Worship Helps for Epiphany 2

Nathanael under the fig tree
James Tissot
1886-1894

Worship Theme: It is in the Word that we hear the call of God that has in it the secret power of God to give what he commands. He commands: Believe! and the Word creates faith. He says, Follow me! and the Word creates the desire and the ability to follow him. That he should consider it glorious to call sinners, is that not an amazing thing? That he should attach such power to his Word that we answer the call, is that not a wonder that lasts an eternity for each of us?

Old Testament: 1 Samuel 3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. 6 Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

1. Whom did Samuel think was calling him?

2. Who was really calling Samuel?

3. What model attitude does Samuel display for Christians?


Epistle: 2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

4. Why does Paul think of the Thessalonians with a spirit of thanksgiving? What does it mean that God chose us?

5. What blessings do we have because God chose us?


Gospel: John 1:43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me." 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote-- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." 48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." 49 Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." 50 Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that." 51 He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

6. What did Philip do when Jesus commanded: “Follow me”?

7. How did Nathanael react to Philip’s news?

8. When Nathanael met Jesus, how did he react?



Answers:
1. Eli.

2. The Lord.

3. Samuel displays a wonderful willingness to hear the Word of the Lord. Only through the gospel does the Holy Spirit awaken and strengthen faith.

4. The Thessalonians became Christians by God’s grace and power alone. Before the creation of the world, God determined who would belong to him. He elected (or chose) us to come to faith. At the right moment in history, he worked through the gospel to make that happen.

5. Focus on the following words and phrases: “sanctifying work of the Spirit,” “belief in the truth,” “gospel,” “glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,” “who loved us,” “grace,” “eternal encouragement and good hope.” Each of these words and phrases contains a piece of the gospel picture.

6. Not only did he follow Jesus, but he went and told his friend Nathanael.

7. He couldn’t believe that the Savior would come from such an insignificant place as Nazareth.

8. He believed wholeheartedly that Jesus was the Messiah, the Chosen One.



Putting your faith into action
Samuel’s mother was a dedicated believer who sent her son off to attend a worker training program under the high priest, Eli. God called Samuel to be his prophet in order to fill a spiritual void in Israel. Samuel followed that call and served faithfully for many years. Today, we also need dedicated parents who encourage full-time service to the Savior. We need faithful young people who will follow God’s call into the ministry. We need worker training schools to prepare these young people for a lifetime of preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus Christ. We also need all of us to support those schools with our prayers and offerings. 


A reading from the Book of Concord for the Second Sunday after Epiphany
When someone asks you, “What is meant by the commandment: You shall sanctify the holy day?”  Answer like this, “To sanctify the holy day is the same as to keep it holy.”  “But what is meant by keeping it holy?”  “Nothing else than to be occupied with holy words, works, and life.”  For the day needs no sanctification for itself. It has been created holy in itself.  But God desires the day to be holy to you.  It becomes holy or unholy because of you, whether you are occupied with things that are holy or unholy.

How, then, does such sanctification take place?  Not like this: sitting behind the stove and doing no rough work, or adorning ourselves with a wreath and putting on our best clothes.  But as said above, we occupy ourselves with God’s Word and exercise ourselves in the Word.

God’s Word is the treasure that sanctifies everything.  By the Word even all the saints themselves were sanctified.  Whenever God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read, or meditated upon, then the person, day, and work are sanctified.  This is not because of the outward work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all.  Therefore, all our life and work must be guided by God’s Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy.  Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled. – Large Catechism, Part 1, The Ten Commandments (paragraphs 87-88, 91-92)

  
Text of the Hymn of the Day: Speak, O Lord
1  Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in your likeness
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All your purposes for your glory.

2  Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility.
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of your purity.
Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail,
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

3  Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of your plans for us.
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time,
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, as your Church is built

And you fill the earth with your glory.

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