Tag Archive for: ecme devotions

Meaningful Ministry: Tiresome Race – Certain Victory – Week of July 8, 2024

Meaningful Ministry: Tiresome Race – Certain Victory – Week of July 8, 2024



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

Psalm 27:13-14



I used to be a runner. And I say “used to” because I don’t often, okay, more like hardly ever, participate in that activity anymore… unless it is to run after a child who is running toward danger or has fallen and gotten a bad scrape.

But back when I did consider myself a runner, I used to use the last line from our Bible verses today as some type of motivation during my race: “be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

It might seem silly, but if I found myself at a point in the race or in my training where I didn’t think I could make it any further I would repeat that passage over and over again. My hope was really that God would take over my body and finish the race for me. Sadly, that never actually happened, and my very own strength had to keep propelling my legs forward one step at a time for each and every race. But it always gave me a little bit of hope!

The Psalm writer was certainly not writing these verses as he was running a physical race, but perhaps in a different sense you could say that he was, because life is like a race. There’s a beginning and an ending and in the middle of it we do often get tired of running this race.

Maybe it’s your ministry that’s wearing on you. You’re working day in and day out for the Lord and sharing his precious truths with little children and adults alike, but you struggle to see the impact you’re making, and your efforts often seem in vain. Possibly it’s your life at home. You know that serving your family is an invaluable gift, but there is little thanks and no reprieve from the chores. Or maybe it’s something completely different.

David, the Psalm writer, was also feeling tired and worn down. His life was filled with opposition, enemies, inner personal struggles, and death. Yet he writes our verses for today, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

While my hope was futile that God would take over my body and finish the race for me when my physical strength seemed to be failing, our true hope in the LORD is never futile. As we wait for him, it’s not a waiting that might not ever be fulfilled, rather it’s a waiting similar to a student waiting for his teacher to teach him, or a child waiting for his parent. There’s always fulfillment in our waiting, because our Lord always keeps his promises to us.

Ponder the words of Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This race we call life does not come without help, and actually it comes with someone who already ran the race for us: Jesus. Born into this world to take on sin, death and the devil, he came to make sure our victory was certain at the end of our race. He came to make sure our hope was certain. So now… we find confidence in the love, grace, power, and mercy of our living Lord as we wait for his final victory lap and our eternal life with him! And while we wait, we run on, proclaiming the goodness of God to all who might listen, because we know that our work is never in vain!



Prayer:
Lord, our strength when we feel tired and weak, lift us up when we feel that we have nothing left to give, when our ministry at home or our jobs feel too heavy for us to carry. Remind us of the eternal impact you have on all people and what a blessing it is to be a part of your plan. Keep us in your Word that we may always be reminded of the certain victory you have promised us. We wait for you, Jesus. Amen.


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

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The Living Lord Completely Changes Our Viewpoint – Week of July 1, 2024

The Living Lord Completely Changes Our Viewpoint – Week of July 1, 2024



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

Lamentations 3:22-23



At my wedding the pastor gave a beautiful sermon. It honestly didn’t start so beautifully though. Here’s what happened. We had asked him to preach on Lamentations 3:22-23 and he began his sermon by asking this question, “Who would ever want their wedding verse to come from the book of Lamentations? It’s literally a book about lamenting – sadness!”

Which is true… Thankfully he dug into the text and got to the heart of it all, which is this:

God’s never-ending goodness drowns out everything else and completely changes our viewpoint.

Read the verses from Lamentations 3 with me today, “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.”

In a book of the Bible all about lamenting, why are these beautiful words written? They truly are some of the only beautiful words in Lamentations.

Here’s the back story:

God’s people, the Israelites, his chosen people, had sinned against him again and again even after he had…
• taken them through the wilderness
• defeated their enemies left and right
• fed and nourished them
• given them the promised land
• and made their nation thrive against all odds

And now because of their rebellious acts towards God in spite of the prophet Jeremiah’s warnings, the Babylonians had finally taken them captive.

What now? Is that it, God? That would be something worth lamenting about!

The prophet Jeremiah looks down on the city of Jerusalem, the city of David, the place where the Temple was built, and he has nothing but sorrow. God’s people, the ones Jeremiah had been prophesying to for many years about God’s impending judgment, had been swept away by the Babylonians and taken captive, leaving the city in ruins.

Okay, here it is, here is where the beauty comes in. I know you have been waiting for it:

After much talk of darkness and affliction and wrath… after much lamenting… Jeremiah’s hope arises. It is a hope that could only be rooted in the One, True God… because God is faithful. That’s when he writes our verses for consideration today (Lamentations 2:22-23).

The thing about God is that he never changes. He is not here today and gone tomorrow.
He is not for us one moment and then against us the next.

No, God is always faithful.

And so, after Jeremiah sits and looks upon the ruins that was once the promised land, he remembers! He remembers that over 900 years ago when God promised he would take care of his people, to preserve them, to be with them… he meant it! And he would follow through.

For you and for me, it’s the same! You may be in a time of your life where you feel nothing but sorrow. All might seem lost, broken; you may be captive to Satan’s lies that there is no silver lining or light at the end of the tunnel.

If that is you, look out over your life from the viewpoint Jeremiah took, from God’s viewpoint. See the brokenness and disrepair, see what seems to be in shambles and remember that God is faithful! Have hope because his compassions never fail – they are new every morning. Do not be consumed with grief and sorrow, for great, yes, GREAT is his faithfulness.

The commentator and theologian Charles Spurgeon wrote on the book of Lamentations and phrased it this way, “See where Jeremiah gets his comfort; he seems to say, ‘Bad as my case is, it might have been worse, for I might have been consumed, and I should have been consumed if the Lord’s compassions had failed.’”

Ah, there is the beauty: God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness, God’s compassion. That’s where the beauty always lies.

Because of God’s faithfulness, we have hope. Without God we would fail every time, our life would be in ruin with no hope for tomorrow. Praise God that he is faithful and our view is now always one of hope… true hope in life eternal with Jesus!



Prayer:
Dearest Lord, you are faithful. We would be in shambles without you; our viewpoint would always be bleak. But you came to bring hope that lasts! Thank you for your goodness, your compassion, your faithfulness! When life does not seem to be going the way we hoped it would be, remind us that your plan is greater than ours and that you always keep your promises. There is so much beauty in that truth. 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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Was. Is. Always Will Be – Week of June 24, 2024

Was. Is. Always Will Be – Week of June 24, 2024



Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:11



You have never been alone. There has not been one instant in your life that the Lord has not been with you. When your heart hurt from a strained relationship, the Lord was right there with you. When your brain couldn’t shut off for the night and you laid there in bed with anxious thoughts swirling frantically, he was there. When you cried in your classroom, because you were overwhelmed with the responsibility of training your students, he was right next to you. You have never been alone.

The Lord tells us to trust in him. He tells us to lay all our anxiety at his feet. He tells us to fix our eyes on him. We know we can give all our hardships to him and yet, at times, we still find ourselves to be downcast. We can trust that the Lord has our best interest in mind and yet, we still struggle with worry, doubt, and fear. It can be overwhelming.

It turns out, we are not the only ones that have felt this way. In our reading for today, the Psalmist writes, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior, and my God.” King David is the one who wrote these words. Even this powerful ruler was struggling with feeling downcast, yet he knew that the Lord was the only one who he could put his trust in.

That is the same remedy for our sadness. When you are downcast, go to the Word. When we go to the things of this world for hope and understanding, we will be disappointed repeatedly. We will find ourselves stuck in the vicious cycle of being downcast.

When the Devil tempts us to forget that the Lord is walking right next to us throughout this life, open the Word as your weapon against his lies. Find promise after promise of the one who has gotten us through our hardest days.

The Lord was with us when things were tough. He is with us right now, whether things are going well or not. The Lord promises to be with us tomorrow, the next day, and every single day until we finally walk the streets of heaven with him.

No matter what we are going through remember God and what he does and has done for us. He’s been faithful. He is faithful. He will always be faithful. So, look up. Be downcast no more. You have Jesus.



Prayer:
I am trusting you, Lord Jesus;
never let me fall.
I am trusting you forever
and for all. Amen
Christian Worship ‘21 816:6

Question to consider:
How has God been faithful in your life? Consider taking a walk or finding some alone time to recall the many ways he has brought you through the hard times and blessed you through them.


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

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Seeds – Week of June 17, 2024

Seeds – Week of June 17, 2024



Again [Jesus] said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-32



Are you a good gardener? Maybe you thrive in planting a garden full of greens. Maybe you look at a plant and it dies. Whatever level of skill you have, it is pretty neat to watch what a tiny seed can do.

Teachers, you are planting seeds. There is no doubt that since the beginning of the school year you have seen growth in your students. Sure, physically they have grown. They are taller now, maybe bigger in stature. Most importantly, they have grown spiritually. Day after day of hearing the promises of God. Hours upon hours of singing his praises and praying with fellow classmates. Lessons upon lessons of learning about God’s love through so many Bible stories. You have planted so many seeds and you have no idea how many people have been reached by those seeds. Moms, dads, grandparents, people in Costco hearing your students belting out the song that they have been practicing for church, neighbors that constantly notice the joy that beams from your student hopping off of the bus after school. Breathe easy, because whether you are a good gardener or not, the Holy Spirit is in control of making these seeds grow. He is working in the hearts of each of your students. He is making those tiny seeds into something big and beautiful.

Take a second to imagine monitoring outside recess. This time of year, outside recess is pretty enjoyable. The weather is getting nicer and sometimes you find yourself taking a little bit of extra time outside to enjoy the sun. Imagine watching the eighth graders push the preschoolers on the swings. Both groups of kiddos are smiling and enjoying themselves. There is something just so pure about the moment. It is special to see how the big kids have grown in their faith walk, leadership abilities, and even their love for their schoolmates. It is enough to bring tears to your eyes.

This time of year, there will be many ways in which the big kids are celebrated. There might even be slideshows of how they have grown over the years. For the parents, and maybe even for the teachers, it seems like yesterday that those big kids were the youngest in the school. Oh, how they have grown.

The seeds that have been planted are just outstanding. The Lord has truly blessed your efforts. Hopefully some of your students will consider working in the full-time ministry someday. Perhaps some of them will be leaders in their church in the future. God-willing, they will be faithful in attending worship services and serve their congregations in an abundance of ways.

Keep planting. God is working in each one of your students. He is working in you. Be faithful in your work and praise him for the beautiful things that only he can grow.



Prayer:
Dear Holy Spirit, how awesome are your deeds. You take something so little and use it to grow your vast kingdom. Help us to be faithful in our work. Strengthen the faith of our students and keep them close to you all the days of their lives. Amen.

Question to consider:
Can you think of a way that each of your students has grown spiritually this year? What about a co-worker? Parents of your students? Yourself? Praise God for the growth that you have seen.


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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V-I-C-T-O-R-Y – Week of June 10, 2024

V-I-C-T-O-R-Y – Week of June 10, 2024



So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15



Imagine, for a second, that you had a huge scoreboard in your classroom tracking all of your wins and losses of each day. Two students were sharing nicely with each other during recess. WIN! A student threw a tantrum during snack time, because she didn’t get the same amount of goldfish as her neighbor. LOSS! You got through a whole lesson without any major disruptions. WIN! You forgot to send home a time-sensitive note to the parents. LOSS! Wouldn’t it be stressful to keep track? Sure, somedays it would be nice to see the “W’s” rack up, but to see a whole bunch of “L’s” on days that you know very well, that you are losing, would just be discouraging.

Without Jesus, our track record would be devastating. Everyday would be full of disappointment and despair. Thankfully, we get to live our days with Jesus. He has already conquered death and the Devil. We are victorious, through him.

In our reading for today, God is telling the Devil of the permanent punishment that chains him forever. The battle has been fought and God has come out with the “W”. Because of God’s amazing love and grace for us, we get to claim that “W” as our own. We don’t have to go through life feeling overcome by defeat.

Teaching can bring a lot of ups and downs. We are constantly working on training our students up in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6) The Devil, the world, and the sinful flesh, will constantly tempt and battle for defeat. This battle can drag us down and make us feel like our work is in vain but take heart, your work is not in vain. Those battles are meant to draw us closer to God. Our strength is only found in Jesus. What comfort to know that our victory does not depend on us. Our victory is complete. Even in our earthly losses, we can shout our battle cry: V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for sharing your victory with me. Help me to lean on you in the hard times, praise you in the good times, and glorify your name all the days of my life. Amen.

Question to consider:
Is someone on your faculty or staff struggling with, what seems to be, a string of losses? Take time to encourage them and remind them of their victory 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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Step by Step – Week of June 3, 2024

Step by Step – Week of June 3, 2024



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



My family loves to go hiking. Well, let me change that a bit. My family, besides my youngest daughter, loves to go hiking. She would much rather sit in the car and drive around while looking at the breathtaking scenery, than get out of the car and hike to a peak to actually experience the scenery. Unfortunately, for her, she’s the youngest, so she is obligated to join in on the adventure. She usually makes sure that we take many rests along the way. On our most recent hike, I heard her saying to herself, “Every step gets you closer to the end.” It made me chuckle, but I was proud of her for finding a strategy to get through it.

Are you just getting through? No, I’m not talking about a hike, but rather, this earthly life that you are living. Are you just taking it step by step and waiting for your rest at the end? Maybe you are just trying to get through each day minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour. Maybe you look forward to laying your head down on the pillow each night and dread that beeping sound of the alarm in the morning. It can be difficult to feel fully rested, when our minds are racing and our calendars are full to the brim with activities that cannot be skipped.

In our verse for today, the Psalmist write, “My soul finds rest in God alone.” Exhale and read that again. “My soul finds rest in God alone.” Praise God. It takes the stress out of trying to figure out where we should turn to find rest. Sure, a nap gives us a boost and a nice walk might calm our mind, but rest, spiritual rest, comes from God.
When we feel overwhelmed, we can find rest in our heavenly Father. When we are overcome with anxiety or stress, we can go to his Word and be comforted with God’s promises. When we are tired and consumed with fears and doubts, we can pray to him and know that he hears every single word. When the guilt of sin weighs heavy on our hearts, God’s peace through his forgiveness is ours.

We don’t have to just “get through it”. We have the God of the universe on our side. The Psalmist calls him our “rock” and our “fortress”. There can be so much noise on the outside of that fortress, but we are on the inside, surrounded by him. God is protecting us from the chaos and blessing us with his peace. I hope that makes your shoulders go down. I hope it brings you rest to know that God has won every battle and is surrounding you with his love, grace, and mercy. Step-by-step, day-by-day, he is with you. You will have rest. It will be perfect. Keep going.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you are my rest. Thank you for being a safe place for me to land when I am tired. Grant me strength to get through each day. Give me joy as I take each step and forgive me when I fail. My hope is in you, alone. Amen.

Question to consider:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, could you ask a congregation member if they’d be willing to cut or laminate for you? This might be a good way to get to know your congregation members. Can you think of one or two people that you would feel comfortable asking 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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Unbelievable – Week of May 27, 2024

Unbelievable – Week of May 27, 2024



The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16



Can you think of something that has ever amazed you? It could be the breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon or the magnificent number of stars in the Milky Way. Possibly you have attended a Cirque De Soleil show and you have no idea how the performers get their bodies to move that way. Maybe it’s something simpler, like someone completing a Rubik’s cube. Crazier yet, completing one with their eyes closed. A Rubik’s cube can be hard enough to complete with one’s eyes open, let alone the impressive feat of not even using their vision at all!

There are a lot of things in this world that are unbelievable. Our puny minds cannot understand them. Our verses today can seem unbelievable, too. How in the world can sinners like us, belong to a heavenly Father that sacrificed his Son, Jesus, to die and take away our sins? How in the world can God the Spirit be dwelling in us and testifying that we are God’s own children? It’s amazing. Unbelievable!

Thank the Lord it’s also 100% true. Although we are completely unworthy, God wants us. We don’t have to understand how it’s possible. God says it’s true and we can believe him. In the reading for today and surrounding verses, he says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Unbelievable!

As you look at your class this week, take a second to think of all of you as the family of God. A group full of sinful people who fall short each day and yet are a group of people that God calls his heirs. He wants us. We are his. Rejoice with your students that we belong!
To add the incredibleness of it all, one day we will join our Father in heaven. Our short time here on earth, with all its ups and downs, can’t even compare to the unimaginable length of glory we will share with him someday.

It’s unbelievable. It’s true. Thank you, Jesus!



Prayer:
Triune God, you are unbelievable. Your love for me is overwhelming and I am forever grateful that you shower it over me each day. Spirit, strengthen my faith. Help me never forget the unbelievable blessing it is to be yours. Amen.

Question to consider:
Who do you know that could use the reminder that they are wanted and chosen by God? Encourage someone this week by telling them the unbelievable truth of God’s love.


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

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Busy – Week of May 20, 2024

Busy – Week of May 20, 2024



“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.”

1 John 15:26-27



Are you busy? May is usually a very busy month for teachers. There are so many end-of-the-year activities going on. It’s possible that you are preparing your students for a play, concert, or maybe even a preschool graduation. May is busy. You are probably finishing up fourth quarter report cards and making sure that everyone takes all their supplies home with them on the last day. God be with you in all of those preparations. May is busy, and then it’s gone. Quiet. Finally, a time to take a breath and reflect.

In our reading today, Jesus was busy. He was busy preparing the disciples for his departure into heaven. He was busy encouraging them to remain in him. He was busy commanding them to love each other and keep his commands.

Jesus had to go away, but he would be with them again, eventually, forever in heaven. Jesus had to leave, but the Spirit would dwell in them, and therefore, they would never be without him.

In verse 27 of our Bible reading for today, Jesus tells his disciples, “And you must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
Read that last part one more time. “from the beginning.” The disciples had been with Jesus, just like your students have been with you since the beginning. You might be leaving each other soon, but the Spirit never leaves them. He is with them and he is with you.

In the busyness of all of your end-of-the-year preparations, remind your students that even though your class will disperse for a time, they’re never alone. Even though they will be saying goodbye to the friendly faces at school and their daily time in the Word with their classmates is coming to an end, they have the Spirit dwelling among them. They can call on him, in Jesus’ name. He is available to them at all times.

Jesus had so many important things to tell his disciples, because he loved them. He knew that the most important thing was to see them in eternity. He wants to see us all there, too.

So yes, you’re busy, but busy doing his work. You are telling the next generation about their Savior! Your planning isn’t in vain. Your students will benefit greatly from your busyness. Their families will benefit greatly from your faithful work and urgency in sending them off with the news that they are never alone. May he bless your work and then may he give you time to rest, regroup, and then be busy doing his work again.



Prayer:
Dear Lord, you are the God of all our days. The busy, the mundane, all of them. Slow us down, Lord. Help us be in your Word so that we know where to find rest, rejuvenation, and peace. Thank you for being our safe place and forgive us when we forget to go to you first. Amen.

Question to consider:
Are you busy? Take some time to check if you’re too busy. Do you have enough time to unwind? Do you spend time with friends outside of school? Do you spend time in the Word? Ask a friend, family member, or co-worker if you seem too busy. Make sure to take time to rest, so that you have energy to do his work. May God bless you and give you strength in this endeavor.


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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Power Through Him – Week of May 13, 2024

Power Through Him – Week of May 13, 2024



This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:2-5



Take a second to think of a student that has been struggling with sin lately. Odds are, it didn’t take long for someone to come to mind. Odds are, it didn’t take long for a couple of your students to come to mind. It’s no surprise that this world is full of sin. You turn on the news and it’s all you hear about. Sin is in your home, in your neighborhood, everywhere you go. In fact, you are just as sinful as that student you thought of. We all are. None of us are worthy of God’s love.

What the news won’t tell you, however, is the good news of our salvation through Jesus. That is why it is so important to constantly be in the Word of God. That’s where we find the truth of who we are and more importantly whose we are.

Our resurrection reality is that we will overcome this broken world. Of course, not by anything we do or have done, but completely by what God has already done for us. We are no longer slaves to sin, because Jesus broke every chain through his death and resurrection. Our debt is paid in full.

God says in 1 John 5:3, “In fact this is love for God; to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” So, while we live here on earth, he wants us to show him and others love by living in full obedience of his commands. Think about how much easier your school days would be if everyone lived in harmony with one another and obeyed his commands. Imagine if we were all convicted of our sins right after we committed them, then confessed them to one another so that we could encourage each other to live the way we know he wants us to.

Sin has consequences and God loves you so much that he wants you to avoid the pain and hurt that sin causes. This world is not our home. Earthly pleasures are just that, earthly. Life with Jesus is everlasting. We can bask in that resurrection reality.

As we teach those entrusted to us, pray that they cling to Jesus when temptation gets strong. Remind them that they have the power, through Jesus, to say no to sin. We don’t need to fear this world and sin, because he has already won. Praise God!



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we are weak. We know that our source of strength comes from you to defeat sin and temptation in this world. Strengthen our students to say no to sin. Fill us with your Spirit so that we can be role models for them with how we live our lives. Thank you for being the perfect example for how to live. We love you, Lord. Amen.

Question to consider:
Can you think of a gameplan to pray for a specific student that is struggling? Maybe journal about it. Possibly write that student’s name on a couple of post-it notes and put them around your house. Sit in their spot before school and say a prayer for them. Sit in that same spot after school and say a prayer of thanksgiving for how the day went or a prayer for the next day to go a little better. May God bless that student and draw him/her closer to God.


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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Share It! – Week of May 6, 2024

Share It! – Week of May 6, 2024



I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:15-17



Imagine you are sitting around a campfire with a couple of friends. You just enjoyed a lovely evening of conversation when all of a sudden, a few campers from the campsite over, offer you the last of their s’mores supplies. You happily accept their gesture and stay out by the fire a little longer, enjoying all the goodness that s’mores have to offer. What a kind thing for those campers to do. They just freely gave you something so wonderful. You make a mental note to pass on that kind of generosity to others whenever you can.

In our reading today, it says, “This is my command; Love each other.” (John 15:17) And how do we do that? Sure, sharing s’mores is lovely, but earlier in this section from scripture, it says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10)

We love by putting him above all else. We love by building people up with our words, instead of tearing them down. We love by being happy for others, and being content with what we have. We love by cleansing our hearts of hate and loving others as he loves them.

Our resurrection reality showers us with so much love that we don’t deserve. We struggle with loving others throughout each day. Maybe it’s a student that has been giving us trouble, or a parent that isn’t partnering with us as much as we would like. It might even be a co-worker that we just don’t work well with. And yet, we are called to freely love the way that we are freely loved, to shower others with acts of kindness, patience, gentleness, etc. (Galatians 5:22-23) People we know. People we don’t know. People that are easy to love. People that are notoriously difficult to love. There are no limits to his love, so there should be no limits to our love for others.

When we fall short, because we constantly will, give thanks to the One who loves perfectly, unconditionally, and constantly. It’s better than a sweet treat. It’s the love of Jesus and it’s ours! Share it.



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us when we fall short in showing love to others. Please help us love like you. Help us to share your love freely and often. Thank you for being our perfect example. Amen.

Question to consider:
Write down a few names of people that you want to show love to this week. Be intentional on how to show his love to them. May God bless your efforts.


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 Living Lord Produces Active Faith – Week of April 29, 2024

The Living Lord Produces Active Faith – Week of April 29, 2024



 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5



I have a few quotes to share with you today that were spoken or written down by men who walked this earth and were considered by many to be very wise in their time.

“It’s easy to stand in the crowd but it takes courage to stand alone.” – Gandhi
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King

These are all great quotes, and the truths behind them all are good to remember as we live out our lives, but here are three more truths about those quotes.

  1. Each of the men who spoke those quotes have since died.
  2. None of those quotes contain lifesaving truths.
  3. Those quotes hold no real power behind them.

I recently ran across the following phrase concerning another wise man who walked this earth: “Jesus is not some wise, dead sage whose advice is contained in dusty books. Jesus lives!”

Now, Jesus is not just a wise man who walked this earth as the aforementioned men were. We know Jesus best as our Savior from sin, God himself! Thankfully we have Jesus’ words in the Bible. His words hold real power and contain lifesaving truth. How incredible is it that God thought to give us his words in one book! Devote yourself to the words written on each page of the Bible. Our verses for today remind us: remain in him and you will bear much fruit!

Those three men, whose quotes I mentioned above, all did what many people from their time might consider wonderful works for others. And they all had various reasons to do those good deeds for their community. But the good works that we do for our friends, relatives, the students in our classrooms, and those we work with – they stem from the faith we have in Jesus! When we help others – we are sharing Jesus’ love!

You probably spoke or heard these words at Easter: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” Jesus proved his power over sin, death and the devil when he took your sins to the cross with him, buried them in the grave with him, and then rose victorious on that joyful Easter morn! His words from the cross, “It is finished” are more powerful than any words you’ll ever hear or read from wise men who simply walk this earth. Take in Jesus’ words each day; live your faith out of love and thankfulness for what Jesus has done for you; remain in him.



Prayer:
You are risen, Lord! The truth of your words has no time limit. Teach me to love to read your words. Refresh me each day with their everlasting truths. Then, guide me to take action by living my faith that those around me may see your goodness also. You are risen indeed! Amen.

Question to consider:
Our God lives! Christ rose from the grave and is involved in our everyday life. List a few ways you see Jesus working in your life or the lives of those around you.

God met our biggest need by sending us his Son. There are always needs to be met in our communities and our circle of friends. Think of a few people you know of who have a need that you could help meet. Ask God to help you act on that this week.


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

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Jesus’ Sheep-Folk – Jesus’ Wealth – Week of April 22, 2024

Jesus’ Sheep-Folk – Jesus’ Wealth – Week of April 22, 2024



I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

John 10:14-16



If there is one thing in this world people chase, I think we could all agree that it is money. Now, don’t let me lose you here. Maybe you aren’t hoping to win the lottery or looking for the next side-gig or constantly checking your investments to see if they’ve gone up or listing everything you own on Facebook Marketplace. But I think we can all agree that a little more money wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for our lives and more often than not we tend to chase wealth.

Do you know what God chases?

It’s you.

He chases after the sheep of his flock. We humans are just sheep-folk in need of a shepherd to guide us and keep us safe from the evil one trying to steal us from the safety of what the shepherd promises us. So when we wander off, our Good Shepherd chases after us because we are his livelihood, in other words, he lives for us! Just as sheep are the wealth of a shepherd, we are Jesus’ wealth. We mean everything to him!

Our Good Shepherd, Jesus, lives to serve us. Jesus lives to plead for us in front of the Father. Jesus lives to free us from the guilt and shame of our sins. Jesus lives to prepare a place for us in heaven.

The world promises us so much, but the world fails us even more. Wealth in this world promises a life filled with freedom to live how we want, to travel, to eat well, to dress well, to be entertained. But no matter the amount of wealth we have or chase after, it will always leave us feeling empty in one way or another.

But Jesus… our Good Shepherd promises us a wealth that is beyond our comprehension. When we sheep-folk listen to his words, we hear of the freedom that is already ours in Christ, no chasing needed. We hear of the goodness of God who wants nothing more than to be with us forever. We hear of the peace that awaits us in the arms of our Savior. We hear the truth that we are worth more than life itself. Jesus lives for us. We are his wealth!



Prayer:
Dear Good Shepherd, you chase after me daily and daily I listen instead to the words of this world. Tune my ears to hear your voice above the rest, to chase after you and be near you each day. Remind me of my worth in you. Remind me of your goodness, peace, and truth that I may tell others about my Good Shepherd too! Amen.

Question to consider:
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, chases after us. What is one way you can chase after him today?

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he proved that we were worth more than anything to him. List a few other ways that Jesus has shown us that we are worth so much to him.


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

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We Have a Meaningful Message to Share – Week of April 15, 2024

We Have a Meaningful Message to Share – Week of April 15, 2024



 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7



You fill the sensory bin with water, put some sponges in it, give the instructions to the kids and let them play. They’re exploring and having fun! When a child puts the sponge in the water, lifts it up from the water and squeezes it… what trickles out of the sponge? Water, right? It would be some sort of absurdity if orange juice or milk was squeezed out of the sponge that only had contact with water, right?

The same is true of a Christian. A Christian is filled up with God’s Word; we take in the message of the gospel, of sins forgiven and the grace given freely to us through Jesus, totally undeserved. We are left in awe and wonder of the love of God, that he would give up his only Son to pay for our sins!

As a Christian filled with God’s love, grace, and forgiveness, nothing but the Gospel can flow out of us!

Unfortunately, this is not always true in our lives. We are filled up with God’s Word on Sunday at church and at our weekly bible study group. Maybe we even top ourselves off with a daily bible reading as a side to our morning coffee. Doing pretty good, aren’t we?

But then we’re also filled up with God’s name haphazardly used in our friend group, the TV show we’re binging that contains just a few scenes every episode of extramarital relationships, the slander of other people in the break room at work. And sooner or later we find anything but the Gospel message being squeezed out of us.

The people we work with or the friends we surround ourselves with don’t see God’s light shining through our words and actions, but rather the things of this world that are not from God. Those people we care so much about don’t hear the life-saving message of the Gospel come out of our mouths, and we miss the opportunity God is placing right in front of us to share his name!

So we pivot! God’s law convicts our hearts. The love of Christ compels us. We are blood bought sons and daughters of the Eternal God himself, heirs to his kingdom, and messengers of his love! The words we proclaimed on Easter morning, “HE IS RISEN INDEED!” become our tagline! Because of Jesus’ resurrection we have already won the battle and are victorious over Satan’s temptations to speak anything but the good news of salvation through Christ alone!

So what is going to squeeze out of your sponge today? May it always be the love of God. May you be filled with the gospel and squeeze it out onto everyone you come in contact with today – the children you teach, the people you work with, the family you serve. You have the most meaningful message to share: He is risen indeed!



Prayer:
Fill our hearts today, Risen Savior! Fill us up with your grace and compassion. Convict our hearts when temptation gets the best of us and we fail to share the good news of the gospel with others. The message we have to share is an eternal one that has life-changing truth! Give us strength and eagerness to share this message always. Amen.

Question to consider:
Gossip, slander, sexual immorality, and the misuse of God’s name surround us far too often. Consider a few ways you can stand firm and not fall into temptation. Think of a few ways to fill yourself up with God’s Word instead of those things.


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

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The Living Lord Gives Proof and Peace – Week of April 8, 2024

The Living Lord Gives Proof and Peace – Week of April 8, 2024



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

Psalm 16:9-11



Who do you want at your side every day of your life? Your answers could vary from a spouse to your children, a parent or grandparent, maybe a faithful coworker turned friend or a friend you’ve been praying for for years. Think of the qualities you hope for in this companion: loyal, trustworthy, faithful, shares your values, believes in you, honest, confident, forgiving, etc. The list could go on.

The presence of a faithful companion is envied and sought after by all people. When we have someone by our side to help us, guide us, keep us grounded, give us the honest truth, and keep us focused on the positive in our lives, we are blessed! It’s easier to make it through the hard times as a team rather than alone.

What hardships are you facing today? A child that challenges your authority? A relative who’s making poor choices? Anxiety that grips your heart at the most inopportune times? A tough financial situation that came out of nowhere? Or it’s possible that you might be thinking your life is going fairly well right now, nothing seems to be getting you down.

Whether you can outrightly name the hardship you’re facing right now or you’re struggling to think of something, one thing is certain: sin infects each of our lives here on earth. Greed slips into our thoughts, jealousy takes over our friendships, hatred ruins relationships, gossip sneaks into our conversations. Whatever it is, sin steals our peace and joy!

That’s why Psalm 16 is so important. We have proof from our living Savior that sin’s grasp on us is broken through Christ alone, who is our constant companion! There is no better companion than Christ. Read the Psalm again. He will never abandon us; he makes known to us the path of life, he fills us with joy and eternal pleasures!

Psalm 16 is a messianic psalm, meaning it refers first of all to the victory Christ won through his resurrection. Secondly, it means that the blessings referred to in this psalm are also ours today, freely given to us through Christ.

As King David penned this psalm, he knew his body would one day meet the grave, but he also knew he could rest assured knowing that because of Christ’s victory over sin he has a companion in the Almighty God for eternity!
Today, trust like David trusted. Christ has already proved it all on that joyful Easter day. In the midst of hardship, we have peace and joy in his presence forever!



Prayer:
Jesus, you are my constant companion. Your friendship gives peace like none other because you have already conquered sin, death and the devil for me! In the midst of life’s trials, remind me of my victory in your empty tomb. Be with me, Lord; make known to me the path of life and fill me with the joy of Easter morning each new day! Amen.

Question to consider:
Think back to a hardship that you’ve gone through. How did you see God’s hand in that hardship? Think of a friend who is going through a hard time and share our verse from today with them.


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

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What Will You Proclaim – Week of April 1, 2024

What Will You Proclaim – Week of April 1, 2024



 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.

Psalm 118:17



Do you ever wonder what birds are saying? My children are currently obsessed with watching birds. Anytime a bird flies overhead, it is of utmost importance to my toddler that I respect the command of her finger pointing upward and tilt my head straight up to see the flying creature in the sky, lest I be promptly “cawed” at! Birds make a variety of noises – and often I wonder what they are trying to say. Living in Alaska I wonder: “Are you trying to alert me of an approaching bear or moose? Or are you just giving me the daily bird news for the day? Might you be proclaiming your ardent love to a fellow bird?”

Whatever it may be, the birds are proclaiming something, which to my toddler currently just sounds like “caw!”

What do you proclaim? If a toddler points at you passing by, how would they imitate you? What do the people around you, whether they be children, coworkers, friends, or family members, hear you saying most often?

Often in our days we fall into the trap of proclaiming our frustrations of the day, our worries and complaints. Our grievances come out more frequently than the proclamations of what our almighty and faithful God has done!

Because of what our Lord has done for us, we have life! The ever-present fear of death in this world is squashed by the truth of the Gospel: because of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection the Christian has certain hope that we will live forever with God.

If you check out the surrounding verses from our text today in Psalm 118 you see that it speaks of the greatness of the LORD and the covenants he has kept with his people. These covenants not only applied to God’s people 3000 years ago, but to you today!

What will you proclaim to those who pass you by today? What will they hear you say?

Let it always be that we proclaim what the LORD has done, that we have life instead of death, that the Christian has the certain hope of heaven! Let your words today mirror and proclaim these verses from Psalm 118:
v1: He is good; his love endures forever.
v6: The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
v13: The Lord helped me.
v14: The Lord is my strength and my defense.
v16: The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
v27: He has made his light shine on us.



Prayer:
Almighty and ever-living LORD, you are good and your love endures forever! It is so easy to fall into Satan’s trap of proclaiming my woes over the wondrous life you have won for me. Remind me that what I say matters and others are listening. Help them to hear me proclaim your faithfulness more than my trials. Help them to listen to me speak of your blessings more than my worries. I am alive in you and will proclaim what you have done! Amen.

Question to consider:
There is a saying that goes: “Actions speak louder than words.” Sometimes what we do says more than anything we actually speak. What are some actions you can take to proclaim Christ to those around you?


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

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Rethinking Real Strength – Week of March 25, 2024

Rethinking Real Strength – Week of March 25, 2024



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.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners…

Hebrews 12:2b-3a



Not many animals hold such wonder for children as the horse. Boys and girls, with little knowledge of the necessary care, dream of having a horse as a pet in their backyard. In reality, a child who comes near a horse can be overwhelmed by its sheer size. The grand strength of its unpredictable movements can be distressing to a nearby child. This is not the plastic animal that moves only with imagination on the bedroom floor! This is a living being with its own greatness that must be respected.

Coming before our God in his Word can have the same effect. When we realize that God moves apart from our own invention, we get but a glimpse of his strength and power. There is no way to wholly appreciate his might. Our God spoke the universe into being just as easily as he held children on his lap and blessed them. He changed water into wine just as effortlessly as he parted the waters of the sea. His might has no limit in both great and small ways. Perhaps the greatest show of God’s strength was when Jesus, true God and true man, set his strength aside. All of heaven belonged to him but he became nothing as a baby, as a boy and finally as a man. On the way to the cross, Jesus gave himself to be bound, his body torn and hanging. He did not stop to hide or find shelter from his Father’s almighty fury. He did not brandish his power. He stayed. He stayed weak and broken. He stayed ashamed. He stayed to take your place and mine, to endure the Father’s wrath meant for us. His weakness was his strength!

A man’s strength gives out at his death. No one walks through a graveyard and comments on the strength of the dead bodies there. But death did not strip Jesus of his strength. In a most unnatural turn of events, Jesus’ weakness stripped death of its strength. After three days, Jesus’ grave was empty! He was alive and rose from the dead! His weakness defeated death and not just his own! Since his death was a credit to each of us, his life will be a credit to each of us as well! We will live in heaven with him forever! Look to Jesus with eyes of faith. His weakness is strength and his strength is yours by faith!



Praise from my heart:

Grace and life eternal
In that blood I find;
Blest be his compassion,
Infinitely kind.

Lift we, then, our voices,
Swell the mighty flood:
Louder still and louder
Praise the precious blood!

Christian Worship 402:2, 6


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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Rethinking Devoted Commitment – Week of March 18, 2024

Rethinking Devoted Commitment – Week of March 18, 2024



“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Isaiah 43:1b-3a



There is a true story about a little pioneer girl who settled in the Republic of Texas. Cynthia Parker and her family lived inside the safety of a fort that enjoyed relative peace with the native tribes around it. But one day the fort was attacked, and Cynthia’s father was killed. Cynthia was kidnapped by the Comanche tribe. This tribe lived in an area of Texas that was so remote it prohibited her rescue. Eventually, she was assimilated into the tribe. Everyone at the fort gave up on her. Everyone except for Cynthia’s uncle. Cynthia’s uncle assumed the role of her father, his own late brother, and insisted the family never stop looking for her. The dream of finding her became a reality almost twenty-five years later. By this time, she married a Comanche warrior and became a faithful wife and mother in the tribe. Cynthia was returned to her Texas family where she only tried to escape and make her way back to her familiar home with the Comanche. Her plan failed and she died only a few years later, separated from her Comanche family with a broken heart. What unpredictable commitment in the face of tragic events! An uncle committed to finding his long-lost relative. A young woman committed to her adopted family.

There is one who is even more committed to you. He is one who formed you and calls you, “MINE.” He was there as your heart started to beat and as your tiny fingers opened and closed. Even a mother is blind to the formation of her baby in her own womb. Yet, your God saw you. By grace in his Word, he is with you now, moving jointly alongside any trial with his comfort and peace. Only God’s ear can hear your sighs during a hard day or your shudders through pain. How often do you futilely relate your stress to others? Dear child, your God already knows. He is there, bearing you up, during every ache of your heart. Because his Son, Jesus, committed himself to you with every step toward Calvary, he calls you, “MINE”. Because he paid for your sin with each nail to the cross there is no place too far, not even death, that can severe his devotion to you. Right now, he is preparing a place for you in heaven to celebrate his commitment by grace to you. No spouse, no friend, no therapist could forge a bond that close to you! Your God calls you, “MINE!” He is committed to you now and forever!



Our Prayer:

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask you to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care
And take us to heaven to live with you there. Amen

Christian Worship 340:3


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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Rethinking the Solution to Sin – Week of March 11, 2024

Rethinking the Solution to Sin – Week of March 11, 2024



But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2:4-5



“But Mom!” How many children have asked their mothers to reconsider the situation with those words? Mom certainly does not know all of the details. “But Mom!” If she knew the whole story her decision would be more benevolent. But Mom generally knew the whole story. “But Mom!” was just an introduction to a list of useless excuses.

How many “Buts…” do I give my God when I sin and roll out my litany of excuses. “But God, I do not have…” as if I had some right to sin because I lack a blessing. “But God, did you see what she did?” as I compare my sin to other’s. When I am really embarrassed, I ignore it altogether. “But God, I am pretty sure I didn’t even do that!” My solution to my sin is childlike excuses.

None of these gross excuses work. None of them balance the scale of God’s justice. Really, my excuses just add more weight to what I owe. I find myself sitting across from the almighty God with a fearfully unbalanced scale of debt, my sin, between the two of us. My elbows are on the table, my head in my hands. I cannot even look at him because I have no actual way to compensate for the imbalance. I cannot even leave the table. God and I are separated by this miserable uneven scale. It is ridiculous that I actually thought my excuses, my solution, would distract God and I could stroll right into heaven! How childish! I realize how terribly wrong I am and it will cost me. It will cost me an eternity!

But God has his own solution. His “But God” is the greatest relief of my life! Not only does he clear my debt and balance his own scale, he does it in such a beautiful way! “But God” loved me! His Son, my Redeemer, is on my side of the table! “But God” showed me rich mercy. His Son, my Redeemer, took my treachery into his own hands. “But God” covered me with his grace. His Son, my Redeemer, is my solution! That lousy scale is no longer between God and I. We are at peace! I am at peace! What an indescribable relief! Heaven is open for me!

So, here I am. Redeemed. Relieved. By the grace of God, I pray that I do not even try my excuses. I pray that I remember who is on my side of the table with my debt in his hands. His Son, my Redeemer!



Praise from my heart:

Jesus, your blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.

Bold shall I stand in that great day-
Who can a word against me say?
Fully through you absolved I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

Christian Worship 573 v. 1-2


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

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Rethinking the Worth of Worship – Week of March 4, 2024

Rethinking the Worth of Worship – Week of March 4, 2024



May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14



I’m sure you have noticed how children have a tendency to treasure the most insignificant things. A common driveway rock from Grandma’s house can become a prize for weeks. The child totes it in his little pants pocket. Sometimes it is in his small hands, then back into the pocket it goes lest it be left behind on his adventures. At night, the rock is by his bedside waiting for another jaunt into the toddler world. Finally, after a few days of worthless devotion, the child forgets all about this common rock.

Like the young child, we cannot stop ourselves from being devoting to the meaningless. Meaningless tasks. Trivial activities. We go even further by reducing our mighty God to something common and little like that driveway stone. When we expect God to cross his arms and bob his head to our lists of wishes, we make God small. When we substitute God’s justice for ours by using our own version of truth and grace to judge others, we make God weak. When we move through the day without even a thought of his will and blessing, we make God irrelevant. Suddenly, the god we have created is worthless, a god that cannot even save. A god like that deserves no attention, no praise and no worship. That god is forgettable.

But we fool ourselves! Obviously, we cannot diminish God in any way, even if we convince our childish selves that we can. David’s words in Psalm 19 remind us of how mighty and holy our God really is. David describes the heavens to show God is not small. (v. 1) “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” He identifies God’s justice to show God is not weak. (v. 9) “The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous.” David declares that God is not irrelevant in any moment of our lives. (v. 9) “The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.” The best part? David reminds us that our mighty God is our Redeemer. He alone is able to make us holy, able to sit beside Him in heaven someday.

This is the God that David honors with the meditation of his heart. He is my God who saves! He is your God who saves. This God is our God, worthy of our praise and worship!



Prayer:
Before the hills in order stood or earth received its frame,
From everlasting you are God, to endless years the same.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Still be our guard while troubles last and our eternal home! Amen.

Christian Worship 21 820: 3, 6


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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Strength in Suffering – Week of February 26, 2024

Strength in Suffering – Week of February 26, 2024



Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:1-5



My friend wrote about a recent bike ride that she started the ride strong but during the last hour, she needed to take frequent breaks. She was frustrated and disappointed about how quickly she became tired. But when they got back to the car, she realized that the front tire had popped and she had been riding on a flat tire for at least an hour. She said “I guess there’s a life lesson there: when tempted to be hard on oneself, it’s always a good idea to first make sure we’re not actually trying to push ourselves along on a flat tire”.

Do you feel as though you are pushing yourself along on a flat tire? God tells us that we will have suffering in our lives. There will be pain, disappointment, and death. We will have flat tires. But he also promises that he will help us through these sufferings by giving us three things: peace, prayer, and hope.

God gives us the peace that we are truly forgiven through the death and life of his son, Jesus Christ. This peace is not just a “feel-good” emotional kind of peace, because this peace doesn’t come from a human—it comes from God, through Jesus. This peace gives us strength and confidence to work through challenges in this sinful world.

God also gives us “access” to him through prayer. He wants us to come to him with any fear or need, and he promises to hear us. We can come to him at any hour, all day. While we may not always get the end result that we hope for, we know that God listens and answers.

Finally, God gives us hope. He gives us hope for the future—not only hope for our life on earth but the hope that we will be in heaven after our sufferings in this world are over. This type of hope isn’t a wish. It is not the same as when we say something like “I hope I get the job”, or “I hope it doesn’t rain today”. This type of hope is already a “done deal”. We know that we will go to heaven. This hope is reliable because God is reliable.

So we can look at our problems and trials of this world with different eyes. When we feel like we are pushing along on a flat tire, we can remember the peace that we are forgiven. We can come to God in prayer for strength to endure and persevere. And we can rejoice that, no matter the outcome of the earthly suffering, we have hope for our future in heaven.



For further meditation:
See Christian Worship 870 O, Church Arise, especially stanza four.

A Question to Consider:
What words of comfort can you give to a friend (or yourself!) who seems to be “pushing along on a flat tire”? How can the gifts of peace, prayer, and hope help in hard times?


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

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Forever with Christ – Week of February 19, 2024

Forever with Christ – Week of February 19, 2024



For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39



It happened twice before, but experience doesn’t make the process any less terrifying. First the mammogram, then the ultrasound and on to biopsy the “highly suspicious mass”. Then the waiting for results. The devil works really hard during that wait! I’m not afraid to go to heaven—in fact, leaving this world of illness and fear to be with God in heaven is something I look forward to! What scares me is the thought of separation from my children. I want to be with them while they grow up and I don’t want someone else helping them learn how to navigate this world. I don’t want to leave them.

God knows that we are afraid of separation from our loved ones when we leave this world. He knows how important it is for humans to feel connected to each other. And he knows that the worst feeling of ALL is to feel separated from HIM, our creator, Savior, and protector.

And yet, every day, we do things to separate ourselves from God. Our biggest problem, sin, separates us from God and his love. Nothing that we can do—no acts of kindness, no gifts of love and money, nothing we do can bring us closer to God and fix the problem of our sin.

But there is good news! God tells us that nothing, NOTHING can separate us from him, because Jesus has filled our need. He has fixed our problem of sin. Jesus allowed himself to feel the separation from God that WE should feel. He took all our sins on him, separating himself from God, so that we never need to feel that pain.

And so now, nothing can separate us from “the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. We can face challenges, illness, and the life and death that we see in this world knowing that we will always be his children. In the same way that we want to love and protect, and always be with our own children, God chose us as his own. No evil forces, no height or dimension, no trials of this world, nothing can “counterbalance” God’s love for us.

In view of this, my fear about being separated from my children seems a little silly, arrogant even. When I am gone, God will be with them, and he will continue to be with me. He promises this to all of us that he has called his own.

God has chosen us to be his own. He sent his son to die in our place, and he promises to continue to love and protect us until he takes us to be with him in heaven. Let us endure our days on this earth with the strength that God gives us, knowing he will hold us close forever. Nothing can separate us from our God!



Prayer:
Dear Father in Heaven,
Thank you for choosing me to be your own. Thank you for sending your son to die for me, so that I will never be separated from your love. Continue to hold me and all believers close to you, and help us to daily remember the promises that you have already fulfilled. Amen.

For further meditation, see Christian Worship 502, Children of the Heavenly Father, especially stanzas three and four.

A Question to Consider:
When you think of the scary things in this world that try to take your mind off of Jesus, how do the words “nothing can separate us from the love of God” bring you comfort?


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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This Little Light of Mine – Week of February 12, 2024

This Little Light of Mine – Week of February 12, 2024



For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6



My family visited a cave in the Burren Region of Ireland. Carved from limestone, the cave has magnificent caverns, chasms and even a waterfall. At one place during the tour, the guide told us to hold on to the railing (and our children!) before they turned out the lights. It was SO dark! Deep underground there is no light at all. The guide said that this intense darkness could even cause people to lose sense of direction, lose their balance and fall.

The devil works really hard to keep people from seeing “the light” of Jesus. Without the light of Jesus, we stumble and fall. The devil wants us to stay lost and unbalanced, separated from our God. The devil fights to keep us from sharing this light with others and will use anything in this world to try to keep us from knowing and sharing the truth in God’s Word.

When we try to be the light for others on our own, we fail. Oh, we try to serve others and live a life that pleases God, but we can’t do this on our own. God created light in this world, and he also creates light in our hearts. God beat the devil when he sent Jesus, the light of the world, to live and die for us.
Now that God has rescued us from our problem of sin, we want to share that light with others. We reflect the light of Jesus when we serve those people that he placed in our lives. God gave us a glimpse of his glory through Jesus, and he wants us to share that “light” with everyone.

When we walk through our days on earth, it might sometimes feel as if we are in a dark cave. We lose our balance when we forget to cling to Jesus, the true light of the world. We see a little piece of God’s glory every time we read and study his Word. When we read the Bible, we hear the love story of Jesus coming into the world to die for us. The light of Jesus works in our heart, preparing us for our work here on earth. May we continue to let our light shine for Jesus, the light of the world!



Prayer:
Christian Worship 884
Lord, when your glory I shall see and taste your kingdom’s pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be, my joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before your throne, your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me. And there, in garments richly wrought,
As your own bride I shall be brought, to stand in joy beside you.

A Question to Consider:
Who has God sent to be in your life as a “light” for him? How can you be a “light” to others?


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 Weak but He is Strong – Week of February 5, 2024

We are Weak but He is Strong – Week of February 5, 2024



Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even you grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:28-31



There are pictures of my nephew sleeping everywhere. On the table, under the table, on a bench at the playground, and even on top of a garbage can during the Disney World parade. When he is tired, he sleeps—no matter where he is or what is going on around him.

Have you ever been THAT tired? So tired that you can sleep anywhere? Or perhaps you feel very fatigued but can’t stop to rest. You feel as though you have to “push through” the busy day, only to get up the next day and do it all again. It’s difficult to do tasks well and faithfully when we are tired. It’s hard to give the best that we have when we are weary and don’t have the energy.

What’s more, the devil knows our weaknesses. He sees our fatigue and uses it to try to separate us from God. The devil wants us to give in to our fatigue and doubt God and his promises. And then we do–we give in to his temptation and our selfish desires. We do the things that we know we shouldn’t do, and then excuse ourselves by saying “I was just tired.”

Yes, the devil knows our weaknesses. BUT the good news is, so does God. God is our creator and we are his creatures. In six days, he made the world and everything in it, using only his power and his words. God understands our needs and weaknesses because he is the one who made us!
We grow weary and weak, but God does not. He never tires. He always gives his best and never leaves a task incomplete. His promises stand firm forever, and his strength goes far beyond our understanding.

We are made strong through the death and resurrection of Jesus, who took all our weaknesses upon himself when he died on the cross. And now that we are his own, he strengthens us. When we trust in God and his promises, asking him for strength, he gives it. God gives us the strength to complete our tasks faithfully.

When we try to rely on our own strength to resist temptation, we fail. It is only through faith in Jesus that we find the strength that we need. And when our body is so fatigued, so weak that we cannot take another breath—God will strengthen us once again. He will take us to our true home, heaven, where we will never grow weary or weak. May God renew our strength as we continue to serve him until he brings us home!



Prayer:
Dear Everlasting Lord and Creator,
You know my weaknesses and failures. Help me to trust in you to give me the strength to resist temptations and complete the tasks that you have set before me. Renew my strength so that I may live for you until you take me to be with you in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What truths from God’s Word can you remember the next time that you are tired or weak?


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 Builder of Everything – Week of January 29, 2024

The Builder of Everything – Week of January 29, 2024



Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.

Hebrews 3:1-4



There’s a Victorian house in the heart of St. Paul, MN that was built in 1889 and then purchased by newlyweds in 1983. The house had been converted to 6 apartments, and the couple spent years bringing the house back to the original one-family dwelling. They spent hours researching the time period and then even more time working with their own hands– sanding and stripping wood to bring back the original floors and banisters, searching for wall paper and furnishings for the time period, and living in less-than-comfortable conditions as the bathrooms and kitchens were worked on. It is a beautiful home, and I am proud of the work that my aunt and uncle put into this home. The “builder of the house has great honor”.

It is easy for us to look at man-made work with honor and respect, forgetting that everything that we do, even our “best work”, is tainted with sin. There is nothing that we do that is without sin. We complain about the work we have to do, or covet the skills or means of others, or we get weary and only do the bare minimum. God is faithful; we are not.

God wants us to focus our eyes not on our earthly home, but our heavenly home. He wants us to honor not the builders of things in this world, but the “builder of everything”. The creator is superior to his creatures. God made the world, and when his creation was destroyed by sin, he made a plan. God, the “builder of everything”, made a blueprint for our salvation, a path to heaven. His plan was to give us a Christmas miracle, a tiny baby that would live the faithful life that we cannot, and then take on the sins of the entire world that he created.

God wants us to “fix our eyes on Jesus”, the ONE that saved us from our big problem of sin. God has absolute authority over heaven and earth, and he sent his son, Jesus, to destroy the sin in this world and in our hearts.



Prayer:
Dear Lord, all power in heaven and on earth is yours. Thank you for giving us this world to live in. Most of all, thank you for sending your son to die for the sins of all people. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus until the day that you bring me to him. 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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Committed to Christ – Week of January 22, 2024

Committed to Christ – Week of January 22, 2024



We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21



The little girl slipped into the living room and asked meekly “Daddy?. . . . Umm, never mind. . . “ bowed her head and walked out of the room. She came back, moments later, and tried again: “Daddy? Can we, can we. . .never mind”. For the third time, she tried again, as meekly as she had the first, eyes wide and pleading: “Daddy? Can we have. . . Can we have some. . . . . . . .popcorn?” Before he even finished saying “Of course, sweetie.” she turned on her heel and yelled robustly to the back bedroom “He said YES!” The big-eyed 3-yr-old had been selected as the neighborhood ambassador on a mission for popcorn, and she performed her duties masterfully.

An ambassador speaks on behalf of someone else. “Christ’s ambassadors”, don’t speak for or about themselves; they speak about Jesus. The words that Christ’s ambassadors say are not their own, but what God wanted them to say, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The writers of the Bible wrote the words that God wanted us to have.

God has already done all the work that needs to be done, through Jesus. In this sense, we are already “reconciled to God”. But the words that his ambassadors are telling us here mean that even though Jesus died for all people, only those that believe this message in their hearts will receive the benefits that come from it. These benefits include true peace that comes from the forgiveness of sin and, when we die, eternal peace in heaven.

Sometimes we talk about the work that God did through Jesus as “The Great Exchange”. The last verse shows that exchange well: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us”. Jesus had no sin. He never had wrong thought, never a wrong action, never once waivered from God’s Word or God’s commands.

We, however, are the complete opposite of perfect. Our thoughts are impure, we hurt other people, we fail to live as God wants us to live, and we sometimes forget to trust God and the promises in his Word. But God allowed Jesus to “exchange” his perfection for our imperfections. Jesus took all of our sins upon himself and gave us the salvation that he earned. God gave us the “credit” of righteousness that Jesus earned for us. Jesus became sin for us. Jesus died, that we might live. How thankful we are for this gift of salvation!

May we continue to live as his ambassadors until our work here is done and God calls us home.



Prayer:
CW 869 v 1
Onward, Christian Soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ the royal master, leads against the foe;
forward into battle see his banners go!


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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Buried with Christ – Week of January 15, 2024

Buried with Christ – Week of January 15, 2024



We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:4



One family told me that they celebrate their baptism days by eating dessert first. They eat dessert before supper because “nothing can be sweeter than remembering the day we became a child of God, and knowing that we will one day be called Home!”

What is baptism? Baptism gives us the forgiveness of sins, through water and God’s Word. We can use the picture that, through baptism, our sins are “drowned” and that we are “washed clean” through the power of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Another picture that we can use to explain the blessings of baptism is found in our passage for today. Through baptism we were “buried” with Christ. This means that, when Jesus died on the cross, he took on our sin for us. He gave up his perfection for our sin and unfaithfulness. When Jesus died, our sins were “buried” with him. He became sin for us, and when he came back to life on Easter Sunday, he wrote our name down in the book of Heaven. We “have a new life” in heaven because Jesus died in our place.

From the day we are born, we are not fit for heaven. Every day we rebel to God by our sinful living. Some people think that if we “live a decent life and try not to hurt anyone” God will give us heaven. But not so! Even “trying our best” is not good enough. We cannot earn our way to eternal glory. No one on this earth can do anything to make himself fit for heaven. . . .except. . . . .Jesus! Jesus lived the perfect life that is impossible for us and every other human. Jesus already won that battle when he died on the cross and came back to life.

Although we cannot earn our way to heaven, we still want to live our life for Him who saved us. God wants us to be faithful to him. We do this by reading and obeying God’s Word, the Bible. We show that we are thankful for what God has done by serving him and others. How sweet it is to know that God calls us his own, and to know that we will one day enjoy a new, perfect life in heaven!



Prayer:
CW Hymn 680 v1

Baptized into your name most holy, O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, though weak and lowly, among your saints, your chosen host.
Buried with Christ and dead to sin, your Spirit now shall live within.

A Question to Consider:
What can you do to daily remember your baptism? Some ideas might be to start the day with prayer of thanksgiving, write in a journal, or talk to others about their baptism.
(If you are not baptized and/or would like to know more, talk to your director, pastor, or look for a church to call at WELS.net)


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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Glory to God in the Highest – Week of January 8, 2024

Glory to God in the Highest – Week of January 8, 2024



May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed. Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.

Psalm 72:17-19



We visited the science museum a few weeks ago and now my son wants to tell everyone about “how they make power”. There was a display that showed how electricity starts with the sun, which feeds the trees, that go into a chipper. Then that converted energy goes into the broiler, then the turbine, then the generator. . . . . . and that’s how we get electricity into our home. “But wait!”, my son will bellow, “WHO makes the sun? GOD!” God, of course. So it is really God that begins the chain. God gives us power. It’s God that “alone does marvelous deeds.”

Our God, who made heaven and earth, who holds the seasons and time and space in his hands, included us in the greatest love story of all time. This love story started with God creating our beautiful world, a perfect world, that we ruined with the sin and evil that we brought into it.

Some like to blame the devil for our sin, and others try to push the blame onto Adam and Eve, the first people that doubted and disobeyed God. Those first people also tried to pass on the blame. Adam said, “Eve gave me the fruit!” and Eve said, “The snake tricked me!” But we can’t hide our sin from God. God saw the truth when Adam and Eve and all people after them—yes, you and me as well! —brought sin into the world. We are to blame.

And yet God made a promise just after Adam and Eve sinned. He promised that Jesus would come and “crush the devil” and rescue us from our problem of sin. He made that same promise to Noah and Abraham and all of their decedents, and he fulfilled that promise on Christmas Day. The fulfillment of this promise is great news for all people!

The month of January can be tough for some people. Christmas is over, family scatters, the days are short, and the winter is long. In some parts of the world, winter can make us feel as though we won’t ever feel the warmth of the sun again. But wait! WHO made the sun? God, the one who created the sun and world and all things, promises that he will come again. The whole world will know his name when he comes again to take us to heaven. The whole world will see his glory on that day. Let us praise his glorious name forever!



Prayer:
CW Hymn 629 v 1
O God from God, O Light from Light, O Prince of Peace and King of Kings,
To you in heaven’s glory bright the song of praise forever rings.
To him who sits upon the throne, the Lamb once slain but raised again,
be all the glory he has won, all thanks and praise! Amen! Amen!

A Question to Consider:
What “marvelous deeds” that God has done for you are you most excited to share with others?


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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Holding Jesus’ Hand – Week of January 1, 2024

Holding Jesus’ Hand – Week of January 1, 2024



Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.
Colossians 3:15



Lego set number 41720. That’s the one that she wanted. This set is a waterpark with two slides, an octopus sprinkler, and even a popsicle stand. She waited, and shopped at different stores, and waited some more. Until FINALLY! She found it on sale! She was so excited to put the set together and move the Lego people through the waterpark! But now the set sits, in a box, untouched since that first day of play. The toy she waited for only gave her momentary happiness.

Has this happened in your house? Do you have Christmas gifts that were exciting last week but now sit on a shelf? Are the treasures that your family waited for and longed for now forgotten? The truth is, even the best presents will eventually be outgrown, or broken, or placed in the donation box. The treasures of this world will never bring lasting joy and peace.

The only Christmas gift that brings lasting peace is Jesus. God’s people waited, with great longing, for thousands of years for the Savior to come. Finally, on that first Christmas, the promised Savior came!

Jesus gives us the peace that only a Savior can give—true peace, true rest in knowing that Jesus rescued us from the dangers of sin. Yet we often look for peace in all the wrong places: specialists, our family and friends and the internet. We try to find rest in a good book, taking a walk, or by relaxing on vacation. All of these can be healthy places to find rest for your body and mind, but the rest is only temporary. Things of this world will always only bring temporary peace.
The peace that Jesus gives is lasting. This peace is the tranquil, restful feeling that we feel when we remember that Jesus loves and forgives us. This peace gives us confidence that God always has and always will care for us. As one children’s song says, “Peace is holding Jesus’ hand”.

God has taken care of our biggest problem, sin, and now calls us to “let peace rule in our hearts”. Let us remember that Jesus fought for us on the cross and now calls us into his restful arms. Let us thank God for the peace that Jesus gives, and may this peace rule our hearts always!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for the gift of peace. Let this peace “rule in our hearts” and give us a renewed energy to share this gift of peace with others. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Think of times that you have been “at peace” (on a hike? After a well-check at the doctor?). Now consider how much MORE at peace we are knowing the peace that Jesus gives. Think of the metaphor “peace is holding Jesus’ hand”. How is this true peace different from other times that we are “at peace”?


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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Immanuel – Week of December 25, 2023

Immanuel – Week of December 25, 2023



Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14



My relatives bought their tickets months in advance. A ride to the airport was arranged, and we all hoped the flight would not be delayed or cancelled. We would have Christmas together. Spending Christmas with family is truly special.

The first Christmas started with a family traveling. Joseph and Mary made the long trek to Bethlehem. They didn’t find family there to greet them; they couldn’t even find a place to stay. They made do with a stable where the Savior of the world was born. As Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years earlier, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).

Jesus has been called by many different names, and each tells us something about his nature. Immanuel means God with us. What a fitting name for the Son of God and son of man! Jesus came all the way from heaven to live as a human being with us. He came to do what we could never do. He used his life to serve, love and forgive perfectly. He knew his trail on earth led to the cross, yet he walked that path willingly and perfectly so that he might take away all our failures. As we celebrate the Savior’s birth on Christmas, we look also to his ultimate sacrifice and victory over sin, death, and the devil.

Knowing what this little baby was destined to do brought the angels with their Christmas song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14). On hearing about this wonderful peace, the shepherds hurried off, first to see the Christ child and then to tell others about him. We get to do the same. We hurry to the manger to wonder at the Christ child. We gaze in awe at the terrible cross which brought us such peace. We jump for joy at the news of Jesus’ glorious resurrection. This Christmastime and throughout the year, hurry to God’s Word and revel in his salvation. Spend time hearing and praying and praising our Savior with others. Then go and tell. We have the best news ever, the news that makes us all part of God’s family.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) May God bring you peace and joy this Christmas, my family in Christ!



Prayer:
Dearest Immanuel, thank you for bringing peace and joy to us. Help us share your love with others so they may know that same peace and joy. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
Christian Worship 330: Peace Came to Earth


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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Joyful Always – Week of December 18, 2023

Joyful Always – Week of December 18, 2023



Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, 23-24



Always, continually, in all circumstances. When working with children, we quickly learn to avoid such strong words. No child is always on task or continually disobedient. We learn to celebrate the little victories as the students grow in their abilities.

Yet Paul used these strong words as he finished his letter to the Thessalonians. The expectations he sets forth are unrealistic, aren’t they? I might try, but I just am not always happy. As for continually praying, well, I know some of my thoughts and words are definitely not prayer-like. And when I’ve spent a long day trouble shooting problems at school and home, it’s pretty difficult to give thanks. Yet this is what God expects; it is his will for us.

The first instruction given is to be joyful always. God created us with a large range of emotions. We cry tears at a loved one’s death. We feel righteous anger at the injustices of this sinful world. We experience fear and concern. And yes, so many times we feel happiness. We revel in God’s wonderful creation, we laugh at the antics of our students, we are excited to see those little victories as our students learn and grow. But happiness is not the same as joy. Joy is present in each emotion because true joy only comes from our Savior, Jesus. Even in our sorrow, we are not despondent, because we know that God is still with us, guiding us through the most difficult of times. When we are afraid, we lean on God’s promise to always do what is best for us. Our happiness is colored by the joy of experiencing God’s blessings. Through all these emotions, God draws us even closer to him.

Paul also tells us to pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. Praying continually doesn’t mean walking around with our hands folded and heads bowed, reciting prayers. We pray continually when the faith that God puts in our hearts shines through in our words and actions. We pray continually when we look to our heavenly Father for help in difficult situations. We pray continually when we share God’s Word with those around us and give thanks and praise to our Savior. Even when circumstances are difficult, we thank God, knowing that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (Romans 8:28).

Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? As much as I want to, I am not always joyful, my life is not one of continuous prayer, and many thankless words have come from my mouth. Paul doesn’t leave us hopeless. He tells us that God keeps us blameless. Jesus lived a joyful, prayer-filled, thankful life for us. He got rid of our imperfections and now God sees us clothed in Jesus’ holiness. So be joyful, my friends! Our Savior has come!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, through your death and resurrection you put true joy into my heart. Help me each day to show joy and thankfulness in my thoughts, words, and actions. I love you, dear Savior. Amen.

A Hymn to Consider:
Christian Worship 319: Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring


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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