ECME Devotions

Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019

Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019


I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.

1 Timothy 1:12



One of my favorite children’s books for the beginning of the year shares the story of a little girl on her first day of kindergarten. Annabelle is excited but also a bit apprehensive. Her older sister attempts to build her confidence by reminding her who she is—Annabelle Swift, kindergartner! After a couple of small setbacks that first day, Annabelle shines in her ability to count change and her teacher appoints her as the first milk monitor of the year. She carries out her role with a sense of pride and confidence. She can do this thing called kindergarten!

In our verse for today, Paul, the author of Timothy, starts by thanking Jesus for the strength he has given him. Paul was one of the vilest persecutors of Christians before the Lord came to him and converted him. And yet, this is exactly who the Lord chose for his ministry! The Lord considered him trustworthy and appointed him to his role as missionary. Note where Paul places the credit: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength.” As gifted as he was, Paul acknowledges that all he does, all he can do, any blessings that come from his work are the direct result of what Christ has done to and through him. In these words, we hear a sense of gratitude and humility that also lead to confidence. “He [Christ] considered me worthy, appointing me to his service.” Christ also considers you worthy because of what he has done for you. He has redeemed you and appointed you to serve him in all you do whether in a classroom of little ones or in your daily life outside of school.

We have a tremendous responsibility—helping children to grow academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. We know ourselves and, if honest, we know our shortcomings all too well. On the outside we may give the impression that “we’ve got this!” while internally we may lack confidence. In humility we recognize our gifts, our areas of weakness, and our sinful nature. We can thank God for our gifts. We can look for forgiveness when we fail. We can ask the Lord to bless our efforts. And with each blessing that we see, we can confidently say, “It is the Lord!”

Annabelle’s confidence was boosted when her teacher noted her ability, giving her a responsibility. Our confidence comes from the Master Teacher, our Savior Jesus. Our confidence lies in the one who sends us, Jesus. He chose us and gave us gifts to serve him. He’s promised to be with us and bless our efforts in spite of our weaknesses. Like Paul, we can look to him for strength and give glory to the One who has chosen us.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, it is so easy to become discouraged in our work. Help us to remember that you are our strength. Bless all that we do, giving glory to you. In your name. Amen

A Question to Consider: No one can do everything, but we all have gifts. What are some things that you feel confident in doing? What are some things that you might say, “That’s not my gift”? Some of the latter are still things that need to be done, aren’t they? What can you do when asked or expected to do something that you don’t feel you have the gifts for? Can you find ways to grow in that area? Can you find someone to partner with who might have those gifts?



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’s Really Not About You – Week of August 26, 2019

It’s Really Not About You – Week of August 26, 2019


Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10



“It’s really not about you.” Ouch. That is neither heartwarming nor motivating if taken at face value. We are sinners in a sin-filled world who intentionally and unintentionally crave our own needs first. Think of the young children you serve. You can likely identify behaviors in them that no one taught them but that demonstrate their sometimes desperate efforts to have their own needs met without consideration of those around them. While this may be a developmental stage for them, we are so often guilty of the same.

Devoted. Dictionary.com defines this as “zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection.” If you are devoted to someone, you have an exceptional focus on them. A devoted friend will be there in any circumstance no matter what kind of inconvenience it may be for them. A devoted spouse puts the needs of their wife or husband ahead of theirs, even if it means giving up something for themselves. The ultimate devotion was that of Jesus to us. Oh my! When we think of what he set aside so that we can be children of God, forgiven sinners, heirs of heaven, it’s overwhelming. We can be filled with gratitude that can’t help but spill out to those around us. However…

We know ourselves and we know those around us. There’s the ever-kind, ever-willing colleague that is easy to love and easy to be the recipient of our devotion. But we are sinners serving with sinners. Not everyone is as easy to love, easy to be devoted to. Some try our patience and seem to hinder rather than help our efforts. My heart to serve them, encourage them, put their needs above mine, can be tested and challenged. I can share a long list of reasons to put my efforts elsewhere. Then, I think of myself and how I must look to my Savior. I think of my failures and shortcomings. I think of how much Jesus set aside to put me first. How can I, with that grace given so freely, not do the same for others? When I look at those around me through the eyes of Jesus, I see someone redeemed at the same great cost that was paid for me. The Holy Spirit fills my heart with devotion toward Jesus and those around me. Imagine the impact of a caring, loving devotion to people around us and on the ministry in which we serve. May the Lord give us hearts of love, patience, encouragement, and devotion to one another. God will take care of our needs. We are blessed with the joy of serving others in his name. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I think of the devotion you have for me and all people, I’m humbled and filled with gratitude that is difficult to put into words. Forgive me for times when I’m not loving or patient with those around me. Forgive me when I’m quick to put my needs ahead of others. Bless and motivate me with the joy of knowing you are my Savior and I am your child. In your name I pray 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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Dear… – Week of August 19, 2019

Dear… – Week of August 19, 2019


You show that 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



In the past couple of weeks, we’ve considered who we are in Christ— redeemed children and heirs. This is our motivation. Because of what God has done for us, we want to serve and to share Jesus with others. Last week we looked at setting our goals, prioritizing our time in the Word. This doesn’t diminish our time for the multitude of tasks but brings purpose and joy to all we do in Christ. This week let’s think about those we serve, the young children and their families, and the potential impact we can have in our time with them.

A letter of recommendation is often requested when you apply for a job or apply to school. Such a letter provides another piece of information for those considering the application. It is meant to reflect the person about whom the letter is written. In our reading today, Paul is writing to the Corinthians. It was a common practice in that time to carry a letter of recommendation. The letter could provide those receiving it, a connection to someone who they knew and could speak on their behalf.

“You are a letter from Christ.” I don’t know about you, but that stirs up mixed emotions. What an honor to think that I can reflect his love to others. What a privilege to be considered one of his representatives. But it’s also sobering. I know myself and my long list of shortcomings. I shudder to think that some of my actions might be the one thing that someone sees, knowing I’m a Christian. How often do I misrepresent his love and forgiveness for me in how I treat others? Each day, we can go to God in prayer asking for forgiveness for our shortcomings. We can pray for his blessings on all that we do and our efforts to share and reflect his love. We are able to begin each day with confidence, knowing that it is only the Spirit of the living God who brings those blessings to and through us.

A new school year is beginning. With it comes new students. Some have heard about their Savior Jesus since they were born. For some, they hear about Jesus occasionally. There may be some who have no knowledge of Jesus’ love and gift of salvation for them. What an amazing privilege you have! You are a walking letter, sharing God’s message of grace in a sin burdened world in your words, and often in ways unspoken. May the Holy Spirit bless and guide you. May the Lord strengthen you and those you serve as you continue to grow closer to him in faith each day.



Prayer: Dear Lord, I come to you today asking you to bless, guide, and guard my words each day. Through the Holy Spirit’s work, may I be a letter reflecting you to my students and their families. 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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Show me – Week of March 13, 2017

Show me – Week of March 13, 2017


Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love for they are from of old.
Psalm 25:4-6 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – March 13, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 25:4-6

See series: ECME Devotions

How many times throughout the course of the day do you show a child how to complete a task? How many times do you model proper manners for a child? How many times during the day do you guide a child through right and wrong behavior? Our days are filled with these activities. They’re simply part of our job. We all have a teacher we fondly remember because they guided us in all the same ways as they brought learning to life for us.

Better than any earthly teacher, you and I have the master teacher, Jesus the Lord, who clearly shows us the path and lays out the way for us in the Bible. His words teach us the truth, and his life and ministry show us how to love. The words of David in these verses are a prayer asking that God show him the way and guide him on the path of life with the truth of the Bible. These words can and should be our daily prayer too.

These verses also plead for the Lord to remember his mercy. God’s mercy is that he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. We are sinful. We daily do things that are wrong. And yet, the Lord forgives us! The last words in these verses ask God to show us his mercy and love. We can confidently approach the Lord and ask for mercy, and his mercy is freely given to us.

As caretakers of young children, it is our responsibility to guide them through tasks. Thank the Lord, that He has shown us the path and guides us with the truth every day of our lives!



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father please show us the way and guide us in all that we do. Thank you for the daily mercy that you show to us. Please grant us wisdom and guidance as we teach your little lambs. In your name, we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we help prospects see that God’s mercy is a gift freely given 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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Angels watching over me – Week of March 6, 2017

Angels watching over me – Week of March 6, 2017


For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – March 6, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11-12

See series: ECME Devotions

Close your eyes for a moment and think about outside time on the playground with a class of three, four, and five-year-olds. The playground is a wonderful place where both play and learning happen. Do you see children running? Do you see children swinging? Do you see children climbing and jumping off the play structure? When children are on the playground, they seem to be fearless. They trust that they are safe and that the teachers will protect them from getting hurt. The child-like faith trusts that God is with them and will keep them safe on the playground, in school, or wherever they might be.

As adults, we tend to be aware of the danger surrounding us in this world. We might worry about the children playing on the playground or maybe we worry about the safety of a family member or friend. These verses from Psalm 91 assure us that God always protects us, giving us comfort and peace to know that he commands his angels to guard us in all our ways. When we feel ourselves getting overwhelmed with fear, this passage is a great reminder for us all.

Just as the children on the playground have the child-like faith that God will protect them, so can you and I. We can go through our day with confidence because we trust God is protecting us!



Prayer: Dear Father, thank-you for commanding your angels to guard us in all our ways. Please help us to always find comfort and peace in your protection. In your name, we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we strive to share the comfort and peace of God’s protection with both the child and the family who are going through a difficult situation?



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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Rescued – Week of February 27, 2017

Rescued – Week of February 27, 2017


Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice…but with you there is forgiveness.
Psalm 130:1,2,4




ECME Devotion – February 27, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 130:1,2,4

See series: ECME Devotions

It’s happened to every teacher and childcare worker at one time or another. You turn your head for just a moment and something bad happens to a child. We feel terrible. That’s what happened on October 14, 1987 in Midland, Texas. “Cissy” was helping at her sister’s in-home childcare program. When she turned to answer the phone, 18-month-old Jessica wandered across the backyard and fell into a well that was supposed to have been covered. “Baby Jessica” fell 22 feet into the well where she was trapped. The eyes of the nation focused on Baby Jessica as rescue workers dug another hole nearby and tunneled toward her.

Maybe sometimes you have felt as trapped as Baby Jessica was. Maybe the stress of your job, the grind of your calling and the worries of daily life leave you feeling trapped. No matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get things fixed and going smoothly. But what traps us worst of all is our sins. Try as we might, we cannot stop ourselves from sinning. And the more we do, guilt weighs us down further and further. Nothing we do can make up for our sins. We are trapped in them and, therefore, doomed to eternal death. That’s how the Psalmist felt as he wrote Psalm 130 and begged for help, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice.”

They managed to rescue Baby Jessica. She is now a grown adult and as far as we know living a happy and healthy life. Jesus Christ rescued you from the depths of sin and death by his perfect life and perfect death on the cross. Because of Jesus, your guilt is gone. Your sins are forgiven, and you will live a happy life eternally in heaven.

Wednesday, March 1, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the church season of Lent. For the next 40 days, we will especially focus on the suffering and death of Jesus. This is a wonderful time to remind ourselves, the children in our care, and their families of how much Jesus loves us and how much he was willing to endure in order to save us from the depths of sin and death. With Jesus, there is forgiveness.



Prayer: Lord, I confess that I am trapped in my sin and guilt. Thank you for rescuing me, through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.



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

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Presidents Day – Week of February 20, 2017

Presidents Day – Week of February 20, 2017


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




ECME Devotion – February 20, 2017

Devotion based on I Timothy 2:1-4

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Our dearest love – Week of February 13, 2017

Our dearest love – Week of February 13, 2017


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




ECME Devotion – February 13, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 3:12-14

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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


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




ECME Devotion – February 5, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 8:23-27

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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A Tall Order – Week of January 30, 2017

A Tall Order – Week of January 30, 2017


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




ECME Devotion – January 30, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 12:12-16

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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



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



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

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Favor that Never Fades – Week of January 23, 2017

Favor that Never Fades – Week of January 23, 2017


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




ECME Devotion – January 23, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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



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

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The Bonds of Peace – Week of January 16, 2017

The Bonds of Peace – Week of January 16, 2017


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




ECME Devotion – January 16, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:1-3

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Sharers Together – Week of January 2, 2017

Sharers Together – Week of January 2, 2017


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




ECME Devotion – January 2, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:6

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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


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




ECME Devotion – December 26, 2016

Devotion based on Matthew 10:34

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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


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




ECME Devotion – December 19, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:7

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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


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




ECME Devotion – December 12, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:19

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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


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




ECME Devotion – December 5, 2016

Devotion based on Mark 10:14

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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



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

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My Heart Leaps – Week of November 21, 2016

My Heart Leaps – Week of November 21, 2016


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




ECME Devotion – November 21, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 28:7

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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



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



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

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My Room – Week of November 14, 2016

My Room – Week of November 14, 2016


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




ECME Devotion – November 14, 2016

Devotion based on John 14:1-4

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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



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



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

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

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


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




ECME Devotion – November 7, 2016

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 36:8

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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



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

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



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

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Grace – Week of October 31, 2016

Grace – Week of October 31, 2016


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




ECME Devotion – October 31, 2016

Devotion based on Esphesians 2:8-9

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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



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



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

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Trust in the Lord – Week of September 26, 2016

Trust in the Lord – Week of September 26, 2016


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




ECME Devotion – September 26, 2016

Devotion based on Proverbs 3:5-6

See series: ECME Devotions

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

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

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

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



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



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

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Establish the Work of Our Hands – Week of August 29, 2016

Establish the Work of Our Hands – Week of August 29, 2016


May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us: establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:16-17




ECME Devotion – August 29, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 90:16-17

See series: ECME Devotions

As a new school year is upon us, this prayer from Psalm 90 becomes ours. The daily teaching, preparation, and cleanup fill our days. There is so much to be done and our active hands will accomplish many tasks before this school year ends.|

To establish that work, to make the accomplishments last, God must be involved. To be more precise – we are involved in God’s work, not God involved in ours. As we do his work, what deeds of God will be revealed to his servants in the coming months?

We’ll review the Bible history lessons and teach the little ones to praise and pray. God establishes that word as the Holy Spirit works and strengthens faith in those pint-size hearts through the gospel.

We’ll see God’s hand at work as he blesses the lives of his children. They will learn their letters, colors, numbers, and sounds. If we’re lucky, they might even learn to sit still for ten minutes at a time. Above all, God’s work of faith can show itself in the songs and prayers they take home to their families.

In the coming school year, we can expect to see challenges that make it feel like God no longer looks at us with favor. Kids get sick; maybe a serious illness or disability is diagnosed. Our church or school could hit a rough patch as well. Yet when we say, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us,” we are not offering a weak request or a flimsy hope. The Lord’s favor does rest upon us because of Christ Jesus. No sickness can change it. No ministry challenge can end our favorable status in Jesus. We know he will strengthen his people for the challenges that he sends their way. Yes, Lord, establish the work of our hands this year and always.



Prayer: Oh Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, show me your gracious deeds and establish the work of my hands. May it all be to your glory! Amen.



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

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Whatever You Do – Week of August 15, 2016

Whatever You Do – Week of August 15, 2016


Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24




ECME Devotion – August 15, 2016

Devotion based on Colossians 3:23-24

See series: ECME Devotions

Why do we do what we do? Our early childhood ministry is building a great reputation with the community so that everyone knows us as the church that cares for kids. But then again, we just had to deal with another parent who didn’t agree with the way we discipline. How great it is to be greeted every morning with numerous smiles from all the children! But that joyful feeling evaporates as quickly as it takes a smiling face to become a tearful mess when, “All the red gummy bears are gone and I don’t want a green one!” The paycheck is nice, but is it really worth all the effort and energy it takes to educate and care for little children for hours every day? There are many jobs that pay much better than being a preschool teacher or aide.

St. Paul’s words to the Colossians point us to the highest motivation. When we serve Christ, we can give it all for the one who gave it all for us. He gave his everything to stand up to the devil’s temptations without sin. Those are the very temptations that we fail to stand up to. Jesus not only gave all of his beating heart for us, he gave all of his dying heart so that we would not have to die eternally.

If the praise doesn’t come from the parents and the smiles just aren’t big enough to be contagious, we are still working for the Lord. The reward he gives is a reward of grace. That means we didn’t earn it. He earned it for us by paying for all our sins, removing the guilt of all our failures, and bringing us into a good relationship with God the Father.



Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for the inheritance of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Empower me to live in thankfulness so that all that I do today may be done in your service. 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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Full Life – Week of August 8, 2016

Full Life – Week of August 8, 2016


I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10




ECME Devotion – August 8, 2016

Devotion based on John 10:10

See series: ECME Devotions

In the blink of an eye, it all came crashing to a halt – literally! A truck traveling at highway speed veered onto the shoulder and crashed into the trailer. Amy’s parents jumped to safety just before the collision. The rest of the family didn’t. Amy suffered broken legs and other serious injuries. The healing and return to the fullness of life would take some time. But her grandfather was killed. Amy would never forget that holiday weekend hayride!

It is a natural question to ask why. In so many ways, tragedies seem inconsistent with how we think our loving Lord should let us experience life. Yet Jesus’ words remain true, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Fullness of life does not consist of merely having fun, laughing, and enjoying quality time with the family. While such blessings come from God, they are incomplete if the knowledge of why Jesus has come is missing. True fullness of life includes knowing that Jesus came to rescue the world from sin and defeat death forever. He came to be the answer for every tragedy that crashes into life.

Four-year-olds like Amy aren’t exempt from needing to know where to find true fullness of life. Christian teachers, even preschool teachers, won’t dance around and avoid talking about death thinking it’s too deep a subject for our young students. The deep subject of death is answered by simple truths. God loved the world enough to send his Son into the world. God’s Son, Jesus, lived without ever sinning so that he could die to pay for all the bad things we have done. After he died, he came back to life to prove that all who believe in him will live with him forever in heaven.

What is fullness of life for Amy, in terms a four-year-old would use? “Grampa went to be with Jesus. And Jesus is with me while I get better, until I see Grampa again in heaven.”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are life. You give us life. Answer our tragedies by turning our eyes to you, your forgiveness, and life with you forever. 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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Proclaim the Christian’s Freedom – Week of July 4, 2016

Proclaim the Christian’s Freedom – Week of July 4, 2016


The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me.  He has sent me…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1




ECME Devotion – July 4, 2016

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1

See series: ECME Devotions

When the smoke cleared on the morning of September 14, 1814, the battered American flag still stood. This sight of victory caused Frances Scott Key to write what eventually became our national anthem, the “Star Spangled Banner”. That anthem is now proudly sung across the entire United States, a reminder of our freedoms.

When the smoke cleared on that first Easter morning, the once battered and crucified Savior stood victorious over sin, death, and the devil. Because of that victory, you are now dedicating your lives to telling others about that message. Your life is a religious “national anthem” of sorts.

There are many children and families in your care that don’t’ know what it’s like to be free. They still don’t yet know the message of the crucified and risen Savior. The message of the gospel is still hidden behind a veil of despair or pride for some of those we serve. The Sovereign LORD has called you to pull back that veil, so that they may see the victory is won. Those unbelievers whom we serve still strive and grasp about, blindly seeking the “meaning of life”. The LORD has sent you to provide for them THE meaning of life. Praise and thanks to God for giving you that opportunity.

That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? Thankfully, God our Savior does all of the work for us. We merely carry out our duties faithfully, and the LORD of all creation does the rest. That glorious gospel message has the power to work faith. Take heart, even your meager, stumbling efforts do not come back to the LORD empty. Trust the power of God’s Word!

On this Independence Day, take a moment to thank God for your freedoms. Thank him for the opportunity that he has afforded you to “proclaim freedom for the captives”. Especially thank him for the faith that he has already worked in your hearts—the faith with which you reach out and receive the gift of sins forgiven and eternal life.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedom that we have through Christ.  Help me to faithfully proclaim that freedom to those in my care. 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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Reflect – Week of June 27, 2016

Reflect – Week of June 27, 2016


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23




ECME Devotion – June 27, 2016

Devotion based on Hebrews 10:23

See series: ECME Devotions

Reflecting on our year is not always easy. It can make us anxious as we remember interactions with parents or children that were difficult. It can make us sad as we think of the students who are moving on to a different classroom or school. It can make us joyful as we remember all the silly things that only young children will say. Reflecting is hard because it is looking backwards. Whatever emotions it brings to the surface, they can be hard to manage because those things are in the past. They cannot be changed and we cannot go back to them.

In our passage from Hebrews today, we are asked not to look back but to look forward. That word “hope” is a word used in anticipation. We are eagerly awaiting something that will happen in the future. And we are not hoping in the sense that we really want something to happen but are not sure that it will. We are hoping in the sense that we have complete trust in God that it will happen.

The hope we profess is that Jesus will come again and take us to our true home someday. Through Jesus’ blood on the cross he has won us a place in heaven, where we will spend eternity with him. Every promise that God made about heaven will come true, for he is faithful to his promises. There will be no more pain, crying, or death (Revelation 21:4); no hunger or thirst (Revelation 7:16-17); there will be nothing impure (Revelation 21:27); we will have our very own house built by God (John 14:2, 2 Corinthians 5:1); and best of all, we belong there with Jesus (Philippians 3:20.)

As we reflect on the past year and even look ahead to the next year, let us not lose sight of what is still to come for us, an eternal home in heaven.



Prayer:
Jesus, your Church, with longing eyes
for your expected coming waits.
When will the promised light arise
and glory beam from heaven’s gates?

Teach us in watchfulness and prayer
to wait for your appointed hour,
And fit us by your grace to share
the triumphs of your conqu’ring pow’r.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal-9 v. 1 & 5)



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

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Review – Week of June 20, 2016

Review – Week of June 20, 2016


Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1b




ECME Devotion – June 20, 2016

Devotion based on Isaiah 43:1b

See series: ECME Devotions

The end of a school year often finds teachers reviewing their year. They look back on the things that went well and find satisfaction. They look back on the rough parts and decide what can change and improve for the upcoming year. As you do this, you may be tempted to fall into one of the following ditches:

1) You may look at all that went well during the year and think, “I am an awesome teacher. I have accomplished so much, and I am a professional that others should learn from. I will give myself a pat on the back.”
2) You may look at all that did not go well and fall into despair. You may say, “Why am I a teacher? There are so many things that I failed to handle with grace and professionalism. I can’t even begin to imagine doing this all over again next year.”

The problem with both of these scenarios is that we are trying to find our identity within ourselves. We are measuring our worth by our own outward accomplishments or failures, and this creates fear. We fixate on our mistakes because we fear that others will see us as failures. Even in our successes, we put more pressure on ourselves to repeat them and fear the ridicule if we don’t.

We need to look at ourselves as God looks at us. Isaiah says to FEAR NOT, because God has redeemed us. Christ went to the cross and erased all the pride and all the self-pity with which we fill our minds. When we were baptized, we became God’s very own child; he claimed us. We find our identity in Christ, and when we do, we see a God who loved us enough to die in our place. We see a God who calls each of us personally by our name. How special we are to him!



Prayer:
Go, my children, with my blessing,
Never alone.
Waking, sleeping, I am with you;
You are my own.
In my love’s baptismal river
I have made you mine forever.
Go, my children, with my blessing–
You are my own.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal-332)



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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Renew – Week of June 13, 2016

Renew – Week of June 13, 2016


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13




ECME Devotion – June 13, 2016

Devotion based on Romans 15:13

See series: ECME Devotions

Americans are addicted to work. When meeting up with a friend for coffee, often the common question is, “How have you been?” The common answer is, “Busy.” We take pride in our busyness. We somehow feel that the busier we are, the more important we must be. Being a hard worker is a quality personality trait, but being a workaholic is not.

It is important during these quieter summer months to take time to renew your mind, body and faith. Your job of training young children to follow Jesus is so important. Being overworked, stressed and letting our faith grow weak is not being a faithful servant. There is only one solution to this: Jesus

We can find comfort in Jesus’ life. Jesus was a hard worker. He preached from dawn until dusk. He went from town to town healing, teaching, and training his disciples. His work was very important, but even Jesus took time away from his work. He would go somewhere secluded with his friends or even wander off alone to speak with his Father. He needed to renew his strength and faith so he could continue to serve others. That life is YOUR life. Jesus lived it perfectly for you and it became your life at your baptism when Jesus took his perfection and put it on you.

We can find comfort in Jesus’ death. There Jesus paid for all sins for all time, which also became yours at your baptism. He forgives us for the times we fail to trust in him. He forgives us for the times we forget to draw from God’s word.

The hope that we find in Jesus’ life and death fills us with peace and joy. Only when we are filled with those things will they overflow onto the children that we teach.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, continue to fill me with your love, joy, and peace. May I be a light to others as I go about my work of teaching little lambs. 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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Relax – Week of June 6, 2016

Relax – Week of June 6, 2016


Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:1-2




ECME Devotion – June 6, 2016

Devotion based on Colossians 3:1-2

See series: ECME Devotions

Ahhh! It’s summer vacation! We’ve made it through another year…at times we thrived and at times we survived!

As we look back and reflect on our year, it is easy to say, “I deserve a break. I faithfully kept X number of kids alive, fed, shared Jesus with them, and maybe even taught them a few things. I am ready to take time away from it all, and RELAX. And that is perfectly fine. You should take some time with your family, get out of town for a while, and just stay away from 2 year olds for a few days (for your sanity’s sake).

Sometimes though, when we take a break from our jobs, we tend to take a break from everything. We set our hearts on beaches, time with family, camping, the lake cabin, etc. and we forget to continue to set our hearts on God. Throughout the school year we meet weekly with faculty around God’s word. We study Bible Stories daily to teach to our students. We pray for patience and wisdom. Then summer comes, and the temptation is to forget about God for a while. Weekends become filled with activities, and we might miss church. Our kids are out of school, so we don’t make time for those quiet morning devotions.

Paul tells us in the letter to the Colossians to set our hearts on things above. It is not wrong to dream about our summer getaway, but we need to remember what is most important. What is up above? Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Christ, our Savior, who pleads for us in front of the Father every time we lose our patience with a student. Christ, our Redeemer, who gives us peace and rest at the end of every stressful week when we doubt whether or not we are making an impact. Jesus forgives us for every mistake we make, and he forgets every time we put our summer plans before him.

So let’s not forget him this summer. Make time for Jesus and his Word in your summer vacation.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you for guiding me through another school year. Be with me during the summer months, and help me to continue to seek you in your Word each and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



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

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