ECME Devotions

A Couple Whiles – Week of April 16, 2018

A Couple Whiles – Week of April 16, 2018


[Jesus said], “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
John 16:16, 22



Young children have a lack of understanding of time. When you explain that Mom or Dad are coming later or that they will get to do something later, they want to know what “later” means. When they know something special is happening like a birthday or a visit from someone, we may help them by connecting it with something they do know. You may tell them that it will happen in “four sleeps”. Our youngest son often asked if we could go “in a couple whiles” rather than “in a while”. I guess it sounded like it possibly gave him more time before he had to move on to the next thing.

Jesus’ dear disciples struggled with understanding as well. Jesus’ words from Luke were spoken before Gethsemane and Golgotha. He was letting them know that terrible things were about to happen that would leave them full of heartache. There is no greater heartache than losing someone we love. The disciples were about to experience that in the most gruesome manner. They were about to see their precious Savior and Friend crucified as an innocent man. It’s hard to imagine what it would have been like for them. Jesus knew that this was all necessary and a part of God’s loving plan for them and for us. But as loving as it was, it could be devastating for the disciples who had spent three years at his side.

But Jesus continues with his comfort. “And then after a little while you will see me.” He was telling them, reminding them that the grave could not hold him and that he would rise on the third day. But they didn’t understand. As they wondered among themselves, Jesus knew their struggle and reassured them. “Now is your time of grief.” Those words were for the disciples but they apply to us as well. Grief is all around us. We see the effects of sin in our world as we watch the news, as we hear of tragedies and pain for those we know and love, as we struggle with our own challenges and in particular, our own sin. Grief is all around us. We feel the effect of our own sin each and every day.

And his comfort comes again. While we have grief now, he promises we will see him again. Not just like the disciples saw him for those days between Easter and Ascension, but when we see him again, it’s for eternity, forever! We will see him with our own eyes, for all eternity, in our home in heaven. And that comfort of heaven and God’s amazing grace give us indescribable joy, especially in times of grief. While God does not remove all heartache from our lives here on earth, he also promises that no one will take our joy away. It’s his incredible gift to us today, tomorrow, and each day.

So, as you experience the challenges and grief of your time here on earth, know that “in a couple whiles”, or as Jesus said, “in a little while” we will see him. And when we see him there will be no more pain, no more grief, just joy for an eternity of “whiles”. And that joy doesn’t need to wait until we are with him in heaven. We have that joy today and everyday knowing that his forgiveness and promises are ours today and no one can take that away from us.



Prayer: Dear Lord, the grief and pain of this world can be overwhelming. There are times when despair is hard to fight. Thank you for your reassurance that you are and will always be with us. The thought of being in heaven with you is also overwhelming. Help me to reflect joy in knowing that in all I do. In your precious name. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Sometimes we may wonder what it would be like to be able to know things that will happen to us. What a blessing that we don’t know. But we do know the most important part of our future, heaven. Think of a struggle you are facing. How does knowing that heaven is yours, help as you go through that struggle?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Was, Is, and Will Be? – Week of April 9, 2018

Was, Is, and Will Be? – Week of April 9, 2018


“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 1:8



We are people of order (for the most part). Most of our lives revolve around events and activities that have a beginning, a middle, and an end. A great story is developed in that pattern. A project that we prepare for our students typically has a series of steps that have a beginning and an end. Our days begin when we wake up and end when we go to bed. Our lives on earth begin at birth and end in death. It is a predictable and expected cycle in most every part of our lives. We know it, we understand it, and in some cases, the predictability of this cycle gives us a sense of security.

And then we read today’s verse from the book of Revelation. God is speaking to us through his Word and describing one of his attributes that is hard for our earthly minds to comprehend. “Who is, who was, and who is to come.” What does that mean? How can anyone or anything exist now, exist in the past, and exist in the future?

I remember when we learned about lines in math class. Do you remember the illustration of the line with an arrow at each end? While on paper the line was a definite length, the arrows indicated that in the math world, this line went on forever in each direction. The line was infinite. I remember being amazed by this thought. That, my friends, is a simple illustration of our God. The statement in Revelation includes the terms Alpha and Omega. Those are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They illustrate that God is the beginning and the end. He created everything and holds it all in his power for eternity. He has always been and always will be. When we try to take that in, it’s not possible for our human minds to comprehend it fully. We might even be tempted to think God is less than he really is.

However, even though we cannot understand it, it’s meaning for our lives as his children is immeasurable. We live in a world that is constantly changing. We live in a world that has little to nothing to hold on to. But, we have a God who always was, is today, and always will be. He never changes. His love for us never changes. We can count on this like nothing else in this world. When the events of this world and of this life come at us, they can shake our confidence. But we can have absolute confidence in our God who is, who was, and who will always be our God, our Redeemer, our Savior, our Hope, our Peace.

So, as you begin and end each day, as you witness the cycles of life, as you live in this ever-changing world, remember that your God is constant. God’s love and forgiveness for you are sure. No beginning, no end, for all eternity.



Prayer: Dear Lord, there are so many things about you that are beyond what I can understand. But I am so grateful that you are and always will be unchanging in your love, your forgiveness, and your faithfulness in the promise of heaven for me. Motivate me to share this amazing truth with the children and families I serve. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: The comfort and confidence that we have in an unchanging God in an ever-changing world is amazing. This week, be open to opportunities to remind people of this blessing.



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



I Know – Week of April 2, 2018

I Know – Week of April 2, 2018


I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27



One of the wonderful things about young children is their amazing imagination. We know of the benefits of imaginative play. Young children have the ability to create an elaborate story line from a simple thought, to picture a captivating “reality” in their creative play. We encourage their imagination and can be amazed by it.

Imagination in adults? In our busy days of checking off task after task, we seldom have time to just sit and imagine. If you could, what would your imagination create? Would it include a quiet setting at the edge of a peaceful lake? Would it include visiting a favorite bustling city? Would your imagination create the perfect day with those you love all together? Would your imagination wonder about a world with more of something or less of something else? Imagination can be restful and calming and even inspiring.

Maybe one of the things you imagine is what life will be like in heaven. Do you wonder? Do you ever doubt? Our verses today may be very familiar to you. These words from the book of Job were spoken by Job when he was in the midst of pain and heartache that is difficult to comprehend. His body was wracked with pain and his friends had mocked and disserted him. Most of his family had died and he lost almost every earthly possession. And then he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives… I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” What? Where does that kind of confidence come from? In the midst of a story that is so well known that his name is associated with the trials of life, we hear this incredible expression of faith. “I know!” I am not imagining it. I’m not wondering. I know that he lives. And I also know that because he lives, I’m going to see him with my own eyes. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine standing in front of Jesus, him looking you in the eye with arms open wide, saying to you, “Welcome home.”?

This is what Easter is all about. It’s about Jesus and what he has done for us so that we don’t need to imagine what life will be like in heaven. While we may not know the particulars, we know that we will see him, be with him, for all eternity. “How my heart yearns within me!” I can only picture it now but I know it’s true. And, you and I get to share that amazing truth with the little ones in our care and their families. Thank you, Jesus!



Prayer: My dear Redeemer, I thank you for your perfect life, your death that was undeserved on my behalf, and your resurrection on Easter morning. Because of you, I know that my sins are forgiven and that heaven is my home. You are risen, risen indeed! Alleluia!

A Question to Consider: For some, the hymn “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” is very familiar and for some it may be new. Whatever the case is for you, take a few minutes, open your Christian Worship hymnal and read through each stanza of hymn 152. Ponder all the many ways the hymnwriter reminds us that Jesus lives for us.



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



Humble – Week of March 26, 2018

Humble – Week of March 26, 2018


Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death.
Philippians 2:6-8



Sometimes when we go through our daily routines while working with little ones, we may feel insignificant. Our days often start early and can go late; they are filled with task after task caring for the needs of those in our care. We can feel overwhelmed and maybe even feel a little “brain numb” after talking to toddlers all day. It may, at times, seem like the importance of the care and nurture we provide is misunderstood.

No matter our role in life, Jesus’ life of humble service reminds us that he made himself nothing, “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” This is Holy Week which starts with Palm Sunday. On that day, Jesus rode into Jerusalem knowing his ultimate act of humility and love was only days away. Yet, Jesus didn’t stop there! “He humbled himself and became obedient to death.” That humility was the most important act of all time. That humility and death won for us the treasure of heaven!

Being humble is difficult. It requires that our natural, sinful inclination of pride be pushed down and ignored. Instead we remember how Jesus humbled himself – brought himself as the creator of the whole universe to be contained in a human body and let his creation, man, put him to death. While we can’t come even close to exemplifying the humility that Jesus showed, we certainly can remember that our humble attitude shows through in our daily lives. While we work with the precious souls that God has entrusted to our care, we know that it is an extremely impactful role because it is ever so important to their Savior and ours. So, as we go about those daily routines, we can fill our day with joy in serving the little ones, joy in partnering with their parents, joy in the privilege of saying “Hosanna” as the people of Jerusalem did when Jesus humbly rode past on that first Palm Sunday.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself to come to earth and die for me. Help me remember that while I work with the little ones in my care, I can model humility and reflect your love with my students, their families, and coworkers. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we encourage each other when we are feeling unappreciated or unimportant? How can we model humility to our students?



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



Hold My Hand – Week of March 19, 2018

Hold My Hand – Week of March 19, 2018


Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:23-26



When my son was in his toddler years, he would routinely ask to hold my hand whenever we got out of the car in a parking lot. He would say, “Mommy, hold my hand, please” as he held his chubby little hand up for me to hold. I was more than happy to oblige. It was so wonderful to feel his hand hold onto mine. I was able to guide him along the sidewalk keeping him safe from dangers. I was content knowing he was right by my side.

That is what our heavenly Father does for us – he holds our hand through this world of trials. His hand guides us away from the uneven ground, just as I guided my toddler away from the rocks, the holes in the pavement in the parking lot, and the dangers of the streets. Our heavenly Father’s hand guides us to heaven, just as our hands guide our children on a path towards learning about their Savior. Just as my son took delight in holding my hand, so do we desire to walk with our Father’s guidance and strength.

It is comforting every morning to wake up and know that our Heavenly Father will be holding our hand all day. He is there with us when we prepare for the day, when we spend time in his Word, when we read our students Bible stories, when we present our lessons, and yes, even when we are wiping away tears for a little one. He is holding our hand even during those difficult times – when we are frustrated with student behaviors, when a family member is struggling with an illness, when we feel lonely, when we just need a hand to hold. He is there with the wonderful request, “My child, hold my hand, please.” And we are more than happy to oblige.



Prayer: Dear Lord, stay right beside me today and hold my hand. Remind me that with you by my side, I have the opportunity to share your love and comfort with everyone I meet. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How do you encourage and guide your students to heaven? How do you share the comfort of God’s hand with others?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



The Depth of God’s Love – Week of March 12, 2018

The Depth of God’s Love – Week of March 12, 2018


For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19



I remember when we received the diagnosis for my daughter. She still had a limp when she walked at eighteen months. Our pediatrician sent us to an orthopedic surgeon. When we walked in the office and sat down with the doctor, who had been closely observing our daughter for about two minutes, we were surprised that he already had an answer for us. He simply stated: Your daughter has spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy. This diagnosis was followed by an MRI and another diagnosis of what was causing the cerebral palsy: Your daughter is missing a large section of her brain. WHAT?!

When I left the Children’s Hospital in Phoenix with the news, I felt a bit numb. I did not know what we should do now. I remember holding it together until later that evening when the kids were tucked into bed. Then I cried. What was her future? What would be involved in her care? Why, Lord? When my husband walked in the room he saw my tears and just took me in his arms and held me.

That is what this passage is like, a big hug holding us together. It is a prayer for us to remember how wide and deep and absolutely sufficient our Lord is to hold us together through any situation. His love wraps around us like a hug that holds us up while we feel like collapsing underneath. This reminder is better than a hug. It is the absolute truth that our God is bigger than any situation we face. He has it under control!



Prayer: Dear Lord, remind me of the depth of your eternal love, a love that is greater than my simple understanding. Hold me up today as I share your love with the little ones in my care. Amen

A Question to Consider: When have you been comforted by someone’s words or actions towards you? How can you comfort others by reminding them of the sufficiency of God’s grace?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Stand Firm – Week of March 5, 2018

Stand Firm – Week of March 5, 2018


So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13



Have you had one of those days? Those days when life just seems to be going along smoothly – your kids are all happy and doing well in school, you and your spouse do not have anything too stressful going on at work, the days seem to come and go with the same routine. For me, it is often those times when our family’s schedule is filled to the brim, not allowing any time for meditation on God’s Word. Then suddenly you realize you have not gone even once to your Father in prayer throughout the day. That is what happens. We think we are standing firm, but then we suddenly fall. Our fall can simply be placing something in our life ahead of our loving Father, like our busy, routine schedule.

Or maybe it is the opposite. Our life is so full of crisis after crisis – your child is sick, your husband’s work is slow and he may be laid off, your student had a death in the family, the doctor appointment requires further testing. The list goes on and we are so busy getting through crisis after crisis that we suddenly realize that we have not spent time with our Father. Our temptation is to tell ourselves that we can make it on our own. We have to keep going because our family is depending on us. Our students rely on us to have our lessons ready and be full of energy.

Let’s face it, there are definitely days we are tempted to let the busyness or chaos of life be our focus. That is an easy temptation, but Scripture assures us that God is faithful. He will not let us fall away from him. He will be right there to bring us back to his side. He is faithful.



Prayer: Dear Lord, when I am tempted to let things become more important than you, bring me back to your side. Thank you for being faithful and not letting me fall. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What is a temptation you face? What can you actively do to stand firm?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



True Love – Week of February 26, 2018

True Love – Week of February 26, 2018


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8



During February, we often speak of or teach on love. Our lesson plans are filled with hearts and flowers. We share love notes and valentines. We have little parties or special activities. We know what an important message this is. We have the greatest of privileges to be able to share the message of “True Love”, God’s love, with the next generation.

God chose to save us from our ugliness while we were in our ugliness. He looked at us and saw how we fell short. Yet he chose to save us just the same! He did not pick an easy project or a quick fix. He did not treat us as a fixer-upper. He had the perfect solution! We know we fall short and we know we don’t deserve his love. Yet God sent his only Son to take care of that problem for us! He showed love for us beyond all understanding.

As believers, our hope is not optimism that everything will be alright. It is the assurance and confidence that God has already worked everything out for our good. He has taken care of our biggest problem, our sin. It is by his grace, his undeserved love for us that we can boldly and confidently say or sing, “We love because he first loved us!” (1 John 4:19) That is true love!



Prayer: 
Dear Lord, thank you for the sincere privilege of sharing the good news of salvation with the next generation. Give me opportunities to share your love with others. Bless my efforts and increase my zeal as you use me as your tool to spread your love and be your feet on the ground here on earth. In your name, I pray. Amen

A Question to Consider: How can you, motivated by God’s grace, show love to your students, their families, and coworkers through your words and actions? Are there new ways you could implement to encourage the people around you and thus share this message of “true love”?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



I Am With You – Week of February 19, 2018

I Am With You – Week of February 19, 2018


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



The children were lined up waiting to get a drink out of the water fountain. We all know that waiting is hard, even for adults. One child was getting a little fidgety. The teacher, using positive redirection says, “Please be careful. It scares me when you do that.” That is when a child from the back of the line reminded that teacher of one of God’s great promises. He said, “Why are you scared? You taught us that God says, ‘Do not fear for I am with you.’ We don’t have to be afraid, he is with us!” The teacher took a breath and smiled. She looked that child in the eye and said, “You are right!” That was all that needed to be said. While God does not promise that we will never endure earthly pain, he does promise that we never need to fear separation from him.

With all the things that a teacher is responsible for each day, it is easy to get wrapped up in the how’s and why’s and when’s. We often lose sight of that promise that God gives us-“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.” He promises to be with us through them all. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath, say a prayer, and remember that he is walking with us as we lay a foundation that we pray will stay with the children into eternity.

Whether it is a mundane task such as cleaning your classroom or a more complex task like enrollment planning for next year, he promises to be with you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. What a great comfort that is as we approach each task! May all we do reflect his love and promises for us.



Prayer: 
I am trusting you to guide me;
You alone shall lead,
Every day and hour supplying
All my need. Amen
Christian Worship 446:4

A Question to Consider: What “teachable moments” throughout the day can you incorporate little scriptural treasures into so the children can apply them to their daily lives?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Somber, Yet Joyous! – Week of February 12, 2018

Somber, Yet Joyous! – Week of February 12, 2018


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 5:21



Sometimes children feel the weight of their sin immediately. Sometimes children do not even need correction or redirection from the teacher. They will spill their guts and repent before the teacher can even get across the classroom to assist. It is a blessing that we can also teach forgiveness to the children, using the example of what Jesus has done for all of us.

As we look this week at Ash Wednesday and Jesus’ journey to the cross, we often think of a solemn and somber scene. The weight of our sin was laid on Jesus. He suffered for us. He was punished for our sins so that we would not need to be punished. He suffered that we might have life eternally with him. Yes, that can be very heavy, but it also stirs up joy in us.

He took our dirty clothes, spotted with our sin. He wrapped us in his robe of righteousness. What a gift! What joy! A wonderful message of joy that we have the privilege to share with the children! What a great message to share with those little lambs which he has entrusted to us! As we prepare our hearts and minds, as we study the path Jesus takes to the cross for us, we can also remember that the promises of Easter morning are right around the corner! Jesus did that for us! He took on our all our sins that “we might become the righteousness of God.”

We feel joy through that forgiveness, a weight lifted from us! Remember that child who feels the weight of their sin? You also can witness the power of forgiveness as one child offers an, “I forgive you” to their friend. Let us find joy and confidence in the righteousness that was won for us by Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Lord, give me joy and confidence as I teach your little lambs. Help me use my daily interactions with both the children and their families to share your message of love and forgiveness. In your name I pray, Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can I help my children better understand the gift of forgiveness? Are there strategies I can implement in my classroom or school?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Listen to Him – Week of February 5, 2018

Listen to Him! – Week of February 5, 2018


While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Matthew 17:5



After a weekend, your students arrive excited to see you. They can hardly contain themselves. They cannot wait to share every detail with you from your time apart. You are their teacher. You are a very important part of their little world. We have our students for only a short time. Sometimes they enroll for a few years. Sometimes it is for one school year. Sometimes it is even shorter. We want to teach them everything they need to know in whatever time we have with them. We want them to be prepared for what lies ahead of them.

The disciples had Jesus right there with them. They had the very Son of God beside them to learn from, talk to, and use as a resource. He was their teacher and their friend. They would only have him for a short time. Soon Jesus would suffer and die for the sins of the world. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain with him, he had a purpose. He revealed his glory as the Son of God. He knew the difficult times that lay ahead for the disciples. This experience was to encourage them. It would build them up and strengthen them for what was coming.

God says, “Listen to him!” He also wants us to listen to him. He uses his Word to encourage us, to build us up when we are weak and to help us through those difficult times. God tells us that serving him will not always be easy. We will encounter difficulties and stumbling blocks. But he also promises to be there for us and walk with us through those difficult times. He uses his Word to keep us close to him and to encourage us as we go about the work he has set out for us to do. He tells us to “Listen to him!”



Prayer

Let each day begin with prayer,
Praise, and adoration.
On the Lord cast every care;
He is your salvation.
Morning, evening, and at night
Jesus will be near you,
Save you from the tempter’s might,
With his presence cheer you.
Christian Worship 478:2



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Trust – Week of January 29, 2018

Trust – Week of January 29, 2018


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6



I am known to be passionate about children’s literature. One of my favorite books is “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. And one of my favorite scenes in the book is when Wilbur is confident that he can spin a web, just like Charlotte. This endearing little pig ties a small rope to his tail, climbs atop the manure pile, and leaps confidently into the air. You know the next part, right? He lands with a dejected thud, confused and bruised-including his sweet ego. He was so sure. But he was missing some very important details.

You know what you’re about to read, don’t you? We are so often like Wilbur in our daily walk. Our days are filled with task after task, decision after decision. Some are practical and easily solvable. But some leave us, like Wilbur, dejected and confused. Our human nature gnaws at us, encouraging us to try harder to figure it out. We work and we work. We worry and we worry. We think and we think. Often this carries us past the end of our day and into the night. We toss and turn, now wrestling with a problem that is even more difficult and less clear with the cloudiness of fatigue.

And yet, we know what to do. We may not know the answer, but we know where to turn. Why is it that we so often are hesitant or even forget? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart.” What does that mean? How can I trust him with all my heart? Trusting him is living with the confidence that the LORD is our God. We lean on him because we know who he is, what he has done, and how dearly he loves us. We acknowledge him as we listen to him, we read his Word, and we trust his will for our lives. “He will make your paths straight.” Does that mean that he will make my life easy and get rid of any and all challenges? It does not. Didn’t we just say how much he loves us? Indeed, we did. But the most significant obstacles we face, are those that turn us away from God. They threaten our relationship with God. But he reaches out to draw us back, to draw us closer to him. The obstacles and challenges in our lives are often the very things that remind us how desperately we need God and how very dearly he loves us.

Your problems and challenges are likely a bit more significant than Wilbur trying to spin a web. Each one, no matter how seemingly insignificant or overwhelming, can be taken to the Lord. We can always turn to him knowing he loves to hear from us. He is eager to help and wants us always close to him. So, when you’re wrestling with a solution, or dejected when your plans didn’t work out, turn to the Lord. Trust him. Pray for his will and guidance in your life, confident that no matter the path, the Lord is there with you, holding you close in his love. And each day, what a blessing it is that you can share that same encouragement with the children you serve and their families. What a blessed reminder to them and to you.



Prayer

Dear Father, I can so often be self-reliant and neglect to go to your Word and go to you in prayer. Forgive me. Help me to trust you who never fails and to always look to you for guidance and your will for me. In your name I pray, Amen.

A Thought to Consider

Make a list of challenges or decisions that you have made lately that seemed difficult. Then note how they turned out and what blessings you see, regardless of the outcome. How can this list remind you that you can trust God in all things?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



New Every Morning – Week of January 22, 2018

New Every Morning – Week of January 22, 2018


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



Good morning! Such a simple greeting. It’s one of the many phrases we use in our everyday life that we often say without much thought. We say it to our family, our roommate, our students, their families, a clerk at the coffee shop. Have you ever wondered what we really mean to be saying? Are we saying, “I hope you have a good morning.”? Are we perhaps saying, “It’s a good morning!” Do we even think about it when we say it or when we hear it? It’s a lovely practice that often becomes mute merely by its repetitiveness.

How was your day yesterday? Did you have a good day as your greetings implied? Did you get everything done on your to do list? (If you did, I’d love the secret of that!) Were you kind and thoughtful to everyone you saw, even in your thoughts? Did you approach each task with joy and gratitude? Did you use every opportunity possible to share God’s message of love and grace to others? Did you, did you, did you…? You likely want those questions to stop. We want the questions to stop because the answer every day to just about all, if not all of those questions is no. We don’t get everything done. We aren’t always thoughtful and kind. We do not always reflect joy. These questions remind us of the impossibility of perfection that God expects and we can feel, consumed by this impossibility.

And then we read today’s verses. “Because of the LORD’s great love.” “His compassions never fail.” “They are new every morning.” As you wrap up a day and reflect back, you can feel disappointed or even, as the verse states, consumed by the tasks still undone, the mistakes of the day, the things you did or the things you didn’t do. But because of the incredible love of the LORD, we exhale. We ask for forgiveness for those sins that were part of our day. We thank God for blessings on things that went well. And then we read that God’s compassion never lets us down and is new every single morning. We can start each day with a fresh start, wrapped in his compassion. It’s ours every single day, regardless of yesterday. His mercy and compassion are ours each and every day, never because of us and anything we may have done. But they are ours because God loves you and he loves me that much. And he is always faithful. We will never wake up to a day without his grace and love. They are new each and every day.

And so, as we begin a day or at any time during the day, we can sincerely say “good morning” or “good afternoon”. As we share that greeting with others, it can remind us that no matter what happens, today is a good day, a new day of God’s grace and love for us. We can share that with the children, their families, our friends, and our families in the words we say and in how we approach each day. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to each of you in this new day of God’s grace and compassion!



Prayer

Dear Father, good morning. Today I begin another day of your grace. Help me to always remember your love for me, your compassion, and your faithfulness. Help me to reflect that in every task and conversation I have today. In your precious name, 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



I Am Sorry – Week of January 15, 2018

I Am Sorry – Week of January 15, 2018


Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10,12



“I am so sorry, Mommy!” I was about five or six at the time. We had built-in shelves on either side of our fireplace. I don’t remember what was on those shelves except one item. It was a green vase with flowers painted on it. I don’t remember how it fell, only that I was responsible. And I remember the immediate pit in my stomach. I knew that this was a special vase. Mom had gotten it from her mother. It was antique. No saving my allowance and running to get a new one. The deed was done and it was not repairable-not the vase at least. The disappointment on my mom’s face was heart-breaking. But I don’t remember a scolding or consequences (although there was likely some time in my room for a bit.) My mother’s love for me, even in her disappointment, outweighed how much she cherished that vase.

Each of us has a day or a time where guilt can overwhelm us. “I’m sorry” can feel so trite in some situations. We can toss and turn during the night with a conscience burdened and craving relief. “If only I would have” or “I wish I could” fill our thoughts and add to our feeling of despair. It’s a terrible feeling but one that has not just temporary but permanent relief. “I love you.” “I forgive you.” “You are my own dear child.” These words of Jesus wash over us and provide comfort and assurance even beyond that of a mother’s loving words.

Our verses today were written by a king in anguish. King David had committed adultery and commanded actions that led to the death of one of his faithful soldiers, the husband of the one with whom he had been unfaithful. His deep anguish over his sin also led him to the words we read today. “Create in me a clean heart”- please take this guilt that weighs so heavily on me. “Renew a steadfast spirit within me”- keep me close to you and faithful in all I do. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation”-let me live in and reflect the overwhelming joy I have as a forgiven and redeemed child of God. “Grant me a willing spirit”-help me to always desire you, O God, and your will for me.

A mother’s forgiveness is one of her greatest expressions of love for her child. Our Father’s forgiveness is his greatest expression of love for us. That love sent his only son, Jesus, to the cross in our place, to hell to declare victory over Satan, and to heaven to prepare a place for you and for me. May the Lord fill you with joy each day knowing you are forgiven, you are redeemed, you are so dearly loved by your heavenly Father.



Prayer

Dear Father, I am sorry. I’m sorry for my sins and I’m sorry that I allow the guilt of those sins to overwhelm me and keep me from you. I am now overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for me, so undeserved. Thank you for calling me your own dear child and for Jesus, my Savior. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

A Thought to Consider:
Those long nights can come to us unexpected. What are things you can do ahead of time to prepare for a sleepless night? Write them down and keep them in a place where you can refer to them easily.



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



I Hope, I Hope, I Hope – Week of January 8, 2018

I Hope, I Hope, I Hope – Week of January 8, 2018


We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22



There is often that one child (or sometimes more than one). As the end of the day gets near, they instinctively know that their mom or dad or someone they love will be there soon to pick them up. Even if they’ve had the best of days, they can’t wait. You see them make their way to the window, staring out at the hallway or parking lot, their little nose pressed to the glass. Waiting and hoping. “I hope mom is here soon.” “Do you think she’s on her way?” “I hope she remembers to pick me up.” “I hope we can stop for a snack on the way home!”

“I hope my engine light is not something serious.” “I hope my mother’s health will return soon.” We do a lot of hoping. Hoping for things, for help, for time, for team victories, for good weather. When we use the word hope in this way, it’s an anticipation of something we want but aren’t confident we will get. There is a positive anticipation that it may happen. But it includes the reality that it may not.

How different is the Christian’s hope in the LORD! Our hope in the LORD certainly has anticipation and expectation. But this hope is far different than our earthly hoping. This hope comes with confidence in a known outcome. We hope in the LORD who has made countless promises to us and has kept every single one. “I will save you”-done! “I will forgive you.”-done! “I will always be with you”-done! We hope in the LORD who is our shield and our help. He is not a shield that magically protects us like a futuristic force field warding off any physical harm. He is the shield protecting us from Satan’s crafty attempts to lure us away and to dispel our confidence in Christ. We can trust the LORD completely and with a certainty that we only find in him.

And so, like the small child sitting at the window waiting to be taken home, we can approach each day with confidence, eagerly anticipating our home in heaven. We wait and we hope, yes. But our hope is in the One who has assured us that his love, forgiveness, and heaven are already ours. We hope and wait because we are excited and overwhelmed at these blessings!



Prayer

Heavenly Father, give me the confidence and assurance as the hymn writer reminded us.
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare to make no other claim but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. Amen
Christian Worship 382:1

A Thought to Consider:
Knowing that your greatest fear, the fear of being separated from God, has already been taken care of by God, how does that affect your response to worries of your life? Take a few minutes and write down those worries and what reassurance God has given you for each of them.



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



Toward the Goal – Week of January 1, 2018

Toward the Goal – Week of January 1, 2018


Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14



If you’ve ever been involved in a race at any level, today’s verses likely make sense to you. When our boys were in high school, they were passionate about track and cross country. Each step of the race drew them further from the start line and closer to the finish line. Imagine the absurdity of the runner blazing around a track while looking back at the steps behind him. It seems silly or even ridiculous to imagine. A runner has one primary goal-the finish line. Their eyes and their whole-body focus on completing the race.

As Christians, we too are running a race. But our race is a bit different, isn’t it? Like a runner, there are parts of our race that are exciting and so positive. But then, you take a turn and the challenges and fatigue can roll over you. A friend recently said that the track of our lives is less like an oval and more like an octagon with sudden sharp turns along the way.

During this time of reflecting on 2017, you may have things you would have changed, things you wish wouldn’t have happened, or decisions you’d like to reverse. Certainly, that reflection is good and helpful if we use these as opportunities to learn and grow. But the guilt of some of our past year can also weigh us down. Now is the time to strain toward what is ahead, not with a numb callousness regarding those sins that stir up guilt. But we press on wrapped in God’s amazing grace. What is behind us is done, it is forgiven, it is all removed by God’s enduring grace and mercy. And that’s what motivates us to press on and not look back. We know the prize. And unlike the runner, we already know that we’ve won the prize-because of Jesus! Imagine how confidently the runner forges on knowing he has won. That’s you and me! We can run full out with overwhelming joy and gratitude in our hearts for grace, for mercy, and for the gift of heaven because of Jesus!

2018. A new year. Maybe this is a year where you looked around you at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve and smiled as you thought of the wonderful year coming to a close. Perhaps you eagerly waited for the clock to strike so you could close the book on a challenging year. Yes-it’s a new year. 2018, like every previous year and every year to come, will be a year of blessings and challenges. But more than anything, it will be a year where we can live each day full of joy and reflecting that joy in God’s gift of grace in all we do. Happy New Year to each one of you!



Prayer
My dear Father in heaven, thank you for the past year-the blessings and the challenges. As I begin another year, remind me each day of your grace. May I reflect your love in all I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen

A Question to Consider:
Think about a challenge (or two) from this past year. What evidence of God’s blessings can you see in that challenge? How can this help you in the new year?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



A Savior is Born – Week of December 25, 2017

A Savior is Born – Week of December 25, 2017


Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2:11-12



Christmas blessings! The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is nearing an end. The presents have been wrapped, and maybe even opened. What does Christmas look like in your home? Do you have family gathered together around a large meal? Perhaps, it is a quiet day with just yourself and a few others sharing the joy of Christmas together. No matter how Christmas is celebrated, the meaning of Christmas does not change nor does the blessing of Christmas change. Christmas is a time of celebrating the birth of the Savior, Jesus!

Have you ever wondered what the first Christmas was like? The text for today is taken from the words that the angels shared with the shepherds while appearing to them in the middle of the night! The night of Jesus’ birth, the angels were God’s messengers to spread the good news! The angels appeared to a band of shepherds. The night at first was an ordinary night for the shepherds. They were simply caring for their sheep. However, the night turned from ordinary to miraculous. Suddenly, the sky was filled with angels! The angels said, “Today in town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”. The message the angels shared was clear: Jesus, the long-anticipated Savior, has been born! The shepherds could find the baby lying in a manger.

This message is not just for the shepherds, it is for you and me too! The Christmas season is filled with many activities. It is easy for these activities to over-shadow the true focus of Christmas, which is the birth of our Savior! The Savior is born for us! We too, can take time this Christmas to focus our attention and praise on the baby lying in a manger.



Prayer
To shepherds as they watched by night
Appeared a host of angels bright;
“Behold the tender babe,” they said,
“In yonder lowly manger laid’.”
Christian Worship 53:1



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Rejoice, Again I Say Rejoice – Week of December 18, 2017

Rejoice, Again I Say Rejoice – Week of December 18, 2017


Sing O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel. Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
Zephaniah 3:14-15



Joy and excitement are contagious! A little girl walked into the classroom as excited as she could be. She had great news to share…she is now a big sister! The little girl made sure that each little friend heard about her new baby brother. She also made sure to show a picture to all of the teachers and any adult willing to stop and look. Joyful, this was the attitude of the little girl. Now this is trivial news compared to the news of the reading today, the news of Jesus and salvation.

The text for today gives each of us a reason to rejoice! These two verses are a beautiful illustration that focuses our vision on the cross and what Jesus has done. “The Lord has taken away your punishment.” Jesus died on the cross, in place of all people. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection erased the punishment that is deserved – eternal death in hell. That is reason to rejoice! However, there is further reason to rejoice. “Never again will you fear any harm.” There is no fear of eternal harm for Christians. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation. There is no worry of the enemy winning. Jesus won for us!

Just like the little girl, we have great news to share! With Christmas fast approaching, we have the news of the birth of the Savior to share. What a joy that we can share the news with everyone we know. The good news doesn’t just stop with the birth of Jesus. We can rejoice that Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed himself on the cross so that our punishment is wiped away.



Prayer
Arise, Desire of nations, O Jesus now appear,
The hope and expectation of every Christian here.
With hearts and hands uplifted, we plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth’s redemption that sets your people free.”
Christian Worship 7:4

A Thought to Consider
Rejoice! Take five minutes today to meditate on the joys of the Christmas message.



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



An Angel Visit- Week of December 11, 2017

An Angel Visit – Week of December 11, 2017


But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Luke 1:30-33



Imagine this…you are a young adult. You think you have your life planned out. Then an angel appears before you with a very important, life-altering message! What thoughts are running through your mind? Are you suddenly frightened by the changes that will happen? Are you humbled that you are the ‘chosen one’? Are you excited at the thought that an angel just appeared to you and gave you great news?

Mary was just a young adult when the angel, Gabriel, appeared to her. At this time, she was a virgin, engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. In the text for today, Luke describes the visit from the angel that Mary received. The angel greeted Mary with “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God.” These first words spoken by the angel are meant to calm Mary and prepare her for the good news about to be shared with her. “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus”. At this point, Mary must have been amazed at the miracle that was about to happen! Mary, a young virgin, was God’s chosen servant to be the mother of Jesus! The birth of Jesus is foretold by this angel and Mary will now give birth to a baby boy, and give him the name Jesus. The angel goes on to explain that this baby that Mary will carry, give birth to, and raise is the Most High. His kingdom is not of this earth, but rather he will rule a Heavenly kingdom that will never end.

Mary, a humble servant, received an angel visit that would not only change her life, but is good news for all people everywhere! The birth of Jesus is foretold and Mary is the chosen one to carry out God’s plan for the birth of his Son.



Prayer:
 “I come from heav’n to tell the Lord’s decree:
A blessed virgin mother you shall be.
Your Son shall be Immanuel, by seers foretold,
Most highly favored maiden.” Gloria.!
Christian Worship 24:2

A Thought to Consider: Read Mary’s Song recorded in Luke 1:46-56 to learn about Mary’s reaction to the good news the angel shared with her. How do her words apply to you?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



A Promise Fulfilled- Week of December 4, 2017

A Promise Fulfilled- Week of December 4, 2017


“The days are coming” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.”
Jeremiah 33:14



I promise…two simple words, that are often spoken without much thought. These words might seem simple, but a promise is not to be taken lightly! How many times has a promise been made to you, only to be broken soon after the words were even spoken? Think about yourself for a moment. Have you recently made a promise that you fell short on delivering? The truth is, many promises that are made are unfulfilled or broken.

The comforting news is that any promise made by God is a promise that is true and will be fulfilled! The Bible is filled with promises and the fulfillment of promises. In the text for today, God is speaking the promise that there would be a Righteous Branch from the line of David who would be both God and man, priest and King. This promise is of course referring to the birth of Jesus. When reading the context of the Bible text for today, the promise is explained in further detail. The promise attached to Jesus is that he is both God and man. This means that Jesus would live a perfect life, die for the sins of the world, and would be raised from the dead. Jesus fulfills the gracious promise made by God, and the result is peace and forgiveness of sins!

The promise of God is a promise that we can continue to trust! We have the peace that whatever God promises is the pure truth. We never have to worry that a promise made by God will go unfulfilled! So, throughout this week, take time to meditate on the promises of God, specifically the promise of the Savior. The promise of the Savior is a promise made to each one of us and it has been fulfilled! A promise of God will never return empty!



Prayer:
Born your people to deliver, born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us forever, now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all sufficient merit raise us to your glorious throne.
Christian Worship 6:2

A Question to Consider: Take 10 minutes today to meditate on the promises of Advent. How are the promises of Advent fulfilled for you?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful During Times of Need- Week of November 27, 2017

Thankful During Times of Need – Week of November 27, 2017


The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Psalm 27:8



Have you listened to a child talk about her favorite superhero? The child might talk about what the superhero wears, says, or does to defend the world. It’s obvious, in the way the child excitedly stumbles over their words to tell you about him, that they trust and care for this character that can perform super-human tasks.

Isn’t this also how we feel about our God? He is our strength, our shield, in him we trust. We believe every word that he says, and he helps us through the day! He helps us. He helps us even if we don’t think we need it, even when we do not know we are approaching danger. We are so thankful for our strong God!

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful during times of need. Being “in need” is uncomfortable, and often painful, both physically and emotionally. This often causes us to take our eyes off our God. We instead focus on worldly matters, further pushing ourselves away from the very one who helps us!

Yet like any good super hero our God doesn’t wait for us to get our priorities straight before he springs into action.  Putting that strength and protection to work for us, he sent his Son into the world to be our Savior.  In Jesus, he helped us with our greatest affliction: sin separating us from him and his protecting power.  Through Christ we have been restored to God where he promises continued protection and support in difficult times.

So, let us be thankful for the one that fills our every need, especially the need to be forgiven. God has forgiven us through the death and life of his son, Jesus. Let us be thankful for our Savior in times of need and always.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I praise you for your love and all-knowing power! I trust you will always provide for me. Help me continue to seek you in times of trouble, taking comfort in your promise to keep me safe. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can you show your thankfulness to God for what he has done for you?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful for Prayer – Week of November 20, 2017

Thankful for Prayer – Week of November 20, 2017


Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:4-6



Have you watched a toddler struggling to open something, put an article of clothing on, or climb up onto a chair? When they can’t accomplish the task they set out to do, they may throw something, or perhaps themselves, onto the floor in limp exasperation. You want to help, you know what they need, and you could even just complete the task for them—but instead you give them the words, “If you need help, say, ‘I need help’”. We want them to ask us for help when they need it, even if we know what they want. How happy we are to help when they ask!

God wants us to say, “I need help”. Even though he knows what we need before we pray it, he wants us to ask. He wants us to come to him with thanksgiving for all he has done for us and humbly ask him for what we desire. In this he keeps our focus on him, the only source of help, comfort, and blessing in this world. And when we reach out to him, our loving, all-knowing God is so happy to hear and answer our prayers!

We are reminded that we can be joyful even during times of trial. Even when we are suffering, we rejoice because Jesus came to us when we most needed help. Without him we would still be stuck in our own sin. We rejoice because Jesus died for us, he destroyed sin on the cross, and promises to return to take us to heaven. We rejoice, even when we are suffering, because God has promised to help us. We thank God for this first, and then humbly bring our requests to him. How happy our loving God is to help us!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I need help! Give me a joyful heart always. I rejoice that you have forgiven me and promise to listen to my prayers. Today I would like to pray for (insert a concern, or request, or pray for someone that is going through a troubled time right now). Please help me through this challenge, knowing that all things work for the good of those who love you. Amen.

A Question to Consider: God wants us to pray! Make a short list of concerns that you have or people that you care about and pray for them this week. And Christmas cards are going to come soon! Every time you get a card in the mail, say a prayer for them and their family. God listens, every time.



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful for Peace – Week of November 13, 2017

Thankful for Peace – Week of November 13, 2017


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



What rules your heart? What has “first place” in your heart and mind? Is it something worldly like money and status? Does family life and the daily schedule occupy your heart and mind the most? The devil doesn’t care what is in your heart, as long as it isn’t the peace of Christ!

God tells us to let the “peace of Christ” rule in our hearts. This peace comes from knowing that God has saved us through the death of Jesus, who took all our sins on the cross when he died. We feel peace because we know that Jesus always forgives us.

Our Christian colleagues, friends and families have this same peace. We were all together lost in our sins, and Christ died for all. For this we should be thankful! We are also thankful that God gives us co-workers and families that share the same peace in Christ. When this peace is in our hearts, we can work through challenges even when plans, opinions, and personalities clash.

With peace in our hearts, it is easier to forgive others. A peaceful, forgiven heart is happy to forgive others. We are “sinners living with sinners” and want to share the forgiveness and peace God has given us with those God has placed in our life. How thankful we are that God places others in our life to work through the challenges in this world! How thankful we are for the peace of Christ!



Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the peace of Christ. Let this peace rule in my heart as I work with children, parents, families, and co-workers. Let my words and actions reflect your love and the peace that you have given me through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Think of a specific challenge that you have with a co-worker or family member. How can “having the peace of Christ” help you work through this challenge?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Thankful for God’s Love – Week of November 6, 2017

Thankful for God’s Love – Week of November 6, 2017


Give Thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 106:1



I don’t know how the argument would start, but my brother and I routinely got into a “who is better” feud that escalated to “I’m better forever”, and then “I’m better as far as outer space” and then “I’m better to infinity” and, my brother’s final word “I’m better infinity plus one”. He always won, because who can argue with infinity plus one?

God’s love endures forever. His love endures “infinity plus one”! No love is greater than God’s love for us. This is especially amazing because he is perfect and we are not. He is always faithful to us, even though we are not. God is always good—and we are not. We continue to disobey our good, loving God by hurting our colleagues and family, by our evil thoughts, words, and actions. We fail to regularly learn his Word through church and personal study. We fail, but God’s love never does.

We are thankful for God’s undeserved love. That love moved him to send Jesus to be our substitute. Every imperfection, every moment of unfaithfulness, every instance of evil actions, words or thought were placed on him, paid for, and removed forever. We call this love grace—the love that God has for us even though it is not deserved, and even though we fail. We give thanks to God for his goodness and love that is ours forever. God’s grace and love endures “infinity plus one”!



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for showing me your love and goodness every day. Help me show my thankfulness to you by my work, thoughts, and words. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: How can you show your thankfulness for God’s grace, his undeserved love, in your work and your home 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.



Be Still – Week of October 30, 2017

Be Still – Week of October 30, 2017


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46: 1-3, 10-11



Have you seen the painting of a raging waterfall and the illustration of peace depicted by the artist? (“Peace in the Midst of the Storm” by Jack E. Dawson) Under the raging waters, in a small cleft in the rock is a bird sitting quietly on her nest. The waters around her are roaring and foaming as stated in today’s verses, but the mother bird sits peacefully.

Are there days where the waters around you seem to roar and foam or that the mountains are falling down around you? God says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He does not promise a life without struggle and heartache. In your own life, you likely have experienced things that seem like the very ground you stand upon is threatening to break apart and crumble. You likely have family and friends who are battling against what can seem impossible. The evening news is full of stories that illustrate the challenges of sin in the world.

In John, God says, “Take heart!” In the Psalm for today, he says, “Be still.” These two words are both a command and an encouragement. He commands us to just stop and be still in order to remember that he is God, the ruler of all things. He also encourages us to just be still and exhale and remember that our loving God has all things in his hands. He is the LORD Almighty. He is our fortress guarding and protecting our faith.

This month we’ve been considering selected verses that reflect on the themes of the Reformation. We’ve looked at verses that highlighted God’s grace, faith, and that the Word of God is eternal. Martin Luther, who led the Reformation in 1517, was at one time living in hiding due to death threats on his life. His place of hiding was the Wartburg Castle. It was here, in the midst of crisis and tumult, that Luther wrote one of his most famous hymns: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. Luther was certainly in the middle of a storm raging around him. The church was in upheaval and his own life was in danger. Psalm 46 reminded Luther and reminds us that God is our protector, our fortress against a sinful world. While not immune from trouble and hardship, we can have peace and confidence that God is with us during those challenging times. He is a fortress protecting us from all that Satan wants to do to snatch us away from faith in God.

So, like the mother bird in the painting, and like Luther during his time of persecution, we can be still, we can be at peace. Our faith is secure, our salvation is secure because of what God has done and continues to do for us. “The LORD Almighty is with us” indeed! “God is our refuge and strength.”



Prayer: Dear Father, the struggles of this world can so easily overwhelm me. Remind me and encourage me to take the time to be still and be reassured that you are my refuge and strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Question to Ponder: The hymn referred to in today’s devotion may be well known by some and new to others. (Christian Worship 200) Take a few minutes and read through each stanza, pausing to consider what each phrase means. The hymn describes the evil foe (Satan), the prince of this world (also Satan), and the one God sent to fight for us (Jesus). If you were to create a picture to illustrate this hymn, what would you include?



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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.