ECME Devotions

Welcome! That Someone is Someone – Week of October 14, 2019

Welcome! That Someone is Someone – Week of October 14, 2019


Then Philip ran up the to chariot and heard the [Ethiopian] reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?”

Acts 8: 30-31 (For the complete account of Philip and the Ethiopian, read Acts 8:26-39)



You saw someone you were pretty sure you knew. But you saw them out of context. Too many years, too many faces. A former student? Someone from the old neighborhood? Everyone has found themselves at the awkward moment of recognition but not quite recollection. “You are . . . someone?” Ever get it wrong? At worst, we are embarrassed, and we likely embarrassed someone else.

In our account from Acts, far more is at stake than embarrassment. Our Ethiopian friend is struggling with the second scroll of Isaiah. He is reading from what we now know as Isaiah 53. He has come across one of the clearest prophecies as Christ’s substitutionary suffering and death for the sins of the world. Christians have used this very section of Scripture in worship on Good Friday for centuries because it is directly talking about Christ. But our Ethiopian friend is at his own awkward moment of some recognition but not proper recollection – “Is it Isaiah or someone else?”

At just the right time in just the right place, God picked up and placed someone there for the Ethiopian man. God brought Philip alongside the man’s chariot so he could explain who someone else is. The someone else is Jesus. The One who is, who was, and is to come to bring good news. Jesus is the One who gave his life as the ransom for the many. He is the innocent, blameless One who bears the innumerable sins of the whole world. Jesus silently was slaughtered to pay the price for sin – once and for all. This someone, this One is the Savior.

What a beautiful account! It is easy to see the miracle of how God used Philip as a very important someone in the Ethiopian’s life.

Do we realize and appreciate the incredible miracle of our own faith. We all are born into this sinful world with a sinful heart so darkened we couldn’t possibly comprehend the truth. We live in a sinful world so out of context of understanding who God is and what he is like. So in miracles of wonder and grace, God sent into our lives at just the right time and place, someone. A parent, a spouse, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, who brought us to the font and taught us the word of God. The Holy Spirit worked through the Word shared by someone. Now we truly are someone – a child of God, forgiven and loved by the One.

God now uses us as someone in the lives of others. Sometimes this is easy and joyful. We pass on precious truths to the next generation telling them the good news. Sometimes it can be far more awkward or uncomfortable. The next generation gets older and more defiant. Dearly loved friends and family members drift away from church. How will they know unless someone invites, encourages, explains? May God continue to encourage us and use us as someone in their lives.



Prayer Reflection: Give thanks to God for the many “someones” he has placed in our lives to bring us and keep us in the faith. Consider someone we know who needs to hear again of the only One who saves. Pray for love and humility to welcome them home to hear the good news.

Our devotion today continues to focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



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

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Welcome! Connect to the Means of Grace – Week of October 7, 2019

Welcome! Connect to the means of grace – Week of October 7, 2019


So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11



I grew up in the Midwest. The only interaction I had with the ocean was through pictures, TV, or movies. I remember watching surfers in California gracefully maneuver over the waves. It looked so peaceful and like so much fun. Then, the time came for me to get my chance to venture into the ocean. My first call was to Southern California, so the ocean was within reach! When I got to the ocean for the first time, the smells, sounds, and sights were just as I had imagined. My childhood exposure from across the country didn’t lie. Then, one of my friends, a native of California, told me it was time to go out into the waves and take our turn at boogie boarding. Surfing was too hard for day one! He gave me a quick lesson on how to go out into the waves and where to catch them to ride them back in. One of the first waves I caught was way too late, and the wave picked me up, then slammed me down into the ground, and rolled me around like I was in a washing machine. I walked out of the ocean with a bloodied shoulder and a mouth full of sand. I had no clue what power waves had!

Sometimes it is easy to downplay or forget about the power that everyday things have. There is “hurtful power,” like being shocked by bare wires or slamming your finger in a car door. And there is “helpful power” – not the churning of breakers on the beach but hydroelectric power generated by massive turbines deep in a dam. What about God’s power? Do we fully recognize the power of God’s Word for daily life? Or do we not think that much about it?

We are blessed to be teachers in Christian schools where we don’t only use the Bible some of the day, but we use it to frame every subject that we teach. God’s love through his Word is woven into the fabric of the day for our students, and in that way the Holy Spirit is given the opportunity each day to work in the hearts of our students, and our hearts!

God tells us in Isaiah 55, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Each day, we walk into our classrooms armed with the most powerful weapon of all time, and God promises us that it will work! And for most people, the most powerful and formative encounter with the Word happens in worship – not merely the content of the readings and sermon, but also the weekly reinforcement of the liturgy, and the deep impact of the Word expressed in hymns.

As you go about the privilege of your work today, may God fill you with the knowledge that his Word will not return to him empty. Be encouraged to use it and have loving conversations to keep students and families connected to this spiritual power source (especially as it is delivered in worship) and not to minimize or forget its power.



Prayer Reflection: Invite someone to Welcome Home Sunday at your church. Help them understand that you love them enough to connect to God’s powerful Word with them. Ask God to give you the courage and strength to help others gain access to his Word who may not be currently connected.

Our devotion today continues to focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



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

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Welcome! Build Relationships Today – Week of September 30, 2019

Welcome! Build Relationships Today – Week of September 30, 2019


Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8



My mother always called herself the “mean lady” in the neighborhood. We never seemed to get away with much as she was always watching us from a distance to make sure my brothers and I behaved as we were supposed to. I remember specifically one time we were up to no good, and when I looked up … there was mom, both hands on her hips, and we knew we were going to spend some time paying our disciplinary dues.

At the time, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But now I can laugh and recognize that my mom was loving us through discipline. In a family, love can take on so many different forms. It’s serving one another by cleaning up or cooking meals. It’s a kind word of encouragement when we are feeling down. It’s enjoying one another’s company by snuggling on the couch and falling asleep on a movie night. Love in a family is powerful.

In a Christ-centered family, that love is built on the truths of Scripture – a reflection of the love with no conditions that God offers us freely through Jesus. In a school or classroom, it is no different. You might be referred to as the mean teacher, and the kids might straighten up when they see you walk into the room, but they do that because of the love you show to them, not fear. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they know that God’s love guides you. How? Because you model it and talk about it.

Today’s verses give us some encouragement. “Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” Notice the connection to relationships. They shared spiritual love, but they also shared their lives. They had genuine and meaningful relationships with one another.

That is the type of connection that teachers get to have with students. They build trusting relationships on the foundation of Christ’s work. They open their lives to their students and share the gospel at every turn. Those relationships build a high level of trust.

And here’s the kicker. Trust provides opportunity. There may be students in your classrooms today or your classrooms of old who are not continuing to stay connected to God’s Word. Their connection to the lifeline of Scripture may slowly be getting choked off. And that has eternal consequences.

As you walk into your classroom or school today to faces of God’s children that may be sleepy, angry, overflowing with energy, or just there, may God strengthen your ability to build relationships. May God help you to use those relationships to encourage connection to the beautiful Gospel message, because that message motivates us for today and secures our future in heaven.



Prayer Reflection: Look around your school or classroom today. Identify students and families that may be disconnected from the Word. Take a moment to write them a note or text them right now to encourage and invite them to connect to the Word with you – at church, over a devotion, or over coffee. Pray that God would work through you to connect with someone who may be straying from the life-giving Word.

Our devotion today continues to focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



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

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Welcome! Love with no Conditions – Week of September 23, 2019

Welcome! Love with no Conditions – Week of September 23, 2019


And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16



You know that person, right? That person who loves you no matter what. There is nothing that you could do to break it. When you think about them, you can feel their warmth, care and concern for you. For me, as a child, that was grandma. Her loving smile, embrace, gifts, and care never changed. Ever. And that was despite my being a little boy who got into mischief, who argued with his brothers, and who accidentally broke things. Earthly love with no conditions is beautiful, heart-warming, and truly impactful.

In 1 John 4, we see the true foundation of love with no conditions. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Consider the impact of God’s love for us. Christ has washed clean every single sin that we have ever committed and ever will commit. That is no small task. And he knows all of them, even the thoughts that no one on the face of this earth will ever know … the ones that would push us to red-faced embarrassment should they be found out. We have so much to be thankful for in our private relationship with our loving brother and Savior, Jesus.

As teachers, we have the opportunity each day to model Christ’s love with no conditions in our classrooms, on the playground, and wherever we serve. That modelling can only happen as we are filled with God’s grace and as the Holy Spirit empowers us through a deep and recurring connection to the Word and Sacraments. Only then can our modelling reflect Christ’s love — even though imperfectly, but still by God’s design.

What does that look like in your classroom, office, field, or stage? If you weren’t aware, we work with sinful students, parents, and coworkers. It is easy to become frustrated or maybe even resentful of the sin in other’s lives that cause us pain in our lives. In those moments which may even happen today, remember that Christ’s love living through us builds real, meaningful connections with those we serve. It allows us the opportunity to exert positive Christian influence as a family of faith. We are able to have real conversations about our faith, our struggles, and how God continues to guide us until we all reach eternity. It even gives us the opportunity to encourage students, parents, and coworkers to stay connected to Jesus and the spiritual power he wants us to have through regular worship with the family of believers.

May God grant you a joy that is rooted in your faith that understands his love with no conditions and allows you to model that love to those you serve today. God wants to build his kingdom as he lives through you!



Prayer Reflection: Write down the name of a family or student who may have disconnected from regular connection to the Word and Sacraments. Pray for that family and ask God to influence you to love them and model Christ’s love with no conditions. Pray that God would give you an opportunity to reconnect them in any way to his Word.

For the next few weeks, our devotions will focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We’ll consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



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

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Why? – Week of September 16, 2019


Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

I Timothy 1:15



“Why?” “Why is a caterpillar fuzzy?” “Why do the leaves change colors?” “Why do we have to clean up?” “Why can’t I eat my cookie instead of my sandwich?” When we’re in the thick of things in the classroom, the “why” questions can be overwhelming. Even if we recognize the wonderful inquisitiveness behind them, it’s hard to find the time to answer them well. It’s also hard to answer in an age-appropriate way that a young child will understand. And quite frankly—we just plain don’t always know why!

You and I might find ourselves wondering why from time to time. Why does illness strike such a young child? Why can’t our staff get along better? Why is the world so full of chaos and heartache? Why, in spite of my best efforts, do I continue to make the same mistakes over and over? Some days teaching is hard. Why do I continue teaching?

Let’s reread today’s verse: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” We tell the children every day, all day, how much Jesus loves them. We tell them that Jesus forgives all their sins, the naughty things that they do. We tell them about the cross, the empty tomb, and heaven. But sometimes, in the busyness of all we do, we can lose sight of this for ourselves. He came to save sinners. That’s definitely me. On my own, I have nothing to bring to Jesus but my crushed, weary, sin-filled self. “Christ Jesus came… to save sinners”. Stop for a minute and just take that in. Are you a sinner? Then you are one he came to save. When he looks at you, he only sees the perfection you have because of what he did. That makes no sense in our earthly thinking but makes amazing sense when we consider his love for all sinners! It’s overwhelming and it’s our “why.” It’s why, through faith, we have peace in him and why we can share that peace with others. It’s why we have such a sense of urgency to share Jesus with all those around us. Because of what he did, we have an amazing “why” for all we do.

Why are there so many heartaches? Sin and its effect are all around us. Why, in the midst of all this worldly chaos, can we live and serve in joy and contentment? Because of Jesus. Why are caterpillars fuzzy? That’s a question for someone smarter at science than me. But you and I can live each day knowing that because of his love, his forgiveness, his grace, we have peace in Jesus. He is our “why.”



Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are my “why.” Your grace is my motivation. Thank you for coming to save sinners, including me. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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Our Daily Prayer – Week of September 9, 2019

Our Daily Prayer – Week of September 9, 2019


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

Psalm 19:14



While I would tell you that I’m not a morning person, I have grown to love getting up earlier and relishing the quiet time shortly before the sun comes up. The world is still, and the day is in front of me. It feels like a clean slate, a fresh start. Each day is a gift of God’s grace. Morning feels like a reminder of this.

You may have heard the words in today’s verse at the beginning of a sermon. What a perfect prayer for the pastor as he begins to share God’s Word with the congregation! As he begins, he prays that his sermon will please God and effectively and correctly proclaim God’s message of salvation to all who hear it. What a perfect prayer for each of us as we begin another day.

We are not called to preach a sermon, but we have opportunities all day long to proclaim that same message to the children we serve, their families, and those around us. At the heart of everything we do is the gospel. Picture Jesus standing in front of you. His arms are out, holding the Word. He looks at you and says, “Tell them about me.” You may be tempted to look behind you to see if he was speaking to you. “Me?” “Yes, you.” What a privilege and what a responsibility!

Our sinful nature and shortcomings can get in the way of the message. They can lead us to hesitancy that we might say something wrong. We may be tempted to be over-confident and fail to be faithful in our time in the Word. What a wonderful prayer our verse for today can be as we begin each day, each task, and time we spend in the Word.

So as our day begins, early or not, we ask God to bless our words and our meditation on his Word so that all our words and actions are pleasing to him. We pray that he blesses all we do as a reflection of him and of his forgiveness and grace. He is our Rock and Redeemer. His grace is ours and ours to share in each new day of grace.



Prayer: Dear Jesus. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen



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

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Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019

Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019


I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.

1 Timothy 1:12



One of my favorite children’s books for the beginning of the year shares the story of a little girl on her first day of kindergarten. Annabelle is excited but also a bit apprehensive. Her older sister attempts to build her confidence by reminding her who she is—Annabelle Swift, kindergartner! After a couple of small setbacks that first day, Annabelle shines in her ability to count change and her teacher appoints her as the first milk monitor of the year. She carries out her role with a sense of pride and confidence. She can do this thing called kindergarten!

In our verse for today, Paul, the author of Timothy, starts by thanking Jesus for the strength he has given him. Paul was one of the vilest persecutors of Christians before the Lord came to him and converted him. And yet, this is exactly who the Lord chose for his ministry! The Lord considered him trustworthy and appointed him to his role as missionary. Note where Paul places the credit: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength.” As gifted as he was, Paul acknowledges that all he does, all he can do, any blessings that come from his work are the direct result of what Christ has done to and through him. In these words, we hear a sense of gratitude and humility that also lead to confidence. “He [Christ] considered me worthy, appointing me to his service.” Christ also considers you worthy because of what he has done for you. He has redeemed you and appointed you to serve him in all you do whether in a classroom of little ones or in your daily life outside of school.

We have a tremendous responsibility—helping children to grow academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. We know ourselves and, if honest, we know our shortcomings all too well. On the outside we may give the impression that “we’ve got this!” while internally we may lack confidence. In humility we recognize our gifts, our areas of weakness, and our sinful nature. We can thank God for our gifts. We can look for forgiveness when we fail. We can ask the Lord to bless our efforts. And with each blessing that we see, we can confidently say, “It is the Lord!”

Annabelle’s confidence was boosted when her teacher noted her ability, giving her a responsibility. Our confidence comes from the Master Teacher, our Savior Jesus. Our confidence lies in the one who sends us, Jesus. He chose us and gave us gifts to serve him. He’s promised to be with us and bless our efforts in spite of our weaknesses. Like Paul, we can look to him for strength and give glory to the One who has chosen us.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, it is so easy to become discouraged in our work. Help us to remember that you are our strength. Bless all that we do, giving glory to you. In your name. Amen

A Question to Consider: No one can do everything, but we all have gifts. What are some things that you feel confident in doing? What are some things that you might say, “That’s not my gift”? Some of the latter are still things that need to be done, aren’t they? What can you do when asked or expected to do something that you don’t feel you have the gifts for? Can you find ways to grow in that area? Can you find someone to partner with who might have those gifts?



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

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It’s Really Not About You – Week of August 26, 2019

It’s Really Not About You – Week of August 26, 2019


Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10



“It’s really not about you.” Ouch. That is neither heartwarming nor motivating if taken at face value. We are sinners in a sin-filled world who intentionally and unintentionally crave our own needs first. Think of the young children you serve. You can likely identify behaviors in them that no one taught them but that demonstrate their sometimes desperate efforts to have their own needs met without consideration of those around them. While this may be a developmental stage for them, we are so often guilty of the same.

Devoted. Dictionary.com defines this as “zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection.” If you are devoted to someone, you have an exceptional focus on them. A devoted friend will be there in any circumstance no matter what kind of inconvenience it may be for them. A devoted spouse puts the needs of their wife or husband ahead of theirs, even if it means giving up something for themselves. The ultimate devotion was that of Jesus to us. Oh my! When we think of what he set aside so that we can be children of God, forgiven sinners, heirs of heaven, it’s overwhelming. We can be filled with gratitude that can’t help but spill out to those around us. However…

We know ourselves and we know those around us. There’s the ever-kind, ever-willing colleague that is easy to love and easy to be the recipient of our devotion. But we are sinners serving with sinners. Not everyone is as easy to love, easy to be devoted to. Some try our patience and seem to hinder rather than help our efforts. My heart to serve them, encourage them, put their needs above mine, can be tested and challenged. I can share a long list of reasons to put my efforts elsewhere. Then, I think of myself and how I must look to my Savior. I think of my failures and shortcomings. I think of how much Jesus set aside to put me first. How can I, with that grace given so freely, not do the same for others? When I look at those around me through the eyes of Jesus, I see someone redeemed at the same great cost that was paid for me. The Holy Spirit fills my heart with devotion toward Jesus and those around me. Imagine the impact of a caring, loving devotion to people around us and on the ministry in which we serve. May the Lord give us hearts of love, patience, encouragement, and devotion to one another. God will take care of our needs. We are blessed with the joy of serving others in his name. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I think of the devotion you have for me and all people, I’m humbled and filled with gratitude that is difficult to put into words. Forgive me for times when I’m not loving or patient with those around me. Forgive me when I’m quick to put my needs ahead of others. Bless and motivate me with the joy of knowing you are my Savior and I am your child. In your name I pray to you. Amen



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

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Dear… – Week of August 19, 2019

Dear… – Week of August 19, 2019


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

2 Corinthians 3:3



In the past couple of weeks, we’ve considered who we are in Christ— redeemed children and heirs. This is our motivation. Because of what God has done for us, we want to serve and to share Jesus with others. Last week we looked at setting our goals, prioritizing our time in the Word. This doesn’t diminish our time for the multitude of tasks but brings purpose and joy to all we do in Christ. This week let’s think about those we serve, the young children and their families, and the potential impact we can have in our time with them.

A letter of recommendation is often requested when you apply for a job or apply to school. Such a letter provides another piece of information for those considering the application. It is meant to reflect the person about whom the letter is written. In our reading today, Paul is writing to the Corinthians. It was a common practice in that time to carry a letter of recommendation. The letter could provide those receiving it, a connection to someone who they knew and could speak on their behalf.

“You are a letter from Christ.” I don’t know about you, but that stirs up mixed emotions. What an honor to think that I can reflect his love to others. What a privilege to be considered one of his representatives. But it’s also sobering. I know myself and my long list of shortcomings. I shudder to think that some of my actions might be the one thing that someone sees, knowing I’m a Christian. How often do I misrepresent his love and forgiveness for me in how I treat others? Each day, we can go to God in prayer asking for forgiveness for our shortcomings. We can pray for his blessings on all that we do and our efforts to share and reflect his love. We are able to begin each day with confidence, knowing that it is only the Spirit of the living God who brings those blessings to and through us.

A new school year is beginning. With it comes new students. Some have heard about their Savior Jesus since they were born. For some, they hear about Jesus occasionally. There may be some who have no knowledge of Jesus’ love and gift of salvation for them. What an amazing privilege you have! You are a walking letter, sharing God’s message of grace in a sin burdened world in your words, and often in ways unspoken. May the Holy Spirit bless and guide you. May the Lord strengthen you and those you serve as you continue to grow closer to him in faith each day.



Prayer: Dear Lord, I come to you today asking you to bless, guide, and guard my words each day. Through the Holy Spirit’s work, may I be a letter reflecting you to my students and their families. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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Check It Off – Week of August 12, 2019

Check It Off – Week of August 12, 2019


But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to [Jesus] and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:40-41



I absolutely love the buzz of August in a classroom! The room oozes with anticipation. The checklist of things to do goes on and on: supplies to purchase and organize, lessons to prepare, meetings to attend, home visits to make, setting up the classroom, etc.! No matter how many years are behind me, checking those things off the list one by one is delightful as I anticipate that first day with the room full of my new classroom family for the year.

How are you doing with all the things on your list? There can be an energy that comes from a full list of things to do. However, a full list can also heighten that constant battle within us to seek balance in our lives. Even if you absolutely love what you do and the role in which you serve, you have other responsibilities, other roles. It’s a lot and at times it can be tough. How can you and I manage all of this? How can we serve faithfully in all our roles? Even more, how can we avoid neglecting the most important task, being faithful in the Word each and every day?

Martha was busy and the tasks she attended to were not sinful. Her attention to providing for Jesus and his disciples was likely no small task. But Jesus, her friend and ours, gently brings Martha and us back to the heart of all we do—the one thing that is needed, Jesus. You may be feeling guilt for neglecting time with Jesus. You may be craving quiet time at Jesus’ feet just as Mary did. But the tasks are sitting right in front of us. Listen to Jesus’ words of encouragement to stop, listen to his Word, be refreshed and renewed. Seek his forgiveness for times where you’ve avoided regular nurture from his Word. The tasks will still be there, and you still get to do them. But when devotion to the Word is our first priority, the Holy Spirit equips us and fortifies us for life’s challenges. This also causes an increase in love for our Savior and for one another. And as we go about all those tasks each day, we are filled with the joy and peace that come from knowing that Jesus loves us and those we serve, Jesus’ grace is ours, and that it is Jesus who has gifted us with the privilege of sharing his grace with all those around us.

As the new school year approaches, keep checking things off that list with the exception of one item, the first item—time in the Word with your Savior. He’s always there and so eager to spend time with you.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I am so excited and humbled to serve the children and families in our school. As I begin another year, bless all that I do to share you. I need time sitting at your feet just like Mary did. Especially bless my efforts to spend time with you in the Word. In your name I pray. Amen

A Question to Consider: This is a great time to renew our commitment to being in the Word. What are ways that you can establish a routine to be in the Word each day? Is this the year to start a prayer journal? Is there an online devotion or podcast that you can listen to? Is there a colleague that you can partner with? Find what works for you and pray for God’s blessings on your time with him.



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

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An Heir? Me? – Week of August 5, 2019

An Heir? Me? – Week of August 5, 2019


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

Galatians 4:4-7



Did you see the pictures last month of Prince George for his sixth birthday? In his latest birthday pictures, he looks like an adorable, normal little boy full of giggles and missing a couple of his baby teeth. As the son of Prince William, he is third in line to be king of England. What qualifications does he have to be on the short list of successors to Queen Elizabeth? He was born. It’s that simple. He did nothing on his own. He was simply the child of an heir to the throne.

Did you know that you are also an heir? Sorry—no castle in the countryside is waiting for you. You will not find significant wealth or people who serve your every need. However, you are an heir, a child of God. What qualifications do you have? You have even less than Prince George. You are not an heir because of you were born to your mom and dad. In fact, the Bible says that you and I were born in sin. You are not an heir because of any qualifications or training you have. You’d need to be perfect to meet those qualifications. So, if it’s not from our parents, not our flawless character, and not because we have amazing skills and training, what is it?

It’s Jesus, simply Jesus. Does being the Son of God qualify him? It certainly does. Does leading a perfect life while here on earth qualify him? Yes, indeed. But, how does that get passed on to us? How do we become heirs? Jesus led a perfect life for us. He experienced excruciating humiliation on the cross, taking our punishment, our consequences for us. He defeated Satan for us. He rose and then ascended back to heaven for us. To receive that inheritance, we need to have faith in Jesus, but we didn’t even do that on our own. The Holy Spirit gifted us with faith to believe. And because of that, we can call God our Father. We can go to him, lean on him, depend on him, trust in him because we are called his child through Jesus.

It might be interesting for some to watch and see if little Prince George becomes King George someday. But you and I don’t need to wait and wonder about our future. We know what we have inherited as heirs of God, as his children. We have peace in his forgiveness and his promise of a heavenly home with him. We can call him, Abba Father.



Prayer: Dear Father, it’s hard to comprehend that we can call you that. Thank you for the indescribable gift of being able to be called your child. In your name we pray. Amen.



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

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Proclaim with Eloquence? Me? – Week of July 29, 2019

Proclaim with Eloquence? Me? – Week of July 29, 2019


I [Paul] did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

I Corinthians 2:1-5



Truth time! Raise your hand if you love to speak in public. Even if we could all be in the same room together and see each other, my guess is that we would see very few, if any, hands raised. Speaking to a group for some is just shy of a nightmare. For most, it’s uncomfortable, really uncomfortable.

Now, think about Paul—one of the most well-known and respected missionaries of his time and maybe of all time. And yet he admits that that speaking with eloquence or superior wisdom were not the tools he brought. He describes coming to them in weakness and fear, even trembling. The Corinthians were a group of people who placed high value on eloquent orators who demonstrated wisdom and the skills of debate. Paul was a highly educated man. As you read his writings, you easily see that he was gifted with words. But in this case he came to the Corinthians in a simple way. He was not out to impress them with his skill, but rather he let the Word speak for itself. It was important to him that they heard the message and understood from whom the message came. He wanted God’s power to be clear and Paul the man to only be a messenger.

You and I have opportunities to share the gospel with individuals and sometimes groups of teachers, parents, and others. However, our sinful human nature can derail or limit our efforts. We can be hesitant out of fear that we won’t speak well. We may be concerned that we don’t have all the answers. We can also be guilty of trying to impress with our skills and knowledge rather than focus on the simple message of sin and grace. Whatever our roadblock, we look to Paul’s example. He knew his audience, the people with whom he was sharing the message. Because he knew them, he was able to consider the way of communicating that minimized the obstacles of their hearing the message. He wanted the focus to be solely on God and his message of salvation for them.

We all have excuses. Perhaps we’ve all been guilty of overconfidence. For those times, seek the Lord’s forgiveness. God’s message in the Word is powerful on its own. Our role is to share that message in a way that focuses on God’s redeeming grace and mercy to all. May the Lord bless you as you share that grace-filled message of forgiveness given, salvation won, a home in heaven prepared for all through faith in Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Father, give me humility to realize the enormity of your message of salvation. Give me confidence knowing that it is your message and that you will bless it. Give me a heart that reflects your gift of grace in all that I do. In your name I pray. Amen.



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

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Proclaim to Nineveh – Week of July 22, 2019

Proclaim to Nineveh – Week of July 22, 2019


Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah 3:1-2



“Not it!” We were riding with a friend in a cab in Chicago when he shouted out, “Not it! You pay the fare.” When we arrived at our destination, I watched in stunned silence as he jumped out and waited while I covered the cost of the trip.

Do you ever have tasks for which you wish you could say, “Not it!”? Jonah sure did, and he made it clear the first time the Lord asked him. Jonah set out in a different direction with results that you likely know well. But the Lord didn’t give up on Jonah. He had a purpose and a message for Jonah to deliver to the Ninevites. He came to Jonah a second time.

The Lord has a similar request for you and me. He’s not asking you to go to a city like Nineveh that had a less than stellar reputation. He doesn’t even ask you to go anywhere. But he has a message that he wants you and me to share. And the message is not our message, but his. This summer you may have a program where you see little ones every day. Or you may be in the thick of prepping for this fall. Either way, the Lord’s message is at the heart of all we do.

According to dictionary.com, the word “proclaim” means to announce or declare. The announcement has been given to you already in the Word—the message of Jesus’ love and the gift of salvation. You only need to announce it, declare it. How will you do that? You declare it in the Bible stories you carefully prepare and share, in the devotions you lead, in the conversations you have with the children, their families, your colleagues.

Jonah may have hesitated that first time for a number of reasons. Our sinful weakness can easily talk us out of opportunities to speak up and speak out about the gospel. Don’t ever lose sight of who has sent you. Jesus has sent you and sends along both a message and a promise. The promise is to be with you and as he said in Isaiah 55:11: “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” The Holy Spirit will bring about the blessings. That’s not up to you. So, relax (The results are not up to you), get excited (What a privilege to be able to share the gospel!), and go and proclaim the Lord’s message of salvation! You’re it!



Prayer: Dear Father, fill me with excitement to “be it!”, to be one of those who gets to share your message. Give me confidence in you, your message, and your promises. Forgive me when I’m timid and build me up so that I am prepared to proclaim. Bless all of this to your glory. In your name I pray. Amen.



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

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The Skies Proclaim – Week of July 15, 2019

The Skies Proclaim – Week of July 15, 2019


The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19:1



One of my favorite things to do any time of year is to stand outside on a dark night and look up. My favorite place is our family home that is outside the noise and lights of the city. On a clear night, it’s difficult to put into words the beauty of the sky full of shimmering stars or the light of a full moon shining on the surface of a body of water. The quiet and beauty are breathtaking. It is in these quiet moments that we stand in awe of the God who not only made lights in the sky for warmth and to help us see but made them exquisitely beautiful as well.

In nature we hear a silent testimony of the glory of God. The sun and moon move predictably marking each day and night. We stand at the edge of the ocean and marvel at its power in mighty waves and the peace a calm sea provides. In nature, we see the work of God our Creator. But nature doesn’t tell the whole story. It is only in his word, the Bible, where we see the magnificent story of God’s plan of salvation.

It’s easy to take the incredible miracle of creation for granted. But even more, it’s easy to take for granted the grace and mercy that are ours through what Christ has done for us. Born in a non-descript stable. Lived a life of perfection without sin. Died a criminal’s death. Rose from the dead in the early morning hours. Ascended to prepare a place. All for you. All for me. For all of us—undeserving as we are and yet the recipients of forgiveness, grace, and mercy.

As you look at the night sky or marvel at the miracle of nature, may they remind you to think beyond God’s creative glory to his redeeming love. Then the peace of a quiet sky can remind you of the peace we have in Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to see your glory in the world you have created for us. We thank you especially for your gift of undeserved grace and mercy that gives us peace with you. Help us to reflect that peace in all we do. In your name we pray. Amen


Reprinted



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

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To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 8, 2019

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 8, 2019


O Lord of nations, hear our prayer.
We thank you for this land most fair,
Created by your might.
For mountain sunset, lake at dawn,
For woodland bloom and robin song,
For stars that lace the night,

Most grateful, gracious God, are we
That in this country we are free
To worship you above.
We gather here to speak your name,
Then leave this place to spread your fame
That all may know your love.

Christian Worship Supplement 785:1,3



It has been said that the Grand Canyon is one of the few places where reality surpasses the hype. A child on family vacation may yawn at some scenes – “I have seen this on TV” – but no picture of the Grand Canyon can do it justice. The gaping chasm echoes the glory of our creator God as does the smallest insect. But neither can tell of the love of God. In fact, nature is as much about wickedness as it is about beauty. The Rocky Mountains are magnificent, but its winter storms kill without mercy. The oceans are wondrous unless you are caught in an undertow. If we only have nature to tell us about God, then we must be honest, nature kills indiscriminately. Nature is a beautiful siren that lures us in but can turn on us in a moment.

So, God gives us more. He gives us his Son. He gives us his Word. And in his Son and in his Word, he is hidden. Like mere ink and paper, the gentle voice of a preschool teacher or the stumbling voice of a preacher cannot compare to the Sequoia trees of California. And the bloody scene of the cross is the opposite of the beauty of a field of wild flowers on the American Plains that seems to go on for miles. Yet this is how he comes to us. He hides. He hides to be close to you. He hides to be revealed. There beneath the blood and the dirt, beside the insults and the injustice, there on the cross is the glory of God. That he would love you and I that much. And that forgiving love gives us the peace and freedom to live a life of love and to enjoy his beautiful creation without fear.



Prayer: Dear Creator God, move us to see your glory in this beautiful creation of yours. Help us protect it, preserve it, and enjoy it. Yet push us to the cross where we see your true glory on display, the mercy of Christ. Amen.


Reprinted



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

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Proclaim the Christian’s Freedom – Week of July 1, 2019

Proclaim the Christian’s Freedom – Week of July 1, 2019


The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me. He has sent me…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Isaiah 61:1



When the smoke cleared on the morning of September 14, 1814, the battered American flag still stood. This sight of victory caused Frances Scott Key to write what eventually became our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner”. That anthem is now proudly sung across the entire United States, a reminder of our freedoms.

When the smoke cleared on that first Easter morning, the once battered and crucified Savior stood victorious over sin, death, and the devil. Because of that victory, you are now dedicating your lives to telling others about that message. Your life is a religious “national anthem” of sorts.

There are likely children and families in your care that don’t know what it’s like to be free in Christ. They still don’t know the message of the crucified and risen Savior. The message of the gospel is still hidden behind a veil of despair or pride for some of those we serve. The Sovereign LORD has called you to pull back that veil, so that they can see the victory is won. Some still strive and grasp about, blindly seeking the “meaning of life”. The LORD has sent you to provide for them THE meaning of life. Praise and thanks to God for giving you that opportunity.

That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? Thankfully, God our Savior does all the work for us. We simply carry out our duties faithfully, and the LORD of all creation does the rest. That glorious gospel message has the power to work faith. Take heart, even your meager, stumbling efforts don’t come back to the LORD empty. Trust the power of God’s Word!

On this Independence Day, take a moment to thank God for your freedoms. Thank him for the opportunity that he has given you to “proclaim freedom for the captives”. Especially thank him for the faith that he has already worked in your heart—the faith with which you reach out and receive the gift of sins forgiven and eternal life.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedom that we have through Christ. Help me to faithfully proclaim that freedom to those in my care. Amen


Reprinted from July 4, 2016



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

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Reflect – Week of June 24, 2019

Reflect – Week of June 24, 2019


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23



Reflecting on our year is not always easy. It can make us anxious as we remember interactions with parents or children that were difficult. It can make us sad as we think of the students who are moving on to a different classroom or school. It can make us joyful as we remember all the silly things that only young children will say. Reflecting can be hard because it is looking backwards. Whatever emotions it brings to the surface, they can be hard to manage because those things are in the past. They cannot be changed.

In our passage from Hebrews today, we are asked not to look back but to look forward. That word “hope” is a word used in anticipation. We are eagerly awaiting something that will happen in the future. And we are not hoping in the sense that we really want something to happen but are not sure that it will. We are hoping in the sense that we have complete trust in God that it will happen.

The hope we profess is that Jesus will come again and take us to our true home someday. Through Jesus’ blood on the cross he has won us a place in heaven, where we will spend eternity with him. Every promise that God made about heaven will come true, for he is faithful to his promises. There will be no more pain, crying, or death (Revelation 21:4); no hunger or thirst (Revelation 7:16-17); there will be nothing impure (Revelation 21:27); we will have our very own house built by God (John 14:2, 2 Corinthians 5:1); and best of all, we belong there with Jesus (Philippians 3:20.)

As we reflect on the past year and even look ahead to the next year, let’s not lose sight of what is still to come for us, an eternal home in heaven.



Prayer: Dear Father, you are faithful. Your promises are sure. Sometimes I only see myself and my pride or despair or both and they can overwhelm me. Please forgive me and help me to keep my focus on you and your love for me and all those around me. In your name I pray. Amen


Reprinted from June 27, 2016



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

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Review – Week of June 17, 2019

Review – Week of June 17, 2019


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

Isaiah 43:1b



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

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

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

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

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



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


Reprinted from June 20, 2016



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

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Renew – Week of June 10, 2019

Renew – Week of June 10, 2019


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

Romans 15:13



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


Reprinted from June 13, 2016



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

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Relax – Week of June 3, 2019

Relax – Week of June 3, 2019


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

Colossians 3:1,2



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

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

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

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

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



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

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


(Reprinted from June 6, 2016)



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

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Jesus, Our Strength – Week of May 27, 2019

Jesus, Our Strength – Week of May 27, 2019


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

Psalm 73:26



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

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

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



Prayer:

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



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

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Jesus, Our Peace – Week of May 20, 2019

Jesus, Our Peace – Week of May 20, 2019


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

John 14:27



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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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Jesus, Our Shepherd – Week of May 13, 2019

Jesus, Our Shepherd – Week of May 13, 2019


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

John 10:14



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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:
Jesus, shepherd of the sheep, who your Father’s flock does keep, safe we wake and safe we sleep, guarded still by you.
In your promise firm we stand; none can take us from your hand. Speak—we hear—at your command, we will follow you. Amen.
Christian Worship 436: 1-2

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



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

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Jesus, Our Savior – Week of May 6, 2019

Jesus, Our Savior – Week of May 6, 2019


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

John 3:16



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Jesus, Our Comfort – Week of April 29, 2019

Jesus, Our Comfort – Week of April 29, 2019


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

Psalm 16:9-11



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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