Review – Week of June 17, 2019

Review – Week of June 17, 2019


“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Isaiah 43:1b



The end of a school year often finds teachers reviewing their year. They look back on the things that went well and find satisfaction. They look back on the rough parts and decide what can change and improve for the upcoming year. As you do this, you may be tempted to fall into one of the following ditches:

1) You may look at all that went well during the year and think, “I am an awesome teacher. I have accomplished so much, and I am a professional that others should learn from.”
2) You may look at all that did not go well and fall into despair. You may say, “Why am I a teacher? There are so many things that I failed to handle with grace and professionalism. I can’t even begin to imagine doing this all over again next year.”

The problem with both of these scenarios is that we are trying to find our identity within ourselves. We are measuring our worth by our own outward accomplishments or failures, and this creates fear. We fixate on our mistakes because we fear that others will see us as failures. Even in our successes, we put more pressure on ourselves to repeat them and fear the ridicule if we don’t.

Reread today’s verse. “I have called you by name.” We can look at ourselves as God looks at us. Isaiah says to “fear not”, because God has redeemed us. Christ went to the cross and erased all the pride and all the self-pity with which we fill our minds. When we were baptized, we became God’s very own child; he claimed us. We find our identity in Christ, and when we do, we see a God who loved us enough to die in our place. We see a God who calls each of us personally by our name. How special we are to him!

So as you review this past year, focus on what God has done through you and around you. Thank him for the blessings he has given you and those you serve. And start those plans for next year knowing that he who has called you by name and calls you his own, will be with you.



Prayer:
Go, my children, with my blessing, never alone.
Waking, sleeping, I am with you; you are my own.
In my love’s baptismal river, I have made you mine forever.
Go, my children, with my blessing–you are my own.
(Christian Worship 332:1)


Reprinted from June 20, 2016



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Renew – Week of June 10, 2019

Renew – Week of June 10, 2019


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13



Americans are addicted to work. When meeting up with a friend for coffee, often the common question is, “How have you been?” The common answer is, “Busy.” We take pride in our busyness. We somehow feel that the busier we are, the more important we must be. Being a hard worker is a quality personality trait, but being a workaholic is not.

It is important during these quieter summer months to take time to renew your mind, body, and faith. Your job of training young children to follow Jesus is so important. Being overworked, stressed, and letting our faith grow weak is not being a faithful servant. There is only one solution to this: Jesus.

We can find comfort in Jesus’ life. Jesus was a hard worker. He preached from dawn until dusk. He went from town to town healing, teaching, and training his disciples. His work was very important. In fact, it was the most important work ever done. But even Jesus took time away from his work. He would go somewhere secluded with his friends or even wander off alone to speak with his Father. He needed to renew his strength and faith, so he could continue to serve others. That life is your life. Jesus lived it perfectly for you and it became your life at your baptism when Jesus took his perfection and put it on you.

We find encouragement in Jesus’ life. We find comfort in Jesus’ death. There Jesus paid for all sins for all time, which also became yours at your baptism. He forgives us for the times we fail to trust in him. He forgives us for the times we forget to draw from God’s word. He forgives us when we become prideful of our own work and neglect to reflect him in all we do.

The hope that we find in Jesus’ life and death renews our hearts and fills us with peace and joy. Only when we are filled with those things will they overflow onto the children that we teach.

So, how are you? It’s good to be busy. It’s a blessing and privilege to have so much to do for him. Find time to step away and spend time with Jesus. Because of Jesus, we can find joy in all we do. With grateful hearts we can respond to this question reflecting the blessings of being busy for him.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, continue to fill me with your love, joy, and peace. May I be a light to others as I go about my work of serving you. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are simple ways that you can intentionally step away and spend some time with Jesus? Is there a quiet room in your home? A spot in a nearby park or in your yard where you can renew your spirit through prayer? When the inevitable question comes and we are tempted to say how busy we are, how can we respond? Ponder this and consider how you can respond in a way that reflects the joy of being busy serving Jesus.


Reprinted from June 13, 2016



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Relax – Week of June 3, 2019

Relax – Week of June 3, 2019


Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:1,2



Ahhh! It’s summer! Another school year is drawing to a close. At times we thrived and at times we survived! It’s time for some rest and relaxation, right? This month we’re focusing on the 4 R’s of summer: relax, renew, review, and reflect.

As we look back and reflect on our year, it is easy to say, “I deserve a break. I faithfully kept X number of kids alive and fed. I shared Jesus with them and maybe even taught them a few things. I am ready to take time away from it all and relax. That’s great! It’s good to take time away from the work that we do and spend time with family and activities we enjoy outside of our everyday work.

Sometimes though, when we take a break from our jobs, we tend to take a break from more than just our work. We set our hearts on beaches, time with family, camping, the lake cabin, and other things we love. We often forget to continue to set our hearts on God. Throughout the school year we meet weekly with faculty around God’s word. We study Bible Stories daily to teach to our students. We pray for patience and wisdom. Then summer comes, and the temptation is to forget about God for a while or even unintentionally, set him aside. Weekends become filled with activities, and we might miss church. Our kids are out of school, so we don’t make time for those quiet morning devotions.

Paul tells us in the letter to the Colossians to “set our hearts on things above”. It is not wrong to dream about our summer getaway, but we need to remember what is most important. What is up above? “Christ is seated at the right hand of God.” Christ, our Savior, who pleads for us in front of the Father every time we lose our patience with a student. Christ, our Redeemer, who gives us peace and rest at the end of every stressful week when we doubt whether or not we are making an impact. Christ, our Redeemer forgives us for every mistake we make, and he forgets every time we put our summer plans before him.

Summer is here. Whether you serve in a part time program or a year-round program, go ahead and make plans to take a break. As you make those plans, set aside time to be with Jesus. Look forward to worship and Bible study each week. Relax in knowing his grace and mercy for you.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for guiding me through another school year and the blessings that you brought through my humble efforts. Be with me during the summer months and help me to continue to seek you in your Word each and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

A Question to Consider: With the extra time that summer provides, what are some ways that you can stay connected to the Word? Is there a spiritual book you’ve been wanting to read? Maybe there’s a friend that you can do a book study with. Can you find someone to do daily devotions with? Maybe this is the time to start that prayer journal you’ve been thinking about. Have fun finding ways to keep yourself and maybe others, connected to the Word. May God bless you as you do!


(Reprinted from June 6, 2016)



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, Our Strength – Week of May 27, 2019

Jesus, Our Strength – Week of May 27, 2019


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

Psalm 73:26



“I’m just so tired.”
Do you sometimes wonder why it is that young children so often resist rest time while adults crave it? Especially at this time of year, I’m thinking you might love the opportunity every afternoon to stop for a while, lay your head down, and catch a few winks of sleep. If only.

Fatigue is part of our lives. We get physically tired from days full of tasks and time spent with little ones with boundless energy. We get mentally tired from trying to keep every detail of our responsibilities in order. Emotional fatigue sets in as the relentless results of living in a world affected by sin drain us. Our greatest fatigue comes from sin’s grip on us that leads to guilt and disappointment.

“I’m just so tired.”
And then, here come the encouraging words of the little ones in our care who remind us with joyfully full voices: “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do for you!” These words of confidence and conviction may come from ones too little to fully understand the impact of sin in their world. However, the Psalmist reminds us of the same confidence in the encouraging words we read today. “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” We need rest. He has encouraged us to rest from our work. As we struggle with our busy days, our never-ending list of responsibilities, and most of all, relentless sin constantly creeping in, we can turn to our God. His love, his forgiveness, his mercy, and his gift of salvation through Jesus, give us the strength we need. The challenges of life will always be with us. But even more, the promise of God to always be with us strengthens our hearts. There’s nothing God cannot do. Most of all, our strength comes from knowing we are his dear forgiven children.
“I’m just so tired, but I’m so dearly loved!” So, let’s go! We’ve got a message to share of a God who is our strength and our portion forever!



Prayer:

Dear Father, when I think of all that you have done and all that you can do, I’m amazed! Even more, when I think of your love and forgiveness for me, I’m overwhelmed. When I’m tired, remind me that you are my strength. And then help me to reflect your love in all I do. In your name I pray. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, Our Peace – Week of May 20, 2019

Jesus, Our Peace – Week of May 20, 2019


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27



As most of the children settle on their mats or cots and drift off to sleep, you sit quietly rubbing the back of a little one. She is new to your center and is having trouble adjusting to being in a new place with new caregivers. You quietly assure her that you are there, Jesus is with her, and that all will be ok.

You turn your head toward the nightstand. It’s 2:45 am and restful sleep still has not come. Your mind whirls with things to do and worry about a family concern increases as each minute ticks by. You know that sleep will help you handle the day, but it won’t come.

It’s likely that both scenarios have a ring of familiarity. As you serve the young children in your care, you often have opportunity to reassure them that Jesus is always with them, Jesus loves them, Jesus is watching over them. And then come our own stresses: a to-do list longer than the day, a parent who is unhappy, bills (for the ministry or personal) that are larger than the budget, guilt over any number of things. We can be so comforting and encouraging to the children and to each other. But taking those reassurances to heart – for ourselves – can be entirely different. We know the truth of those comforting words we share. But how well do we apply them to ourselves?

The words of our Bible verse today were spoken by Jesus to his disciples. He had explained to them that he would soon be leaving them. You can imagine their anxiety level. Imagine Jesus’ calm voice in these words: I’m giving you a peace that is beyond any peace the world has to offer. It is a peace from your sin. It is a peace in knowing that I am with you always. It is a peace that knows that I will take you with me to heaven.

We have peace from guilt; our sins are paid for. We have peace that defeats worry and fear. No matter how difficult the situation, Jesus is with us through it all. No matter how difficult our earthly life, we will be with him in heaven for eternity. This peace is one that we’ll never find in the world but always find in Jesus, our peace. As those concerns and worries keep eating at our sleep, we can pray the simple hymn that we teach our little ones. Rest well in Jesus’ peace.



Prayer:
Now the light has gone away; Father, listen while I pray,
Asking you to watch and keep and to send me quiet sleep. Amen
Christian Worship 593:1



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, Our Shepherd – Week of May 13, 2019

Jesus, Our Shepherd – Week of May 13, 2019


“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

John 10:14



I am Jesus’ little lamb; ever glad at heart I am,
For my shepherd gently guides me, knows my needs and well provides me,
Loves me ev’ry day the same, even calls me by my name.
Christian Worship 432:1

From little on, most children love sheep and lambs. They are soft, fluffy, and docile. To be called one of Jesus’ little lambs sounds quite endearing. The life of a shepherd sounds peaceful, serene, full of endless hours of quiet solitude. I’m guessing that especially at this busy time of year, that scene is rather appealing. However, if you’ve read anything on sheep and shepherding, it may not be too far from your daily setting. Sheep, while rather docile, are not always the brightest or most alert animal. They are prone to wandering (sound familiar?) and finding themselves lost at best and in grave danger at the worst. They don’t know the difference between good drinking water and a toxic pool. They can get themselves stuck in places that make it nigh to impossible to get out without some aid. Does this sound at all familiar? We really are sheep when it comes to our spiritual failures and shortcomings. We wander from Jesus and his Word. We put ourselves in grave spiritual danger. We often don’t even realize how hazardous to our spiritual health are the many influences we consume all around us. The life of a sheep isn’t exactly a life to be envied or exalted.

Ah, the peaceful life of a shepherd. Maybe not, right? His role requires him to constantly be on alert around the clock. His trusty staff is used for gentle prodding to lead a sheep back to the fold or to help ward off an attacking animal looking for meal. He is constantly watching the flock to be sure that all are where they need to be, eating what is safe, and avoiding dangerous places where they could fall. Like a teacher on a field trip, he is fervently taking role call to be sure that no one has separated from the group.

This is the picture of our dear Shepherd in the hymn and in our verse for today. Motivated by his overwhelming love for each of us, he gently guides us with his Word. He knows our needs, physical and spiritual, and provides for us each and every day. He watches over us constantly to see if we are slipping or falling away from him. On the rough days, he loves us. On the good days, he loves us. His love is consistent and unwavering. No sin, no misstep, no failure, changes his love for us. He loves us the same every day.

He even knows our names. Not just our names, but everything about us. He knows what we need, what we like, our weaknesses, our fears, our failures. He knows each of us and loves each of us with a love that is beyond the love of a shepherd for his sheep or the love of a teacher for her students. He loves each of us with the love of a Savior. Because of this, we can always be “glad at heart”, safe in his loving care.

So, this week and every week, lean on your Good Shepherd. He loves to hear you as you come to him in prayer. He loves to hear your heart of gratitude and your anxious fears. It is his heart’s desire that you remain close to him today, each day, and when he calls you home to him in heaven.



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. Amen.
Christian Worship 436: 1-2

A Question to Consider:
To understand more about the life of a shepherd, do a search on sheep and shepherds to learn about the parallels between the earthly shepherd and your Good Shepherd, between earthly sheep and the Good Shepherd’s sheep.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, Our Savior – Week of May 6, 2019

Jesus, Our Savior – Week of May 6, 2019


God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16



This month, many of you are in your last weeks of the school year. You are likely looking forward to the final days of school and a summer with a different routine. You are also likely reflecting on this last year with the group of children in your care. This month, we’re going to take a look at some of the songs and hymns that you may have shared with your little ones and Scripture verses that reflect the message of the song. Feel free to hum along as you spend time in the Word, reflecting on the blessings of this year of sharing Jesus with your children.

Let’s start with what is probably one of the most well-known and dearly loved songs sung by little ones everywhere.
“Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong.
They are weak, but he is strong.”

There are a number of Scripture verses that can reflect the messages in this song. The one that first comes to mind is, John 3:16 “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life.” You see it on signs at sporting events, on t-shirts, on public signs, and on pieces of art. It’s easy for such a verse to become so well known to us that we gloss over the words. Think with me about the stunning message in this verse. God loved this world of ours enough to go into action. He did more than just say he loved us. He showed us he loves us. How? He wanted to give the most incredible gift-his only Son. Imagine God the Father, turning to his Son and saying to him that he is God’s ultimate gift to a world that doesn’t always love him. From an earthly logic, it makes no sense. He loves us when we don’t always love him. We turn from him and he turns to us. We wander. He comes to us as Jesus, our Savior and in his Word. Why would God do that? He loves us. How do we know? He gave us his word in his Word, the Bible.

“Little ones to him belong.” “Little ones” includes the young children you serve, their families, you, me. It is his desire that all people everywhere would believe in him and be with him for the endless years of eternity in heaven with him. Like an earthly father who yearns to be with his children, even more so, God yearns to have us with him. After all, he loved the whole world.

“They are weak, but he is strong.” Oh my! We get that, right? How often do you feel like you’re in over your head? How many times have you wondered how you could possibly work through a challenge or crisis? How often does fear or worry take up your thoughts? How long do we agonize before we realize that our dear friend and Savior, Jesus, has been there all along? He is loving. He is patient. He knows all things. He made all things. He can and wants to help. He is never weak but always strong. Our weakness shows itself in our sins. His strength and his love are demonstrated in the perfect life he led that we cannot live. His strength is shown in the words of the cross, “It is finished” as he took the terrible consequences that are ours. He paid what we couldn’t pay. “Yes, Jesus loves me!”

As you make your way through the final days of the school year and sing those song one more time, think about the simple, yet amazing message that is planted in the hearts of the children. With confidence and joy, we can all sing, “Yes, Jesus loves me!” Wow! Thank you, Jesus. May I and my students, always love you, too!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you. Thank you for loving me so much. Thank you for being strong when I am weak. Thank you for your word in the Bible. Thank you for being my Savior. Help me to share this with each child, family, colleague, and friend I know. In your name I pray. Amen

A Question to Consider:
This week consider one phrase of John 3:16 each day and ponder what it means for you and how you can share that with the children, their families, and others.
• God so loved the world
• He gave his one and only Son
• That whoever believes in him will not perish
• But have eternal life.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, Our Comfort – Week of April 29, 2019

Jesus, Our Comfort – Week of April 29, 2019


Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:9-11



“Guess what?” announced a 4-yr-old to the class. “There is going to be cotton candy in heaven!” The girl’s parents told her that there would be only good things in heaven, which, in a child’s mind, must include the sugary treats of this world.

The Bible does tell us all that we will join Jesus in celebration after we die or after he returns again. We will enjoy the “good things” of heaven. This can be hard to remember when we are feeling the sorrow and pains of this world. We may even feel abandoned by God. Sometimes we are so trapped in our own selfishness and sorrow that we forget that Jesus already did the hard work for us.

In the Psalm for today, God is praised for conquering death for us. Jesus fulfilled the words of the Psalm, which were written many years before Jesus was born. When Jesus died on the cross, God did not abandon him. Jesus did not remain in the grave; he came back to life!

Even though we will someday die, God promises that he will not abandon us in the grave. We will be called to life again! While God doesn’t tell us exactly what the treats of heaven will be, he does promise that we will have “eternal pleasures” through the death and life of Jesus Christ.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, my heart is so glad that you conquered death for us! Give me the same confidence that you had during your suffering, that I may daily remember that you promise to be with me in life and in death. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Do you know someone—a neighbor, family member, or co-worker—that does not yet share the same confidence and joy that God will take them to heaven? What words can you use to give them comfort?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, Our Strength – Week of April 22, 2019

Jesus, Our Strength – Week of April 22, 2019


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

Isaiah 12:2



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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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

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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, the Truth – Week of April 15, 2019

Jesus, the Truth – Week of April 15, 2019


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

Philippians 2:9-11



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, the Life – Week of April 8, 2019

Jesus, the Life – Week of April 8, 2019


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

John 11:24-27



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus, the Way – Week of April 1, 2019

Jesus, the Way – Week of April 1, 2019


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

Matthew 20:26b-28



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

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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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


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

Romans 5:8



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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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He is Strong – Week of March 18, 2019

He is Strong – Week of March 18, 2019


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

Psalm 73:26



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

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

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



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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Life Through Christ – Week of March 11, 2019

Life Through Christ – Week of March 11, 2019


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

Romans 5:19



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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Forgiven – Week of March 4, 2019

Forgiven – Week of March 4, 2019


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

Psal 130:3-4



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

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

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



Prayer:

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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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

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


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

Matthew 17:20



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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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

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


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

Psalm 100:5



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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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God is Faithful – Week of February 11, 2019

God is Faithful – Week of February 11, 2019


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

Deuteronomy 7:9



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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Faith Is… – Week of February 4, 2019

Faith Is… – Week of February 4, 2019


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

Hebrews 11:1



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

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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Why We Labor – Week of January 28, 2019

Why We Labor – Week of January 28, 2019


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

1 Corinthians 9:23



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

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

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

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



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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019

Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019


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

Mark 6:31b



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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019

Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019


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

Psalm 121:1-4



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019

Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019


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

Colossians 3:1-2



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

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

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

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



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

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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Light and Glory – Week of December 31, 2018

Light and Glory – Week of December 31, 2018


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

Luke 2:30-32



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

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

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

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



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



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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