Tag Archive for: ecme devotions

Joy and Peace – Week of November 28, 2022

Joy and Peace – Week of November 28, 2022



Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7



I hope I planned it just right. While my class was gone for Thanksgiving break, I pulled out my Christmas tree and lights. I found the ornaments, tinsel, and candy canes for them to hang on the tree. I got out my special Advent calendar to help us count down to Christmas. I planned special projects and songs. I hope that when my little ones walk into our classroom, they are filled with Christmas joy.

Joy: what a wonderful Christmas word! When the apostle Paul wrote these words to the Philippians he was imprisoned in Rome, and yet, throughout his letter, he repeatedly used the words joy and rejoice. Paul knew something that gave him joy. He exclaimed, “The Lord is near.” No matter what our situation, we have that same knowledge. Jesus is near. That’s what we look forward to each Christmas and throughout the year. Jesus gave up his heavenly throne to be born in a stable so that he could be near us. He lived for us and ultimately died for us. And even now he is with us, guiding us. Yes, we have joy!

Knowing that Jesus is near gives us reason to be gentle. Jesus has always been kind and loving to us, in spite of our disobedience and sin. Now we look to each other. We find gentle words to comfort and encourage. We forgive and work together to restore joy. And when anxiety and worry strike, we encourage each other in Jesus’ almighty power and everlasting love. We bring our cares and concerns to God and thank him for the many blessings he showers on us.

And don’t forget another beloved Christmas word: peace. That’s what Jesus brought when he was born. He brought the peace of knowing that we have forgiveness for every sin, big and small. He brought the peace of knowing we have his unconditional love every day of our lives. And when the world is anything but peaceful, we know the Savior is on our side. He will take us to the perfect land of peace, where we will be with him forever.

I have a feeling that I’ll hear some squeals of joy as the children see the tree and hang the ornaments. I pray they’ll feel the peace of their Savior as we ponder the Christmas story. This Advent season, may you revel in the joy and peace only our Savior can bring.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you are the source of my joy and peace. Help me savor all you have done for me and share the joy and peace you bring with those around me. I love you, Jesus. Amen.

Hymns to Consider:

Christian Worship 21 330 Peace Came to Earth
Christian Worship 21 356 God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
Christian Worship 21 363/93 34: Now Sing We, Now Rejoice


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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We Are Ready – Week of November 21, 2022

We Are Ready – Week of November 21, 2022



Understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Luke 12:39-40



The class was ready.  We had talked about fire safety. We practiced “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” We shouted out the emergency numbers 9-1-1. We were ready for the firefighters’ visit. And the visit didn’t disappoint. We got to see the firefighter’s uniform, we climbed through the truck, and we even got to try the hose. What a great day it was!

We are ready for an extraordinary event. We anticipate something much more exciting than a fire truck visit. Jesus promised that he will return to this earth. He said, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:27-28) With a little child’s eagerness, we look forward to seeing Jesus face to face when he returns to bring us to heaven.

We prepare for his coming. Just as the children learned about fire safety, we learn about our Savior. We take time for personal devotions and Bible study and look for opportunities to worship with others. We talk about Jesus every day with our students and are encouraged by children’s simple words of faith. “Jesus loves me. He takes away my sins. He is always with me. I love Jesus.” We are strengthened as we raise our voices in song to our Savior.

We are ready at all times. Only God knows when Jesus will return so he tells us to be always faithful. On our own, we wander from Jesus’ side. Our faithfulness is far from perfect, and we fall into sin. Our loving Savior provided a solution: his own faithfulness. “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Jesus gently leads us back to his heavenly path so we can rest in his unfailing love and forgiveness.

The last days are coming! Let’s get excited. Jesus has earned a place for us in heaven where we will be perfectly faithful to him. We will live in glory with him forever. We really are ready.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me always be ready for your coming. Forgive me when I focus only on this life. I rest in your promise of faithfulness and forgiveness and can’t wait to join you in heaven. Amen.

Hymns to Consider:
Christian Worship 21 307: When the King Shall Come Again
Christian Worship 21 312/93 11: Comfort, Comfort All My People
Christian Worship 21 573/93 376: Jesus, Your Blood and Righteousness


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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Keep Your Eyes on Jesus – Week of November 14, 2022

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus – Week of November 14, 2022



Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Revelation 2:10



The little boy was excited. “Watch how fast I can run in my new shoes!” he shouted as he raced across the playground. When he turned to check to see if I was watching, he collided with another child. After ice packs helped both bumped heads, the little boy was more careful to watch where he was running.

Isn’t this what happens to each of us? As we run the race of life, our eyes wander from our ultimate goal and settle on earthly treasures. Then our hearts follow. Jesus reminds us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 5:21). We are headed for collision.

But Jesus doesn’t leave us on our own. He picks us up and lovingly brings us back to him. He gives the comfort of forgiveness and reminds us of the faith God put in our hearts in the first place. Over and over again he puts us back on the heavenly path.

He tells us “Be faithful, even to the point of death.” (Revelation 2:10). Jesus doesn’t leave us to do this on our own. He gives us wonderful tools: God’s Word, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. He guides us in worship, Bible study, and prayer. And he even asks that we share the good news of salvation with the people around us. We get to tell little ones and their families about Jesus, and in that process our faith is also strengthened.

With the command to be faithful, God makes an amazing promise: “I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Any earthly crown will tarnish and eventually decay, but the crown God promises lasts forever. We will be with our triumphant Savior in heaven and will face no more temptation, sin, or trouble. We will have the ultimate victory. Our eyes will never leave our beloved Savior.

“Therefore, . . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) Keep your eyes on Jesus and look forward to the victor’s crown.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, keep us faithful to you in our earthly lives.  Help us keep our eyes on you and our salvation, until we claim that victor’s crown of life in heaven. Amen.

Hymns to Consider:
Christian Worship 21 700/93 170: Draw Us to Thee
Christian Worship 21 702/93 453: Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke
Christian Worship 21 704/93 452: Let Us Ever Walk with


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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Wipe Away Tears – Week of November 7, 2022

Wipe Away Tears – Week of November 7, 2022



And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4



Working with young children inevitably leads to wiping away some tears. It might be a scraped knee, hurt feelings or loneliness. We help that child, using comforting words, a friendly hug, and sometimes a band aid. We point that child to Jesus’ comforting presence. Sometimes the tears might be our own as we work through difficult situations. We understand that life in this imperfect world includes tears and sadness.

That’s just the beginning of our story. God has blessed us with our time here on earth. During that time there will be many joys. We marvel at God’s creation, enjoy the people God places in our lives, and grow in wisdom. There will also be sadness, frustration, and anger. Because of sin, ours included, this world will never be perfect, and we will deal with that throughout life. God promises to be with us through all our hardships and joys. Shortly before Jesus returned to heaven, he promised his disciples and us, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). With this knowledge strengthening us, we encourage one another with Jesus’ love.

Our story isn’t over. What might seem like the end of our story, death, is really just the beginning. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the sure hope of a home in heaven. Our Bible reading gives a wonderful picture of heaven. God will dwell among us, and he will be our God. We know that God is already with us all the time, but in heaven there will be no sin or guilt to cloud our vision of God. “Now we see a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12). Imagine that! I will see Jesus! He will know me fully, and I will have no guilt because he has already washed my sins away. I won’t sin ever again!

Our story will continue forever. There will be no death, mourning or pain. We will live with Jesus and our family of believers forever. So now, while we wait for that heavenly home, we have a mission. We point people to Jesus. We comfort them in their earthly sorrows and show them the wonderful things to come in heaven. We wipe away the tears, knowing that they only last a little while.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I cannot wait to see you in heaven. Thank you for guiding and comforting me through this earthly life. Give me the courage and strength to point others to you. Amen.

Hymns to Consider:
CW21 502/CW93 449: Children of the Heavenly Father
CW21 518/CW93 367: Christ Be My Leader
CW21 526/CW93 120: What Wondrous Love Is


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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Reformation—The Truth Will Set You Free – Week of October 31, 2022

Reformation—The Truth Will Set You Free – Week of October 31, 2022



Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
John 8:31-32



I have always loved teaching throughout the month of October. Pumpkins. Leaves. The change in weather. I just love everything about it. Every year, I carve a couple of pumpkins with my class. Our principal even comes and carves something elaborate. He is so skilled in that way. Me? Not so much. I usually stick to the same, easy design each year. A cross.

During rest time, I put a little battery-operated flame inside of the pumpkin and a light shines through. I love the reminder that we can always let our light shine. I want my students to hold tightly to the one thing that endures forever.

God’s Word has stood the test of time. Our children are being taught the gospel, in its truth and purity. God has been so gracious to keep his Word pure throughout the ages. He has been so loving to consistently present a harvest of his abundant love in our classrooms.

In the verse above it says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” In a world that’s grip is getting looser and looser to God’s teachings, it is so important to hold tightly to the Word of God. Our students are growing up in a world where learning about Jesus and going to him in prayer is counter cultural. Praise God for our schools and their leaders who see the importance and value of Christian education. Praise God for our teachers, staff ministers, and pastors who work faithfully to keep the emphasis of Jesus’ everlasting love throughout every school year.

My simplistic cross carving is enough. The cross is enough. What better to hold tightly to than the message of salvation? And what will it do? It will “set you free”. This world is always changing, and always reaching for something of substance. We have it! We have substance in the Word of God, and it will carry us through all the way to heaven. We will be free from the ways of this world and from sin that causes so much pain and suffering. Whatever strife holding tightly to God’s Word causes us here on earth, freedom in him will overshadow it. So, hold tightly and don’t let go.

Like the familiar hymn says, “God’s Word is our great heritage”. What a privilege it is to teach his Word and prepare the next generation of believers. Hold onto God’s truths with a firm grip, never letting go of the pure message of faith in Jesus Christ.



Prayer:
God’s Word is our great heritage
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age
Shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way;
In death it is our stay.
Lord, grant while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure
Throughout all generations. Amen

Christian Worship 21 640
Christian Worship 93 293


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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Faith Demonstrated through Total Dependence – Week of October 24, 2022

Faith Demonstrated through Total Dependence – Week of October 24, 2022



Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
Matthew 22:37



Every morning, my plan is the same. Wake up, sit in my favorite chair, and read the Bible. It’s a great plan. Friends, I struggle to execute the plan. My hands reach for my phone to check what the weather will be for the day. That leads to checking if any major events have happened in the news. That leads to seeing if there are any new houses for sale in the area. I’m not even looking to move from my current home, I just like to see the pictures of homes in the area. Oh, friends, I haven’t even told you about how long I scroll at social media. Such a sneaky addiction. Before you know it, my kids are awake, and well, now it would just be too difficult to meditate on God’s Word, so I tell myself that it would be better to wait until later in the day.

The Lord never waits until later in the day to love me first. His love is constant. It wraps throughout the entire day of busyness and all through the night of rest. He always makes the time to love me, and he does it with all that he has.

We can depend on it. He says “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3) and “I am with you always, even to the very end of the age”. (Matthew 28:20)

My youngest daughter is good at reminding me where my priorities should be. Recently, I was packing lunches and my son saw me pack a piece of pizza in his lunchbox. That cold pizza made him so happy that he declared, “Mom, you’re the best!”. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling good about myself. Well, that is, until my four-year-old daughter strongly stated, “No, you’re not.” I kind of stopped in my tracks and looked over at her. She was not budging. Her face meant business. We met eyes and she said, “God is.” I can’t compete with that.

She is right. God is the best. He wants my best. He wants everything. So much so, that he commanded it.

Why wouldn’t I want to start my day with the One who holds it? The One I can fully depend on to get me through whatever might come my way. Tomorrow is a new day. Let us start it with the Lord.



Prayer:
Lord, forgive me for putting you on the backburner. Thank you for being so dependable and faithful, even when I am not. Help me to put my full trust and love in you. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What are your top three distractions from putting God first in your life? Make a plan to combat them and ask the Lord for help.


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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Faith Demonstrated through Persistent Prayer – Week of October 17, 2022

Faith Demonstrated through Persistent Prayer – Week of October 17, 2022



This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:14-15



Can I have a snack? Are we there yet? Can I watch a show? When is recess? Can you help me?

Oh, kids. They have a lot of questions, and they sure can be persistent when we don’t answer them right away.

In the verses above, God is telling us to be persistent. To ask. He wants to hear from us. He wants us to go to him on all occasions. He wants us to ask, ask, ask. And in our asking, he will listen. Every single time.

In asking, we are learning his will. We should always ask knowing that his will be done. Sometimes in our asking, we throw in our own two cents as to how we think a situation should go. Well, the truth is, the Good Lord does not need our advice. For when we go to him with our prayers, we are going to the God of the universe—the one who sharpened the tops of the Tetons! The one who hung the moon and stars in the night sky. The one who knit you together in your mother’s womb. He knows what is best for us. He knows our comings and goings and what he has for our future. So we can take the pressure off ourselves and completely rely on him to answer our prayers as he sees best.

Once, my youngest son asked me for a snack…wait for it…while holding a snack in his hands and eating it. It wasn’t his best moment. Sometimes, in our requests to the Lord, we can be just like my son. We don’t even realize that God is taking good care of us right in that exact moment. We ask for more when we have all that we need.

Then, there are other times when we go to the Lord and simply just say his holy name. We can’t even formulate the words that are on our heart. He hears us. He knows our hearts and our minds, and he listens to our cry. Our prayers don’t need to be elaborate. He just wants to hear from his children.

Be persistent. Go to God throughout the entire day with all of the highs and the lows and everything in between. He wants to hear from you. He’s waiting with a listening ear.

We can have confidence approaching our Father in heaven. That’s powerful. The one who sits on the throne of grace wants to hear from you. So speak.



Prayer:
Heavenly listener, thank you for your time and attention to my life. Please help me be persistent in prayer and remember that you love to hear from me. Forgive me when I try to deal with life on my own. Grant me patience as I wait on you, Lord. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
How is your prayer life? Ask friends or co-workers if they have any tips on how to stay persistent in prayer.


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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Faith that Overflows with Gratitude – Week of October 10, 2022

Faith that Overflows with Gratitude – Week of October 10, 2022



You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.
2 Corinthians 9:11,15



Every week, my kids have a mission envelope in their folders. I usually take it out, see what’s left in my purse, and fill them with dollars or coins. I put them back in their folders and that’s that. The envelope is just another thing that I check off my list. Most of the time, my children don’t even know how much money I put in it.

I’m missing the point, right? That envelope isn’t a duty, it’s an opportunity for me to instill a habit of happy giving for my children. Whatever is in that envelope, whether it be paper, copper, or nickel, that money is going to serve the Lord! What a privilege! What a blessing it is to be part of his mission!

Our Heavenly Father has done, and continues to do so much for me. Each day I wake up and have food to eat, clothes to wear, a bed to sleep in, freedom to worship, etc. He is so good. He is so kind. He is so gracious.

The mission envelope that is sent home every week is a great opportunity for my family to show our gratitude back to him. It is a way to be generous to our loving Father and thank him for his daily love and care in our lives. It is a way to further his kingdom and support the various missions going on that spread the Gospel message across the nations.

This year, I pray that I am more intentional on how I treat that envelope. I pray that I help my children understand that when Jesus’ love overflows in their hearts, we can be gracious and kind and use what we’ve been given to bless others. I pray that what I once saw as a duty, I now delight in as an opportunity.

If you are anything like me, and the envelope has become just that, an envelope, make a plan! Maybe create a poster to highlight the mission that you are giving towards. How about writing a letter to someone who works with that mission? When you know who you are giving to and what you are giving towards, joy and purpose will follow.

Praise God for all the ways that he blesses us. Let us give generously and thank him for providing the opportunity “which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10



Prayer:

We give thee but thine own, whate’er the gift may be;
All that we have is thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from thee.

May we they bounties thus as stewards true receive
And gladly, as thou blessest us, to thee our first fruits give. Amen

CW 21 750
CW 93 485: 1,2

Another hymn to consider: Christian Worship 93 566:vs1 We All Are One in Mission

A Question to Consider: Does your school use a variety of ways to highlight where your mission offering is going? If not, brainstorm some ideas to communicate clearly to your students and parents why we give and who we are giving to.


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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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My Hope – Week of September 26, 2022

My Hope – Week of September 26, 2022



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



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

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

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

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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

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



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

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

He Will Hold Me Fast
CW21 813

Though Thoughtless Thousands Choose
CW93 466


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

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If Only… – Week of September 19, 2022

If Only… – Week of September 19, 2022



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



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

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

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me
CW93 439


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

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The Lost Are Found – Week of September 12, 2022

The Lost Are Found – Week of September 12, 2022



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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



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

Hymn: Consider the following hymn for further reflection.

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


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

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Me First! – Week of August 29, 2022

Me First! – Week of August 29, 2022



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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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Eyes Fixed – Week of August 15, 2022

Eyes Fixed – Week of August 15, 2022



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



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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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Do Not Be Afraid – Week of August 8, 2022

Do Not Be Afraid – Week of August 8, 2022



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



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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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Focus! – Week of August 1, 2022

Focus! – Week of August 1, 2022



Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4



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

God, through the apostle Paul, is speaking to exactly that kind of trouble in our verses for today when he says, “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” In a nutshell, “Focus!”

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

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

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



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

A Thought to Consider:

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


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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022

Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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Focused Love – Week of July 11, 2022

Focused Love – Week of July 11, 2022



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



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



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

For Further meditation:

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


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

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A Mission Prayer – Week of July 4, 2022

A Mission Prayer – Week of July 4, 2022



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



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

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

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

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



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

For Further meditation:

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

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

CW93 574, CW21 906 St. 1 and 3


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

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

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



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



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



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

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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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



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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



Prayer

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

For further reflection and prayer:

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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



Prayer

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

A Thought to Consider:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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



Prayer

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

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


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

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Peace – Week of May 23, 2022

Peace – Week of May 23, 2022



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



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

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

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

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



Prayer

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

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


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

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

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



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



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

Take a minute and reread today’s verses.

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

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

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



Prayer

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


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

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Listen to His Voice – Week of May 9, 2022

Listen to His Voice – Week of May 9, 2022



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



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



Prayer

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

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

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

CW21 551 /CW93 436


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

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