ECME Devotions

For the Lord is Good – Week of February 18, 2019

For the Lord is Good – Week of February 18, 2019


For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:5



“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever.” Do these words sound familiar? These are the words that are used as part of the Common Table Prayer before eating. As a prayer, we are thanking God for goodness and expressing that his love will endure forever. In light of Psalm 100:5, these words go far beyond the Lord simply providing our food and drink.

The Bible verse begins with the words, “For the LORD is good”. This opening phrase gives a description of the Lord, he is good. The verse does not say that the Lord was good, or that the Lord will be good. Rather it is clear that the Lord IS good. The Lord is good, his goodness is in the present tense. His goodness is unchanging!

Psalm 100:5 gives the comfort and peace that the Lord’s love endures forever. Wow! What a comfort it is to know that the Lord’s love spans forever. The Lord’s love is not a love that fades away over time or comes and goes depending on the situation. It is a compassionate love! It is a love that we do not deserve but are freely given anyway! The Lord’s love is grace!

The verse concludes by saying, “His faithfulness continues through all generations.” The Lord is faithful. He is steadfast. This is a promise of the Lord, that he will be faithful throughout our lives and throughout the next generation. We can have faith and complete trust that no matter what happens in our life, the Lord is working through us and has a plan for our lives. This does not mean that we won’t have struggles in our life or that there won’t be sadness. However, this verse gives us peace that the Lord is faithful and his love endures forever.

Next time you sit down and pray the Common Table Prayer, take time to meditate on the goodness of the Lord. Reflect on the goodness in the simple gifts he gives, but also on his protection and guidance through our lives. Find peace in the truth that his love endures forever. He is forever beside you in all that you do!



Prayer:

My God has all things in his keeping; he is my ever-faithful friend.
He gives me laughter after weeping, and all his ways in blessings end.
His love endures eternally: what pleases God, that pleases me.
Christian Worship 414:4



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

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God is Faithful – Week of February 11, 2019

God is Faithful – Week of February 11, 2019


Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

Deuteronomy 7:9



“Dear Jesus, thank-you for the firefighters. Thank-you for keeping me safe when I had to leave my house. I knew you would stop the fire and keep me safe. You are always by me.” This is a prayer that one of my 4-year-old pre-k students prayed the first week of school this year. As adults, we had all moved past the wildfires that ripped through our northern California community. However, the fires were still on the minds of the little students. As I listened to this child’s simple prayer I looked over at the little boy and I will never forget what I saw in his face. It was complete confidence in God. It was pure faith! This child had no doubt that God is HIS God and had been with him through the disaster. He also had the assurance that God would always be at his side. The phrase, “childlike faith”, came to my mind. This little boy, only 4 years old, gave a beautiful demonstration of faith with his simple prayer.

You and I have the same confidence of the little boy. God is our God! Deuteronomy 7:9, begins with the phrase, “Know that the LORD your God is God”. The word KNOW stresses that there is no doubt or question, the Lord God IS God. The further comfort of this small opening phrase is that God is your God. Faith is personal. Each person has a faith that God has given them through the Holy Spirit. God is YOUR God. He has you in his hands and is always with you.

The verse goes on to say, “He is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” God is faithful. God never leaves us or forsakes us! His covenant, promise of love is real and unchanging!

God is your God! Have the same confidence that the 4-year-old demonstrated. God is faithful and he is with you! His covenant is fulfilled. Through thick and thin God is with you protecting you and showing his love to you!



Prayer:

Faith finds in Christ whate’er we need to save or strengthen us indeed,
Receiving grace from heaven’s throne and humbly sharing cross and throne.

Faith in the Savior brings us peace and bids the mourner’s weeping cease;
By faith the children’s place we claim and give all honor to your name.”
Christian Worship 404:2-3



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

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Faith Is… – Week of February 4, 2019

Faith Is… – Week of February 4, 2019


Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1



Faith. A seemingly simple word, but as we all know it is not as simple as it seems. How would you define the word faith? Maybe the words “child-like faith” enter your mind. Webster’s dictionary defines faith as, “complete trust or confidence in someone or something without proof”. Is this definition similar to your definition? While this is certainly what many people mean when they speak of “faith”, let’s look at what the Bible teaches about faith.

Hebrews 11 is considered the greatest chapter in the Bible on faith. Therefore, it’s fitting that the author of Hebrews begins the chapter with a simple and concise description of faith. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”. As Christians faith is not a blind leap. Nor is it a feeling that everything will work out just fine. Faith is so much more! Faith is a certainty of all of God’s promises. We all have the solid confidence that Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised on the third day. We were not eye witnesses to the crucifixion and resurrection, yet we trust that it happened, and the promise of forgiveness was fulfilled.

Faith also gives us the hope of things yet to come, meaning Jesus’ second coming and the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. The hope of life eternal in heaven is a sure thing! Faith allows us to hope with the sure confidence that Jesus is preparing a room in heaven for us and one day will come again to bring us to heaven.

Faith, a solid confidence in God’s past and present promises! When life gets heavy and worries begin to set-in, we have comfort knowing with all certainty that God is with us! We eagerly live a life rooted in faith and hope for all to see.



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 404:1

A Thought to Ponder: Let’s make it a goal this week to set aside 15 minutes to read Hebrews 11 and meditate more on the beautiful description of faith that this chapter gives.



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

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Why We Labor – Week of January 28, 2019

Why We Labor – Week of January 28, 2019


I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:23



During World War II, there was a series of films, newsreels, and printed material that explained “Why We Fight.” The tyranny and raw aggression of the Axis Powers was detailed out to provide the reasoning behind the war effort. Young men were motivated to do their part in the fight oversees, even being willing to give up their lives. Those who stayed home did their part with rationing and producing war materials. The reasons for fighting became all the more clear as the end of the war neared and the atrocious labor and death camps of the Holocaust were discovered. Evil had to be stopped. That was why they fought.

When St. Paul wrote these words, he didn’t say that he fought. But he did work hard, or labor intensely, as the verses that precede these words indicate. Why did Paul work so hard? As he said, he worked so hard for the sake of the gospel. In the gospel we find that the main battle has already been fought. We didn’t have the ability to defeat our enemies, so Jesus did. Paul’s Savior had already fought the good fight and won by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. The evil of sin, death, and the devil had been defeated.

Paul does say he labored. And so do teachers! Why work so hard in the Christian classroom, at church, or making your home a Christian home? To share in the blessings of the gospel. Don’t jump to an incorrect conclusion, though! Our labor doesn’t defeat evil. Remember, Jesus already did that by paying for our sin. Our labor, like Paul’s, is an exercise for our faith. By focusing on the gospel, and working really hard to do so, we are reminded that the blessings of the gospel are eternal. They are much greater than a new car or another pricey gift. God blesses us by rescuing us from eternal evil and giving us membership in his family through faith in Christ.

Beneficiaries of this relationship with God want to share it with others, even if that means labor and hard work. Teachers have a unique opportunity to spend hours every day of the school year sharing the message of Jesus with children. The hard work is worth it for those who realize that the spoken Word is the tool that God uses to grow the faith in those young hearts. You are a messenger of rescue from the eternal holocaust of separation from God in hell. This is why we work: Those who have a share of the blessings of the gospel work to share it with others!



Prayer:
Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength and Christ your light.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be your joy and crown eternally.
Christian Worship 447:1



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

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Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019

Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019


[Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31b



Caleb’s parents had come to terms with his autism diagnosis. They had grieved when the doctor shared the prognosis that he may never speak. They realized that they would be full time caregivers for their son their whole lives. But they were not prepared for Caleb’s behaviors when he became a teenager, especially his tendency to run away. Caleb’s frustrations and inability to talk caused him so much agitation at times that he simply ran. He ran out of the house, and down the street. He ran into the nearby woods. He ran from the park. Caleb was taller, heavier, and stronger than his parents, so their efforts to keep him safe were often unsuccessful.

After a couple of years of being on high alert, worrying about the safety of their son, Caleb’s parents were exhausted. They had installed an alarm system in their home, but yet they had trouble sleeping at night as they worried their son would suddenly run. Their days were filled with constant worry that the school would call yet again to relay the news that Caleb had run out of the school building and was headed to the woods. This stress led Caleb’s parents to complete and utter exhaustion. They had not had a full night’s sleep in years. They had not had a vacation in years. They had not been able to spend time together as a couple as that meant leaving Caleb with someone else who could not guarantee his safety.

The words of this text are for Caleb’s parents. They are for you too, whether or not you are living in a situation of chronic stress. Jesus gives us rest. He may not give us the full eight hours of sleep we so desire each night, but he gives us an even better rest: spiritual rest with him. We are physically and spiritually tired here on earth. We are surrounded by sin in our world. The problems and stress sin causes are exhausting. The guilt of our own wrong doings causes us to lose sleep. The demands of the world weigh heavy on us. We need a rest that only Jesus can give: knowing our sins are forgiven and heaven is waiting for us. Jesus lovingly says to you and to me, “Come with me…and get some rest.” Whenever you read your Bible, read a devotion or a personal Bible study, you are spending time with him and doing what he’s encouraged you to do, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May the Lord bless your time with him and may you know his peace.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, please give me daily rest. Remind me of the eternal rest that is waiting for me in heaven. Remind me that today I have peace here on earth because Jesus died for me. Amen

A Question to Consider: What stresses do you need rest from? Make a list of things that God has done that can remind you of his love for you, his promises to be with you, and all that he has done and continues to do for you and his children. How does this list give you comfort and confidence, even in challenging times?



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

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Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019

Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019


I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:1-4



When Jay was 3 years old, he had a seizure. He had not been sick, and he had never had a seizure before. When his mother came in his room to check on him before going to bed herself, she felt his body seizing uncontrollably. It was one of the few times in his father’s life that he ever dialed 911. The paramedics came and a trip to the ER followed, along with hours of tests and scans. Nothing abnormal was found. Doctors concluded that a virus had induced a high enough fever to cause the seizure, which the doctors explained was how the body resets itself. Jay’s parents were thankful that help came so quickly when they dialed 911 that night.

The words of Psalm 121 can be considered God’s 911. Open up to Psalm 121 for help in any and every struggle. Read about the One who loves his people Israel, which includes you, enough to watch over you at all hours of the day and night. The Maker of heaven and earth doesn’t take breaks or naps that prevent him from taking care of you. “He…will neither slumber nor sleep.”

Have you ever experienced insomnia? Statistics say that on any given night one in four Americans is experiencing insomnia. Chances are that at some point you have been the one lying awake. When we head to bed for the evening or wake up in the night, our brain turns to the thoughts of yesterday’s challenges and tomorrow’s possible difficulties. Worry. Anxiety. Stress. Call it what you like, but whether you realize it or not, those struggles are a result of trying to have control over the things that are in God’s control. When our failures haunt us, and our challenges overwhelm us, trying to carry those burdens ourselves will only leave us worse off by far. Doing better next time won’t cancel your guilt and no amount of stressing out about the future can change a single thing.

But you have a God who is in complete control. Lift your eyes and find your help in him. He calms your troubled heart filled with your failure by pointing your eyes to the cross of his Son who paid for every one of your mistakes. He calms your worried and anxious heart filled with the unknowns of tomorrow by reminding you that if he went to all the trouble of saving you eternally, he’s not going to forget to watch out for you tomorrow.

The Psalmist assures us that God does not slumber, he does not sleep. He is awake all night long, so he can be watching over everything. He does this so we can sleep. He is our watchman both at night and during the daylight hours.

How can we keep our hearts and minds on things above? Paul tells us. Remember that you have been raised with Christ. Christ has made you a brand-new person. He has made you a forgiven and living child of God. You have been raised with him.

That puts your day to day preoccupations into perspective. Only one reality is forever. Only one concern is eternal. Set your hearts on such things. As a resurrected child of faith find and take advantage of every opportunity to be in God’s Word and surround yourself with fellow Christians who can encourage and remind you of what is truly lasting and important.



Prayer: Dear Lord, you know that I worry over so many things – little things and big things. Remind me that I am not the one in control, but you are. You have everything planned for my good. Most importantly, you have sent your son Jesus to pay the debt for every one of my wrong doings. Keep my anxious heart from worrying, knowing that you are my watchman. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What situations in your life are causing you to turn to your Lord for help so that you can sleep in peace? How could you use Psalm 121 and other verses from Scripture to remind you of the peace you have each day in Jesus?



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

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Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019

Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:1-2



Daniel was adopted after drug and alcohol exposure before he was born. He has brain damage. At age 12, he is beginning to understand some basic Bible concepts. It is a joy to hear him talk about the things he is learning from hearing daily Bible story lessons. He is even asking questions! His brain perseverates which means he gets stuck thinking about the same thing, replaying it over and over in his mind. This is not generally thought of as a positive characteristic of his brain damage, but lately he is perseverating on the thought of going to heaven. He daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes even constantly, repeats the same questions: “Where is heaven? Is heaven in the sky? Who is in heaven? Will we have toys in heaven? Can we come back from heaven? When will I go to heaven?” We have answered his questions repeatedly, but it is so calming and comforting to his brain to repeatedly ask and hear the constant answers about what he is expecting because Jesus is his Savior. “Jesus loves you. He died for you on the cross to take away your sins so that when you die you will live with him forever in heaven. It will be wonderful, and nothing will make us sad.” Upon hearing the comforting words about the wonders of heaven, that he will be there someday with all of the people he knows and loves, and that he will not even need toys while he is there, Daniel literally jumps for joy with a smile on his face every time he hears these answers.

Wouldn’t it be comforting if we could live with a repeated movie reel of heaven in our head? Daniel truly has his thoughts set on things above. With his continuous thoughts on things above, that is where his heart is set also. For us, it takes a little more effort. Our neurology allows us to think about many things throughout the day, even throughout every minute! We have responsibilities – work, spouse, kids, aging parents, financial worries, retirement planning, helping with church and community events, the list is endless. We have more thoughts in our head than our brain can handle processing. Yet, our loving Lord reminds us, “Set your mind on things above.”

How can we keep our hearts and minds on things above? Paul tells us. Remember that you have been raised with Christ. Christ has made you a brand-new person. He has made you a forgiven and living child of God. You have been raised with him.

That puts your day to day preoccupations into perspective. Only one reality is forever. Only one concern is eternal. Set your hearts on such things. As a resurrected child of faith find and take advantage of every opportunity to be in God’s Word and surround yourself with fellow Christians who can encourage and remind you of what is truly lasting and important.



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, you have given us a command that brings us peace: thoughts of eternity with you. Help us find ways each day to keep our focus on you and your heavenly mansion that awaits us. Amen

A Question to Consider: When do you get your daily dose of God’s Word? How do you share this focus of things above with your students?



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

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Light and Glory – Week of December 31, 2018

Light and Glory – Week of December 31, 2018


For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

Luke 2:30-32



These words were spoken by Simeon who had been told that he would not die until he saw the Messiah, that is, the Christ. After he met the young family of Mary and Joseph he spoke these words that we still sing today, an ode to the Christ child who would be light and glory.

Jesus was the light to the non-Jewish people who did not yet know about salvation in him. He would be the glory of Israel too. Being the nation that produced the Savior of the world was Israel’s greatest honor. We who are the body of Christ are also light and glory. We bring light to a dark world by showing the love of Christ. We work for the glory of God by giving him all credit for the good we do and, more importantly, for the good he has done to us.
However, while this is all true, it doesn’t always seem to fit reality. Maybe this is true for the people who seem to have it all together (they don’t, by the way) but not for regular people just trying to make it through the day. It seems a little pointless to call us light and glory. But we are light and glory precisely because it is not about us.

We are not light and glory because we do good. We are light and glory because we are sinners whom God loved. There is no need to hide our frailty in an attempt to look good to our students, to their parents, or to anybody else we meet. God’s greatest glory is dying for sinners. This is light in a dark world. And as if that were not enough, God uses sinners like us to carry out his work of love.

You are role models to your students and parents. You know this. However, this does not mean that you have to be perfect. In fact, that would work against being a good role model. Being sinners humbled by God’s demands but lifted up by his love and forgiveness to a startling degree is how we are his glory and light to the world.



Prayer: Jesus Christ, make us your light and glory. When our students see their teachers, may they first see sinners saved in your beautiful grace. Amen.



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

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God on the Move – Week of December 24, 2018

God on the Move – Week of December 24, 2018


The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11



When God moves the earth shakes. Caesar Augustus was moved to call for a census so that Mary and Joseph would travel to Bethlehem so that Jesus would be born according to the prophecy of Micah. Wisemen from the east stirred up Jerusalem looking for this new-born king of the Jews. Kings bow and tyrants plot all because of this baby boy. We even track time according to his birth (BC and AD). When God moves the earth shakes. The presence of God moved from the temple to Mary’s womb and then to the person Jesus Christ. This was where one went to encounter God, or better yet, how God encountered his creation.

No wonder then that shepherds were afraid when the angels came to them. So much so that the angels had to say, “Don’t be afraid”. No wonder the angels proclaimed that this event was for all people, that this was good news, and of great joy. God was on the move. Things would be different. When God is on the move the earth shakes.

God is everywhere, of course, but he has specifically promised to be in particular places with grace. He has promised to be in his Word and the Lord’s Supper, baptism and absolution. He has promised to be in the temple of the church. He has promised to be active in the proclamation of his Word. He is on the move and you are a part of and are in and around this movement. When his Word is proclaimed to you and by you, he works. He is present. He is the Word! What an exciting time in which we live. God is on the move all around us and the earth shakes. Do not be afraid though, his movement is gracious. His movement is so that you may know and believe his saving work on the cross.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, drive all fear from our hearts and replace it with the wonder of your gracious actions for us. Amen.



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

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Joy Filled Work – Week of December 17, 2018

Joy Filled Work – Week of December 17, 2018


Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:8-9



We are told to “work hard” but also to have “life balance.” We are told to “go all in” but also to “put ourselves first.” So what gives? It’s a mixed message at best, flat out opposites at worst. Where can I find joy if I am always working hard and not thinking of myself? On the other hand, how can I have a meaningful life if I am only living for myself? We know that this kind of selfishness does not lead to a full life.

The answer is that we are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. It is something that comes from outside. It fills us. It is a gift and the gift comes from the Holy Spirit. Christ has defeated death. How could we not be filled with joy? We have received the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls. How could we not leap for joy?

Of course, this is easier said than done when the half the class is sick, you are concerned one student is showing signs of autism, and the budget just got cut… and it is only Tuesday! Now the question becomes: how could we possibly have joy? First, Christ’s work of salvation cannot be undone. It is a fact of history not affected by your bad day or terrible week. This salvation is yours no matter what happens. Second, you get to be a part of this work of joy. You get to be the deliverer of love. You get to be the proclaimer of grace. You get to be the one, maybe the only one in a particular child’s life, that shows him or her what an undeserved kind of love looks like.

Oh, and one more thing. Christ will get his work done with or without you. The pressure is off. Not all depends on you. This is the freedom of the gospel. Work hard, have joy, and believe that Christ will fulfill his promises.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, give us the gift of joy in Christ’s salvation and the gift of joy in our work. May our witness of joy bring more to faith in 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Peace on Earth – Week of December 10, 2018

Peace on Earth – Week of December 10, 2018


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6



What does peace mean? Is it a personal euphoria? Is it the cessation of armed conflict? Is it a movement? Perhaps the best way to describe peace is “the way it’s supposed to be”. Peacetime (as opposed to wartime) is when the economy is good, schools are open, we feel relatively safe, and we have a certain level of prosperity. The way it is supposed to be. But peace was also a person, the Prince of Peace. So when the angels sang their Christmas song over Bethlehem, they proclaimed peace on earth quite literally. The Prince of Peace was born.

True peace is found in the Prince of Peace. It is one thing to attain success in business. It is quite another to know where you are going for all eternity. It is one thing to reach your earthly goals. It is quite another to be promised an eternal inheritance. It is one thing to teach your students how to read. It is quite another to teach them about Christ. No matter how big the 401k or how many awards are won, there is always one nagging question: What about after this life? The Prince of Peace answers the biggest question. He takes care of the most daunting problem. Only from there can there be true peace here on earth.

First, there is peace between you and God. You no longer need to worry about your standing before the Judge. Christ has paid the price for your sins and his righteousness covers your unrighteousness. Second, you have internal peace. You know that all will be right for all eternity. How much easier is it then to tackle today’s problem with that security? Finally, you have heaven. In heaven there is true peace, that is, the way it was always supposed to be. No war, no sickness, no frustration, and no trouble. All this comes about because of him, the true Prince of Peace. So we celebrate his birth with the angels and sing, “Peace on earth”, literally in the person of Jesus Christ and in our hearts right now.



Prayer: Prince of Peace, continue to bring your peace of forgiveness to earth so that we may live joy-filled lives and spread the Christmas message of peace on earth to the ends of the earth. Amen.



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

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Waiting for the Lord – Week of December 3, 2018

Waiting for the Lord – Week of December 3, 2018


But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7



“Hurry up and wait” was a phrase I often heard growing up. When a great event or important change in life was far off in the future, we had to “hurry up and wait”. The urgency was there but we had to wait. It is hard to wait. Ask any child promised a trip to Disneyland or to McDonald’s for that matter. It’s just as hard for adults to wait. Ask anybody waiting for a tax-refund or waiting for grandchildren to finally be born.

The person for whom we wait the most is Jesus. We wait for his return to take us to heaven. We wait for his promises of joy and peace to be fulfilled. We wait. But we wait in hope. And in this hope we will not be disappointed. We may not like the wait but we will not be disappointed. In heaven there is an ocean of bliss for every drop of frustration on earth.

Nor are we disappointed with Christ’s work here on earth. Again, we might grumble at the wait but not the results, that is, if we have the gift of a true hope. Think about the school year. At the beginning it might seem like speaking to little ones is like speaking to a wall. You are not quite sure anybody is actually listening. Why bother? But then the last weeks of the school year come and you remind yourself how far these kids have grown in a few short months. It was worth it, wasn’t it? And even if you did not see the results you were hoping for, you know that what you said might bear fruit the next year, the year after that, or even twenty years down the road. That’s out of your hands. So you hope.

In a more powerful way we place our hope in Christ not yet seeing all that he does behind the scenes through us and through others who serve us. This is hope. Hope is in what is unseen. Yet it is not blind. We see Christ’s track record. He has not let us down yet. He has fulfilled prophecy after prophecy. He has loved the unlovable. He died for us sinners and rose from the dead to defeat death for us. Why doubt? Sure, waiting is tough but with this hope we plug along in the sure conviction that Christ will make all things right for us.



Prayer: My God and Savior, give me the hope of a future great reward and lead me to love those around me in great joy. Amen.



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

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Fairy Tale – Week of November 26, 2018

Fairy Tale – Week of November 26, 2018


Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

I Chronicles 29: 11, 13



The trumpets sound, and the fanfare plays. The wise king waves to his loyal subjects. They love him because he works tirelessly to do what is best for them. Knowing this, his people work together to make their kingdom exceptional. And the king and his people lived happily ever after.

This sounds like a fairy tale we might read to our children, doesn’t it? In reality our leaders don’t always have their people’s best interests at heart. We don’t always show respect to our leaders and work our hardest to make our country great. Life just isn’t a fairy tale.

Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday. We are reminded that we actually do have the perfect King. We have a mighty King who knows exactly what is best for us because he created and sustains everything on earth. We have a compassionate King who never leaves us, never forgets us, never stops loving us. He gives us the ability to trust and praise and show him love by our thoughts, words, and actions.

Christ our King is with us day by day in this earthly life, but he has another kingdom waiting for us as well. Our exalted King humbled himself, so we might join him in this heavenly kingdom. Jesus came to earth and felt what we feel, was tempted, was mocked, and was rejected by many. Even when his people praised him as their king on that first Palm Sunday, Jesus knew that this was his path to suffering and death. Our mighty king laid down his life for us.

But that wasn’t the end. Christ, our King, rose from the dead. Through his victory, we also are triumphant. We know that we will join him in his perfect kingdom. With King David, we shout, “Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
We really do get the fairy tale!



Prayer:

Lord, as you will, so lead me still; your mercy fails me never.
My God I pray: teach me your way to my last day; from evil keep me ever.
Grant, Lord I pray, your grace each day, that I your name revering,
Your glory see and happy be eternally, before your throne appearing.
Amen.

Christian Worship 362:2,5



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

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Be Joyful Always – Week of November 19, 2018

Be Joyful Always – Week of November 19, 2018


Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18



“Be joyful always.” Wow, that’s a tall order! God blesses me daily, but I admit that there are many times when I don’t radiate joy. It’s difficult to be happy when I feel the press of many tasks to be completed or when I’m faced with challenging students or parents or difficult home situations. How can I be joyful always?

One thing to remember is that God’s definition of joy does not match the world’s definition. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines joy as being “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune.” God, however, does not promise us an earthly life without troubles. Because of our sin, we will face troubles and sad times. Even Jesus, the one who never sinned, felt sadness at his friend Lazarus’ death.

True joy goes deeper than happiness at good fortune. True joy is knowing that even in our deepest times of sorrow, our Savior is with us. He draws us closer to him through our suffering. He comforts and reassures us, promising a perfect life with him. Because that’s the goal, isn’t it? We walk this path of uncertainties and difficulties knowing that Jesus, our Savior, is guiding us to be with him forever. The apostle Peter wrote, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

With this outlook, our joy will show, but not necessarily by a smile or a cheerful face. Our joy in Jesus shines when we trust our Lord to help us in times of trouble as in times of contentment. It shines when we share the reason for our joy with the people around us. It shines when we talk to our Savior and thank him for all that he does for us. It shines because our joy doesn’t originate in us; it comes from the source and creator of all – our Lord Jesus Christ. So yes, be joyful always, confident that this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.



Prayer:

Lord of glory, you have bought us with your lifeblood as the price,
Never grudging for the lost ones that tremendous sacrifice.
Give us faith to trust you boldly, hope, to stay our souls on you;
But, oh, best of all your graces, with your love our love renew.
Amen.

Christian Worship 486:5



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

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Truly Blessed – Week of November 12, 2018

Truly Blessed – Week of November 12, 2018 – Week of November 5, 2018


“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’”

Matthew 25:34



Just imagine: it is literally the last day on earth for all people, and Jesus, the King, is looking at you and saying, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father.” How can this be? Jesus is calling us blessed. We certainly don’t deserve that honor. Each day we have slipped in our mission to honor God and reflect his love to others. Yet Jesus looks at us and says, “You are blessed.”

We are blessed to receive an inheritance from God. Typically, an inheritance is passed down within a family. So the fact that God has named us his heirs means we are part of his family. Our heavenly Father claims us as his own because of the sacrifice of Jesus, his only truly innocent child. Now we are covered with Jesus’ holiness and can take our spot at the family table. We humbly receive the inheritance God has been saving for his precious children.

No earthly inheritance can compare to the one our Father has prepared for us. Since creation, God has been making our heavenly home ready for us. Already then, he knew what would happen: his perfect creation would be stained by sin, our sin. Yet he loved us so much that he prepared a place where sin will never separate us from him.

Thinking about the end of this world, whether it’s on the Last Day or at our death, might at first seem frightening. But then we remember Jesus’ words that he spoke to each of his believers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3). With Jesus forever — yes, we are truly blessed!



Prayer:

O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation.
Your saints are waiting patiently; come soon, Redeemer;
Make us free from every evil.
Amen.

Christian Worship 207:6



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

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There’s Nothing My God Cannot Do for You! – Week of November 5, 2018

There’s Nothing My God Cannot Do for You! – Week of November 5, 2018


Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:10-11



“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty; there’s nothing my God cannot do!” Perhaps you know this song and are humming it in your mind right now. It is a current favorite in my classroom. The students love singing about their strong God who can do everything.

What a blessing to know our God is mighty! It’s not so easy to be strong, as today’s passage encourages. We live in a world of temptations, troubles, and trials. The devil uses anything he can to draw our focus away from our Savior. On our own, we cannot stand up to him. But our almighty God can, and he did! He loves us so much he sacrificed his own Son. In Jesus we see the true strength of our God on display, the strength to set aside his power so that he might take our place and we might have salvation. “Jesus made himself nothing…and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8). Our all-powerful God has not forsaken us.

Not only did God save us, he also equips us to stand against the devil’s schemes. He provides armor that can withstand any enemy: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17). As we read and study God’s Word, we become stronger. Armed with God’s true, powerful word, we battle the devil’s lies and temptations. We get to help others put on their armor as we share Jesus’ love with our students, school families, and each other. God gives us his strength.

My students’ favorite part of singing “My God Is So Big” is the ending. After singing about the wonderful things God has done, they finish with, “There’s nothing my God cannot do FOR YOU!” No matter what we are facing, God is stronger, God is mightier. He gives us the strength and armor to be strong in the Lord.



Prayer:

Lord of love, we bow before you, humbled by your constant grace.
Word incarnate, sent from heaven, on the cross you took our place.
By your death and resurrection, we shall live through endless days!
Lord of life, we sing your praise.

Christian Worship 237:3



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

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To the Ends of the Earth-Our Urgency – Week of October 29, 2018

To the Ends of the Earth-Our Urgency – Week of October 29, 2018


Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:5-6



“There is just something different about you.” His summer job was in a local factory. It was a job with great pay that would help cover expenses for his final year of college. During one of his shifts, a coworker turned to him and said, “There’s something different about you. You are always in a good mood and you’re always so nice to everyone. I’ve never heard you say a foul word.” He was taken aback and then smiled. What should he say next, he wondered?

Today’s verses are a reminder to us that we have opportunities all around us to share our faith with others. Sometimes we do so in ways that don’t even include saying a word about Jesus but can open a door to do so. We can be reflections and mirrors of Jesus in the way we speak and act. When we’re shopping, and someone cuts in line ahead of us, what is our response? When one of our students goes through a difficult time, what will we do? When a parent comes to us upset with something that happened to their child, what will we say and how will we say it?

“Let your conversation be full of grace.” We know ourselves, our weaknesses, our own pet sins. When we are honest with ourselves, we know how much we don’t deserve God’s grace and we know what an amazing gift it is. And now we stand before someone who doesn’t know God’s grace. It may be a challenging situation and we need to respond. So often our human nature kicks in and we are ready to lash out at that line-cutter, to put them in their place, to straighten them out. Or maybe our reaction is to criticize others behind their backs. After a long day, we may be inclined to be impatient or unsympathetic with an upset parent. When we lift our eyes of faith and are reminded of what God has done for us, we can be stopped in our tracks.

You and I interact with people every day. Many of them may not know God’s grace for them. Some may notice that there is something different about you. Be ready. Be ready to respond in a way that reflects the love that Jesus has for you and for them. Continually remind yourself that even if you are not talking about Jesus, you can reflect him in your conversations and your actions. As you continue to be in the Word, you are reminded over and over how dearly you are loved by God. Everyone you meet is someone God loves and someone for whom he sent Jesus to the cross. Pray that you reflect that love and that it opens opportunities to give the reason for the joy you have.



Prayer:
Dear Father, I know how much and often I fail at reflecting your love and grace to others. Please forgive me. Give me a heart that reflects you and your love in all I do and all I say. In Jesus name, Amen.

Something to Consider:
All this month we’ve been focusing on ways to share the gospel with people we know. How is it going? Don’t give up, even if you haven’t even started. Consider someone who can encourage you in your efforts. Continue to pray for opportunities and then for wisdom and courage to share the gospel. Pray for those people on your list that the Lord would open their hearts. May God bless you as you seek to share Jesus.



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

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To the Ends of the Earth-Our Message – Week of October 22, 2018

To the Ends of the Earth-Our Message – Week of October 22, 2018


My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

I Corinthians 2:4-5



“I don’t know what to say. I am afraid I won’t say it well enough or won’t say the right thing. I get so nervous when people ask me.”

Do you ever feel like that or find yourself saying these things? While you work with small children, your work is significant and impactful. It carries a lot of responsibility for a child’s learning, for their social and emotional development, and especially for their spiritual growth. However, you don’t just care for the children. To be as effective as possible, you realize that a strong partnership and relationship with the family is vital. And as you work together with the parents and caregivers, difficult questions or situations can come up and you find yourself looking for the words to say. It may be a challenging behavior, a severely sick child or family member, or a death in the family. Sometimes parents will come to you with questions about matters of faith. You know that this is an opportunity to encourage the family with the comfort of the Word, but you are searching for the best way to say it or are hesitant to respond.

In our reading today, Paul was speaking to the people of the congregation in Corinth. This was a city and time where scholarly wisdom from eloquent speakers was highly regarded. While our impression of Paul may be that he was an impressive orator, he indicates the opposite. Can you imagine how nervous he may have been to address this audience with concern for the success of his preaching? But in the text today, Paul admits that he is not wise and persuasive, at least not by the standards that the Corinthians were used to. His words had an impact and the church grew but not because of Paul. It was the Holy Spirit’s work in people’s hearts that made them see that the wisdom of the world is foolishness and true wisdom is in God. All the power, all the wisdom, all the impact was because of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Word. It wasn’t Paul at all. I can almost hear him exhale. I can almost hear you exhale.

You have a great responsibility for sure. You are possibly a child’s first teacher outside their home. You have a privilege and opportunity to share the powerful message of God’s grace with the children and with their families. It’s not about you. It’s not about your gift for speaking. It’s about the Holy Spirit’s power and work in the hearts of those with whom you share the gospel. Your weakness reminds you to lean on God and your nervousness reflects how important this message is. But have confidence in the One for whom you speak. You know the message. It is God’s message of love for sinners, forgiveness, and grace through Jesus. Pray for opportunities to share this message. Pray for humility and boldness and that the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of those who hear.



Prayer:
Lord, first I want to thank you for the privilege to share your message of grace with the children and families I serve. Please give me both humility and confidence to tell them about you, about your love, your forgiveness, your grace. Remind me to be confident in the Holy Spirit’s work and the power of your Word. In your name I pray. Amen

Something to Consider:
Last week you may have made a list of people you would like to witness to. Sometimes our hesitancy is in not knowing what to say. This week, write down a few key thoughts and Bible verses that can help you in those conversations. You may also want to include people who can help when you don’t have the answers. Include a note that reminds you of the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts of people. It’s not about you or me; it’s all about Jesus.



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

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To the Ends of the Earth-Our Focus – Week of October 15, 2018

To the Ends of the Earth-Our Focus – Week of October 15, 2018


You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8



You’re walking into a store when suddenly you see someone run past you at a full sprint. Immediately you hear a shout to stop this person. In a blink of an eye the event is over, and you find yourself still standing with the door open. What just happened? You look around and people begin to talk to each other. As you hear everyone’s accounts and compare them with your own, you begin to wonder if you all witnessed the same event. The authorities are likely going to ask you to share what you witnessed to determine what really happened. What will you say?

A witness is defined as someone who sees an event take place. Today’s reading recounts what Jesus said to his disciples after he had risen from the dead and shortly before he returned to heaven. “You will be my witnesses” gives the disciples their marching orders. As his disciples, they had spent countless hours travelling with him. They listened to his teaching and observed his preaching, his healing, his miracles, his death, and then his resurrection. Jesus’ instruction to them was to take all they had seen and learned from him and go out. Picture dropping a stone in water and watching the circles of rippled water. Jesus’s message of salvation is the center. Now the disciples were told to take that message and go out further and further. They were to start in Jerusalem and then spread out to Judea and Samaria. But that wasn’t far enough. They were to go to the ends of the earth. In other words, Jesus’ message is for everyone.

What does that have to do with you or me? We didn’t walk the dusty roads of Jesus’s time with him. We haven’t heard him as guest speaker at our church. We aren’t witnesses in the same way that the disciples were, but we are witnesses. And, unlike our experience in the store, digging into God’s Word gives us confidence to accurately share an account of what Jesus has done. We have heard, read, and shared the stories of the Bible. We have studied the Bible in classes and Bible studies. Perhaps you have read compelling answers to tough questions raised by skeptics. You may have memorized a number of Bible verses. Most importantly, you and I have the Holy Spirit who gives us faith to believe and trust God’s promise of salvation for us. And it is the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts of those we witness to.

Who can you tell? Each day you share the message of God’s grace with the children you serve. You also have opportunity to tell their parents. What about a friend? A neighbor? A family member? The barista at your favorite coffee shop? The great news is that it’s not all up to you. God simply asks you to tell and the miraculous part of creating faith in their hearts is up to the Holy Spirit. So be bold! Be loving. Be patient. But be a witness sharing the most amazing account ever told—God’s amazing gift of salvation for the whole world!



Prayer:
May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day,
By his love and power inspiring all I do or say.
May his spirit live within me as I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel, seeing only him. Amen
Christian Worship 467: 1, 6

Something to Consider:

We all know someone. We all mean well and want to tell them. Let’s be intentional. Write down the names of those you would like to encourage with the gospel. Put your list in a place that you will see often. Pray for those on your list and then look for those windows of opportunity to talk to them about their Savior.  Pray that the Lord blesses your words to them and opens their hearts. May the Lord bless your witness.

A new hymn, commissioned to complement the new movie, is useful for personal or faculty devotions – even if simply read rather than sung. A text version is available at welscongregationalservices.net/download/tteote-worship; see  “Downloads”, then “About the Music Resources.”



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

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To the Ends of the Earth-Our Prayer – Week of October 8, 2018

To the Ends of the Earth-Our Prayer – Week of October 8, 2018


Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Colossians 4:2-4



This month our devotions focus on the theme and message of the new movie from the Commission on Evangelism— To the Ends of the Earth. The movie follows Paul’s remarkable visit to the city of Philippi, recorded in Acts 16 and how the gospel is for all. Today we consider praying for those who proclaim the gospel.
One of the highlights of any day is getting a Facetime call from one of our sons, their wives, or our grandchildren. No matter what I’m doing or what my mood is, I’m always delighted to hear from them. I want to hear all the details of their lives including the joys and the struggles.

Our heavenly Father is even more eager to hear from those he loves. In our verses today, he tells us to devote ourselves to prayer. He wants to hear from us through prayer. He wants to listen as we share our grateful thanks, our repentant confessions, and our pleas to him for help with struggles. He also wants to hear our intercessions for others.

Did you know that there is a “Pray for your Pastor” month? There is, and this is it! During October you may see reminders to keep your pastor in your prayers. The writer of today’s reading is the apostle Paul who is asking the Colossian people to pray for him and those who serve with him. He’s not asking for himself but for the message he is sharing. Paul asks that the Colossians pray boldly that the Lord would open doors of opportunity to share the gospel message and that God would give him wisdom and courage to proclaim the gospel faithfully and effectively.

We all have human limitations and so do our pastors and missionaries. They, like us, live in a sinful world that is not always receptive to the gospel. They have God-given gifts, but they also have areas where they struggle. They will tell you what a blessing it is and what an encouragement it is to know that God’s people are holding them up in prayer.

So, this month, today, or any day, pray for pastors and missionaries. Thank God for their heart for sharing God’s message of grace. Thank God for their faithful dedication to the work to which they are called. Pray boldly that God opens door after door of opportunities for them to share God’s forgiveness and grace. Pray that the messenger does not get in the way of a clear and powerful proclamation of the gospel. Pray also that he provides you with the same opportunities and the eagerness to share God’s amazing grace—to the ends of the earth!



Prayer:
Dear Lord, to your true servants give the grace to you alone to live.
Set free from sin to serve you, Lord, they go to share your living Word,
The gospel message to proclaim that all may know your saving name.

They gladly go at your command to spread your Word o’er sea and land.
Be with them Lord, and make them strong to heal sin’s ills, to right the wrong.
Your rule is over wind and wave, and mighty is your arm to save.

When all their labor seems in vain, revive their sinking hopes again;
And when success crowns what they do, oh, keep them humble, Lord, and true
Until before your judgment seat they lay their trophies at your feet. Amen

Christian Worship 542

Something to Consider:
What are ways that you can encourage your students to pray for your pastor, other pastors, and for missionaries? Is there a way to let them know you and your class are praying for them?

A suite of supplemental materials to go along with the new movie, To the Ends of the Earth have been developed for teachers. To check out these materials, including a Bible lesson for early childhood and one for primary grades, go to welscongregationalservices.net/c18



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

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To the Ends of the Earth-Our Why – Week of October 1, 2018

To the Ends of the Earth-Our Why – Week of October 1, 2018


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 3:16



This month our devotions will focus on the theme and message of the new movie from the Commission on Evangelism— To the Ends of the Earth. The movie follows Paul’s remarkable visit to the city of Philippi, recorded in Acts 16. It shows how Paul connected with people from all walks of life, demonstrating that the good news of Jesus is indeed for all people—to the very ends of the earth. Today we’ll consider why we want to share this amazing news of Jesus.

Recently my husband and I realized that we hardly used our home office. The room’s layout wasn’t helpful, and it was too cluttered. We needed a plan. We needed a plan that used the same space and the same furniture as much as possible while making it more conducive to productivity. One of our sons was there and proposed moving one of the bookshelves. What? Move the bookshelf? It made no sense to us at first. With more than a little hesitancy, we agreed to try his plan. Within less than an hour, it seemed like a new room. We were amazed at the additional square footage that seemed to appear. The plan was working!

God saw a challenge and it was far bigger than our simple office arrangement. He had designed and created a beautiful world. And the crown of his creation was his people. However, his perfect people caved in to the temptation of Satan. They disobeyed God. When he said, “Don’t”, they did it anyway. And they justified it in their minds. What was God’s response? God had a plan to redeem his creation that had so miserably failed.

When we work on a plan, our thoughts are often on what would be logical, what would make sense. Not so our God. His plan, while perfect, was anything but logical to our human thinking. Adam and Eve failed miserably. We continue to fail miserably. God’s response? Logically it would include severe punishment and separation from him. But not our God.

Today’s verse begins with five simple words; “God so loved the world.” He loved the world even when they turned from him, disobeyed him, and neglected him. The kind of love that God has for the world is incomprehensible. Because of that love his plan included sacrificing his only Son, Jesus. Think about that for a minute. He sacrificed his only Son because of us. And why? Because he wants you, and me, and the world to “have eternal life.” God’s plan is full of overwhelming grace. His plan is full of love for people that needs to be shared. Why? So “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” That’s our why, our purpose to connect with people, just like Paul did, to share the good news of Jesus with all people.

God’s plan is perfect and is based on his immeasurable love for you, for me, for the whole world. That’s a plan to share! Who will you tell?



Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, your plan for me and for the world is hard to comprehend. Help me to begin to grasp the depth of your love and grace. Please help me to always be excited and eager to share your gift of salvation with all those around me. Amen

Something to Consider: A suite of supplemental materials have been developed for teachers to go along with the new movie. To check out these materials, including a Bible lesson for early childhood and one for primary grades, go to welscongregationalservices.net/c18



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

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What are Your Ways? – Week of September 24, 2018

What are Your Ways? – Week of September 24, 2018


Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25:4-5



“It’s like herding cats!” Have you ever thought that as you were working to guide a group of young children from point A to point B? The younger they are, the more unaware they can seem to your direction and guidance. As you gently turn them in the direction you would like them to go, they eventually or even immediately turn back towards the things that have their attention. Especially when safety comes into play, this can be a challenge for sure.

Can’t we be just like that wandering child? We can toddle along with our focus drawn from one thing to the next. We get at our tasks and daily list of things to do sometimes without much thought. We have our plans, our goals, our dreams. And when all is well, we continue on with self-assured confidence.

Are you like me? Do you often wait until things are not so well to turn to the Lord? Do you wait until you’ve exhausted all other options and then smack your forehead and say, “I can ask Jesus for help with this one!” We are wrapped in a human nature that is independent to a fault. We, like the toddler, want to do it ourselves and do it our way. And all the while, our patient and loving Lord is there. He wants to hear, wants to guide, wants us to follow him. Through the Word, he provides the answers we need for our earthly journey. Our verses today provide a wonderful prayer for us.

“Show me your ways, O LORD.” We so often get so stuck in our own ways that we can lose sight of you and your love for us. What are your ways, Lord? In this prayer we ask you to show them to us, so we don’t get stuck in our own sinful ways. Show us the path you want for us. We have so many things before us and life can feel like there is a multi-pronged fork in the road. The truths you have given us in your Word can guide and teach us. Help us listen to you and learn from you.

The last two phrases express a confidence in the one to whom we pray. “You are my God and Savior.” What more do we need to know? What here on earth can provide even a fraction of what God has done and continues to do for us? Our life is full of challenges, disappointment, fear, and heartache. What can we cling to? Our hope is in the Lord not just today but every day. Why? Because, unlike the world, the Lord’s ways, paths, and truths are all founded in his overwhelming love for us. His ways, his path, his truth can provide guidance and direction today but also lead us to the ultimate goal, heaven. He is our one true hope and we can have unshakable confidence in him.

When you are shepherding your group of little ones, recall Jesus’ loving and yet firm guidance for you. In faith, be open and eager to learn from him. When you stray, turn to him for his forgiveness. We can trust him completely as he guides us on his path, in his truth, as God our Savior.



Prayer:

Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way;
Direct, protect, and feed me from day to day.
Without your grace and favor I go astray;
So take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way. Amen.

Christian Worship 439:1

 



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

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Thank the Lord for Them- Week of September 17, 2018

Thank the Lord for Them- Week of September 17, 2018


He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11



One of the sweetest joys of teaching is watching a little one reach out to another child who is struggling or hurting. Seeing their compassion or encouragement for their peer touches our hearts. We observe in silence with a heart overflowing with endearment for them. This kind of heartfelt interaction is something we teach, we model, and we pray that the children learn.

How about us? How is our interaction with peers? This side of heaven we are surrounded by people who can make us laugh, can build us up, or that can lead us to frustration, discouragement, or even heartache. We are sinners among sinners. Sometimes it is awesome. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Children look to us as we teach and model care, compassion, empathy, and an appreciation for each child in our class. Where do we look for that modeling for ourselves? We look, first of all to God’s Word. The first part of the verses today is a reminder and encouragement to us. It reminds us that God wants everyone to live with him in heaven. He sent Jesus to die, not for what he did but for what we did. His love for us and his desire for us to be with him in heaven is immeasurable. That love is for all. And then, he wants us to share that amazing message of grace with everyone around us.

You likely have colleagues that are a true blessing for you. They are caring, encouraging, thoughtful, and have a heart for the ministry in which they serve. Thank the Lord for them.

You may also have colleagues who are a challenge to you. Perhaps you have very different points of view or philosophies. They may have a personality that is far different from yours. Perhaps they seem over-confident or overly-reserved and hesitant to get involved. Are they perpetually tardy or seem unaware of deadlines? Thank the Lord for them. Yes…thank the Lord for them.

As you look at each individual, they are someone for whom Christ went to the cross. They are dearly loved by the same Lord that loves and forgives you. Looking at them through those eyes can help us to see their strengths more and their weaknesses less. Perhaps they simply have gifts we don’t have or recognize because they do things differently than we do. It may be that they are hurting, insecure, struggling with things in their lives that show in ways that can be challenging for those around them. We can look at them with the loving and compassionate eyes of faith the way our Savior looks at us. With this heart, we can reach out to them with God’s love, forgiveness, and encouragement as brothers and sisters in Christ.
So today, thank the Lord for your colleagues, all of them. Grow in your appreciation of everyone’s unique gifts and when you see weaknesses–look for ways to encourage them and build them up in the Lord who loves you and them dearly.



Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for each of my colleagues. Help me to be an encourager to all those around me. In your name. Amen

 Something to Consider: It’s not easy to try to approach a person with whom you’ve had struggles. But think of what blessings can come when you do. Prayerfully consider how you can be an encourager to all.



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

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Fill Me Up – Week of September 10, 2018

Fill Me Up – Week of September 10, 2018


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16



“The love of Jesus permeates the early childhood ministry’s culture and establishes the bond among students, teachers, and parents.” (Building Blocks: A Handbook for Beginning and Operating a Christian Early Childhood Ministry 2015 WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools)

This statement is included as one of the essential characteristics of a WELS early childhood ministry. One of the words that stands out is “permeates.” Dictionary.com defines permeate as: “to pass into or through every part of.” I think of sugar in a cup of tea. Once it’s in there, it’s in every sip and cannot be removed again. Or yeast affecting the whole lump of dough. It’s integrated into every drop of the cup of tea or morsel of the loaf of bread.

Our verse today reminds us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Every day, as you read the Bible, study the Bible story lesson, share a devotion with a colleague, or worship in your church, the Holy Spirit is filling you with the word of Christ as you grow in faith and knowledge. And when our hearts are filled, it’s easier to share with those around us.

Think of your day with the little ones, their families, your colleagues. Jesus is part of every little thing and every big thing you do each day. While you likely aren’t speaking about Jesus at every moment and in every conversation, you can still reflect him in your warmth, your understanding, your patience, your joy. Your share Jesus as you kneel next to a young child and marvel at the caterpillar, created by God. Jesus is part of your conversation as you comfort a child who is sad or frightened. We share Jesus when we comment about how incredible it is that Jesus heals their scraped knee. Jesus is there when we model forgiveness with a child or ask for forgiveness from a colleague or parent. Jesus is not something we reserve for Bible story time, devotions, or prayer time. He permeates everything. He is the heart of what we do all day long.

Your days are full. They are full of highs and lows, joys and disappointments. But as you experience each moment, you can look to God’s precious word for wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and forgiveness when we fail. We also find a multitude of expressions of joy in God’s word that reflect our delight in the blessings all around us.

So, be in the Word and let it dwell in you richly so that you more consistently and faithfully reflect Christ. Then teach each other, encourage each other, and sing with a heart that is full of joy that can only come from the precious news of the gospel you know and are privileged to share. Let it permeate all you do all day, every day.



Prayer: Dear Lord, fill me up with your Word. Then help me to share you with all those around me each day, all day. In your name I pray. Amen

Something to Consider: Have a discussion with your staff on ways that you can read and study the Word together and how growth shows itself in various ways. Also talk about ways that you see and hear each other share Jesus throughout the day.



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

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Rest From Your Labor – Week of September 3, 2018

Rest From Your Labor – Week of September 3, 2018


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29



September 5, 1882 was the date of the first Labor Day. It was observed in New York City and organized by the Central Labor Union as a day to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of laborers. By 1894, it was recognized as a national holiday marked with parades and festivals. Over the years, it has evolved into a marking of the end of summer and a time for back to school.

Back to school time is an exciting time for students, their families, and those who teach. It’s a time of new beginnings and wonderful possibilities. It’s also a time to readjust from more relaxed schedules of summer to the full days that come with school and associated activities. Despite the excitement of it all, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed and weary. You may be feeling a sense of anxiousness recognizing the responsibility you have been given in serving young children and their families. You may also be feeling weighed down with sin—your own and the evidence of sin all around us.

Our verses today share an invitation from Jesus to you and to me. He tells us to come to him. These verses are wrapped in his love that reaches out to us with the comfort and reassurance only he can give.

Today and every day you can go to Jesus for the rest you need. You can open your heart and tell him your burdens. You can tell him of your broken heart, your heart that is struggling with your sins, or your heart that is confused and fearful when you look at the sin around you. You can go to him, as weary as you are, and know that you are going to one who understands. In today’s verses, he is reaching out to you and to me and telling us that we can lean on him, learn from him, count on him. No sin is bigger than the love he showed on the cross. All that he has done and all that he has promised are founded in his love for you. He wants you and me to know that while sin and its effects are always with us, he too, is always with us through it all. We can rest knowing that he is gentle, humble in heart, patient, and forgiving.

So today, as you enjoy a day off from all your labors, take time to reflect on the One who asks you to come to him for rest for your soul. He’s eager to listen.



Prayer:

Jesus, it’s often hard to fight the weariness of this world and my own sin. I am so grateful for the rest I find in you and your forgiveness. Help me to look to you for rest and to share that joy in your love with all those around me. In your name I pray, Amen



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

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