The power of obedience
SETTING THE PACE / Living life with an eternal perspective
When my son, Trey, passed away, life as we had known it was over. Nothing was ever going to be the same. During those early and dark days, everything was hard. Finding motivation for doing anything seemed to be almost impossible. It was during those days that our family adopted a phrase, a phrase which seems simple where you hear it, but is actually quite profound when you practice it. What is this phrase you ask? “Just do the next right thing.” Literally, in those early days, and honestly, still at times in these days, it is hard to find the motivation to take another step. I can remember waking up in the wake after Trey’s death and not wanting to get out of the bed, so, what would I do? The next right thing. I would get up. I would get dressed. I would take the kids to school. I would go to work. I had to think of things in small portions in order not to get overwhelmed, and to help with that, I had to just do the next right thing.
In the Christian life, it is very similar. When you don’t know what you to do, do what you know to do. Pastor Robby Gallaty says, “Discipleship is simply obedience to Christ’s commands; however, many Christians are educated beyond their obedience…we are convinced that the gap holding most believers back is not the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. It’s the gap between what they know and what they’re living…So, stop wondering about what you don’t know, and start obeying the things you do.”
We see this illustrated in the story found in Acts 8:26-40. In this story, a follower of Jesus, named Philip, is used by the Lord in a simple, yet significant way. Philip was not one of the twelve apostles, nor one of the big three (Peter, James, and John). He was just a common, regular follower of Jesus that was faithful to the Lord in small things and that the Lord was now using in big things. Philip is such a great example regarding the power of obedience. Here are four things we learn from Philip.
First, obedience begins with submission! Philip demonstrates early on that he is willing to obey because he has submitted his life to the Lord. You will never obey someone you are not submitted to. In Acts 8, God was using Philip in a mighty way, but out of nowhere, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go toward the south on a desert road.” He didn’t tell him what he would find, or why he was to go. He just said “go” and Philip went. Philip was not interested in fame or prestige, he was submitted to God and willing to do whatever God asked of him.
Second, obedience always requires faith! If we believe God is God and that He is all powerful, all knowing, and all present, then when He asks us to do something, we have to believe and trust that He actually knows what He is doing. Obedience to God always, always, always requires faith! Again, Philip is a great example. Philip could have said, “God, You are using me here in Samaria, and now You are asking me to go on an empty, deserted, hot desert road. I don’t get it.” That’s not what the Scripture says at all though. The Bible says, “And he rose and went.” He just did the next right thing.
Third, obedience positions you for spiritual impact! If you want to experience God, you have to be where He is working. Philip was filled with and walking in the Spirit, and his obedience put him in a place to experience God and be used by God! While on the desert road, Philip encountered a man who was reading the Scripture. Initially, Philip may not have understood why God would send Him on this route, but was now beginning to see the reason. This man needed the Lord. Philip was able to answer his questions and lead him to saving faith in Jesus.
Finally, Obedience is for you and others! When we obey God, not only are we blessed and grow in our relationship with Jesus, but our obedience always has an effect on other people. In this case with Philip, there was a profound effect. God used Philip to change another man’s earthly direction and eternal destiny. Had Philip not obeyed, he would have missed out on the opportunity to see God work in this man’s life. However, because of his obedience, he was blessed and so was the man.
Philip models for us the power of obedience, and when we just do the next right thing, we get to see God at work and be a part. Today, just do the next right thing. See you next week!