The 13th Sunday of after Trinity

 the 15th Sunday of the

Pentecost Season



Bible Characters & their Stories for Today


Stephen:   Faithful Servant and Martyr


In 1828 – upon the death of her

husband-King – Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar assumed power and promptly murdered all her adversaries, beginning a reign of terror that has caused her to be known as the “Bloody Mary of Madagascar.”   Troubled by what she felt were excessive and harmful European (particularly British and French) influences on her country, Ranavalona attacked the Christian church with a fanaticism similar to the Emperor Nero.  She stopped baptisms, banned Scripture, closed churches, ordered out of the country any European missionaries who sought to convert her subjects.   In 1835 she listed the following charges against Christians:   “They despise the idols; they are always praying; they will not swear, but only affirm;   their women are chaste; they are of one mind with regard to their religion; and they observe the Sabbath as a sacred day.”    Those suspected of being Christians were arrested.   Sixteen hundred pled guilty to the queen’s charges.    Those who refused to worship the idols to which the queen prayed were chained in dungeons or killed.   To the frustration of the mad ruler, for every Christian put to death, a score of new believers sprang up to take his/her place.   For a few years the queen softened her rage and the Christians enjoyed peace.  

     Then, on March 28, 1849 nineteen Christians from influential families were condemned to death.   Fifteen of the group were to be thrown over a high cliff into a rocky ravine 150 feet below.  The queen’s idols were taken to the top of the cliff and as each victim was lowered a little over the precipice.  The demand was made, “Will you worship your Christ, or the queen’s gods”?   Each answered, “Christ.”   As the ropes were cut, the martyrs plunged downward, some singing as they fell.   Only one of the fifteen was spared, a young girl who was declared insane and sent to a distant village, and she lived to help establish a church in that community.         The martyrdoms continued until 1861 when the persecutor died.  Then  Ranavalona’s successor declared herself to be a Christian, opened a palace church, and proclaimed Madagascar a Christian Kingdom.

     Today, as we consider – among other matters – the various types of persecution we encounter today as God’s followers, we have the opportunity to reexamine the life and witness of the man the Church has identified across the centuries as “The First Christian Martyr:” Stephen the Deacon. 


Today’s Scripture Lessons

     There are only three readings from God’s Word to which we’ll give our attention as part of our worship this morning.  That’s because one of them, our first reading is rather lengthy.  Our First Reading also serves as our Sermon Text.  It is Scripture’s account of the ministry and martyrdom of Stephen.  That lesson is “introduced” below in the following section of this worship flyer, identified as “Stephen, the First Christian Martyr.”   This morning’s Gospel Lesson is a portion of  Jesus’ directions  given to His Twelve disciples when He sent them out to do mission work for Him.   Among other things, he reminded them that they would face rejection and even persecution for His sake, but that they would be blessed for the steadfastness of their faith.   Finally, in our Children’s Lesson, Peter will also speak about the challenges and persecutions that Christians experience in this world as we serve our Savior.   He reminds us that when we face opposition because of our faith, we are actually being given the opportunity to experience a taste of the resistance Jesus encountered during His ministry.   As a result, we will want to trust God’s plan and purpose for us whenever we suffer for the sake of our Lord and Savior.


Stephen, the First Christian Martyr

     Aside from what the book of Acts tells us, we don’t know much about Stephen’s background.   The first time he is mentioned in Scripture is in Acts 6:5, when the apostles appointed seven deacons in order to minister to the physical needs of the growing church in Jerusalem.  Because Stephen is a Greek name (Stephanos), and because the appointment of the deacons occurred in response to complaints by Greek-speaking Jewish Christians, it is generally assumed that Stephen was himself a Hellenist Jew (that is, a Greek-speaking Jew).   Some commentators, however, have suggested that Stephen’s original name was Kelil, an Aramaic word that means “crown,” and he was called Stephen because Stephanos is the Greek equivalent of his Aramaic name.   In any case, Stephen’s ministry was conducted primarily among Greek-speaking Jews, some of which were not receptive to the Gospel of Christ.    Stephen is described in Acts 6:5 as being “full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit” and in Acts 6:8 as “full of grace and power.”  His  talent for preaching was so impressive that those Hellenist Jews who disputed his teaching “were unable to stand up against  the wisdom and the Spirit by Whom he was speaking” (Acts 6:10).

     Because they were not able to refute what Stephen taught, his opponents found men who were willing to lie about what he said, claiming that they “heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God” (Acts 6:11).    In a scene reminiscent of Christ’s own appearance before the Sanhedrin (cf. Mark 14:56-58), Stephen’s opponents produced witnesses who claimed that “we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place [the temple], and will  change the customs Moses handed down to us” (Acts 6:14).

     Acts 6:15 notes that when the members of the Sanhedrin looked at  him “they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” It’s an interesting remark when we consider that these were the men sitting in judgment on Stephen. When the high priest gave Stephen the chance to defend himself, he was filled with the Holy Spirit and (Acts 7:2-50) presented a remarkable exposition of  God’s gracious dealings with His people across the centuries.   He covered the history of Israel/Judaism from the time of Abraham through Moses and Solomon and the prophets, ending, in Acts 7:51-53, with a rebuke of those present-day Jews who refused to believe in Christ because they persistently resisted the Holy Spirit.

     Stephen’s rebuke and testimony confirmed in the minds of the Sanhedrin their trumped-up charge of blasphemy.   They violently dragged him outside of the walls of Jerusalem (near, tradition says, the Damascus Gate), and stoned him to death.   As he was about to pass through death to eternal life, reminiscent of our Savior, Stephen prayed that the sins of his murderers would not be held against them.

     The stoning of Stephen is notable not only because he was the first Christian martyr, but because of the presence of a man named Saul, who supported the Sanhedrin’s decision to execute him (Acts 7:59).  It was at his feet that those who stoned Stephen laid down their outer clothing (Acts 7:57).   This Saul, of course, was Saul of Tarsus, who sometime later would encounter and come to faith in the Risen Christ while traveling to Damascus to personally persecute Christians there.   In time Saul changed his name to Paul and became the great apostle to the Gentiles.  In Acts 22 Paul recounted his miraculous conversion and admitted that when the blood of Stephen was shed, he had stood by and consented to Stephen’s murder, guarding the garments of the men who had killed him” (Acts 22:20).

     The legacy of Stephen’s ministry and martyrdom has always been an important part of the Christian church’s heritage.  Even before the early church formally celebrated December 25th as the date of Christ’s birth, the next day ( December 26th)  was regularly and widely recognized as the date to honor Stephen, the “first” Christian martyr (Jesus, of course, was actually the first).   In fact, although the early record is not very  informative, it was widely felt that Stephen was actually martyred on the 26th of December.   In no time at all, that date became recognized as the Festival of Stephen.  On it Christians not only recalled Stephen’s sacrifice, but also  remembered the thousands of believers who gave their lives for the sake of their Christian faith.  

The bold witness of Stephen and his tragic death left an indelible

imprint on the Church and provided it with a natural legacy of encouragement to remain faithful to Christ regardless of the consequences.  The great theologian and “Church Father” Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 AD) reported in his famous work, City of God, that many of the early church’s congregations – most having endured intense periods of persecution –  took the name of Stephen in honor of his fidelity, and also as a reminder of their own calling as Christians to be faithful witnesses for our Lord even unto death.   (The Greek word “martyros,” from which “martyr” comes, means “witness”).  

     This morning, as we recall Stephen’s willingness to suffer all, even death, rather than renounce Christ or mute his testimony about the Savior, may we be encouraged by his faithful example to be more courageous in our testimony and more consistent and exemplary in our Christian living….as we continue to live for serve the same Savior and Lord that Stephen served so well.




A Word Of Welcome To Our Guests ….Thank you for choosing to worship with us this morning at Grace Lutheran Church.   Whether as a guest today, or a member of this congregation, we are grateful for your presence and your Christian encouragement.   We hope the time you spend here will be enjoyable and  edifying for your faith.   Because we want to serve you in the best way we can, please speak with our ushers, elders, or pastor if there is anything we can do to help you worship better today.   After  our worship service, please join us in our gymnasium/fellowship hall for some coffee, refreshments, and good conversation.   If you are able, we’d also be honored to have you remain after today’s fellowship time in order to further study the Scriptures with us in our Bible Class or Sunday School.  Finally, we hope that you will come back soon to again praise the Lord with us.  May God bless you and your worship of Him today.




Some Remarks About Our Worship Service ….Today’s service is printed out entirely on the following pages of this flyer.   Our worship consists of  three essential ingredients:  praise, instruction from God’s Word, and prayer.   We sing our praises to God for all of His gracious blessings.   We receive instruction from His Word in our various Scripture Lessons and through the Sermon.  Our prayers consist of expressions of our repentance for our sins, plus requests for God’s forgiveness, guidance, and continued blessings.  A few added insights into how we worship might be helpful.  We do not regard the congregation in worship as an “audience,” but rather as participants in the act of worshiping.  Generally we are seated to listen to God’s Word and sing our  hymns.  The pastor faces the congregation when he is serving as God’s spokesman.  He faces the altar when he serves in the capacity of the congregation’s spokesman, and when he joins the congregation as a worshiper.   One final note:  Because Jesus is our Lord and King as well as our Savior and Redeemer, we customarily stand out of respect for the words of Jesus during the reading of the Gospel Lesson.




About our Congregation and Church Body....We are a member-congregation of the WELS, or the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  Wisconsin indicates the geographical origin of a group of Christians (organized in Milwaukee, WI in 1850) who believe, teach, and confess that the Bible is the inspired and error-free Word of God, and who are united in their efforts to proclaim Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins.   Evangelical says that we believe and proclaim the Gospel:  that sinners are saved by Grace alone,  through Faith alone,  in Christ Jesus alone,  on the basis of Scripture alone.      Lutheran declares that we hold to the historic Christian faith of Jesus Christ and the Apostles, once lost to the Church before God restored it through the Lutheran Reformation.  And Synod states we are part of a group of congregations throughout the United States and in 24 other nations, who all “walk together” in order to serve God and share the Good News about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.




The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,  

The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission

Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831




Pre-Service Prayer

Lord, open now my heart to hear

And through Your Word to me, draw near;

Let me Your Word e’er pure retain,

Let me Your child and heir remain.


Your Word does deeply move the heart,

Your Word does perfect health impart,

Your Word my soul with joy does bless,

 Your Word brings peace and happiness.   Amen.




The Greeting and Invitation to worship


The Invocation


Pastor        We begin this service in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen           


Our Opening Hymn                                                                                          God the Father, gracious Lord,

To the tune of “Come You Thankful People, Come”

meter:    7777D,    cwh 2005


God the Father, gracious Lord,  May Your name be e’er adored.

All exists by Your command   In the sky or sea or land.

Precious Father, You know all –  

When each hair and sparrow fall.

Guide and guard me from all harm 

 With Your strong, protecting arm.


Jesus Christ, my Lord, God’s Son,  Who, for me, salvation won –

You Who hung on Calvary    Bore my sins and set me free!

You, my ever-faithful Friend,   Who will love me to the end,

By Your grace in heav’n I’ll live.   Heart-felt praise to You I give.


Holy Spirit, Light Divine,

Through the Means of Grace, please shine

In my heart again today,   Drive sin’s darkness far away.

Keep me in Your Word, so true,  Day by day my faith renew.

Use me, Lord, as You know best  Serving here – in heav’n to rest.


Blessed Holy Trinity,    Glorious in Your majesty,

Father, Spirit and the Son –   Savior-God, the Three-in-One –

From sin’s curse You set me free   Heaven’s mine – eternally.

All I am, to You I owe,  Source from Whom all blessings flow.     Amen.


After which the Congregation will rise as


We Confess Our Sins according to the Words of Psalm 51


Be gracious to me, God,  according to Your mercy.   +   Erase my acts of rebellion according to the greatness of Your compassion.   +   Scrub me clean from my guilt.   +  Purify me from my sin.   +  For I admit my rebellious acts.   +   My sin is always in front of me. +   Against You, You only, have I sinned, and I have done this evil in Your eyes.   + So You are justified when You sentence me. +  You are blameless when you judge.   +  Certainly, I was guilty when I was born.  +  I was sinful when my mother conceived me.   +  Since You desire truth on the inside,  +  in my hidden heart You teach me wisdom.


Remove my sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. +   Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.   +   Let me hear joy and gladness.   +   Let the bones You have crushed celebrate.   +   Hide Your face from my sins. +   Erase all my guilty deeds.    +   Create in me a pure heart, O God.    +    Renew an unwavering spirit within me.   +  Do not cast me from Your presence.    +   Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. +   Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.   +  Sustain me with a willing spirit.


Pastor      Upon this, your voluntary confession, and in accordance with the responsibilities entrusted to me as a called and

ordained servant of the Living Word, I assure you that God, our heavenly Father, has forgiven you all your sins.   By the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has removed your guilt and condemnation forever.   You are His own dear child –  an heir of everlasting life through faith in Christ.   May God now give you the strength of faith to live according to His will.   Go in His grace and peace.   Amen.


Our Grateful Response for God’s Forgiveness                                                                                                      


The Lord, my God be praised, To Him with joyful song

My God, Who ever-living,      Our praises we are bringing

To Whom the heavenly host         And with the angel throng

All praise and honor giving.         Thrice “Holy” we are singing,

The Lord, my God, be praised,     With one united voice

In Whose great name I boast, The Church does Him adore.

God Father, God the Son,              The Lord, my God, be praised

And God the Holy Ghost.             Now and forevermore.    Amen.



We Give our Attention to the Word of the Lord


This Morning’s Scripture Lesson (and Sermon Text)                                                                 Acts 6:6-7:59

     6:1 In those days, as the number of disciples was increasing, a complaint arose from the Greek-speaking Jews against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.    2 So the Twelve called together the whole group of disciples and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers, carefully select from among you seven men with good reputations, who are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will put them in charge of this service. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.”    5 This proposal pleased the entire group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas, a proselyte from Antioch.    6 They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

     7 The word of God kept on spreading, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly. Also a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

     8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 9 Some men who were from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia) rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to stand up against the wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.

     11 Then they secretly induced some men to say, “We heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 They stirred up the people, the elders, and the experts in the law. They came, dragged Stephen away, and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They presented false witnesses who said, “This man never stops making threats against this holy place and the law. 14 In fact, we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs Moses handed down to us.”   15 All those who were sitting in the Sanhedrin were looking intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.   

     7:1   Then the high priest asked, “Are these things true?”  2 Stephen said, “Gentlemen, brothers and fathers, listen! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3 God said to him, ‘Leave your land and your relatives and come to the land that I will show you.’   4 “Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this land where you are now living.   5 He gave him no inheritance in this land, not even enough to set his foot on. But God promised to give it as a possession to him and to his descendants after him, even though Abraham still had no child. 6 God revealed that his descendants would live as strangers in a foreign country, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. 7 God added, ‘I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, and after that they will leave there and serve me in this place.’ 

      8 “Then he gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision. So Abraham became the father of Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs.  9 “The patriarchs, filled with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt, but God was with him. 10 God rescued him from all his troubles and granted him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Pharaoh made him governor over Egypt and over his whole palace.

     11 “A famine came over all of Egypt and Canaan, causing great suffering, and our fathers found no food. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13 On their second visit, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent word and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five people in all. 15 Jacob went down to Egypt, and there he died, he and our fathers. 16 Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

     17 “As the time approached that God spoke about in the promise he had made to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt. 18 This continued until another king who knew nothing about Joseph became ruler of Egypt. 19 He took advantage of our people in a cunning way, and he mistreated our fathers by forcing them to get rid of their babies so that they would not survive.   20 At that time, Moses was born, and he was favored by God. For three months he was cared for in his father’s house. 21 After he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him in and brought him up as her own son. 22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in his words and actions.

     23 “But when he was forty years old, it entered his mind to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel. 24 When he saw one of them being mistreated, he defended him and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian. 25 He thought that his brothers would understand that God was giving them deliverance by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 The next day, he came across two of them while they were fighting, and he tried to reconcile them. He said, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you harming each other?’ 27 But the one who was harming his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me the same way you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this remark, Moses fled and lived as an exile in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

     30 “After forty years had passed, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flames of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went closer to look, the voice of the Lord said, 32 ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Moses trembled and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take your sandals off your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning. I have come down to rescue them. Now come, I will send you to Egypt.’    35 “This is the same Moses they had rejected by saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’ This is the one whom God sent to be a ruler and deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This is the one who led the people out, as he performed wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the people of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’ 38 This is the one who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai and with our fathers. He received living messages to give to us, 39 but our fathers refused to obey him. Instead they pushed him away and turned back, in their hearts, to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will go before us. As for this Moses who led us out of the land of Egypt—we do not know what has happened to him.’ 41 That was the time when they made a calf, offered a sacrifice to the idol, and were taking delight in the works of their hands.

     42 “But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies, as it is written in the book of the prophets:   ‘Did you bring me slaughtered animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, house of Israel?  43 No, you even took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the statues you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.’

     44 “Our fathers had the Tent of the Testimony in the wilderness. It was just like the model Moses had seen, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it. 45 After our fathers received it from him, they brought it in with Joshua when they took possession of the land from the nations God drove out before our fathers. It was here until the days of David. 46 He found favor in the presence of God and asked that he might obtain a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.   47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him.   48 However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands, just as the prophet says:   ‘49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. What sort of house will you build for me? says the Lord, or what is my resting place? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?’

     51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit! You are doing just what your fathers did. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who prophesied the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers— 53 you who received the law as transmitted by angels, but did not keep it.”

     54 When they heard these things, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed up into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 He said, “Look, I see heaven opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”   57 But they screamed at the top of their voices, covered their ears, and rushed at him with one purpose in mind. 58 They threw him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.   59 While they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” After he said this, he fell asleep.


Our Sequence Hymn                          “God’s Word Is Our Great Heritage”


God’s Word is our great heritage   And shall be ours forever;

To spread its light from age to age  Shall be our chief endeavor.

Through life it guides our way,   In death it is our stay.

Lord, grant while words endure,   We keep its teachings pure

Throughout all generations.

Today’s Gospel Lesson                                                                                                         Matthew 10:16-39


     16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on guard against people. They will hand you over to councils, and they will whip you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought into the presence of governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 Whenever they hand you over, do not be worried about how you will respond or what you will say, because what you say will be given to you in that hour. 20 In fact you will not be the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your Father will be speaking through you.

     21 “Brother will hand over his brother to death, and a father will do the same with his child. Children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by all people because of My name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. 23 And when they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. Amen I tell you: You will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

     24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. If the master of the house was called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!  26 So do not be afraid of them, because there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, and nothing hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the One Who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

     29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without the knowledge and consent of your Father. 30 And even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.

     32 “Everyone who confesses Me before others, I will also confess before My Father Who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before others, I will also deny before My Father Who is in heaven.   34 Do not think that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.  37 Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 Whoever does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.



We Confess our Christian Faith                                                                                                     To the tune of

                                                                                                              “Almighty Father, Strong to Save” cwh 1999


We all believe in one true God,  Who by the power of His Word

Created and sustains each thing,

and all that live.   His praises sing….

Our Father, Who in mercy still,

Guides everything by His sure will.


We worship Jesus, God’s Son,   by Whom salvation has been won.

For us He lived, and for us died, that we might all be justified,

Raised from the dead, on high to reign. 

 We know that He will come again.


We honor, too, the Spirit sent,   active in Word and Sacrament,

He binds the Church, below, above,

 in faith in Christ’s redeeming love.

And ne’er forget this promise true:

with Christ we shall arise anew!    Amen.


The Children’s Lesson                                                                                                    I Peter 4:12-14, 16, 19


12 Dear friends, do not be surprised by the fiery trial that is happening among you to test you, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead rejoice whenever you are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed…..If you suffer for being a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God in connection with this name….19 So let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to their faithful Creator while doing what is good.


Trust God if you suffer for being a Christian

The Hymn of the Day                                                                                   By All Your Saints Still Striving

                                                                                                 Sung to the melody of  “The Church’s One Foundation”


By all Your saints still striving,   For all Your saints at rest,

Your holy name, O Jesus,   Forevermore be blessed.

You rose, our King victorious,  

That they might wear the crown

And ever shine in splendor    Reflected from Your throne.


We praise You, Lord, for Stephen,   

who, martyred, saw You stand –

To help in time of torment,   to plead at God’s right hand.

Like You, our suff’ring Savior,   his enemies he blessed;

With “Lord, receive my spirit,”  

His faith, in death, confessed.


Now, let us praise the Father    And worship God the Son

And sing to God the Spirit     Eternal Three in One,

Til all the ransomed number   Who stand before the throne

Ascribe all pow’r and glory  

And praise to God alone.    Amen.




The Greeting


                        Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge

of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.


The Sermon                                                                                                                                           Acts 6-7


 Stephen, the 1st Christian Martyr


following the sermon the Congregation will REMAIN SEATED


The Blessing             


May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, Who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word!   Amen.


After which the Congregation rises as



We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord


We offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings through our ministry:

1) Those in the chapel can  place their offerings in the offering plates

2) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to Grace Lutheran Church (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

3) Or, go online to our website ( and use the giving option there.


After which the Congregation will rise for

We Bring our Prayers Before Our Lord


In our prayers this morning we include:

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Ellie (Swogger) and Tyler Burbee

who welcomed into the world and into Christ’s kingdom, their

newborn son, Remy, this past Wednesday morning; and also

A Prayer of Thanksgiving on behalf of Bill and Mary Book

who are celebrating their wedding anniversary today.


Today’s General Prayer


P:         Finally, Lord God, accept our thanks for the tremendous privilege of being called Your children, and of being able to come to you now and at any time in prayer.   Help us to grow intellectually, emotionally, spiritually through Your Word and Sacraments, so that we may be faithful servants for You in our homes, and communities, in our congregations, and as members of Your Church on earth. Mercifully hear our prayer, and bless us one and all, for the sake and in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and rules with You and the Holy Spirit, eternally one God, forever and ever.  And in whose name we also offer our Lord’s Prayer, set to music: 

                                                                                                                                                              (To the melody “Immortal, Invisible”;  cwh 2005)


Our Father in heaven, we hallow Your name,

May Your Kingdom grow, Lord, as it to us came.

Your will, may it be done on earth as in heav’n,

Our daily bread, give to us and to all men.


Forgive us our sins, Father, and so may we

Forgive those who sin against us.   Now we plea:

Guard us from temptation, without and within,

Deliver us finally, from Satan and sin.


The kingdom, the power, the glory are Yours

both now, and forever, O Lord of all Lords.

We offer this prayer, by Your Son’s name alone,

Through Whom we, in confidence, approach Your throne.    Amen.



We Conclude With The Lord’s Blessing


The Benediction


The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  Amen.



The Closing Hymn                                                                                                           “Search Me, O God

                                                                                                                                                                                     sung to the melody of “Savior, Again”


Search me, O God, and know my heart today.

Try me, O Savior, know my thoughts, I pray –

See if there be some wicked way in me.

Cleanse me from every sin, and set me free.


Lord, take my life and make it wholly Thine.

Fill my poor soul with Thy great love divine.

Take all I am – my passion, self and pride –

Now and forever, Lord with me abide.    Amen.


Silent Prayer


Post-service music                                                                                                                                             




Last Week At Grace:         Sunday in church: 61      Online views : 24

Bible Class:   31     Online views:  6            Tuesday Bible Class: 18

August 22 Offerings:   Budget: $3889           Online: $61.50

August 15 Offerings:     Budget: $2418           Online: $20


This Week’s Birthdays and Anniversary      8/29 – Mary & Bill Book;

8/30 – Nathan Hahn;    9/02 – Zach Bontke;   9/04 – Thomas Schaal;


Serving Us Next Sunday (9/5)                                                                     Elders:   Steve Stone, Rick Tragasz

Altar Guild: Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold

Ushers:   Chris Roberts, Fred Cusanelli


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today              Morning Worship  9:30 a.m.   Fellowship, 10:45a.m.

                        Bible Class/Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.

Tuesday          Morning Bible Class, 10:30 a.m.        

                        Board of Elders Meeting, 6 p.m.

Wednesday    Ten Minutes with Jesus devotion and prayer time.  6 p.m.

Saturday         Outreach Calling/Visitation, meet at church at 10 a.m.

Sunday           Worship with the Lord’s Supper, 9:30 a.m. 

                        Fellowship, 10:40       Bible Class/Sunday School: 11:05 a.m.




Fellowship Volunteers Needed    Would you be willing to volunteer to prepare after-worship coffee, drinks, and light snacks?   A sign-up poster is on the fellowship hall bulletin board.  We need more volunteers for the rest of this year (Sept-Dec).  A reimbursement of $25 per week for expenses is available to help defray costs.  (It comes through our “donation jar.”)


TEN MINUTES WITH JESUS  Ladies…..This Wednesday from 6-6:10 p.m. please join in our phone-in short devotion and prayer group.  To do this,  call 1-605-313-5470 and, when asked, dial in the access code, which is 334077#.


This Week’s Bible Classes ……..In our Sunday Bible Class we’re studying First Corinthians.  Today we’re continuing to examine chapter four (“A Friendly Word – or two – about Ministers”).  Tuesday morning, from 10:30-11:30, we’re studying 2 Kings 5.  As we do, we’ll be considering a miracle of healing the prophet Elisha performed for a Syrian general named Naaman.  If you can’t join us in person, please watch our  class online at,  under “Grace Lutheran Church & Academy.”


We still are planning on resuming choir practices this fall.  For that to happen, we need you to be a part of our choir.  Please blend your voice with ours.   Many of us have experience singing in a choir.  Won’t you please use your singing talents as a part of our choir to glorify God here at Grace and edify others too.  Rehearsals will be on the 1st & 2nd Sundays of each month, from 8:40- 9:10. For more info, talk to Debbie Huebner.


The Current Edition of “Meditations”, our Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s daily devotional booklet, published every three months, and available through our congregation to every family who worships here, can be found on the table in the front entrance.   The “new” edition’s devotions (which begins today) cover three months worth of time well-spent in God’s Word.   If you haven’t done so yet, please take home your copy today.


Wednesday Evening Bible Classes Will Be Resuming   in a few weeks – specifically on Wednesday, September 8th.   We’ll hold classes for both men and women, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.  You can participate in person, online, or over-the-phone.   Our men will be studying various Psalms, while our women will be studying the Lord’s Prayer.

Grace Lutheran Church of Northwest Arkansas


is affiliated with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a church body which spans the United States and Canada, and which also operates a number of foreign missions.

Our Vision: Extend God’s Church through His Word, serving each Soul

Our Mission:  Share the Gospel, Encourage Faith, and Prepare Souls

through Worship, Education and Fellowship.


The Objectives of Our Christian Ministry are:


*To maintain and enrich the faith of our membership and friends by providing them with a variety of opportunities (congregational and personal) to continue their spiritual growth through the Means of Grace.   (II Peter 3:18)

*To equip and train our member and friends through God’s Word to be faithful stewards of all that He gives us for service in His Kingdom. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

*To reach out as a congregation into our community and throughout the world through our words, actions, and offerings with the Good News of Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son.   (Mark 16:15;  Matthew 28:19-10)

*To provide an atmosphere of brotherly Christian love and encouragement through all of our organizations and activities for the edification of our membership and friends.  (John 13:34-35;   Acts 2:42,44;  Hebrews 10:24-25)

*To develop Grace Lutheran Church into an indigenous congregation of Northwest Arkansas.  (Acts 1:8;  I Corinthians 9:19-23)

*To establish Grace Lutheran Church as the flagship congregation for the WELS in Northwest Arkansas.


On the Basis of God’s Word Alone, We Believe, Teach and Confess that:


…the Bible is the totally inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God.

(2 Timothy 3:15-17)

…the Bible is the only source and standard of faith and life for the Christian.

(John 10:35)

…God created this world and our first parents to be perfect and holy.

(Genesis 1:31; Leviticus 19:2)

…because of sin, we have all failed to live up to God’s holy standards;  consequently, we deserve to be punished eternally. (Rom 3:23; Romans 6:23)

…the only way for anyone to be saved from the terrible consequences of our sins is through faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. (Acts 16:31;  Romans 10:17)

…that faith is God the Holy Spirit’s work, and not something we personally accomplish.  (I Corinthians 12:3)

…we are saved by God’s grace (His undeserved love), and that no one can earn his or her way into God’s favor by doing good deeds.   (Ephesians 2:8-10)

…in response to God’s love for us, Christians will want to live God-pleasing lives and seek to serve God and to do His will. (I Corinthians 10:31)

…that whoever trusts in Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin will not die eternally, but will have everlasting life.     (John 3:16)