Download a PDF of the 2015 Servant Event Bible Study Leader’s Guide.
Download a PDF of the 2015 Servant Event Bible Study.
About the Theme
The year was 1521. Martin Luther had already been excommunicated by the medieval church and was called to Worms to take back his teachings or be declared an outlaw (meaning anyone could kill him without threat of punishment). Even knowing he was facing a death sentence, Luther refused saying:
Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.
The legendary words attributed to Luther come from this moment: “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God. Amen.”
As the 500th anniversary of the Reformation approaches in 2017, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has chosen “Stand” for its triennial theme. The Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, notes:
While “stand” is not a major theological term in the Bible—at least in terms of quantity and frequency—it is an important one, Paul especially makes good and forceful use of it. Paul teaches that through faith in Christ alone we receive a standing that is grounded in God, not in the world, and that confers fellowship and freedom (Source: A Brief Theological and Biblical Primer on “Stand,” point 1.)
This then is where the Bible studies for the 2015-16 LCMS Servant Events are rooted. The devotions and worship material are tied to the Bible studies and also have their roots in “Stand.”
In this series, five sections of Scripture from the Old and New Testaments are used to examine the stand, follow, serve, repeat pattern. While there is a good deal of the Law that is revealed, the leader should remind participants that the Law acts as a mirror to show us our sin, serves as a curb to sinful behavior and guides the Christian life. Particular attention also should be given to pointing out that it is the Law that condemns, but it is the Gospel that transforms.
Day 1: Stand
“Stand and see the salvation of the Lord” – Ex. 14, The Crossing of the Red Sea
Key Scripture: Ex. 14:13-14
Other passages: Ex. 11-12; Ps. 30:3; Ps. 121; Rom. 8:38-39
Day 2: Follow
When God Calls – 1 Sam. 3, Samuel Answers God’s Call
Key Scripture: 1 Sam. 3:10
Other passages: 1 Sam. 2:27-34; 1 Cor. 7:7
Day 3: Serve
Serve Like Jesus Served – John 12:9-26, The Plot to Kill Lazarus
Key Scripture: John12:26
Other passages: Luke 12:34; John 3:16-17; John 11:38-44; John 12:34; Rom. 6:3, 5; Rom. 8:37-39; Gal. 3:27; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21
Day 4: Repeat
Follow the Pattern – 2 Tim. 1:1-14, Paul’s Instructions to a Young Friend
Key Scripture: 2 Tim. 1:13-14
Other passages: Matt.18:15; 1 Cor. 10:31-33, 11:1; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Tim. 1:1-15
Day 5: Stand
Jesus Stands – Acts 7:54-60, The Stoning of Stephen
Key Scripture: Acts 7:55-56
Other passages: Dan. 7:13-14; Matt. 25:21; Luke 22:66-70; Acts 8:1-3; Acts 9
Some of these stories will be familiar, but others might surprise you. God promises His Word never returns empty (Is. 55:11). While the Word of God is timeless and unchanging, at every age and every stage in our lives, He sends out His Word to accomplish His purposes. His Holy Spirit helps us to gain more insight as we grow in understanding of how God’s truth applies to our circumstances.
So what’s the goal? The goal is that every day you will come face to face with the grace of God in Christ Jesus, knowing that, come what may, our Redeemer lives! (Job 19:25). He wins in the end, and we do too. In the meantime, Jesus Himself has invited us to follow in His footsteps.
If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him (John 12:26 ESV).
We do so knowing that our service to Jesus changes us and often those we serve. In serving we have the opportunity to love our neighbor (the second greatest commandment). God Himself is working through our service. God is worshiped and glorified through my “offering” of service and those who receive such service might also worship and praise God with thanksgiving in connection to this same offering (Source: Valleskey, People’s Bible Commentary, 2 Corinthians 9:12).
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God (2 Cor. 9:12 ESV).
About the Bible Study
By the power of God’s Holy Spirit working through His Word, participants will better understand and appreciate God’s love for and service to them in His Son Jesus Christ, empowering them to “Stand” firm in their salvation, “Follow” Him when He graciously calls them to “Serve” and guiding them in the sanctified life as they “Repeat” the pattern of Christian living by revealed by God’s strong Word in their lives.
These Bible studies have been developed for groups of four-to-six participants. (Consider using the same groups for devotions in order to maximize the time they have to bond and develop trusting and encouraging relationships.)
Group leaders are responsible for guiding the group through reading and discussing the text. They will need to gently keep the group well-paced and focused on the main points highlighted in the material. While pace is important, intentionally monitoring the participation of each person in the group and ensuring that everyone is being heard and cared for also is key.
Personal preparation on the part of the leader is essential to ensure understanding of the flow of the study and allows for robust and meaningful discussion. It is assumed there will be 45-60 minutes of time for Bible study. In most cases, there will be more than enough material for use within this parameter. However, should discussion go long, the leader will want to make decisions ahead of time about which questions or activities to focus on, cover lightly or omit.
The main goals of these Bible studies and the accompanying devotions are that participants would see and understand more clearly:
- The foundation on which they can stand firm — God’s love for and service to them as revealed by His Word
- How God’s Holy Spirit enables them to follow Him when He graciously calls them to serve and guide them in the sanctified life as they “repeat” the pattern of Christian living revealed by God’s strong Word in their lives