important. Forgive us! In our personal lives, and as we work with students and families, help us to set our hearts and minds on things above, remembering that our real life, everything that is truly important, is found with you, in heaven. In your name we pray this, amen.

A Thought to Consider:

Make a list of 3 things that tend to be distractors for your heart. Then, write a promise from the Bible that helps to refocus your heart for each one.


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


Ask, Seek, Knock – Week of July 25, 2022

Ask, Seek, Knock – Week of July 25, 2022



“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:9-13



I picture myself standing at the door with hand raised, positioned for a knock, but I stop mid-air. As I stand at the door, my mind is in conflict wondering if I even dare try. “Maybe I can work this out on my own,” I think.

This can be a visual of our prayer life at times. We have blessings for which to be grateful, sins that weigh heavily, struggles that cause pain or worry. We work and work to get through things on our own. When we’re at our last straw, that faith lightbulb comes on— “I need to go to God in prayer.” What took so long? And then I read the words for today’s devotion where Jesus is telling us to ask, seek, and knock. He’s telling me to come to him in prayer. Why do I wait so long?

Prayer—such a simple thing. It’s sharing with God what’s on our heart, right? That’s true but it’s more than that. You may have been reminded that prayer is not intended to be like ordering at a restaurant expecting God to fill our order. God wants us to pray. He wants us to pray for things he wants to give us. When a young child comes to you and asks for something, you make a decision based on what you think is best for that child. Oh, how God’s desire for our prayers and his answer for us is even stronger. Our prayers are based entirely on the unique and unearned relationship we have with God, our Father. Prayer is not trying to convince God to give us what we want but rather to grow in our understanding of what God wants for us.

God also loves when we come to him again and again. As we pray, we watch and wait in hope for God’s response. If we’re honest, we’re often waiting for God to answer the way we want him to answer. The prayer of a faith-filled heart knows that God’s answer to our prayers, whether the answer is “yes”, “no”, or “not now”, comes from his heart full of a love for us that we cannot comprehend. Even more than a loving parent, God wants what’s best for us and his response to our prayers always comes from that love. Knowing that, we can go to him with complete confidence and trust. We can pray boldly. We can also pray for God to help us to grow in our understanding and trust for his will for our lives.

So, walk right up to that door without any hesitation. Ask. God wants to hear your prayer. Seek his will. He wants you to grow in faith in him. Knock on the door trusting that God will always respond in his way out of love for you.



Prayer
Dear Jesus, forgive me when I am hesitant in my prayers. Help me to trust you completely and pray with boldness, with confidence, and with trust in your answer to my prayers. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For Further meditation:
CW21 722
In Holy Conversation
CW21 721 / CW 93 411
What a Friend We Have in Jesus


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


Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022

Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022



As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42



Martha or Mary? Which one? I’m wondering if you are at all like me when you read this story. I often think, “Yes Jesus, but give Martha a break. You and your disciples are there, and the meal won’t just arrive. She was trying to be a good host to you and your disciples.”

And then I reread the final sentence that reminds us of the one thing truly needed—sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him.

What’s the right thing to do? First, you and I likely are a little bit Mary and a little bit Martha. Last week’s devotion spoke about serving others out of love and gratitude for all God has done for us. Serving others is certainly God pleasing. Martha preparing a meal for her Lord and the disciples is a blessed task. Imagine making a meal for such a group with the conveniences available at that time. It’s remarkable. However, note carefully Jesus’ response. He doesn’t reprimand her for preparing the meal. “You are worried and upset about many things,” is what Jesus says to Martha. It’s not the work, it’s the worry and stress that Martha is expressing that are the concern.

Mary. Someone to whom we may aspire. She had her priorities set. She sat quietly and received Jesus’ service to her. She was focused on worship and her worship was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him. I can’t think of a more idyllic way to spend an afternoon.

So, what’s the take-away for us? God loves our service to him as we express our love to him through that service. God loves our worship. Our worship flows out of receiving his service to us. As God fills us through the Word, we respond by reflecting his grace in our acts of service to others. So, be a Martha who eagerly serves. Be careful that the tasks that you do don’t get in the way of your time in the Word and at Jesus’s feet in devotions, worship, Bible study. Be a Mary that prioritizes time with the Savior. Treasure that time in the Word and then take what you hear and learn from God’s Word with you in all the things you do each day.

Martha? Mary? How about a Martha with Mary’s heart for the Word and a Mary with Martha’s heart to serve? It’s not really about either woman. It’s all about Jesus, what he has done, growing in faith through the Word, and responding in service to him and to others.



Prayer
Dear Jesus, help me to always treasure and prioritize my time with you in the Word, in prayer, in devotions, in worship. Help me to reflect your love for me in the service that I strive to do for others. In your name I pray. Amen.

For Further Meditation:
CW21 913 Come Away from Rush and Hurry
CW21 645/CW93 290 One Thing’s Needful


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


Focused Love – Week of July 11, 2022

Focused Love – Week of July 11, 2022



This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11



You have your list in front of you detailing the tasks for the day. It’s a long but doable list and you get right at it. Your phone rings. As you look at the number, what’s your reaction? Recently a number popped up on my phone and I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was, “I don’t have time for this. This person never talks for less than an hour and I have too many things to do to take this call.”
As we reflect on today’s readings, we are reminded so clearly of God’s command for us—love one another. Nowhere in Scripture will you find God’s daily task list for us except the list that tells us to love one another. That’s not to say that the tasks that we do are unimportant. They most often are. God wants us to be faithful to the responsibilities he has blessed us with. However, we can be so focused on our tasks, that we lose sight of those around us.
“[God] loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Atone means to make amends for. In this verse, we see that we aren’t the ones making the amends for our sins. Jesus is. God sent Jesus to take any and all punishment that we all deserve for our sins. Jesus made us, “at one”, in unity, with God the Father through the cross. That’s a love beyond understanding. Our response? “Since God so loved us”, since God did this for us, he tells us to turn and share that love for others.
I took that call with a less than loving attitude and soon found myself wrapped in a conversation with someone who needed an ear, an encouragement, a reminder of God’s grace and love. As I hung up, I was glad that I had picked up and ashamed of my initial reaction. What on my list was more important than the person I just spoke to?
Reflect each day, my friends, on the grace, mercy, and love that God gives us each and every day. He does so with a heart full of love for us. We don’t deserve his love and can’t earn his love, especially not by the tasks on our lists. But we can reflect and share that love out of gratitude and in praise of the love he so freely and abundantly gives us.
Get at your list but take that call. Make that call. Set time to be with someone you know who needs to hear about God’s love and grace for them. Don’t mark it off your list but keep it there each and everyday with hearts full of humble gratefulness for God’s love for us.



Prayer
Dear Father, thank you for your unending, immeasurable love for me. Please help me to have a heart open and eager to share that love with all those you have placed in my life. It’s in your name I pray. Amen

For Further meditation:

Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace
CW21 768  / CW93 521


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 Mission Prayer – Week of July 4, 2022

A Mission Prayer – Week of July 4, 2022



May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us—
So that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
The land will yield its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Psalm 67:1-3, 6-7



“Your kingdom come.” Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we speak those words. Do you sometimes wonder just what that means? It certainly means that we want God to keep us as his dear child and when our life on earth comes to an end, we want to be with him in heaven. These words have a much broader meaning than just our desire to be with him in heaven. In this three-word phrase, we are asking God that his kingdom, his message of grace, comes to all people. Think about that. Each time we say the Lord’s prayer, we are asking that his message of salvation and grace come to all people everywhere.

Our reading for today takes that same thought and puts it into a beautiful mission prayer. We first ask God for his grace, his blessing, and that he looks on us as his dearly loved child. As our Father, God loves to answer that prayer. However, this prayer is not a simple prayer for ourselves. It’s much more. As we read the next phrase we see the result or the why for that prayer. We ask God to answer our prayer so that his ways, his power and love, could be told and known throughout the earth, in all nations.

But then what happens? As people hear about God’s grace for us and for them, they praise him. The prayer continues to ask God to lead all people everywhere to praise him. Imagine for a minute what that would look and sound like! God wants every person in every place and in every time to know him, to love and worship him, to praise him, to be his own. As ones who know and experience his grace, forgiveness, and the blessings of faith, we are asking God to lead us to reflect him in our lives to those around us. Think of the old commercial— “and they told two friends, and they told two friends.” That’s the privilege God gives us! We get to be one of his messengers!

The result? An amazing harvest of people who turn to God in faith and in praise. God will bless it. He promises this. His kingdom will come. May his salvation be known among all!



Prayer
Dear God, we ask you to be gracious to us, bless us, make your face shine on us. Use and encourage us to be messengers of your grace.  May all people, everywhere, know and praise you. It’s in your Son Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

For Further meditation:

May God bestow on us his grace, with blessings rich provide us;
And may the brightness of his face to life eternal guide us,
That we his saving health may know, his gracious will and pleasure,
And also to the nations show Christ’s riches without measure
And unto God convert them.

O let the people praise your worth, in all good works increasing;
The land shall plenteous fruit bring forth, your Word is rich in blessings.
May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit bless us!
Let all the world praise him alone; let solemn awe possess us.
Now let our hearts say, “Amen!”

CW93 574, CW21 906 St. 1 and 3


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 Will Never Be Shaken – Week of June 27, 2022

I Will Never Be Shaken – Week of June 27, 2022



Truly my soul finds rest in God;
My salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2



“I will never be shaken.” Such words of confidence! Have you ever said these words or something similar? “I won’t back down.” “I won’t give up.”
Even when spoken in the Superman pose with feet spread, hands on our hips, and head held high, there’s a voice we hear that says, “Really?” We try to be the faithful fan who cheers even in a losing game or season. We commit to a healthier lifestyle. We might commit to being more faithful in reaching out to friends or family. Commitment helps us meet goals but if we’re honest, commitment is hard and more often than not, we don’t keep those commitments.
What about our faith commitment? Are we “all in” or a “fair-weather” person of faith? Jesus is clear in his expectation for those who follow him—“all in.” Jesus shared with his disciples and others what it means to be a follower. It means loving him more than anything else. “Of course I do,” you may think. If we’re honest, do we? Do we always put God first in our lives no matter the cost? If we took a hard look at our lives, our priorities, our activities, are we really putting God first? The truth? We’re not capable of making that level of commitment…not on our own. We fail and fail even with the best of intentions.
All this can be discouraging. We commit over and over to be more faithful in worship, join that Bible study, read a morning devotion each day, pray faithfully. It’s lasts for a bit and then fades. It’s disheartening and leaves us with a feeling of guilt.
However, there’s good news—amazing news actually. That spiritual fatigue that we experience can find rest in God. When we recall how he sent Jesus as our Savior, we are reminded that our most significant burden, sin, was taken care of by Jesus. Jesus is our rock—he’s not going anywhere. He’s our fortress—protecting us from the evils of Satan, the evils of the world, and even ourselves. He’s our salvation-the gift of peace knowing that sins are covered, forgiven, gone.
Exhale. Jesus has done it all for us. We can rest spiritually in God in a way that is unlike any earthly rest. We can say with confidence (with or without the Superman pose) that Satan, the challenges of this world, and our own sinfulness, will not consume us. We can say, “It is well with my soul.” (CW21 850) We have the peace and rest that comes from God alone. “[We] will never be shaken” from God’s loving care for us because of him and what he has done for us and our salvation.



Prayer
Dear Jesus, I want to be faithful to you. I know I can’t do it without you. Hold me close and help me to always be faithful and at peace in you. It’s in your name I pray all this. Amen

For Further meditation:
CW21 850
It Is Well with My Soul

CW21 736 This hymn is a beautiful prayer asking the Lord to keep us faithful to him. This prayer can be sung or read.
Lord, You Call Us as Your People


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 Power of God’s Words – Week of June 20, 2022

The Power of God’s Words – Week of June 20, 2022



Shout for joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
make his praise glorious.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power
that your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth bows down to you;
they sing praise to you,
they sing the praises of your name.
Psalm 66:1-4



You’re sitting in a dark room and shout out, “Let there be light!”  You pause expectantly. Nothing. You try again, this time with a bit more gusto. “Let there be light!” You pause again. Still nothing, but you really knew that all along. You could whisper it, shout it, sing it, say it in another language, but unless you walked over to the light switch, you’ll remain in a dark room. Our words can be powerful in that they can encourage or discourage another person. Our words can express care, or they can hurt. Our words can teach and inspire. While powerful, they are nothing in comparison to God’s words. His words have power beyond what we can understand. Think of creation. God spoke the simple words, “Let there be” and there was light, darkness, firmament, trees, fish, animals, stars, sun, mountains, and on and on.

Think of the many times that Jesus spoke, and miracles happened. A lame man walked with sins forgiven and body healed. Lazarus rose from his tomb. The storm at sea was calmed. Leprosy gone, Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son raised from the dead. He spoke and his words had power over life, over health, over nature.

Jesus also used his powerful words that have us in awe in another way. Several times Jesus demonstrated his power over his enemies and over Satan. Luke 8:26-39, a reading from this Sunday, shares the account of Jesus restoring a demon-possessed man. In this story, Jesus gave permission to the demons to leave the man and go into a herd of pigs. The demons needed his permission. His words have power to create, to forgive, to heal, and to protect and save those he loves from evil.

What does that mean for us? As today’s reading shares, we can stand in awe and praise God for all he has done for us and continues to do. We are witnesses who get to tell all that God has done. Every time we share a Bible story or tell about the miracles of Jesus, God uses it for his glory and to push back the power of Satan. While not taking Satan’s power for granted, we don’t need to fear Satan and his attacks on us. God is our protector and defender whose love for us defeated Satan. We can live each day with bold confidence as God’s dearly loved child. We can use our words to share God’s Word. As today’s verses say, we can shout it, say it, sing about God’s awesome power and his love for us! Shout for joy!



Prayer
Dear Jesus, let me never lose sight of how amazing and powerful you are. Help me to use my words to praise you and to tell others about you, not just in my role as an educator, but with all those you place before me in my life. In your name I pray. Amen

For Further Meditation:
CW21 640/CW93 293 God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage
CW21 871/SW93 455 Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ 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


Three in One in Three – Week of June 13, 2022

Three in One in Three – Week of June 13, 2022



The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-27



There are so many things in the world that I just don’t understand. I put a tiny, dead-looking seed in dirt and with water, light, and time it becomes a beautiful flower or delicious herb. I tear a piece of paper and it’s forever torn. I get a cut on my hand and in time, it heals, and you would never know it had been cut.

Here’s one that is hard to wrap my head around. God is three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the same time, he is one God. Three Gods in one. One God in three. This is referred to as the Trinity. This is, without a doubt, not something we will ever understand this side of heaven. There isn’t any way for our limited human understanding to grasp this. Faith helps us believe it, even without understanding it. And yet, even though we don’t understand it, it’s true. We know that because of what we learn in God’s Word.

This Sunday was Trinity Sunday where we focused on the Triune God, three in one and one in three. Today’s verses reflect all three persons of the Trinity in a blessing that is often used at the close of worship.

  • The LORD bless you and keep you;
    • This references the work of God the Father who lovingly cares and provides for our earthly needs, protection from sin and evil, and keeps us faithful to him.
  • The LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
    • God the Son has saved us from sin through the cross and the empty tomb. In him we have God’s grace and forgiveness. Because of Jesus, God looks at us with a deep and profound love with our sins covered through Christ.
  •  The LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.
    • Here we see the work of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who works faith in our hearts and causes our faith to grow. His work in us gives us the peace and confidence that only faith in God can provide.

The Trinity—all serving us in their unique roles and serving as one God. What a mystery and what an indescribable blessing! What does this mean for you and for me? God the Father loves us. God the Son saves us. God the Holy Spirit gives us faith. Three in one and one in three. We thank God for faith to believe what we don’t understand and for the blessings we receive from the Triune God!



Prayer

God the Father—bless and keep me. God the Son—make your face shine on me and be gracious to me. God the Holy Spirit—turn your loving face toward me and give me your peace. Amen

For further reflection and prayer:

Triune God, O Be Our Stay
CW ’21 482 CW ‘93 192

Triune God, O be our stay and let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray, and grant us life forever.
Keep us from the evil one; uphold our faith most holy,
And let us trust you solely with humble hearts and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on, with all true Christians running
Our heav’nly race and shunning the devil’s wiles and cunning.
Amen, amen! This be done; so sing we, “Alleluia!”


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


How Did You Hear? – Week of June 6, 2022

How Did You Hear? – Week of June 6, 2022



When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
John 15:26-27



How did you hear? Who was the first one to tell you about God? For some, it was Mom or Dad when they were a small child. Or perhaps a teacher. For some of you it may have been a friend or coworker. Somewhere in your life, someone told you about God and there have likely been many additional people along the way who also shared things about faith with you.

This Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. In Bible times, Pentecost was a special time of year. It was the Feast of Harvest. Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate. The city was likely packed with people speaking many different languages.

Before he went back to heaven, Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit who would teach them about Jesus as they had never learned before. The way the Holy Spirit came that day was miraculous and unique: the sound of a strong wind, the flames of fire on the disciples’ heads, and the immediate ability to speak in different languages. They were being prepared to take what they know and go out and tell others all over the world. Out they went, into Jerusalem, to use this new gift and all that they had learned from and about Jesus to tell all those they could. What an amazing day!

You and I don’t have the experience that the disciples did on that first Pentecost, but God asks us to do the same. You are a witness of Jesus. While you didn’t travel with him like the disciples, you have learned about him from the Bible and from others. Now God says to you and me, “Go!” Trust that the Holy Spirit is the one who creates faith, but he gives us the privilege of telling the story of God’s grace through Jesus for all people. We are told to go and tell but also, we get to tell!

Someone was the first or second or fiftieth person to tell you about God. You get to be that person for others. Think about the people you know. Who can you tell? Who can you encourage? Who can you comfort with the message of God’s love, forgiveness, and grace? You and I can go with joy and with confidence knowing that God not only told us to go, he also promised to be with us as we do.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, I am so grateful for the faith you have given me. I cannot imagine my life without knowing your love and grace for me. Give me eagerness and courage to tell others about you and not miss opportunities to do so. Then bless the message through the work of the Holy Spirit. In your name I pray. Amen

A Thought to Consider:

Consider the following hymn for reflection:
CW93 561, CW21 743
Text: © 1993 John C. Lawrenz

I hear the Savior calling! The gospel come to me;
My eyes, once closed in blindness, are opened now to see
That I myself was helpless to live eternally,
But, dying, Christ did save me, and now he calls for me!

I hear the Savior calling! He leads a soul to me,
A soul in bitter anguish, one needing to be free.
The gift I have to offer is Christ, my Lord’s decree
That all have been forgiven; my Savior calls for me!

I hear the Savior calling! His call has urgency;
Each moment souls are dying, soon comes eternity.
And so, my precious Savior, this is my humble plea:
Prepare me for my mission, for you are calling me!


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


Relentless in Prayer for Each Other – Week of May 30, 2022

Relentless in Prayer for Each Other – Week of May 23, 2022



I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:17-19



Relentless. Betsy was absolutely relentless. This little girl had in her mind that if she kept asking, the answer would eventually be the one she hoped for. You either have a child like that in your class, remember a child like Betsy, have a Betsy in your family, or may even have been that child.

Today’s reading is a prayer, spoken by the apostle Paul, for the people in Ephesus. It’s clear how much he cared for them. Did you notice how he started this part of the prayer—“I keep asking that God the Father…” ? He keeps going to God the Father in prayer on their behalf. He knew them well including their strengths, their opportunities, and their challenges. In verse 15 he mentions their “love for all the saints.” It sounds like they were a caring congregation watching out for one another. Paul’s prayer for them focuses on a couple of key areas:

  • The Spirit of wisdom and revelation: Paul wants them to know more and more about God which will lead to growth in faith.
  • That the eyes of [their] heart may be enlightened: Paul wants them to know as much as possible about God and his Word. Why? Paul gave three reasons:
    • So that they can understand the hope to which God has called [them]. That hope is not a wish but the assurance that grace is theirs.
    • So that they know the riches of his glorious inheritance: Heaven is theirs through faith. They can’t do anything to earn it. It’s a gift from God.
    • So that they can know of his incomparably great power for all who believe. God’s power is above anything we can imagine. This is God who created all things and through Jesus, provided relief from sin and the peace of heaven.

Paul’s prayer is that the people of Ephesus never waiver from the faith they have. That, my friends, is our prayer for each other as well. As you wrap up this year, remember your colleagues who serve within your own ministry and those who serve in other early childhood ministries. Like Paul, we can go back and back, asking the Lord to keep each other strong in the faith, growing in the Word, confident in God’s grace for us, and filled with awe of God’s power.

Like Betsy, let’s be relentless when we go to God in prayer on behalf of each other. May each of us be an encouragement for one another and a reflection of God’s grace for us.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, I thank you for all those who serve in our early childhood ministries in so many places. Be with them Lord, guide them, watch over them, and above all, keep them always close to you. In your name I pray. Amen

For further reflection, consider the following hymn:
Dear Lord, to Your True Servants Give.
Christian Worship ’21 896
Christian Worship ’93 542


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


Peace – Week of May 23, 2022

Peace – Week of May 23, 2022



[Jesus said,] “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:26-27



Peace. If you could describe what the word “peace” means to you, what would you say? Is it an idyllic setting on the edge of a beautiful lake? Is it the quiet of the house after everyone else had headed to bed? It could be that feeling of calm after a stressful visit to the doctor or with an anxious parent. Peace can come in many forms, and it’s something we all crave.

Our reading today comes again from Jesus’ conversation with his disciples in the Upper Room the night before his crucifixion. He has shared so much with them up to this point. He’s given them instruction after instruction and shares that he will no longer be with them physically. They have so much to process and so much to take in. How could they possibly sort it all out and grasp all that he’s telling them? I picture them leaning in trying to get every word. However, with human limitations like ours, they couldn’t possibly understand everything he was sharing. Jesus knows them and anticipates their reaction. “Peace.” That one-word reminder and gift. Like a parent calming a child in the night, he tells them that they don’t need to be afraid. On the brink of a heart-wrenching day for them, Jesus reminds them and us, that the peace he gives is not the same as the world’s peace. It’s not the removal of earthly challenges, disasters, and heart-breaking events. We live in a time of division in our country, horrendous acts of violence in Ukraine, violence in our cities, and on and on. We have more than enough worldly concerns. Jesus is clear that his peace doesn’t depend on harmony between countries or relationships among people. His peace calms our fearful hearts knowing that we are one with God through forgiveness that is ours because of Jesus. We have the peace of confidence in our eternal salvation. Our peace from Jesus comes from being God’s chosen child, loved and redeemed.

Take heart, my friends. Not only does Jesus provide us with a peace that is greater than any earthly concern, but he also promises to send the Holy Spirit to help us, as he did with the disciples, who teaches and reminds us of all that Jesus said and did.

Peace. It’s a quiet spot on a serene lake. It’s a restored relationship with someone we care about. However, ultimate peace, greater than any worry or concern, is the peace from Jesus of sins forgiven, a relationship with God secure, and the gift of heaven. No earthly challenge can take that peace from us as children of God with faith in him.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, I thank you for the peace you give me that is greater than anything I may face. Thank you especially for the peace that comes from knowing that you love me and forgive me. Help me reflect that peace to others in all I do. In your name I pray. Amen.

For additional meditation, consider the following hymn:
“It Is Well with My Soul”
Christian Worship (21) 850:1-4


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


As I have Loved You… – Week of May 16, 2022

As I have Loved You… – Week of May 16, 2022



[Jesus said,] “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:33-35



How many times a day do you encourage the children in your care or your own children to, “Be nice”? As they work at sharing that toy that is their favorite one ever—“Be nice.” While they want so badly to be first in line but it’s their turn to be in the middle of the line—“Be nice.” When one child is struggling with self-control, and you are encouraging the other children to be patient—”Be nice.” It can be easy for a child to be nice when all is going well, but not as easy when things don’t go their way, or another child is not nice to them.

Take a minute and reread today’s verses.

Did you know that Jesus shared these words with his disciples in the Upper Room the night before his crucifixion? He knew clearly what was about to happen. He had this last time with all of them. He knew just what he wanted to say and what they needed to hear. He’s letting them know that he would not be with them physically, but he would be with them. Jesus gives them words of encouragement to face what’s coming. Jesus says, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” He’s reminding them of his love for them. Did you notice that he calls them his children? What a term of love and endearment! He tells them and he tells us to love each other. Not just, “be nice” but truly love each other. Why? Because of him, his love, all he had done, was about to do, and would continue to do for them and for us. Jesus also emphasizes that as they exude and reflect his love, others will know that their love comes from Jesus.

How about us? “Love one another” sounds so simple. You and I might think, “I’m a nice person. I’m kind to others.” This love that Jesus describes goes deeper than simple niceties. It’s what’s called agape love—a love that sacrifices for others. It’s a love for those who are not easy to love. It’s a love that comes from the love Jesus has for us.

And so, “Be nice” but even more, “love one another.” Think of the enduring love the Savior has for you. That loves motivates us and fills us with a love that reaches out to those around us in ways that reflect our Savior. So you can and do love one another out of love for Jesus. You can and do love one another as a way to reflect his love to others and point them to him.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, I want to be a reflection of your love that points others to you. Help me to do so with all those around me. Thank you for your unending and sacrificial love. 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


Listen to His Voice – Week of May 9, 2022

Listen to His Voice – Week of May 9, 2022



My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
John 10:27-30



Babies can recognize their mother’s voice while they’re still in the womb, even though it’s a muffled voice they hear. When they are born, her voice will cause a baby to turn its head or soothe their cry. It’s remarkable. It’s miraculous. Even when they don’t understand language and words, they understand the sound and tones of the voice they know so well.
Do you know anything about sheep? While adorable, they’re not the brightest animals. It’s no small job for a shepherd to keep each sheep safe. They wander. They eat things they shouldn’t. They don’t pay attention to their surroundings which can put them in danger of falls, injury, or attacks. They’re easily identified as high maintenance. The shepherd truly has a 24/7 job to keep them out of harm’s way. His tools are simple. He watches with his eyes and listens carefully for their bleating cries. He uses his rod, his staff, to guide and prod the sheep to safety and to places with food and water. He also uses it to protect the sheep from any would be attackers. The shepherd also uses his voice to call the sheep closer and to provide the reassuring sound of his voice nearby.
Sound familiar? It’s no surprise that the Bible calls Jesus the Good Shepherd and refers to us as sheep. Let’s start with us. Aren’t we, like sheep, so prone to get off track in so many ways? We set a goal of reading our devotion or Bible study each day. We work at having a more positive attitude no matter what comes our way. We think about that one sin that nags at us. We want so badly to avoid it and yet there it is, once again. We get discouraged, anxious, worrisome, impatient, and on and on.
And then we hear it—the voice of our Good Shepherd. It may not be an audible voice but it’s there. Jesus, our Shepherd gently calls us to him in the Word. His Word is like the shepherd’s rod, reminding us when we stray in sin. We hear the patient voice of Jesus reminding us that he loves us, he forgives us, he is watching over us, and he is with us no matter what challenges come our way. It’s his desire that we are close to him each and every day, listening to his Word and eagerly going to him in our prayers.
Like the youngest of children, turn your head toward the Shepherd’s voice. Hear him clearly and regularly through his Word so that you are strengthened for each day. Trust in him to be with you and rest in the joy of knowing how dearly he loves you.



Prayer

Jesus, shepherd of the sheep, who your Father’s flock does keep,
Safe we wake and safe we sleep, guarded still by you.

In your promise firm we stand, none can take us from your hand;
Speak—we hear—at your command, we will follow you.

Father, draw us to you Son; we with joy will follow on
Till the work of grace is done, there to live with you. Amen

CW21 551 /CW93 436


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


It’s Him! – Week of May 2, 2022

It’s Him! – Week of May 2, 2022



Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
John 21:4-6



Have you ever had the experience where someone comes up to you, you look at them and think, “They look so familiar, but I just can’t place them?” You run into this person in a completely different setting than you normally would and your mind struggles to put it together. Once you start talking, it clicks, and you realize who it is you’re talking to.

The disciples had gone through a lot. Jesus, the one they loved, the one they spent so much time with, had been crucified. Three days later they got word that he had risen from the dead. While in hiding in fear, Jesus appeared to them in a locked room with the words, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:26). In our reading today, the disciples are at the Sea of Galilee, doing what they had done so often—fishing. Peter knew all about fishing but this time, as had happened in the past, no fish. Early in the morning after fishing all night, they hear a voice from the shore asking about their catch. Nothing—that’s what they had caught. The man gave them instructions to put their nets on the right side and try again. Now what? Nets brimming with fish! So many fish that they couldn’t pull the nets into the boat. Does all this sound familiar? Suddenly the light goes on and they realize who is on the shore. What an amazing moment, yet again. Here is Jesus. Watching over them and once again providing for them. What a breakfast they had that morning!

In this account, Jesus is reminding us, too. As we go about each day, Jesus is there with us all through the day. His heart is full of love for us as he watches the joyful things, the challenging things, the disappointing things, and the sinful things. And yet, we can so often be like the disciples who didn’t always recognize that he was right there with them. How often do we muddle through our day without much thought about him? We can take so long before we recognize and remember to turn to him with our thanks, our repentance, our petitions.

Never forget that Jesus is there, right beside you, right behind you, right in front of you. He’s there to guard and guide you. He’s there to comfort and encourage you. He’s there to remind you of your need for a Savior and then to grant you his grace and forgiveness. He’s there providing innumerable earthly blessings, too many to count. Your net is full of his blessings both spiritual and earthly. Thank you, Lord!



Prayer
Dear Jesus, I can so often neglect you and yet you never neglect me. Thank you for your constant love and presence in my life. Let me never take you for granted but look to you in all I do. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Thought to Consider: Consider taking a few minutes to reflect on the following hymn as a reminder of the thoughts of this devotion.

CW93 478, CW21 775

With the Lord begin your task;
Jesus will direct it.
For his aid and counsel ask;
Jesus will perfect it.
Ev’ry morn with Jesus rise,
And, when day is ended,
In his name then close your eyes;
Be to him commended.

Let each day begin with prayer,
Praise and adoration.
On the Lord cast ev’ry care;
He is your salvation.
Morning, evening, and at night
Jesus will be near you,
Save you from the tempter’s might,
With his presence cheer you.

With your Savior at your side
Foes need not alarm you;
In his promises confide
And no ill can harm you.
All your trust and hope repose
In the mighty Master,
Who in wisdom truly knows
How to stem disaster.

If your task is thus begun
With the Savior’s blessing,
Safely then your course will run,
Naught your soul distressing.
Good will follow ev’rywhere
While you here must wander;
You at last the joy will share
In the mansions yonder.


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 Won! – Week of April 25, 2022

I Won! – Week of April 25, 2022



“Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:54b-57



Our younger son, now grown and with a family, has always loved games. As a child, he tried so hard to start “Family Game Night.” I loved it. Our other son and their dad, not so much. For weeks, Adam and I would sit at the kitchen table playing Mancala, Monopoly, or any number of games. Eventually he gave up involving his dad and brother.

When he would come home from college and several years after college, our tradition was cribbage or Scrabble. He was a notable opponent for me. Those rare times when I came out ahead, it was hard to resist the fist pump and a gleeful shout (often with a question mark at the end), “I won!?”.

“I won.” Words of triumph. Words of victory. It can be really sweet to be able to say those words after a rousing match of your favorite game with a friend or family member. There’s a sense of accomplishment and joy. However, that moment of joy typically lasts until you move on to other activities. It was sweet for a moment.

Today’s reading talks about victory at another level entirely. The victory described is the greatest triumph in the history of the world. Christ had been crucified, enduring an unthinkable death, for all of us and the endless sins we commit. “It is finished” are three of the most amazing words ever spoken. They carry the powerful message that the payment God demands for our sins has been fully met through Jesus.

But the story is not over. Jesus did indeed die on Good Friday. And then he declared his victory over Satan. “I won!” he could exclaim like no other victory ever. I’m not sure there was a fist pump that glorious Easter morning, but Christ rising from the dead and an empty tomb, gave evidence for all time that Jesus had won the victory over death for all who believe in him. And this victory was not momentary. It was for all time. This is a victory that is ours every day of our lives. We can begin each day, go through each day, and end each day with the words, “I won…because of Jesus!” His victory over death and sin is our victory. We can live each day, no matter what challenges lie before us, with the confidence that heaven is ours. Peace through God’s forgiveness is ours. God’s faithful promise to be with us in all things is ours. We can say that every single day. There is no other win that comes even close to that.

Since our son got married and had three little ones, we don’t get to that cribbage board quite as often. Those shouts of “I won” now come from the children. It’s the prayer of every Christian that the joyful expression of victory through Christ is ours today and every day. He is risen indeed! His victory is ours.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, May I never lose the joy of Easter and the victory you’ve won for me. Help me to live each day in that joy and peace and to share it with my students, their families, and all those around me. In your name I pray. 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


Look Up! – Week of April 18, 2022

Look Up! – Week of April 18, 2022



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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4



Can you imagine what it was like for those who walked to the tomb that Easter morning? I imagine the grief they were wrestling with. I think about the questions that may have been rolling around in their minds. I think of Mary, so overwhelmed with sadness that she didn’t even realize that it was Jesus, risen from the grave, talking with her. And then, as he spoke her name, everything changed. Imagine her face as she looked up into the eyes of her Savior. I cannot fully comprehend that moment.

Aren’t we often so much like Mary, the Mary walking to the tomb? We can be so focused on the path in front of us, the tasks before us, the weight of our sins and a sinful world. We so often go through days with our heads down, literally and figuratively. We struggle to focus during worship, during devotions, during prayer or Bible study. Our minds wander to those earthly things that so easily distract us.

We just celebrated the journey of Holy Week from Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem, the Lord’s Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial, the suffering Savior on the cross, and finally the inexpressible joy of the empty tomb. We left those Easter services with hearts full of joy and peace rejoicing over the Risen Savior. We celebrated with family and friends. And then comes Monday.

Our verses today remind us to keep our hearts on things above, on Christ. Like Mary, look up at our Savior Jesus. Remind yourself and those around you that Easter isn’t a day, but the message of the Risen Savior is for every day. Because of what Jesus has done for us, each day we can face the challenges of our life on earth with a joy and peace that comes from confidence in the promises kept by our faithful God. Set your mind on things above, on what God has done in love through Jesus. As you walk through each day, let these realities empower your life, rejoicing that heaven is yours. He is risen! He is risen, indeed!



Prayer

Dear Jesus, these words are full of the joy of Easter. Help me to keep that joy not just on Easter, but every day.

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!
CW 21 441:8



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


Humbled. Exalted – Week of April 11, 2022

Humbled. Exalted. – Week of April 11, 2022



And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! 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 acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:8-11



It’s Holy Week. A week that has been part of the church year for centuries. Holy means, “set apart.” The days of Holy Week are intended to be set apart from other days of the year. They fit together and yet each day has a focus that leads us through Jesus’ final days before the cross and the empty tomb of Easter.

The week begins with Palm Sunday. On that day, we remember when Christ, completely aware of what was before him, headed into Jerusalem. He could have decided to avoid Jerusalem that week. He also could have entered quietly. Not our Jesus. He came in a manner that was not easily missed. To those who attended his entry, they likely had no idea what they were witnessing. Here was the Son of God who created all things and who came for their salvation riding on a lowly donkey. At the same time, the people had heard about this Jesus. They honored him with a carpet of coats and palm branches, a sign of honor. They shouted words of praise for him.

Today’s text from Philippians reminds us who this Jesus is. He is the Son of God, the Creator of all things. Jesus willingly put all his power, his majesty, his glory in heaven aside to take on human nature. He was a true human. He experienced all that any other human being experiences—cold, hunger, fatigue, temptation. At the same time, he was still fully God with all the power, all the strength, all the glory that was his. This is one of those things that is impossible to understand. How can he be fully human and fully God at the same time? I don’t know. Our human reason can’t understand this. We can only accept it by faith.

Why would the Creator of all things, humble himself even to the point of death on a cross, the humiliating death by crucifixion? At any moment he could have stopped those who planned and carried out his crucifixion, but he didn’t. Why? You. Me. He put his glory aside so that he could fulfill God’s promise of salvation for all of us.

Is that the end of the story? By no means. Jesus conquered Satan and took all our sins on himself. He won the victory that we could never win. Today he sits at God the Father’s right hand where God has exalted him. Today’s text emphasizes that God gave Jesus the name that will cause people to bow in honor of him. It’s the only name that saves. He is our Savior, our King.
As you go through Holy Week, set apart time each day to focus on the events of this week and all that Jesus did for you, for me, for all. Spend time reading the account and pondering all that Jesus has done in humility and love. Spend time in prayer with the One whose grace is yours.



Prayer

All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.
As you received their praises, accept the prayers we bring,
O Source of every blessing, our good and gracious King. Amen
CW 21 412:5

Holy Week Readings: The account of the events of Holy Week can be found at Luke 19-24 or John 12-20. Choose one (or both) to read through on your own during this Holy Week.



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


Press On, My Friends – Week of April 4, 2022

Press On, My Friends – Week of April 4, 2022



Not that I have already obtained all this or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14



You’re outside on a lovely spring day. The children are playing happily on the slide, the swings, in the grass, some are playing with balls. What an idyllic day. And then, out of the corner of your eye you see it. She’s running with a full belly laugh alongside her two dearest friends. As she runs, she turns to see how close they are. In that split second, you see what she doesn’t see—another child about to cross her path. Fortunately, you are close enough to intervene just in time. Crisis averted this time.

Aren’t we too often, just like this little one? We run along each day from one task to the next. We have lessons to create, prep work to do, meetings to attend, meals to prepare, rooms to clean, reports to write, and on and on. Some days are like the joyful play of the children we serve. And some days, have bumps and potholes and challenges that can throw off that joy. We can so easily become discouraged, frustrated, and overwhelmed with guilt and disappointment. Our disappointment is with others or ourselves. We struggle with the guilt of thinking we haven’t done enough, or haven’t done it well enough, or will never seem to conquer a challenge.

Today’s verses can remind us that our life is like a journey or a race. The runner who focuses ahead, who keeps their eyes on the finish line seems less affected by the cheering, the commotion, and the distraction of others around them. They keep their eye on the prize that could be theirs. They see the potholes and are able to get around them. They face the challenges with every effort they have. Runners learn quickly that turning your head to check out the runners behind them will slow them down and can even take them off course. Once they refocus on the finish line, they are more likely to do well.

As we go through each day, we too, can be tempted to keep looking back at past sins, past mistakes, past failures, even knowing that these are all forgiven by God’s amazing grace. Yes, we can learn from the past, but over focusing on the past can hinder our growing in Christ and living for him. As God’s dear child, we strive to live lives of serving him and reflecting his grace in all we do. I don’t know about you, but I struggle every day with a balance of striving for perfection and recognizing my inability to achieve this. Today’s verses remind us to keep our eyes looking straight ahead confident in the gift of God’s amazing grace and eternal life with him as coheirs of heaven.

My dear colleagues, press on in faith. Keep your eyes on the prize, on the gift of God’s grace and eternal life. Heaven is ours. Our troubles here on earth are temporary but even during the challenges, we can look to the Word and be reminded that heaven is already ours. You are God’s dear child. Keep your eyes focused on what’s ahead and run through life with faith and joy.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, I am so easily distracted. Forgive me when I become complacent or over-confident in my faith. Keep me eager to be in the Word each day and spending time talking to you in prayer. Help me to be a reflection of your grace in all I do. Thank you for the prize-the gift of heaven with you. 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


Christmas in…. March? – Week of March 28, 2022

Christmas in…. March? – Week of March 28, 2022



Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.
Romans 8:1-3a



Can you believe that Christmas was already three months ago? As a teacher, it’s fun to receive Christmas gifts from your students. They walk into the classroom beaming with pride with their perfectly wrapped and well thought out presents that are just for you.

By now, the gift card to your favorite coffee shop has probably run out. The cute houseplant you had high hopes for may have already died. The festive mugs have most likely been shoved to the back of the shelf that has been deemed the “cute teacher mug shelf”.

Until next year, teacher gifts!

Have you ever done the same thing with Baby Jesus? Maybe you’ve “spent” all your Christmas joy and it’s long run out.  Perhaps you’re waiting until next December to deeply ponder again the precious gift that was given to you at the manger.

This passage in Romans gives us a pretty incredible reason to not leave Christmas in December. Paul reminds us that our sinful nature has made us “powerless” when it comes to our salvation. Conversely, he states “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So how then do we gain access to eternal life?

The answer is baby Jesus in the manger. What we couldn’t do “God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.”

This time of year can feel like a grind. Just maybe you have been too busy striving and hustling since school started back in January that you haven’t taken a moment to remember the one gift that hasn’t run out- your Savior.

The devil can tempt us to think that our striving will carry us to our worth, our redemption, our freedom. Of course, our work is not in vain. It matters. It brings glory to God. And yet, but when it comes to salvation, the most important work has already been done.

The good news of Christmas changes our day-to-day life even when it’s not “the most wonderful time of the year.” We needed a Savior and God sent us one. Not any old gift, but a perfectly wrapped and well thought out present that is specifically for you.

Don’t wait until next December, brothers and sisters. Let the gift of a Savior live in every day of the rest of your life. Be filled with glad tidings of joy that the Christ child has set us “free from the law of sin and death.” This gift is for you today and always.



Prayer

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh; Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings; Let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise the song on high; The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy, for Christ is born, The babe, the Son of Mary!

CW21 344:3/ CW93 67:3



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


Dare to be Dependent – Week of March 21, 2022

Dare to be Dependent – Week of March 21, 2022



So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
I Corinthians 10:12-13



One of the greatest joys of teaching young children is witnessing independence being born. An incredible transformation occurs over the course of the school year. We swell with pride when our students no longer need us to hold their hand, tie their shoes, or explain the directions for the umpteenth time.

Children spend most of their childhood acquiring the skills needed to live an independent life. The goal is to set them up for success without them having to rely so heavily on their parents or their teachers.

Maybe it’s because we spend so much of our lives learning to be independent, that we tend to struggle depending on others or even on our Savior when it comes to temptation. We take pride in not needing encouragement or help.

Right when we think we can get through this life and its temptations alone, we are precisely at our weakest. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”  Maybe we have said the phrase “I can do it myself” so often over our lifetime that we begin to think we are meant to do it all alone.

Did you know that this passage to the Corinthians preaches exactly the opposite? In the phrase “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.”, the Greek for the word “you” is in its PLURAL form- y’all (if you’re from the South like me).

Paul isn’t telling you singular to pull up your bootstraps and simply find the strength to resist the temptation. He is addressing a group, a team, a brother and sisterhood.

We simply aren’t meant to walk this Christian life alone. Together, we can build each other up. Together, we can resist temptation by pointing each other to Scripture and to our Savior- the source of our strength.

Independence is a beautiful thing. What a blessing to watch a child blossom and grow into their unique self. Dependence can be just as beautiful of a blessing from God. We were given Christian brothers and sisters to lean on when trials and temptations knock on our door.

Let us also not forget the greatest blessing of all- a Father who provides a “way out” when our load seems too heavy to bear.  God is faithful. He will provide a way. Take his hand. Depend on him.



Prayer

Loving Jesus, thank you for giving us Christian brothers and sisters in this life. Help us lean on each other and more importantly lean on you as we face trials and temptations. We praise you for always being our dependable Savior. 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


Back to the Basics – Week of March 14, 2022

Back to the Basics – Week of March 14, 2022



Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Philippians 3:20-4:1



Have you ever heard the term “the summer slide”? It’s the regression that takes place in students after a few months of vacation from school. Simple skills like holding a pencil, using a scissors, or even writing one’s own name can seem difficult!

After the first few weeks back to school, it is fun to see how quickly the students remaster the tasks they once knew. They pick up pencils, cut with scissors, and write their names just as they did before. They hadn’t truly forgotten, but they needed to be reminded. They’ve got the basics down once again!

We see a similar situation unfolding here in Philippians. Paul loves this congregation dearly. He goes as far as to call them “my joy and crown”. Like any loving teacher, he offers them some much needed encouragement and a refresher course on the truths of their Savior. They needed to be reminded and Pastor Paul brings them back to the basics.

The Philippians were facing persecution and their present circumstances were causing doubt and fear to linger. There were others around them who were losing their faith. Knowing this, Paul not only assures his beloved congregation that they can stand firm in their faith, but he also gives them some pretty incredible evidence of why:

  1. Future glory is greater than any present circumstance.
  2. Jesus is coming back to bring us to our true home, heaven.
  3. Jesus has power and control over absolutely everything.
  4. Jesus will transform our lowly bodies into perfect and eternal bodies.

Just like a teacher returning from summer vacation, Paul powerfully reminds the Philippians of truths they already know. He encourages them to go back to the basics of who Jesus is- their perfect Savior.

Don’t we need the same thing today? In this world, with its noise and lies, it can be easy to forget God’s promises and begin to doubt his faithfulness. Most things are changing at rapid speed, and we can quickly get caught up in all of the complicated mess.  Praise the Lord that when we return to his Word, we find the same basic truths, unchanged and forever offering the reassurance we need to stand firm in the Lord!



Prayer

Heavenly Father, guide us to remember the truth you have taught us. Help us run to your Word and promises when we get lost in this world. We praise you for being our constant anchor throughout our lives. Grant us peace. 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