Devotional Thought, The Freedom of A Christian
In 1520, Martin Luther wrote an essay with the title “The Freedom of the Christian.” He wrote it because there was a lot of confusion about what it means that a Christian is free. He began with two opposite propositions:
A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
These two statements seem to contradict each other, yet both are true. They were also true of our Lord Jesus, perfectly free, subject to no one, the Lord of heaven, come to earth, also the Savior who had come to serve, to lay down his life as a ransom for many and to become a servant of servants.
Jesus was the perfectly free Lord of all by his nature as the Son of God. Nothing and no one could make him any more exalted than he was already. We Christians became free by the work our Lord Jesus did for us. He was “born of a woman, born under law” so that he could keep the commandments we have broken so often. We read in the Gospels that Jesus went to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph and was obedient to his parents. Jesus went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his custom. Jesus helped his neighbors in their bodily needs. Jesus did all of these things to cover all of our failures– the times when we did not honor father or mother, the times when we did not delight in hearing God’s Word, the times when we hurt and harmed our neighbors. Jesus kept and fulfilled the commandments… so the commandments of God cannot condemn us. The sinless Lamb of God took the guilt of our sin to the cross and was punished for our sins. So we are free from guilt, free from sin. God has put his name on us. We are sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. Princes and princesses in his kingdom. This is the true freedom of the Christian.
One of the battle cries of the Reformation was Romans 1:17 “The righteous will live by faith.” What does that mean, really? First, it looks at what we’ve just been thinking about. We poor sinners have been made righteous by Jesus our Savior, and forgiveness and all his gifts are ours when we believe in him. “The righteous will live by faith” also looks at the result. As people who have been given great gifts from God, those gifts have a lasting effect. They change who we are.
We are perfectly free in Christ, and we are also free to serve. “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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do ” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We still struggle with sin and with self, especially when we are trying to serve others. As long as we have human flesh, our motivations will be mixed. But we will have a power working in us that is greater than the power of sin. We are saved by God’s grace and not by works, true. But good works do have a place in our lives. “God has prepared good works in advance for us to do…” by giving us his commandments that guide us in the way God wants us to live. “Love God above all things.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “God has prepared good works in advance for us to do…” in the many situations we find ourselves in. In the home there are many opportunities to serve. Nobody will give you a medal for doing the dishes or cleaning the bathroom, but these are things that serve your family, your nearest neighbors. Few people may notice when you encourage a friend who needs your help– but this serves God as you serve your neighbor. One person’s need is another person’s opportunity. We live by faith, empowered by that promise of God. When we refuse to serve, when we knowingly go against God’s commands, we are running back into the devil’s arms shouting “Enslave me.” In our quest to serve self, we lose instead of gain. When we live by faith, we reflect the tender mercies of God and the humble service of Christ, and blessings without number follow– blessings to us, blessings through us. “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.” “A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”
So we pray that God will continue to teach us, both with his Word and with the example of Christ, and write in our hearts his law of love, moving us to true love and of service for our neighbor. “May God be gracious to us and bless us that we may know his way on the earth and proclaim his salvation to the nations” (Psalm 67).
Special thanks go out to all people who in some way or another have contributed to the school during the past year. All of your help, whether it is volunteering time, talent, or financial support helps us to further the Kingdom of God by teaching the children about their Savior.
Graduation for the 8th Grade of our Christian Day School will take place at our special 6:30 P.M. Worship Service on May 26th. The Day School children completing their nine years of training will receive their diplomas.
- Rosella Balleza
- Morgan Bronk
- Jaden Douma
- Dilan Fenner
- Emma Guenther
- Kristel Hafenstein
- Mira Krause
- Grace Seim
- Zachary Slater
- Madison Stegner
- Jenna Taylor-Evert
- Oliva Voelker
May our Savior bless you with His continued guidance and direction! May you continue to live to His glory and in His service.
Save Labels, Boxtops, Injet Cartidges, Greeting Cards
- Boxtops marked for Education
- Milk bottle caps or bags from Kwik Trip
- Recheck’s Food Pride Our Family UPC (proof of purchase labels). Please cut off the proof of purchase bar code. The bar code # should key in with the 370253. Only Our Family Bar codes can be accepted.
- Used greeting cards for Bethesda
There are containers in the church basement for these items or bring them to the church office. Thanks for your help!
Summer Worship Schedule
Beginning June 4th, we will again switch to our summer worship schedule. On June 4th and continuing throughout the summer, we will have two services each Sunday, one at 7:30 A.M. and the other at 9:30 A.M. The mid-week service will continue on Thursday at 6:30 P.M.
Summer Sunday Morning Bible Class
Beginning Sunday, June 4th, our Sunday study will be a shorter (1/2 hour) study between the worship services. We’ll start at 8:45 and end around 9:15. In connection with this 500th Anniversary Year of the Lutheran Reformation we’ll use a study titled “Reformation: Grace, Faith, Scripture.” It makes use of 3-5 minute clips from the new Martin Luther movie (Return to Grace) to teach and apply some of the bible doctrines emphasized in the Reformation. Watch the trailer below. A special showing of the entire movie at Rogers’ Cinema is scheduled for October 7.
MARTIN LUTHER PROMO_WELS_SHORT from WELS on Vimeo.
Summer Adult Bible Information Class
The summer session of our BIC will begin Monday, June 12. Normally, we try to meet on Mondays and Wednesdays during June and July at 7:00 P.M. (also 11:00 A.M., if needed). However, with some peoples’ summer schedules being somewhat unpredictable, we try to be flexible. Completion of the study (Wonders of God) and agreement with the biblical teachings can lead to membership in our congregation.
Know someone who might be interested? Tell a Pastor. Better yet, invite them yourself and attend with them! Session will be held in the air conditioned “Upper room” (above the church office.)
- June 1st – Topic by Pastors “Catechism: 2nd Article – Christ’s Work”
- June 22-25th – LWMS National Convention in Orlando, FL
- August 3rd – Pot-luck picnic – 6:00 P.M.
Vacation Bible School
VBS 2017 (4K – 6th Grade) will be held July 31st – August 4th 9:00 – 11:30 A.M. Daily Bible lessons and activities will center on the theme:
“BUILD ON THE ROCK”
VBS provides a wonderful opportunity for us to reach out to our community. We will have yard signs and fliers to hand out as the day gets closer. We will also have an organized canvassing day in July. Feel free to use all or some of these to invited children to hear God’s Word.
Registration forms will again be available at church and online at the St. Stephen’s website, http://www.saintstephen.org. Registration will take place from 8:40 – 9:00 A.M. on Monday, July 31st, the first day of VBS.
Opportunities to help with the operation of our VBS are also available. Here are a few:
- Donate snack items (see the suggested list that will be in the church entry in early June).
- Help prepare and serve refreshments;
- Help with clean up after snack time;
- Help in the classrooms with projects;
- Pray that the Holy Spirit uses our VBS to bring more children and families to know and love Jesus our Savior.
Any questions about VBS or offers to help can be directed to any of the Pastors or to the Church Office (885-3309).
Our annual trip to Six Flags will be on Wednesday, June 21st . The cost will be $45, which includes your ticket, (water park, extra) and bus. Information and a sign-up sheet is on the table in the entry of church. Please sign up by May 25th.
Restoration and Window Project Loan Update
In December of 2014 we borrowed $247,000 from Horicon Bank at an interest rate of 4.2% to pay for the external restoration work on our church building (interest rate holds until Dec. 2018). At this time, monthly payments have covered interest and have reduced the amount owed to $216,000. It would be a huge blessing to substantially reduce the amount owed before December of 2018, when interest rates will undoubtedly change. For that to happen, not only are special gifts needed for the Restoration Fund, but just as important, the General Fund for regular operating expenses needs consistent offering so that we don’t have to borrow from our special funds to meet operating expenses.
Divine Calls into Public Ministry of the Gospel
In May our Wisconsin Synod’s ministry Assignment Committee meets to assign graduates from Martin Luther College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary to their first stations of public ministry. On May 13 assignments were given to graduates of the Teacher training program at Martin Luther College. Among them was St. Stephen’s member Matthew Behm. Matthew was assigned to serve at Trinity Lutheran Church & School in Aberdeen, South Dakota as teacher of grades 6-8 and director of their athletic program. Pray for God’s blessings on Matthew as he begins his public service to our Lord and his people.
As many as 40 Pastor and Teacher positions in WELS congregations and schools for which congregations were requesting assignment of a graduate to fill them could not be filled! The truth Jesus told his disciples almost 2,000 years ago is still true today: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send workers into his harvest field.” Pray that more young people would consider a lifetime of public ministry in our Savior’s church as a Teacher or a Pastor. encourage young people you know who have God-given abilities that could be useful as a Pastor or Teacher to think about such a life of service!
Joint Ascension Service with Good Shepherd
A joint Ascension Service with Good Shepherd will be held at 6:30 P.M. on Thursday, May 25th, here at St. Stephen’s. It will be primarily a song service involving the Senior Choir of Good Shepherd and the Senior and Junior Choirs of St. Stephen’s. This is part of our efforts to coordinate more ministry with Good Shepherd to be able to more efficiently and effectively work at sharing God’s precious word in our area.
The festival of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus is often neglected. But it was a powerful and comforting event for Jesus’ believers. It means that his saving work for us is truly accomplished! He has taken back the full use of his rightful divine power and majesty for our benefit and protection for time and for eternity! It’s a reason to celebrated! Come and do so!