All Things for All! – Week of February 15, 2021

All Things for All! – Week of February 15, 2021



I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9: 22b-23



Home visits and parent orientations are always exciting. You’re getting ready to start a new year or a child is about to join your classroom for the first time. But there can be some anxiety, too, as teachers get confronted with ideas from families of all backgrounds and opinions.

The writer of our verses today, Paul, was no stranger to handling such things. Throughout his ministry, he worked with people of a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and ideologies. How did Paul handle such a challenge? Our verses tell us that Paul “became all things to all people.” Why? So that through the good news about Jesus, he “might save some.” God had given Paul a heart that was so excited to share about Jesus that he was willing to do almost anything (without changing God’s message) to do just that.

God has given us hearts to share the love of Jesus, too. But sometimes our perceptions can make that a struggle. We see parents’ practices and thoughts about eating, sleeping, toilet-training, academic learning, etc. and it can be a challenge to meet them where they’re at!

That’s when Paul’s words and Jesus’ ultimate carrying out of those words can help us pause. How perfectly Jesus carried out these words for us! The way we (and all people) thought and did things couldn’t have been further from what God had intended when he first created this world. Yet Jesus left his glorious home in heaven and literally became one of us. He preached to people of all backgrounds, to people who agreed with his words and violently disagreed. Then he reached his final goal: becoming the sacrifice for all people, so that through giving his life on the cross he might not only save some, but all!

This love makes our hearts desire to be all things to others, too. We look at the mom who grew up in a different culture, and we seek to understand and build a relationship with her, so that maybe the good news about Jesus can be shared. We listen to the parents concerned about their child’s academic growth, and we look for opportunities to encourage their family in the most important growth of all, growth in the knowledge of their Savior.

Our efforts to be all things to all people will only bear fruit as God wills, but when they do, Paul reminds us that we, too, will get to share in the blessings. What better blessing than to witness another soul knowing Jesus!



Prayer:
Jesus, how often we have looked down upon others who are different from ourselves! Forgive us! In your grace, you became everything to all people so that we could be saved. Help us to find ways to be all things to those around us so that we might share the ultimate blessing of the hope of heaven with them. In your name we ask this, amen.

A Question to Consider:
Identify one family in your setting who might be able to use some extra consideration and understanding from your staff.  What could that support look like?  What deliberate steps could you take to build that relationship so that the gospel can be shared?



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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Blessed in the Word – Week of February 8, 2021

Blessed in the Word – Week of February 8, 2021



Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3



You’ve seen it happen. One toddler starts loudly banging her spoon and pretty soon, there’s a whole chorus of spoon-banging going on. Kids love to imitate each other’s behavior!

Adults do this, too, sometimes without even realizing it. That’s why God is clear in our verses today about where he does and does not want his children to be on their walk toward heaven. First, God addresses where he does not want us to be. He says, “[do] not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” What does that really look like?

Think back to those toddlers at the beginning. None of those 14-month-olds went into the day with a spoon-banging plan, but when they were surrounded by others doing just that, it had an impact on their behavior, too. That can so easily happen to us as well. Maybe it’s that we continue to spend time with friends who encourage us to misuse alcohol, and it’s just too hard to say no. Maybe it’s that one show, that “guilty pleasure,” and before we know it, our thoughts and attitudes are beginning to reflect ideas that don’t align with God’s will. Maybe it’s those posts that we continue to click on that disrespect officials in our government (on either side of the aisle) and soon, our mouths are spouting that same rhetoric.

God has a better way for his children. Instead of immersing ourselves in the sinful surroundings of this world, he tells us to delight in his law, to be in his Word. God wants us to hear about our sin and how it separates us from him so that we don’t make light of it, and so we know that we could never possibly get to heaven on our own. He also wants us to hear again and again the gospel, which tells us Jesus lived for us perfectly and died for us willingly, giving his spotless life in exchange for ours. God wants us to hear how we can live each day in thankfulness for all he has done for us, and he wants us to hear his forgiveness when we fail. There are so many things with which we can fill our hearts and minds as we walk the road toward heaven. But our Savior longs for us to be in his Word. He promises that when we are, we will be blessed!



Prayer:
Jesus, you know just how often we surround ourselves with everything but your Word. Forgive us for so often having misplaced priorities and for even choosing sinful things over time with you. As we continue in this new year, give us hearts that want to study your Word regularly, knowing each time we do, you will bring blessings. In your name we pray, amen.

A Question to Consider: At the end of the psalm verses above, God compares the believer to a tree planted by streams of water. The tree is connected to a steady supply of exactly what it needs to grow. Think through your week. In addition to church, how can you connect to what your heart needs, time with Jesus in his 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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God’s Grace is for All! – Week of February 1, 2021

God’s Grace is for All! – Week of February 1, 2021



Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.  Now Nineveh was a very large city; The Ninevites believed God.  A fast was proclaimed and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.  When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. 

Jonah 3: 1-3a, 5, 10



“You can’t play with us.  Only girls wearing pink can use the dress-up right now.”

Does it ever take you by surprise when your sweet students show such unkindness to one another?  Even when we’re little, our hearts love to set up dividing lines between “us” and “them.”

In our verses today, God had commanded Jonah to preach his Word in a city called Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian kingdom. The Assyrians were no friend of Jonah’s people.  When God gave Jonah this directive, Jonah chose to run.  Just after our verses above, we find the reason for Jonah’s avoidance: because he knew that God was a “gracious and compassionate God.”  Jonah, God’s very own prophet, did not want to share God’s message with “them.”

We can find this attitude leaking into our lives, too.  It can be difficult to share God’s forgiveness with the little boy who has tested our patience all morning long.  Our hearts may think, “Does he really deserve this, again?”  Or, while we may chat eagerly with one mom, taking the time to build a relationship, we quickly bustle out the mom who arrives a hot mess at 5:36, and we sidestep the dad who questioned us earlier in the week altogether.

Thank the Lord that he is so unlike each of us!  Though the Ninevites had been bitter enemies of his people, God longed for them to turn to him.  That kind of grace is unfathomable to our human logic!  But doesn’t it also bring us such joy?  Because, if God’s grace is truly for all, even those whom most regarded as outside God’s circle, then God’s grace is for us, too.  When Jesus died on the cross, he gave his life for the sins of the little girls in the opening story and for the little boy who tried your patience today. He died for the moms and dads who make our work a joy, and the moms and dads who don’t do things quite as we’d like or who even confront us regularly.  He died for the teacher who shared his grace today, and he died for the teacher who forgot, put self above the needs of another, or avoided the opportunity altogether.  Jesus died for you!  God’s undeserved love, his grace, is for you!  What an awesome opportunity we have each day to share his grace with others!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for your undeserved grace.  As I look into the faces of those you have given me to serve, whether big or small, help me to see them with your eyes, as individuals you died for and dearly love.  When I fail, remind me of your unwavering grace for me and give me renewed energy to try again.  In your name I ask this, amen.

A Question to Consider: God’s grace, his undeserved love, binds us to each other.  Think about the families in your care.  How can you be a purposeful witness of God’s grace to both the easy and the more challenging families you serve?



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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All Ears – Week of January 25, 2021

All Ears – Week of January 25, 2021



Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3:9-10



“Does anyone hear me?”

I often feel like screaming these words from the rooftop. Seriously, sometimes I just want to know if anyone is listening to the words that I am saying.

I know that my son heard me ask him to hang his coat on the hook, but it’s on the floor, so while he may have heard me, I don’t think he actually listened to what I said.
I know that my daughter heard me say to brush her hair before heading off to school, however, I’m noticing a few more tangles than a brushed head should have.
I know that my students heard me tell them that this is a quiet time, yet the noise level in the classroom is deafening.

I get frustrated with the lack of listening. I wonder if God does too. He says, “Do not worry.” And yet, I worry. “You are beautifully and wonderfully made.” Oh, sure, I hear him, but then I see myself in the mirror and I don’t see what he sees. Instead, my head is filled with insecurities and lies. “Plans to prosper…” yet sometimes I focus on only what is harming me.

God wants us to be good listeners. We know how good it feels when we’re not only heard, but actually listened to.

Samuel did a good job of listening. He not only heard the words of Eli, but he listened to them. He also had a desire to listen to the words of God. He said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
We would do well to do the same. Listen to the words of our Father. He tells us so many wonderful things. He shows us his faithfulness. He provides us with words of comfort, words of relief, words of hope.

When our hearts seem to be overwhelmed with the lack of hearing, maybe it’s time for our ears to perk up and do some listening.

Give your time to him and his Word. He has so much to tell you.



Prayer:

Speak, O Savior; I am listening , as your servant to his lord.
Let me show respect and honor to your holy precious Word.
That each day my whole life through, I may serve and follow you.
Let your Word e’er be my pleasure, and my heart’s most precious treasure.a

Christian Worship 283:1

A Question to Consider: What are some listening tricks you have learned throughout life? Share them with a friend and put them into practice this 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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Unstoppable – Week of January 18, 2021

Unstoppable – Week of January 18, 2021



At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11



My oldest child almost didn’t get baptized. Ok, that might be a bit drastic. I should say, our original date for her baptism almost got cancelled. Of all days, a blizzard raged on and our pastor called off church. We had family in town and my post-partum emotions were drowning in sadness at the fact that our “special day” wasn’t going to work out the way we thought. Then it happened…a “Baptism Day” miracle! Our pastor called and told us that he was going to make the trip to our house, in a middle of a monster snowstorm, to baptize our daughter. What a guy.

That’s not the only miracle that happened that day. God’s amazing grace washed over my daughter through the sacrament of Holy Baptism. She was stamped as one of his own. It was one of the best days of my life. Most definitely of hers as well.

There is nothing that can stop the Holy Spirit from doing what he is going to do. He is that powerful. No circumstance. No weather pattern. No emotional meltdown. The power of the Holy Spirit can do the unimaginable.

Even John the Baptist tried to stop a baptism. The baptism of Jesus! In the account in Matthew 3:14, we read, “But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’” Basically saying, “Who am I, to baptize YOU?”. But the Holy Spirit prevailed. Nothing can stop him from what he is going to do.

Take comfort in that, friends! He is powerful.

As you teach God’s little lambs think of that power. Think of that faith that he’s strengthening day in and day out, using you as one of his tools. What a privilege it is to preach the gospel. The faith that he’s working in their hearts is new, but oh, so strong. What an awesome job we have of telling the truths of God’s Word to these little ones. We are merely the mouthpiece, but the Holy Spirit is the POWER that causes his Word to take root in their little hearts.



Prayer:

Holy Spirit, I am in awe of your power. Please continue to strengthen my faith and the faith of my students. Lord, help me to stay in your Word and faithful in my devotion to you. I cling to your unstoppable power. 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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Wake up! – Week of January 11, 2021

Wake up! – Week of January 11, 2021



Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Isaiah 60:1-3



Three days a week, I drive to an exercise class at 5:15 in the morning. I live in the country, so the darkness of the sky surrounds me during my drive. I usually turn my bright headlights on so that I can see as clearly as possible. The light is good.

Then…I get to my class. For thirty minutes, I dance like no one is watching and then I get back in my car to head home.

By this time, usually the sun is coming up. The light is making itself known for the day. I love it. I find so much peace in knowing that the light has, once again, taken over for the next several hours.

When I get home, I usually have about 10-15 minutes before I hear the footsteps of my children coming down the stairs for breakfast. Have you ever seen a child’s face right when they are waking up? It is usually scrunched up with their eyes squinted. The light! It’s so bright. Staying in the dark might make for a more comfortable situation, but then…as they get used to the light, they realize that that is where they want to stay. Being in the light is the absolute best place to be.

“The LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.” Amazing. How wonderful to be in the Light.

This world sure could use a little bit more Light. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I, a believer, can struggle with seeing the Light. I can get overwhelmed with my day-to-day responsibilities. My smile can fade when something of this world tugs at my heart more than the promise of my Savior. Sometimes the darkness is so thick that I forget that the Light has already been won for me.

Sure there is darkness. But, friends, there is light. That Light, that glory of our LORD, is found in Jesus our Savior. It rises upon us, basking us in the warm glow of forgiveness and spiritual understanding to see life clearly by the brightness of God’s shining promises. It’s where we want to be. It’s where we need to be. It’s the privilege of what we get to share! The Light! We don’t just teach our kids cute songs about having a little light of their own to shine because it’s fun. We teach them songs about sharing their light because this world needs the Light! The darkness will come. It will try to steal the joy, but the Light wins! The Light has won!

So when the sun sets, use the darkness for rest. Then use the energy from that rest, to shine the Light!



Prayer:
Arise and shine in splendor;
Let night to day surrender.
Your light is drawing near.
Above the day is beaming,
In matchless beauty gleaming,
The glory of the Lord is here
Christian Worship 81:1

A Question to Consider: How can you be the light for your students this 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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Happy New Year! – Week of January 4, 2021

Happy New Year! – Week of January 4, 2021



But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace.

Micah 5:2,4-5a



10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

Isn’t is fun to count down and wonder what’s coming next? I suppose if surprises aren’t your thing, maybe the countdown doesn’t bring such joy. Maybe you used to like countdowns, but 2020 changed you mind. It’s understandable.

Last year, I remember getting my colorful dry-erase markers out and making my calendar look perfect and cute as I filled in all of the fun things to look forward to. The calendar sure did look great, that is, until the end of March. My calendar was extremely confused at the end of March. Nothing I planned was happening. April and May seemed to be confused as well. So yes, if 2020 changed your mind about countdowns, I fully understand.

There’s good news though, friends. Get excited, because whatever 2021 has in store for you, you are in the best hands. If you think you’re too weak and can’t handle what’s coming, guess what…you have the strength of the Lord on your side. If you think the darkness of the world is taking over, go ahead and stand in awe of his majestic name. If you’re struggling with the unrest of the past, bask in the peace in knowing that we live SECURELY in the greatness of our God found in the one sent to Bethlehem’s stable, Jesus our King and Savior.

As we welcome God’s littlest of lambs back to the classroom this New Year, let us shower them with the truth that he will be our peace in whatever comes our way. Instill in them the confidence that though they are small, they are mighty in the One who whose greatness reaches to the ends of the earth.  Let us encourage each other to praise his Holy Name and thank him for his continued faithfulness in our lives.

I will probably still try to make my calendar look perfect and cute this year. I can’t help it. I love color coding! I will say though, I will have my eraser ready and tackle each day with the confidence in knowing that He is in control.

Stay in the Word, friends. Daily be immersed in his promises. In Truth!
May God bless you today and always.
Happy New Year!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for being my strength. Help me look to you throughout this year and find comfort in your promise of peace. Amen. 

Question to Consider: Do you have “Praise God” written on your calendar anywhere? It’s not something typically you’d see written down, but maybe pick a day or two a month and jot it down as a reminder to intentionally praise his Holy name. Dance to a Christian song. Pick up that old instrument that you used to play and worship him. Say a prayer of thanksgiving. Praise him all year through!



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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An Unforgettable Christmas – Week of December 28, 2020

An Unforgettable Christmas – Week of December 28, 2020



The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14



We have seen his glory, and this is his glory. He took on flesh for us. Where is God when I needed him?  He’s not on some far away planet. He actually came here, dwelt (literally tented) among us. Crucified, the God-man who comes to seek his own.

We have seen his glory, and here’s his glory—to seek and to save you! So this unforgettable Christmas:

  • I think of a dear saint getting up there in years, wondering—will this be her last Christmas? I think of her missing all the loved ones who have gone before; I think of the quiet confidence and hope that is hers in God who called Bethlehem’s manger his home.
  • And I think of little ones who fill our classrooms and sometimes our churches, and the ones who mom still carries in the car seat, and all that lies in the future for them. That God would love them this much? To be joined to their humanity? To take on flesh and blood? For them?
  • And I think of hospital beds you’ve stood next to; the funerals you’ve endured; the graves you’ve travelled to; and those you miss terribly today. And I think of the joy that ends all sadness; the peace which will never disappoint; the choir that gathers in heaven singing his praises evermore and evermore.
  • And I think of those who suffer this Christmas; who are in the midst of a battle of the wills; who are struggling to love; and I find love in a manger; love on a cross.

This is a Christmas that will not be forgotten.  In varying degrees, it’s a struggle for each of us. For all of us there is something not quite right, something you wish were different, someone who is missing, something un-resolved, something not finished or fixed. Christmas arrives with worry, loneliness, fear.

But this: The Word became flesh.

But this: Your God became man for you.

But this: I know what my God is like. God is no longer angry with you. This baby, the world’s Redeemer, revealed the face of God to us! A face of love and mercy and forgiveness that knows no end!

But this: Christmas means we can be honest and say some things we cannot fix; but Jesus can.

This Christmas is an unforgettable one, because Christmas means Someone loves you so much that he would rather die than hold your sins against you. So the One who was near the Father, who was God and is God, took on flesh, because he wanted you Home.

And that is a Christmas not to be forgotten!



Prayer:

The world may hold her wealth and gold; But you, my heart, keep Christ as your true treasure.
To him hold fast until at last a crown is yours and honor in full measure. Amen.
(Christian Worship 40:5)



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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An Advent Promise—No Word from God Will Ever Fail – Week of December 21, 2020

An Advent Promise—No Word from God Will Ever Fail – Week of December 21, 2020



But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. …For no word from God will ever fail. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her

Luke 1:30-33, 37-38



For no word from God will ever fail. As you read through the Old Testament, see how many times it looked like God’s word was going to fail. See the centuries of sinners in the line of your Savior. How desperately they need him.

For no word from God will ever fail. But it looks like it might, as we look at our own lives. For as ugly as the history of the people of God in the Old Testament, my history, my past history, my current history, is no prettier. Or yours.

For no word from God will ever fail. The one who enters the virgin’s womb is the one who enters Bethlehem’s manger, enters Jerusalem’s gates on Palm Sunday, enters into death, even death on a cross, enters into a tomb only to leave it empty again. For me.  For you!

For no word from God will ever fail.  The same Word which healed lepers and caused the blind to see and called the dead forth out of the grave. This Word spoken to you. “I forgive you.” For no Word of God fails. Nothing is impossible with God.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  Mary did not demand a diagram or an explanation or a contract from her Lord. She demanded nothing. She believed.

I am the Lord’s servant. God works such faith in you as well. How could you know all that’s coming? For all of our planning and wisdom, tomorrow can change everything; indeed, tomorrow may never come. We don’t know all that the Lord has in store for us, this much we do:

  • The virgin conceived and gave birth to a son.
  • Our brother. And he will save the people from their sins.
  • Nothing is impossible with God.

For no word from God will ever fail.  The stuff in your life, the big stuff, the stuff that feels like too much, the struggles, the doubts, the fears.  God and his word will not fail. I am the Lord’s servant Lord, open our lips to speak with such confidence! For he has shown you his favor! Jesus is His name!



Prayer:

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Take away the burden of our sins and make us ready for the celebration of your birth! 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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An Advent Promise—God is Faithful – Week of December 14, 2020

An Advent Promise—God is Faithful – Week of December 14, 2020



May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24



I think of you this busy Monday. I think of the final things that fill an educator’s calendar (and the other vocations God has called you to). I recognize that your minutes are precious right now, and so many good and godly things that are desirous of and demanding of your attention. So may I give you a gift, a gift that requires nothing from you?

Today’s gift is bought by the Christ and carried to you through the Holy Spirit.

  • It’s a gift of peace, when peace seems so fleeting. (A peaceful ECM classroom the week before Christmas?!?) It’s a gift of peace. Jesus Christ is his name, yours through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. Peace! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!
  • It’s a gift of being found blameless, now and at the day of the Lord’s coming. While your conscience accuses you. (Yes Lord, forgive me, I’m all too aware of the evil I have done and the good I have failed to do.) The Spirit testifies: you are blameless. Wrapped in Christ Jesus, who was and is blameless for you, you are all blameless. All of you, “your whole spirit, soul and body.” You are blameless! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!
  • It’s a gift of joy. Not a joy that is fleeting, mind you, a joy that the comes from sins forgiven; a joy that can’t be robbed this hectic December day. Joy! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!
  • It’s a gift of our God who is faithful, the one who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. A God who continues to call after you in his precious word of forgiveness, a God who leaves no question as to whether he will do for you what he says he will do for you. God is faithful! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!

I think of all you have to do this day, this week. This Word of promise is for you, dearly loved child of God, not as something for you to perform but as something that comes from him freely, signed, sealed and delivered by the Holy Spirit who is pleased to call you his! May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.



Prayer:
Lord Jesus, into your hands I place all my worries, all my unfinished tasks, all that would accuse me or blame me. Thank you for your promise and your faithfulness, which fails me never. 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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An Advent Promise—The Lord is Patient – Week of December 7, 2020

An Advent Promise—The Lord is Patient – Week of December 7, 2020



The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance

2 Peter 3:9



The irony is not lost on me—that this devotion, designed for educators of God’s littlest lambs, preaches patience. Those dear little ones are so ready for what’s coming in a few weeks: “Is it here, yet? Is it time, yet? When do we get to open presents?” Patience, dear one, patience.

And just when will the Lord Jesus show up anyways??? “Come, Lord Jesus, come” his little church has prayed for two millennia. What is taking so long?!?

St. Peter puts a finger to his lips and says to all of us who ache and who long for Jesus and his reappearing today: it will be ok. “Why is it so slow in coming?” I wonder, and St. Peter reminds me: He’s not. He’s not slow in keeping his promise, as it may seem according our itty-bitty understanding of time and our itty-bitty understanding of the way things ought to be. He’s not slow. He’s patient.

He’s patient—and that is for our good. He is patient—and for all I do not understand about the here and now, that’s a promise to rest in. He’s patient—eagerly desiring your salvation; and not only yours, but all whose lives you are blessed to touch as teacher, as parent, as friend, as child, as spouse. He’s patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (sorrow over sin and trust in God’s promise of forgiveness in Jesus).

Tom Petty would have us believe that waiting is the hardest part. Your students likely agree this week! And everything around us, the struggles of this year and the struggles of this week, they all scream the same. Here is an Advent promise, for you: The Lord is patient! His timing is good, for you. His desire is good, for you, not wanting you to perish, but repentance and life in him.

To one who preaches patience time and again, you can rest this day in God’s patience.

To one who preaches patience time and again, you can rest this day in the joy that comes from belonging to Him.

To one who preaches patience time and again, you can rejoice this day in the opportunities he gives you to proclaim The Lord is patient!



Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, whose patience in keeping your promise is what is good for me and for all, strengthen me this day to live and to hope and to love, and all the more as I long for your reappearing. 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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Be Ready! – Week of November 30, 2020

Be Ready! – Week of November 30, 2020



[Jesus said,] “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13:35-37



A four-year-old bounded down the hallway to her toddler brother and announced “Hey, you are going to heaven!” This might have been an endearing moment, had she not added, in a sing-song voice, “but first you have to die…“ The parents overhearing this were first filled with joy at the tender announcement and quickly switched to shock over the blunt morbidity of the second statement. How can a young child so easily speak the sad truth that we will all die- and present it without fear, but with joy?

Yes, we will someday die. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin at the very beginning of the world, God promised that they would surely die for their disobedience. God also promised that someday, he would send Jesus to take away their sins and all the sins of their decedents.

The end of the world has been wrongly predicted by scientists, archeologists, religious leaders, and philosophers for the past several hundred years. Some predictions were made based on ancient calendars, others on signs of nature, and some predictions were even based on parts of scripture.

But we know this for sure: we do not know when Jesus will return! Earlier in the chapter, Jesus even says that only God himself knows the date of his return (Mark 13:32). It is not our job to try to figure out when he will come. In fact, it could even be dangerous, spiritually, for us to know the day or time. We might allow ourselves to become immersed in the sins of the world, knowing that we “have time to repent”. Purposely waiting our last moments of life to ask for forgiveness is very dangerous, indeed.

God tells us that our job is to “be ready”. He wants us to come to him in prayer, and he wants us to read about his promises in his Word. He talks to us every time we read the Bible, and he offers us comfort. God always keeps his promises, and we eagerly await the fulfillment of his “ultimate promise”, when he comes back to take us to the mansion in heaven that he is preparing for us. God promised that the entire world would be redeemed through the precious blood of his Son, and this promise was fulfilled on the first Easter weekend when Jesus died, beat the devil, and came back to life. We are ready for our Savior to come again!



Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for giving us time on this earth to enjoy your creation and do the work that you have given us. Help us not to fear death, but to see the opportunity that you have given us to use our time to study your Word and proclaim your love to others. We look forward to the time that you will come again to bring us to our true home, heaven, where there will be only joy. 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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Our God, Our King- Week of November 23, 2020

Our God, Our King- Week of November 23, 2020



Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

Psalm 47:1-4



“Our King is coming!”, said the pastor one Sunday morning. A 3-year-old scrambled out from under a pew, jumped on to the seat, looked out towards the back of the church and shouted “Where? Where’s the king? I want to see the King!”

Where’s the king? Many are asking that today. We see communities ruined by economic stress, social unrest, and natural disasters. Many feel a sense of hopelessness and abandonment. Where is God? Did he leave us? Oh, how we want to see our King!

But our Lord is the King over all the earth! He IS here, and he never left us. The pages of the Bible are filled with examples of God’s power over the world. First, he made the entire world-the heavens and the earth-with just his power and his words. We saw God flood the world in Noah’s time, and with this same power he made the waters evaporate. We saw God win battles for His people and send food to them when they were in the middle of the desert. Through Jesus, we saw God heal the sick and bring people back to life. Our God IS king over heaven and earth.

We often feel as though we need a king to rescue us from this world—from natural disasters, physical pain and disease, and from the sins of others. But truly, we need someone to save us from ourselves. We are sinful. We are the problem with this world. We need someone to save us because we are evil. Sin is not just a product of the world around us, it is not something that someone is doing to us, it is a product of ourselves, from within ourselves.

On judgement day, the last day of the world, God will return. All people will submit to our King, who defeated the darkness of sin on our behalf. Our King over heaven and earth will come back to rescue us from this dark world and bring us to the eternal light of heaven. Our king IS coming! He is our Savior. We rejoice as we look forward to the day when he returns and his name is proclaimed everywhere as ruler of all. We do as the Psalm says and clap our hands and shout with joy! God IS King and has given us heaven, our inheritance.



Prayer:

Dear God, our King,
Thank you for the reminder that you are in control of all things in this world. I rejoice that you are our King of this world. I am sorry for my sins, for all that I do to bring hurt and sadness into this world. Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me and help me to show others that you are our Savior. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
The power of God over this world often can be seen in nature. How have you seen God’s power in the world around you?



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

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Our Eternal God – Week of November 16, 2020

Our Eternal God – Week of November 16, 2020



Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 90:1-2



We are entering the 9th month of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems to have no end. When will the masks be in the garage sale pile and the Clorox wipes be on sale again? When will we be able to hug our friends and shake hands with a stranger? And when, oh when, asks my 4-year-old, will indoor playgrounds and the Icee machine at Target be open again? It feels like these “uncertain times” have been going on forever!

But the only one who knows the true feeling of “forever” is God. In the beginning, before anything was made, God was there (Genesis 1:1). God has no beginning and no end, which means he always was, and always is. God’s power has never changed, either. God has always been, and always will be all-knowing and all-powerful. In a world that always changes, God never does.

While God is eternal, we are not. Because of our sin, we will someday die. Because of our sin, life on earth will be filled with sorrow and pain. Because of our sin, because of our parents’ sins, and because of the sins of every generation before and after, we deserve the punishment of death and the punishment of eternal separation from God in hell.

When we suffer in this life, we forget that God is in control and will never leave us or forsake us. We sin when we forget that our God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchanging. We also sin when we trust anything over God. In these “uncertain times” we can sometimes put our trust into worldly things such as science, social organizations and people, or even ourselves. Sometimes we place these worldly things above God.

But our loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God is the “remedy” for our sin. He is our “dwelling place”, as the Psalm says, our shelter. He sent his son, in our place, to die for our sins, our parent’s sins, and the sins of every generation before and after. Because of Jesus, when God looks at us he sees purity and righteousness. Because of Jesus, we have been freely given a place in heaven, where we will live eternally with Him.



Prayer:

A beloved hymn, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” was written based on Psalm 90. In this hymn, we thank God for being our shelter in this world and for giving us the hope of heaven, our eternal home. We pray:
Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.
Before the hills in order stood or earth received its frame,
from everlasting you are God, to endless years the same.
Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
still be our guard while troubles last and our eternal home! Amen.

Christian Worship 441:1, 3, 6

A Question to Consider:
What “stormy blasts” have come your way in 2020, and how has God provided shelter and hope in your trials this year?



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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Our God, Our Judge – Week of November 9, 2020

Our God, Our Judge – Week of November 9, 2020



(Part of the story of The Sheep and the Goats) The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40



“Give Back”.” Pay it forward”. “Spread kindness like confetti.” Have you noticed any other “goodwill movements” in the news or on social media? As Christians, we have our own. We show love to others because God loved us first and gave us more than we deserve when he sent his son to die for us.

When Jesus comes again he will rule as judge. All people, those still on earth and those that have died, will be judged on the last day. Some people will go to heaven, and some people will go to hell. He will look into the heart of each person that ever lived and send them to live eternally with him in heaven or to be eternally separated from him in hell. Not everyone will be saved. Both heaven and hell are eternal and permanent. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? That in one instant our eternity will be decided by one person?

This truth sounds harsh because it is contrary to what the world tries to tell us. The world tries to tell us that whatever a person believes is “their truth”. In this time of tolerance, the world wants us to believe that “everyone has a little good in them” and that everyone has a right to “their truth”. But not everyone will go to heaven. Not everyone believes the real truth that will give them a place in heaven.

Jesus describes this “last day” at the end of his ministry, as recorded in the book of Matthew. Jesus says that he will remember our time on earth and wants us to live a life of service for others. He wants us to help people by caring for them physically, emotionally and spiritually.

It is important that we note that Jesus is not saying that we can earn heaven by serving others. The path to heaven is through the blood of Jesus alone, not by any good we do on this earth. And yet, showing love to others by serving them is evidence that we have faith in Christ. When Jesus says “whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” he means that even the simplest of acts that we do for those he puts in our homes and community will show our faith. We are so thankful for the grace that God showed us by forgiving our many sins, that we want to serve others. By serving others, our love for God shines through.



Prayer: Dear God,
Thank you for the mercy you have shown me by sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Help me to show my love for you by caring for others. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What opportunities has God given you to care for people in your life? Is there someone that needs help finding resources to care for their physical or emotional needs? How can you help connect the people in your life to God’s 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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A Mighty Fortress – Week of November 2, 2020

A Mighty Fortress – Week of November 2, 2020



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

Psalm 46:1-3, 11



Fires raged through California, storm after storm formed in the Gulf, and the Coronavirus pandemic almost stopped the world completely. We have seen some extraordinary things this year, haven’t we? In addition to witnessing these natural disasters, we have felt the strain that comes with a struggling economy, job insecurity or loss, and the emotional and physical separation from family and friends.

It has felt as though the world might be falling down around us. And, in a way, it is! Sometimes we call these tragic experiences of nature “pictures of the end times”. We know that this world will not last forever, and that sin will always be a part of it. We know that we, and all people born into this world, will never be able to live the perfect life that we would need to live to go to heaven. Only Jesus lived that perfect life, for us. He earned our way to heaven.

Why doesn’t God stop the fires and storms? And couldn’t he rid the world of disease at one command? Yes, he could. Yet there is a purpose when he doesn’t. We are reminded of our own sinfulness and the sins of this world when he does not stop the hardships that come our way. God does not promise that we will never experience tragedy in this life, but we do know that God keeps every promise that he does make. God promises to be our shield in this world and to bring us to the next, our final home in heaven.

So God says in the Psalm that even though the world will not last, we will not be afraid. God is always with us, he is our fortress, or refuge, our strength. We look forward to the day when Jesus will take us home with him in heaven and we can leave all the pain and destruction behind forever.

The hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” was written based on Psalm 46. We thank God for protecting us from harm, for giving us his Word, and sending his son, Jesus, to win heaven for us. Listen to some of the words from this timeless hymn:
“And do what they will-hate, steal, hurt or kill—Though all may be gone, Our victory is won! The kingdom’s ours forever.”(Christian Worship 200:4)

God is our fortress! He is with us, though the world may crumble around us. Although there is evil and destruction in this world, “though all may be gone”, God has won the battle over sin for us. He has won the victory for us and freely gives us his kingdom, heaven.



Prayer: Dear God, our Mighty Fortress,
Thank you for giving us the comfort of your Word in this Psalm during the challenging times of this world. Help us to remember that you are our refuge, you are our strength, and that you will always help in times of trouble. 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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Waiting for the Lord – Week of October 26, 2020

Waiting for the Lord – Week of October 26, 2020



I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13-14



There is nothing worse than waiting. Well, maybe there is but when you are waiting for something, nothing else seems to matter at that moment. And yet you teach your children how to wait. It is an important life lesson, isn’t it? Patience is a virtue. Patience with grace is a high virtue. The reason we struggle with waiting is that we think of ourselves as very important. “Doesn’t the DMV clerk know whom I am and that I am super important matters to attend to? If he did, he would get this line moving.” Waiting is a harsh law. It turns out you and I are not that important. A humbling experience for the both the adult and the preschooler.

And yet we all know good things come to those who wait. Another lesson you hope to teach your students. When we take our time with our work, better results occur. When we save up our money to make a big purchase, there is a sense of satisfaction (as opposed to the guilt of credit!).

We are told to wait for the Lord. It can be a painful experience. But it is also a delight. It is a delightful experience because we are confident in the Lord. In our saddest moments we might cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!” But in our happiest moments we simply delight in life now and the life to come. It is a win-win situation for us. No matter what, Jesus will give us life.

This is the source of all confidence, another characteristic you hope to instill in your students. King David was confident in the midst of a chaotic political situation because he believed in the resurrection from the dead. He knew that he would see the goodness of God in the land of the living (even if he died in battle). He knew that he had the ultimate victory over death. This made him confident in all things. He could take chances. He could venture all things. He didn’t have to rely on dishonorable tactics. He could do what was right even if he was persecuted or defeated in an unfair world.

So it is with us. Your confidence and the confidence of your students is in Christ. If Christ has taken care of our biggest problem (sin and death), then what do we need to be timid about? This relaxes our tension and allows us to be free. We are confident. And with this confidence we wait for the Lord in delight, enjoying the gift of life now and confidence in God’s gift of eternal life to come.



Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, come, and take us to our heavenly home. Until then guide us in your light and give us the confidence in faith grounded in your unending love and protection. 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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The Face of God – Week of October 19, 2020

The Face of God – Week of October 19, 2020



Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

Psalm 27:7-11



The face of God can be a terrifying thing. Moses was forced into a cleft of a rock and only the backside of God passed by him. He could not see the face of God and live. It would have been too much for a mere mortal.

In the same way we can only see glimpses of a hidden God. God hides. That sounds awful but it is true. God hides. But he paradoxically hides in order to be revealed. He does not show his glorious face to us because it would be too much. His glory would blow away sinners like us. So he hides. And when he hides, he becomes intimate. We do not stand in the glory of God wondering if we will be blown away. We go about our business every single day with God right next to us. It might sound like a consolation prize to have a hidden God instead of experiencing the full glory of the Almighty, but this is not true. He is close to us and that is a gift of God’s grace.

God hides so that he might be found on his own terms. He wants to be found in the most hidden of all places, the cross. Who would look for a glorious God in that godless scene? David sought after the face of God. He wanted God to look on him with favor, that is, to look at him and not turn away. We want the same. But the face of God does not look glorious—it looks like a man dying on the cross. Here is where we see the Father turn his face away from his Son so that he can turn his face towards us in mercy. Christ gets the justice we deserve and we get the kindness Christ earned for us.

But where do we look for the face of God today? Still at the cross of course but also in the people we serve. Having been spared wrath and given love, we now go into the world to love. When we love others, we love God. So where is the face of God in your life right now? The students looking to you every day. God saved you and now uses you to love his children. You are the face of God to them and they are the face of God to you.



Prayer: Jesus Christ, you are true God and fullness of the deity in bodily form. Help us to be your ambassadors in the world. Move us to see your face in all we serve so that in turn, they may see your loving face in our actions. 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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The House of God – Week of October 12, 2020

The House of God – Week of October 12, 2020



One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 27:4-5



King David, the author of Psalm 27, wanted to build the Temple. He wanted to build, quite literally, a house for God. But he was not able to build the house of God because he was a man of war and God didn’t want his conquests (godly though they were) to be associated with the building of his house of worship. Instead David’s son, Solomon, would build the Temple of the Lord. Yet thoughts of God’s house were never far from David’s mind. It’s not hard to imagine that he dreamed it, planned it, and even sketched it out.

David was not only concerned with the house of God and the worship of Israel. He also concerned himself with a royal palace and the patriotism this might engender in the people of Israel. So he built himself a palace that would have been very close to the palace of God, the Temple. Two houses in close proximity to each other but with two purposes. One was for worship, the other for national pride and strength. Guess which one David sings about in Psalm 27? Not the house of power he built for himself but the house of God.

David ultimately knew that the splendor of God’s grace was far better than the splendor of any earthly kingdom. David knew it in his heart, but it did not always show in his actions, as we know. We struggle with this too. It’s not just our castles, that is our homes, versus our churches, that is God’s house, but rather where we seek God.

Do we seek him in power or in suffering? Do we find him in majestic and glorious vistas or at the ugly cross? Do we encounter him by ourselves or in his house where his Word is read and preached and his meal served? David wrestled with that question and so do we.

We find God at the cross. And he is delivered to us in his Word, Meal, and Baptism. Here we see true love. This is the beauty of God’s Temple: a church made of forgiven sinners. This is God’s house: a place where all people are loved on account of Christ no matter what their background or track record. No, it is not the grandeur of King David’s Palace. It’s not even the grandeur Solomon’s Temple, long destroyed. It is the forgiveness of sinners.

This is when the house of God becomes a home. A safe place. A comforting place. A place of forgiveness and peace. This is ultimately what David meant as he, no doubt, compared his palace to the coming Temple. He was comparing this fleeting world to the safety of God’s loving protection. When we compare our worldly home to God’s house let’s see the loving forgiveness of God’s home as our greatest treasure.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, dwell in us with your Word so that we may always find comfort in the hands of a loving God and peace in his home. 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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The Lord Casts Out All Other Fear – Week of October 5, 2020

The Lord Casts Out All Other Fear – Week of October 5, 2020



The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1



Fear does not play favorites. While specific fears might differ among us, if we’re honest we have to admit that we all fear something. Sometimes that fear can be irrational like farfetched conspiracy theories. Sometimes that fear can be perfectly rational like cancer which is a very real possibility for all of us. But what is really happening when you fear something? You are making whatever it is bigger than God and therefore, in your mind, it cannot be stopped. If you give that kind of power to whatever it is, that fear will destroy you. It will dominate your life. It will consume you.

King David wrote Psalm 27 at a time when he had many enemies conspiring against him. He had every earthly reason to fear. And so do you. I am sure that you can recite in your mind the things you fear the most on a daily basis. But notice how David saw all those potential fears in comparison to his LORD! His LORD was a light that chased away darkness in his heart. His LORD brought rescue from every foe. His LORD was like a mighty stronghold which could never be breached. And if a loving God is bigger than anything one might fear (and he is), then you can sing with King David, “Whom shall I fear?” and “Of whom shall I be afraid?” The answer is nothing.

So David went confidently onto the battle field and into the political arena of his day. He took his lumps (we all do), but ultimately, he was given a true victory for all eternity – salvation in God. This same God who was a light to David and drove away all fear is your God. The same God who was David’s salvation is your God. So whom shall you fear? Nobody and nothing but a loving Father in heaven who has your eternal best interests in mind.



Prayer:Heavenly Father, be a light for our path. Drive away all dark fear from our worrisome hearts. Be our rock and fortress in which we find peace from all our enemies. 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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I Forgive You, Too – Week of September 28, 2020

I Forgive You, Too – Week of September 28, 2020



[Joseph’s] brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. 

Genesis 50: 18-21 



“She was mean to me!” Betsy cried out to you. Not having seen the incident, you bring both of the little ones together to find out more. You quietly ask each child to share what they did to the other one. Emma had lashed out at Betsy with words that hurt. As you talk together, Emma starts to understand that she had hurt Betsy with her words. “I’m sorry,” Emma says with tears. And then you wait. How will Betsy respond?

Can you imagine the guilt Joseph’s brothers had been carrying? For well over 30 years, they knew what they had done to Joseph. They alienated him. They threw him into a pit. They sold him into slavery. For all those years, they had no idea what had become of him—until now. Here they were at his mercy. The famine had led them to Egypt to hopefully get supplies that could be found nowhere else. Through a series of events, they had come to realize that the powerful leader that had control of the supplies they needed was none other than their brother, Joseph. If they had been able to push the guilt down over the years, it all came to the surface and their remorse flooded out. They admitted all they had done and begged for his forgiveness.

If anyone had an opportunity for pay back, it was Joseph. He had the authority to do almost anything. He could repay them with a similar fate. He could exile them. He could have them imprisoned or worse. What was his response? “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?”

Did they hear that right? Was he forgiving them? Yes. He was indeed. Why? Joseph knew God’s love and forgiveness in his own life. He knew that God had brought blessings through challenge after challenge to fulfill God’s plan. His heart was forgiving and loving, and he shared with them the precious words of forgiveness.

Each of us has someone in our lives who has hurt us in some way. This hurt can fester and drive a wedge between you and them. We also have caused hurt, especially to God each time we sin. In our devotion last week, we were reminded how God in love, washes each one of our sins completely away. He does this over and over and over. He does this without an expectation of anything but faith in him through Jesus. We don’t deserve it. By God’s grace, we have it—forgiveness from him.

As we consider this overwhelming free forgiveness, we can consider those we know. When someone comes to us with a broken heart, we can recall God’s love for us. Just as God forgives us, we too can say, “I forgive you.” What a gift we have from God. What a gift we can share with each other.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, your forgiveness for me is unexplainable except for the love you have shown for me and for all people. Out of gratitude for all you have done, create in me a loving and forgiving heart. In your name I pray. Amen

A Question to Consider: Sometimes the hurt we have experienced is significant and can cause lasting effects. Forgiveness will always be the foundation of healing in those situations. However, it is also sometimes helpful to seek the advice and counsel of a Christian counselor who can help us to work through these deep hurts.  May the Lord bless your relationships with one another and provide healing for all. Above all, may the Lord draw each of you closer to 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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Washed Perfectly Clean – Week of September 21, 2020

Washed Perfectly Clean – Week of September 21, 2020



Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:1-2



What is it about red juice and little ones? You can give them a cup of water and the spills will be minimal. But when red juice is involved, it seems like the possibility of spills grows exponentially! And when it spills, it’s as though it is drawn to anything white or light colored. The stains are brutal, and often no matter what you do a hint of the stain lingers as a constant reminder.

Our verses from Psalm 51 were written by David. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had given orders that her husband should be sent to the front lines of battle where he was killed. Nathan the prophet had come to David to confront him regarding his sin. David was overwhelmed with grief and penitence. He felt the stain of sin covering him. He pleaded to God for his forgiveness with words such as: “Have mercy on me,” “blot out my transgressions,” “wash away all my iniquity, “cleanse me from my sin.” He repeated his plea four times in this short section highlighting the intensity of his grief.  David had sinned.  He had rejected God and his will.  Sorrow filled his heart and he felt a deep need for forgiveness.

Notice in the verses how David included what he knew about God’s mercy. He asked for God’s forgiveness because of God’s “unfailing love” and his “great compassion”. While overwhelmed in sadness over his sin, David prayed for God’s mercy, his love, and his compassion. What an amazing statement of God’s love for David and for all sinners. God hates sin and expects perfection. Yet God also dearly loves his people to the point of sending Jesus to wash away every sin. And when God forgives sins, David’s and our own, they are gone…washed away…covered with God’s grace. There is no hint of stain left in God’s eyes. Because of Jesus, God looks at us and sees his dearly loved and redeemed children. No greater statement of love has ever been made than when Jesus washed away our sins on the cross.

You and I can scrub all day and some of those red juice stains are there permanently. You and I have times where sin and guilt can be overwhelming. We can struggle with where to turn and how to resolve our guilt. It’s then that we turn to God just as David did. When we go to God in faith, his mercy and grace are ours because of Jesus. We are perfectly clean in God’s eyes and at peace with him. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Thank you, dear Savior!



Prayer:
Dear Father, when I am overwhelmed by my sins, remind me of your mercy, compassion, and grace. Thank you for washing me clean of my sins through Jesus. Help me to reflect your grace in all I do. In Jesus’ 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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Mercy – Week of September 14, 2020

Mercy – Week of September 14, 2020



Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2



She wipes her eyes over and over again. The tears don’t seem to stop. She is crying so hard that she can barely get the words out. “I’m……… sorry.” She struggles to make eye contact with you as she waits for your response. She knows it was wrong and she is so very sorry. You quietly say to her, “I forgive you.” As the words slowly sink in and she sees the gentle look on your face, she eventually calms to hiccups. “Really?” she asks. “Really,” you respond.

You can’t believe you’ve done it again. You’ve let the sharp words fly out and wound a colleague. You see the hurt in their eyes, but you add to it all with justification in your mind for what you’ve just said. “I’m only saying what is true. I can’t help it if they can’t take it.” Later, as you reflect on your day, you realize the likely impact of your words. The guilt floods over you.

Mercy. What a simple word with a powerful impact. I’ve heard it defined as “not getting what you deserve.” What do you and I deserve? Think of the many, many times you’ve been impatient with a young child. Think of the many, many times that you spoke harshly to another adult. Think of the many, many times that you criticized someone when they weren’t around. Think of the many, many times you were jealous, greedy, or lazy. What do you and I deserve in God’s eyes?

You look to him and you see mercy. Don’t get me wrong. God’s standards and expectations are perfection and you and I fail at that constantly. But when you and I look at him, we see and hear mercy because of Jesus. Jesus said to his Father, “I’ll take her punishment because I love her.” Mercy.

Each time you are tempted to be impatient, harsh, unkind, jealous, greedy, lazy, ungrateful, look at his mercy for you. Focus on his mercy. Be overwhelmed by his mercy. Let that mercy be your motivation to reach out in kindness to others, to defend others, to forgive each other, to reflect his mercy in your life each day. Let the mercy he shows to you, lead you to want to do God’s will.
“I forgive you,” God says to us. “Really?”, we ask. “Really. You are forgiven because of Jesus,” God says to us. Live each day wrapped in that love, that forgiveness, that mercy.



Prayer:
Take the world, but give me Jesus!
In his cross my trust shall be till with clearer, brighter vision face to face my Lord I see.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy;
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above!
Christian Worship 355:3

A Question to Consider: Sometimes a visual reminder can be very helpful. Some people use notes on the mirror, the refrigerator, the dashboard. What are ways that you can keep God’s mercy for you in view as a constant reminder?



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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Watch Him – Week of September 7, 2020

Watch Him – Week of September 7, 2020



Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I can do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.”

Therefore say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.”
Exodus 6:1-2, 6-8



“Watch me!” Isn’t it amazing to watch a young child as they learn something new and to hear the excitement in their voice as they tell you to watch? They are practically bursting with enthusiasm. “Let me show you what I can do” is their message to you.

Our verses today begin in a similar way. The LORD says to Moses, “Now you will see what I can do to Pharaoh.” You may know this story. God’s people, the Israelites, had been living as captives in Egypt. They were subject to harsh treatment and even more, they were kept from going to Canaan, the land God had promised them. God had sent Moses as their leader. Moses had been trying to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go with no success. Moses goes to God to plead on their behalf. What an answer he got!

“I am the LORD.” To Moses, these few words were a clear reminder of who God was. He is the eternal God, the one who keeps his covenant, his promise. This promise was to redeem or save God’s people, not just from Pharaoh, but even more, from their sin. The LORD was about to show who he was and what he could do.

The LORD told Moses to take this message back to Israel. He told Moses to tell them that he is the LORD who keeps his promises and backs this up with what he does.

You and I don’t have Pharaoh in our lives, but we do have struggles. At times our struggles can seem insurmountable. Worst of all is our struggle with sin.

When we read accounts like the one today, it reminds us of two things: God, in love for us, keeps his promises to us and God is all powerful. If he can wipe out Pharaoh and his army for the Israelites, he surely can wipe out our trials. And even if he allows a trial or disappointment to continue, he promises to give you the strength you need. Each time you open the Bible and read what God has done for us, you can almost hear him say, “Watch me. Look at what I have done for you because I love you.” He conquered armies over and over. He brought down walls in Jericho without anyone touching a stone or brick. He fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. He healed blindness and raised people from the dead. Above all else, he destroyed Satan and paid what we owed for our sins.

Watch him. He did all this for you so that you would have no doubt about the depth of his love for you and how he sent his only son, Jesus, to the cross for you. Each day as you share Bible stories and devotions with the children, you can say, “Watch him! See what God has done and keeps doing for you because he loves you!”



Prayer: Dear Father, over and over the Word tells us who you are. Help us to watch and learn again and again how you have shown love to us and to the world. We treasure your Word and thank you for it. In Jesus we pray. Amen

A Question to Consider: Find a friend or colleague and make a list of all the examples God shares in the Bible of his power and his love. List the battles won, the miracles, the acts of judgment, the enemies conquered, and on and on. See how long a list you can gather. Then reflect on the list and remind yourself that he shares all this to remind you of his love for you, his love shown through Jesus, and his promise to be with you in all things.



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 Letter – Week of August 31, 2020

A Letter – Week of August 31, 2020



You are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts

2 Corinthians 3: 3



Here we are. The beginning of another new school year. The beginning of a new school year is always a mix of emotions for the children, the families, and the teachers. This year is no exception to that. How are you doing? Do you find yourself occasionally thinking, “It’s just not the same?” You may be starting in person for the first time since early spring. You might be heading back to the virtual setting. You’ve likely worked diligently all summer preparing for multiple possibilities. You may be ready for tomorrow, but you know that the day after that might be different. You are likely excited to reconnect with your students and get to know some new ones. You are probably eager to use some new ideas that you gleaned over the summer. And you also could very well be concerned about the safety of your students, their families, your colleagues, your family, and yourself.

Today’s verse is written through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration by Paul to the Christians in Corinth. He describes them as a letter from Christ…written on human hearts. They were not Paul’s witnesses but Christ’s. As they lived their life of faith and shared Christ’s message, they were like a letter carrying the most precious message ever written. They shared the gift of grace and forgiveness of Jesus with those around them.

That’s you. You too, are a letter from Christ. As you begin this year, you carry with you a message far more precious than any skill or nugget of learning. Your children may learn letters, colors, new words, number concepts, fine motor skills and many other things. You also face unique challenges this year. However, the heart of all you do is sharing Jesus with them. You’ll do it on a Zoom meeting or in person when you teach the Bible lessons for sure. You’ll share Jesus when you teach them about sharing and forgiving and apologizing. You’ll share Jesus when you notice the child who isn’t connecting in a way that you would hope, and you’ll reach out and find a way for them. Your laughter and joy in learning, your patience in the tough moments, your caring heart that reaches out to encourage each parent, your prayers with and for each child can all reflect Jesus’ love. You are a letter from Christ that reminds the children, their families, your colleagues, and even yourself that while this year may be different, the love of our Savior never changes. His letter is a love letter written in the Word for you and for all. May the Lord bless you and keep you ever close to him as you share his letter. May he bless this new school year in ways that only he can.



Prayer:
Jesus, remind me, the children in my class, their families, and my colleagues that you are with us each day of this new year. Bless all we do to reflect your love to each other. Help us to grow in faith and love for you. It’s in your name we 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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Need a Cape? – Week of August 24, 2020

Need a Cape? – Week of August 24, 2020



Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:35-37



Don’t you love a child with a cape. The look on their faces is pure joy and confidence. With arms raised they fly off to save the day! They can conquer the bad guys and save you, their friends, and every stuffed animal in the room! They exude a feeling of strength and ability and no evidence that they could possibly loose this battle.

Think about that child. They are excited and full of confidence. Fear is not part of their role playing. On what do they base their confidence? They have seen superheroes in videos. They have a cape and maybe a costume. In their imagination, they have all the superpowers they need.

You and I have battles to fight and fears to squelch. Every day we are faced with the influences of the world, the impact of sin in our world, and concerns that can leave us looking for that superhero.

Of all the challenges we face, the most terrifying is our own sin that could lead to a separation from Christ and his love. Without Christ, we are completely lost. Our guilt can challenge our faith and leave us feeling discouraged and despairing. All the capes of the world can’t change that.

While you might not don a cape, you can have even more confidence and enthusiasm than the young child in your room. You don’t have a fictitious character as your model of a superhero. You have someone far more powerful than a superhero. You have the loving and living God who created you and everything in your world. He is the one who looked at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden hiding after they sinned and responded with the promise of Jesus. That promise wasn’t just for Adam and Eve. It was for you and me as well! No matter what happens to you during your short life on earth, you have grace and forgiveness and heaven is yours. His forgiveness assures us that nothing can separate us from him. He has conquered far more than any superhero; he has conquered our sin. You and I can fly into each day with confidence that we are conquerors through Jesus!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I am so grateful for your grace. Help me to keep the words of Romans 8 in front of me to remind me that in the words of the hymnwriter:

Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord his children sever;
Unto them his grace he showeth, and their sorrows all he knoweth. Amen.
Christian Worship 449:3

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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“Come,” Jesus Said – Week of August 17, 2020

Come, Jesus Said – Week of August 17, 2020



“Come,” [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

Matthew 14:29-32



As the little girl stands at the edge of the pool, her dad reaches out and says to her, “Jump, I’ve got you.” Some will hesitate but most, with a bit of urging, fly into dad’s waiting arms. They’ve done it before, and he caught her every time. She’s jumped from the sofa, the top step, and now the pool. She jumps with a giggle of trust and excitement.

In our verses for today, Jesus and his disciples had finished feeding the crowd with the small portions of fish and bread. Over and over, the disciples have witnessed Jesus responding in love with healing and providing for those around him. Jesus sent the disciples on ahead of him. While crossing the lake, a storm came up that tossed the boat in a way that would raise fear in most of us. On top of that, the previous verses say that Jesus went out to them shortly before dawn. What’s worse than being on a lake during a storm? Being on a lake during a storm at night. Off in the distance the disciples see someone crossing the lake. Thinking he was a ghost; their fears were heightened even more. Then they hear his voice telling them “It is I.” We can count on Peter to respond impulsively and tell Jesus that if it is truly him, to invite Peter to join him on the water. Jesus shares one word— “Come.” No long explanation to prove who he was. “Come.”

Sometimes we can feel like we’re in a storm in the middle of the night. We feel like we being tossed about by worry, fear, doubt, guilt. We can feel helpless and anxious. We can so often try to manage it all on our own. We fret. We worry. We may find ways to manage our stress that is not good for us or God pleasing. The worst of our struggles may be guilt over a particular sin or many sins.

In those times, reach for the Word. In it you will find a reassurance even greater than the trust the little girl has in her dad. Over and over the Bible reminds us of God’s love for us, his power over evil, over enemies of his, and over our sin. Recall the stories of Daniel, Noah, Joseph, and David. God’s love for his people and his power over all things is beyond our understanding. Of all the things he has done, they all point to Jesus—the ultimate promise kept. Jesus’ defeat of Satan sealed our assurance that forgiveness and heaven is ours through faith. We can trust that and we can trust him.

You may not be facing the fear of jumping into a pool or being on a boat during a storm, but each day can bring concerns and fears that make us anxious. Look to Jesus’ open arms saying to you, “Come.” Go to him in prayer and confidence knowing not only that can he help you, he wants to help you because of his unending love for you.



Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, you have power over wind and waves. Even more, you have redeemed me with your power over sin. Forgive me when I doubt. Help me to put my trust in you with confidence in your love for 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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It Is True – Week of August 10, 2020

It Is True – Week of August 10, 2020



And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28



As the little boy waits at the window for his mom and dad to pick him up, you assure him that it’s going to be okay. His mom and dad will be here soon, and you hope this is true.

Your director calls and the plans for this fall need to be changed again. She reassures you it will be okay, and you hope that this is true.

Your brother calls with news that the doctor’s results were not what he had hoped for. You reassure him that everything will be okay, and you hope that this is true.

Your conversation with a parent concerning their child’s struggles seems to leave them anxious. You assure them that as you work together for the child, it will be okay, and you hope this is true.

Today’s passage can easily be misused in a way that may make us think, “I’ve got God. This is going to be just fine.” However, you have all had situations in your life where things don’t always turn out just fine in an earthly sense. Accidents happen. Illness takes the lives of people we care about. Plans change. Children may have learning or social/emotional challenges that are with them throughout their lives.

God hasn’t left us when the outcome is not what we hoped for. He has not abandoned us to the challenges of life. He has promised to be with us, and he has made and kept the greatest promise –the promise of heaven to all who believe in him. All our daily struggles are hard, but none are more difficult than our struggle with sin. God removed our sin and our guilt when he sent Jesus. Since we know he loves us that much and since we know that our relationship with him is secure because of Jesus, we have comfort and encouragement to face all our challenges. We can be reassured, and we can reassure each other that God is there, walking alongside us. He walks with us through the challenges reminding us that he is there and that he can bring blessings from the most difficult of trials. And above all, he has promised us heaven. He assures us that while things may be hard, it will be okay because of what Jesus has done for us. Forgiveness is ours. God is with us. Heaven is assured. We don’t hope it is true. We know it is true—even when we cannot begin to make sense of the reason for the trials.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me courage when things are difficult. Remind me always to focus on you. Help me see your blessings each day and reflect your love to all 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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He Intercedes for Us – Week of August 3, 2020

He Intercedes for Us – Week of August 3, 2020



In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27



A friend called me recently. She was struggling with a decision about the upcoming school year. She had two plans and was looking for recommendations or thoughts to help her make the decision. Should she go with Plan A or Plan B? We worked through the usual questions: What are the benefits of both plans? What are the concerns for each? Both had merit and both had concerns. There was no clear winner.

It’s likely that everyone reading or hearing this devotion is wrestling with a list of decisions now that they feel unprepared or ill-equipped to make. Different sources have conflicting information which complicates our decision making even more. The gravity of those decisions can weigh heavily on us, especially when those decisions impact those we serve, those with whom we serve, our family and friends. We want to pray about it but even then, we may struggle with what we should be praying for.

How amazing today’s verse is! How often do we look at the list of decisions, responsibilities, and tasks and feel overwhelmed? We may not even know where to start that prayer. But here is our comfort…he knows. The Lord knows. He knows you, your struggles, your challenges, your desire to make decisions that are best for the work he has given you to do. He provides the Holy Spirit who speaks on our behalf. In the Holy Spirit’s intercessions for us are God’s love for us and for all. His prayers, unlike ours, are always for God’s people in accordance to God’s will.

We all want to make decisions that align with God’s will. What is God’s will for you and for me? What is the right decision? Gather information. Ask yourself the benefits and concerns. Be sure to ask if any decision is sinful and of course, avoid that. Go to God in prayer. Keep going to the Word each day to be reminded of all he has done and his promises for you. Our confidence doesn’t come from us but from God. He eagerly hears our prayers. And know that the Holy Spirit is there, interceding for us when we are weak or the words don’t come. What a blessing to know that God not only welcomes our prayers to him, but also provides the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf.



Prayer:
When decisions weigh on me, be with me Lord, remind me of your promises, and bless my efforts in serving you. 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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Promise Made. Promise Kept. – Week of July 27, 2020

Promise Made. Promise Kept. – Week of July 27, 2020



I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18



“It’s just so hard. I don’t know what to do. How do I know if I’m making the right decision? What do I do if I feel I have no choice? What if I make the wrong decision?”

Things are hard right now. The questions above may be ones that you’ve heard from parents as they try to make decisions for their children. They might be questions that you have considered. “Do we open or is it better to remain closed?” “Will we meet in person or virtually or a mix of both?” “How do I know if I have the best information to make decisions?” “When can we get back to normal-whatever that is?”

Wouldn’t it be great if our decisions, especially the really hard ones, had a clear answer? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a Zoom meeting with God to discuss our concerns and our plans?

God has made so many promises to us. He promised to lead the people of Israel back to the Promised Land of Canaan and he did. He promised that Abraham’s family would be a direct line to the promised Savior. He kept that promise in Abraham and Sarah’s old age. He promised to save Noah and his family, and that promise was kept in a miraculous way. He promised to send a Savior and fulfilled that promise in Jesus. He promised that through Jesus, every one of our sins would be marked paid in full. He promised to be with us in all things. He has kept that promise and continues to do so.

One thing he did not promise is that our lives would be without challenge and suffering. In fact, he states that there will be suffering. But along with that suffering are his promises. He promises to be with us. He promises that he will bless our efforts to share his Word. He promises that even though we continue to sin, can be tempted by fear or doubt, his forgiveness is ours. Our confidence and peace are in that forgiveness and in his promises. All of those struggles that we face, all those questions we wrestle with, are nothing compared to what he has prepared for us in heaven. We don’t need a Zoom meeting, we can look in his Word. There God reminds us that all that we are experiencing is just temporary. He reminds us that our place in heaven is already set and ready and filled with glories that we can’t imagine with our limited understanding. And because of those promises, we can face our challenges knowing that he is with us. While we don’t know when each of us will join God in heaven, we can live each day with joy and confidence that heaven is ours.



Prayer:
Jesus, lead us on till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow, calm and fearless.
Guide us by your hand to our fatherland.

If the way be drear, if the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us,
For through many a woe to our home we go. Amen
Christian Worship 422:1,2



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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