ECME Devotions

Washed Perfectly Clean – Week of September 21, 2020

Washed Perfectly Clean – Week of September 21, 2020



Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:1-2



What is it about red juice and little ones? You can give them a cup of water and the spills will be minimal. But when red juice is involved, it seems like the possibility of spills grows exponentially! And when it spills, it’s as though it is drawn to anything white or light colored. The stains are brutal, and often no matter what you do a hint of the stain lingers as a constant reminder.

Our verses from Psalm 51 were written by David. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had given orders that her husband should be sent to the front lines of battle where he was killed. Nathan the prophet had come to David to confront him regarding his sin. David was overwhelmed with grief and penitence. He felt the stain of sin covering him. He pleaded to God for his forgiveness with words such as: “Have mercy on me,” “blot out my transgressions,” “wash away all my iniquity, “cleanse me from my sin.” He repeated his plea four times in this short section highlighting the intensity of his grief.  David had sinned.  He had rejected God and his will.  Sorrow filled his heart and he felt a deep need for forgiveness.

Notice in the verses how David included what he knew about God’s mercy. He asked for God’s forgiveness because of God’s “unfailing love” and his “great compassion”. While overwhelmed in sadness over his sin, David prayed for God’s mercy, his love, and his compassion. What an amazing statement of God’s love for David and for all sinners. God hates sin and expects perfection. Yet God also dearly loves his people to the point of sending Jesus to wash away every sin. And when God forgives sins, David’s and our own, they are gone…washed away…covered with God’s grace. There is no hint of stain left in God’s eyes. Because of Jesus, God looks at us and sees his dearly loved and redeemed children. No greater statement of love has ever been made than when Jesus washed away our sins on the cross.

You and I can scrub all day and some of those red juice stains are there permanently. You and I have times where sin and guilt can be overwhelming. We can struggle with where to turn and how to resolve our guilt. It’s then that we turn to God just as David did. When we go to God in faith, his mercy and grace are ours because of Jesus. We are perfectly clean in God’s eyes and at peace with him. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Thank you, dear Savior!



Prayer:
Dear Father, when I am overwhelmed by my sins, remind me of your mercy, compassion, and grace. Thank you for washing me clean of my sins through Jesus. Help me to reflect your grace in all I do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



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

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Mercy – Week of September 14, 2020

Mercy – Week of September 14, 2020



Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2



She wipes her eyes over and over again. The tears don’t seem to stop. She is crying so hard that she can barely get the words out. “I’m……… sorry.” She struggles to make eye contact with you as she waits for your response. She knows it was wrong and she is so very sorry. You quietly say to her, “I forgive you.” As the words slowly sink in and she sees the gentle look on your face, she eventually calms to hiccups. “Really?” she asks. “Really,” you respond.

You can’t believe you’ve done it again. You’ve let the sharp words fly out and wound a colleague. You see the hurt in their eyes, but you add to it all with justification in your mind for what you’ve just said. “I’m only saying what is true. I can’t help it if they can’t take it.” Later, as you reflect on your day, you realize the likely impact of your words. The guilt floods over you.

Mercy. What a simple word with a powerful impact. I’ve heard it defined as “not getting what you deserve.” What do you and I deserve? Think of the many, many times you’ve been impatient with a young child. Think of the many, many times that you spoke harshly to another adult. Think of the many, many times that you criticized someone when they weren’t around. Think of the many, many times you were jealous, greedy, or lazy. What do you and I deserve in God’s eyes?

You look to him and you see mercy. Don’t get me wrong. God’s standards and expectations are perfection and you and I fail at that constantly. But when you and I look at him, we see and hear mercy because of Jesus. Jesus said to his Father, “I’ll take her punishment because I love her.” Mercy.

Each time you are tempted to be impatient, harsh, unkind, jealous, greedy, lazy, ungrateful, look at his mercy for you. Focus on his mercy. Be overwhelmed by his mercy. Let that mercy be your motivation to reach out in kindness to others, to defend others, to forgive each other, to reflect his mercy in your life each day. Let the mercy he shows to you, lead you to want to do God’s will.
“I forgive you,” God says to us. “Really?”, we ask. “Really. You are forgiven because of Jesus,” God says to us. Live each day wrapped in that love, that forgiveness, that mercy.



Prayer:
Take the world, but give me Jesus!
In his cross my trust shall be till with clearer, brighter vision face to face my Lord I see.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy;
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above!
Christian Worship 355:3

A Question to Consider: Sometimes a visual reminder can be very helpful. Some people use notes on the mirror, the refrigerator, the dashboard. What are ways that you can keep God’s mercy for you in view as a constant reminder?



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

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Watch Him – Week of September 7, 2020

Watch Him – Week of September 7, 2020



Then the LORD said to Moses, “Now you will see what I can do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.” God also said to Moses, “I am the LORD.”

Therefore say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.”
Exodus 6:1-2, 6-8



“Watch me!” Isn’t it amazing to watch a young child as they learn something new and to hear the excitement in their voice as they tell you to watch? They are practically bursting with enthusiasm. “Let me show you what I can do” is their message to you.

Our verses today begin in a similar way. The LORD says to Moses, “Now you will see what I can do to Pharaoh.” You may know this story. God’s people, the Israelites, had been living as captives in Egypt. They were subject to harsh treatment and even more, they were kept from going to Canaan, the land God had promised them. God had sent Moses as their leader. Moses had been trying to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go with no success. Moses goes to God to plead on their behalf. What an answer he got!

“I am the LORD.” To Moses, these few words were a clear reminder of who God was. He is the eternal God, the one who keeps his covenant, his promise. This promise was to redeem or save God’s people, not just from Pharaoh, but even more, from their sin. The LORD was about to show who he was and what he could do.

The LORD told Moses to take this message back to Israel. He told Moses to tell them that he is the LORD who keeps his promises and backs this up with what he does.

You and I don’t have Pharaoh in our lives, but we do have struggles. At times our struggles can seem insurmountable. Worst of all is our struggle with sin.

When we read accounts like the one today, it reminds us of two things: God, in love for us, keeps his promises to us and God is all powerful. If he can wipe out Pharaoh and his army for the Israelites, he surely can wipe out our trials. And even if he allows a trial or disappointment to continue, he promises to give you the strength you need. Each time you open the Bible and read what God has done for us, you can almost hear him say, “Watch me. Look at what I have done for you because I love you.” He conquered armies over and over. He brought down walls in Jericho without anyone touching a stone or brick. He fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. He healed blindness and raised people from the dead. Above all else, he destroyed Satan and paid what we owed for our sins.

Watch him. He did all this for you so that you would have no doubt about the depth of his love for you and how he sent his only son, Jesus, to the cross for you. Each day as you share Bible stories and devotions with the children, you can say, “Watch him! See what God has done and keeps doing for you because he loves you!”



Prayer: Dear Father, over and over the Word tells us who you are. Help us to watch and learn again and again how you have shown love to us and to the world. We treasure your Word and thank you for it. In Jesus we pray. Amen

A Question to Consider: Find a friend or colleague and make a list of all the examples God shares in the Bible of his power and his love. List the battles won, the miracles, the acts of judgment, the enemies conquered, and on and on. See how long a list you can gather. Then reflect on the list and remind yourself that he shares all this to remind you of his love for you, his love shown through Jesus, and his promise to be with you in all things.



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

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A Letter – Week of August 31, 2020

A Letter – Week of August 31, 2020



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



Here we are. The beginning of another new school year. The beginning of a new school year is always a mix of emotions for the children, the families, and the teachers. This year is no exception to that. How are you doing? Do you find yourself occasionally thinking, “It’s just not the same?” You may be starting in person for the first time since early spring. You might be heading back to the virtual setting. You’ve likely worked diligently all summer preparing for multiple possibilities. You may be ready for tomorrow, but you know that the day after that might be different. You are likely excited to reconnect with your students and get to know some new ones. You are probably eager to use some new ideas that you gleaned over the summer. And you also could very well be concerned about the safety of your students, their families, your colleagues, your family, and yourself.

Today’s verse is written through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration by Paul to the Christians in Corinth. He describes them as a letter from Christ…written on human hearts. They were not Paul’s witnesses but Christ’s. As they lived their life of faith and shared Christ’s message, they were like a letter carrying the most precious message ever written. They shared the gift of grace and forgiveness of Jesus with those around them.

That’s you. You too, are a letter from Christ. As you begin this year, you carry with you a message far more precious than any skill or nugget of learning. Your children may learn letters, colors, new words, number concepts, fine motor skills and many other things. You also face unique challenges this year. However, the heart of all you do is sharing Jesus with them. You’ll do it on a Zoom meeting or in person when you teach the Bible lessons for sure. You’ll share Jesus when you teach them about sharing and forgiving and apologizing. You’ll share Jesus when you notice the child who isn’t connecting in a way that you would hope, and you’ll reach out and find a way for them. Your laughter and joy in learning, your patience in the tough moments, your caring heart that reaches out to encourage each parent, your prayers with and for each child can all reflect Jesus’ love. You are a letter from Christ that reminds the children, their families, your colleagues, and even yourself that while this year may be different, the love of our Savior never changes. His letter is a love letter written in the Word for you and for all. May the Lord bless you and keep you ever close to him as you share his letter. May he bless this new school year in ways that only he can.



Prayer:
Jesus, remind me, the children in my class, their families, and my colleagues that you are with us each day of this new year. Bless all we do to reflect your love to each other. Help us to grow in faith and love for you. It’s in your name we pray. Amen



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

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Need a Cape? – Week of August 24, 2020

Need a Cape? – Week of August 24, 2020



Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:35-37



Don’t you love a child with a cape. The look on their faces is pure joy and confidence. With arms raised they fly off to save the day! They can conquer the bad guys and save you, their friends, and every stuffed animal in the room! They exude a feeling of strength and ability and no evidence that they could possibly loose this battle.

Think about that child. They are excited and full of confidence. Fear is not part of their role playing. On what do they base their confidence? They have seen superheroes in videos. They have a cape and maybe a costume. In their imagination, they have all the superpowers they need.

You and I have battles to fight and fears to squelch. Every day we are faced with the influences of the world, the impact of sin in our world, and concerns that can leave us looking for that superhero.

Of all the challenges we face, the most terrifying is our own sin that could lead to a separation from Christ and his love. Without Christ, we are completely lost. Our guilt can challenge our faith and leave us feeling discouraged and despairing. All the capes of the world can’t change that.

While you might not don a cape, you can have even more confidence and enthusiasm than the young child in your room. You don’t have a fictitious character as your model of a superhero. You have someone far more powerful than a superhero. You have the loving and living God who created you and everything in your world. He is the one who looked at Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden hiding after they sinned and responded with the promise of Jesus. That promise wasn’t just for Adam and Eve. It was for you and me as well! No matter what happens to you during your short life on earth, you have grace and forgiveness and heaven is yours. His forgiveness assures us that nothing can separate us from him. He has conquered far more than any superhero; he has conquered our sin. You and I can fly into each day with confidence that we are conquerors through Jesus!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I am so grateful for your grace. Help me to keep the words of Romans 8 in front of me to remind me that in the words of the hymnwriter:

Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord his children sever;
Unto them his grace he showeth, and their sorrows all he knoweth. Amen.
Christian Worship 449:3

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.



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

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“Come,” Jesus Said – Week of August 17, 2020

Come, Jesus Said – Week of August 17, 2020



“Come,” [Jesus] said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

Matthew 14:29-32



As the little girl stands at the edge of the pool, her dad reaches out and says to her, “Jump, I’ve got you.” Some will hesitate but most, with a bit of urging, fly into dad’s waiting arms. They’ve done it before, and he caught her every time. She’s jumped from the sofa, the top step, and now the pool. She jumps with a giggle of trust and excitement.

In our verses for today, Jesus and his disciples had finished feeding the crowd with the small portions of fish and bread. Over and over, the disciples have witnessed Jesus responding in love with healing and providing for those around him. Jesus sent the disciples on ahead of him. While crossing the lake, a storm came up that tossed the boat in a way that would raise fear in most of us. On top of that, the previous verses say that Jesus went out to them shortly before dawn. What’s worse than being on a lake during a storm? Being on a lake during a storm at night. Off in the distance the disciples see someone crossing the lake. Thinking he was a ghost; their fears were heightened even more. Then they hear his voice telling them “It is I.” We can count on Peter to respond impulsively and tell Jesus that if it is truly him, to invite Peter to join him on the water. Jesus shares one word— “Come.” No long explanation to prove who he was. “Come.”

Sometimes we can feel like we’re in a storm in the middle of the night. We feel like we being tossed about by worry, fear, doubt, guilt. We can feel helpless and anxious. We can so often try to manage it all on our own. We fret. We worry. We may find ways to manage our stress that is not good for us or God pleasing. The worst of our struggles may be guilt over a particular sin or many sins.

In those times, reach for the Word. In it you will find a reassurance even greater than the trust the little girl has in her dad. Over and over the Bible reminds us of God’s love for us, his power over evil, over enemies of his, and over our sin. Recall the stories of Daniel, Noah, Joseph, and David. God’s love for his people and his power over all things is beyond our understanding. Of all the things he has done, they all point to Jesus—the ultimate promise kept. Jesus’ defeat of Satan sealed our assurance that forgiveness and heaven is ours through faith. We can trust that and we can trust him.

You may not be facing the fear of jumping into a pool or being on a boat during a storm, but each day can bring concerns and fears that make us anxious. Look to Jesus’ open arms saying to you, “Come.” Go to him in prayer and confidence knowing not only that can he help you, he wants to help you because of his unending love for you.



Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, you have power over wind and waves. Even more, you have redeemed me with your power over sin. Forgive me when I doubt. Help me to put my trust in you with confidence in your love for me. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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It Is True – Week of August 10, 2020

It Is True – Week of August 10, 2020



And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28



As the little boy waits at the window for his mom and dad to pick him up, you assure him that it’s going to be okay. His mom and dad will be here soon, and you hope this is true.

Your director calls and the plans for this fall need to be changed again. She reassures you it will be okay, and you hope that this is true.

Your brother calls with news that the doctor’s results were not what he had hoped for. You reassure him that everything will be okay, and you hope that this is true.

Your conversation with a parent concerning their child’s struggles seems to leave them anxious. You assure them that as you work together for the child, it will be okay, and you hope this is true.

Today’s passage can easily be misused in a way that may make us think, “I’ve got God. This is going to be just fine.” However, you have all had situations in your life where things don’t always turn out just fine in an earthly sense. Accidents happen. Illness takes the lives of people we care about. Plans change. Children may have learning or social/emotional challenges that are with them throughout their lives.

God hasn’t left us when the outcome is not what we hoped for. He has not abandoned us to the challenges of life. He has promised to be with us, and he has made and kept the greatest promise –the promise of heaven to all who believe in him. All our daily struggles are hard, but none are more difficult than our struggle with sin. God removed our sin and our guilt when he sent Jesus. Since we know he loves us that much and since we know that our relationship with him is secure because of Jesus, we have comfort and encouragement to face all our challenges. We can be reassured, and we can reassure each other that God is there, walking alongside us. He walks with us through the challenges reminding us that he is there and that he can bring blessings from the most difficult of trials. And above all, he has promised us heaven. He assures us that while things may be hard, it will be okay because of what Jesus has done for us. Forgiveness is ours. God is with us. Heaven is assured. We don’t hope it is true. We know it is true—even when we cannot begin to make sense of the reason for the trials.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me courage when things are difficult. Remind me always to focus on you. Help me see your blessings each day and reflect your love to all around me. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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He Intercedes for Us – Week of August 3, 2020

He Intercedes for Us – Week of August 3, 2020



In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27



A friend called me recently. She was struggling with a decision about the upcoming school year. She had two plans and was looking for recommendations or thoughts to help her make the decision. Should she go with Plan A or Plan B? We worked through the usual questions: What are the benefits of both plans? What are the concerns for each? Both had merit and both had concerns. There was no clear winner.

It’s likely that everyone reading or hearing this devotion is wrestling with a list of decisions now that they feel unprepared or ill-equipped to make. Different sources have conflicting information which complicates our decision making even more. The gravity of those decisions can weigh heavily on us, especially when those decisions impact those we serve, those with whom we serve, our family and friends. We want to pray about it but even then, we may struggle with what we should be praying for.

How amazing today’s verse is! How often do we look at the list of decisions, responsibilities, and tasks and feel overwhelmed? We may not even know where to start that prayer. But here is our comfort…he knows. The Lord knows. He knows you, your struggles, your challenges, your desire to make decisions that are best for the work he has given you to do. He provides the Holy Spirit who speaks on our behalf. In the Holy Spirit’s intercessions for us are God’s love for us and for all. His prayers, unlike ours, are always for God’s people in accordance to God’s will.

We all want to make decisions that align with God’s will. What is God’s will for you and for me? What is the right decision? Gather information. Ask yourself the benefits and concerns. Be sure to ask if any decision is sinful and of course, avoid that. Go to God in prayer. Keep going to the Word each day to be reminded of all he has done and his promises for you. Our confidence doesn’t come from us but from God. He eagerly hears our prayers. And know that the Holy Spirit is there, interceding for us when we are weak or the words don’t come. What a blessing to know that God not only welcomes our prayers to him, but also provides the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf.



Prayer:
When decisions weigh on me, be with me Lord, remind me of your promises, and bless my efforts in serving you. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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Promise Made. Promise Kept. – Week of July 27, 2020

Promise Made. Promise Kept. – Week of July 27, 2020



I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18



“It’s just so hard. I don’t know what to do. How do I know if I’m making the right decision? What do I do if I feel I have no choice? What if I make the wrong decision?”

Things are hard right now. The questions above may be ones that you’ve heard from parents as they try to make decisions for their children. They might be questions that you have considered. “Do we open or is it better to remain closed?” “Will we meet in person or virtually or a mix of both?” “How do I know if I have the best information to make decisions?” “When can we get back to normal-whatever that is?”

Wouldn’t it be great if our decisions, especially the really hard ones, had a clear answer? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a Zoom meeting with God to discuss our concerns and our plans?

God has made so many promises to us. He promised to lead the people of Israel back to the Promised Land of Canaan and he did. He promised that Abraham’s family would be a direct line to the promised Savior. He kept that promise in Abraham and Sarah’s old age. He promised to save Noah and his family, and that promise was kept in a miraculous way. He promised to send a Savior and fulfilled that promise in Jesus. He promised that through Jesus, every one of our sins would be marked paid in full. He promised to be with us in all things. He has kept that promise and continues to do so.

One thing he did not promise is that our lives would be without challenge and suffering. In fact, he states that there will be suffering. But along with that suffering are his promises. He promises to be with us. He promises that he will bless our efforts to share his Word. He promises that even though we continue to sin, can be tempted by fear or doubt, his forgiveness is ours. Our confidence and peace are in that forgiveness and in his promises. All of those struggles that we face, all those questions we wrestle with, are nothing compared to what he has prepared for us in heaven. We don’t need a Zoom meeting, we can look in his Word. There God reminds us that all that we are experiencing is just temporary. He reminds us that our place in heaven is already set and ready and filled with glories that we can’t imagine with our limited understanding. And because of those promises, we can face our challenges knowing that he is with us. While we don’t know when each of us will join God in heaven, we can live each day with joy and confidence that heaven is ours.



Prayer:
Jesus, lead us on till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow, calm and fearless.
Guide us by your hand to our fatherland.

If the way be drear, if the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us,
For through many a woe to our home we go. Amen
Christian Worship 422:1,2



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

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Rest Well – Week of July 20, 2020

Rest Well – Week of July 20, 2020



The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14



She cried and cried and cried. As you sit by her, gently rubbing her back while singing softly, the room slowly becomes quieter until her last sniffle. As you look at her peacefully sleeping, it’s hard to imagine that this picture of tranquility was a bundle of fear and resistance only minutes ago. But your patient, calm response and gentle voice provided the reassurance she needed to let go and let sleep come.

Several hours later, you find yourself tossing and turning. Your day had several difficult moments that are hard to let go of as you try to fall asleep. The most difficult of all is the realization of the impact of your words, said in haste, that have wounded a colleague. Or, it might be the anxiety of not knowing if you are doing all you can to provide safe, loving care to the children you serve. Have you really done everything you can?

While your anxiety and that of the little girl may not sound the same, (hopefully you aren’t crying uncontrollably), the feeling of fear, guilt, or anxiousness can be very similar. As you lay there trying to both fall asleep and solve all your problems at the same time, you find no success in either.

“I will give you rest.” That sounds wonderful in the middle of the night. Does this rest mean a solid eight uninterrupted hours of restful sleep? No. Does it refer to that ever-elusive nap that you might dream about? No.

There is no greater peace than a relationship that is strong especially when that relationship is with God our Father. The peace that we have knowing that all those unkind words, those mistakes we’ve made, the selfish actions, the laziness, the pride are no longer barriers for our relationship with God. As God the Father looks at us, Jesus sits next to him and says, “I took care of all that they owe you.” This peace, this rest is indescribable. Jesus did it all. His journey to the cross and grave, removed every single sin. And on top of all that, he also promises that he is with us today, tonight, each day until he calls us home to him in heaven. We can trust him even more than that little girl trusted your gentle hand and soothing voice. We can be assured that while the troubles of each day will continue to come, our Lord is there. He’s there with a gentle but powerful word of reassurance, “I will give you rest.” Rest well in his grace, in his forgiveness, in his promises.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to reflect on the words of the hymn writer as a reminder of your comfort and reassurance to be my rest. In your name I pray, Amen.
“Come unto me, ye weary, and I will give you rest.”
O blessed voice of Jesus, which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that has no ending, of love that cannot cease.

Christian Worship 336:1

A Question to Consider: Someone recently told me that they keep a small notebook on their bedside table. When the challenges of the day start to disrupt their sleep, they write down what it is they are wrestling with. This is followed by a prayer that shares that concern with Jesus, asking for his help. They find that writing down the problem followed by a prayer, helps them put the concern aside and rest well.



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

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My Cross, His Cross – Week of July 13, 2020

My Cross, His Cross – Week of July 13, 2020



Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:38-39



“It’s a cross I have to bear” is a statement that you might sometimes hear or say. When said, the person is likely referencing something that’s a struggle or challenge in their life. Sometimes it can even be said in jest. But what does it really mean to “take up their cross and follow me?”

As I sit at my desk reading this passage, I’m stopped at the first sentence. What does it mean to take up my cross and follow Christ? Have I done that? Am I doing that? How do I do that? I get an immediate sense of failure. My failure is founded in my view of what this passage is saying. When I focus on my taking up my cross, I am the center of the action. If left up to me, I truly am not worthy of Christ, just as the passage says.

When we talk about bearing a cross for Christ, it’s hardly a reference to the often mundane earthly challenges that we have. Bearing our cross is talking about those struggles we have because of our faith. It may be the challenges brought by a friend who tries to push you to a decision you know is not God pleasing. Bearing a cross may be the views you have on current issues that don’t align with what may seem to be popular.

But what is our goal? The passage puts it so beautifully: “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Sometimes it’s easy to focus on what we may give up because of our faith. Some of our decisions may look like a list of things we “can’t do”. However, when we compare that to the joy and contentment we have knowing that we have peace with God, those things lose their importance. Sin and its affects are everywhere. Disease, crime, acts of disobedience and hate, strained relationships, a lack of trust, and on and on. What do we do? How do we cope? We look to God and his promises. Those things we seem to give up are so temporary. What we have in Christ is so much more. Life in heaven without all those effects of sin is ours because of Jesus. It’s hard to imagine how beautiful, how perfect heaven will be. But even more, it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to be standing there with Jesus forever. Forever! Take the world and all its trappings. You and I have Jesus for eternity. That cross we bear is nothing compared to the cross that he bore because his love for you wanted you with him each day of eternity in heaven.



Prayer:
Take the world but give me Jesus! In his cross my trust shall be
Till with clearer, brighter vision face to face my Lord I see.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy;
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above! Amen
Christian Worship 355:3



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

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Don’t Be Afraid – Week of July 6, 2020

Don’t Be Afraid – Week of July 6, 2020



Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31



Don’t be afraid. We’ve all heard those words. We’ve all said those words. When you’re waiting for a grade on an important exam. When you’re waiting for test results from a doctor. Sitting up at night, watching for your child to come home. Comforting a young child as they wait for their mom or dad to arrive. Don’t be afraid. I don’t know about you, but those words by themselves, while well intended, didn’t really make my fear or concern go away.

I love getting up early and taking a long walk in our neighborhood. There’s something special about the quiet of the morning and the sound of birds as the day begins. Lately I’ve noticed a couple of tiny bright yellow finches and a family of cranes strolling with two young ones. However, I can’t honestly say that I’ve given a lot of attention to the humble sparrows in my neighborhood. They seem ordinary, unremarkable.

Our world is always full of struggles, but the struggles right now seem more profound. The ongoing uncertainly of a pandemic can fill you and me with mixed emotions. The racial and political tensions are difficult to understand and to watch. In it all, we can feel anxious, frustrated, even helpless. Worry can creep in and shake our confidence. We can find ourselves struggling with despair and even a sense of hopelessness.

As we consider the verses from Matthew in our current context, what an amazing comfort we find! The Father watches over and cares for even the simple sparrow. If God our Father takes such care about every sparrow, wouldn’t he do the same and more for you and for me… the ones who are so important to him that he even knows every single hair on our heads. (Wouldn’t you like to know that number?)? When he made the world, Adam and Eve were created differently from all else in creation. God himself breathed life in Adam. His love and care for people was there from the beginning and continues for us today. His promise of Jesus was there as Adam and Eve were ushered out of the Garden of Eden. His promise was kept at the manger, at the cross, at the empty tomb, and as he ascended back to heaven.

Don’t be afraid. Alone, those words have little impact. Yet when combined with God’s promises, they become powerful words of comfort. So when you see a small sparrow, be reminded that the Lord watches over each of them. And if he cares that much for this seemingly ordinary little bird, it’s hard to imagine how dearly he cares for you and for me. So don’t be afraid.
Hard things are part of our life. Know that in it all, God keeps his promise to be there with you and with me through it all.



Prayer:
Dearest Father, there are so many challenges in our world right now. It can be hard to avoid fear and worry. Help me to remember to keep my eyes on you whose love and grace for me is indescribable. As your child, keep me close to you and encourage me to reflect your love to those around me. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Sometimes keeping a list or journal can help when things are hard. Consider making two lists: one with those things about which you are concerned. Be sure to continually check that list and note when things improve or are solved. But also make a list of the blessings all around you. Especially in difficult times, the blessings are still there. Note how God can use each struggle and challenge in ways that draw us closer to him.



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

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Seeking Sheep with Compassion – Week of June 29, 2020

Seeking Sheep with Compassion – Week of June 29, 2020



Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Matthew 9:35-38



In England, some villages are built with walled, narrow passageways for transporting sheep. These small alleys are so very narrow that there is only room for sheep to go through in single file. There is no escape so that sheep cannot accidentally go off the path and into danger. Sometimes these passageways even stretch across the entire town so that sheep can be led safely to pasture. Without these trails, sheep could be lost and scattered throughout the village.

God uses this illustration of sheep and a shepherd several times in the Bible. All of us are like the sheep, wandering the world and looking for the right path. The narrow path, like those in the English villages, is like God’s Word. When we read and study the Bible, we learn about Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Jesus had compassion on people because he saw how “lost” they were—“like sheep without a shepherd”. He knew that people were on their way to hell. He traveled through small towns and villages, healing the sick and preaching the good news that we are free from sin because of Christ. The disciples, Jesus’ followers and helpers, witnessed first-hand Jesus’ compassion for the people and the need for other “workers” to have this same love for God’s people. They were directly instructed to continue this work of compassion after Jesus died.

Jesus wants us to have this same love and compassion for others and also offers us the privilege of doing this work for him. We are serving Jesus by helping others, and we remember that Jesus doesn’t need us to do this work. Beware! The devil wants us to think that helping others learn more about Jesus is a chore, a burden. Not so! Jesus has all the power and could use other ways to bring people close to Him.

Jesus wants us to serve him by teaching others about his life death, and Easter resurrection. He wants us to help others become “workers in the field”, too. He creates that desire in our hearts as he shows us the same compassion as he did to those lost crowds. He renews our hearts through the healing message of his gospel. That forgiveness moves us to joyfully answer the call, “Here am I, send me”. May we serve our Lord by happily seeking other “sheep” for his kingdom.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, Our Shepherd,
Thank you for the privilege and joy that we have serving others. Help us to continue our work with compassion and understanding, that we may teach others about your saving love. Give us the strength and zeal to do your work throughout our whole life and until we see you in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider: In what ways can you show compassion to people God has placed in your life? How can you recruit workers to join you in serving others with compassion?



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

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Unlikely Prospects – Week of June 22, 2020

Unlikely Prospects – Week of June 22, 2020



As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:9-13



Have you noticed that Jesus asked the most “unlikely prospects” to be his followers and helpers? Matthew collected money for the government, and these tax collectors were known to be dishonest. They often collected more money than was required and kept the extra money for themselves. Tax collectors would lie, cheat, and steal from the people and it was considered to be a despicable profession.

How lonely Matthew must have felt! Hated by most people, he must have felt friendless. When Jesus approached him that day and asked Matthew to join his disciples, Matthew probably felt confused, shocked, and then elated! Knowing his sin, Matthew was so relieved to be forgiven by Jesus. Oh, how Matthew must have appreciated the love and forgiveness that Jesus gave!

When people saw or heard that the well-respected Jesus was eating with a tax collector, they were surprised and perhaps repulsed. How could Jesus eat with this despicable person and his friends? But Jesus used this moment to reveal the purpose of his ministry, which was to bring “healing” to sinners. This healing is freely given through repentance and the forgiveness of sins through Jesus himself.

Do you feel like you are unworthy to sit at the table with Jesus? We may not steal from our neighbors, but, like Matthew, we are also “unlikely prospects”. We grumble at routine tasks of service and even try to pass them off to someone else. We try to look better than our co-workers or embellish social media pages that paint ourselves as perfect. Even the good that we do is still tainted with sin.

But how happy we are that Jesus chose a “sinner” like Matthew! Jesus calls us as his own, too!

God wants us to see our sin. He gives us his Word so that we can see our many faults that leave us in need of a Savior. He wants us to see our unworthiness and he wants us to seek Jesus and his forgiveness. And then, upon receiving the gift of forgiveness, we show that we love him by following his commands. How happy we are that God chooses us, the “unlikely prospects” to be his own!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for choosing me, an “unlikely prospect” to do your work. Help me to serve others with a happy heart., knowing that I am forgiven through your death on the cross. Guide my thoughts, words and actions so that they may be pleasing to you. Amen.



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

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God is Perfect – Week of June 15, 2020

God is Perfect – Week of June 15, 2020



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

Romans 3:28



“My child gave you a tough time today. There’s a special place in heaven for you!” Has a parent ever said this to you? The parent is joking but also wants you to know that you are appreciated. They might even be apologizing for their child’s behavior. It seems harmless, right?

This idea that your actions earn you a place in heaven is not only untrue, but joking about it can be very dangerous. First of all, even the good that we do can still be tainted with sin. For example, perhaps we do an act of service out of love for someone. But we also do the act of service for our own benefit as well, such as to look better among our peers, to earn respect, or for a returned favor. “Selfless acts” can be disguised acts of pride.

God’s Word says that we need to be perfect to go to heaven. God says that we could earn our way to heaven. . .if we were perfect. This means never, ever having a bad thought. Never, ever hating a person or wanting something that belongs to someone else. Never, ever lying. Never hurting another person. Never, ever doubting God. Never sinning. Every thought and action would need to be pure and holy. Impossible, right? Exactly. We cannot earn our way to heaven. We are not perfect. Try as we might, we will never be pure on our own.

We are only free to enjoy the gifts of heaven through faith in Christ Jesus, not because of any good that we do. We are “justified” when God declares us righteous, not by our own works but through the work of Jesus, who died on the cross.

What a relief this is! Even our sin-tainted good deeds are pure in his sight because Jesus took on our sin and guilt. We are justified, or pardoned from God, as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ. May we continue to serve others in thankfulness for this free gift!

We are just like the long-ago people of Corinth! We daily struggle against our sins, and we daily need the power of God’s forgiveness in Christ. God is holy and just. Through his perfection we are given the gift of eternal life in heaven. May we find comfort in these words! Through the Word we are daily reminded that we have been freely given grace, love, fellowship, and eternal life. May we gladly share these gifts that our God gave us with everyone.



Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for giving us the free gift of eternal life through Jesus, your Son. Please forgive me for the wrong that I do. Help me to show your love in my words and actions. Amen.

A Question to Consider: A parent jokes, “there is a special place in heaven for you for how you helped my child today”. What can you say to gently remind her that God’s gift of heaven is free and not earned by the “good things” we do?



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

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God is One – Week of June 8, 2020

God is One – Week of June 8, 2020



May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:14



The comforting words in our Bible verse today are the very last words that the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the people in Corinth, a city in Greece. Paul visited the people of Corinth, called “Corinthians”, and lived with them for over a year as part of a missionary journey. Because of his extended stay with them, he knew the Corinthians very well. He saw their struggle against immorality and sin and knew how desperately they needed to see their wrong-doing and hear comfort of God’s Word.

In this verse we see the unfathomable complexity of God: one God but three persons. We refer to this as the Trinity. Paul uses just one word to show us the work that each part of the Trinity does.

Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, was born into the world on Christmas Day. The word that Paul uses to describe Jesus is “grace.” Grace is love that is undeserved. The work of Jesus Christ was to live a perfect life in our place, and then suffer and die on the cross in our place, and then give us, though undeserved, the gift of heaven that HE earned! We do not deserve the gift of heaven, but have been given life because of Jesus’ amazing grace.
The word that Paul chose for God the Father is “love.” Oh, what love God has for us—that he gave up his only Son, Jesus, to die in our place! Despite all of our sins, God still loves us and wants us to come home to him in heaven.

God the Holy Spirit, who came to the disciples on that first Pentecost, lives in our hearts and prepares us to serve God by serving others. The word to summarize the work of the Holy Spirit is “fellowship.” When we think of “fellowship,” we think of people coming together. But in this case, the Holy Spirit “brings us together” with Jesus first. We are first brought to fellowship with Jesus Christ, and then, by the continued work of the Holy Spirit, we also have fellowship with other believers.

We are just like the long-ago people of Corinth! We daily struggle against our sins, and we daily need the power of God’s forgiveness in Christ. God is holy and just. Through his perfection we are given the gift of eternal life in heaven. May we find comfort in these words! Through the Word we are daily reminded that we have been freely given grace, love, fellowship, and eternal life. May we gladly share these gifts that our God gave us with everyone.



Prayer:
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

CW 195 v. 1



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

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God is Here – Week of June 1, 2020

God is Here – Week of June 1, 2020



I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

Joel 2:28-29



Why doesn’t God talk to us like he does in our Bible stories? Has a young child ever asked you that question? Children hear the story of God talking to his people in the Bible and they wonder what he sounds like, what he looks like. They want to hear his voice. They wonder why we can’t hear him.

After that first Easter, and before Jesus went up into heaven, he told the disciples that God the Holy Spirit would visit them soon and help prepare them for telling others about Jesus. The special day that the Holy Spirit came to the disciples and others that believed in Jesus is called “Pentecost”. The verses from Joel were fulfilled on that first Pentecost. It was a spectacular sight! God came to them in the wind and fire and even allowed the disciples to speak in different languages. How wonderful it must have been that day, to be given strong faith through the power of the Holy Spirit and to share this joy with so many others.

While God does not come to us in the same way as he did to those in our Bible lessons, God is still here! God comes to us not in the wind or fire. He chooses not to speak to us from a burning bush like he did with Moses and he doesn’t send angels to give us messages like he chose to do with the shepherds on the first Christmas. But God is real and very alive.

The Holy Spirit continues to grow faith in our hearts and prepare us to bring others closer to him. He convinces us all that God’s Word is true and trustworthy. Even when we feel as though we aren’t “good enough”. We sometimes fail in our vocations as caregiver and educator, sister or brother, son or daughter, co-worker, and friend. We daily sin against those that we love and those that God places in our personal ministry. And yet, we are not alone, God is here.

God reveals himself to us in the Bible, his Word. The blessings from that first Pentecost are for everyone! God visits us every time that we open our Bible and he talks to us through its words. Every time that we read his Word or go to church, God reinforces for us the reliability of his revealed truth: he shares with us the promises that we are forgiven and will be with him in heaven. As we read, we can hear his voice sternly telling us when we are doing wrong and softly forgiving us after we repent. We can hear him reveal the wonders of his involvement in our world. God wants us to study his Word and for us to come to him in prayer. God IS here, he IS alive!



Prayer:
Holy Spirit, Light Divine, shine upon this heart of mine
Chase the gloom of night away; Turn the darkness into day.
See, to you I give my heart. Cleanse my life in every part.
Your own temple I would be now and for eternity.
CW 183 v. 1, 5

A Question to Consider: How can you plan your schedule to include time to read God’s Word daily? How can you encourage others to do the same?



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

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God is With You! – Week of May 25, 2020

God is With You! – Week of May 25, 2020



“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9



After Moses’s death, Joshua was given an important task—to lead the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan, breaking down the walls of Jericho along the way. Why was this such an important task? So their descendants could be as numerous as the stars in the sky, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham. And one of these descendants would be Jesus, the savior of the world.

Joshua played a vital role in that plan for the salvation of humanity. He couldn’t change his mind and keep the Israelites in Moab. They had to continue on toward Jericho, and God was there to grant them strength along the way. You also play a vital role in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity. And just like Joshua, you will have walls to overcome along the way, and that can be terrifying! Thankfully, you have the same command and comfort that God gave to Joshua: be strong and courageous! God is with you!

You have the privilege of sharing the good news of Jesus with children and their families every day. Whether shared in the classroom or through virtual learning, the message is the same. God loves you, sent his son for you, and wants you to be with him in heaven. Therefore, do not be afraid when you invite a family to church whether in person or virtually—God is with you! Do not be discouraged when you can’t keep up with the demands of daily life—God is with you! Do not be afraid when enrollment is lower than expected—God is with you! Do not be discouraged when the budget gets tight – God is with you!

At the end of the day, the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. God is with you with his power but also with his grace for the times when you fail. Jesus was strong and courageous as he made his way to the cross, and therefore you can be strong and courageous as you share his love with others.



Prayer: Dear Father, give us strength and courage as we face the daily trials and tribulations of this world, remembering all the time that you are with us. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What does it look like to be strong and courageous in your current setting?



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

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We are Witnesses – Week of May 18, 2020

We are Witnesses – Week of May 18, 2020



[Jesus] told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised.”

Luke 24:46-49a



Jesus spoke these words when he first appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. As he’s speaking to the disciples, Jesus uses an interesting word to describe them: “witnesses.” Witnesses of the Messiah’s suffering and death. Witnesses of the Savior’s victory over sin and death. Just like the disciples, we too are witnesses of the power of the gospel in our own lives.

In my first teaching position, I had the great privilege of witnessing two past students and their mother baptized in front of church on the same day. When I was speaking with the mother after the baptism, she emphasized how coming to church was healing her family. I will never forget the tears on her face after her baptism. Their story is one I will carry with me throughout my ministry because it emphasizes just how powerful the gospel is. The gospel changes lives!

It’s now our job, our privilege, to share what we’ve witnessed – to share the power of the gospel to change lives. But who are we to do that? Doubts and insecurities leave us feeling less than capable for such an important job. But just like he did for the disciples, God sends the Holy Spirit to us, too, to help share the powerful gospel message.

We are working for the kingdom of God, and that’s what our callings are all about. Whether through a child being baptized, a family joining the church, or a three-year-old singing “Jesus Loves Me,” we see the Holy Spirit at work in the world. And the cool part is that not only do we get to witness it; we get to participate in it through the power of the Holy Spirit.



Prayer: Dear Father, may your Holy Spirit work in my heart and the hearts of many to bring the good news of your saving word to all creation. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Do you know any families whose lives could be changed by the saving gospel message? How might the Holy Spirit work through you to bring that gospel to 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus Has a Place for You – Week of May 11, 2020

Jesus Has a Place for You – Week of May 11, 2020



“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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



I have a student in my class who had a hard time socializing at the beginning of the school year. Rather than playing with the other children on the playground, he would come and stand right next to me, sticking close to my side. In the classroom, he chose many activities to do by himself rather than in a group. Just like the disciples in the reading today, he had a troubled heart. The idea of interacting with the children made him very nervous. I’m sure you have seen a child going through similar challenges in your setting.

It is a sad reality that at one time or another, all the children in our care will have troubled hearts of various magnitudes. Seeing a child with a troubled heart makes our hearts hurt as well. But this passage gives us a bigger picture—troubles are temporary; heaven is eternal. Jesus has a place waiting for you. We get to share that truth with the children we care for every day. What a blessing!

What’s more, that promise isn’t just for the children under our care. It’s for you, too. We also have troubled hearts sometimes. On days when you feel your work isn’t making any difference, remember Jesus has a place for you. On days when responsibilities seem overwhelming, remember Jesus has a place for you. On days when sickness covers the whole world, remember Jesus has a place for you. And by his grace, remember what Jesus said to his disciples as he was about to go to his death: “You know the way to the place where I am going.” And on the days when you need him most, Jesus promises you know the way, too.



Prayer: Dear Father, help us keep our eyes heavenward as we face the troubles of this world. Amen

A Question to Consider: How can you encourage children in your care to keep their eyes heavenward?



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

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Jesus Finds You – Week of May 4, 2020

Jesus Finds You – Week of May 4, 2020



“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:24-25



There is a book we read quite frequently at my house called “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” This book is set to the famous tune, but instead of following Mary everywhere, this particular lamb decides to find new adventures off on his own. However, things do not go too well for this lamb. He gets drenched in cow milk, shoved by the goat, dropped in the mud, only to be later found by Mary, who gently gives him a bath, feeds him, and tucks him in to bed.

While the consequences of this lamb’s wandering are somewhat humorous, Peter reminds us today that too often we are like this lamb. However, the consequences of our wandering are much more serious: our sins put Jesus on the cross.

The devil tries to take the pressures of our daily life and use them to turn us against God. Too many responsibilities, misbehaving children, colleagues who hurt our feelings, sickness in the world—these are all ways the devil tries to stick us in the mud on a daily basis and lead us to sinful ways instead of God’s ways. But there is hope! We have a shepherd and overseer who is always there to find us.

Just as Mary rescued her lamb so lovingly, we have a loving Savior who is always there to rescue us. Jesus, the shepherd of our souls, bore our sins, and by his wounds we have been healed. Overwhelmed? Jesus finds you. Feeling hurt? Jesus finds you. Sick? Jesus finds you. He wraps you in his loving arms by his grace and gives us the hope of everlasting life.



Prayer: Dear Father, help us to follow your ways rather than our own ways. Thank you for finding us in our moments of weakness and bringing us back to you. Amen

A Question to Consider: What are some ways young children try to follow their own ways? What are the results of these choices? How can we guide them to choose the right path?



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

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One with Him – Week of April 27, 2020

One with Him – Week of April 27, 2020



When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

Luke 24:30-32



Eating is a spiritual thing. I don’t mean to be gross here, but it is not like other bodily functions. It is not utilitarian. We are not machines that simply need fuel. Sure there are times when we get a quick bite to eat on the run but it is not like filling up our cars with gasoline or even drinking water. It is a soul thing as much as it is a body thing. We eat with people who are dear to us. We take time to prepare and present food for special occasions. It’s a soul thing.

God made us people who relish food. Even from the very beginning our relationship with him had to do with food, at least in part. Eat from this tree. Don’t eat from this tree. Throughout the Bible we are told stories of Table Fellowship: Don’t eat with these people. Eat with these people. Eating with someone in the ancient world was a powerful statement of camaraderie, companionship, and even charity.

No wonder Jesus came and ate with sinners. He flipped the script upside down. He comes and shows love (charity) and oneness and fellowship with sinners. Instead of their lowly status ruining his reputation; it is his righteousness that makes them worthy. So when we dine with Christ, he is saying, “You are one with me. My righteousness replaces your unrighteousness.” It is most definitely a spiritual thing.
When Jesus ate with the Emmaus disciples he was doing three things. He revealed himself to the disciples. He proved that he was truly alive (because ghosts don’t eat). And he showed them that he was one with them, that is, they were forgiven.

It might sound corny but dining with someone matters. It matters to your students that you eat with them. It’s a soul thing. It matters that you eat with friends and family. It’s a spiritual thing. It matters that you eat with your Lord (Holy Communion). It’s a forgiveness thing.
It can be difficult to be away from loved ones as many still are right now. Don’t you miss your students! The joy will be great when we are together again. Like a family reunion we will dine together. This is true of heaven as well. We will dine with those who have gone before at the great Wedding Supper of the Lamb. What a great reunion that will be!



Prayer:
Lord Jesus,
You ate with and continue to eat with sinners. You makes us righteous in your sight and dine with us. Move us to take time to show the same concern and compassion for others.
In Your Name we pray, Amen.



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

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Freedom – Week of April 20, 2020

Freedom – Week of April 20, 2020


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I Peter 1:3, 8-9



Christ has given us new birth. We are no longer mired in sin but have been resurrected into a new life. This new birth occurred when God took ahold of us whether that was first by the Word and water of baptism or the Word spoken to us. We die to our sins and are resurrected into a new life. This new birth gives us a living hope. We have hope for today because we are alive in Christ and we have hope for tomorrow because we will live forever in resurrected bliss in heaven.

Another way to say new birth is “renaissance”. You have heard the term, of course. It refers to a rebirth of knowledge from the classical age. You may have also heard the term “Renaissance Man”. It means a person who is engaged in a variety of interests and subjects.

I would suggest that all teachers are attempting to groom their children to be “Renaissance People”. Even at an early childhood level (and maybe especially on this level) the goal is to give children the skills to become well-rounded people. People of freedom and hope. Renaissance People.

May I suggest that this has to start with Christ? In him is true freedom. Only when a person is free from the worry of sin and death, can that person truly be reborn into a full life. We die with Christ, that is, our sinful natures die with him at the cross. We are then resurrected with him into this new life of hope. It’s a life of freedom. From there our children can truly flourish.

Only when you are free in Christ can you truly live without fear. Fear seems to be the natural reaction to times like these but not for the Christian. The Christian knows her final destination. The Christian knows his value in Christ. The Christian knows who is ultimately in charge.



Prayer:
Holy Spirit,
Send your counsel to all teachers so that they may give their students grace through Christ and so free them to become people full of hope and joy.
In Christ’s Name we pray, Amen.



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

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Confidence-Even Now – Week of April 13, 2020

Confidence-Even Now – Week of April 13, 2020


“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 15:55-57



We take death too lightly. Why don’t we scream at funerals? Death is awful. Why are we satisfied with flowers and a nice memorial service? Why do we think that a tragic death of a young person deserves more sadness from us than a person who lived ninety-five years and died peacefully in her home? It shouldn’t be that way. All death is tragic. It was never supposed to be this way. We were not meant for death but for life. It should horrify us that any person should ever die. All death is tragic. And we should be beside ourselves at this terrible predicament in which we humans find ourselves.

Why is this? Could it be that we act this way because we think that we are defeated? We settle for this predicament of death. We settle for the mediocrity of 75-100 years on this earth when we were made for eternity. We settle.

I would imagine this is constant battle with children. Do they not give up easily? Do you not have to remind them to “Never give up!” What are you trying to accomplish with this encouragement? You are trying to build their confidence. So when they continue to grow they will continue to try. And even if they fail, you have taught them a valuable lesson.

But here we are as adults settling for death. This is not the attitude of St. Paul. Paul speaks bluntly to death. He is confident, even cocky. “Where, O death, is your victory?” Paul will not settle for death. Never. But notice the difference between the confidence we try to instill in our children and the confidence of faith. It is all on Christ and his resurrection victory. We win. We win in Christ. So “Where, O death, is your sting?” You can’t have me and you never will. I might die but that death will be a gate to life.

This is the confidence we need right now. Not a reckless confidence that does not listen to CDC orders, but a deeper confidence which believes that all will be right (even if it gets worse). This world has produced great horrors and God has gotten his people through all of them. We have every right to be confident, even in the face of death.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father,
Instill in us the confidence of St. Paul so that we never settle for anything less than the perfect life your Son earned for us with cross and resurrection.
In His Name we pray, Amen.



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

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It Is Finished – Week of April 6, 2020

It Is Finished – Week of April 6, 2020


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

John 19:30



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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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Children of God – Week of March 30, 2020

Children of God – Week of March 30, 2020


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

Romans 8:14-17



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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Some Things Never Change – Week of March 23, 2020

Some Things Never Change – Week of March 23, 2020


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always.

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

So, what can you and I do?

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

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



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



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

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Show Me the Way – Week of March 16, 2020

Show Me the Way – Week of March 16, 2020


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

Psalm 143:7-8



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Living Water – Week of March 9, 2020

Living Water – Week of March 9, 2020


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

John 4:13-14



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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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Temptation and Deliverance – Week of March 2, 2020

Temptation and Deliverance – Week of March 2, 2020


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

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

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

Matthew 4:8-11



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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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