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Growing Older Gracefully.JPG






Now, before we even get into it, we need to talk about the reason the Lord wants us to talk about this.  Older people get into a habit pattern of seeing themselves with a lot more problems that they used to have. As we get older, our physical bodies are often screaming at us with stuff we didn’t used to have to deal with.  As that occurs, it kinda’ feels like every day is just another day to deal with stuff - pain, weakness, sometimes hearing problems, seeing problems, heart problems, and on and on.  That kinda’ leads a huge majority of older people to become self-centered more than they’ve ever been - and they don’t even realize that they are.


Self-centeredness is an attitude of thinking, talking, and acting as though the world revolves around us.  It has really become a habit pattern for the majority of humanity in this culture of today.  It has just become common to put what you want, like, desire, feel, think, etc. to be #1 in your life.  You’ve heard me say that we live in a “Me-Me-Me Culture” today.  And - therefore - as people get older, they just go with the flow of this culture.  


Therefore, it almost seems like you’re being mean to yourself, since you have so many more problems to deal with, if you don’t look out for you first - ‘cause if you don’t - who will?


Therefore, I have seen through the years, that older Christians often fall into that way of thinking because it’s very common.  It is common to see the attitude of “Well, I’m just older now and I deserve to be treated nicely, helped out, given to, and on and on.  After all, I am old now.  I ought to be treated nicer because I’m older.”


Now, along with that ‘self-centeredness’, and kinda’ opposite to that, when older Christians think about who they are, it is very common to ponder on all the mistakes they’ve made in their lives.  Everyone in this world has sinned in lots of different ways and each person has their memory of those things they have done wrong.  In fact, what is really weird, as you get older, you can’t remember stuff that you want to remember - like the name of somebody you used to really like, the address of where you used to live, the song you used to like to sing all the time when you were by yourself, and on and on - BUT YOU SURE CAN REMEMBER A BUNCH OF STUFF YOU DID THAT YOU ARE ASHAMED OF AND YOU WISH YOU COULD FORGET THAT!!!  Kinda’ sounds like the enemy of ours really uses all that against us, doesn’t it!  Why can’t you forget the bad stuff you did?!!!!!!


So the Lord wants us to read some verses today and concentrate on who you really are as a CHILD OF GOD.  BECAUSE THAT’S THE WAY HE WANTS YOU TO SEE YOURSELF.


Eph 4:22-24 - (KJV)

“That you put off, concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And that you put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.”


Now, I remember when I first read those verses many, many years ago - and I just couldn’t figure out what the ‘put off and put on’ meant.  I didn’t hear anybody teach about that back then.  Then, after several years, I began to get ahold of what that meant.  It means (in as simple way as possible) this.  We have authority here on this earth in the name of Jesus.  We can decide for ourselves, and tell ourselves, what we will do and what we won’t do.  In other words, the same way that I can take off really dirty clothes and put on clean clothes, in the same way, I can take off (or put off - out of my thinking about myself) all the awareness and guilt of all the bad stuff - because Jesus took the punishment for me.  It’s done- over - I’m not letting it condemn me anymore - the price has been paid.   Then - I can think of myself as a brand new being (because I have a new spirit now) and I just imagine myself as this whole new being that God has miraculously made me  in the spirit) - So I imagine myself PUTTING ON MY NEW MAN.  I make up my mind that that’s the way I’m going to see myself, think about myself, feel about myself, and on and on.


By the way, when it says MAN, it is talking about mankind.  It’s not making a difference between man and woman - it’s just mankind.


Now here’s another verse - 2 Cor. 5:17 - “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new.”


Oh - how I love that verse!  A New Creature!  Now you didn’t get a new body when you got saved - and you didn’t get a new soul (that’s where your mind, your will, and your emotions are).  BUT YOU DID GET A NEW SPIRIT.  So what got passed away?  That old dead spirit, and all that TRASH that that old spirit caused!  If God has allowed for ‘ALL THAT TO BE PASSED AWAY’, then you don’t need to hold onto it!!!!  All the bad that you did was placed on Jesus, and He suffered in your place and paid the price for it.  Therefore, YOU ARE TRULY A NEW CREATURE - AND YOU JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE IT AND RECEIVE THAT WONDERFUL GIFT FROM HIM.  THEN YOU RENEW YOUR MIND SO THAT YOU SEE YOURSELF AS FREE FROM ALL THE STUFF THAT THE TRASH CAUSED!


Then, after awhile, you just begin to think that way all the time.  You see yourself as a brand new creature.


Here’s another verse -  Galatians 2:20 - “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”


Now - the easiest way to understand this is the fact that your new born again spirit contains everything you need to live in your flesh body the way Jesus lived in His flesh body - and faith is one of the things in that new spirit.  See - it didn’t say, “the faith in the Son of God;” it said, “the faith of the Son of God.”  


That new spirit that was given to us when we were born again has everything in it to help us live a ‘Christ-like’ life while we’re here on this earth.  All we have to do is believe it - access it by receiving it.  In other words, the WORD OF GOD HAS ALL THE INFORMATION WE NEED TO LIVE LIKE JESUS WANTS US TO LIVE.  It’s a God-centered life, loving people like God does, helping people, taking our eyes off ourselves and see the world and the people in it the way God does.  SO - WE’RE GETTING OLD!  SO WHAT?  WE CAN STILL SEE PEOPLE AND LIFE HERE THE WAY HE WANTS US TO - AND HE CAN STILL USE US - BUT ONLY IF WE TAKE OUR EYES OFF OURSELVES WITH THE SELF-CENTEREDNESS OF OUR CULTURE -  AND INSTEAD JUST GET MORE EXCITED ABOUT JESUS AND HIS WAY OF LIFE THAN EVER BEFORE.


Now I want to say here that this isn’t a quick - “Do it - and Everything will go just right from there on thing!”  This is a way of life.  It is becoming more and more and more aware of God and what He is like by spending time in His Word.  


For me, personally, I have been a Bible reader for years and years.  BUT - two years ago, my daughter and son-in-law gave me Andrew Wommack’s “New Living Commentary,” in an ipad.  He has written commentaries on  verses throughout the Bible.  I really love it and I read it daily.  I use it and read it as I prepare for these group sessions.


Brothers and sisters, the Word is the POWERFUL FORCE that motivates, helps, guides, illuminates, and stirs you in more ways than you can think of - to help you really access all that the Lord has provided for you while you’re still here on this earth.  But, let me say, it isn’t reading to just get information, to understand doctrine, to see the differences in the different denominations, or to be better able to talk to people about the Lord.  It is reading to become more and more aware deep within you of WHO GOD REALLY IS AND WHAT HE’S REALLY LIKE. Also, it’s about HOW MUCH HE LOVES YOU AND THE REST OF THE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD - AND WHAT HE (THE TRINITY) WENT THROUGH TO KEEP YOU FROM SPENDING ETERNITY IN HELL.  It’s also about how He has dealt with human beings, with making covenants with them, and using them to bring His will and His Word to the people of the world.


God made mankind and there, in that garden of Eden, He fellowshipped with them, provided for them, helped them understand things, just enjoyed their presence.  Then mankind sinned by doing what He had said not to do - and everything changed.  That fellowship and communication changed.  The sin nature (in the spirit) hindered the relationship with mankind.  So for many, many years (as we read about in the Old Testament), God found some here and there who would tell others about Him and what He is like.  But they still didn’t have the same kind of relationship they had before the fall.


So, He loved mankind so much that He sent His Son, the 2nd Person of the Godhead, Jesus, into the world - sinless - to take the sin of the rest of the world on Himself - and to die and go to Hell - FOR US!!!  He paid a price we couldn’t pay.  




He wants us to desire that communication with Him, that closeness to Him, that understanding and illumination about Him.  He desires a closeness with us - that’s the reason He did all that.  HE LOVES US.




Now - I am going to use something from the Apostle Paul’s life to give an example of this whole thing of SEEING YOURSELF AS A NEW CREATION.  There are many verses where Paul called himself a PRISONER.  I am going to use just one - Ephesians 4:1 - “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called.”


Now, this is what I want us to see.  The Apostle Paul was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel.  He really was taken as a prisoner by Roman officials, and, when it gets right down to it, he was imprisoned by Caesar - the head guy of the Roman Empire.  However, Paul, when he talked about it, he referred to being imprisoned by the Lord, or by Christ.  


Now, this is what I want to share with you.  The Lord showed me this as I was preparing this teaching.  Paul saw himself as being a PRISONER OF CHRIST.   This is because he realized that he was going to be taken before the leaders of the then-known world and given the opportunity to tell them about Christ.  He knew  was what was coming - and he was looking at it this way.  “The Lord is going to use me to tell the most important leaders in the world about Jesus, the Son of God, coming into the world and taking all our sin on Himself and being hung on a cross, for all the people of the world - and boy, oh boy, do I want to do a good job of talking about the Lord.  I want them to hear the truth.  I want them to hear what the Son of God has done to help all the people of the world.  What a privilege this is.”  “So Lord - thank you for this wonderful opportunity that’s coming up.  Help me do it the way You want me to.  Help me say it right.  Help me be a tool in Your hand.  Cause my words to stir up the hearts of those who really do want to know the Messiah - the KING OF THE WORLD.  I’m Your prisoner, Lord and thank you so much for giving me this opportunity.”


That’s the reason He called himself a prisoner of the Lord.  He saw himself in this way because he was so close to the Lord, and had such an intimate relationship with the Lord.  He refused to see himself as a prisoner of the Roman Empire.  I believe that he was actually excited about the fact that the Lord was going to use him to reach all the people in Rome with his message - and then, if they killed him, HE GOT TO BE WITH JESUS!


I believe that this is a perfect example for us to see ourselves in our NEW CREATION IDENTITY.  He didn’t see himself as the old sinner he used to be, going around arresting and hurting Christians, and then seeing many of them be killed.  He saw himself as a child of God, with a whole new nature (or spirit) and he saw himself that way, because he spent time with the Lord, talking to Him, thinking about Him, reading, when possible, what had been written about all the godly people before Christ (like the prophets, Abraham, Moses, and all the rest).  Also, of course, I believe that he pondered on all he had heard from the disciples about all that Jesus said and did.  Maybe some of them, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, had shared with him what they were writing (or had already written) about Jesus.


He refused to center his attention on his own situation and how uncomfortable it was.  He made a determined effort to fix his attention on the Lord and spend time praying - not just for himself, but for all those who were going to hear what he had to say - no matter who he was  before.


Now - can you see how WHAT YOU FIX YOUR ATTENTION ON has a huge effect on your life.  The Lord wants us to see ourselves as THE NEW CREATION that we became when we were born again, more than we see ourselves as older people with problems.  We’re not trying to pretend that they’re not there in our lives - we’re seeing who we are in Christ as the real reality and it will cause us to rejoice and be filled with the peace, joy, faith, love, patience and all the other things that are in this new creation.  


See, so many Christians just don’t have a clear understanding about this.  They read it all, but they think that it’s just kinda’ a fantasy - or maybe just for the super-saints!  For some, they are pretty sure it really is for real but it just seems too hard to do so they just kinda’ act like that’s what they’re doing - when they know they really aren’t.  


When you just take a look at your life, as you’re reading the Bible, deep within yourself, you know that the Lord has more for you to see, do, pray for, think about, and on and on.  His love for you, and what He went through for you, is so-o-o-o-o big, that He’s always just going to keep running after you to deepen the relationship between you and Him.


Now, please understand, I’m not saying that I do it all perfectly - nobody does - but I have a better understanding of it than I used to have.  See - it’s a growth process.  When I began to get a handle on the fact that the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE wanted a daily relationship with me, because He loved me so much - and had gone through so much to make it possible - it began to change the way I saw things.


I began to see that, however much time I had here on this earth, I could use it by prayer, by spoken words, by just befriending someone, by seeing others the way God sees them, AND BY SEEING MYSELF THE WAY GOD SEES ME.  I began to see the difference between THE OLD ME AND THE NEW ME.


I’ve sat, with my eyes closed at times, and imagined what it was like in those dungeon prisons that Paul was in.  I’ve read that, in some of them, Paul had his hands chained and his feet chained; and that he was sitting on dirt.  Can you imagine not being even able to move around?  I’ve imagined him thinking to himself, in the middle of that horrible situation, “Hallelujah - I’m going to be able to preach the Gospel to all those Roman officials - and even to Caesar!”  Then, I have imagined him praying for all the people who will hear - that they will believe!!!


Man Oh Man - that’s really ‘seeing yourself as a new creation’ no matter what!!!


Now I want to bring up another verse for us to think about.  It’s Romans 8:37.  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  Anybody remember that song?

We’ve been made more than conquerors,

Overcomers in this life,

We’ve been made victorious,

Through the blood of Jesus Christ.


I remember when I first started reading the Bible every day - a very long time ago - and when I came across that verse, I would think, “How can you be more than a conqueror?”  Well, I want to share a little story that I heard.  There was a man who was a boxer, fighter, (or whatever you want to call him) for a living.  That’s what he did - how he lived his life.  He was at a match and it was a very, very severe one, and even though he had lots of bruises and some bad marks on his body, he still was pronounced the winner!  So - after he left the ring, he was helped by his assistant to get out of the auditorium where all the people were and back into a room in the back.  His assistant helped him clean up a bit and, as he got done, he sat down in a chair.  Shortly after that, the man who was in charge of the whole match, came into the room and shook his hand, and handed him a BIG CHECK, WORTH A LOT OF MONEY!  The boxer looked at the amount and just smiled nicely and thanked the man.  The man said, “You earned it man - you’re the CONQUEROR!  Then he left.  Just a few minutes later, the fighter’s wife came into the room to congratulate her husband and, as she came up to him, before she could throw her arms around him, he handed the BIG check to her!  Her eyes and mouth were wide open as she looked at it - and her husband said to her, “YOU’RE MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!”


I love that story because it shows exactly what that verse is talking about.  Jesus did the conquering!  We didn’t!  I have thought about that many, many times since I heard it a long time ago.  As I’ve thought about it, I’ve said, “I AM MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!” As I’ve said that to myself, I’ve thought, “You know - Jesus did it all for me - there is nothing that people or the devil and his demons can throw at me that can take away my ability to come out of any situation by the power of my Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  It has already been proclaimed that I am More than a Conqueror.  It’s a done deal.”


When you begin to think like that in your mind (which is in your soul), it means that you are renewing your mind as it tells us to do in Romans 12:1-2.  “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”


So - TO GROW OLDER GRACEFULLY, we must learn to see ourselves as the new creation that we are - rather than seeing ourselves as grumpy, frustrated, forgetful, tired, worn out, feeling sorry for ourselves and all the rest of things that are quite common among older people.  We are NEW CREATIONS, CHILDREN AND HEIRS OF THE CREATOR AND KING OF THE UNIVERSE.  HE LOVES US DEARLY AND HAS PROVIDED EVERYTHING IN OUR NEW BORN AGAIN SPIRIT THAT WE NEED.  HE HAS MADE LOTS OF PROMISES - AND GOD CANNOT AND WILL NOT LIE.  


Besides of all that wonderful stuff, He has taken away the old you - and all the trash from that you - and He has declared that you are His child - His heir.  He paid a price you couldn’t pay and has given you His power in your new spirit.  He has given you His precious WORD so you can understand more and more - and as you do, your mind (in your soul) is renewed.


And, as if that wasn’t enough, He has made you MORE THAN A CONQUEROR.





Scriptures used for this lesson

Ephesians 4:22-24

2 Corinthians 5:17

Galations 2:20

Ephesians 4:1

Romans 8:37

Romans 12:1-2

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