ECME Devotions

Presidents Day – Week of February 20, 2017

Presidents Day – Week of February 20, 2017


I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:1-4




ECME Devotion – February 20, 2017

Devotion based on I Timothy 2:1-4

See series: ECME Devotions

Few things get the hearts of childcare workers racing as the announcement, “The state inspector is here.” The state inspector can crawl through every inch and every file in your school. Even when you think that everything is correct, a state inspector can still find some form that isn’t initialed properly and “write you up.” It can be nerve wracking.

Even though a state inspector can make us nervous, we know that they are necessary. The state has the job of keeping its citizens—especially children who can’t defend themselves—safe from any harm or danger. Think for a moment how miserable life would be without a government to watch over us. With no military or police to keep us safe, life would be chaos. No one would ever be safe. The state is God’s agent for protecting us so we can live peaceful lives, raise our families, go to work and even work in a childcare facility or school where families can safely leave their children.

God took care of our greatest needs when he sent Jesus Christ to live and die for us. All of our sins are forgiven. Heaven is in our future. Our loving Lord also provides for our physical needs, quite often through our government. As we celebrate President’s Day, pause to give thanks to the Lord for all of the blessings that he has poured out on you through our government and its leaders. (Why not try to list 10? 20? More?) And then follow St. Paul’s advice to pray for our president and all government officials, even state inspectors.



Prayer: Lord, thank you for providing for all of my spiritual needs through your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, also, for providing for our physical needs through our government and its officials. Give them wisdom and strength to carry out their callings so that we can live in peace and quietness as we rejoice in your love and share it with others. Amen.

A Question to Consider: While it may be tempting to focus on the challenges our country faces, what are the blessings we have as Christians living in the United States? Collaborate with a colleague to create a list of those blessings.



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



Our dearest love – Week of February 13, 2017

Our dearest love – Week of February 13, 2017


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14




ECME Devotion – February 13, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 3:12-14

See series: ECME Devotions

Everyone is excited to celebrate Valentine’s Day this week. Valentine was a Christian young man who lived in Rome in the third century. According to legend, he was deeply in love and planned to get married soon. At that time, Christianity was illegal and all Christians were declared guilty of treason. Rather than deny their Savior, though, many Christians boldly confessed their faith in Jesus. Valentine was one of those confessors who remained true to Christ and was arrested.

While he was in jail, awaiting his death in the arena, Valentine wrote a number of beautiful, impassioned letters to his would-be bride. He assured her of his great love for her. But he also made it clear that first place in his heart was reserved for Jesus, his Savior. History tells us that on February 14, in the year 269, Valentine was put to death, martyred for Jesus Christ. In the year 496—after Christianity was an accepted religion—the church declared February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

While the Christian significance of this day has been pretty well forgotten by now, we can let this background for Valentine’s Day bring us past superficial sentimentality to the greatest love of all—the love of God for the world. Jesus showed true love by giving his life for us on the cross in order to pay for our forgiveness so we could have eternal life in heaven.

The sacrificial love of Jesus touches our hearts and fills us with gratitude. It moves us to show “true love” to one another. “True love” is not just sweet emotions, but a commitment to help, regardless of the cost or consequence. The love we show to the children and to one another begins with the knowledge and joy of knowing that we are God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. Filled up with God’s love, we will be kind and loving toward others on Valentine’s Day and always.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your unconditional and unending love that saved me. Help me to say “Thank You” to you by sharing that same love with others. Amen.



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



With us in the storms – Week of February 6, 2017

With us in the storms – Week of February 6, 2017


Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:23-27




ECME Devotion – February 5, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 8:23-27

See series: ECME Devotions

Experienced fishermen were terrified that they were going to drown. Meanwhile, Jesus was sleeping – as if he didn’t care, as if he fell asleep on the job of protecting them.

Does it sometimes seem that Jesus doesn’t care or that he’s fallen asleep on the job of protecting you? What storms are stressing you out? What winds are buffeting you? Is your doctor concerned and ordering more tests? Are finances squeezing you? Are there problems with some children or their parents? Are there issues in your own family? Are there struggles with other staff members as you trudge through the long winter? If Jesus loves us, then why do these bad and sad things happen to us?

Even though Jesus was sleeping, he didn’t forget about his disciples. He could have woken up and calmed the storm before they panicked. He could have stopped the storm before it even started. But he stayed sleeping and he used the storm to teach his disciples to look to him in every need. He taught them that they couldn’t solve all of their own problems. They couldn’t keep themselves safe. They needed help. They despaired of their own efforts and turned to Jesus.

Jesus wants us to turn to him, too. He knows we need his help, not just to get through some stressful situation in our daily lives, but especially for the forgiveness of sins. He uses the storms in our lives to get us to keep our focus on him. Jesus will not fall asleep on the job. He will keep providing what you need for each day. He will keep forgiving. He is your Savior who even controls the winds and the waves for the good of his people. Stay focused on him.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for your constant attention to my needs, especially my greatest need of salvation. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are your storms right now? If you were encouraging someone else with your same storms, what would you say to them? What would be your prayer for them?



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



A Tall Order – Week of January 30, 2017

A Tall Order – Week of January 30, 2017


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.
Romans 12:12-16




ECME Devotion – January 30, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 12:12-16

See series: ECME Devotions

This verse is a tall order – a command, in fact. Be patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, share, bless those who persecute you, and finally live in harmony with one another. It looks really impressive in writing. Wouldn’t life be so wonderful if we followed this command? But in reality, life is messy and we fall short daily. It is hard to be patient when it feels like the world or sometimes even your close family is against you. It is hard to share with the homeless person on the corner when we selfishly wonder why he is in this situation. It is hard to be hospitable when people seem to look down on you. It is hard to bless those who show hatred toward us in the form of discrimination for what we believe. It is hard to rejoice with others when deep-down we wanted that same blessing for ourselves. Living in harmony is hard too. Hardly a day passes without feeling offended by someone’s words or actions, or knowing you have offended someone.

It’s hard, impossible even, when we look at how others have wronged us. We may think that they don’t deserve our kindness. And it’s hard, impossible, when we look at how we have wronged others. So we must look elsewhere. We look to Jesus Christ who is always patient, always kind, and always loving to us. His unending love motivates our kindness and eagerness to follow through on this tall order. His love is the reminder of our opportunity to reflect him to others so they see his patience, his faithfulness, his love.

God doesn’t say these things will be easy. He simply says “be” this way. We are NOT by nature joyful, patient, and harmonious! We are quite the opposite – grumpy, impatient, rude, selfish, and the list goes on. Thankfully, God sent his Son to be our Savior, to offer forgiveness to us each and every time we fall short of living up to this command. We thank him for his overwhelming and indescribable gift! And with hearts of humble gratitude we are more able to be patient, faithful in prayer, generous to others, and to strive to live in harmony with others around us. We look at those we know as someone for whom Christ came, for whom Christ suffered and died, for whom he rose, and for whom he returned to prepare a place for in heaven we are eager to reach out to them in love.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me be patient in suffering and faithful in prayer. Give me opportunities to share your love through my hospitality. Give me wisdom to know how to live in harmony with the people around me. Forgive me when I fall short each day. Amen.



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



Favor that Never Fades – Week of January 23, 2017

Favor that Never Fades – Week of January 23, 2017


The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3




ECME Devotion – January 23, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3

See series: ECME Devotions

What a year-if you were a Cub fan or even a new Cub fan in 2016. 107 years is a crazy long time to wait and hope for the outcome they experienced -World Series champs. Cub fans everywhere celebrated in the streets, in local establishments, in their homes. But when you read the opening words of this paragraph, did you feel that same excitement or even close to that of the day of that final game? Likely not even close. Time has faded the enthusiasm of the day.

Our verses today include a reference to “the year of the LORD’s favor.” What is the year of the Lord’s favor? It comes from an Old Testament law where during the Year of Jubilee all debts were forgiven, property was returned to the original owner, and anyone enslaved because of debts were released. Did you notice the next phrase- “the day of vengeance of our God?” We have a God of both law and gospel. He expects perfection which is impossible for us. He freely gives us his grace, his undeserved love, his mercy. Some will say that God’s favor is all about success, winning an award (or World Series) or getting that scholarship, doing kind things for others, always trying to do our best.

The Lord’s favor is not about success in our earthly endeavors or our attempts at doing our best. Isaiah’s prophecy is all about God looking on the unsuccessful with his favor. The poor, the brokenhearted, the prisoners, and those who mourn are in a position to recognize their need for God to accomplish what they and we could not. Because he looked on humanity favorably, the Heavenly Father sent his Son to defeat sin, death, and the devil for us. Despair is replaced by praise, ashes by a heavenly crown, mourning by gladness.

While earthly success (even for Cub fans) does not last, God’s favor does. World Series winners eventually lose again. But God’s favor, God’s gift of love, grace, and forgiveness are ours each day and for eternity. It is a gift that will never fade! We are in a unique position to be instruments of showing God’s favor, not only on the each of the children and families we serve, but to all with whom we come in contact – as God’s favor is for all.



Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, use me to proclaim and reflect your gospel message of grace and favor to all around me with joy. Amen.



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



The Bonds of Peace – Week of January 16, 2017

The Bonds of Peace – Week of January 16, 2017


I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3




ECME Devotion – January 16, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:1-3

See series: ECME Devotions

When I consider the highs and lows that I have felt through previous school years, December was more often a challenging time. I faced the lows, feeling overwhelmed, being behind in my lessons in the middle of a full holiday schedule, and facing student or parent issues coming to a head at the end of the semester. I always needed Christmas break – a well-timed respite. After that break, January has regularly been a high point.

Maybe you have noticed a regular pattern similar to mine, or maybe it’s different for you in January. And even if you haven’t seen a pattern develop year to year, you certainly have experienced life’s roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Good classroom experiences can be followed by center challenges. Thinking, “I’ve got this; I can do this!” is soon followed by, “Why would God allow me to go through this?”

God tells us in Ephesians to be humble, gentle, patient, loving, and live in unity. Wow! That command can bring us back to our low feelings. How can we live that way all the time? We lose our patience with a parent who was irritated this morning. We are still upset and holding a grudge with our coworker who didn’t finish a project on time. We think we are better than our coworker who is facing a temptation. It is easy to use this verse to look ourselves in the mirror and become discouraged or want to give up!

Paul’s words to the Ephesians remind us of the important constant that does not change; God has called you. Wherever you find yourself on life’s rollercoaster, his love for you remains constant. You are living under his constant grace. He has called you, undeserving as you are because of sin, to believe that Jesus Christ has rescued you from the penalty for your sins. You have been called to be a member of God’s family. When you know the calling you have received, you have a motivation and a power to make every effort to live up to the wonderful calling you have received. By faith we eagerly “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” with all those around us.



Prayer: Jesus, forgive me for the times I have not been gentle, humble, and loving. Remind me it is not my faithfulness and my ability that makes you love me. Your loving grace called me to faith. I pray that you strengthen my faith and so empower me to be completely humble, gentle, patient, and loving to those around me. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: In a previous devotion, we talked about finding ways to pray for each child in our classrooms on a regular basis. How can we do the same for those with whom we serve and for the parents of the children in our rooms?



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



His Own – Week of January 9, 2017

His Own – Week of January 9, 2017


Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:13-17




ECME Devotion – January 9, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 3:13-17

See series: ECME Devotions

Water. Could it be any more basic or simple? But it isn’t simple and it isn’t all that is involved here. More on that in a bit.

My great-nephew was born with severe complications. They knew during the pregnancy that this would be a challenging birth and first few months for him. In the NICU one of the first evenings after he was born, the pastor arrived. He came in with hands scrubbed, fully robed in hospital gear as all visitors were in the NICU. Around him scurried the incredible staff who attended to the complex care for all little ones with great compassion and skill. The pastor brought in one ordinary bottle of water. The nurses gave him a beautiful (and sterilized) shell that was a gift to the NICU babies when requested. With a few drops of ordinary water and the extraordinary words from the Word, the miracle of baptism gave the precious gift of saving faith to this little baby. He is now an energetic 6-year-old full of life with no signs of the challenges he faced at birth. A miracle, yes. But not nearly as miraculous and precious as the gift of faith through his baptism. As God’s own child, he has the comfort and blessings of forgiveness and eternal life with his heavenly Father.

In our reading today, Jesus is baptized by John. His baptism was a fulfillment of what God wanted him to do. It identified him with a world of sinners even though he was sinless. It identified him as the Lamb of God who had come to take away all sin-yours, mine, everyone’s. With the same simple water that is used today and the Word, the gift of baptism is ours.

While it may be simple, the blessings are indescribable! Jesus was flawless. We are flawed, so flawed. It’s hard to consider even a moment that is not affected by sin in us. That sin can gnaw at us. It can lead us to discouragement and even despair. But wait, the blessings of baptism are ours through faith. It’s not about us, what we have done. It’s about our ever loving Jesus who did it all including a perfect, sinless life. And he did it for you, for me, for all.

As you share this account with the young children in your center, some are likely baptized. Some may not be. What an opportunity to share with them and their families the blessings of baptism and that this gift is for all. May the Lord bless you as you share this amazing account with the young children and their families. May he bless you as well, with a renewed appreciation of the gift we have through baptism. We are his own, dearly loved. So simple. So amazing!



Prayer:
The Savior came to be baptized –
The Son of God in flesh disguised –
To stand beneath the Father’s will
And all his promises fulfill.

Now rise faint hearts: be resolute!
This man is Christ, our substitute!
He was baptized in Jordan’s stream,
Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 89)

A Question to Ponder: One early childhood ministry has a small pamphlet with a simple explanation of baptism on the table where parents sign their child in and out. It includes contact information for the pastor if the parents would like more information about baptism. What are ways that you can encourage a conversation with parents about baptism in a way that is comfortable for parents?



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



Sharers Together – Week of January 2, 2017

Sharers Together – Week of January 2, 2017


This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6




ECME Devotion – January 2, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:6

See series: ECME Devotions

Happy New Year! It’s a time where many make New Year resolutions. New Year’s resolutions – have you ever noticed how they can easily become self-centered. I want to do this, or that – or accomplish my goal. Even as you resolve, “I want to be a better person”, selfish pride shows his arrogant head.
In our text today, Paul speaks of a mystery. The mystery Paul speaks about provides a wonderful and unselfish starting point for a Christian resolution, “Lord, let me be a sharer!” What we do in our classrooms, homes, and churches this year is not about us being better. It’s about the promise of Christ bringing people together on the way to heaven.

Permit me to tell you about Katherine. She sat in my class each day with her big, brown eyes filled with reverence. She was being raised in a combination of cultures and languages: one parent from the Middle East and the other from Latin America, yet living in the Southern United States. Katherine was taught to be submissive. She was about half the size of her fellow first graders – frail, her legs dangling from the smallest chair we had in the room. She did not speak unless spoken to, and then it was in the quietest whisper voice.

Katherine had never been introduced to this Jesus we talked about every day. When it was time to study the history of Jesus’ death and resurrection, she was obviously anxious. Our story ended with Jesus hanging on the cross . . . the next day we would study the resurrection. However, for Katherine, the suspense was too great. She could not wait until tomorrow. During math class she nervously held the Bible story book on her lap, trying to keep it hidden from me. She would never think of disobeying during class time and not paying attention, however, she was desperate. She needed to know how the story ended. I saw her – her eyes intently reading the next part of the story. I did not stop her. In fact, I smiled at her and gave her an approving nod. How could I make math class more important than the resurrection of her Lord and Savior?

So, our resolution for this year? “Let me be a sharer!” As you look at each child in your room or classroom, consider the amazing story of Jesus’ grace and mercy for each child, each family, each staff member, and you! Like little Katherine, may we never lose that sense of urgency to know more and to share more about our precious Savior.



Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for making each of us sharers of the mystery of salvation. Empower me to take this promise you have given to me and share it with others this year, and always. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: Consider each child and family in your room or classroom. Beginning by praying for each of them on a regular basis can help you to be more aware of ways to share the gospel with them. Are there ways to be sure to pray for each child and each family individually? Would a calendar work? Or a prayer partner on your staff? Or?



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



Joy to the World? – Week of December 26, 2016

Joy to the World? – Week of December 26, 2016


“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34




ECME Devotion – December 26, 2016

Devotion based on Matthew 10:34

See series: ECME Devotions

So, how was your Christmas dinner discussion?  If your Christmas discussion went great, then be thankful for that.  Some of you reading this possibly didn’t have a very good Christmas discussion.  I know that some of you out there found yourself in a discussion (argument?) about Christian truths and values.  Some of you may have even found yourselves defending the Christmas message, the very reason for your gathering, against the attacks of your own families!

Let’s move this discussion away from the Christmas dinner table for a second.  How have your Facebook discussions gone?  Have you found yourself in a similar argument on the internet?

At this time of Christmas, we often talk about peace and joy.  The heart of faith finds these in the message of the Gospel.  When the world around us is crashing down, we find safety, security, and spiritual peace in the fortress of God’s Word.  But why do we often find the exact opposite of peace and joy–hatred and discord–seemingly everywhere?  Didn’t Jesus promise that he would bring peace to the earth?

Yes, he did.  He promised peace on earth between God and his believers.  But that same Jesus also promised enmity and hostility between his people and the unbelieving children of Satan.  In fact, when the believer lives according to the Word, he often finds himself in conflict with others, even those who are closest to him.  The words of Jesus in our passage above remind us that we can’t expect peace and joy when we follow his commands.  Instead, we can expect to get challenged every step of the way.

In our schools and childcare centers, we are preparing the next generation to know God’s Word.  We want our young ones to know Christ, but we also want them to make him known.  That might put them in situations where they are hated, put down, and left feeling defeated.  That’s OK-Jesus promised the believer to expect exactly that.  That is why we also teach our children to find refuge in the saving message of the Gospel.  We want them to remember the words, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)



Prayer:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let ev’ry heart prepare him room
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 62)



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



Gentle Mary Laid Her Child – Week of December 19, 2016

Gentle Mary Laid Her Child – Week of December 19, 2016


“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
Luke 2:7




ECME Devotion – December 19, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:7

See series: ECME Devotions

For all intents and purposes, the entire night was underwhelming. A poor husband and wife returned to the town of their ancestors to be counted for a census. There was no room for them in the town to stay, so they stayed in a stable with animals (and everything that comes with animal housing). While they were there, the poor mother gave birth. With nowhere else to put her newborn son, she lay him in a manger, a place where cattle eat.

Yes, the events of the evening were underwhelming–even that might be an understatement. And, yet, here we are, 2,000+ years later celebrating the events of that night. Who in the world would ever come up with such a cockamamie story about the salvation of the world? Well, no one in the world would–the story is literally “out-of-this-world”. This story doesn’t come from the mind or the pen of a human being. This story is told by the master of the universe, God himself.

God, in his infinite wisdom, knew what we needed for the cure of sin. He knew that his anger needed to be appeased by a human being–after all, it was human beings who misused their free will to rebel against him. And God, in undeserved and immeasurable love, provided the salvation for those very rebels. It was a plan that no man would ever devise, which makes it so perfect.

When Mary laid her son in that manger, he was a stranger to everyone except those who looked with eyes of faith. When we lay the Christ child in the manger by telling the story again, we pray that our young ones look to him with eyes of faith. This Christmas and always, we pray that the Holy Spirit create and strengthen the faith of others, that they may always look with eyes of faith to the manger and say, “There is the Savior. For me!”



Prayer:
Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;
There he lay the undefiled, To the world a stranger.
Such a babe in such a place–Can he be the Savior?
Ask the saved of all the race Who have found his favor.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 56)



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



I Am So Glad When Christmas Comes – Week of December 12, 2016

I Am So Glad When Christmas Comes – Week of December 12, 2016


But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19




ECME Devotion – December 12, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:19

See series: ECME Devotions

Have you ever collected something?  Maybe it was coins or seashells.  When I was growing up, I collected baseball cards.  I had a joint collection with my brother and my father.  At our highest point, we had somewhere between 3,000-4,000 baseball cards.  There was one card that we treasured more than any other card.  It was the 1989 Ken Griffey, Jr., Upper Deck rookie card.  That card was one we wouldn’t have traded for anything.  We put it in a hard plastic case so it would stay in mint condition and we put it in a safe place away from all of our other cards.  You’d think, since we treasured that card so much, I would know where that card is today.  Truth be told, I have no clue.  It could be somewhere between the three houses we all call home, but I have no idea the exact whereabouts of that card.  It could be lost, never to be seen again.

Mary treasured and collected something that she would never lose track of.  The life stories of her son, our Savior, Jesus, were her prized possessions which could never be taken from her.  With a heart of faith, Mary pondered the events of that first Christmas, and no doubt the rest of her son’s life, and locked them away where they were safe, in her heart of faith.

Do we follow Mary’s example from this passage?  Do we ponder and keep in our hearts the words and works of “God made flesh”?  Do we walk away every single Sunday in awe of God’s grace, that he gives us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus?  If we don’t, why not?  Let’s make this even more seasonal.  Do we look forward to Christmas with a childlike faith, not because of the meals, family, and presents, but because of the simple, pure, and unadulterated message of sins forgiven through that babe in the manger?

At this point in December, you are probably either preparing or putting the finishing touches on your individual Christmas services.  Every day, you have the awesome privilege of teaching children where they can find something that can never be lost, no matter what forces try to have us lose it.  Every day, you take your children to the feet of Christ, where they learn of sin and grace; love and mercy.  You give them the most valuable collection they can ever have–a collection of 66 love letters from the God of the universe.

This Christmas, and always, may we ponder in our hearts of faith all that the Lord has done for us.  Especially, let us never forget where to find that precious Gospel message.  For that is a message that can’t be lost or stolen from us.



Prayer:
I am so glad when Christmas comes,
The night of Jesus’ birth,
When Bethl’em’s star shone as the sun,
And angels sang on earth.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 51)



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



Your Little Ones, Dear Lord, Are We – Week of December 5, 2016

Your Little Ones, Dear Lord, Are We – Week of December 5, 2016


“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Mark 10:14




ECME Devotion – December 5, 2016

Devotion based on Mark 10:14

See series: ECME Devotions

“Children should be seen and not heard!” This phrase, though readily accepted by many, is a sad commentary on how some view the presence of children, especially young ones. It is somewhat surprising to see this attitude in the twelve disciples. In their view, and in the view of some that we come into contact with today, the implication is this: Children are too immature to profit from the Lord’s attention.

Jesus’ words in our passage above are a comforting reminder of how highly Jesus, the ruler of creation, loves and treasures each of his children. How highly? So highly that he says, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Why is it that our Savior holds these children in such high esteem? The key to answering that question comes from a different portion of Scripture. In Matthew 18:2, Jesus says, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Faith alone grants entrance into the kingdom of heaven. So why is it that all people must become like children in their faith? The faith of a believing child is unquestioning! It simply trusts what God has to say, never once doubting that God’s promises hold true.

As a worker in an early childhood ministry, you see that faith on display every day. When your children loudly sing the songs of Jesus’ love, they don’t care what others think about them. When they go home and tell their unbelieving parents–or even their believing ones–what they learned about Jesus that day, they teach us a lesson about going and telling. When they fold their hands at the lunch table, even when you don’t remind them, they serve as a good reminder to stop and say thanks for all that you have been given.

Hopefully, we haven’t ever hindered a little one from coming to the feet of Christ. Jesus’ words to us in this passage do serve as a gut check for us as we witness and reflect the love of Christ to our children, our co-workers, and our parents. Do we ever act like the disciples in one way or another by preventing others from seeing the love of Christ? Chances are, there are times when we have. But be assured, dear reader, that Christ’s blood covers up those times we have done just that. And we ourselves remain a child of Christ.



Prayer:
Your little ones, dear Lord, are we
And come your lowly bed to see;
Enlighten ev’ry soul and mind
That we the way to you may find.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 46)



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



Wake Up! – Week of November 28, 2016

Wake Up! – Week of November 28, 2016


The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:11b-12




ECME Devotion – November 28, 2016

Devotion based on Romans 13:11b-12

See series: ECME Devotions

It is pretty easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of day to day life, isn’t it? I know I often find myself enveloped in responsibilities for my family, my home, my community and countless other things. I contemplate the future based on worldly success and achievement. At times it is easy to become apathetic to our true calling in life. We forget that with each day that passes Christ is that much closer to returning. While this news is comforting to believers, it can also be scary when we realize the urgency of sharing the gospel’s message. When we consider the end time we might think of the neighbor we haven’t invited to church or the family member who has fallen away. We remember the ways that we have thought about reaching out and witnessing but we have failed to take action.

In Romans 13 the apostle Paul urges us to wake from our slumber and put on the armor of light. These are words meant to motivate us rather than shame us. With the knowledge of our short time here on earth we will want to be a light to others by the way we live, reflecting Christ’s love for us. We will want to reach out to young and old, touching them with the news of God’s saving grace. And that grace extends to us, even when we have fallen asleep or grown complacent with sharing his Word. The Lord wakes us up and covers us in his forgiveness. He then welcomes our efforts with love and joy, filling us with the encouragement and the zeal to share this precious gospel message with others.



Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to be alert and ready for your coming. Help me put on the armor of light and be a witness to others in my life. I pray in your name. Amen.

A Question to consider: What are some ways that I can put on the armor of light in my life?



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



My Heart Leaps – Week of November 21, 2016

My Heart Leaps – Week of November 21, 2016


The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:7




ECME Devotion – November 21, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 28:7

See series: ECME Devotions

There is nothing quite like the zeal and passion we see on a child’s face as they sing praises to Jesus. At times I have wished I could let go of inhibition and dance and sway during particularly moving hymns that accompany our service. What stops us from doing this? What stops us from demonstrating our thanks to God with our whole bodies? We tend to get more animated at sporting events or more emotional at the movie theater than we do in response to the message in church on Sunday. While customs and personality play a part, could it also be that sin has dulled our zeal? This is an area where we can appreciate the little children of our congregation, and even learn from them. Appreciating their joy is the first step. What follows is incorporating a child-like faith by putting our desire to praise God into action.

My heart leaps for joy—what an amazing proclamation! I doubt that David sat still as he sang about his heart leaping with pure delight. Just as we witness children’s ability to proclaim their love for Jesus while dancing or shouting praises to our God, likely so was David as he pondered Christ’s strength and goodness in his life. While we may not physically dance or sway, that overwhelming zeal comes from knowing God’s grace, that he is our strength, our shield, and we can trust in him. What a wonderful thing to be excited about! It is only right we declare with enthusiasm the love that Christ has shown to us and share that incredible message with the young children and families we serve, our own families, friends, and acquaintances.



Prayer: Dear Lord, my heart leaps with joy as David’s did when I think of your goodness in my life. Please help me demonstrate my zeal for you to all those around me in all that I do, reflecting you and your love. I pray in your name. Amen.



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



My Room – Week of November 14, 2016

My Room – Week of November 14, 2016


“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:1-4




ECME Devotion – November 14, 2016

Devotion based on John 14:1-4

See series: ECME Devotions

My two 4-year-old sons have lots of questions, some of which I feel unprepared to answer. Recently the topic of Jesus being in heaven came up and one of them expressed fear over going to heaven stating, “I don’t want to go to heaven to be with Jesus. That is scary for me!” I could relate. I recall being nervous on several occasions when I was confronted with near death experiences. How could I blame my boy for feeling the same way?

Then I recalled the comforting passage in John about Jesus preparing a room for us in heaven. What a beautifully simple analogy! I read it to them and we talked about the coolest room they could possibly imagine. We pictured Jesus getting it ready for them and how he was taking great care to make sure it was welcoming, special, and far better than anything we could even dream of. And we talked about the best part of all-Jesus will be there! When we were done my son exclaimed, “I miss Jesus; I want to visit him now!”

That discussion really turned their thoughts towards death being something desirable for a Christian. Now when the topic of death comes up, we recall with anticipation the room that Jesus is preparing for us in heaven. Heaven is our home and our Father is waiting excitedly to greet us rather than a distant God who will usher us into the unknown. I am happy that my boys can share with me in the knowledge and reassurance of Jesus’ promises.



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the promises you have given me about my heavenly home. Please help me remember that heaven is my home and it is far greater than anything I have here on earth, especially knowing you will be there. I pray in your name. Amen.



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



He Will Be with You – Week of November 7, 2016

He Will Be with You – Week of November 7, 2016


The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Deuteronomy 36:8




ECME Devotion – November 7, 2016

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 36:8

See series: ECME Devotions

It is fairly easy to grow discouraged in day-to-day life. Whether it be a co-worker complaining, a disturbing story on the news, or a family issue that is plaguing your heart, reasons to become disheartened or even afraid are plentiful. Our sinful nature latches onto these situations and our mind runs wild with anxiety.

We cannot change the sinful nature we were born with. However, we can rewire our thoughts and center our hearts on Jesus and his promises. Deuteronomy 36:8 tells us that we do not need to be afraid or discouraged because the Lord will never leave us. What a reassuring thought! No matter what challenges we are going through our Lord is standing by our side, waiting for us to turn to him for the strength and courage we need to continue. When we remember that we do not walk this path of life alone the journey becomes less daunting. When we fix our eyes on Jesus it becomes easier to put our day-to-day hardships into perspective. Our confidence comes from him, from what he has done and what he continues to do for us.

He is with us now as we experience this earthly life. He will stand by us as we leave this earth and he will greet us with open arms in heaven one day. What a comfort!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for the reassurance that you are always by my side. Help me to remember your protection when my heart is filled with anxiety. I pray in your name. Amen.

A question to consider: Are there any worries in life that you need to turn over to Jesus? If so, how can you do so?



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



Grace – Week of October 31, 2016

Grace – Week of October 31, 2016


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9




ECME Devotion – October 31, 2016

Devotion based on Esphesians 2:8-9

See series: ECME Devotions

One of my favorite things about early childhood is watching each child approach a task in their own way. I especially love it when they are given a blank piece of paper and crayons or paint. Some get right at it as if they’ve been planning for this all day. Some may sit and think about what to create and where to begin. Some may need some nudging. Then there’s the moment of completion. When are they done? For some, it’s a quick process and they are satisfied before some children have even put brush to paper. Some are methodical and will work step by step, carefully reviewing their work before determining they are finished. Still others will paint and paint until the paper is worn through.

Our reading today reminds us of the gift of grace. We are saved by that grace through faith. We know that. We know that God has done it all for us. We know that what Jesus did on the cross, in the grave, on Easter morning and at Ascension has completed everything for us. That is amazing! But as human beings, sinful human beings, this is so hard to grasp!

Sometimes we can be like the children in their work at creating their painting. We keep working and working, striving and striving, so often led by guilt or a feeling of not having done enough. We want to please God, and that’s a wonderful goal. But our works, our efforts, are not a means to draw us closer to God or heaven. All that we do should be a reflection of what God has done. It’s never about us. It’s always about him. We help the struggling child and use words of comfort to point them to Jesus’ comfort for them. We reach out to a family in need to reflect Jesus’ heart of love for all. We strive to provide excellence in our classrooms so that nothing gets in the way of the children hearing about their loving Savior. This side of heaven, it’s hard to grasp and understand this. But his grace is sufficient; his grace has done it all. We get to live a life of joy and peace because of what he has done. Put your paintbrush of good work down. Your painting of forgiveness has been completed by Jesus. Instead, live each day rejoicing in that gift of his grace and sharing it with others.



Prayer: Dear Father, you provide a peace that is beyond human understanding. That peace is in the grace you have given to us through faith. “Thank you” seems so inadequate but our gratitude is overwhelming when we consider all your grace has given us. Help us to live as a reflection of your grace, pointing to you. In your name we pray. Amen.



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



Be Still – Week of October 24, 2016

Be Still – Week of October 24, 2016


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 46:1




ECME Devotion – October 24, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 46:1

See series: ECME Devotions

Have you seen the painting of the roaring waterfall with a small bird perched calmly on a branch over the water? While the picture at first glance is full of motion and exudes excitement, even danger, the bird is the picture of peacefulness. How can he be so calm when all around him is chaos?

Sometimes the world around us can feel like that waterfall or, as the Psalmist writes, like mountains falling into the sea. When we listen to the news, the stories are so often full of tragedy and terror. There’s war in so many places, fear of terrorism and Zika; even the current elections can cause some to be fearful. Then there are the struggles closer to home. You may have family struggles, financial burdens, health concerns or a multitude of other challenges. There may be moments in your classroom where you’re being swept away in that waterfall or crushed by falling mountains. We become overwhelmed and discouraged, just wanting it all to stop.

And then we read today’s words: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” And we exhale. He’s our refuge. Do you crave a place to get away from the troubles of this world? While it may not be a physical refuge you can drive to, the blessing is that this refuge is already near you. God is the place of comfort and peace we need.

Sometimes we just need to talk to someone. You might pick up the phone or text someone when things are particularly hard. Sometimes that person is not available. But our God is ever-present. He’s always there, day and night. No voicemail, no out of office reply. He’s always there.

Verse 10 of Psalm 46 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” We can get ourselves into a frenzy with worry and concern trying to react to the struggles of this world. But God tells us to be still. Be still so we can remember that he is God. He is in control. He loves us dearly. While he did not promise that there would be no trouble (in fact he promised that there would be), he did promise that he would be with us at all times through everything.

So, be still. Go to his word. Remind each other to do the same. He is your refuge, the children’s refuge, the refuge for all. He is indeed our ever-present help.



Prayer: Lord, when the tempest rages, I need not fear;
For you, the Rock of Ages, are always near.
Close by your side abiding, I fear no foe,
For when you hand is guiding, in peace I go. Amen
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal 439)



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



Impress Them – Week of October 17, 2016

Impress Them – Week of October 17, 2016


Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:5-9




ECME Devotion – October 17, 2016

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 6:5-9

See series: ECME Devotions

One of the common phrases you hear in education today is, “the whole child.” When speaking of the whole child, many are referring to education that considers all aspects of the child’s learning including cognitive, physical, social and emotional. As Christians, we would include a child’s spiritual growth as well. Those who aspire to teach the whole child will likely use an integrated curriculum that includes literacy, math, the arts, and other areas into a lesson. For example, you may observe a math lesson that involves writing or art.

We can see in today’s reading from Deuteronomy that this is hardly a new concept. The verse begins with a commandment to love God completely (heart, soul, and strength). The Lord expects these commandments to be on the hearts of each of us. This is not just something to know (cognitively) but something to love and cherish.

He goes on and states that we are to “impress them on [our] children.” It might be easy to read over the word, “impress.” That’s a strong encouragement. This is not something we “let them know about.” It’s not something to “do when you get to it.” And it’s not something to compartmentalize. Telling children about the LORD their God is not just for Sunday worship, Bible-story time and devotions. He describes so well that this should be a natural part of everything we do all day, each day. When we’re at home, out for a walk or drive, as we lie down in the evening and as we get up each morning. As we run them to school or bring them home from soccer practice. When we are getting dinner ready or changing their diapers. When we are struggling, rejoicing, or just having an ordinary day. When we are playing with a child or disciplining a child. When we are at home or in the classroom.

You may have noticed the Old Testament tradition of tying small boxes to their hands and foreheads. While we don’t observe this tradition today, what a clear illustration that God is part of everything we do and should be evident. Let’s make it our goal that, as we speak to a child or their family, as we collaborate with a colleague, or as we spend time with friends and family, they see Jesus in all we do. Let his love be clearly evident in our words, in our actions, in all we do. All day, every day, impress them on the children.



Prayer: Dear Father, sometimes it’s not comfortable to include you in my conversations or I forget to do so. Forgive me. Help me to strive to include you naturally in all I do and say, especially with the children so that they can grow closer to you. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Brainstorm ideas of ways to talk about Jesus in situations that you may not have thought about before.



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



Goodnight – Week of October 10, 2016

Goodnight – Week of October 10, 2016


Now the light has gone away;
Father, listen while I pray,
Asking you to watch and keep
And to send me quiet sleep.

Jesus, Savior wash away
All that I’ve done wrong today.
Make me ever more like you,
Good and gentle, kind and true.

Let my near and dear ones be
Safe with you eternally.
Oh, bring me and all I love
To your happy home above.

Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 593




ECME Devotion – October 10, 2016

Devotion based on Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 593

See series: ECME Devotions

One of the things that young children need and appreciate is routine, especially at bedtime. There is a bath, brushing teeth, at least one good read-aloud, maybe a quiet song or two, a good night hug, just the right bear or doll or blanket to hold, and then lights are out. Those routines help to calm a child and ready them to fall asleep. The consistent routine can make a child feel safe. As Christian parents, we add another very precious step to this routine-a bedtime prayer. What a gift to share with a child! As they are settling into their beds, you remind them that you love them, that Jesus loves them, and that they can sleep well knowing that Jesus is always with them, even while they sleep.

Today we look at a time-treasured hymn. Perhaps you learned it as a small child or maybe it’s new to you. As we look at the text, the author provides simple words as an evening prayer. In the first stanza we ask God to listen, to watch over, and to grant quiet sleep. What soothing words these are at the end of a full day.

The second stanza is a simple prayer of repentance. As the day comes to a close and we reflect, the struggles and failures of the day can be disappointing and even overwhelming. This prayer asks Jesus to wash them away even more than their evening bath washes away the dirt of the day’s activities. And we are able to look to Jesus as our example of how to be ever kind and gentle.

The final verse is spoken for those we love. While we so often pray for their health and well-being, this stanza is a prayer for what we want most for them—that they are always safe in faith in Jesus. We pray that they are faithful until they reach heaven.

The words are simple but the prayer is rich in meaning. May the Lord grant you and each child you know, the peace that comes from Jesus each day.



Prayer: Our heavenly Father, we ask that you be with each child we serve and those in our families. Help us to teach them to pray and to remind them of your love, your forgiveness, and your most precious gift of eternal life with you. In Jesus we pray. Amen

A Question to Consider: Perhaps you might consider teaching this to a young child or if they are old enough, the children in your classroom. Could this be something to share with their parents? Could this be read at naptime? What other ways could you use this prayer?



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



Let Them Come – Week of October 3, 2016

Let Them Come – Week of October 3, 2016


Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:13-14




ECME Devotion – October 3, 2016

Devotion based on Matthew 19:13-14

See series: ECME Devotions

Oh my! Can you imagine it? My child, my friend’s child, my grandchild, the child in my class-in Jesus’ arms? You’ve likely seen several artists’ renderings of this scene. Jesus is sitting on a rock with children on his lap and all around him. He is beaming and so are they. Now picture that same scene but replace it with the children you know. Picture yourself there watching as Jesus scoops up each child and lovingly holds them. I’m thinking the cell phones would be sending texts, tweets, Snapchat or Facebook messages to everyone we know.

Let’s back up in the story a bit. We read that the disciples rebuked those who were bringing the little children. They scolded them and tried to intervene before they got to Jesus. While it would be easy to either be critical or try to excuse their behavior, Jesus’ reaction is clear. Children are dear to him and not to be hindered. Shame on those disciples, right?

But as we stand there looking at the scene, we need to look closely at ourselves as well. Are there times that we hinder young children from coming to Jesus? Are we taking every opportunity to share Jesus and his love with each child? Is it clear that Jesus is at the heart of all we do? When a child is upset or emotional, is our reaction to be those loving arms and soothing voice that Jesus shared with the children in today’s reading? When we share the Bible story or devotion with the children, do we take the time to be fully prepared and provide a well-planned, carefully considered lesson? When we speak about each child, are our words full of that same love that Jesus has for them and for us? If we are honest we see that, intentional or not, we are sometimes more like the disciples that day than the parents of the little children.

But let’s look back at the beginning scene. Let’s look again at Jesus’ loving gaze for each child and likely for each adult with them. Let’s listen to his words again: “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” His love for each child is so clear. His love for you and me is clear as well. We are washed with his mercy, forgiveness, and undeserved grace. May he bless us with joy and eagerness to share Jesus with the children each and every day.



Prayer: Gracious Jesus, we are so grateful for your love for each of us. Thank you for your love, mercy, and grace. Thank you for the gift of children. Help us to eagerly reflect your love to them each day. In your name we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are specific ways that we can remind ourselves and each other to “let the children come” to Jesus?



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



Trust in the Lord – Week of September 26, 2016

Trust in the Lord – Week of September 26, 2016


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6




ECME Devotion – September 26, 2016

Devotion based on Proverbs 3:5-6

See series: ECME Devotions

Two-year old Milly worked at it and worked at it. You could see the determination on her face with furrowed brow and pursed lips. Finally, her mom walked over and offered to help. “I do it myself”, Milly said with conviction. She was certainly working at it with all her heart. Don’t you love the tenacity? Don’t you love her “I can” attitude? But I wonder if her mom might have been able to give her an idea of how to get it done a little easier or provided the support she needed to accomplish her task?

How often are we just like little Milly? Do you sometimes find yourself struggling on a problem for days? Do you find yourself spending time stewing over the same thing day after day? Has a problem or issue ever woken you up in the middle of the night at a time when the problem seems to fill the room? And is it then that finally the lightbulb comes on and you find yourself with hands folded in prayer? Does your prayer begin with the heartfelt expression of your need for God’s help and an admission that your self-reliance is too often focused on you and what you can do rather than what he can do?

If you’re like me, that prayer most often begins with a penitential sigh that asks for God’s forgiveness. I too often think that I have the answers or the ability to solve everything that comes my way. Too often I neglect turning to him and the Word. Too often I rely on myself. It’s a challenge to balance leaning on God’s guidance and taking action. We don’t want to find ourselves sending up a prayer and then sitting passively waiting for God to fix things. But we also don’t want to take it all into our own hands and avoid reliance on him.

The solution? It’s the Word. As we continue to be in the Word we are reminder over and over of God’s incredible grace for us. We learn of the struggles of others in both the Old and New Testament and God’s guidance for them. He loves us so and wants to hear from us. He wants us to always be growing more and more in his grace. He wants us to come to him in prayer and lean on him. Like little Milly, we need to be working at it with all our heart as we prayerfully lean on him, acknowledging his love, his forgiveness, and his guidance for our path. You can trust in him with all your heart!



Prayer: Dear Father, I can so easily become overwhelmed by the tasks and challenges before me. Forgive me when I become self-reliant and help me to continually look to you for guidance and direction. Bless all that I do in your name. Amen.



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



Are You Ready? – Week of September 19, 2016

Are You Ready? – Week of September 19, 2016


In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15




ECME Devotion – September 19, 2016

Devotion based on 1 Peter 3:15

See series: ECME Devotions

Lesson plans written-check! Centers arranged and stocked-check! Weekly letter for parents written-check! Art materials gathered-check! Snack prepared for serving-check! I’m ready! Bring on the kids! I’m prepared-almost.

Teaching can involve as much time or even more time to prepare as it is to teach. We make our lists (if you’re a list maker) and cross the tasks off one by one. The sense of readiness is a great feeling and a critical one for effective teaching. The more prepared we are, the more we are able to respond to the unexpected. (You may have noticed that the unexpected is routinely part of the early childhood classroom.)

Today’s verse from 1 Peter reminds us to be prepared at all times so that we are able to respond to questions about the faith and hope we have in Christ. The questions may come from the children we serve. They wonder if the stories we tell are real or make-believe. The children may ask how God could create everything from nothing. They may ask about Jesus as a little boy and if he played and had friends like they do. But, we may also get questions from their parents. These questions may not be quite so simple. One of the questions you may hear is how you can be so loving and patient at all times with so many young children in your care. They may come to you with questions about the Bible stories their children are bringing home. Are you ready to respond?

If you’re like me, I’m ready for some of those questions but certainly not all. There are many questions that can come my way that are beyond my ability to answer. But I still respond. My response might be that I don’t know but will find an answer and get back to them. My response might be to encourage them to speak to someone else including my pastor.

But the question that is the easiest to answer is the one included in today’s reading. Why am I filled with hope? It is because of Christ my Lord. The name Christ means that he was chosen by God to save his people including me. As Lord, he is ruling over all things including me. What comfort, peace, and hope are ours because of Christ! Our salvation is secure. Our hope is one of confidence in the one who has done all this for us. Because of that, we can respond to each other with gentleness and respect reflecting his love for each of us.

So, be ready! The questions will be coming. Some will be easy. Some will make us smile. Some may stump us. But be ready at all times to let those around us know about Christ the Lord and his loving rule in our hearts.



Prayer: Dear Father, sometimes questions come my way and I miss an opportunity to share your message with others. Give me confidence and readiness to always be prepared to tell others about you and your love and forgiveness in Jesus. In his name I pray, Amen.

A Question to Consider: Have you ever been stumped by a question about your faith or about God? How did you respond? What might you do next time?



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



Tell Them, Tell Them! – Week of September 12, 2016

Tell Them, Tell Them! – Week of September 12, 2016


How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Romans 10:14-15




ECME Devotion – September 12, 2016

Devotion based on Romans 10:14-15

See series: ECME Devotions

He was enjoying a quiet evening of watching television when his Facetime rang. He looked and noticed that the call was coming from his son’s phone. When he clicked on the icon, there sat his adorable little 18-month old granddaughter. “Hi, Cammy!” he said. “Papa!” said Cammy. They chatted for a minute or two (as much as you can chat with an 18-month old) when he heard his son ask, “Cammy, who are you talking to?” “Papa!” she said with a smile! Somehow she had hit just the right icons and called her Papa to his delight! The wonder of communication today!

Cell phones, internet, Facebook, Facetime, Skype, Twitter, Snapchat… The modes of communication today can boggle the mind! Our ability to not just talk, but to see each other across the miles is an incredible blessing. And yet, almost everyone will tell you-nothing is better than face to face.

That’s what you do each day! Each day young children and their parents or guardians come to your classroom. You carefully prepare the lessons and activities considering the needs and goals for each child. You thoughtfully choose books to read to the children that will inspire, inform, and delight them. You prepare materials and experiences that are research based, educationally sound, and developmentally appropriate for young children. But you do so much more than that!

Each day you have the opportunity to sit with the children around you and tell them the wonders of God’s love for them. You share the exciting accounts of the Old Testament believers as they struggled and then triumphed by God’s grace and blessing. You tell them the story of Jesus’ miracles and of his love that took him to the cross, the grave, and then to heaven for each one of them! You tell them of the Holy Spirit’s work among the disciples and apostles and also in each of them. And on top of all of that, you have the opportunity to share this with their parents and other family members. Like the disciples and apostles, your feet carry you to the classroom to eagerly share God’s precious message of salvation to each child, to their families, and to all those around you. How beautiful and amazing!

So, technology included or not, what a privilege it is to communicate this message! What a blessing to be able to share this message face to face each day! May each of us always be eager to hear and share God’s message of salvation so that all may believe!



Prayer: Dear Father, I am humbled by the opportunity to share your word and message of salvation with the young children and families I serve. Bless me with zeal and eagerness to do so and may the work of the Holy Spirit take root in each of them. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are ways to communicate God’s message to the families we serve beyond our classrooms?



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



Dear Friend – Week of September 5, 2016

Dear Friend – Week of September 5, 2016


You are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:3




ECME Devotion – September 5, 2016

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 3:3

See series: ECME Devotions

Dear One,

Here it is again—the beginning of another school year. What an exciting time for the teachers, the aides, the directors and principals, the children, and their families. This time of year is filled with anticipation, enthusiasm, optimism, and often some anxiousness. What will it be like? How will everyone get along? Will some of us struggle (children, parents, staff, me)? Will I be able to meet the expectations of those around me? Do I know all I need to know?

As early childhood educators, you may be wondering all those questions and more. Are your plans all set? Remember— “I know the plans I have for you.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Know that his plans for you are grounded in his everlasting love for you. Share that love with the children, families, and others. Are you concerned about meeting the needs of each child? Remember— “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). God loves them and you dearly. As you teach and guide them, do it with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience reflecting him in all you do. Do the parents seem both excited and a little anxious about leaving their child? Remind them of Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). He’s with them, with the children, and with you. His greatest desire is that all of you remain close to him throughout this school year and throughout your lives. Are there some that don’t yet know about God’s loving salvation and redemption? “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). “All nations” include the children, their families, and all those with whom you come in contact each day. Tell them about Jesus and his love for them that took him to the cross, to the grave, and to heaven for them.

As the verse for today states, you are a letter. Each day the children, their families, your fellow staff members, and all those around you “read” your letter as you interact with them. Fill your letter with the precious message of the gospel and Jesus’ love and forgiveness. What a privilege! What a responsibility! Read his letter to you in his Word each day to help you share his message as you serve. May the words of Isaiah 42:1 encourage you, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

Have a great year in his grace!
A Colleague in Christ



Prayer: Dear Father, as a new school year begins, bless me and all those who teach. Bless the children and families I serve. Help my letter to them clearly point them to you each day. Keep us all close to you. In your precious name, Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are some practical ways to encourage each other to reflect Christ’s love in all we do each day for the children, their families, and each other?



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