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God calls us to serve others, develop our own gifts, and strive to develop a sense of mission and work at this season of life.

We’re on the downhill slope in this study of the seven essentials for finishing well. Four down, three to go! I hope your encouragement and commitment are building as we go through these steps that I have found to be truly essential to our finishing well for the Lord, for our families, and for ourselves. These have grown out of my deep desire and goal to finish my course well, following the example of the apostle Paul as he stated in Second Timothy chapter 4 verses 6 to 8:

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.


What a great promise. I call this fifth essential being available, reflecting this commitment: we will be available as God calls us to serve others, develop our own gifts, and strive to develop a sense of mission and work at this season of life. Let me set the stage for his study by briefly outlining the components of what it means to be available to God and others.

First and foremost, it means being available to God for His presence and work in our lives. The Bible says that God dwells in us as believers through the presence and power of His Holy Spirit. Paul said in Romans chapter 8 verse 14 that those who are led by the Spirit are the sons and daughters of God. So I want the Holy Spirit to lead me day by day. But in order for Him to lead me, I have to be willing, to be available, to be led by the Holy Spirit in growing, connecting, loving and caring, and so forth.


A second component is simply being open to new ways and new people through which God may lead us. I hope you’re discovering through this study that Gid often leads us in ways we might never have dreamt. Through good times and hard times, and through all kinds of people, God reshapes our lives.  


For example, think for a minute about how you came to be part of this study. Whether you came across this material on your own or someone invited you to participate, God worked through your unique circumstances to bring you to this point. It may have seemed like a random event, but nothing with God is random. As I’ve said before, I am the man I am today and where I am today because of people I've met and the experiences  I’ve had that have changed me.


I didn't plan it that way. God did. He led me and worked through my availability. After college I felt God was leading me into some avenue of public service and politics. But before I did that, I went to Haiti for a summer missionary experience. There a missionary challenged me to go to Dallas and attend Dallas Theological Seminary to prepare myself for whatever God wanted me to do. I made myself available, and while I was a student at Dallas Seminary, I met my wife Vicki. I was more than available on that score. I was in love with her!


God then worked through our marriage to lead us to a church in Dallas, and there we became involved with physicians and dentists. Short story, that led me to being involved with a national organization called the Christian Medical and Dental Association. Then I was a senior pastor for 22 years. And we launched this ministry in 2013. At each step, I would say God was concerned about my availability to Him. I didn't have my life all worked out, and you probably didn’t either. Even if we thought we had it down, we’ve discovered that God often has other plans for us! That seems to be the way He leads us. It’s been well said that what God wants is not our ability, but our availability.


This truth is evident throughout Scripture. When God called Abraham to leave his comfortable life in the highly civilized land of Ur of the Chaldeans and head for Canaan, Abraham had no idea what would happen with his life. All he had was the promise of God. I think that's the way life works. God knows the future. He knows what's going to happen, and He has promised that He is working a plan for our good. He wants us to be available to His Spirit, because He will continue to lead us.


Read the opening chapter of Johua 1 and you’ll see another person who was available for God to lead and use. Josua had the world’s hardest job; he had to follow Moses, the greatest leader who ever lived and a man who spoke to God face-to-face. Joshua must have been overwhelmed by his responsibility, but God told him to be courageous and gave him this promise: “Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.”


This is the key to being available that I want you to see in the upcoming session. God has all the ability we will ever need for anything He calls us to do, even in our aging years and in spite of our weaknesses and limitations. The Lord is going ahead of us, just as He went ahead of Joshua. Our job is simply to follow here He leads. God is in the business of setting us up to follow Him and be available as He leads us.


Now here’s the interesting thing. This availability may be for just a moment for some immediate assignment, or it may be something as big and impactful as  a career change. God wants us to be available to Him. I want to give you a principle in a book I read years ago. It's entitled From Eden to Paradise, the story of a boy named John Stuart Gilbert. I don’t want to spoil the story for you, since you’ll see it in the lesson.


The principle from this story is that God may want you to do something that may take only minutes out of your day, but can impact someone else in a profound way. The question is, will you be available, even if it’s something that you never planned to do?  God has something in mind for you to do at this season of your life, perhaps something you’ve never thought about before.


The Scriptures are filled with examples of God leading men and women to do something  they had never imagined they would or could do. The great Jewish statesman Daniel was carried off in captivity to a foreign land as a teenager. But instead of bemoaning his cruel fate, Daniel made himself available to God, and he served in the Lord in captivity for about 80 years. Go back to that sigmoid curve, which reminds us that there are opportunities to make changes in our lives. Will we be available to start something new, if that’s what God has for us? I want to be available to the Spirit of God, to think about the things of God every day and where He might take me that I had never thought about  before.


What are the barriers to being available to God? They’re out there. See if the these statement sound familiar. “I’ve never done it that way before” “I don't know that it will work.” “What happens if I try and fail?”


Satan will knock on your door and say, “Don’t be open to something new, just do what you're already good at. Don't venture out.” But I think that's what the life of faith is all about, reaching out to something new that God has for you. I love this picture of the last Corrie ten. Boom, who was thrown into a Nazi concentration camp. Amid a true hell on earth, she said: “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.?


That amazing faith! Going back to the first essential that says we will grow, we will not stay the same. I want to be available to God. I want to keep growing. keep connecting, keep loving, and keep investing in others. We don't know where it'll end up, except the God's in charge and He's leading us. So my prayer is that out of this fifth essential, you will be available every day of your life, and you and I will seek God above all else to follow his leadership. Let's do it.

NOTE: This text is an edited transcription of the ESSENTIAL FIVE: BE AVAILABLE video by Dr. Hal Habecker, edited by Philip Rawley.


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