ECME Devotions

It Is Finished – Week of April 6, 2020

It Is Finished – Week of April 6, 2020


When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30



The words “It is finished” are a translation of one word in the original Greek, tetelestai. (te-TELL-i-sty) This single word means so much. It means that God’s work of our salvation is finished. It is complete. There is nothing left to be done. There is no work yet to be completed. It is finished.

This is freedom. I am secure. I do not have to worry for one second what my value is. Christ showed me that on the cross. I do not need to worry for one second where I will be in after I die. Christ earned heaven for me. I do not need to worry for one second about God’s love and care. Christ made God’s love abundantly clear on the cross. I do not need to worry for one second if more needs to be done. Tetelestai. It is finished. It is complete. I am forgiven. Period.

It is one powerful word. One, single, powerful word.

One word from you can make all the difference can it not? One word from a teacher to a students can make a world of difference. You have seen it happen, haven’t you? One word of rebuke can change the dynamics of a classroom. One word of kindness can alter a whole day by changing an attitude. Words are powerful. Even one word can be powerful.

Of course, that doesn’t always work well, does it? One word of anger can ruin a whole day too. Nor does one word always do the trick. In fact, you know that it is many words repeated over and over and over again (to the point of frustration at time) until the message gets across to some students. Jesus uttered this one powerful word before he died but he repeated the message over and over to his slow learning disciples over three years.

So don’t stop speaking. Words have power even if they do not produce immediate results. And let the last word always be forgiveness. It was Christ’s last word. Leave your children with Christ and his forgiveness. The job has been completed. They are forgiven. Nothing can change that. Not even a pandemic! It is finished. Tetelestai.



Prayer:
Jesus Christ,
Your death on the cross was the culmination of the entire story of salvation from the beginning to the end. Your perfect life and death have brought to completion our salvation. May your final word of grace from the cross be our word to our little ones.
In Your Name we pray, Amen.



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

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Children of God – Week of March 30, 2020

Children of God – Week of March 30, 2020


For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father’. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:14-17



“You are safe and loved.” How many times have you said this to a little one? Safety is a building block of learning and developing. In order to learn successfully and even for the brain to develop successfully, a child needs to feel safe. If a child lives in fear, the child’s life will be filled with many struggles and obstacles.

The Bible passage for today gives the comfort of safety to all who have received the Spirit. As children of God there is no need to live in fear. God is not a distant God removed from the lives of his children. It is the opposite! Through the Spirit we have become God’s children. What a comfort to know that God has made each one of us his dear children.

There are two blessings highlighted in these verses that we receive as children of God. First is a blessing that we can confidently approach God as our Heavenly Father. He is our Father and we can boldly and confidently take anything to him in prayer. We can also rest assured in the promise that God will hear the prayer as our Heavenly Father.

Secondly, we are heirs of God, co-heirs of Christ. Through Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection we receive the gift of salvation. The troubles and sufferings we face in this world are only temporary because we will one day receive the glory of Heaven!

There is peace and comfort in the feeling of safety. In this time of challenges and concern, we can all rest peacefully in the safety of our Heavenly Father! He has us in his arms and will not let us fall. One day we will be in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.



Prayer:
Children of the Heavenly Father safely in his bosom gather;
Nestling bird or star in heaven such a refuge ne’er was given.

Though he giveth and taketh, God his children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy. Amen
Christian Worship 449:1,4



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

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Some Things Never Change – Week of March 23, 2020

Some Things Never Change – Week of March 23, 2020


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8



This morning I read a mother’s post on Facebook. Last night as she tucked her son in bed, he was thinking about his birthday today. He looked at her and asked if they would need to skip his birthday this year.

We see example after example of visits to the elderly through windows rather than in person.

Stores are closing. Restaurants closing or serving only take out. Libraries closed.

And then there is you. Your school is closed. Your childcare is either closed or providing care for a limited number. You are working to find ways to support parents in continuing their child’s learning. You are missing your students and they are missing you.

So much change. Where did normal go? When will normal return?

This is an unprecedented time. Each day seems to bring new regulations and expectations. There is so much unknown. We are living in an ever-changing world right now. All of this can lead to feeling anxious and concerned.

And yet… we have a reason to have hope and to rejoice.

“Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” God never changes. God keeps his promise to be with us through it all. God is faithful.

Does he promise that you and I and those we care about will not get Coronavirus? No. Does he promise that he will be with us each and every day as we wait and watch for this to be over? Yes.

In times of uncertainty and fear, we look to God’s Word. Consider the following passages.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations. For ever and ever! Amen.

So, what can you and I do?

• Be in the Word. Find the way that works best for you. And encourage others to do the same. Find creative ways to do it together.
• Look for the blessings. They are everywhere! Families are spending more time together than they have in decades. People are finding creative ways to reach out to each other. There are countless acts of selflessness all around us.
• Look for opportunities to help in ways that are safe for you and for others. Call those you know who are home alone. Write letters. Text. Email. Facetime. SKYPE.
• Take care of yourself. Keep moving. Go for walks. Eat healthy as much as possible. Get your rest.
• Pray. Pray for protection, for health, for healing, for leaders, for healthcare workers, and with thanksgiving for the many blessings—especially for faith and forgiveness from our loving Savior.

Things are different. They won’t always be. This is tough but our God is tougher than it all. Some things change but one thing never changes—God’s love for you is ever present and his promises to be with you are sure.



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for the confidence we have in you that your promises are sure. Grant us patience and peace in your loving care and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen



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

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Show Me the Way – Week of March 16, 2020

Show Me the Way – Week of March 16, 2020


Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Psalm 143:7-8



Have you ever had one of those days? A day when an unexpected problem comes up and you have no idea how to solve the problem. The problem follows you around through your entire day. It cannot simply be pushed from your mind. Maybe you even have that pit feeling in your gut.

It can be exhausting living in this sinful world. Problems, worries, and fears arise every day and can follow for days, weeks, months, or even years. Where do you turn in these situations? What is your first instinct in these situations? Do you expect an instant fix?

In these situations, the answer lies in taking the problem to the Lord in prayer. The Lord promises to hear the prayer and offers confidence that he will be with you throughout the problem and beyond.

The reading for today is a great example of taking problems, worries, and fears to the Lord, asking for God’s strength and presence during the difficult times. Without God, there is no strength to continue. The Psalm even mentions without the Lord, “I will go down to the pit”. It is God’s promise of strength and deliverance that carries you through a rough time.

The verses in this Psalm, take it one step further, asking for not just God’s strength and deliverance, but also for God’s guidance during the situation. It is so important to rely on God’s guidance and spiritual guidance when working through a difficult time. Ask God for guidance and trust in God! God will show you the way to go!

The next time you have one of those days pause and think of these Psalm verses. Follow the example of the Psalm: pray to the Lord, trust in God’s strength and deliverance, and ask for God’s guidance. Finally, trust that God has you and he will not let you fall!



Prayer: For today’s prayer, let’s reread the Psalm verses found in the reading for today. Take your problem, fear, or worry to the Lord with these words.

Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Amen



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

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Living Water – Week of March 9, 2020

Living Water – Week of March 9, 2020


Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14



Water is an essential part of human life. Living in Northern California, where summer temperatures can reach 115 degrees on a typical day, a person can quickly learn about the importance of water. It seems like no matter how much water is consumed during the heat of the day, it is never enough to keep the thirst from the heat at bay. It is not as simple as drinking one glass of water to have a lasting effect. It’s not like the water that Jesus describes in the Bible reading today, which is an “eternal water”.

The water that Jesus offers and gives to each one of us is far different from mere earthly water. Earthly water is only temporary, but Jesus describes his water as eternal. One drink of this water and a person will never thirst again! The water quenches the thirst forever for a person.

Wow! What type of water is Jesus talking about? The water sounds amazing, right? Jesus uses the imagery of living water to speak about that which quenches the deepest thirst of our soul. The living water of Jesus is the salvation he brings to the world, the forgiveness of sins through his life and death. That free gift springs up to eternal life in all who drink this living water.

Faith in Jesus is how we receive the living water. Through faith, each one of has received the free gift of forgiveness of sins and salvation. We do not have to earn the living water, but rather it is ours through Jesus’ perfect life and resurrection!

Yes, water is essential to human survival. Even more importantly is the Living Water that is given through Jesus. It is for eternity in Heaven! A blessing beyond comprehension!



Prayer:
Faith is a living power from Heaven that grasps the promise God has given.
A trust that cannot be overthrown, fixed heartily on Christ alone.
Christian Worship 404 verse 1



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

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Temptation and Deliverance – Week of March 2, 2020

Temptation and Deliverance – Week of March 2, 2020


Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give to you,” he said, “if you bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:8-11



Let’s be honest…Christian life in this world is difficult. Temptations are all around in the world. A temptation is a test with the outcome either being pass or fail. Satan’s goal with each temptation is to lead an individual away from Jesus. Satan provides a plethora of temptations and individualizes temptations to do his very best to tear an individual away from Jesus. Sometimes temptations are blatant like stealing or dishonesty. Some are maybe more subtle such as doubt in God’s plan or coveting higher success or wealth. Blatant or subtle the temptations are an immoral act against God. The good news is that we are never alone in a temptation. Jesus is with us and will help overcome the temptation.

Jesus himself was tempted by Satan. Following his baptism Jesus was led into the desert where he fasted for 40 days. It is during this time that Satan worked to lead Jesus to sin. In turn this would have negated Jesus’ work of salvation for all of mankind. Thankfully, Jesus resisted the devil and overcame temptation not once, not twice, but three times!

The reading for the devotion is the third temptation of Jesus. Satan is claiming that he has the power to give Jesus all the kingdoms, with one caveat…Jesus must bow and worship Satan. This is, of course, a lie by Satan.

Twisting the truth, even Bible verses, is a common tactic of Satan. How many times has Satan tried to tempt you to think if you try this you will be wealthier or if you do this you will be more accepted by your friends? Soon doubt begins to break down the trust in God’s plan and in turn the lies of Satan are trusted.

Jesus used Scripture to refute Satan and overcome the temptation. We can follow Jesus’ example when we are faced with temptations. Jesus is stronger than Satan. The words of Scripture are more powerful than the lies of Satan. As we face every temptation we can trust in God, rely on God for deliverance, and when we fall into temptations have peace in the forgiveness given to us.

Temptations will be a part of life in this world. Each temptation is a test, but we can rest assured in the promise of God that he is with us through all temptations and will give us strength to endure the temptation.



Prayer:
A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon.
He helps us free from every need that has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe now means deadly woe.
Deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight.
On earth is not his equal.
Christian Worship 200 verse 1



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

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It Is Good To Be Here – Week of February 24, 2020

It Is Good To Be Here – Week of February 24, 2020


After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”

Matthew 17:1-4a



There are times in a person’s life when you can’t help but think, “Wow, it’s good to be here!” Perhaps it’s being awestruck by the beauty and grandness of a national park. It might be hearing musicians performing glorious music. Maybe, after having a long hard day, it’s hearing a loved one whisper, “I love you.” God blesses us with moments of pure joy.

Peter, James, and John had such a moment. Jesus gave them a foretaste of heaven when he showed them his glorified body and spoke with Moses and Elijah on that day of transfiguration. The disciples knew they were getting a glimpse of heaven, and they wanted it to last. But it didn’t. All too soon it was time to come down off the mountain and face the world again. Jesus had work for them to do.

Jesus has work for us too. He placed us in this time and place to spread his word. We get to tell little ones and their families about Jesus’ saving love. We help them live their faith, thanking Jesus through their words and actions. We patiently correct and train. It isn’t easy. It takes energy, thought, and lots of prayers. In spite of that, we know that this is where God has placed us, and it is good for us to be here.

Jesus showed his disciples this glorified view of himself to strengthen them. Soon they would see Jesus in a very different way: beaten, scorned, and crucified. We, too, are strengthened through the knowledge of what Jesus did for us. His death and resurrection assure us that he conquered sin, death, and the devil. He continues to guide and forgive us through this life, until we victoriously join him in heaven, where we can confidently say, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!”



Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for letting me share the gospel message with others. Help me remember how important this work is. I trust that you will guide me each day until I join you in heaven. In your name I pray. Amen.



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

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Heaven is My Home – Week of February 17, 2020

Heaven is My Home – Week of February 17, 2020


For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees, and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Deuteronomy 30:16



The people of Israel had spent forty years waiting to enter the Promised Land. They stood at the brink of finally reaching their goal, when their leader, Moses, spoke the words of our Bible text. Moses knew his journey would end before the people stepped into this new home, but theirs was just beginning. What would they do? Would they follow God’s commands or slip into their old habits of worry, complaints, and disobedience?

We are not so different from the people of Israel. We thank God for faithful parents, friends, and leaders who made sure we learned about God’s law and how Jesus kept that law for us. Yet still we wander. We gossip or complain about work. We worry and forget Jesus’ continued love and providing care.

The list Moses gave the people and us today was daunting: walk in obedience and keep God’s commands, decrees, and laws. But Moses also encouraged the people. Just a few moments later he said, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Moses rightly promised that no matter what dangers or temptations we face, the Lord will be with us and forgive us. His death and resurrection seal that promise for us. We can always depend on his help, guidance, and forgiveness.

Moses promised the people wonderful blessings for their allegiance to God. For a long time they prospered in their promised new home. Our new home is waiting for us. Because of Jesus’ gracious sacrifice, we know we get to spend eternity in heaven with him forever.

“Therefore I murmur not; heaven is my home. Whate’er my earthly lot, heaven is my home. And I shall surely stand there at my Lord’s right hand. Heaven is my fatherland; heaven is my home.” (Christian Worship 417:4)



Prayer:
Dear Lord, every day I face temptations and hardships. Remind me that you are always with me, protecting me from all evil. I long to join you in heaven. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen



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

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Light of the World – Week of February 10, 2020

Light of the World – Week of February 10, 2020


You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16



As you drive toward Las Vegas, you can’t miss the sparkling flashing lights. They call to tourists, drawing them to spend money on casinos, shows, and restaurants. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells believers that we are to let our lights shine. Through our words and actions we glorify God and draw people to Jesus’ love.

As we work with little children, we have many opportunities to let our lights shine. When a student yet again grabs another’s toy, your gentle correcting words sparkle with Jesus’ light. Praying and singing and talking about Jesus through the day glisten with God’s unending grace. Encouraging words to parents and fellow workers shimmer with Jesus’ love. And the lights multiply as our students learn to let their faith shine. We are truly blessed that reflecting Jesus’ love to the people around us is part of our job description!

There are days, hours, and minutes when our lights flicker. Our world is not a perfect one, and we also are far from faultless. We look inward and realize that all too often we cover our lights.

How fortunate for us that we have the perfect light to reignite us! “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” Jesus declared to his disciples (John 8:12). Through that perfect light, our failings are wiped out. We start again.
A loss of electricity can darken the Vegas lights, but, through the faith the Holy Spirit gives us, our lights shine on. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14). We aren’t just like lights; we are lights. God has made us lights; that is our identity as Christians. As we go about our daily lives, God’s love will be reflected through us. That’s what he promises. That’s what he does.



Prayer:
Dear Savior, thank you for making me your light. Guide me each day to reflect your love to the people around me. Forgive me and strengthen me daily. In your name I pray. Amen.



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

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Because of Him – Week of February 3, 2020

Because of Him – Week of February 3, 2020


It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

I Corinthians 1:30-31



One of the joys of teaching is working with so many different personalities. Each child is a unique individual. While this diversity is wonderful, it can make teaching complicated. How can I hope to find that perfect lesson, the exact right words to teach the concept I want them all to understand? What if I just can’t get through to each child?

These questions get even scarier when I consider that God has entrusted me with the most precious message of all: we all are sinners that need a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. What if I mess up? Why would God entrust these treasured souls to me?

God has a track record of choosing unexpected people to share his Word. His disciples included a group of uneducated fishermen, a despised tax collector, and a political rebel. Moses killed a man and then was a shepherd for years before he was called to lead God’s people. The first people to hear and share the news of the Savior’s birth were shepherds. Maybe we fit right into God’s group of misfits.

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.” (I Corinthians 1:30). The word him refers to God. It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus. God chose you. He chose you to be a believer. He clothed you with Jesus’ holiness so that you are now perfect in his eyes. God also chose you to share the wonderful message of salvation with little ones and their families. Not only did God choose you, he also equipped you. God gives you his Word so that you can grow in your faith and then share that faith. The Holy Spirit guides you as you teach and apply God’s Word each day. You are in the position you are because of him. If you’re faithfully using the Word he has equipped you with, you don’t have to fear that you’ll mess things up. It will also be because of him and his power that your students will share in the blessings of Jesus through Spirit-worked faith.

There will still be times when you wish you had found better words or had handled a situation differently. Just remember, God chose you. He continues to work through you. And, one day, you will see those precious souls in heaven.



Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for choosing me to teach these children the truths of your Word. Help me confidently share your love with them every day. In your name I pray. Amen.



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

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He is Here! The Light – Week of January 27, 2020

He is Here! The Light – Week of January 27, 2020


The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2



January is a dark time of year. It is still the season of winter and the sun sets early. Many parts of the country have cold and cloudy weather. Families return to regular schedules. Christmas is over.

Isaiah was a prophet, a messenger sent by God to his people. During his time on earth, Isaiah served people that were going through the troubled times of war and defeat, and these struggles would last for years. Their homes would be destroyed, families killed, survivors held captive. For God’s people, those were very, very dark times.

And yet Isaiah pointed God’s people to the coming of Christ, and his words continue to do this for us today. Isaiah promised that a “new light” would come—Jesus! He delivered this great message: even though God’s people would have severe hardships on earth, Jesus would come and heal every wound.

God never promised that we or our students will not have darkness here on earth. We will have times of physical trials. Family members may get cancer. There may be financial strains such as house and car repairs, jobs lost, or money mismanaged. Sin will bring darkness too. Friends will have arguments, co-workers will disagree. We will gossip, hate, cheat. We will feel entitled to something God has not given to us or feel jealous. These are real, dark sins which afflict us all. But God promises that Jesus, the great light of the world will save us.

God will shatter all of our darkness when he comes again to take us to heaven, and God daily gives us a “new light” when we repent, and he forgives our many sins. This forgiveness comes as a gift from God through the birth of our Savior and his death on this cross. With this “dawning of light” comes great joy! The Great Light is here!



Prayer:
Your little ones, dear Lord, are we and come your lowly bed to see;
Enlighten ev’ry soul and mind that we the way to you may find.
Until at last we, too, proclaim with all your saints, your glorious name;
In paradise our songs renew and praise you as the angels do. Amen
Christian Worship 46:1, 4



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

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He is Here! The Lamb of God – Week of January 20, 2020

He is Here! The Lamb of God – Week of January 20, 2020


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

John 1:29-31



Our preschool class started the year with the stories of Creation and heard about Jesus every day. In every Bible lesson that we teach, we point to Jesus, the cross, and Jesus’ resurrection. So when we finally began reading the New Testament stories about baby Jesus, they had been waiting, and waiting a long time for this baby Jesus. Finally, the day came. One child stood up and said, “Wait a minute, is this the same Jesus as the one on the cross? It’s about time!”

God’s people had been waiting for Jesus to come for a long, long time. Many people-prophets, kings, priests-were sent before Jesus to prepare the way for him, teaching repentance and God’s grace. John, the servant in our Bible verse today, was born before Jesus. John was a messenger sent by God to point everyone to Jesus. God intentionally revealed Jesus as the Savior to John so that John could preach repentance and baptism to the people of his day. He said, “Look, there he is, the one we have been waiting for!”

Jesus is the Lamb of God because, in the times of the Old Testament, God’s people would sacrifice a lamb to show sorrow and repentance for their sins. The sacrificed lamb was killed for the people’s sins. This lamb was a symbol of Jesus Christ, who would sacrifice himself on the cross for all sins of the whole world, sins of the past, present, and future.

John tells God’s people that Jesus, the Lamb, is the reason for his work. It was time for everyone to see Jesus for who he was, the Lamb of God and Savior of all people in the whole world. We, too, want to share this message with all people. Every believer shares the messenger role that John did. We want to use the rest of our time on earth to share that message with children, their families, and all people that God places in our lives. We don’t have to wait! Our Savior has come; he is here!



Prayer:
Lamb of God, we fall before you, humbly trusting in your cross.
Our great joy is to adore you; All things else are only dross.
Jesus gives us true repentance by his Spirit sent from heav’n,
Whispers this assuring sentence, “All your sins are now forgiv’n”.
Christian Worship 354: 1, 3

A Question to Consider:
Do you have a friend, co-worker or family member that does not know about Jesus? Perhaps they are “still waiting” to reach a worldly goal as the answer to their problems or they think worldly treasures will remove sorrow. Think about how you might show them that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the answer to every need.



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

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He is Here! The Chosen One – Week of January 13, 2020

He is Here! The Chosen One – Week of January 13, 2020


“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.”

Isaiah 42:1



The Chosen One has come! The Bible tells us about many servants of God: Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul, to name a few. Each servant had a special role for that time and place in the history of the world. But this servant that Isaiah writes about is very special, unlike any other servant or messenger in the Bible. This servant is Jesus Christ, the Chosen One.

The role of Christ was like no other role of any servant before or after him. His job was to “bring justice to the nations”. The word “justice” written here is defined like that of a legal decision made in a court. It points to the gospel, God’s legal announcement that all sins everywhere are forgiven, erased forever by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Sometimes we forget that this debt has already been paid for us. We are troubled by the sorrows of the world and we forget that we are living for the next world-not this one! We can look in any direction and see sin and temptation. We fail in our vocations as spouse, teacher, parent, co-worker, friend, sibling, son, or daughter. We take the best for ourselves, and compete with others for worldly treasures. We gossip and slander the names of the people that God has given to us to serve. We forget to treat strangers as we would our own family. Although we try to live God-pleasing lives, we fail over and over again.

But the Chosen One has come! God sent his Son, his special servant, the Chosen One, to die for all. Through the life and death of Jesus, he “brings justice to the nations”, declaring the entire world and all people “not guilty”. May we share this good news with all the world until he comes again!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, the Chosen One, thank you for declaring the world “not guilty”. Help me to try to live as your child, saved only by your death and resurrection. Amen

A Question to Consider:
How can you show the same undeserved love that Jesus gives us to other people in your life?



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

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He is Here! The King – Week of January 6, 2020

He is Here! The King – Week of January 6, 2020


After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:1-2, 10-11



The nativity is such a pretty scene- the small family with a newborn, the humble shepherds, singing angels, and wise men with birthday gifts. But wait! Read the words in Matthew again: “On coming to the house, they saw the child”. The wise men didn’t visit Jesus in the stable!

There are actually a lot of unanswered questions about Jesus’ first months on earth. How long was Jesus in the stable? We don’t know for sure. The Bible also doesn’t tell us precisely who the wise men were, where they came from, when they arrived, how long they stayed, or even how many wise men visited Jesus. We also don’t know exactly how the magi knew the special star meant that Jesus was born. All we know is that God did reveal this to them.

These questions that we have, though they are interesting details, don’t matter to the story at all. God always tells us everything that we need to know in his Word. Here is what we do know: the Magi knew the star was different and that God sent it. We know they went out of their way to find and worship the King. And we know that the gifts were very, very expensive treasures of the world at that time: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And we know that this Jesus was the Savior of the whole world.

The words tell us “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” They had been waiting for Jesus, the king! Jesus is ruler of heaven and earth, the king of our hearts. When the wise men saw Jesus, they treated him like the royalty that he is. They first worshiped him, honoring him as the Savior of all the world, and then presented him with precious gifts.

Is Jesus your king? Do you honor him by worshiping him in your church and at home? Do you drop everything and even go out of your way, like the Wise Men did, to praise him? Or do you only go to church when it is convenient, or pray when you desperately need something? Do you give him your very best treasures of time, talents, or money?

Sadly we often act more like the disinterested religious experts of Herod’s court than we do like those faithful Magi. But that is exactly why Jesus came in the first place, isn’t it? He came not only be your ruler-king but also your victor-king. The child of Mary went to war against our every enemy, even the one found in our own hearts. He conquered your sins by paying their price on the cross.

Truly our Savior, who suffered and died for all of our sins, is worthy of the very best efforts we can give. He knows our sins, how we are tempted by this world, and offers himself as the answer to our every need. Jesus is our King-he is here! The long-awaited Savior has come for all. May we honor our King every day until he comes again!



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to be the King of all. Help us to honor him with our very best gifts of time, talents and treasures. May we praise your name until Jesus comes again. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What “precious gifts” can you use to serve our king? Do you have the gift of time to share with a family, friend, or stranger? Can you use your time or talents to serve in your church and community? Could you give a part of the monetary blessings God has given you to support the ministry? Can you help encourage others to serve?



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

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“These are my People!” – Week of December 30, 2019

These are my People! – Week of December 30, 2019


He said, “Surely they are my people, children who will be true to me”; and so he became their Savior.

Isaiah 63:8



“These are my people,” God declares. Usually it starts at baptism. God adopts sinners into his family. He makes them heirs to the kingdom of heaven. He makes them his. “These are my people!”

It also happens when we confess Jesus as Lord. Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). He puts faith in our hearts and we confess him as Savior. He then says to the Father, “These are my people! I vouch for them. They belong to us. They belong in heaven.”

Of course there is nothing that we have done to earn such a status. Isn’t that the whole point? He makes us righteous in his sight. He gives us the status we need. He chooses us. He makes us the children who are true to him, as Isaiah describes above. This is good news for us because there are plenty of days when we do not feel like God’s children. There are plenty of days when we absolutely know we should not be claimed as God’s children (the ones who will be true to God).

How about the little ones you teach? Those are his people. HIS people. They belong to him. And no, they do not deserve it. But they are his. He claimed them. He said, “This is my daughter. This is my son.”

It makes us look at our students in a different way, doesn’t it? Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is advocating for these little ones before the Father. Our job is then to advocate for them down here. These are God’s children. He claimed them in his blood. He died for them. We will fight for them and love them and live for them. These are his people.



Prayer:
Dear Holy Spirit, Be with us every day moving our hearts in love for others and trust in our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose blood has claimed us and our students for God. Amen.



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

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Manger and Cross – Week of December 23, 2019

Manger and Cross – Week of December 23, 2019


While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7



How could the King of Kings sleep in a manger (a feeding trough for animals)? How could the creator of the world find no room in an inn? How could the infinite, all-knowing, and all-powerful God allow himself to be born in such lowly circumstances? Love. That’s why.

How could an adult with a college degree take little children (not their own) to the bathroom? How could a grown person be so consumed with slime, playdough, and crayons? How could sophisticated, well-educated, and articulate adults allow themselves to be in such a position for not great pay? Love. That’s why.

In order to understand the birth of Christ you have to look beyond the hill of Judaea (Bethlehem) to Mount Calvary. In order to truly understand this Christmas event you have to look beyond the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross. This little boy came to die. God came to die. Sins needed to be paid for so God came to pay the price. That’s why he is so lowly. Love. That’s why.

In order to understand your life’s work in the home, in the school, and in the world, you need to look past everything to the cross. It’s all for love, that’s why. Love that serves in order to point others to the cross where you have found your Savior’s love. That’s why you clean up those disgusting messes. That’s why you painstakingly laminate an endless amount of paper. Love. That’s why.

It doesn’t always feel like it. It can feel more like burden. It can feel like a cross. And it is. God works his love in the world through you. So even when there are days when you don’t feel very loving or patient or calm or appreciated or valued or loved yourself, God still works his love through you. So why do you do it all? Love. That’s why. Because God loves you and you will do whatever it takes to show that love to those little ones in your care.



Prayer:
Dear Savior, help us to look past the manger to the cross. Here we see a simple and ugly thing used for the ultimate good, our forgiveness. Remind us in the grind of our own lives that you still work your love through us to others. Amen.



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

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Patience is a Gift from God – Week of December 16, 2019

Patience is a Gift from God – Week of December 16, 2019


Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!

James 5:7-9



The Lord’s coming is near. So we are to be patient like a farmer. Like a farmer we plant and we wait but we are sure of a harvest. Do you not plant the seed of God’s words into the hearts of little ones every day? Of course you do. Do you have to wait? Yes. But you can be sure of this harvest. God’s Word does not return to him empty handed (Isa 55:10).

We wait in great expectation for the Lord’s return where he too will gather a harvest, a harvest of souls. When you plant the seed of God’s Word you are a part of this process. You are the hand of God. And just as the farmer steps away and lets nature do its thing so we step away (in a way) and watch the Spirit do his work. Sure, we till and fertilize, we weed and we tend but it is the Spirit that creates faith. So be patient. The work will get done. God’s work will get done. He will make sure of that.

Easier said than done, right? Patience is not a virtue we possess by ourselves. (Ask any farmer waiting for rain!) Patience is worked in us by a gracious God. He makes us patient. So pray for patience. God will provide what you need. He always has. In fact, whatever God demands of us, he gives to us in Christ. He says, “Be perfect!” and then gives us the righteousness of Christ that covers all of our un-righteous acts. He says, “Stop doubting and believe!” and then gives us the faith to believe. In the reading from James he says “Be patient.” So we ask for what he commands and he gives it to us.

It might not always look like virtuous patience on our part but so what? Your patience is not about you but about your students and your family. He will give it to you. He has not let us down yet. It won’t be perfect because we will mess it up, but we are forgiven and so are the ones that we serve.



Prayer:
God, grant us a rich measure of patience not so that we can be virtuous but for the love of those we serve. Forgive us when we are impatient and rest us in your promises of Christ’s return in glory. Amen.



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

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God’s Word Has Creative Power – Week of December 9, 2019

God’s Word Has Creative Power – Week of December 9, 2019


For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:4-6



God’s words are for your encouragement. That is why they were written. That’s why the Holy Spirit inspired them. For you. Just think about that. The Father who speaks words, the Spirit who inspires words, the Son who is the Word, are all for you. For you.
God’s word also has power. In the beginning of St. Paul’s letter he calls the gospel “the power of God” (Rom 1:16). In particular, God’s Word has creative power. He said “Let there be light” and there was light. His words of forgiveness actually forgive sins (John 20:23). His words create faith (Rom 10:17) in dead hearts.

Let’s put those two things together: The power of God’s words and the fact that these words are for you. From the beginning of time God thought about you. “She needs to hear this message. He needs to be taught this lesson. She is going to have a rough day on December 29th 2019 so I want her to hear this gospel right now. He is going to get sick when he is 74 and I want him at peace. And my words will get the job done because my words have power.”

He knows. He knows you. He knows your classroom. He knows your students. He knows their parents. He knows. And his words are for them and you. So that you may have hope. A hope in Christ. Your sins are forgiven. Your work matters. Heaven is secure. Here are God’s words for your encouragement. They were written for you.



Prayer:
Jesus Christ, your life and death have granted us eternal security in the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Continue to encourage us and our students with these powerful words. Amen.



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

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We Do Not Know When The End Will Come and That Is a Good Thing! – Week of December 2, 2019

We Do Not Know When The End Will Come and That Is a Good Thing! – Week of December 2, 2019


Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Matthew 24:42-44



Can you imagine how awful it would be to know the exact date of the last day? Humans would scramble to get in as much pleasure as they could in their final moments. All the money would be taken out of the banks. Who would go to the doctor? Why have schools? Most people would be trying to travel to see friends and family or famous sites around the world. But what pilot would give up his final hours taking an airplane full of people to Paris? I suppose churches would be filled and that would be a good thing but still, I am thankful the Father has kept this date to himself. This particular ignorance is a gift from God.

I wonder if the Father will have the same urgency as we would as the final day approaches? When the clock gets close to midnight will he speed up the spread of his gospel message? The truth is he has. Maybe we do not always see the results but he is urgent, as urgent as he always was from the beginning.

This is the message of Matthew 24. He wants you to have the same urgency as he does but spare you the burden of knowing exactly when the end will arrive. So he describes Christ’s return as a thief in the night. Always be prepared. Be urgent in your work. And yet, be still. Do not be anxious. Go about your work in peace. If tomorrow is the end. Good. Heaven awaits. If we have another hundred or thousand or ten-thousand years, that is okay too. He is in charge. So be ready but not anxious.

You teach with this calmness and peace (at least on good days). You are urgent for your little ones. This is important! But there is a calm about you. A peace that springs from Christ who has the beginning, the end, and everything in between under control. So keep watch but be still.



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, your timetable is not our timetable. Grant us peace to go about our days with the urgency of the last days but also with the calmness that springs from the peace of Christ. Amen.



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

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Christ the King – Christ’s Glorious Kingdom – Week of November 25, 2019

Christ the King – Christ’s Glorious Kingdom – Week of November 25, 2019


The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’

There was written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us.’

But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God’, he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’

Then he said, ‘Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’

Luke 23:35-43



Welcome home. What do these words mean to you when you hear the words? Are you thinking of coming home after a vacation to the comfort of your home? Perhaps these words are said to you when you visit your parents after you have moved out of their home? Maybe it is as simple as after a long day when you pull in the garage, you mutter these words to yourself. There is a sense of comfort in these words. Home! A special place of belonging and with comfort and peace.

As Jesus was hanging on the cross on Good Friday, many things were happening around him. Some were mourning his pain and imminent death. Others were laughing and hurling insults at Jesus as he was suffering.

Jesus hung on the middle cross. The Bible says one criminal hung to his right and one to his left. One of the criminals mocked Jesus and asked for a miracle. The criminal wondered if Jesus is truly the Savior why he didn’t save himself and them as well.

The other criminal had more of a humble approach on the cross. He even realized that they were being punished fairly, but Jesus had done nothing to deserve the punishment of dying on the cross. He even asked Jesus to have pity on him and remember him when Jesus enters his kingdom.

Jesus turned to the criminal and said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” What amazing words! Can you imagine the shock of the criminal as Jesus gave him this comfort? Jesus is welcoming him into paradise, his eternal home!

One day Jesus will say to us too, welcome home!



Thought to Ponder: Take time to pause today and marvel at the promise Jesus gives to us, just like the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise”

Prayer:
Jesus sinners does receive. Even I have been forgiven.
And when I this earth must leave, I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to him I cleave—Jesus sinners does receive. Amen
Christian Worship 304:7



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

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Saints Triumphant – An Everlasting Family – Week of November 18, 2019

Saints Triumphant – An Everlasting Family – Week of November 18, 2019


Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on’. Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.

Revelation 14:13



Funeral. The very thought of the word can bring an enormous amount of sadness and grief! Scenes from funerals often replay through the mind and words that are spoken at a funeral are heard over and over again in the days following the funeral.

A few months ago, I attended a funeral for a friend in the congregation whose elderly mother passed away. Just two weeks before that funeral the congregation gathered together for the funeral of the same lady’s husband. That is an overwhelming amount of loss for a person in a matter of two weeks. It is hard to even know how to comfort the grieving family.

As I was sitting in the pew before the service began, I was reminiscing how the family was always greeting people as they walked through the doors of the church. Both the mother and husband played instrumental roles on the outreach team. There wasn’t a potluck where I didn’t see both of them engaging in preparations. They made an effort to always be present at pre-k events at the church to build relationships with prospects. I sat in the pew marveling at the amazing Christian servant attitude they both displayed and modeled for the whole congregation, and me personally.

The passage that came into my mind as the funeral service began was Revelation 14:13, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Ahh, this verse is the perfect Bible passage for a grieving family!

Most Bible scholars agree that the voice heard from heaven is Jesus himself. Jesus is promising that those who die in the Lord are blessed, they receive the joy of eternal life. What a comfort to those left behind! The loved one is blessed by Jesus and is in the comfort and peace of heaven. Heaven is a place of rest: a place where there is no pain, suffering, and sin. Earthly labors are over and the Spirit promises rest for those who die in the Lord.

All of the deeds of a person will not go unnoticed. The deeds do not get a person into heaven, but rather serve as evidence of living a life for Jesus, a life now complete with eternal life in heaven with all believers.



Prayer: Asleep in Jesus! Blessed sleep,
From which none ever wakes to weep,
A calm and undisturbed repose,
Unbroken by the last of foes. Amen
Christian Worship 605:1



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

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The Last Judgement – Week of November 11, 2019

The Last Judgement – Week of November 11, 2019


All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-7



Have you ever just had one of “those” days, a day when nothing seemed to go right? Maybe it was day filled with trials. Maybe it was a day when you received bad news from a loved one. Maybe it was a day where you felt persecuted for proudly talking about your faith and the Good News of Gospel. It is safe to assume that the answer to this question is a yes from all people. There are days when things do not go as planned, days when chaos overtakes the day, and days when there are trials.

When trials and persecutions come, it is easy to search for answers as to why there is suffering. Where is God? Why is God letting suffering happen? Did we do something to deserve the suffering? Christians can easily begin to think that suffering is a judgement of sinning. However, 2 Thessalonians 1:5 states, “All this is evidence that God’s judgement is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering”. The comfort is that suffering happens because we are counted worthy of the kingdom of God. Suffering and trials are evidence that we are children of God.

The remainder of the passage is describing God’s judgement on the Last Day, Judgement Day. This will be a day when Jesus comes in full glory and the final judgement will take place. The promise is that everyone who suffered, especially for being a Christian, will receive the comfort of eternal life in heaven where there is no more suffering. Christians will receive “relief” from earthly sufferings.

Sufferings and trials can be difficult in the moment. It may seem like the sufferings will not end. Throughout the suffering and trials, cling to the promise of the Savior-salvation and eternal life! Any earthly suffering is temporary, but the peace of heaven will last for an eternity.



Thought to Ponder: God is just. God is judge. We have peace knowing what Jesus has done for us. There is an urgency to share God’s message of grace with those who do not have faith. Since there is a sense of urgency in sharing the Gospel, what can you intentionally do this week to share the Word with someone?

Prayer: To me he spoke, “Hold fast to me- I am your rock and castle.
Your ransom I myself will be; For you I strive and wrestle.
For I am yours, your friend divine, and evermore you shall be mine;
The foe shall not divide us.” Amen
Christian Worship 377:7



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

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Reformation – Justified by Faith – Week of November 4, 2019

Reformation – Justified by Faith – Week of November 4, 2019


For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Romans 3:28



Silence falls across the courtroom as the verdict is being read. Guilty, the defendant is found guilty! From the start of the trial, the evidence and questioning foreshadowed the guilty verdict. Countless hours were spent in court showing the laundry list of wrongs that this defendant had committed. Judgement is finalized, the defendant will be punished for his crimes.

Just as the defendant is being led out of the courtroom to be punished, the judge bangs the gavel and hands the defendant a piece of paper that reads, “PAID IN FULL”. How could this be? The judge knows full well that the defendant is guilty and has all the evidence stacked on courtroom table. The judge looks past the stack of evidence and explains to the defendant that his punishment is paid in full and the defendant is free. The courtroom is now filled with surprise and amazement.

This courtroom scene is a beautiful and touching picture of the meaning of justification. To be justified is to be forgiven and accepted into right standing, to be righteous in God’s sight, to be declared not guilty.

You and I are the guilty defendant in this scene. Countless hours are spent with our never-ending list of sins. The fact is we are sinful and deserve to be punished for our sins! We stand condemned before God our judge. There is no amount of good works that can be done to fulfill the sentencing of the guilty verdict.

The comfort is, just when we feel hopeless and in despair, God, the judge, bangs his gavel and declares us “NOT GUILTY”. God looks at the stack of evidence, and all he sees what Jesus has done for us! The punishment of sin and death has been paid in full through Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection! There is nothing left to be done, salvation is complete!



Prayer: By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, came down to earth to bear our sin. Was it because of your own merit that Jesus dies your soul to win? No, it was grace and grace alone that brought him from his heavenly throne. Amen.
Christian Worship 384:2



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

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If Only… – Week of October 28, 2019

If Only… – Week of October 28, 2019


Your will be done.

Matthew 6:10



If only. Do you ever find yourself pondering these two little words? “If only I could get a bit more sleep.” “If only I was able to pay off the bills just once.” “If only we had a few more students or another staff member.” “If only I had a new vehicle so I wouldn’t have to worry about the next inevitable repair bill.” “If only God would take away my headaches or cancer or fatigue.” “If only we knew what day the licensing rep would be dropping in for an inspection.” “If only God would answer my prayer the way I’ve asked.” If only.

There are a couple of places that the words, “Your will be done” are spoken in the Bible. Two that come to mind are when Jesus teaches his disciples and us, the Lord’s prayer. Another time is when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest and crucifixion. Wouldn’t we expect that Jesus wouldn’t even need to say those words? Wouldn’t God automatically respond to his own Son’s prayer with a “yes?” No. God didn’t for Jesus, and he doesn’t always for us. And we are left to ask why.

Each time we pray, our words are eagerly heard by the God who made the universe, who made each of us. His love and care for us extends beyond seeing us as a mere creation. He loves us deeply, deeper than any love than any parent for their child. More than the parent anticipating their child coming home, God wants each one of his creations to spend every day of eternity in his home, in heaven. That love sent God’s only Son, Jesus, to the cross, the grave, and then to rise on Easter morning. A God who loves us that much, truly wants only what is best for us. When we pray, “Your will be done,” we are making a statement of faith that recognizes that we may not see the big picture for our lives, but our God does. We know what we want, but God knows what is best for us.

Sometimes our prayers are hard. We feel the weight of our burdens and can be thinking, if only God will answer this prayer the way that I hope, all will be fine. “Your will be done.” What is God’s will? What are we saying when we pray these words? God’s will is that his name is made holy and that all would know and believe in him. His will is grounded in a deep love for us. More than just asking God’s will to be done, we are also asking that the Lord bring our will into harmony with his good and gracious will. We can trust his will for us and boldly pray that he would bless and encourage us as we face the challenges of life. We can pray that he will help us to use each of our blessings and challenges as a way to give glory to him for all he has done for us.

The most important “if only” in our lives has already been done. We have forgiveness and peace with God because of Jesus. The heartaches and stresses of life continue but we can face them with courage and with confidence knowing that God’s will is for our good and that whether the answer to our prayer is a yes or a no, he is with us. “Your will be done, indeed!” We wouldn’t want it any other way! To Him be the Glory!



Prayer: Dear Lord, give me confidence and comfort in prayer trusting that your will for me and those I love is good and gracious and founded in your love. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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Welcome Home – Now What? – Week of October 21, 2019

Welcome Home – Now What? – Week of October 21, 2019


Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and goes after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15: 3-7



Can you imagine being in charge of one hundred sheep? The likelihood for one or more to wander off seems pretty high. Think for a minute about what the shepherd in our text does. He leaves ninety-nine sheep in the open country and goes after the one lost one. What devotion he has to that one lost sheep in addition to the others! Once he finds that wayward sheep, he doesn’t herd it back to the flock. “He joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” He’s so excited that he lovingly carries that rogue sheep back to join the others. And it doesn’t stop there. He invites friends and neighbors to celebrate with him. What selfless, overwhelming love!

In the past several devotions, we’ve talked about identifying someone you know who has strayed from the Word. We’ve talked about reconnecting with them and encouraging them to come home to their church and even more, to their Savior. Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to do so and a conversation is beginning. You may hear those heartfelt words of gratitude that you cared enough to reach out. What a blessing to join in thanking God for this incredible blessing! What a cause for celebration!

But then again, you may not see immediate results. You may encounter resistance. Not everyone is going to fling their arms wide and say, “Thanks! That’s just what I needed to hear!” But take heart, it’s not up to you. It’s up to the work of the Holy Spirit. Be patient and loving, just as our Shepherd is with us.
So, what’s next? What do we do now? Think back to that shepherd. It’s not too hard to imagine that the probability of one (or more) of his sheep wandering off happened frequently. He was constantly on the lookout and eager to bring each one back. The encouragement is the same for us. Keep looking. Keep reaching out. Keep encouraging. Keep showing patience and loving care for anyone who needs to hear the comforting words of the Good Shepherd as he says, “Welcome Home!”

Dear Jesus, give me a caring, loving heart that is eager to reach out to those I know. Give me the words to share that encouragement with them in their faith. In your name I pray. Amen



Our devotion today is the final in the series focusing on the Welcome Home initiative. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



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

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