RELATING TO THE WORLD AROUND YOU
I know this sounds like a very strange title for a teaching but this is what the Lord instructed me to do. He told me that so many of His older children begin to feel, with each year that they get older, that it’s just too much to deal with - so they just kinda’ SHUT DOWN. Sometimes, when they don’t drive anymore, and their body doesn’t want to do much walking anymore, and on and on and on - they just don’t feel like they matter much to the world around them anymore.
Now, perhaps you haven’t reached there yet - or perhaps you are starting to feel that way a bit - or maybe you’re thinking, “Oh that’s not me, I’ll never be that way.” Well, don’t say never. Because I have talked to lots and lots of older Christians who fall into that kind of thinking. I am 86 years old; I live with my daughter and son-in-law; I don’t drive anymore; I have had times when I have been TEMPTED BY THE EVIL ONE to just fall into that trap of thinking that way. So, everyone is tempted - BUT WE DON’T HAVE TO YIELD TO THAT TEMPTATION.
Now, there are many things involved - and, as you’ve heard me say before, we are all unique - based on our backgrounds, our personalities, our families, and all the other things which make us US. I was raised in a loving family, where there was no arguing, fussing, and getting upset with one another. Because of my childhood eye problems, and my constant desire to read, being by myself was never a problem for me. Now, I know that’s not true for everybody. We’re all different.
Over the last 40 or so years, I have known older Christians who just kinda’ hibernate. They feel like they don’t have a social life anymore and it becomes their habit-pattern to be alone most of the time - even though they don’t like it. They feel like they’re a burden to their family and friends. Also, in today’s world, life involves computers, cell phones, and other devices and it all gets kinda’ complicated to older people.
Now - this may not be true with you - but the Lord wants us all to have an awareness of what’s going on so He can use us to help others who are going through this in their current lives. The Lord may want to use YOU to bring enlightenment to someone who is feeling this way.
[Now I have to just tell you something funny!!! After just writing the above words, I had to check something on Facebook for just a minute, and, as I did, I saw these words that someone had just put on there. “You never realize how boring your life is until someone asks what you like to do for fun.” I just sat there laughing - then I thought, “You know, lots of older people can’t think of hardly anything that’s fun anymore!!”]
So back to the thing we’re talking about! We all may be in a different place in this topic of, “Relating To The World Around You,” but wherever you are, God wants us to grab ahold of some truths from the Word of God regarding how He wants us to go through these latter years of our lives.
First of all, He wants you to give Him first place in your life. That means that nobody is more important to you than He is. We’ve talked about this in several sessions. Now, I know that family is very important to every one of us - and that’s normal. However, the BODY OF CHRIST is also to be very important to us. Sometimes, God wants to use them to help you and sometimes He wants to use you to help them. And - there’s all kinds of ways that this works.
Now listen to these two verses - 2 Corinthians 8:13-14 - “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack - that there may be equality.” Now those verses can be referring to many things - like money, etc. - but they can also refer to any kind of needs in your life. The individual people in the Body of Christ that you go to church with all the time are to be the ones you can run to for help (yourself) or that they can run to you for help. That’s the way God wants the relationship to be among Christians.
Now, I’ve noticed that a lot of older people do not want to ask for help - they don’t want to let anybody know that they don’t have a ride to church for any meetings except what has been planned for Sunday mornings. I’m just using that as an example.
God may want to use you in that way. On the other hand, you may be the one who can open up to one of your brothers or sisters, and let them know that you could use a ride - instead of just sitting by yourself and watching “As the Stomach Turns” on Television. (That’s a quote from Andrew Wommack.)
WE ARE BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE MOST POWERFUL AND LOVING FAMILY IN THE WORLD - GOD’S FAMILY - AND WE ARE TO BE THERE FOR ONE ANOTHER. BUT WE HAVE TO QUIT BEING EMBARRASSED TO LET ANYONE KNOW. AND WE HAVE TO BE LOVINGLY WILLING TO HELP.
Now I’m going to read two of my favorite verses in the Bible - 1 John 4:7-8 - “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” When the word, ‘love,’ is used here, it is AGAPE - the God-kind of love.
Now - here’s another verse - 1 John 4:11 - “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Boy oh Boy - you just can’t get down to the nitty gritty more than that can you?!!! Think about it. If God could give the very best He had, His Son, to pay for our sins - BECAUSE HE LOVED US SO MUCH - how can we not love one another with that same kind of love in the BODY OF CHRIST!!!!
Now - here’s another one from 1 John - 1 John 4:21 - “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” Of course, that is referring to the brethren - or brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. Therefore, it isn’t enough to just say ‘hello’ to people on Sunday (although that’s important), BUT we are to be so tuned in to the Lord that He can tell us (deep within us) who we are to befriend - so that we can get to really know them. As we open ourselves up more to the Lord, we can get closer to our brothers and sisters. We can stop being afraid of close relationships - being afraid of being hurt - being afraid of being misunderstood, and on and on.
God wants to use us with one another. I led a Monday morning life group at my church in Port St. Lucie for almost 16 years - and we called ourselves “The One Anothers.” We would (and did) do anything for each other. A very precious friend of mine, who was a part of the group, is leading the group now - but we still stay in close contact with ‘One Another.’ When there’s a big problem in someone’s life, they let me know, so I can pray with them about it.
Here’s some other verses which just confirm what our attitude is to be toward our Christian brothers and sisters - 1 Peter 4:8-10 - “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
That’s the way God wants it to be in the BODY OF CHRIST.
Now - there’s another trap that many older Christians fall into. It’s the feeling like they just don’t matter much anymore - how they feel, what their opinion is about things, and that everybody kinda’ just thinks they’re just old and can’t be of much use anymore. Now that way of thinking is from our enemy, Satan, and it is his way of keeping you quiet - or shutting you up. As long as you are still breathing here on this earth, as a child of God, YOU STILL MATTER!
Now, here’s a verse that we all need to think about all the time - instead of thinking about how old you are and how many pains you have - think about this - 2 Corinthians 5:17 - “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.” In fact, I suggest you look that verse up in every translation available to you and read it over and over again. That’s the way we have to think of ourselves. Now, when you first read it, you might think (on the inside) “Well I don’t feel New - I feel old.” Well, that’s the way the enemy wants you to think. But say it outloud to yourself over and over and over. Think about it when you’re eating, when you’re taking a shower, when you’re cleaning something in your bedroom, or just when you’re sitting in your comfy chair by yourself - say it and say it and say it. You’ll find, that after awhile, you’ll begin to see yourself differently. I love this song, from many years ago: I’m a new creation;
I’m a brand new man;
Old things have passed away;
I’ve been born again.
More than a conqueror;
That’s who I am;
I’m a new creation;
I’m a brand new man.
I sing that to myself all the time. That’s one way of pondering on the Word - or meditating on the Word. We must see ourselves STILL - NO MATTER HOW OLD WE ARE - as children of the Most High God - His precious heirs still here on the earth with authority given by Him.
If we want change in our lives - from just sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves and bored with life all the time - then we need to SEE OURSELVES THE WAY HE SEES US.
Back in that song, it is referring to Romans 8:37 which says this - “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Now I want to tell you a little story that I heard a long time ago.
There was guy who was a boxer - and he was in a match that was an extremely hard one - yet, when it was all over, he was declared the winner. Everybody was clapping and screaming and giving him praise. He was really done in though, exhausted in every area of his body. After awhile, his helper came and assisted him out of the ring and through the crowd to a room ready for the winner. His helper was wiping his body and seeing to him in every way he could. After awhile, the man who had held the match came into the room and came up to the boxer and gave him a HUGE check, as the CONQUEROR. Then, after that, the boxer’s wife came into the room and ran up to her husband, hugging and praising him - then the boxer stood up and smiled at his wife and handed her the huge check and said, “Honey, you’re MORE THAN A CONQUEROR!”
He did the fighting - like Jesus did for us - and then she, after not having to fight, received all that the conqueror received - LIKE US - THEREFORE, WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS!
Brothers and Sisters - that’s the way we need to see ourselves. When we get a handle on that, it doesn’t matter how old we are, or what the doctor said, and on and on - we are His - and as long as we’re here, we can walk like MORE THAN CONQUERORS! AND - GOD WILL STILL USE US!
There is something that the Lord told me to mention here in this topic of “Relating to the World Around Us,” and it’s this! DON’T FORGET THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE GETTING OLDER, YOU STILL HAVE BEEN GIVEN AUTHORITY HERE ON THIS EARTH. Sometimes, we just get so used to the daily problems of living, that we just accept them as part of life, and, in our minds, we think, “Well, it’s just the way life is.” Now, let me share this with you. After my husband moved to heaven, I was living in Kansas City, Mo., my home town, in a little apartment fairly close to my sister (who has since moved to heaven also) and her husband. It was a Sunday, and I was at their house after church, eating lunch with them. It was becoming stormy and we turned on the news and they were predicting tornadoes in the area. We were done with lunch and I decided that I had better head for my apartment before it started to rain. When I got home, I was in my little living room praying, and it seemed to be getting worse. It wasn’t raining yet, so I went out on my little front patio and, as I looked up, I could see a tornado in the distance, headed right for where I was. I stood there and commanded that tornado, in the name of Jesus, to go another way - that it absolutely could not come where I was. I pointed my finger to it, and said it in a voice of authority. I told it I had authority over it and it had to obey me. I stood there and watched that tornado turn and head another way. I mean I really saw it turn!!!!
I went in and turned on the news, and the news was relating that there had been some tornadoes sighted but they had not caused any damage.
From that day to now, I have been doing the same thing about destructive weather. I say something like this, “Weather Pattern, I speak to you in the name of Jesus Christ, whose I am and whom I serve. I command you to take your destructive weather away from here. You cannot come here. Go away, in Jesus’ name.” WE HAVE AUTHORITY, EVEN THOUGH WE’RE OLDER!!!!! By the way, we can use that same authority over problems in our bodies.
As I’ve said many times before, God uses older Christians as PRAYER WARRIORS more than any age group.
Now I want to share some things with you about two people in the New Testament. TWO OLDER PEOPLE! I love these verses in the Book of Luke. These two people aren’t mentioned in the other three Gospels. I have read these verses over and over - and I have taught from them several times over the years. It starts in Luke 2:22, when Joseph and Mary took the Baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. This was about 40 days after His birth.
I’m going to read Luke 2:22-24 - “Now when the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord),’ and to offer a sacrifice, according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’”
So Joseph and Mary were doing what the law required for the birth of a male child. Now, these next verses are about the first person I want us to think about - a man named Simeon. I’m reading Luke 2:25-35 - “And behold there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word, For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.’ And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, His mother, ‘Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Now - this man, Simeon, was an old man - but he had spent so much time with the Lord that the Lord had shown him about the coming Messiah - and the Lord had told him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Savior. The man was old! So are some of us! But God used him, showed truth to him, revealed to him. These are the only verses in the Word about this man - but what an inspiration he is to us who are getting older and older and older. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to really see myself as 86 years old. I can remember, when I was younger, 86 sounded ancient. Yet - here I am. I figure, if I just stay in communication with the Lord, He can still use me, just like He did Simeon.
Now - let’s talk about the other one - an old lady named Anna. Now there’s only three verses about this lady in the Bible but what an encouragement she has been to me. I’m going to read Luke 2:36-38 - “Now there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant, she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
Now, if Anna had married her husband when she was 14 years old and then 7 years later her husband died - and she had been a widow for 84 years, then she would have been 105 years old. So - for 84 years, she had served the Lord - LIVING AT THE TEMPLE - WITH FASTINGS AND PRAYERS!! Now, as I have prayed about this and asked God for revelation and understanding, this is what He has shown me. This lady was so devoted to the Lord - I believe she had a little tiny place, way at the end of the temple (way back away from where people walked around) where she had a place to sleep. I believe she had friends who had helped her to fix it so it seemed insignificant, and yet was personal. I believe that friends brought her food. She spent most of her time praying. What was she praying for - night and day for 84 years - I believe she was praying for a Savior - I believe the Lord enlightened her, revealed to her, helped her, guided her, protected her, and used her greatly. Can you imagine the women who knew her really well, and how they were inspired by this woman of God!!!!!!
Now, I’ve been a widow for 24 years - that’s a long time - she had been a widow for 84 years - 60 years longer than me. THIS WOMAN DEVOTED HERSELF TO GOD AND SHE GOT TO SEE THE BABY JESUS - THE MESSIAH. WHAT A REWARD!!!!!! My - My - how God rewards those who devote themselves to Him!!
Not only did she get to see the Messiah - but she is written about in three verses of the Bible and people have been inspired by her for over 2,000 years!!!
Now - let’s relate these two - Simeon and Anna - to you and me. Even though we’re getting older, and the world seems to be getting worse and worse, God has not changed!! He wants us to use these years to do what we didn’t have time for when we were younger - He wants us to get to know Him better and better. He wants us to be inspired by people like Simeon and Anna. Simeon was old and he told the Lord he’d like to see the One who was going to bring redemption - and God told him he WOULD - BEFORE HE WOULD DIE!!! AND HE DID!!! Can you imagine a man having that close a relationship with the Lord? I can imagine that old man, sitting by himself and talking and talking and talking to the Lord. You know what? That’s what God loves for us to do.
Then, again, I have sat and pondered about Anna - what her little sleeping place looked like there at the Temple. She was CONSTANTLY aware of people coming and going, of the sacrifices, of the leaders, of the people with horrible problems - but also, of the worship of the Lord, those who would sing, and those who really, really, really loved Him. I believe that lots of the people got to know Anna, and would come to her and ask her to pray for them. She was probably well-known as the one to go to if you needed prayer. I think she loved God immensely. I’m thinking that one day I’ll get to meet her in Heaven - that we can sit and talk.
It’s not just the real famous people we’ll get to see in Heaven, but the ones less famous and yet extremely loved and used by God - like Simeon and Anna.
Brothers and Sisters - these older years have some challenges in them but the Lord wants me to encourage you that He loves, loves, loves you and wants to use you in all kinds of ways. Can you imagine how pleased God was with the ladies who brought food for Anna?
Even though we are getting older, God wants to use us in all kinds of ways. The only way we get a handle on what it is individually, is spending time talking to Him - like Simeon and Anna did. Not too many people got to see the baby Jesus - but they did.
God knows you inside and out. He knows every detail of your life. Now I’m not centering in on sin, or any of the bad stuff right now - He’s paid the price for that - I’m saying that He knows what your personality is like, the way you were raised, the people who have been in your life, your strengths and your weaknesses. There is no one in the Universe who knows you like He does. And - He loves you with His Agape Love - the God-Kind of Love. He wants the best for you. As I say often, He wants to be your BEST FRIEND!!!
I am suggesting that you read these verses from today over and over. We need to see ourselves as still usable to the Lord and we need to become so close to the Lord and His Word that we can learn to comprehend when He wants to reveal something to us, to lead us, guide us, help us, and on and on. Also, we need to believe His Word so much that we can exercise our authority over the evil in this earth - as well as pray for those who need healing, and for those who haven’t given their lives to Him yet.
What an awesome God we serve and how great is His love for us!!!!!
Scripture used in this lesson
2 Corinthians 8:13-14
1 John 4:7-8, 11, 21
1 Peter 4:8-10
2 Corinthians 5:17