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Spirituality ... The Word


Fresh and flourishing

by Pastor Jay JohnsonZion Brethren in Christ Church

The psalmist wrote in Psalm 92:12-15

“The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

This passage suggests that there is a place of service for the elderly in service of God. They are able to bear fruit and flourish despite their old age. Consider God’s use of older people in the Bible.

Moses and Aaron were chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage at the ages of 80 and 83. They served the people of God for forty years. Moses wrote in Psalm 90:10 “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty.” So he and his brother were already past the normal life span when they were used by God.

After the death of Moses, Joshua was given the charge of leading the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan. He was 80 years old at the time.

Caleb, who had fought alongside Joshua since he was young, requested his portion of land from Joshua when he was elderly. We read his request in Joshua 14:11-12, “I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.” He and his clan fought and drove out giants in the land.

And let’s not forget Daniel who was taken away from Israel as a teen during the Babylonian captivity. He served God for over 70 years. He was well over eighty when he served as one of three governors over Babylon. History shows that he was over 83 years old when he was thrown into the lion’s den, and after that God gave him a series of prophetic visions.

Just as God used the elderly in Bible times, God still uses older people today. Elders help the church function properly. God designed the church to be overseen by elders. The apostle Paul wrote this instruction to his young protégé Titus. “An elder, as God's steward, must be above reproach, not arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Titus 1:7-8

Later in that same book Paul tells Titus that the older women are to serve as examples in the church. “Older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5

If you’re reading this, God is not finished with you yet, no matter what your age. There are many ways you can serve the Lord. One of the best things you can do is spend your time in prayer. Pray for your family, friends, church, neighbors, missionaries and government leaders. Maybe you can exercise your benevolence. Most elderly people are more financially secure that younger families are. You could encourage others with cards or letters or you could even have a Bible study where you live.

There’s an 85 year old gentleman in my church who spreads the word of God by giving away devotionals or Bible tracts. I have another friend who is 84 years old and he has ministered in the local jail for 30 years. He also feeds cattle daily and has pastored his church for the last seven years.

The Apostle Paul was still writing letters of instruction to the churches even in his later years. May the attitude of "Paul the aged" be in you.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:12-16


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