ECME Devotions

Peace Because His Grace is Enough – Week of July 19, 2021

Peace Because His Grace is Enough – Week of July 19, 2021



But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10



“Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.” This line comes from “Jesus Loves Me” a popular children’s song for many churches and religious early childhood ministries. When we sing of “little ones,” we often think of children and babies. But we are the “little ones” too! We are weak, and Jesus is strong.

Before Adam and Eve sinned, how different things must have been! There was no pain, no sadness, and no weakness. After they disobeyed God, sin entered the world and mankind became very weak. We were also born into this sin and it is as if we, too, were with them in the garden that day. Although we try to read and obey God’s Word, we fall short. Every. Single. Day.

The world says that we are strong when we have power. The world says that we are strong when we have power in our jobs, over our finances, power in the community, and even power over other people. Not so! Christians struggle against this idea, knowing that it is God that makes us strong. Our sinful nature, our constant wrongdoing, our inability to be perfect—these show just how weak we are even if the world sees us as powerful. When we are weak, we go to our God for comfort, and then it is God who strengthens us. God’s power is much bigger than our weaknesses.

So what does God want us to do? He wants us to come to HIM for strength, not ourselves, not the world. He wants us to trust that HE has the power, that his grace—undeserved love, won for us through the blood of Jesus—is all we need.

How do we go to God? God wants us to pray to him. When we are weak, we pray to God and ask him to help us through our trouble. We ask him to help us resist temptations of the world. God always hears when we pray.

We also go to God by reading his Word, the Bible. We study his Word in church, with other believers, with our families, and also privately. Failure to stay connected to Jesus through his Word is like starving ourselves spiritually. Every time we read the Bible, God speaks to us and strengthens us.

We are strong in Christ. We were weak—but Christ makes us strong! By praying to God and reading the Bible we can be strong IN Christ, and then we can be strong FOR Christ. How thankful we are that God makes us strong through the work of Jesus! We can be at peace knowing that the work of Jesus and his love for us will carry us through this life until we see him again in heaven.



Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the love you have freely given me. Thank you for strengthening me with your Word so that I can share that love and strength with others. Amen.



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

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Peace Because of His Eternal Forgiveness – Week of July 12, 2021

Peace Because of His Eternal Forgiveness – Week of July 12, 2021



Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:4-5



A teacher asked the group of preschoolers “Hmmmm. . . .what is the opposite of cold?” And a tiny voice in the back of the group said, “Texas!” Ha! Most would agree that, yes, with the exception of the surprising winter storm of the century this past February, “Texas” and “cold” are often considered a sharp contrast!

The Psalm for today’s reading is filled with sharp contrasts. The first contrast we read is that “his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime.”  Sin makes God angry! He sees everything that we do. God is all-knowing, and even the sins that we can hide from other people are seen by him. Even if we “get away with it”, God knows we sinned. You may have heard that “God hates sin and loves the sinner.” He does hate sin, but he loves us. His wrath and anger over our sins, even those we think we can conceal, only lasts “a moment”. When we come to him in repentance, that is, showing true remorse for what we did, then he forgives us. Every. Time. His love for us is eternal. The Psalm says that his “favor lasts a lifetime.” His “favor” for us is found only because of what Jesus has done for us by dying on the cross, and this favor lasts eternally.

Another contrast that we see is “night” and “day” in verse 5. “Weeping may stay for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” This is not to say that our sorrow is not real, deep, and painful. Our sorrow might last a long time—years even. When we look at all the sin in the world—those that we commit and those that we see in our neighbors, family, friends, and strangers– we ache. But when we compare our current sorrows to the joy of heaven, our time on this earth really is “only a night.” Our joy in heaven will last forever!

God’s grace is the focus of this psalm written by David. The word “grace” means “undeserved love.” Although we deserve God’s eternal punishment, his anger “only lasts for a moment.” Even when there are earthly consequences for sin, these don’t question or diminish God’s forgiveness. His love is eternal, and we will live with him in heaven forever because of his undeserved, forgiving love. With this reality in mind we daily put on a “new self,” a “new identity,” and we begin each day with renewed joy.



Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, through whom we are forgiven. Help us remember your promise to take us out of this world of sorrow and into the joys of heaven. As we wait for Jesus to come again, help us to find comfort in your Word and to share this with the people you have placed in our lives. Amen.



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

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Peace, Jesus Loves Us! – Week of July 5, 2021

Peace, Jesus Loves Us! – Week of July 5, 2021



[Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Mark 4:39-41



A kindergarten teacher ends each day of school saying to the class, “And remember! I love you, . . . your parents love you, . . . and Jesus loves you best of all.” Think of how much love parents have for their children, and yet Jesus loves the children even more! Jesus cares about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, but he loves US, the people he redeemed, best of all. We can feel at peace knowing that he loves us and wants the best for us.

This was a lesson that Jesus taught the disciples that day when he suggested that they go to the other side of the lake. He suggested this trip to the disciples, who were experienced fishermen. And, as experienced fishermen, they also knew that the surrounding hills made storms common on this lake. But it seems this storm was different. This storm rattled the disciples to the core, so much that they feared for their lives.

Where was Jesus? Asleep! “Didn’t he care if they drowned?” the disciples asked. And then Jesus showed them, once again, that he is truly God. He calmed the storm by using the same two things that God used at the time of creation—his power and his words. It was completely calm immediately! Usually a storm will subside slowly, perhaps the thunder and lightning easing up first, then the wind and rain dying down to a sprinkle and slow breeze. But when Jesus said the words, the “furious squall”, as the Bible describes it, was immediately and completely calm!

Did Jesus care if they drowned? Of course Jesus cared. Jesus loved them “best of all!” Jesus reminded them of this when he said, “Why are you afraid?” He made peace during the storm and gave them peace in their hearts.

When we have storms Jesus wants us to come to him. Sometimes our pride and arrogance get in the way and we think we can handle everything on our own. Sometimes we resent God for not stopping the “storms” that come into our lives, and sometimes we doubt that he can help us. Sometimes we forget that he does care, that he “loves us best of all.”

Why are we still afraid? Jesus loves us so much that he gave his life. He died for all people, and with his death he took away all our sins. He that has power over the wind and the waves has claimed us as his forever. We are his forever because of the life and death of Jesus, so we need not be afraid!
Everything in the world is in the hands of our God. Jesus had full control over the storm in the boat that day, and he has control over our storms of today. Everything in the world—then and now—is in control the of our heavenly Father. So have peace in your heart—Jesus loves you best of all!



Prayer:

Dear Jesus,
Sometimes I am afraid and forget to trust you with my whole heart. Thank you for giving me peace today knowing that you love me and died for me. May I carry that peace with me all the days of my life. Amen.



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

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The Kingdom of God is Like a Mustard Seed – Week of June 28, 2021

The Kingdom of God is Like a Mustard Seed – Week of June 28, 2021



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

Mark 4:30-32



Mark chapter four includes a series of parables about sowing seed and growth.

And I daresay one the challenges in the ministry is that we do not always see the results of our sowing. To be sure, there are times when you get to see an almost immediate result of your labors (and I smile as I think about the young boy from our school who I had the opportunity to baptize AND who shook my hand with Cheeto-greased fingers). And there are times when you get to see the result of a seed planted long ago (I just had an opportunity to walk someone through the catechism again who had been away from it for twenty-plus years—and how much he remembered!) But for every visible result there are surely many more sowings of the seed where we do not see how this all pans out.

Two words of encouragement for you this day. First—the mustard seed seems so small and insignificant, but look out when it is planted! Thus the Word that goes out from your mouth; in your devotions; in your lessons. What will this puny little word do in the ear of a three year old? What will this puny little word do in a world with all of its heartache and all of its problems? What will this puny little world do when it appears it just isn’t working? Mark 4 assures you: God’s Kingdom will come and God’s will be done through the sowing of that little seed.

And a second encouragement, to one who is blessed to sow the seed. You’re first and foremost blessed not in your sowing but in your hearing. This very day is another day of his grace; another opportunity to hear; to be strengthened; to find comfort and hope. Today is another day to give thanks for that gospel seed which continues to grow in you!



Prayer:

As I pray, dear Jesus, hear me;
Let your words in me take root.
May your Spirit e’er be near me
That I bear abundant fruit.
May I daily sing your praise,
From my heart glad anthems raise,
Till my highest praise is given
In the endless joy of heaven. Amen
Christian Worship 283:4



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

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I Have a Confession to Make – Week of June 21, 2021

I Have a Confession to Make – Week of June 21, 2021



Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:5-7



One of the joys of opening up the pages of the Scriptures with someone who is not overly familiar with them, is when they come to the realization just how real-life these accounts are. I have lost count how many times I have heard an expression like this: “Pastor, these people, weren’t always so good, were they?” Or this one, with a bit of brutal honesty: “Pastor, I’m not any better than them, am I?”

Go ahead and read the context for Psalm 51, 2 Samuel chapters 11 and following. Go ahead and get angry what David did, a man “after the Lord’s heart” who’s life’s story would earn a TV-MA rating on Netflix. Go ahead and ask: “How could David???” in righteous indignation.

And when you’re done going down that road, with the Ten Commandments by your side, go ahead and ask, not how could David, but how could I?

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (And with thanks to Professors Mark Paustian and Ken Cherney and Daniel Deutschlander, the latter of whom now rests from his labors!, for I think I heard it from all three at one point or another) The sin you are capable of, you have done.

Conceived in sin, our actions have given evidence of the fact. Surely I was sinful at birth…and David continues: A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

How could David? How could you? How could I?

How could God?!? This is God’s mercy on display: he does not despise your broken heart. He does not turn a deaf ear to your confession. He does not delight in the death of sinners. He rejoices in cleansing you; washing you; forgiving you!



Prayer:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Amen.



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

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God’s Glory Displayed in the Face of Christ – Week of June 14, 2021

God’s Glory Displayed in the Face of Christ – Week of June 14, 2021



For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:5-7



The Lord has a way to keep me grounded. Am I tempted to think of myself as the be-all and end-all, the epitome of what it means to serve in Early Childhood Ministry, if only my school or my congregation or my church body had more, of me! But we have this treasure in jars of clay. O insignificant jar of clay!

The Lord has a way to keep me grounded in him! Am I tempted to despair, to think of myself: “Not only is it I don’t deserve to serve the Lord in this way; I don’t even deserve to be called his child.” But we have this treasure in jars of clay! What a marvelous God—to entrust that treasure to you—first for you, and then to have it come through you!

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

I think about how that God shines his light on you, how he displays his glory in the face of Christ, Sunday after Sunday:

  • “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and you are his, baptized into his name!
  • “As a Called servant of Christ…I forgive you…” and that forgiveness is yours again this very day.
  • And he speaks through his Word; he receives your prayers and your praises; he nourishes you with his body and blood, and he sends you out again with his word of blessing in your ears.

God’s glory comes in a way we would not always expect it nor how we would seek after it. God’s glory is displayed for you in the face of Christ. And we have this treasure in jars of clay. Thanks be to God—we have this treasure in jars of clay!



Prayer:

Lord Jesus, into your hands I place all of my worries, all of my unfinished tasks, all that would accuse me or blame me. Thank you for your promise and your faithfulness, which fails me never. Amen.



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

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The Holy Trinity and You – Week of June 7, 2021

The Holy Trinity and You – Week of June 7, 2021



Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:14-16



The veteran parent—twinkle in her eye—says to a newbie teacher: “I’ll only believe half of what they tell me, if you promise to do the same.”

How many stories do you have to tell from another school year? A few likely bring tears and, I pray, many more bring a smile and a laugh.

And the story, the over-arching story, the one to fill your ears and your hearts this very day, is his story.

  • It’s a story told first to a member of the Jewish ruling council. Nicodemus is his name. A man who came to Jesus at night—wondering and questioning.
  • It’s a story told to you, a story of love undeserved, a story of love that seeks your best interest, a story of a gift, a story of love come down from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, a story of the only-begotten Son, for you.
  • It’s a story of life! It’s a story that says death (which you were born into, and which you see all around you) is not the end of your story.
  • It’s a story of faith, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
  • It’s a story of eternal life, a story that casts a beautiful shade on all the other stories that you hear; stories that you live; stories that you tell.

The Holy Trinity has brought you into the story: baptized in his name.

The Holy Trinity has given you a place to hear that story, again and again, and through that story, he loves you and strengthens you and gives you a new way to live.

If you find yourself this day looking back over months that could be characterized as “the best” or “the hardest”; if you find yourself this day gearing up for new blessings and new challenges that come with the summer months, how blessed you are:

  • To be part of a world that God loved, and loves.
  • To be the recipient of this beautiful good news: For God so loved the world that he gave…
  • To be a child of eternal life.
  • To be put in a place where those words again get to come out of your lips and hit the ears of those so dear to your Savior Jesus, and to trust that the Lord will bless the telling and re-telling of that story for this generation, too.

For God so loved the world that he gave…and that gift is for you!



Prayer:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—bless the hearing and telling of your story again this day. Amen.



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

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Peace in the Storm – Week of May 31, 2021

Peace in the Storm – Week of May 31, 2021



But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:26-27



Reading those passages makes me think of a song. “If your eyes are on the storm/You’ll wonder if I love you still/But if your eyes are on the cross/You’ll know I always have and I always will”. More than I would like to admit, my eyes are too often on the storm.

What about you? Are you going through a storm? Could you use a little encouragement? We could all use a little, I’m sure.

I do not know what you do to relieve stress or how you move through a difficult time, but I would like to encourage you to go to God, our Heavenly Father with all of it. Another glass of wine isn’t going to fix it. Venting to a friend will be a short-term fix.

Forgetting to be in the Word can be so easy. I can waste an embarrassing amount of time on my phone and wonder why I am not feeling peace in my life. I can watch tv and wonder why I am lacking something of substance.

It is so easy to forget where to find my comfort, peace, and joy. So when I’m not in the Word, I tend to focus on the storm.

If you are looking for life’s answers or wondering how to find peace, the answer is in a book. A really awesome book, God’s Word, the Bible. It can be daunting to pick that book up, open it and read it. There are parts of the Bible that will be hard to read. There will parts that won’t necessarily be enjoyable to read. But there will be examples, over and over again of God’s faithfulness, his protection through the storms, his love, his forgiveness, his dedication to you! That is pretty outstanding, considering that we don’t deserve any of it.

And the peace! Oh, the amazing peace that God gives. How wonderful that it is not like the temporary peace that the world gives. It is peace in sins forgiven and the gift of eternity with God in heaven. It is not fleeting. It is not circumstantial. It is true, lasting peace in any and all circumstances. Praise be to God.

The storm will not be calmed if you’re looking to things of this world. Look to the One who loved you enough to die on the cross for you. God loves you and he always will. We can walk through this life with peace in our hearts. Even in the storm.

So open up to Deuteronomy 31 or Isaiah 41 or Proverbs 3 or Psalm 34. “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all the things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (vs.26) Peace. It’s not on your shoulders to get through the storm. Open up the Word and be taught the way of peace by the One who will get you through. Be comforted in knowing that above all, you have peace in the forgiveness and grace of your Heavenly Father.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for when my eyes are fixed on the hardships of this world. Take my eyes and fix them on you. Grant me a peaceful heart and help me share it with those around me. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Where do you turn to when you’re in the middle of a storm? Be proactive and write down a couple of encouraging passages to turn to next time you find yourself in a hard season. Meditate on those passages and pray that your Advocate grants you peace.



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

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What a Privilege! – Week of May 24, 2021

What a Privilege! – Week of May 24, 2021



Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.

John 17:11, 17-18



It is a privilege to be part of our students’ preparation for eternity. Read that again…slowly. “…part of their preparation for eternity.” Wow. The Holy Spirit is using you to strengthen the faith of the youngest of believers.

Do you feel like that when you are cutting out a dozen or two paper caterpillars? What about when laminating sun shaped name tags or creating a new bulletin board to finish out the school year? Well, if you don’t feel like that during those times, just know that it’s true. He is using you.

In the verses above, as Jesus prepares to leave this earth, he is praying for God to protect his disciples.

We can pray that same prayer over our students. During this time of year, many of us will be saying goodbye to our students and watching them enter their next level of education. Our time with them is done and we pray that God has used us to prepare them, not only in their knowledge of the A,B,C’s and 1,2,3’s, but also in their faith walk with him.

In verse 17, it reads, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Sanctify means to set apart, to purify. What a prayer! Set them apart, Lord. Purify them. By what? The truth! His Word. That is why you have been teaching Bible lessons to your students all year. That is why you’ve been singing his praises with them. His truth sets them apart.

The laminating, the cutting, the preparation, the exciting times and the monotonous times. Doing your work faithfully and with a joyful heart has been a blessing to your students. He has used you to prepare them for a life that goes beyond the classroom. What a privilege.

Once this year’s group of students walk out of your classroom, soon and very soon, another group of children will enter in. The cycle will continue. The lesson plans will start over. The sensory tables will refill. And while that preparation is used to build the brain, we know the most important work is to strengthen the heart for Jesus. What a privilege we have. What a blessing to watch His lambs grow in the knowledge and love of their Savior.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, make my students one in you! Help them to hold strong to the truths that they learned this school year and be with them as they let their light shine to others. Thank you for the privilege I have to share the gospel message with them. Help me be faithful in my work and produce joyful service in your name. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Do you think your students can tell, from your attitude, that you are happy to be their teacher? Tell them! Let them know!



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

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When We Leave – Week of May 17, 2021

When We Leave – Week of May 17, 2021



I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:18-19



My family does nightly devotions. Recently, I have been wondering how long we will be able to keep that up. Right now, my children are young, so it is easy for them all to go to bed at the same time. But what about as they grow older? What happens when our schedules get busier? When do the nighty devotions fade? How long can my husband and I keep them going?

My chief desire is for my children to always stay close to Jesus.

I would assume that is the prayer you pray for your students as well.

Paul prayed that same prayer for the people of Ephesus. The Ephesians. He prayed that they would “know the riches of his glorious inheritance”. He loved them and he wanted them to know what they have, and that they have it whether he was with them or not.

The group of students that God gifted you this year will not always be under your care. They will move along to another class and then another class after that. God-willing they are in a classroom where the Word of God is preached. God-willing if they are in a school that does not teach the Truth, their parents are instilling the Truth at home. You can pray that no matter where they are in life, they remember the truths that give that “inheritance”.

My children will not always be little. If I am being honest, they are growing up faster than I would like. While I pray that my husband and I try our best at keeping bedtime devotions a priority for as long as possible, there will come a day when our bedtime routine ends. They will grow old and move away. I hope they never forget the truths that we have instilled in them.

The inheritance that Paul is talking about is the knowledge of God. When we leave, we want them to remain in the knowledge of God, to stay close to him, all the days of their life. We can pray that the Holy Spirit strengthens their faith and keeps them close to him forever.

That is the best kind of inheritance that we can ask for the children that are nearest and dearest to us.



Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for your love. Thank you for giving us the greatest inheritance we could ever ask for. Help us grow in our love and knowledge of you. Keep our students in your Word and help them stay close to you forever.

A Question to Consider:
Who do you know that could use the reminders and encouragement of these verses? Consider sharing them with them by forwarding this devotion and perhaps including a personal word of encouragement.



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

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How Can We Not? – Week of May 10, 2021

How Can We Not? – Week of May 10, 2021



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

1 John 4:10-11



If I’m being honest, this has been a difficult devotion to write. It is almost like I feel hypocritical encouraging you all to love like Jesus does, when I struggle to do it myself. But knowing I, like you, am a sinner/saint, I can struggle and still encourage at the same time. We all better be able to do that because the pressure to love perfectly is not on us. It was taken off our shoulders when Jesus hung on that cross. We will fall short. We will fail. But forgiven in Christ we can always ask God for a heart that beats first for him and secondly, for others.

Children have a good sense of how to love.

“But he took my blocks!”, “She skipped me in line!”, “I had that first!” and so on and so on.

Isn’t it funny how little kids can be mad one second and best friends the next? How impressive is that kind of quick forgiveness? You see it in the classroom all the time. Friends can be mad at each other during carpet time, but then attached at the hip once they get out on the playground.

When does that change? When does that become so hard? To freely forgive. I do not know about you, but I struggle with forgiveness sometimes. I struggle to freely forgive those who hurt me or make my life hard. And yet, “…since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

How can we not? How can we not show that kind of love to one another?

He provides. He is faithful. Honest. Loving. Merciful. True. Caring. Kind.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to perfectly be faithful, honest, loving, merciful, true, caring, kind? What if the world was like that? What if we, as Christians, led the way? All the time? What a beautiful world that would be.

It seems like such a simple constant, yet it might just be one of the hardest things to do.

I am going to encourage you to stay in the Word. When loving others becomes hard, dive deep in the Word and be reminded of his love for you. Shift the focus off your shortcomings and instead, place it all on his amazing love.

Open the Old Testament and be reminded of his faithfulness to His people.

Open the New Testament and be in awe of his love to the ones who were loved the least.

He is the perfect example. He has an unbroken track record of his love for you. A love that forgives us freely so we too can love.

A love like that. How can we not?



Prayer:
Perfect Savior, I am so grateful for your forgiving love and your example. Thank you for showing me how to love in every situation. Help me to be in your Word, daily, so that I am reminded and encouraged of how to love others. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Who is someone that you could show love to today? Make a plan and show them that you care.



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

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Remain – Week of May 3, 2021

Remain – Week of May 3, 2021



“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:5-8



Remain is a powerful word. It’s a strong word. Sure, we can open our Bible from time to time, say a quick prayer, but imagine the power that comes with remaining in God.

What are some tangible ways that you can remain in him? Well, being in his Word daily is a great way to start. When you remain in his Word, you have all the promises of your most faithful Friend at your fingertips. Worried? There is a passage for that. Overwhelmed? There is a passage for that, too. Joyful? You guessed it…a passage.

Praying to God is a great way to remain in him. Bringing the big stuff to him, but the little stuff too. Nothing is too small to bring to our Savior. You teach that to your students. Please, know that you never grow out of that truth.

Worshiping is a wonderful way to remain in him. Singing praises. Confessing your sins and receiving the power of forgiveness.
There is great power in remaining in God.

What is the alternative? In verse 5 of our reading, it says, “apart from me you can do nothing”. Nothing. There is no power in “nothing”.

So, remain. Easy, right? If only.

I don’t know about you, but often, my priorities in life don’t make it easy for me to remain in God. I plan to open my Bible every day, but if I am being honest, sometimes it can be days that go by without my eyes reading a verse.

Sometimes, my first line of defense when things are going wrong is to call a friend. I talk about my problems and then keep talking about them. And then right when I think I am done, I talk about them just a little bit more. Friends are a blessing—one of the greatest blessings in this little thing called “life”. But remaining in my Best Friend, is the best remedy for a hard day, rough spot, long year. Bringing all our troubles to him is where we can find true relief.
When we remain in God, we are connected to the Lifeline. Connected. Another powerful word.

You can remain in the One who is greater than all the rest. You can be connected to the One who has your best interest in mind.
You have the power to remain. You get the power from him, our heavenly Father. Praise God!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I am sorry for the times that I put you on the backburner. Help me remain in you by daily being in your Word, calling on your name in the good times and bad, and worshiping you on a regular basis. Thank you for never putting me on the backburner. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Please help my students remain in you and let their light shine to others. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Can you identify a way that you struggle to remain in God? Work on that specific struggle this week. Make a game plan, write it down, and ask God to help you carry it through.



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

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My Shepherd Knows Me – Week of April 26, 2021

My Shepherd Knows Me – Week of April 26, 2021



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

John 10:14-16



By this time in the school year, we may feel like we know our students pretty well. I know who loves the art center and who will pull out the blocks at play time. I know my right handers and left handers. I know who is struggling with letter recognition and who is already reading. But there’s so much about my students I don’t know. Even after a year together, children find ways to surprise me.

Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is never surprised. He knows us even better than we know ourselves. He knows what brings us joy and what makes us cry. And he knows our deepest darkest secrets. Every sin we have ever committed, Jesus knows about. That might distress us; we don’t want Jesus to know about our sinful thoughts, our careless words, and our selfish actions. The amazing thing is that Jesus loves us anyway. He did what no earthly shepherd would do for lowly sheep. He laid down his life for us so we may be with him forever.

Our Shepherd knows us, and we know the Shepherd. God gives us his Word in the Bible so that we may get to know Jesus. God’s Word points out our need for our Savior because of our sins. We read about God’s plan of sending his own son to take those sins away. We receive the wonderful promise of a home in heaven with our Good Shepherd.

Then God uses us to share this knowledge with others. We get to talk about Jesus with our students every day. We use God’s Word to teach and correct and train them. And our students share their faith and strengthen us as well. We know we are part of God’s flock.

King David wrote about our Good Shepherd with these familiar words, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:1-3, 6)



Prayer:

Savior, like a shepherd lead us; much we need your tender care.
In your pleasant pastures feed us; for our use your folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, you have bought us; yours we are.
Ever let us seek your favor; ever let us do your will.
Blessed Lord and only Savior, with your love our hope fulfill.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, you have loved us; love us still. Amen.
Let All the People Praise You, p. 262: 1, 3



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

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Justice – Week of April 19, 2021

Justice – Week of April 19, 2021



My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 2:1-2



I saw the jury summons, and I wondered what the experience would be like. I spent two days in a courtroom watching the judge and lawyers select members for the jury. I wasn’t chosen, but I could see that each lawyer wanted people on the jury that would sympathize with their client. I don’t know how that particular trial turned out, but, if the system worked, justice was done.

True justice demands payment. If you do the crime, you’ll have to pay the price. God’s justice is no different. If we sin, even just once, we deserve eternal punishment. We all have to plead guilty before a just and holy God. But God had a different plan.

Imagine a courtroom where a criminal is brought before the judge. The proof is clear, this person is guilty. When it comes time for the verdict, the lawyer says, “Don’t punish my client. Give me the punishment instead.” The judge agrees, and the lawyer is sentenced to death. No one would do that.
But one person did. Jesus comes before his Father and advocates for us. We are clearly guilty, but Jesus gives us his perfection. He took the punishment we deserve when he suffered and died on the cross. “Not guilty,” God declares, and justice is done.

That was God’s plan all along. He promised the very first sinners, Adam and Eve, that he would send a Savior, and it would be his own son. Jesus came and lived the holy life we cannot live. His innocence was transferred to us. He took our punishment and gave us his perfection.

Now perfect in God’s eyes, we get to share Jesus’ victory. Death couldn’t hold on to Jesus, and it won’t be our end either. We will join our Savior in heaven where we will thank and praise him and live in his perfection forever.



Prayer:

Bold shall I stand in that great day – Who can a word against me say?
Fully through you absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
When from the dust of death I rise to claim my mansion in the skies,
E’en then this shall be all my plea; Jesus has lived and died for me.
Jesus, be worshiped endlessly! Your boundless mercy has for me,
For me and all your hands have made, an everlasting ransom paid. Amen.
Christian Worship 376:2, 5, 6



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

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Peace Be with You! – Week of April 12, 2021

Peace Be with You! – Week of April 12, 2021



On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:19-23



Peace – that’s not the first word most teachers associate with a busy classroom. Children play, shout out answers, sometimes argue. The classroom can be a joyful, noisy place, but peaceful? Not so often.

Peace – that’s probably not how the disciples were feeling that first Easter evening. They saw their Savior put on trial, crucified, and buried. Would they be next? Then some women told them that Jesus was alive. But that would be too good to be true. Confused, sad, scared – that’s what the disciples likely felt.

Peace – that was the first word Jesus said to his astonished disciples when he appeared to them in that locked room. With the realization that their Savior was alive, the disciples truly could have peace in their hearts. This peace was better than any earthly peace. Before his death, Jesus had told his disciples, “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.” (John 16:33) Jesus brings everlasting peace. Troubles of this world will fade away, but we have what we need for eternity. We are washed clean of our sins, we will conquer death, and we will join Jesus in heaven. That is peace.

Jesus told his disciples not to keep this peace to themselves. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21). The disciples’ lifework became sharing that peace with the world. We also are sent to share God’s peace. Every day we get to share the special news with our students: “Jesus loves you. Jesus took your sins away. Jesus will always be with you.” And they share that peace with us too. When they sing their Jesus songs and proclaim their faith, they strengthen us. And when they go home and share what they’ve learned, Jesus’ peace is spread even further.

Peace isn’t a quiet classroom. Peace is a classroom of people who talk about Jesus, who know his love and share that love with others, who sing and pray and praise God. Peace be with you.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing me true peace through your death and resurrection. Let that knowledge strengthen me so I can share your peace with others. Amen.



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

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My Redeemer Lives! – Week of April 5, 2021

My Redeemer Lives! – Week of April 5, 2021



But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

Mark 16:4-6



Have you ever been to a funeral? My father passed away several years ago, and the day of his funeral is still sharp in my mind. I remember looking at him for the last time, and having many join me in saying good-bye to him. It was not an easy day.

On Easter morning, some women expected to say good-bye to Jesus. They wanted to honor his body by anointing it with spices, but had to wait until the Passover was finished. With heavy hearts, they approached the tomb wondering how they would roll the huge stone away. But that’s not what happened.

The stone was already moved, and an angel spoke to them. Jesus wasn’t in that tomb. Jesus wasn’t dead. “He has risen! He is not here,” the angel proclaimed. Hearts that ached became joyful. Death couldn’t hold on to Jesus; he was victorious! The women even saw their resurrected Lord on the way back to tell the disciples this most wonderful news.

Jesus’ victory is our victory. He paid for our sins when he suffered and died for us. He proved that he conquered sin, death, and the devil when he rose from the dead. His resurrection guarantees ours. Jesus has a room ready for us in heaven, where we will see him with our own eyes. With Job we can exclaim, “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).

Because Jesus wasn’t in the tomb that first Easter morning, we know we never have to say good-bye to him. He is with us always. And to those believers who have passed away, we can say, “I know I’ll see you again.” With joyful hearts we look forward to an eternity with our Savior.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I praise you for your triumph over sin, death, and the devil. I know that your victory is my victory. Comfort me with this sweet knowledge and help me boldly proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives.” Amen.



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

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The Next Chapter – Week of March 29, 2021

The Next Chapter – Week of March 29, 2021



But he was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was on him,
And by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to our own way;
And the Lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all

Isaiah 53:5-6



Have you ever been unhappy to finish a good book? As you move through the pages, you become emotionally invested. Chapters go by until finally, the ending looms and the journey is complete. You are left with only heart-felt memories and an anxious hope that the author will continue the narrative in another volume.

Without a doubt, the Bible is incomparable to other texts with its holy author and divine purpose. But readers can still be emotionally engaged when reading it. It would be difficult to read any verse in Isaiah 53 without being drawn in by the prophet’s description of Jesus. Our text cuts directly to Calvary’s hill in the final moments before Jesus’ death.

We find Jesus bearing God’s judgement all on his own. Jesus was pierced. He was crushed. He was wounded. God laid on him the sins of us all. In Isaiah’s description, our Savior is finishing his work with no one there to help him. Oh, we are present in Isaiah’s account, but our role is not to help Jesus. We could not help Jesus. We are the very reason Jesus is in this circumstance. So, Isaiah rightly compares us to sheep that have gone astray. It is our waywardness that God cannot tolerate. It is, in fact, our punishment that our Great Substitute is accepting.

Further in Isaiah 53 we see that Jesus accomplished his divine mission with his death. Our Great Substitute died. Under normal circumstances, the last chapter would quickly follow. But this is God’s book with God’s words describing God’s plan and promises. God does not close his book here and leave us emotionally spent. If he did, that would surely be our finale as well. No, there is another chapter. Spoiler alert! In that magnificent chapter, God accepts Jesus’ sacrifice and Jesus rises. Jesus is not dead! He is alive!

That leads to the next chapter for us too! His death is our death. His life is our life. Just as Jesus was not left alone on Calvary’s hill, our death will not be the end of our story either. God promised us another chapter in our lives. Because of Jesus, we anxiously wait for our faithful God to deliver that promise of life in heaven. This time though, God will not need to describe it to us. Because of Jesus, he will allow us to experience it for ourselves! What a profound experience that will be!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Great Substitute!  Thank you for fulfilling God’s promises so that we can experience the next chapter of our lives- in heaven with you!  Amen!

Questions for Reflection: How do I look forward to my life in heaven that is to come?  How do I help the children in my care look forward to their life with Jesus?

Want to know more?  What is heaven?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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My Hiding Place – Week of March 22, 2021

My Hiding Place – Week of March 22, 2021



Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.

Psalm 143:1-2



Young children are terrible at hiding, aren’t they? Their inability to keep quiet gives them away almost immediately. They hide behind things that are too small to cover their entire body. Little children will even use their own hands to hide. As they chatter away from behind their own fingers, they reason that if their eyes cannot see you, then you cannot see them. This seems irrational to adults. Yet, games of peek-a-boo or hide-and-go-seek are forever entertaining generations of children.

Consider also how many generations of immature, little transgressors have tried to hide from authority in similar ways? Fear launches guilty hearts into instant panic. After a misdeed has been committed eye contact is avoided, a favorite blankie covers the head or a corner of the room is occupied. This all seems irrational to adults because eventually, justice will be delivered.

Are we much different than our irrational children? After we commit our sins, whatever they are, do we not try to hide? The devil, our accuser, drags us before our holy judge and points his wicked finger at us. He lays the evidence of our self-centered pursuits, our time-wasting thoughts, our disparaging remarks before God and clicks his malicious tongue at us. Fear kicks in and our irrational reaction is to hide our guilt from the almighty God. We avoid church where we hear his Word and connect with his people. We fill our schedule with business to escape time with him. We cover our sins with pathetic excuses. In the end, we know justice will be delivered.

What a relief that God’s justice was, indeed, delivered! Our Judge has also sent our Savior and accepted his perfect sacrifice for our sins on his cross. God delivered the judgement meant for us onto Jesus. We no longer have to fear our Judge. In Jesus, God actually provided the place for us to hide- in the security of his Son’s cross. In Jesus, the fervent prayer of the psalmist is our prayer- “Hear me! Come to me! Help me!” Our guilty hearts find cover in Jesus!

Now, our accuser cannot convict us! Our guilt cannot shame us! Fear does not compel us to avoid God for he sees us hiding in the very place where he wants us- in the shadow of Jesus’ cross! Praise be to our faithful God for keeping his promises in his Son, Jesus!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being my substitute on the cross.  Thank you for being my hiding place.  Help me draw near to you and your forgiveness in your Holy Word.  Amen!

Questions for Reflection: How do I avoid God in my life?  What is one way I can draw near to him?

Want to know more?  How can I live in the presence of God?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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Our Spiritual Spring – Week of March 15, 2021

Our Spiritual Spring – Week of March 15, 2021



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

Ephesians 2:4-5



I love spring!  After a frigid winter with only brown grass, dried up stalks in the fields and skeletal trees on the horizon, seeing skinny, green shoots and plump, colorful buds appear is comforting!  The lawns change color.  Trees fill out.  Gardens and fields become promising again.  What a relief we are not stuck in the season of winter forever!  Life comes again- full of purpose and activity!

Our text for this week talks about our spiritual spring.  “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our sin.”  We were dead.  In reality, we were even more barren than our winter gardens.  Our sinful hearts, even more withered than a December tree.  Our spiritual potential was even more depleted than a field of expired stalks.  We were dead!  Mired in only our own filthy sins.  No potential.  No purpose.  No activity.

We would have certainly stayed that way too if God’s merciful love had not given us life.  Though we did not earn or deserve it, God loved us!  As we lay wasted, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ!  Yes, even while we were still ensnared in our own sin, God changed our direction completely!  Now, through Jesus, we have a spiritual springtime! In Christ, our sins are forgiven, and our dead hearts are now alive!  Jesus melts our winter into life.  Life produces.  Life has purpose and identity.  Life is beautiful!

Because of Jesus, our new hearts produce thankfulness that honors God by serving others around us.  It might be that our service calls us to be patient as we work with children and assist our families in their training.  Because of Jesus, our new lives have purpose.  What an honor to be called, “teacher” as our daily activities prepare little hearts and hands and voices to know their Savior.  Because of Jesus, our identity has been transformed.  Faith in our Savior now identifies us as a child of God, and we work tirelessly with the littlest in his family.  Because of Jesus, our life is stunningly beautiful and only becomes more so as our faith grows!

Our spring has come!  Grow by hearing his Word.  Shake off your winter and welcome the opportunities God puts before you to love others.  Serve them in Jesus’ name.  New life in Jesus is beautiful!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for giving my life purpose and identity.  Help me to use my life to honor you.  Amen!

Question for Reflection: How do I use my daily activities to serve God and others?

Want to know more?  What is my purpose in life?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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Foolishness – Week of March 8, 2021

Foolishness – Week of March 8, 2021



We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

I Corinthians 1:23-25



Recently, I purchased a different phone.  I am not completely tech illiterate, but that phone had me confounded!  Buttons were in different places, swipes triggered different actions, connections were not established. Noting my frustration, my husband shared some good advice he received from his co-workers- “Give it to your daughter.  She’ll figure it out!”  Our daughter is nine!  How foolish that a nine-year-old can figure out this complicated instrument more efficiently than an adult!

In our text for this week, God’s plan for our salvation is referred to as foolish.  God’s plan of salvation, his plan to save sinful mankind from eternal destruction was this: To take His own words and form them into the gurgling of a fragile baby. This baby, Jesus, would be raised by insignificant humans and grow up to teach about God’s love in a scrubby region of the world.  As a man, Jesus would be tempted by others and even by the lord of lies himself, the devil.   Jesus would be able to resist each temptation.  He would allow himself to be captured, then abhorrently tortured.  Finally, he would hang on a cross as mankind’s substitute while he suffered the unspeakable torments of hell and isolation from God.  There he would die.  Three days later, Jesus would rise again to show that God accepted his perfect sacrifice.  This was God’s plan of salvation, our one chance for eternal survival.  Human reason says, “How foolish!”

Yet, human reason is no match for God’s perfection and faithfulness!  God’s foolishness is even wiser than man’s wisdom and his weakness is stronger than man’s strength.  God promised this plan and he delivered.  God had perfect confidence in his only Son and his Son executed the plan perfectly.  It worked with no hitches or flaws.  Jesus never once fell into temptation.  Jesus never once disobeyed or strayed from God’s perfect plan.  Jesus fulfilled God’s plan to the letter.

Now, when God looks at each one of his family members, he will not thunder, “Get away from me!”  Now when he looks at each of his family members, God sees our substitute Jesus.  His foolish plan worked!  God will greet each one that believes with, “Come!  I see Jesus in your heart!  Welcome to my kingdom!”

As you continue through Lent, fix your eyes on God’s foolish plan.  Come before God’s only Son, who stood in our place.  Marvel at God’s weakness that took one baby and raised a Savior!



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your perfect plan of salvation.  Help me to lean not on my own understanding but rest securely in your promises fulfilled in Jesus.  Amen!

Question for Reflection: Even the little children in our care are wiser than many smart grown-ups.  How can I nurture their trust in Jesus and make them wise for salvation?  (2 Timothy 3:15)

Want to know more?  Why does God love sinners?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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How Are You Doing? – Week of March 1, 2021

How Are You Doing? – Week of March 1, 2021



Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35



How are you doing?  If you gave up something for Lent, are you still holding strong or have you abandoned your sacrifice?  The tradition of denying something of pleasure for the six weeks leading up to Easter has been a challenge taken on by millions over the generations.  The motivation to sacrifice chocolate, as an example, is supposedly to lead the self-disciplined individual to remember Jesus’ suffering and ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  Six weeks does not sound that long!  A small sacrifice should not be that difficult!  Yet, for many the Lenten denial is surrendered in favor of the easy way out.

It is challenging to give up something you love, to deny yourself what you want.  Sometimes, we even act like our children when we must sacrifice something we value.  However, in our text we see Jesus gather up his followers for a special tutorial on discipleship instructing them to do exactly that.  “… deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

To be sure, denying ourselves- taking up our cross and following Jesus, is vastly different than sacrificing a pleasure for six weeks.  Denying ourselves is understanding that nothing in this life is more important than our faith in Jesus and the salvation of our souls- not money or property or personal connections.  Heaven is not gained with those.

But how are you doing?  Are you taking your faith life seriously or are you, like me, hanging your head in shame over the time you binge watched a TV series but did not find time to have a personal devotion?  Are your shoulders slumping, like mine, over the time you did not feel well enough to attend worship but work was too important to miss?  Do your eyes lower, like mine, over all of the times you prioritized this life instead of your eternal life.

We groan, “God forgive us!”  Then Jesus lifts our sin-weary head and takes our wretched hands and says, “You are forgiven!  Look!  See the cross I took up for you?  That is where I spread my arms to bear each time you denied me instead of this world.  That is where I give you strength to live for me!”

So how are you doing?  Well, on our own, we fail!  Only in Jesus do we have the strength to deny ourselves, bear our cross and follow him.  Draw near to Jesus.  Hear his Word.  Receive his forgiveness.  Then bear your cross with his strength.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving me when I deny you!  Help me remember your cross as I daily live for you!  Amen!

Question for Reflection: What part of my day denies Jesus?  How can I move forward in Jesus’ forgiveness and strength?

Want to know more?  I’m not perfect; I make mistakes!  So what?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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God Has Mercy on Me, A Sinner! – Week of February 22, 2021

God Has Mercy on Me, A Sinner! – Week of February 22, 2021



“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:13-14



“I want to be the mom. I know the most about taking care of babies!”
“I’m putting the last block on the tower, so it doesn’t fall!”

In a room filled with children under the age of five, you’ll hear sentiments like these all day long. Many children think they are the very best at, well, everything!

As grown-ups, we know better. Given thirty seconds to think, we could come up with a pretty good list of things that aren’t our strengths. That said, aren’t there so many times when we are just like the kids? Prideful thoughts and attitudes can sneak in so easily. It might sound like:
“Why does she always hold him like that? It never helps him to calm down.”
“I play on the floor with the kids all morning, while he pulls up a chair and just sits and watches.”
“She always wants to do all these art projects, and they’re amazing, but I’m always left cleaning everything up.”

In each of these examples, we’re not only complaining, we’re pridefully thinking of ourselves as better than someone else.

In the verses for today, Jesus was telling a story to those who were “confident in their own righteousness.” Jesus cuts right to our prideful hearts. Even while we know Jesus is our Savior, our sinful nature loves to puff itself up and put down those around us.

Jesus knew this about us, so in his love, he came to think, speak, and act differently in our place. Instead of choosing to stay in the perfection of heaven, Jesus became a lowly human. He perfectly put others before himself, always!

Then, Jesus gave the ultimate gift of humble service by giving his life for all, so that now, when we recognize the sin of pride and pray, “God forgive me. Have mercy on me, a sinner,” we can leave that prayer with this solid promise in our hearts, “God has had mercy on you, a sinner, for Jesus’ sake.” Knowing this precious truth fills our hearts with peace and moves us forward in humble service to others, in Jesus’ name.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, it can be so easy to fall into the sin of pride. Thank you for being perfectly humble in our place, and for dying for us so that this sin could be forgiven. Help us now, with hearts of faith, to work each day to think of others ahead of ourselves. In your name we ask this, amen.

A Question to Consider:
Pride often comes when there is a misunderstanding of others’ gifts or abilities or a different value system given to those diverse gifts. Take a moment to jot down the names of your coworkers. What are some of the strengths you see in their work each day?



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

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

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



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

1 Corinthians 9: 22b-23



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Blessed in the Word – Week of February 8, 2021

Blessed in the Word – Week of February 8, 2021



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

Psalm 1:1-3



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

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

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

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



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

A Question to Consider: At the end of the psalm verses above, God compares the believer to a tree planted by streams of water. The tree is connected to a steady supply of exactly what it needs to grow. Think through your week. In addition to church, how can you connect to what your heart needs, time with Jesus in his Word?



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

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

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



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

Jonah 3: 1-3a, 5, 10



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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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All Ears – Week of January 25, 2021

All Ears – Week of January 25, 2021



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

1 Samuel 3:9-10



“Does anyone hear me?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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

Christian Worship 283:1

A Question to Consider: What are some listening tricks you have learned throughout life? Share them with a friend and put them into practice this week.



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

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Unstoppable – Week of January 18, 2021

Unstoppable – Week of January 18, 2021



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

Mark 1:9-11



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

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

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

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

Take comfort in that, friends! He is powerful.

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



Prayer:

Holy Spirit, I am in awe of your power. Please continue to strengthen my faith and the faith of my students. Lord, help me to stay in your Word and faithful in my devotion to you. I cling to your unstoppable power. Amen

A Question to Consider: Who do you know that could use the reminders and encouragement of these verses? Consider sharing them with them by forwarding this devotion and perhaps including a personal word of encouragement.



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

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Wake up! – Week of January 11, 2021

Wake up! – Week of January 11, 2021



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

Isaiah 60:1-3



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

A Question to Consider: How can you be the light for your students this week?



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

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Happy New Year! – Week of January 4, 2021

Happy New Year! – Week of January 4, 2021



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

Micah 5:2,4-5a



10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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An Unforgettable Christmas – Week of December 28, 2020

An Unforgettable Christmas – Week of December 28, 2020



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

John 1:14



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

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

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

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

But this: The Word became flesh.

But this: Your God became man for you.

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

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

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

And that is a Christmas not to be forgotten!



Prayer:

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



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

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