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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A God Who Gets It – Week of March 7, 2022

A God Who Gets It – Week of March 7, 2022



“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16



My sister recently sent me a picture of a “googly eye” that had somehow stuck to her computer’s power cord along with the text “Tell me you’re an early childhood teacher without telling me you’re an early childhood teacher.”

As I sat there and laughed, my husband asked me what was so funny. After explaining, he sat there with a confused look on his face and asked, “What’s a googly eye?”

I guarantee if you ask any early childhood teacher what a googly eye is, they will know exactly what you are talking about. There are just some things you’ll never understand unless you’ve worked with young children. You could read a book about it or listen to others talk about it, but it takes getting into the trenches to really “get it”.

That’s why this section of Hebrews is so beautiful. It assures us that Christ can completely relate to us and what we are going through. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” God gets it!

You and I walk on the same earth as the Son of God did thousands of years ago. His life was filled with the same temptations that you and I face daily. He can sympathize with how hard this life can be.

Jesus didn’t stay on his throne and leave us to figure it out for ourselves. He left his heavenly home and put himself in the trenches, elbow to elbow with his brothers and sisters, to experience this life. And here’s the best part- he did it perfectly! When we fail, we know that his grace covers our sins and his mercy is new each day.

After some of my hardest days of teaching, I found comfort in talking with my coworkers. I was encouraged by their similar experiences they had that day. It felt so good to know that I wasn’t alone.

When we face hard days on this earth, we have a Savior who knows and has experienced the same things. Verse 16 assures us that we can bring them to him. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

So go, run to the One who gets it. Grace and mercy are waiting.



Prayer

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!

CW21 721:1/ CW93 411:1



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.

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Transformed – Week of February 28, 2022

Transformed – Week of February 28, 2022



We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18



Her project didn’t look like anyone else’s. The goal was to rip the orange paper and glue it onto the black paper to make it look like a pumpkin. He did it. The other girl did it too. But hers just looked different. She couldn’t rip the paper into small enough pieces. Her hands just wouldn’t allow it.

A couple of months later, she was asked to make a snowflake. Rip the white paper and glue it onto the blue paper. She did it! Her hands were strong. The look on her face was priceless.

Progress!! It was time to rejoice. A sticker! A picture sent home to her mom and dad! A high five, a big smile, and a celebratory, “way to go!”.

As teachers, we live experiences like this all of the time. A light-bulb goes off. Glimpses of progress detected. A skill is mastered. It’s so rewarding to see the transformation.

As Christian teachers, we get to see so much more than the growth in their knowledge of their a,b,c’s and 1,2,3’s. We get to see them grow in their knowledge of their own sinfulness. We get to see growth in their knowledge and love for Jesus Christ. We have the awesome privilege of delivering the Word of God to them to accomplish this growth.

Every single time we tell our students about God we are reflecting Christ’s love. We get to proclaim the gospel message with precious lambs each and every day that they are in our care. We get glimpses of God’s amazing love when we hear them praise his holy name. We have the joy of praying with them, for them. We have a front seat to their spiritual growth, and it is such a humble blessing to be part of it all.

You are also being transformed. That “ever-increasing” glory is yours as well. What a joy it will be to walk the streets of gold along with our students when our time here is complete, and we have been brought to our final glory in heaven.



Prayer
Dear Jesus, thank you for our students. Please bless their growth in school and most importantly in their knowledge, love, and faith in you. Help us to be a reflection of you to our students and their families. In your awesome name, Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Make a point to rejoice with a student who showed forgiveness, patience, or extra love to a friend.

.



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.

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Love in Action – Week of February 21, 2022

Love in Action – Week of February 21, 2022



Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.

Romans 12:9-16a



Ministry is not for the faint of heart. The NIV entitled this section, “Love in Action”. So often, as teachers, we focus on our students and their families. I’d like for us to use these verses and apply them to our faculty.

Think about the people that you work with and what it would be like if everyone was…

“…devoted to one another in love. Honoring one another above yourselves.” (v.10)
“Never lacking in zeal, but keeping spiritual fervor…” (v.11)
“…joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (vs.12)

Think of the work a faculty can do when they…

“Live in harmony with one another.” (vs. 16)

Do you lean on your faculty members? If not, try it. God has put you with a group of people to do his work. If you don’t have a large faculty, lean on your school board, a pastor, or a mentor.

Throughout your ministry there will certainly be times when you are persecuted, have cause to rejoice, or go through a rough time and mourn. What a blessing it is not to have to go through all of that alone.

Sometimes we find ourselves putting our heads down and just doing the work that’s right in front of us. Lift up your head, dear friend. Try to notice a co-worker that you could encourage. Make it a point to smile at them when you see them in the hallway. When you feel like no one understands what you’re going through, just know that they might be the ones who understand the most.

The Lord has put the people in your life for a reason. Live in harmony with them. When they rejoice, rejoice with them. If they’re struggling, lift them up. Spur them on in their ministry. Pray for them.

Love in action takes work. It takes time. It takes intentionality. Ask the Lord to help with this. Ask Him to instill in you these qualities so that you can be a productive part of your group, reflecting God’s love to those around you.

Maybe your faculty is great at this. Praise God!

Maybe your faculty could use some work. Pray to God!

You are a team, put together, by God, to do his work.

May God bless you in all of your efforts.



Prayer

We all are one in mission; we all are one in call,
Our varied gifts united by Christ, the Lord of all.
A single great commission compels us from above
To plan and work together that all may know Christ’s love. Amen
Christian Worship ’93 566:1

A Question to Consider:
How can you be a light to someone on your faculty? Think of some ways and plug them into your calendar for the rest of the year. Then, put your ideas into action! That’s love.

.



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.

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Grace – Week of February 14, 2022

Grace – Week of February 14, 2022



But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9b-10



Earlier in the week, I accidently sent the “Show-and-Tell” bag home with the wrong student. In the middle of the week, I jammed the copier. Later in the week I accidently put the 3K information in the 4K newsletter. That, my dear friends, is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why can’t I do anything right? Why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I be…well…perfect?

Deep breath. Shoulders down. Take a second.

God doesn’t say, “Be better. Dig deeper. Find it within you. Pull your bootstraps up.”

He says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

These standards that we put on ourselves are not from him. They are a lie from the devil. When we are weak we don’t need to figure it out and be our own savior. If that were the case, we would be a continual mess.

When we are weak, our true Savior, our Best Friend, our greatest Advocate, carries us through.

Therefore, instead of being ashamed of my mistake in the newsletter or filled with prideful defensiveness when someone points it out, I can simply say, “Dear parents, I apologize for the mistake. Here’s the new newsletter with the correct information in it.” Just like that. No one got hurt. No one suggested I get fired for messing up. No one yelled, “shame!” and threw me to the gauntlet.

I realize this might seem dramatic, but these things happen. A lot. Often we are seriously that hard on ourselves.

Don’t lean on yourself. Ever.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9b-10

So, dear friends. When mistakes happen, don’t be overcome with self-loathing. Get in the Word. That’s where your strength comes from. His Word will uncover our eyes and show us that he has already done it all. He was born, he lived a perfect life, he died, and rose again.
He is preparing a perfect place for you…a sinner. That’s grace. And it’s yours. Praise God!



Prayer

Gracious God, thank you for loving me, despite my weaknesses. When I start to search inward, please redirect me to your Word. Bring me closer to you as I read your promises and find my true worth in You. Amen.

A Question to Consider:

Have you been dwelling on your shortcomings? Write them down and then write three truths from His Word next to them. May God bless you on your journey to truth and grace in him.

.



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.

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He Heard the Message – Week of February 7, 2022

He Heard the Message – Week of February 7, 2022



Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17



Many moons ago, I asked my class what they were afraid of. We made a list. Everyone had something to add. I told my students that I was afraid of the dark. We all kind of giggled about it. They thought it was funny that I, the teacher, was afraid of something. Then, I taught the lesson of the disciples in the boat with Jesus. The waves were high, the wind was howling, and the disciples were scared. They were wondering how in the world Jesus could be sleeping during such a storm. “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘LORD, save us! We’re going to drown!’ He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’” Matthew 8:23-26

After going through the lesson, we looked back at our list of things that we were afraid of. We came to the conclusion that we don’t need to be afraid of anything, because God is with us! We are under his tender, loving care. Praise the Lord!

The next morning, one of my students walked straight up to me and handed me his nightlight. I gave him a smile and said, “What is this?”. He smiled and replied, “This is my nightlight. I do not need it anymore. You said that you were afraid of the dark. I am not afraid anymore, so you can have it.”
Gulp.

One of my favorite teaching moments of all time.
This sweet student heard the message of the gospel. Through it, he gained faith—that precious, amazing, coveted, child-like faith.
His eyes were uncovered and he knew the truth that God is with us in all things.

We have the message at all times. We can open the Bible and read it. We can click on an app and listen to it. We can watch a pastor preach it on the television or on our computer screen.

Afraid? “Do not fear…” (Isaiah 4:10) Anxiety-ridden? “Cast all your cares upon on him…” (1 Peter 5:7) Tired? “…I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
When we hear the Word of God we are uplifted. We are rescued. We are rejuvenated.
So, hand over your nightlight. Hear the Word. Believe it. Have faith!



Prayer

Good and gracious God, thank you for your Word. Forgive me when I find myself out of the habit of daily studying Scripture. Help me be aware of the great power your Word has. Thank you for your saving Word! Amen.

A Question to Consider: Have you offered a variety of ways to your school parents to get in the Word? Create a list of ideas for them to be in the faith-strengthening Word.



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.

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Guidance – Week of January 31, 2022

Guidance – Week of January 31, 2022



Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:2



What a blessing it is to work in early childhood! Each day we get to see smiling faces and hear children’s laughter. We witness the Holy Spirit’s work as children let their faith shine brightly. While it is a wonderful career, working with little children also poses challenges. Am I reaching that little one who always seems to seek negative attention? Are the students learning what they need for the next grade level? Will my patience hold out today?

Today’s Scripture reading is part of a letter an older pastor, Paul, wrote to a younger pastor, Timothy. Paul gave Timothy plenty to do: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2). Those words are also what God asks of us as early childhood educators. Does that list make you panic a bit? It doesn’t seem possible to do all of that, does it?

On our own we would fail, but we are not alone. Just before these words, Paul reminded Timothy, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Paul wanted Timothy to know that the Holy Spirit was with him. He gave Timothy faith and God’s Word to guide him each day. The Holy Spirit equips us too. He planted faith in our hearts, trains us through God’s Word, and daily gives us what we need to lead little children to Jesus.

With the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we do what God asks of us. We preach the Word.  We talk about our need for a Savior and what Jesus has done. We pray and sing and learn Bible lessons. Throughout the day we correct, rebuke, and encourage. When those teachable moments come, we help children see and confess their sins. We comfort them with Jesus’ love and forgiveness. We guide them to show thankfulness to their Savior in their words and actions.  We model all these things in our own lives, knowing that, imperfect though we are, God uses us to train his little ones.

Yes, early childhood education is a wonderful and demanding career. As we deal with joys and frustrations, we know the Holy Spirit will guide us and give us strength. Turn to God’s Word and be comforted in promises such as this one, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14).



Prayer

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Amen.

Psalm 25:4-5

A Question to Consider: Which Bible verses give you comfort and encouragement? Write some verses down and put them in a place you’ll see often.



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.

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Freedom – Week of January 24, 2022

Freedom – Week of January 24, 2022



The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.

Luke 4:18



As the children run outside, they’re ready to resume the game they had created. Usually, the game involves lots of running, chasing, superheroes, and princesses. Often someone is taken captive and has to figure out how to escape. At a young age, children already know how important freedom is.

Jesus promised freedom for his people. He was preaching to the people in his hometown of Nazareth when he read these words from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus told the people, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). Jesus declared that he was the long-awaited Savior, the one who would bring freedom.

Who needs this freedom? Isaiah identified them as the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed. Could that be me? Those words don’t seem to describe me. I’m not poor or a slave or blind or oppressed. Or am I? Perhaps physically, these words don’t apply to me, but spiritually they certainly do. On my own, I am held captive by my sinful nature. Even when I want to do what’s right, I so often fail. On my own, I cannot see a solution to my problem of sin. On my own, I am burdened by the knowledge that I can never live up to God’s demand of perfection.

But I am not on my own. None of us are. Jesus did what no one else could do. He preached the good news throughout his life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’” (John 14:6). He freed us from our sins through his perfect life and innocent death. He healed our sin-sick eyes, helping us see how to serve him and others in an imperfect world. He released us from death’s oppression when he rose from the dead. We are free!

What wonderful news! And now we are free to share this news with those around us. In our classrooms, homes, and lives, we point people to Jesus our Savior. We thank Jesus through lives of service to others. And, when our time here on earth is done, we will rejoice in the perfect freedom of heaven.



Prayer

Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way;
Direct, protect, and feed me from day to day.
Without your grace and favor I go astray;
So take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way. Lord, when the shadows lengthen and night has come,
I know that you will strengthen my steps toward home.
Then nothing can impede me, O blessed Friend;
So take my hand and lead me unto the end. Amen.
CW21 849:1,3
CW93 439:1,3



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.

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Prayer – Week of January 17, 2022

Prayer – Week of January 17, 2022



And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19



Did you pray for me when I was home sick? Can we pray for my mom? She cut her arm yesterday. Will you pray that I have a safe trip when I go visit my grandparents? It doesn’t take long for children to appreciate praying together. They aren’t afraid to ask for things that are important to them.  Paul, who wrote this letter to the Ephesians, also prayed for important things for all of God’s people.

Paul prayed that God’s people would have power. This power is spiritual strength given to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit planted faith in our hearts and continuously works to strengthen that faith. We pray for power too. We ask God to bless our efforts as we teach our students about Jesus and what he’s done for us. We pray that no matter what our students may face, they trust in Jesus’ love and guidance. And we ask that God grant us that same strength as we carry out our mission in our schools, homes, and lives.

Paul also asked God to grant his people knowledge, specifically that we might “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18). We need this enormous love of Christ. We were born in sin and continue to live in sin each day. We cling to the promise of our salvation through Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. We pray that our students, as they spread their arms out wide to show how big Jesus’ love is, hold onto that knowledge. We pray that we trust in God’s love and show that in every moment of each day.

Finally, Paul prayed for fullness. Imagine pouring a cup full of water and not only letting the water fill the cup but overflow. God pours out his love for us. He hears and answers every prayer in ways that are better than we can imagine. So let’s be bold and ask for great things for God’s kingdom. Let’s pray that God’s Word is spread throughout the world, that everyone will believe, and that God might use us to help spread the wonderful news of salvation.

My prayer for each of you, dear readers, is that God fill you with spiritual strength and knowledge to share Christ’s love with your students and family and all those around you. And I know that you’ll pray the same for me.



Prayer

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds, help us grasp the heights of your plans for us,
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time, that will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on your promises, and by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till your Church is built, and the earth is filled with your glory. Amen.
CW21 633:3
CW Supplement 735:3



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.

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Washed Clean – Week of January 10, 2022

Washed Clean – Week of January 10, 2022



But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7



Working in early childhood can be a messy venture. “Don’t lick the table” is a phrase I never thought I would have to say. When cold and allergy season hit, the battle of the germs begins in earnest. Don’t forget to wash your hands! Did you use soap this time? We wipe tables, clean toys, and encourage children to wash away the germs. After all, we want our students to learn and laugh and play with each other, and feeling healthy helps make that possible.

In his letter to Titus, Paul writes about a different sickness that contaminates us. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3). All of us are infected with sin from birth. But notice the past tense in that verse: “we too were foolish. . . we lived in envy. . .” How can these sins be gone? We were washed clean. “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6). Through the waters of baptism and the words of Jesus’ salvation, the Holy Spirit makes us healthy, free from sin’s sickness.

Paul calls this washing a renewal. While we daily struggle with sin, we are renewed by the Holy Spirit to live a new, clean life. Because God so generously pours out blessings of love and forgiveness, we spend our lives serving him and the people around us. We have opportunities in our classrooms as we patiently teach and encourage our students. We help them show their love for Jesus through their songs, prayers, words, and actions. And when we leave the classroom, we spread God’s love in our homes and every place we go. We live lives of renewal, knowing that each day our mistakes and missed opportunities are washed clean.

As many times as we wipe down toys and have our students wash their hands, sickness still strikes us and our students. The Holy Spirit’s washing, however, is perfect and complete. We are clean. We have heaven waiting for us where we will spend eternity with our Savior. And it will be fine to lick the table.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for washing me clean from my sins. Guide me in my life of renewal until I join you in eternity.

Holy Spirit, fill my heart, cleanse my life in every part;
Your own temple I would be now and for eternity. Amen.
CW21 593:5
CW93 183:5



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.

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Family – Week of January 3, 2022

Family – Week of January 3, 2022



But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7



Has it happened in your classroom yet? Every year, new children flood your class with bright smiles and unique personalities. After working, learning, and playing together, at some point, this little group has become family. You celebrate strengths, work through squabbles, and, best of all, learn about Jesus’ love together.

You and your students also belong to another family, God’s family. Because of his great love for us, God adopted us. No one deserves this adoption. By nature, we all are slaves to sin, and each day we battle this sinful nature. On our own, we are destined to lose, but God made sure that we don’t have to fight on our own. “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son. . . to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus lived a perfect life, took our punishment to the cross, and defeated sin, death, and the devil when he rose from the dead. We are no longer slaves but are God’s children, adopted into his family.

Now we receive the benefits of being in God’s family. We trust him to take care of our needs. Like children ask their parents, we take our requests and concerns to God, trusting him. “If you . . . know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Our heavenly Father knows best how to take care of our earthly and spiritual needs.

Because we are adopted into God’s family, we will receive an inheritance. “You are no longer a slave, but God’s child, and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:7). Our inheritance is that perfect home in heaven. We look forward to being free from sin and pain and sadness. Even more, we anticipate being with our heavenly family forever. We will get to be with Jesus!

And that’s what we want for our classroom families. We pray that the Holy Spirit puts faith in the hearts of these children and their families. We use God’s Word to teach them about how we went from slaves to children of God. We encourage them and are encouraged by them as we walk through our daily lives. We become family. What a wonderful family we have now, and what a wonderful family we’ll have in heaven!



Prayer

By your blood our souls were bought, by your life salvation wrought;
By your light our feet are taught, Lord, to follow you.

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

CW21 551:3-4
CW93 436:3-4



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.

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What Child is This? Our Substitute! – Week of December 27, 2021

What Child is This? Our Substitute! – Week of December 27, 2021



In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 2:10-11



It was the very first day of preschool and our very first recess of the school year. The 3-yr-old tripped on the wood chips and fell. Although she didn’t have a scratch or any injury to be found, she gave an impressive wail with overreactive sobs and flailing of limbs. Seconds later, her 4-year-old classmate swooped in and shouted, “It’s ok! It’s ok! I’m a doctor, everyone stand back!” The theatrical damsel in distress stopped crying immediately when I turned to him and said “Is she going to make it, doc?”

Throughout the Bible, we see examples of Jesus being “the Great Physician”. He healed the sick and made the blind man see. He cured a paralyzed man and countless others that could not be healed by earthly medicines and procedures. But “fixing people” on the outside was not why he came to earth. God becoming a human was not an accident. The purpose of God becoming man wasn’t to heal the sick (although he did!) or to set an example of how we should live (although he did that, too!).

Jesus’ goal, mission, and purpose was to come to the earth to make us ready for heaven. Jesus’ mission was to prepare salvation, which is a fancy word for “deliverance from our sin”. We were born with sin and in desperate need of a doctor to give us the antidote. Jesus is the only one that can heal us from this sickness that not only plagues us on this earth but also means we would spend eternity separated from God in hell.

But Jesus removed our sin forever when he died on the cross on Good Friday and came back to life on Easter. By his suffering, we are made perfect in God’s eyes. Jesus suffered and died as our substitute and through his underserved love we are given the gift of heaven. We have become his “sons and daughters”. We are now welcome into his family and will enjoy the riches of heaven.

When we reflect on this Christmas season, let us stand in awe at the baby that humbly came into this world, the only doctor that could give everyone the true saving medicine: freedom from sin. What child is this? This child is our substitute! This child is our Savior, who gives us true peace, the child that earned us a place in God’s family and our home in heaven.



Prayer
Christian Worship 93 55 St. 4
Christian Worship 21 354 St. 4

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!



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.

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What Child is This? Our Savior! – Week of December 20, 2021

What Child is This? Our Savior! – Week of December 20, 2021



This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:9-10



We are days away from Christmas, and the signs are everywhere. We see decorations, lights, presents. We smell cinnamon and cookies baking. Strangers speak kindly to each other. And the giving! Everywhere you turn, there is a donation bucket or charity working hard to care for the needs of others. Many people donate their time or money to charitable organizations during the Christmas season, as a way of “giving back” and showing love to others.

But this is not what Christmas is all about. Oh, surely God wants us to care for others and to help struggling families during the season. God wants us to donate our time and money at Christmastime and any other time of year. And everyone needs love; it is a basic need. But showing love and kindness to family and strangers is not what Christmas is about. And doing these things will not give us the true peace and joy that God wants us to have during this season.

Christmas is not about us showing love to others. Christmas is about God showing love to us, though we do not deserve it. Christmas is about God coming to us as a baby. What child is this? Jesus is so special because this baby is God himself, sent from heaven to walk the earth with us.

God entered this world of sin—sin for which we are fully responsible—as a baby, and then Jesus left the world by dying on the cross. Because of our sin, we deserve death and eternal separation from God in hell. But God loves us so much that he rescued us! Through the life and death of Jesus, our sins are washed away. God showed his love to us by sending his Son to live and die for us, in our place.

The more that we see God’s love for us, the more we want to show our love back to him. God gave us Jesus, a free gift, and we show love back to God by loving and serving him and others. When we take care of others and give gifts during this holiday season, we are saying “Thank you” to God for the ultimate gift of love that he gave to us on that first Christmas.

When you hear the hymn “What Child is This?” during this season, sing confidently that you know the answer! This child is Jesus, the true gift of Christmas. Jesus is God’s gift to us, freely given. Joy to the World! The Lord has come!



Prayer
Dear God, thank you for showing your love to us by sending Jesus to live and die for us. Use our kindness and service to others during this season to help others learn about the love and forgiveness that we have through Jesus. We celebrate Jesus’ birthday with joy and confidence that our sins are forgiven and we will someday be with you in heaven. 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.

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Peace in Our Heart – Week of December 13, 2021

Peace in Our Heart – Week of December 13, 2021



Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7



I was sitting at the table with a young girl and we were both drawing with crayons. Suddenly, she slammed the crayon down and said, “This one isn’t working!” I noticed that the end that she was trying to use was covered by the wrapper. All she needed to do was flip the crayon around and use the working end. Before I could suggest this, she looked me and said “I know what we have to do! We need to pray.” “Dear Jesus”, she prayed, “fix my crayon. Amen.” Then she picked up the crayon, the correct way this time, and started drawing. “See?” she said, “We need to pray more.”

God wants us to pray often. He wants us to turn to our heavenly Father first. How often we try to solve problems on our own! We so often say, after we have tried everything humanly possible, “All we can do now is pray”. But prayer should be the first thing we do in a time of need!

It is not easy for us to “not be anxious about anything”. Although it is good use of our minds and means to plan ahead, use resources, and use common sense, worry is still a sin. When we are worried and anxious, we are not trusting in God. We should have childlike faith that God can and will “fix the crayon.” God cares for us and blesses us!

When we pray, God wants us to come to him with any request. We first come to him with prayers of thanksgiving, knowing that he will provide for us. When we pray, we are close to God. Our God is SO big and we are so little! God beat the devil, his number one enemy. We still fight the work of the devil every day, and, without God, we will fail. But God fights for us, and he gives us peace.

The peace that God gives us comes from his love for us. This love he gives us is free and undeserved. He knows that we struggle with sin and still he forgives us, every time. With this forgiveness comes a peace that is unlike any other! We are confident that, because God sent his Son into the world to beat his number one enemy, we are free!

This peace that God gave us, through his son, Jesus, is like a fortress around our heart and mind. When we put our eyes on Jesus by reading his Word in the Bible and by coming to him in prayer, he wraps us in the peace that we are truly forgiven and will receive the blessings of heaven. May we be daily reminded, during this Christmas season, of the true peace that baby Jesus brings to our hearts!



Prayer
Christian Worship 93 28 St 1, 6
Christian Worship 21 315 St. 1, 6

Let the earth now praise the Lord,
Who has truly kept his word
And at last to us did send
Christ, the sinner’s help and friend.

And, when you shall come again
As a glorious king to reign,
I with joy may see your face,
Freely ransomed by your grace.

A Question to Consider:
It is easy for worry to creep in and take hold of our hearts. How can you help yourself, your spouse/friends/coworkers to remember to go to God first?



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.

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A Straight Path – Week of December 6, 2021

A Straight Path – Week of December 6, 2021



Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. And all people will see God’s salvation.

Luke 3:4b, 6



My neighbor recently returned from a kayaking trip. He started at the source of the Mississippi River, Lake Itasca in Minnesota, and traveled 2,340 miles to the mouth of the river in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of his trip planning, he printed maps of the river in segments. He was surprised at how many twists and turns the river makes, even before leaving the state of Minnesota! What seemed like a “straight shot” from Minnesota to Louisiana was not straight at all!

To prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, God sent a man named John. God sent John with a mission: to help people get ready for, or “make straight paths” for Jesus. John spent his ministry teaching repentance and baptizing new believers. To repent means to be sorry for one’s sins, to sincerely acknowledge one’s sins and believe in Christ’s forgiveness. As John was preparing the path for Jesus, he taught people both parts of repentance: that they should not only sincerely acknowledge their sins but also believe the amazing news that those sins are forgiven.

John’s job was to tell people that the time for the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise was near. Jesus was near! As John was preaching about repentance, God used the time to humble his people. John did not gush about how friendly Jesus would be, how Jesus would heal people and give them food. Although Jesus would be and do all these things, that is not why Jesus came into this world. John’s message was this: we are sinners and we need a Savior. We disobey God every day and even the good that we do is tainted with selfishness. We need Jesus and his forgiveness, every day. We are humbled at this thought!

But Jesus is near! Jesus walked on the earth at the same time as John and would be the one to save the world. Jesus is the only path to heaven. So many people think that the “straight shot” to heaven is to help others, give back, or “throw kindness like confetti”. But this is NOT the way to heaven. The only path to heaven has nothing to do with what good we have done. In fact, we get to go to heaven in spite of what we have done. When we are humbled in acknowledging our sins, Jesus forgives us and welcomes us into his heavenly home. Jesus is the truth, the life and the way!



Prayer
Dear Jesus, we are thankful for John, who showed people the truth of your purpose long ago. Thank you for being the truth, the life, and the way to heaven. We are sorry for the wrong that we do. We believe in your promise of forgiveness. Give us the strength to live as a new person in the family of Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What things can you do to “prepare the way” for Jesus to come into your heart and home this Christmas season?



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.

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The Last Chapter – Week of November 29, 2021

The Last Chapter – Week of November 29, 2021



Rejoice greatly, daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9



“Come on, mom! Just one more chapter! Bookmarks are for quitters!” This is usually how our family bedtime read-aloud sessions conclude. We all want to read just. . . . one. . .more chapter because we want can’t wait to see what happens next. We want to know how the story ends.

One author describes the Bible as a love story written by God for the whole world. The main character is Jesus, and he is seen on every page, in every chapter, in every verse. Even though the book of Zechariah was written long before Jesus was born, on those pages we see some details of Jesus’ final days on earth. On what we now call “Palm Sunday”, Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on a young colt, one that had never been ridden. As he rode into town, people showed that they loved and honored him by shouting praises, waving palm branches, and placing garments and palm branches on the road before him. Our King had come! What a humble way for our King to come into town.

As the Christmas season approaches, we remember how humbly Jesus entered into the world. The hero of the Bible, God’s love story, was born in a small town and in a room where animals had lived. Some of the first people to ever see him were not wealthy or highly educated—but were instead poor shepherds. God allowed himself to be humbled when he became man and lived with us. Our King had come!

Our King also forgives. In the Bible we hear story after story about all the people that have disobeyed, mocked, or turned away from God. People fail. No one can escape sin. But our King also forgives us, over and over and over. He wants us to see our sin, repent, and feel the comfort of his grace and forgiveness.

And there’s still another chapter! Don’t put the book down yet! Remember all the shouting on Palm Sunday? Jesus will come again, and everyone will shout his name. This day will be the final, complete fulfillment of all promises God made in his love story. We will see our King! We rejoice here on earth while we wait for his victorious return. We shout praises to His name in full confidence that we know how this story ends.



Prayer

Christian Worship 93 3 St. 5

Christian Worship 21 305 St. 5

Redeemer, come! I open wide my heart to you; here, Lord abide!
Oh, enter with your saving grace; show me your kind and friendly face.
Your Holy Spirit guide us on until our glorious goal is won.
Eternal praise and fame we offer to your name. 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.

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Forever and Ever – Week of November 22, 2021

Forever and Ever – Week of November 22, 2021



“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:8



Have you ever tried to explain to a child how empty everything was before creation? There was no world, there was no universe, there was no darkness, there was no light. There was nothing. And if “nothing” is a “thing”, then there wasn’t any of that, either! Only God was there. God was there at the beginning, he is here now, and he will be here until the end of the world and throughout eternity. God never changes.

After God created light and dark, the world, the universe, gravity, seasons, the mystery of how a seed can become a tree, and all the other innerworkings of the world, God was there with Adam and Eve in their new home. God was there when they willingly disobeyed his command, believed the devil, and ate the fruit that he told them not to eat. God also told them of the only remedy for sin: his plan to send a Savior to crush the devil.

God was there when his son, Jesus, was born in the stable. God was there when Jesus did the work of his ministry, healing the sick, training disciples, and preparing the world for his own death. When Jesus died on the cross, he felt the pain and suffering of the entire world’s sins. Jesus felt what we deserve–the full separation from our God. And God was certainly there on that first Easter when Jesus came back to life so that we may be free from sin. God has kept every promise that he ever made.

God remains the same—we do not. We are unfaithful, ungrateful, and unkind. We might be loving to someone one day, and then hold a grudge the next. We are constantly going back and forth between “right” and “wrong” and every day we struggle to behave, believe, and trust as God wants us to. But God never changes! He is the same forever and ever! He is faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to him.

God is everywhere—he always has been and always will be. He sees everything that we do, say, and think. He sees our sins and need for a Savior. But our almighty, always faithful God rescued us. Our Savior came! This promise kept for Adam and Eve was also a promise kept for us. Jesus came, crushed the devil, and he will come again. What comfort we have knowing that our unchanging God always keeps his promises, forever and ever!



Prayer
Dear God,
You are always faithful even when I am not. I am comforted by the knowledge that you will always keep your promises. I look forward to the fulfillment of your promises when I see you in heaven. 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.

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Three New Things – Week of November 15, 2021

Three New Things – Week of November 15, 2021



The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things. I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
Psalm 118:16-17



My two little girls had a lot of questions when grandma died. Death is shocking, sad, and very hard to work through, perhaps especially when the person that dies is someone that you had a strong relationship with. The children’s book What Happened When Grandma Died explains it this way: Grandma had 3 things– her body, her house, and her life. After she died, she no longer needed those things. God gave her a new body, a new house, and a new life.

The words from today’s Psalm are actually a hymn, a song of thanksgiving for the three things that God gives us when we die. First, he will give us a new body. Our earthly body is full of sin. We sin with our actions, our words, and our mind. We can’t even stop the sinful thoughts from creeping in. Our earthly body will fail us—perhaps we have poor eyesight or a weak back. When we see these weaknesses in our body, we are reminded that we live in a sinful world. Our new body, however, will never get sick, hurt or tired.

After we die, God will also give us a new home in heaven, and there he gives us a new life. This new home won’t have plumbing issues and it won’t fall apart. Our new life will be completely free from sin and the sad consequences that come from it. In heaven we will continue to praise God for the mighty things that he has done.

Our job on earth is to work for him and carry out the mission to “go and tell” all the “mighty things he has done” until our turn on earth is over. We study the life of Jesus by reading the Bible and learn the great things that Jesus did while he was alive. Jesus healed the sick, comforted his friends, gave true hope to sinners, trained his disciples, and even raised people back to life! And, after a life of giving to the world, he allowed his enemies to nail him to a cross. We are those enemies! We are the reason he had to die!

And yet, because of his death and by crushing the devil, he continues to give us even more! His victory over death earned us our new body, new house, and new life. Let’s share this news with the world!



Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for the earthly gifts that you have given me: my body, my home, and my life. Help me to use these gifts to share your love with others and point them to Jesus. Thank you for the comfort that, after I die, I will be given an new life, a new body, and a new home in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
How can you use your earthly body, home, and life to point others to Jesus?

Barker, Peggy, 1982. What happened when grandma died? St. Louis, MO. Concordia Publishing

 



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.

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Once for All – Week of November 8, 2021

Once for All – Week of November 8, 2021



Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Psalm 46: 10-11



Are you afraid of death? A 2019 report, which was published just months before the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the US, reported that 42% of Americans were either “somewhat afraid” or “very afraid” of dying. Some extreme life-extensionists put all their time and money into strategies and medicines that might help them live longer. Some people take 50 different pills a day to prolong their life! But electromagnetic mats, “antiaging hormones”, and eating green leafy vegetables cannot stop death. Nothing can conquer death. Ok, well. . . . except Jesus.

The truth is, all people will die, even though we try to avoid it. All people will either go to heaven or hell. God told the very first people on the earth that, because of sin, they would someday die. And, just like those first two people on earth, we are sinners. We disobey God all day every day and do not deserve his love. We, too, will die.

For some people, death is a scary thing because we know how sinful we are. We know that we can never do enough good to make up for the bad that we do. We know that no matter how hard we try, we cannot be “good enough” to get into heaven. Doing acts of kindness and “being good” will not and cannot earn a place in heaven.

But Jesus! Heaven is a gift, freely given because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus sacrificed his own life for ours. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. God’s Son, Jesus, died so that we might live forever after this earthly life. One man was sacrificed for all people, and God wants all people to be with him in heaven. Jesus conquers death!

So what do we do while we wait? God wants us to live for him. Even though we cannot earn our way to heaven, we try to obey the commands God has given us in his Word, the Bible. This is not easy! We have to constantly push against the sin and evil in this world and in our hearts. Even though we may fail, we try to obey him because this is one way that we show that we love him and trust him. We pray continually to God for strength to live for him.

When Jesus comes again, he will not see the sin in our heart. Because Jesus died for all, our sins are gone! Our hearts are clean, washed by the blood of our Savior. We do not need to be afraid of death. Jesus conquers death! When Jesus comes again, he comes to rescue us and all those who believe in his promise of heaven.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of heaven. Thank you for sacrificing yourself for all my sins and the sins of the whole world. Give me the strength to live my life for you and to help others find comfort in your saving word. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What can you say to someone that tells you they are afraid of death? What words from the Bible can you use to comfort them?

 



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.

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Be Still! – Week of November 1, 2021

Be Still! – Week of November 1, 2021



“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 10-11



“Ok, kids, settle down. Hey! Be still, it’s about to start!” When something exciting is about to happen: a field trip, special snack, or visitor, it is hard (and perhaps developmentally impossible) for children to wait without wiggling or making noise. Children can get excited and anxious when the normal routine is disrupted, even if the new experience is a positive one.

The words “Be still” in this verse can be a rebuke. In the same way that we may tell a child, “we have to wait”, or “stop wiggling,” God tells us to “Be still” and know that he has full control over all things. Like children, we get excited or anxious when our own routine is disrupted. As adults, even if the new experience is ultimately a positive one, the fear of the unknown takes hold of our heart and we forget to “be still.” We panic and forget to instead come to our God for help. The entire world around us is rebelling against God and his promises and it is easy to join in that rebellion by doubting God or becoming angry with God when we struggle. We forget that God is all-powerful, he loves us, and he wants us to come to him for help.

We need reminding how God ultimately showed his love for us: he gave up all that power for our sakes, to be “the LORD Almighty with us” in human flesh, to suffer and die for our every sin. When Jesus rose from the dead, he took back all that power. He still is the LORD Almighty who is with us.

And so, the words “be still”, can also be an assurance of peace. God is saying, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be ok, I’ve got you.” The words give us the peace that we do know God has all the power. He does not promise that we will never struggle in this world. In fact, he says that, because of sin, there will be pain and sadness. But he also says that we should take comfort in his promise to be with us through the dangerous times. Because Jesus died and rose again, we will find complete freedom from the sorrow of this world when we are with him in heaven.

What can we do when we forget to “Be still”? First, we can go to God in prayer. He hears our every need! We can also ask others to pray with us. Surrounding ourselves with friends who trust in our almighty God and his promises will help to strengthen our faith and theirs. Knowing that God is with us and he is our fortress, we pray with the hymn writer, Martin Luther:  “Support us in our final strife, and lead us out of death to life!”



Prayer

Lord, Jesus Christ, your power make known.
For you are Lord of lords alone;
defend your Christendom that we
may sing your praise eternally.
O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth.
Support us in our final strife,
and lead us out of death to life. Amen

Christian Worship 93 203/CW21 862 v.2-3

A Question to Consider:
How can you use God’s assurance of peace to comfort a friend who is struggling?

 



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.

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Servanthood – Week of October 25, 2021

Servanthood – Week of October 25, 2021



[Jesus said,] “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:43-45



I have often joked that if I ever write a book, I will entitle it, “Where Are All of the Parades?”. Where is the parade when I wake up early to workout? Where is the parade when my class had a fantastic day and somehow everything I planned was executed and executed well? Where is the parade when I made dinner and did not hear one complaint about it? Where is the parade when I did all of the laundry, folded it, and put it away all on the same day?

I tend to want parades. A pat on the back. Words of affirmation. Acknowledgement for all the hard work that I do. Ever feel that way?

Every now and then, a parade, with chocolate and flowers thrown at me with people cheering me on would be awesome.

Does that sound a little off? A little too much? A little self-serving? While it is nice to feel appreciated every now and then, sometimes that’s just not the reality. You might never hear a “way to go!” or a “thank you!” and that’s ok.

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:43-45

Think of our Savior, Jesus. He came to this world with one purpose…to save. He worked tirelessly to serve those in need, those who were lost, those who desperately needed a Savior. He served humbly, quietly, selflessly. Never expecting anything in return, but rather hoping for the people he was serving to be victorious after it all was said and done.

It is easy, while we serve others, to desire something in return. It can be easy to want praise or a sense of gratitude for the work you put in day in and day out. But when you fall into the trap of working with a heart that desires parades, remember the One who did it all and ended up on a cross. The One who served with a heart full of love, for you. Pray for that kind of heart. A heart full of love for him. A heart full of servanthood to the Lord.



Prayer: Dear God, you are great. Forgive me when I forget you. Give me a joyful heart of servanthood that puts you right at the center. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Who do you know that could use the reminders and encouragement of these verses? Consider sharing them with them by forwarding this devotion and perhaps including a personal word of encouragement.

 



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.

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