Pastor Larry Schram
He was one of the seven men known to be full of the Holy Spirit set aside to serve the needs of widows. When persecution broke out in Jerusalem he went to Samaria where he set the demon possessed free, healed the paralyzed and led people to faith in Christ. His name was Philip and in most church traditions he is simply remembered as Philip the deacon. Then in the middle of that glorious outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit and miracles an angel of the Lord spoke to him and he did what many current leaders today would consider unthinkable. He simply left it all behind.
He didn't receive a call to a different church and he didn't leave to begin a new ministry. He didn't argue that he believed that pastors and deacons need to stay in one place for a lifetime and he didn't burn out. Instead he was told by an angel to go to a road; just a road; and in simple obedience he went. The needs of a thriving, Spirit filled and highly attractive church were set aside to simply obey the clear voice of God. He went where he was told to go and it just so happened that an Ethiopian eunuch, the chief financial officer of the country, was travelling by. The Spirit spoke, Philip obeyed again and the Ethiopian eunuch came to faith in Christ and was baptized. He was the first Gentile, the first African and the first sexual minority to experience salvation; all because Philip simply obeyed. As a result of Philip’s obedience the Ethiopian returned home, shared his faith with others and the first church in Ethiopia came into existence.
That is the power of simple obedience. It touches lives and changes destinies and the results are often astonishing, glorious and completely counter intuitive. This summer our church will see four significant staff changes take place in one month. Any casual observer could see this as unwise and possibly indicative of deep problems. Unless — unless they are all acts of simple obedience….and to be clear: they are. I believe that the Lord has spoken as clearly to these four people as he spoke to Philip and all four responded with simple obedience. What does that mean?
Philip didn't know what was next until he obeyed and we won't know what is next for us until our next step of obedience is taken either. But we do know that Jesus said: “Blessed….are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11: 28) Philip heard the word and obeyed and the blessings that came were glorious. I believe that similar blessings are possible for SBC if we also hear and simply obey. I am willing to practice simple obedience and trust the Lord with our future, are you?