Download a PDF of the 2015 Servant Event Devotions Leader’s Guide.
Download a PDF of the 2015 Servant Event Devotions.
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 andunchanging, 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 devotions
The theme for the 2015 LCMS Servant Event resource, Stand. Follow. Serve. Repeat., is tied to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s triennial theme, “Stand,” for all major events and special activities as a way to celebrate the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation. These devotions have been specifically created to be used during a five-day servant event and in conjunction with the Bible studies. The daily devotions are designed to provide a brief positive launch to a day of service together as groups are often anxious to get going and sometimes a little bleary-eyed in the morning.
You’ll be introduced to the day using the same “Key Scripture” as the Bible study for that day. The pattern of each morning’s devotion is similar. The devotions are designed to be completed in smaller groups of four-to-six people.
Devotions are designed to be participant-led. Assign participants to lead where noted in each devotion. Perhaps a different group could lead each day. Parts are marked by “Participant No. ___.” You also will need to recruit a few participants who are comfortable singing a simple song in front of the group.
Supplies: Leaders will need a supply of note cards, pens or pencils. Note, as a leader you also may need to remind participants during the day to use their prayer cards.
Personal preparation: Leaders who do not use the Bible studies daily with the participants are encouraged to personally prepare for the devotions using the Bible study materials for the same day as these provide the in-depth unpacking of the day’s theme.
Standing in the Need of Prayer (AGPS 220). The same song is used every morning. It is the author’s hope that you have fun with this song, which is easy to sing a capella. (Note: There are numerous audio and MP3 versions of this song available including The Oakridge Boys, JesusOwnKids, Gaithers, NewOrleansJazz and John P. Kee.) Every day a different challenge changes how the song is used. The song was chosen for its ease of use and the Matt. 7:3-5 style penitent reminder it provides of one’s own need for prayer and more importantly for a savior. It is important to be clear that it is the one true God, the Trinity, to whom our prayers are directed and that our salvation is found in the person and work of Christ alone.
The song will involve participation in the following ways:
- Day 1: Straight singing with finger snapping
- Day 2: Add clapping or your own “locally found percussion instruments” (pots and pans, spoons and glasses, garbage can lids and sticks).
- You’ll be involving students in writing and substituting some of their own verses too.
Care and Concern for One Another
When someone shares personal information in a group, it is important for him or her to know this information, whether positive or negative, will be held in confidentiality. It will not be shared with others outside the group without permission. Before the Bible study begins, the leader should remind group members of this important safeguard and ascertain their agreement. There is only one exception: If someone shares information that causes the leader to be aware that he or she may be a danger to himself or herself or to someone else, then Christian love should override confidentiality.