Tag Archive for: ecme devotions

Freedom – Week of January 24, 2022

Freedom – Week of January 24, 2022



The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.

Luke 4:18



As the children run outside, they’re ready to resume the game they had created. Usually, the game involves lots of running, chasing, superheroes, and princesses. Often someone is taken captive and has to figure out how to escape. At a young age, children already know how important freedom is.

Jesus promised freedom for his people. He was preaching to the people in his hometown of Nazareth when he read these words from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus told the people, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). Jesus declared that he was the long-awaited Savior, the one who would bring freedom.

Who needs this freedom? Isaiah identified them as the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed. Could that be me? Those words don’t seem to describe me. I’m not poor or a slave or blind or oppressed. Or am I? Perhaps physically, these words don’t apply to me, but spiritually they certainly do. On my own, I am held captive by my sinful nature. Even when I want to do what’s right, I so often fail. On my own, I cannot see a solution to my problem of sin. On my own, I am burdened by the knowledge that I can never live up to God’s demand of perfection.

But I am not on my own. None of us are. Jesus did what no one else could do. He preached the good news throughout his life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’” (John 14:6). He freed us from our sins through his perfect life and innocent death. He healed our sin-sick eyes, helping us see how to serve him and others in an imperfect world. He released us from death’s oppression when he rose from the dead. We are free!

What wonderful news! And now we are free to share this news with those around us. In our classrooms, homes, and lives, we point people to Jesus our Savior. We thank Jesus through lives of service to others. And, when our time here on earth is done, we will rejoice in the perfect freedom of heaven.



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. Lord, when the shadows lengthen and night has come,
I know that you will strengthen my steps toward home.
Then nothing can impede me, O blessed Friend;
So take my hand and lead me unto the end. Amen.
CW21 849:1,3
CW93 439:1,3



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

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Prayer – Week of January 17, 2022

Prayer – Week of January 17, 2022



And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19



Did you pray for me when I was home sick? Can we pray for my mom? She cut her arm yesterday. Will you pray that I have a safe trip when I go visit my grandparents? It doesn’t take long for children to appreciate praying together. They aren’t afraid to ask for things that are important to them.  Paul, who wrote this letter to the Ephesians, also prayed for important things for all of God’s people.

Paul prayed that God’s people would have power. This power is spiritual strength given to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit planted faith in our hearts and continuously works to strengthen that faith. We pray for power too. We ask God to bless our efforts as we teach our students about Jesus and what he’s done for us. We pray that no matter what our students may face, they trust in Jesus’ love and guidance. And we ask that God grant us that same strength as we carry out our mission in our schools, homes, and lives.

Paul also asked God to grant his people knowledge, specifically that we might “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18). We need this enormous love of Christ. We were born in sin and continue to live in sin each day. We cling to the promise of our salvation through Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. We pray that our students, as they spread their arms out wide to show how big Jesus’ love is, hold onto that knowledge. We pray that we trust in God’s love and show that in every moment of each day.

Finally, Paul prayed for fullness. Imagine pouring a cup full of water and not only letting the water fill the cup but overflow. God pours out his love for us. He hears and answers every prayer in ways that are better than we can imagine. So let’s be bold and ask for great things for God’s kingdom. Let’s pray that God’s Word is spread throughout the world, that everyone will believe, and that God might use us to help spread the wonderful news of salvation.

My prayer for each of you, dear readers, is that God fill you with spiritual strength and knowledge to share Christ’s love with your students and family and all those around you. And I know that you’ll pray the same for me.



Prayer

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds, help us grasp the heights of your plans for us,
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time, that will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on your promises, and by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till your Church is built, and the earth is filled with your glory. Amen.
CW21 633:3
CW Supplement 735:3



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

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Washed Clean – Week of January 10, 2022

Washed Clean – Week of January 10, 2022



But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7



Working in early childhood can be a messy venture. “Don’t lick the table” is a phrase I never thought I would have to say. When cold and allergy season hit, the battle of the germs begins in earnest. Don’t forget to wash your hands! Did you use soap this time? We wipe tables, clean toys, and encourage children to wash away the germs. After all, we want our students to learn and laugh and play with each other, and feeling healthy helps make that possible.

In his letter to Titus, Paul writes about a different sickness that contaminates us. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” (Titus 3:3). All of us are infected with sin from birth. But notice the past tense in that verse: “we too were foolish. . . we lived in envy. . .” How can these sins be gone? We were washed clean. “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6). Through the waters of baptism and the words of Jesus’ salvation, the Holy Spirit makes us healthy, free from sin’s sickness.

Paul calls this washing a renewal. While we daily struggle with sin, we are renewed by the Holy Spirit to live a new, clean life. Because God so generously pours out blessings of love and forgiveness, we spend our lives serving him and the people around us. We have opportunities in our classrooms as we patiently teach and encourage our students. We help them show their love for Jesus through their songs, prayers, words, and actions. And when we leave the classroom, we spread God’s love in our homes and every place we go. We live lives of renewal, knowing that each day our mistakes and missed opportunities are washed clean.

As many times as we wipe down toys and have our students wash their hands, sickness still strikes us and our students. The Holy Spirit’s washing, however, is perfect and complete. We are clean. We have heaven waiting for us where we will spend eternity with our Savior. And it will be fine to lick the table.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for washing me clean from my sins. Guide me in my life of renewal until I join you in eternity.

Holy Spirit, fill my heart, cleanse my life in every part;
Your own temple I would be now and for eternity. Amen.
CW21 593:5
CW93 183:5



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

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Family – Week of January 3, 2022

Family – Week of January 3, 2022



But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7



Has it happened in your classroom yet? Every year, new children flood your class with bright smiles and unique personalities. After working, learning, and playing together, at some point, this little group has become family. You celebrate strengths, work through squabbles, and, best of all, learn about Jesus’ love together.

You and your students also belong to another family, God’s family. Because of his great love for us, God adopted us. No one deserves this adoption. By nature, we all are slaves to sin, and each day we battle this sinful nature. On our own, we are destined to lose, but God made sure that we don’t have to fight on our own. “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son. . . to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus lived a perfect life, took our punishment to the cross, and defeated sin, death, and the devil when he rose from the dead. We are no longer slaves but are God’s children, adopted into his family.

Now we receive the benefits of being in God’s family. We trust him to take care of our needs. Like children ask their parents, we take our requests and concerns to God, trusting him. “If you . . . know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Our heavenly Father knows best how to take care of our earthly and spiritual needs.

Because we are adopted into God’s family, we will receive an inheritance. “You are no longer a slave, but God’s child, and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:7). Our inheritance is that perfect home in heaven. We look forward to being free from sin and pain and sadness. Even more, we anticipate being with our heavenly family forever. We will get to be with Jesus!

And that’s what we want for our classroom families. We pray that the Holy Spirit puts faith in the hearts of these children and their families. We use God’s Word to teach them about how we went from slaves to children of God. We encourage them and are encouraged by them as we walk through our daily lives. We become family. What a wonderful family we have now, and what a wonderful family we’ll have in heaven!



Prayer

By your blood our souls were bought, by your life salvation wrought;
By your light our feet are taught, Lord, to follow you.

Father draw us to your Son; we with joy will follow on
Till the work of grace is done, there to live with you. Amen.

CW21 551:3-4
CW93 436:3-4



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

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What Child is This? Our Substitute! – Week of December 27, 2021

What Child is This? Our Substitute! – Week of December 27, 2021



In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 2:10-11



It was the very first day of preschool and our very first recess of the school year. The 3-yr-old tripped on the wood chips and fell. Although she didn’t have a scratch or any injury to be found, she gave an impressive wail with overreactive sobs and flailing of limbs. Seconds later, her 4-year-old classmate swooped in and shouted, “It’s ok! It’s ok! I’m a doctor, everyone stand back!” The theatrical damsel in distress stopped crying immediately when I turned to him and said “Is she going to make it, doc?”

Throughout the Bible, we see examples of Jesus being “the Great Physician”. He healed the sick and made the blind man see. He cured a paralyzed man and countless others that could not be healed by earthly medicines and procedures. But “fixing people” on the outside was not why he came to earth. God becoming a human was not an accident. The purpose of God becoming man wasn’t to heal the sick (although he did!) or to set an example of how we should live (although he did that, too!).

Jesus’ goal, mission, and purpose was to come to the earth to make us ready for heaven. Jesus’ mission was to prepare salvation, which is a fancy word for “deliverance from our sin”. We were born with sin and in desperate need of a doctor to give us the antidote. Jesus is the only one that can heal us from this sickness that not only plagues us on this earth but also means we would spend eternity separated from God in hell.

But Jesus removed our sin forever when he died on the cross on Good Friday and came back to life on Easter. By his suffering, we are made perfect in God’s eyes. Jesus suffered and died as our substitute and through his underserved love we are given the gift of heaven. We have become his “sons and daughters”. We are now welcome into his family and will enjoy the riches of heaven.

When we reflect on this Christmas season, let us stand in awe at the baby that humbly came into this world, the only doctor that could give everyone the true saving medicine: freedom from sin. What child is this? This child is our substitute! This child is our Savior, who gives us true peace, the child that earned us a place in God’s family and our home in heaven.



Prayer
Christian Worship 93 55 St. 4
Christian Worship 21 354 St. 4

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be all glory giv’n!
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!



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

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What Child is This? Our Savior! – Week of December 20, 2021

What Child is This? Our Savior! – Week of December 20, 2021



This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:9-10



We are days away from Christmas, and the signs are everywhere. We see decorations, lights, presents. We smell cinnamon and cookies baking. Strangers speak kindly to each other. And the giving! Everywhere you turn, there is a donation bucket or charity working hard to care for the needs of others. Many people donate their time or money to charitable organizations during the Christmas season, as a way of “giving back” and showing love to others.

But this is not what Christmas is all about. Oh, surely God wants us to care for others and to help struggling families during the season. God wants us to donate our time and money at Christmastime and any other time of year. And everyone needs love; it is a basic need. But showing love and kindness to family and strangers is not what Christmas is about. And doing these things will not give us the true peace and joy that God wants us to have during this season.

Christmas is not about us showing love to others. Christmas is about God showing love to us, though we do not deserve it. Christmas is about God coming to us as a baby. What child is this? Jesus is so special because this baby is God himself, sent from heaven to walk the earth with us.

God entered this world of sin—sin for which we are fully responsible—as a baby, and then Jesus left the world by dying on the cross. Because of our sin, we deserve death and eternal separation from God in hell. But God loves us so much that he rescued us! Through the life and death of Jesus, our sins are washed away. God showed his love to us by sending his Son to live and die for us, in our place.

The more that we see God’s love for us, the more we want to show our love back to him. God gave us Jesus, a free gift, and we show love back to God by loving and serving him and others. When we take care of others and give gifts during this holiday season, we are saying “Thank you” to God for the ultimate gift of love that he gave to us on that first Christmas.

When you hear the hymn “What Child is This?” during this season, sing confidently that you know the answer! This child is Jesus, the true gift of Christmas. Jesus is God’s gift to us, freely given. Joy to the World! The Lord has come!



Prayer
Dear God, thank you for showing your love to us by sending Jesus to live and die for us. Use our kindness and service to others during this season to help others learn about the love and forgiveness that we have through Jesus. We celebrate Jesus’ birthday with joy and confidence that our sins are forgiven and we will someday be with you in heaven. Amen.



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

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Peace in Our Heart – Week of December 13, 2021

Peace in Our Heart – Week of December 13, 2021



Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7



I was sitting at the table with a young girl and we were both drawing with crayons. Suddenly, she slammed the crayon down and said, “This one isn’t working!” I noticed that the end that she was trying to use was covered by the wrapper. All she needed to do was flip the crayon around and use the working end. Before I could suggest this, she looked me and said “I know what we have to do! We need to pray.” “Dear Jesus”, she prayed, “fix my crayon. Amen.” Then she picked up the crayon, the correct way this time, and started drawing. “See?” she said, “We need to pray more.”

God wants us to pray often. He wants us to turn to our heavenly Father first. How often we try to solve problems on our own! We so often say, after we have tried everything humanly possible, “All we can do now is pray”. But prayer should be the first thing we do in a time of need!

It is not easy for us to “not be anxious about anything”. Although it is good use of our minds and means to plan ahead, use resources, and use common sense, worry is still a sin. When we are worried and anxious, we are not trusting in God. We should have childlike faith that God can and will “fix the crayon.” God cares for us and blesses us!

When we pray, God wants us to come to him with any request. We first come to him with prayers of thanksgiving, knowing that he will provide for us. When we pray, we are close to God. Our God is SO big and we are so little! God beat the devil, his number one enemy. We still fight the work of the devil every day, and, without God, we will fail. But God fights for us, and he gives us peace.

The peace that God gives us comes from his love for us. This love he gives us is free and undeserved. He knows that we struggle with sin and still he forgives us, every time. With this forgiveness comes a peace that is unlike any other! We are confident that, because God sent his Son into the world to beat his number one enemy, we are free!

This peace that God gave us, through his son, Jesus, is like a fortress around our heart and mind. When we put our eyes on Jesus by reading his Word in the Bible and by coming to him in prayer, he wraps us in the peace that we are truly forgiven and will receive the blessings of heaven. May we be daily reminded, during this Christmas season, of the true peace that baby Jesus brings to our hearts!



Prayer
Christian Worship 93 28 St 1, 6
Christian Worship 21 315 St. 1, 6

Let the earth now praise the Lord,
Who has truly kept his word
And at last to us did send
Christ, the sinner’s help and friend.

And, when you shall come again
As a glorious king to reign,
I with joy may see your face,
Freely ransomed by your grace.

A Question to Consider:
It is easy for worry to creep in and take hold of our hearts. How can you help yourself, your spouse/friends/coworkers to remember to go to God first?



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

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A Straight Path – Week of December 6, 2021

A Straight Path – Week of December 6, 2021



Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. And all people will see God’s salvation.

Luke 3:4b, 6



My neighbor recently returned from a kayaking trip. He started at the source of the Mississippi River, Lake Itasca in Minnesota, and traveled 2,340 miles to the mouth of the river in the Gulf of Mexico. As part of his trip planning, he printed maps of the river in segments. He was surprised at how many twists and turns the river makes, even before leaving the state of Minnesota! What seemed like a “straight shot” from Minnesota to Louisiana was not straight at all!

To prepare the way for the coming of Jesus, God sent a man named John. God sent John with a mission: to help people get ready for, or “make straight paths” for Jesus. John spent his ministry teaching repentance and baptizing new believers. To repent means to be sorry for one’s sins, to sincerely acknowledge one’s sins and believe in Christ’s forgiveness. As John was preparing the path for Jesus, he taught people both parts of repentance: that they should not only sincerely acknowledge their sins but also believe the amazing news that those sins are forgiven.

John’s job was to tell people that the time for the fulfillment of God’s greatest promise was near. Jesus was near! As John was preaching about repentance, God used the time to humble his people. John did not gush about how friendly Jesus would be, how Jesus would heal people and give them food. Although Jesus would be and do all these things, that is not why Jesus came into this world. John’s message was this: we are sinners and we need a Savior. We disobey God every day and even the good that we do is tainted with selfishness. We need Jesus and his forgiveness, every day. We are humbled at this thought!

But Jesus is near! Jesus walked on the earth at the same time as John and would be the one to save the world. Jesus is the only path to heaven. So many people think that the “straight shot” to heaven is to help others, give back, or “throw kindness like confetti”. But this is NOT the way to heaven. The only path to heaven has nothing to do with what good we have done. In fact, we get to go to heaven in spite of what we have done. When we are humbled in acknowledging our sins, Jesus forgives us and welcomes us into his heavenly home. Jesus is the truth, the life and the way!



Prayer
Dear Jesus, we are thankful for John, who showed people the truth of your purpose long ago. Thank you for being the truth, the life, and the way to heaven. We are sorry for the wrong that we do. We believe in your promise of forgiveness. Give us the strength to live as a new person in the family of Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What things can you do to “prepare the way” for Jesus to come into your heart and home this Christmas season?



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

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The Last Chapter – Week of November 29, 2021

The Last Chapter – Week of November 29, 2021



Rejoice greatly, daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9



“Come on, mom! Just one more chapter! Bookmarks are for quitters!” This is usually how our family bedtime read-aloud sessions conclude. We all want to read just. . . . one. . .more chapter because we want can’t wait to see what happens next. We want to know how the story ends.

One author describes the Bible as a love story written by God for the whole world. The main character is Jesus, and he is seen on every page, in every chapter, in every verse. Even though the book of Zechariah was written long before Jesus was born, on those pages we see some details of Jesus’ final days on earth. On what we now call “Palm Sunday”, Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem on a young colt, one that had never been ridden. As he rode into town, people showed that they loved and honored him by shouting praises, waving palm branches, and placing garments and palm branches on the road before him. Our King had come! What a humble way for our King to come into town.

As the Christmas season approaches, we remember how humbly Jesus entered into the world. The hero of the Bible, God’s love story, was born in a small town and in a room where animals had lived. Some of the first people to ever see him were not wealthy or highly educated—but were instead poor shepherds. God allowed himself to be humbled when he became man and lived with us. Our King had come!

Our King also forgives. In the Bible we hear story after story about all the people that have disobeyed, mocked, or turned away from God. People fail. No one can escape sin. But our King also forgives us, over and over and over. He wants us to see our sin, repent, and feel the comfort of his grace and forgiveness.

And there’s still another chapter! Don’t put the book down yet! Remember all the shouting on Palm Sunday? Jesus will come again, and everyone will shout his name. This day will be the final, complete fulfillment of all promises God made in his love story. We will see our King! We rejoice here on earth while we wait for his victorious return. We shout praises to His name in full confidence that we know how this story ends.



Prayer

Christian Worship 93 3 St. 5

Christian Worship 21 305 St. 5

Redeemer, come! I open wide my heart to you; here, Lord abide!
Oh, enter with your saving grace; show me your kind and friendly face.
Your Holy Spirit guide us on until our glorious goal is won.
Eternal praise and fame we offer to your name. Amen



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

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Forever and Ever – Week of November 22, 2021

Forever and Ever – Week of November 22, 2021



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

Revelation 1:8



Have you ever tried to explain to a child how empty everything was before creation? There was no world, there was no universe, there was no darkness, there was no light. There was nothing. And if “nothing” is a “thing”, then there wasn’t any of that, either! Only God was there. God was there at the beginning, he is here now, and he will be here until the end of the world and throughout eternity. God never changes.

After God created light and dark, the world, the universe, gravity, seasons, the mystery of how a seed can become a tree, and all the other innerworkings of the world, God was there with Adam and Eve in their new home. God was there when they willingly disobeyed his command, believed the devil, and ate the fruit that he told them not to eat. God also told them of the only remedy for sin: his plan to send a Savior to crush the devil.

God was there when his son, Jesus, was born in the stable. God was there when Jesus did the work of his ministry, healing the sick, training disciples, and preparing the world for his own death. When Jesus died on the cross, he felt the pain and suffering of the entire world’s sins. Jesus felt what we deserve–the full separation from our God. And God was certainly there on that first Easter when Jesus came back to life so that we may be free from sin. God has kept every promise that he ever made.

God remains the same—we do not. We are unfaithful, ungrateful, and unkind. We might be loving to someone one day, and then hold a grudge the next. We are constantly going back and forth between “right” and “wrong” and every day we struggle to behave, believe, and trust as God wants us to. But God never changes! He is the same forever and ever! He is faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to him.

God is everywhere—he always has been and always will be. He sees everything that we do, say, and think. He sees our sins and need for a Savior. But our almighty, always faithful God rescued us. Our Savior came! This promise kept for Adam and Eve was also a promise kept for us. Jesus came, crushed the devil, and he will come again. What comfort we have knowing that our unchanging God always keeps his promises, forever and ever!



Prayer
Dear God,
You are always faithful even when I am not. I am comforted by the knowledge that you will always keep your promises. I look forward to the fulfillment of your promises when I see you in heaven. Amen.



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

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Three New Things – Week of November 15, 2021

Three New Things – Week of November 15, 2021



The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things. I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
Psalm 118:16-17



My two little girls had a lot of questions when grandma died. Death is shocking, sad, and very hard to work through, perhaps especially when the person that dies is someone that you had a strong relationship with. The children’s book What Happened When Grandma Died explains it this way: Grandma had 3 things– her body, her house, and her life. After she died, she no longer needed those things. God gave her a new body, a new house, and a new life.

The words from today’s Psalm are actually a hymn, a song of thanksgiving for the three things that God gives us when we die. First, he will give us a new body. Our earthly body is full of sin. We sin with our actions, our words, and our mind. We can’t even stop the sinful thoughts from creeping in. Our earthly body will fail us—perhaps we have poor eyesight or a weak back. When we see these weaknesses in our body, we are reminded that we live in a sinful world. Our new body, however, will never get sick, hurt or tired.

After we die, God will also give us a new home in heaven, and there he gives us a new life. This new home won’t have plumbing issues and it won’t fall apart. Our new life will be completely free from sin and the sad consequences that come from it. In heaven we will continue to praise God for the mighty things that he has done.

Our job on earth is to work for him and carry out the mission to “go and tell” all the “mighty things he has done” until our turn on earth is over. We study the life of Jesus by reading the Bible and learn the great things that Jesus did while he was alive. Jesus healed the sick, comforted his friends, gave true hope to sinners, trained his disciples, and even raised people back to life! And, after a life of giving to the world, he allowed his enemies to nail him to a cross. We are those enemies! We are the reason he had to die!

And yet, because of his death and by crushing the devil, he continues to give us even more! His victory over death earned us our new body, new house, and new life. Let’s share this news with the world!



Prayer
Dear God,
Thank you for the earthly gifts that you have given me: my body, my home, and my life. Help me to use these gifts to share your love with others and point them to Jesus. Thank you for the comfort that, after I die, I will be given an new life, a new body, and a new home in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
How can you use your earthly body, home, and life to point others to Jesus?

Barker, Peggy, 1982. What happened when grandma died? St. Louis, MO. Concordia Publishing

 



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

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Once for All – Week of November 8, 2021

Once for All – Week of November 8, 2021



Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Psalm 46: 10-11



Are you afraid of death? A 2019 report, which was published just months before the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the US, reported that 42% of Americans were either “somewhat afraid” or “very afraid” of dying. Some extreme life-extensionists put all their time and money into strategies and medicines that might help them live longer. Some people take 50 different pills a day to prolong their life! But electromagnetic mats, “antiaging hormones”, and eating green leafy vegetables cannot stop death. Nothing can conquer death. Ok, well. . . . except Jesus.

The truth is, all people will die, even though we try to avoid it. All people will either go to heaven or hell. God told the very first people on the earth that, because of sin, they would someday die. And, just like those first two people on earth, we are sinners. We disobey God all day every day and do not deserve his love. We, too, will die.

For some people, death is a scary thing because we know how sinful we are. We know that we can never do enough good to make up for the bad that we do. We know that no matter how hard we try, we cannot be “good enough” to get into heaven. Doing acts of kindness and “being good” will not and cannot earn a place in heaven.

But Jesus! Heaven is a gift, freely given because of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus sacrificed his own life for ours. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. God’s Son, Jesus, died so that we might live forever after this earthly life. One man was sacrificed for all people, and God wants all people to be with him in heaven. Jesus conquers death!

So what do we do while we wait? God wants us to live for him. Even though we cannot earn our way to heaven, we try to obey the commands God has given us in his Word, the Bible. This is not easy! We have to constantly push against the sin and evil in this world and in our hearts. Even though we may fail, we try to obey him because this is one way that we show that we love him and trust him. We pray continually to God for strength to live for him.

When Jesus comes again, he will not see the sin in our heart. Because Jesus died for all, our sins are gone! Our hearts are clean, washed by the blood of our Savior. We do not need to be afraid of death. Jesus conquers death! When Jesus comes again, he comes to rescue us and all those who believe in his promise of heaven.



Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of heaven. Thank you for sacrificing yourself for all my sins and the sins of the whole world. Give me the strength to live my life for you and to help others find comfort in your saving word. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
What can you say to someone that tells you they are afraid of death? What words from the Bible can you use to comfort them?

 



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

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Be Still! – Week of November 1, 2021

Be Still! – Week of November 1, 2021



“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 10-11



“Ok, kids, settle down. Hey! Be still, it’s about to start!” When something exciting is about to happen: a field trip, special snack, or visitor, it is hard (and perhaps developmentally impossible) for children to wait without wiggling or making noise. Children can get excited and anxious when the normal routine is disrupted, even if the new experience is a positive one.

The words “Be still” in this verse can be a rebuke. In the same way that we may tell a child, “we have to wait”, or “stop wiggling,” God tells us to “Be still” and know that he has full control over all things. Like children, we get excited or anxious when our own routine is disrupted. As adults, even if the new experience is ultimately a positive one, the fear of the unknown takes hold of our heart and we forget to “be still.” We panic and forget to instead come to our God for help. The entire world around us is rebelling against God and his promises and it is easy to join in that rebellion by doubting God or becoming angry with God when we struggle. We forget that God is all-powerful, he loves us, and he wants us to come to him for help.

We need reminding how God ultimately showed his love for us: he gave up all that power for our sakes, to be “the LORD Almighty with us” in human flesh, to suffer and die for our every sin. When Jesus rose from the dead, he took back all that power. He still is the LORD Almighty who is with us.

And so, the words “be still”, can also be an assurance of peace. God is saying, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be ok, I’ve got you.” The words give us the peace that we do know God has all the power. He does not promise that we will never struggle in this world. In fact, he says that, because of sin, there will be pain and sadness. But he also says that we should take comfort in his promise to be with us through the dangerous times. Because Jesus died and rose again, we will find complete freedom from the sorrow of this world when we are with him in heaven.

What can we do when we forget to “Be still”? First, we can go to God in prayer. He hears our every need! We can also ask others to pray with us. Surrounding ourselves with friends who trust in our almighty God and his promises will help to strengthen our faith and theirs. Knowing that God is with us and he is our fortress, we pray with the hymn writer, Martin Luther:  “Support us in our final strife, and lead us out of death to life!”



Prayer

Lord, Jesus Christ, your power make known.
For you are Lord of lords alone;
defend your Christendom that we
may sing your praise eternally.
O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth.
Support us in our final strife,
and lead us out of death to life. Amen

Christian Worship 93 203/CW21 862 v.2-3

A Question to Consider:
How can you use God’s assurance of peace to comfort a friend who is struggling?

 



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

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Servanthood – Week of October 25, 2021

Servanthood – Week of October 25, 2021



[Jesus said,] “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:43-45



I have often joked that if I ever write a book, I will entitle it, “Where Are All of the Parades?”. Where is the parade when I wake up early to workout? Where is the parade when my class had a fantastic day and somehow everything I planned was executed and executed well? Where is the parade when I made dinner and did not hear one complaint about it? Where is the parade when I did all of the laundry, folded it, and put it away all on the same day?

I tend to want parades. A pat on the back. Words of affirmation. Acknowledgement for all the hard work that I do. Ever feel that way?

Every now and then, a parade, with chocolate and flowers thrown at me with people cheering me on would be awesome.

Does that sound a little off? A little too much? A little self-serving? While it is nice to feel appreciated every now and then, sometimes that’s just not the reality. You might never hear a “way to go!” or a “thank you!” and that’s ok.

“Jesus said, ‘Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:43-45

Think of our Savior, Jesus. He came to this world with one purpose…to save. He worked tirelessly to serve those in need, those who were lost, those who desperately needed a Savior. He served humbly, quietly, selflessly. Never expecting anything in return, but rather hoping for the people he was serving to be victorious after it all was said and done.

It is easy, while we serve others, to desire something in return. It can be easy to want praise or a sense of gratitude for the work you put in day in and day out. But when you fall into the trap of working with a heart that desires parades, remember the One who did it all and ended up on a cross. The One who served with a heart full of love, for you. Pray for that kind of heart. A heart full of love for him. A heart full of servanthood to the Lord.



Prayer: Dear God, you are great. Forgive me when I forget you. Give me a joyful heart of servanthood that puts you right at the center. Amen.

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

 



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

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Establish the Work of Our Hands – Week of October 18, 2021

Establish the Work of Our Hands – Week of October 18, 2021



May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.

Psalm 90:16-17



In the front of Christian Worship, the hymnal, you’ll find a simple Morning Devotion on page 152. The opening words are as follows:

God, our Father, each day is a gift of your grace.

Your mercies are new every morning.

What beautiful reminders these words are at the beginning of a new day. Yesterday is done but the remnants, especially our failures, hurtful words, impatience, apathy, can linger and build day after day. We can begin each day with the burden of sins behind us by God’s gift of forgiveness.  What a comfort these words are for the repentant sinner in you and in me. Today is another day of God’s grace-his forgiveness that we don’t deserve but that he freely gives. His mercies, unlike our own patience and mercy with others, never runs out. It is new each and every day.

Beginning today and each day with those reminders can be wrapped in the prayer we find in Psalm 90. Earlier in the Psalm, the writer expresses praise for the eternity of God but also describes the mortality of people. Our mortality is a result of sin but because of God’s eternity, he can be the dwelling place for all people of all generations. While we can do nothing to deserve each day of God’s grace, today’s verses ask for God’s mercy. We ask for God to give us each day not for ourselves, but for the opportunities to serve him. We ask him to use us, use our hands in our labors no matter what those may be, to glorify him, to reflect him, to share the astounding message of his grace and mercy to others.

As you begin a new day, reflect on the tasks before you. As you change a diaper, your words of kindness and love are nurturing a young soul. As you share a Bible story, you are helping plant seeds of faith in a small child. As you comfort an anxious child or forgive a disobedient young child, you are modeling and teaching God’s endless grace and love. As the Psalmist has shared, as you begin the tasks of the day, remember God’s mercies that are new each day and ask that God would establish the work of your hands that all you do may reflect him and bring him glory.



Prayer:

May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r inspiring all I do or say.

May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

May his spirit live within me as I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel, seeing only him.

Christian Worship 467:1, 5, 6

A Question to Consider:

Ask someone to join you in a conversation about all you do each day. Together list some of the many tasks that are done each day and then identify how each one is an opportunity in your ministry to reflect and/or share Jesus.

 



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

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Let Them!- Week of October 11, 2021

Let Them!- Week of October 11, 2021



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

Mark 10:13-16



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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

A Question to Consider:

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

 



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

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Got This! – Week of October 4, 2021

Got This! – Week of October 4, 2021



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

James 4:7-10



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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



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

Mark 9:35-37



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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He Hears Me – Week of September 20, 2021

He Hears Me – Week of September 20, 2021



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

Psalm 116:1-2,5



He heard me. He listened to me.

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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The Perfect Gift – Week of September 13, 2021

The Perfect Gift – Week of September 13, 2021



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

James 1:17-18



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Keep on Praying! – Week of September 6, 2021

Keep on Praying! – Week of September 6, 2021



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

Ephesians 6:18



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Sing in His Name – Week of August 30, 2021

Sing in His Name – Week of August 30, 2021



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

Ephesians 5:18b-20



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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

Ephesians 4:30-32



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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One Direction – Week of August 16, 2021

One Direction – Week of August 16, 2021



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

Ephesians 4:22-24



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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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

Ephesians 4:3-4



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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We Belong! – Week of August 2, 2021

We Belong! – Week of August 2, 2021



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

Ephesians 2:19, 20



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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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



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

Psalm 78:1-4



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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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

Christian Worship 500:1, 5



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

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

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



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

2 Corinthians 12:9-10



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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

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



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

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

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



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

Psalm 30:4-5



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

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

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

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



Prayer:

Dear God,

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



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

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

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



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

Mark 4:39-41



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

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

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

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

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

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



Prayer:

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



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

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