Cheri and I were able to spend the weekend with family. We had family visiting from Ohio, and we all got together with our sons and their family in Omaha. You might say it was a small family reunion. Some of us even went to the Buckeye vs. Husker game and that was an extra treat. When I went to bed on Saturday night, I was so thankful for a great week with family. I wondered; how could the week have been any better? Well, the good weekend continued without disappointment. We got up Sunday morning and went to church with our oldest son Joe and his family. They moved over to Elkhorn, Nebraska last winter and we’ve never got to go to church with them since. When we showed up for worship, we learned the senior pastor was on a missionary trip in Africa and the speaker for the morning was one of their sponsored church planters. In fact, this particular church planter, Pastor Myron Pierce, recently planted a church in North Omaha called Mission Church. He referred to this area as “the hood.” He also remarked, “when I was growing up that was the rival gang.” Just to set the stage, Myron also shared that he was called to ministry when he was in jail.
After Pastor Myron told some of his amazing story, he led us in reading Acts 8:26-40. Just for reference, this is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. In this story we see that God directed Philip to meet and speak with the Ethiopian Eunuch in the desert riding in a chariot after leaving Jerusalem.
AC 8:26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
We see that the Eunuch was reading in the book of Isaiah and had a question about its meaning. Why is that important? As God planned, Philip was in place to answer the question. WOW! This conversation led to the Eunuch’s salvation and baptism. Can you imagine what we will experience if we’re available to God to be used for His purposes?
AC 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.
As Pastor Myron was preaching on this text, as one of his main points, he said, “Philip was available.” Yes, that’s right. Philip was available to God to be used for His purposes. Well, at this point, my mind exploded. In the previous few weeks, I had been thinking about the reasons why people don’t seem to grow in their faith and serve in the church. After all, as a pastor I have a heart to help people grow and learn to obey Christ. So, when I heard the word “available” in connection with this scripture I thought to myself, that’s certainly one of the reasons why people aren’t growing and serving. The more I listened to the sermon and the more I’ve thought about it on and off for a few days now, I realized just how much our availability to God to be used for His purposes is critical to our personal discipleship, to obeying Jesus’ command to “make disciples,” and to use our God-given spiritual gifts in ministry. Overall, you might say, we aren’t available because we are too busy with less important activities.
Let’s think through this together. Ask yourself, what are the activities and people in my life that have a high level of my availability? Family? Friends? Business/Job? Sports and Recreation? Hobbies? Shopping? Parties? Home/yard care and maintenance? Now ask yourself, why do these people and activities deserve my availability? Obviously, there is good reason for some of these and others just shouldn’t be a high priority in the scheme of things. Why? Jesus must be our first love (ref. Matthew 22:36-38, Rev. 2:4)!
As we continue to think through this together, ask yourself, what is my personal level of availability to be used by God for His purposes? In case you’re not sure, the following are questions that will help: Are you available for personal devotions daily (Bible reading, study, memorizing, meditating and prayer – ref. 2 Timothy 3:16; Joshua 1:8)? Are you available for regularly and consistently meeting together as a church (worship, Bible study, fellowship and prayer – ref. Acts 2:41-47; Heb 10:25)? Are you available for serving in the church based on your God-given spiritual gifts (ref. 1 Cor 12, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11-12)? Are you available to witness and make disciples (ref. Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18-20)? Are you available to be sent (ref. Romans 10:14-17, Isaiah 6:8)?
I also want you to think about the roadblocks in your life that are prohibiting you from being available to be used by God for His purposes. Here is a list of common roadblocks:
- False gods (money, materialism, fame, fortune, power, popularity, possessions)
- Addictions and strongholds (repetitive and premeditated sin)
- Lack of time management
- Misplaced priorities
- Prejudice and supremacy (race, culture, socio-economic, education, occupation, neighborhood)
What can you do to remove these roadblocks? Here is a list of the essentials:
- Review your schedule and priorities and make the necessary changes. Ask for help from trusted spiritually mature friends if necessary.
- Daily devotions that include Bible reading and prayer
- Put the Bible into practice – obey the Word
- Regularly and consistently worship with the church
- Join a small group for instruction, relationships and accountability
As Philip was available to God to be sent to the desert to meet up with the Ethiopian Eunuch and as Pastor Myron was available to God to be sent to “the hood” in North Omaha, we must be available to God to serve His purpose. In any case, our availability starts with loving and obeying God, spending time with Him in devotions, church worship and service and witnessing and make disciples in our local community. Beyond that, we must be available to be sent to the nations as God calls. What is your AVAILABILITY?
A Work in Progress,