ECME Devotions

Let Them!- Week of October 11, 2021

Let Them!- Week of October 11, 2021



People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Mark 10:13-16



With a big smile on her face, my daughter came running up to me, shouting, “Mommy! Mommy! May I make a care package for the mailman?” I was so pleased with her eagerness to show love, that, of course, I said, “Yes!”. She disappeared and came back about an hour later. She had made the care package of all care packages. A decorated brown paper bag filled with candy and pictures and books and a whole lot of Jesus. As I looked through the bag, I wondered if it was too much Jesus. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I almost didn’t let my sweet little disciple of a daughter actually put this kind gesture in the mailbox. I was afraid that it might be “too much”.

What would have happened to my daughter’s kind, Jesus-sharing spirt, had I told her that maybe we should tone the care package down a little bit? Knowing my daughter, I can tell you, that she would have thought she had done something wrong and that joyful little light of hers would have dimmed just a tiny bit.

“Do not hinder them…” This Bible verse kept ringing loudly in my ear.

While the care package may have been too much for my jaded heart, isn’t that kind of eagerness to share the love of Jesus something that I should want from my child? Something that I should be joyful of? Thankful about? Even imitating in my own life?

“Do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Vs.15

There you have it. Do not hinder them. Do not teach them to live their faith and then limit how they do it.

We can learn a lot from the littlest of his disciples.

So, when a child sings a hymn in church a little off beat or a little louder than the veteran members, enjoy it.

When a child boldly belts out “Jesus Loves Me” in the grocery store, smile at your fellow shoppers.

Encourage their boldness. They love the Lord! Praise God!

Their excitement to learn about and then share the love of Jesus is an answer to our prayer for them. They’re living out their faith! “Do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Vs. 15 Amen!



Prayer:

Dear Jesus, forgive me when I am a hinderance to my students. Help me to see their childlike faith as a blessing and echo it in my own life. Amen.

A Question to Consider:

What are some “out-of-the-box” ways that your students can spread their love of Jesus with others? Connect with other educators to gather a variety of ways to spread the gospel.

 



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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Got This! – Week of October 4, 2021

Got This! – Week of October 4, 2021



Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your own hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

James 4:7-10



“You’ve got this!” is a phrase you might have heard more often this past year. Meant as a statement of confidence in you and your ability to handle things, you and I know the truth. When it comes to spiritual matters, sin knocks that confidence right off our shoulders.

Our sin is not hard to find. It’s with us constantly and Satan is relentless in his consistent attacks. Today’s reading from the book of James provides several things to consider as we face the daily battles against our faith.

Submit to God:
God expects perfection. We are not perfect and never will be. We acknowledge that and in doing so, we place ourselves humbly at his feet. Our submission is one that trusts God’s will for us knowing how dearly he loves us in spite of our sin and because of Jesus.

Resist the devil:
You likely have heard that God is stronger than Satan and that’s true. Knowing that can’t allow us to sit back. Satan is powerful, conniving, relentless. He never gives up and with God’s help, we can’t either. We need to fight each day with God’s Word as our weapon.

Come near to God:
We can’t go to God on our own. God’s grace, given to us through Jesus, allows us to go to him with repentant hearts, confident that forgiveness is ours. God is always near to us.

Wash your hands:
In the Old Testament, this was a picture of washing away the sins people had committed. Soap, water, hand sanitizer can’t touch our sin but through Jesus, we are cleansed from sin.

Purify yourselves:
God doesn’t want us to be a Christian sometimes and worldly the rest of the time. In these words, he encourages us to live in a way that our faith is part of each day, all day, in all we do.

Grieve, mourn, and wail:
God is not telling us to walk around downhearted. Rather, we are encouraged to grieve our sins and put our lives of sinfulness behind us. Repentance leads us to inexpressible joy in knowing our sins are forgiven and we are right with God.

Humble yourselves before the Lord:
By nature, we are fiercely independent. When we recognize and repent of our sin, we humbly lean on God’s mercy for us, the only source of true peace.

That’s quite a list. “I’ve got this?” We can see that it’s only with God’s help that we can do any of these things.  God is all powerful, gracious, compassionate.  He looks at us with his love, his grace, and his mercy. In humility and gratitude, we can approach each day with joy and share that joy of peace through faith with those we serve, those we know, and in all we do. God’s got all of this and through faith, we do as well.



Prayer:
Create in me a new heart, Lord,
That gladly I obey your Word.
Oh, let your will be my desire
And with new life my soul inspire. Amen
Christian Worship (93) 471:3



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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Line Leader? Servant? – Week of September 27, 2021

Line Leader? Servant? – Week of September 27, 2021



Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 9:35-37



Line leader! It’s a big deal! No matter what system you use in your classroom, it’s a big deal. Most children watch and wait with eager anticipation for their day to be first in line. They may walk a bit taller and have a little more confidence in their step.

For most of us, we have a similar desire. We may not be looking to be a line leader, but we want to be recognized as someone who has gifts that stand out. We want to have a status that identifies us as important. If we’re being honest, we’d like it to be understood that we are more important/gifted/talented than others around us.

As so often is the case in Scripture, the Lord turns this on end and flips this idea around completely! In today’s reading, the disciples are travelling with Jesus. Jesus notices that an argument has taken place. While he, as God, knew what was going on, he asked them to share what it was that caused the argument. Silence. A silence coming from embarrassment. They were arguing about who was the greatest of the disciples. Here they were, alongside the King of Kings, the creator of all, and they were arguing about who of them was the greatest. Jesus’ response was to the point for them and for us. The greatest, is the one who is a servant, the one who puts others before self. To illustrate his point, he held a small child in his arms and shared that those who welcome a young child, welcome him and ultimately God the Father.

I can only imagine the thoughts of the disciples as they listened to Jesus. His response makes no sense in their world or in ours if one is thinking purely worldly. Servant? Who aspires to that? Last? How embarrassing! And then we consider Jesus, his acts of service, his sacrificial heart for everyone from the youngest child to the wealthy man trying to understand how to get to heaven.

When we consider and reflect on Jesus’ life of sacrifice, we are moved by faith to respond in kind with acts of kindness for others. No role is beneath us, but each role is a joy and privilege. Are you a teacher, director, leader, classroom aide, administrative assistant, classroom volunteer, the one who keeps the building clean? Motivated by love for our Savior, each role provides an opportunity to serve others, to give sacrificially, to reflect Christ’s love for us to those around us. Think about what you do each day. As you comfort a child, you are the loving arms that reflect Jesus. As you hold the hands of the struggling new walker, your words of encouragement help motivate that child to keep going. As a child conquers a task or learns a new concept, you are the guide, the teacher, the cheerleader to encourage them. As you share a Bible story and God’s message of grace and forgiveness with the children or with each other, you are sharing the most precious lesson one could, the one about God’s gift of salvation, mercy, grace, and love for all.

Line leader? It’s still a great thing! But servant…now that’s something to consider. As our Savior Jesus showed us, we look for opportunities to serve others out of faith and gratitude to him.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, accept my humble acts of service to others and motivate me to serve with joy and gratitude for you and because of you. In your name I pray this. Amen

A Question to Consider: Over the next few days, look for ways that you can show acts of kindness in service to someone else, even if they are unaware that you are doing so. Pray that the Lord gives you a humble heart in your service to others.



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

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He Hears Me – Week of September 20, 2021

He Hears Me – Week of September 20, 2021



I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.

Psalm 116:1-2,5



He heard me. He listened to me.

There are times in our lives when that is one of our greatest needs-that someone listens and hears our words. Often times this occurs when we are hurting, afraid, lonely, or sad. We don’t always need an answer or a solution. We just need to be able to share what’s on our hearts to someone who will listen.

The individual who wrote this Psalm shares a wonderful expression of gratitude for God’s graciousness and his mercy. We don’t know exactly what it was that the Psalmist had been delivered from, but we know that God listened, he delivered him from the whatever it was that led the author to seek God’s mercy.

This section of Psalm 116 reminds us of several of God’s amazing attributes. He is gracious-full of his grace. God wants nothing more than that you and I are his dear children through faith in Jesus. God is righteous. He expects perfection all the time, every time. This reminds us also of how dearly he loves us. His desire is that we be with him for all eternity in heaven. He is clear that perfection is the ticket. However, knowing our complete inability to be perfection, he makes us perfect in his sight through Jesus. God is compassionate. He expects perfection but kept his promise of salvation through Jesus. He also hears and knows our cries of pain, sadness, grief, loneliness, despair. God looks at us with the loving eyes of a Father and loves us in spite of our weaknesses.

What can we do? We see and hear of God’s grace, his righteousness, his compassion and we know that we can go to him anywhere, anytime with confidence. We can trust him and know that not only can we go to him, we know that he is eager to hear from us.

He hears you. He listens to your prayers. He forgives you. He gives you a peace that is only found in him. You can trust in him in any and all things to be with you.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for hearing my prayers and the prayers of all those who love you. Help me to remember your faithfulness and your mercy and wrap me in the peace that comes only from you. In Jesus’ name I come to you in prayer. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Think about those you know. Is there someone you know who could be blessed by a patient listening ear? How can you be that listening ear and then also remind them that God is eager to hear and faithful in keeping his promise to be with us in all things?



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

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The Perfect Gift – Week of September 13, 2021

The Perfect Gift – Week of September 13, 2021



Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:17-18



I struggle with gift giving. I’ll admit it. I really don’t like giving a gift just for the sake of giving a gift. I want it to be meaningful, personal, and clearly one that touches the receiver in some way. That’s a lot of pressure. I have never given the perfect gift. I’ve been excited about giving some, but none perfect. I recently took up knitting after many years of silent needles. I worked for months on a simple afghan for my mother. While she was truly touched, I could easily spot the errors in my work.

We have the perfect gift giver, our dear heavenly Father. He has given us many gifts, the greatest of all being his grace and mercy through his son, Jesus as our Savior. You and I could sit together and make an endless list of the gifts we have received from God. We would likely include our family, friends, food each day, clean water to drink, our church, the beauty of nature, our ability to learn and grow, our health, healthcare workers when our health fails, and on and on. These treasures and so much more come from God who is faithful and constant and full of grace. The passage reminds us that he does not change like a shadow that moves with the sun. That in itself, is a remarkable gift in this ever-changing world.

When we think of all that he has done, it might be easy to miss one incredibly significant gift—he chose to give us birth! Not just a physical birth, although that is amazing. Even more, he chose to give us a spiritual birth, through faith. Of all that he created, we are the crown of God’s creation. No mountain range, no breathtaking sunset, no spectacular animal comes close to his gift of faith to us, his ultimate creation. For you and I were chosen to be his people, his children, through faith in his son, Jesus. That gift is indescribable. That gift is worthy of our praise, of our thanks. With this gift, we know that we can trust him in each day, in every struggle and temptation. We can also reflect that love as we share his grace and mercy with others.

God’s gift to you, the gift of faith, of grace, of peace with him through Jesus—the perfect gift.



Prayer: Dear Father in heaven. For the gift of faith, for the gift of your grace, for your faithfulness, we thank you.  In Jesus’s name. Amen

A Question to Consider: Thank you notes seem to evolve over time. Today you may receive a handwritten note or a text. Consider creating a handwritten and designed thank you note for your Father in heaven for all that he has done for you. Put it in a place that can remind you of his gift of faith and grace for you.



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

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Keep on Praying! – Week of September 6, 2021

Keep on Praying! – Week of September 6, 2021



Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Ephesians 6:18



We sometimes hear about the “power of prayer.” While that phrase sounds nice, today’s verse helps us to understand more about prayer and where the power lies. The verse encourages us to pray in the Spirit. That Spirit is the Holy Spirit, who works faith in our hearts and then we in turn pray from a heart filled with faith. The power is in God, who hears our prayers.

Think for a minute about your prayers. Are you a grocery list type? How often are you driven to prayer because of something you need? (“Keep my loved one safe.” “Help me solve this problem.” “Please take my worry away.”) Those are all great things to take to Jesus in prayer. Today’s verse says to pray, “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Might some of those occasions include times of thanks for an answered prayer, for blessings such as food, home, family, friends? Could those occasions include prayers of thanks for an ordinary day—a blessing so often overlooked until a crisis hits? We can be eager to ask for things and not as intentional about praise and gratitude for all that God has done for us.  Above all, what a blessing that we can go to God with a heart of repentance and know he forgives us because of Jesus.

Today’s reading also encourages us to pray not just for ourselves but for all the Lord’s people, people of faith. We can pray that the Lord watches over them both in an earthly sense but even more in a spiritual sense. We can pray that the Lord keeps them always close to him and blesses them with an eagerness to be in the Word and live as faithful disciples, impacting the world around them.

Consider your prayers and what an overwhelming blessing it is that we can go to God who is all powerful, all knowing, the Judge and Ruler of all. We can talk to him as our loving Father because of what Jesus has done. You and I love to hear from people we love. God loves to hear from you and me even more. He loves to hear our praise, our thanks, our repentance, our concerns, our needs. He is eager to answer our prayers as he wills out of love for us. We can pray with a heart full of faith with confidence in a God full of love for us.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I’m so grateful that I can come to you in prayer at any time. Encourage me to praise you, to thank you, to repent, to reach out to you for my needs and the needs of others. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: You’ve likely heard about prayer journals. This can be a way to consider the many ways that we can approach our Father in prayer. Consider making a list of things for which you can pray. Include praise, thanksgiving, repentance, and intercessions (requests). Think also about others that you can include in your prayers.  Journaling can also be a way to note and give thanks for prayers answered.



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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Sing in His Name – Week of August 30, 2021

Sing in His Name – Week of August 30, 2021



Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:18b-20



Isn’t it the best when you get to hear your students singing their hearts out to Jesus?  On the carpet during the day, in front of a beaming congregation, or a snippet here and there while riding the trike around the path outside, our kids’ singing brings joy to our hearts!

But have you ever had a day when a child just refused to sing?  You try all your tricks: ignore for a while to see if she comes around, cajole with a favorite, use a little reverse psychology, and still, nothing!

Have you ever felt the same as that child?  You just don’t feel like singing!  Maybe it’s the hymn itself. Maybe it’s the never-ending todo list that makes singing seem like a bit of a waste of time.  Or maybe there are significant concerns or challenges weighing on your heart that make singing seem a little ostentatious today.  Paul reveals the key to singing in our verses for today with three phrases: “filled with the Spirit,” “always giving thanks,” and “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Filled with the Spirit.”  Last week, we remembered the Spirit’s work, the way in which he “seals us for the day of redemption.”  We remembered how the Spirit brings us into God’s family through water and the Word and then carries us with that Word to the last day.  Being filled with the Spirit frees us from getting stuck in the here and now and refocuses our hearts on eternity.

“Always giving thanks to God the Father.”  That word “always” can make these words into a pretty tall order. How in the world can we give thanks in the things that discourage us, even send us reeling?

“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  We take all of the things with which we struggle to the Lord in prayer, thanking God for his promises to bring eternal blessings to our lives, no matter what we face.  And we trust that God’s promises are true, because the biggest promise ever, that Jesus would take away the sins of the world, is true, proven so by his resurrection on Easter morning.

So, yes, despite whatever you are facing, sing!  In the classroom, take time to point out that singing is for all times: when we’re happy, but also when we’re feeling sad or disappointed, even when we’re facing a huge challenge.  Don’t be afraid to introduce your students to some songs about their Savior that aren’t just happy/clappy (and those absolutely have their place!), but those that also dive into the truths of what Jesus can bring us through, because of what he went through on the cross, for us.  In Jesus, in his name, sing!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, sometimes these words seem a bit much to our ears: “sing, in all things.”  Forgive us, Jesus, for the times when we’ve been so shortsighted that we can only see our immediate struggles and miss out on the long view of your promises.  With the news of what you’ve done for us ringing in our ears, help us to praise and thank you in all things and to lead our students to do the same.  In your name we pray this. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Which Christian psalms, hymns or songs are your go-to when you’re feeling happy about something?  What is your go-to for when you’re feeling sad or disappointed?  Consider sharing some of your favorites with fellow staff and using these or other simple songs for the different times your students may face as well.



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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That’s Just Not You! – Week of August 23, 2021

That’s Just Not You! – Week of August 23, 2021



And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:30-32



“That’s just not her!” a mom says as her adventuresome, happy-go-lucky child spends the day clinging to her in tears.  “That’s just not him!” a daughter says as her once gentle dad becomes more of a challenge for his nurses.  Changes like these, often caused by sickness or other ailments, can be so difficult to witness!

In our Bible verses for today, Paul is describing behaviors that are “just not us,” those saved by God’s grace.  We see the behaviors listed: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, every form of malice.  Sadly, on second reading, that list actually sounds very much like us!  How often have we let a student’s behavior trigger us into a fiery rant or dragged a coworker’s name through the mud?  How often have we allowed ourselves to sink into bitterness over our lot in life?  The Holy Spirit grieves over each of us, as we turn away from who we are, who his work has made us to be, and return to our old selves that love to let our tongues (or our hearts) run wild.

To this we say, “Lord, forgive us!”  And he has!  The last and first parts of this section of Scripture tell us what God has done for us and remind us of who we actually are.  At the end of this section, we hear “in Christ, God forgave you.”  God sent his Son to live through every temptation we live through: to let loose in an ungodly rant, to join in with the wagging tongues, to let the devil have his way in planting bitterness in hearts. Jesus lived through all of these temptations perfectly, for us.  Then Jesus went to the cross, to suffer for the countless times we’ve failed. “In Christ,” in Jesus’ work of living perfectly and dying for us, “God forgave you!”  The first part of our verses adds that through the Holy Spirit, we are “sealed for the day of redemption.”  The Holy Spirit worked faith in your heart to trust in what Jesus had done, and sealed you as God’s own dear child, whom he will carry with the Word all the way to the last day.

So now, when those temptations come, remember who you are.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit’s power, armed with God’s Word, you can say no to the evil that so readily comes knocking.  And, when you fail, flee to who you are in Christ.  This sin that dragged you down?  That’s not you!  Through the One who became just like you, but without sin, you are holy and perfect in God’s sight.  You are his, freed to live in his love and grace.



Prayer:Dear Jesus, how often we stray from who we are!  Forgive us for the times that we have allowed anger or slander or bitterness to rule our hearts.  Thank you for the precious assurance of who we are in you. Amen.

A Question to Consider:The truth of who we actually are in Christ (not who we are working to be or someday hope to aspire to) is crucial to our understanding of salvation, as well as how we live in our walk toward heaven.  Ask your pastor for additional parts of Scripture which address the topic of who we are in Christ.  One such portion to consider would be Romans 7:15-all of Romans 8.



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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One Direction – Week of August 16, 2021

One Direction – Week of August 16, 2021



You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24



When I was little, I had a pop-up book of the story of “Dr. Doolittle.”  One of the pages inside featured a moving “push me pull you” llama, a creature with two heads, that could go in either direction by pulling a little tab.

God’s words through Paul in our verses today reminded me of that llama picture.  Doesn’t that picture sum up the life of a Christian well?  We know who we are through Jesus; as we read the Bible, we know more and more the ways in which we can show Christ’s love to others, yet our hearts remain just like that llama, with impulses pulling us in two different directions, the old and new self, at all times!

We read about love being patient and kind and long to emulate that, but an hour into our day a parent makes a comment and our blood boils!  We know that discontent has no place in our hearts, but at naptime, we strike up the old conversation about how our director or our school board doesn’t really care about us and doesn’t understand what it’s like to be on the front lines of the work we’re doing.  This can happen so easily and so regularly that we fail to even recognize it!  God is clear; these corrupt words, actions, and attitudes have no place in our hearts.  Quite likely after the fact, we are washed once again in a torrent of guilt.  What can we do?

Instead of asking, “What can we do?” we turn instead to God’s Word and recount the story of what Jesus did, for us.  When we were unable to put off our old selves, filled with all manner of vileness, wickedness, and sin, God took those old selves and placed them squarely on the back of his one and only Son.  Jesus bore the agony of wearing the sins of the entire world!  Then, God took his Son’s “true righteousness and holiness” and gave that to us, not to just show up every once in a while, but to be the very essence of who we now are as forgiven sinners.

Thanks be to God!  By ourselves, we have no power to put off whatever corrupt desire our heart is taunting us with this day, but in Jesus, we cling to the knowledge that we are righteous and holy.  With the Spirit’s help, we strive to live as our new selves as we interact with all those around us, pulled not in two directions, but headed, for Jesus’ sake, in the one direction of heaven.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, forgive us for the many times our thoughts, words, and actions have aligned with our former way of life, with our old selves, instead of with the new self you created in us.  Be with us as we fight this battle each and every day.  Comfort us with your forgiveness when we fail, and drive us ever more with your promises to live as the new selves we actually are, through you. In your name we pray this. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Think privately about one “old self” sin that continues to rear its head in your life.  What are some Scripture passages you can remember to encourage you in your walk of faith each day and to comfort your heart when you fail?



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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From Peace-Breaker to Peace-Maker – Week of August 9, 2021

From Peace-Breaker to Peace-Maker – Week of August 9, 2021



Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called.

Ephesians 4:3-4



You’re on a neighborhood walk. Maddie has managed to stay upright the whole time-no trips today!-and your partnering of the students seems to be working out well.  But then, Alex finds a bit of dandelion fluff and throws it in Ava’s hair.  Just like that, the peace is broken!

Bond of peace.  Last week, we spent some time looking at how we belong. We rejoiced in knowing our status as a stone built on Jesus!  Now we get a chance to pay a little more attention to the stones around us.  Paul reminds us, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  That unity of the Spirit is the bond we all share as Christians, the great equalizer that reminds us we are all part of a family, only through the Spirit’s work, which brought us to faith in Jesus.

Isn’t it difficult, though, to keep the bond of peace?  Our sinful natures want nothing more than to break the bond of peace at every turn!  Our little ones show us this every day.  But our own hearts also convict us as we think of the times when we’ve said a word that has built us up, only by tearing another down.  So often we use words and actions to put up walls between fellow stones in God’s building, causing strife and division where God asks for peace to reign.

Is there any hope?  In Jesus, there is. In the waters of baptism, in the words about Jesus, the Holy Spirit created faith in our hearts and changed our hearts from ones that desired only peace-breaking, to hearts that now seek after peace-making, always modeled after the ultimate Peace-Maker, Jesus. With Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross in view, we can look at our fellow stones, and love them, knowing Jesus loved them first.  With Jesus’ help, we can fight back the words that threaten to cause disunity and strife and can instead speak words that help to build each other up as fellow members of his kingdom.  These words about Jesus are what will change the hearts of our little ones, too.  As we share with our students what Jesus has done for them, we’ll see evidence of their faith growing, as they, too, work to be peace-makers with each other.  None of us will do this perfectly here on earth, but with the Spirit’s help, we work at it each and every day, all the way until our ultimate peace is fully realized in heaven!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, by your death on the cross, you created peace between sinners and your perfect Father in heaven. At our baptisms, this peace became ours. As we live and work with others in a world that strives against peace and harmony, help us to be people who share your  peace at every turn. Let our words and actions build others up and keep strife and division far from us. In your name we ask this. Amen.

A Question to Consider:Consider privately a person with whom it is easy for you to break the bond of peace. How and when can you meditate on the Scripture above in the following weeks to be renewed in your desire to live at peace with those around you, for Jesus’ sake?



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

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We Belong! – Week of August 2, 2021

We Belong! – Week of August 2, 2021



Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:19, 20



Belonging. We all ache for it, don’t we? Think back to yourself as a freshman in high school, stepping into that gigantic cafeteria for the first time. Whom would you sit by?  Would anyone notice you?  Those brief moments before a friend called out your name were agony!  Belonging is something we all crave. We long to be accepted, to be part of something!

The Ephesian Christians in our Scripture verses had been wrestling with figuring out a sense of belonging, too.  Their church was made up of people from different backgrounds, some Jews and others Gentiles (non-Jews).  For thousands of years, the Jews had special status because God had promised to send a Savior through them.  In this letter to the Ephesian Christians, Paul reassures Jews and Gentiles alike that they do indeed belong, not because of anything they had done or because of who they were on their own, but because of what Jesus had done and who they were in him!   These Ephesian Christians were “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” God wanted them to know that there was one thing, and one thing only, that made them truly belong: their connection to Jesus.

That connection to Jesus is the same thing that gives you and me that ultimate sense of belonging.  In Jesus, we are part of God’s household, his family.  Jesus left his home in heaven and became a foreigner, a stranger here on earth, for us!  He kept every word of the prophets that had been spoken about him, and finally gave his life for the sins of the world.  Now, on Jesus’ work for us as the cornerstone, God is building his family, stone by stone, brick by brick.  You, too, are part of that building because of what Jesus has done.

What reassuring words these are!  Our belonging isn’t based on what we bring to the table or don’t, but on the grace found in Jesus. So whether we feel too young and inexperienced, too old and out of touch, or somewhere in between, we stand in God’s family because of the grace of Jesus. Whether our place of service is exactly what we pictured or far from it, we can rest as part of his family and trust we are exactly where God wants us, in a place where we can use our gifts to bring him glory. As we work to share with children the awesome news that they are part of Jesus’ family, we get to remember that this same message is true for us, too. In Jesus, we belong!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for making me a part of your family, your building, because of your death on the cross.  Forgive me for the times when I have wallowed in self-pity, thinking only of how I don’t belong in a given place or circumstance.  In those moments, turn my eyes to you and remind me of how I am built on you, the chief cornerstone.  Through your blood, I belong in your family!  Thank you, Jesus!  Amen.

A Question to Consider: How does knowing you have ultimate heavenly belonging in Jesus help you to work as part of a team here on earth?



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

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Passing on the Message of Peace – Week of July 26, 2021

Passing on the Message of Peace – Week of July 26, 2021



My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.

Psalm 78:1-4



Do you remember the “telephone game”? In this game, often played at teen events and slumber parties, one person whispers a phrase or sentence in an ear and then it gets passed down and passed down through whispers and giggles. And in the end the last person shouts out a sentence that almost always had NOTHING to do with the original!

Well, in the early times of the Bible, generations relied on storytelling, a “telephone game” of sorts, to preserve their history, traditions, and faith. There were no GoogleDocs and there was no recording of Zoom meetings. Before the Bible was written by men through God, everything that God wanted us to know was passed down from generation to generation with conversation. How thankful we are that God’s Word is well-preserved. God’s Word is eternal, even during the times that we didn’t have paper and Smartphones!

The words “parable” and “hidden” in the Psalm might be confusing because these words might give the impression that the truth of God’s Word is something unattainable. But here the word “parable” means that teachings of the Bible need to be carefully and frequently studied in order to apply them to our lives. And the word “hidden” is used not because we cannot access God’s Word, but because we need to have God the Holy Spirit give us the faith to understand what we are learning.

Are you able to listen carefully when you have opportunities to hear and read God’s Word? Or are you easily distracted—by your “to-do” list, housework, financial concerns, or family issues? Do you take the time to really study and learn what God wants us to know, or do you rush through your devotional time just to check it off your list? I have good news—it’s never too late to refresh and restart devoting your time to read the Bible! God knows our sins; he knows that we are easily distracted and sometimes unfaithful. But God is always faithful, always forgiving, and he wants us to come back to him and his Word.

Let us listen carefully to the teachings of the Bible, passed down to us for generations and written down for us through the power of the Holy Spirit. After careful and frequent study of the stories in the Bible, we are more ready to pass on these truths to the children and families that we serve.

What a blessing that we work in a Christian early childhood program! Christian education first begins with adults studying the Bible. The more we grow in the Word, the more ready we are to “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.”



Prayer:

For Christian homes, O Lord, we pray, that you might dwell with us each day.
Make ours a place where you are Lord, where all is governed by your Word.
And when you call us all to rest, then will we have a home more blest,
See all our care and sorrow cease, and find with Christ eternal peace. Amen.

Christian Worship 500:1, 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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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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