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                "THEY SHALL STILL BEAR FRUIT IN OLD AGE"

                             Psalms 92:12-15

INTRODUCTION

1. A goal for many people in life is a happy retirement...
   a. They spend years saving and planning for the time in which they
      retire
   b. They look forward to the free time to do what interests them

2. But is the concept of "retirement" applicable to the kingdom of God?
   a. We may rightly retire from secular jobs, what about our service
      in the church?
   b. Granted, physical infirmities may sometimes be a hindrance, but
      is such a valid reason for retiring from the work of the church?

3. In Psalms 92:12-15, we find a description of the righteous...
   a. In which they are described as palm trees and cedar trees
   b. Flourishing in the house and courts of God
   -- Note in particular verse 14:  "They shall still bear fruit in
      old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing"

[This passage certainly suggests that there is a place of service for
the elderly in work of God.  They are able to "bear fruit" and remain
"fresh and flourishing", despite their old age.

That God can and does use the elderly should be rather apparent,
especially when we take a few moments to consider...]

I. GOD'S USE OF OLDER PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE

   A. MOSES AND AARON...
      1. They were chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian
         bondage
      2. At the ages of 80 and 83 - cf. Exo 7:7
      3. When they were already past the normal life span - Ps 90:10
         (written by Moses)

   B. JOSHUA AND CALEB...
      1. Joshua was given the charge of leading the conquest of Canaan,
         during the last thirty years of his life (he lived until he
         was 110, Josh 24:29)
      2. Caleb was also very much involved in the conquest, and he was
         in his eighties - cf. Josh 14:6-11

   C. DANIEL...
      1. He served God from the days of his youth, for over 70 years!
         - cf. Dan 1:21
      2. He was well over eighty when he:
         a. Served as one of three governors over the kingdom of
            Babylon - Dan 6:1-3
         b. Was thrown into the lions' den - Dan 6:4-27
         c. Prospered in the reigns of Darius and Cyrus the Persian
            - Dan 6:28
         d. Received a series of visions - Dan 8-12

   D. ZACHARIAS AND ELIZABETH...
      1. These were the parents of John the Baptist
      2. They were "both well advanced in years" - Lk 1:7
      3. Yet he was serving in the temple, and she gave birth to John!

   E. SIMEON AND ANNA...
      1. Two elderly people who bore witness to the Christ child when
         presented to the temple to be circumcised - Lk 2:25-38
      2. Anna herself was at least 84, and had been serving God "with
         fastings and prayers night and day"

   F. PAUL, THE AGED...
      1. As he refers to himself in Phm 9
      2. Yet we know at this time in his life, he was:
         a. Busy writing letters (Eph, Col, Phi, Phe), even while in
            prison
         b. Traveling, visiting, encouraging churches, when he was
            released from prison

[There are many other examples of how God used those in their "golden
years" to serve Him.  These we have considered certainly illustrate how
the elderly can "still bear fruit in old age".

But what about today?   Well consider...]

II. GOD'S USE OF OLDER PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH TODAY

   A. THERE IS ALWAYS A NEED FOR "ELDERS"...
      1. Did God not design the local church to be overseen by elders?
         - Ac 14:23; Tit 1:5-9
         a. Men who were older, capable of teaching and leading the
            flock?
         b. Men who were to serve as overseers and examples of God's
            flock? - 1Pe 5:1-4
      2. Yet many male members seem to retire from active service in
         the church about the same time they retire from secular work!
         a. Around age 65, which is rather young compared to the
            examples we saw!
         b. Just when they might be useful to the Lord, they are
            retiring!
         c. If unqualified to serve, why not spend a few years growing
            and developing the necessary qualifications (if possible),
            and then serve?
         d. Many young men who want to preach prepare themselves in
            just a couple of years, why can't older men do the same?

   B. THERE IS ALWAYS A NEED FOR OLDER WOMEN...
      1. Who will do what Paul commanded in Tit 2:3-5
      2. To be "teachers of good things", especially to teach the
         younger women how to love their husbands, love their children,
         be good wives and homemakers
      3. Sadly, many women stop teaching when they reach the age they
         are commanded to teach!
         a. Don't feel qualified to teach?  Then prepare yourself!
         b. Commit yourselves to study and learning God's word, and in
            a short time you will be more than prepared!

   C. THERE IS ALWAYS A NEED FOR SERVICE THE ELDERLY CAN PROVIDE...
      1. Some examples:
         a. Hospitality and benevolence - many elderly are financially
            secure, able to do what many younger families cannot
         b. Edification and evangelism - with so much time on their
            hands, why not use it to study with others?
      2. Even the most infirm can do things like:
         a. Send cards, make phone calls
         b. Spend time in prayer and fasting - cf. Lk 2:37; 1Ti 5:5
         -- I heard of one invalid who spent her time praying for the
            sick, for those involved in teaching others, etc.
      3. From our text we see what else the elderly can and should do:
         a. "To declare the that the Lord is upright; He is my rock,
            and there is no unrighteousness in Him" - Ps 92:15
         b. To proclaim God's strength to the next generation - cf. Psa
            71:17-18
         c. To recount God's mighty works to the next generation - cf.
            Ps 78:1-8

CONCLUSION

1. God can certainly use people of all ages...
   a. Who are willing to prepare themselves to be of service to Him
   b. Who are willing to present themselves in service to Him

2. We may retire from secular jobs, but not from our service to the
   Lord!
   a. Certainly physical infirmities may limit what we can do
   b. But only death can stop us from doing what we can!

3. Is the problem really one of physical infirmities, or spiritual
   laziness?
   a. We can't stop the aging process
   b. But we can be renewed inwardly daily! - cf. 2Co 4:16

4. Our problem may be related to our youth-oriented culture...
   a. Where the wisdom and experience of the elderly is not respected
   b. Where our society is too quick to put the elderly "out to
      pasture"

5. Other cultures reflect the scriptural norm...
   a. Where the elderly are revered, their wisdom and experience
      appreciated
   b. Where the elderly continue in roles of influence and leadership,
      even to death

I believe the righteous can and should "still bear fruit in old age". I
hope that this lesson will encourage the elderly to re-examine their
usefulness to the Lord and His church.

Let the attitude of "Paul, the aged" be your attitude as well:

   Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but
   I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus
   has also laid hold of me.

   Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one
   thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and
   reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press
   toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in
   Christ Jesus.

   Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and
   if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this
   to you.
                                           (Philippians 3:12-15)
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