Staying Young at Heart
Even if you’re old–Moses in Psalm 90
In the U.S., the population age 65 and older numbered 54.1 million in 2019. Today it is 56 million–NOW. The older group represents 17% of the population–more than one in every seven Americans. The number of older Americans has increased by 14.4 million (or 36%) since 2009, compared to an increase of only 3% for everyone under 65. On average, a 65-year-old can expect to live another twelve years.
Someone wrote, “Remember, old folks are worth a fortune, with silver in the hair, gold in their teeth, stones in their kidneys, lead in their feet and gas in their stomachs. They are wealthy! But what do you call them? Most cringe at senior citizen–it makes you want to look for a walker. No one likes the word aged or old folks. Gray-headed seems a little insulting, but true. My favorite is seasoned. When a special dish is prepared just right, its seasoned. When a baseball glove works just right–worn in all the right places, its seasoned. Seasoned is a great word because growing older these days is not a matter of setting aside life, or waiting for the door of death. The seasoned are lavished with opportunity. And their impact can be incredible for Christ.
Apart from the 60’s being the new 40’s, and most seniors still thinking that they’re 28–at least I do. The seasoned in our midst are not a drag on society. No, 77% of all of the assets in the U.S. are held by people 55 and over. The vast wealth in the U.S. is held by 3% of the people–most of them senior citizens. And as far as numbers, there are more people 65 and over than there are teenagers in America. But in the midst of a youth culture, where everything must be new, fit, young and fast–the seasoned can feel marginalized, minimized, even forgotten.
Even this moment, some of you are saying, “I’m not a senior, I don’t need to hear this.” Stop that thinking friends–you are a Christian who is called to honor the aged. You’re a child who has a grandparent, you’re a student needing examples. And you seasoned saints–how dare you feel inferior. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” You are as young as your faith, but as old as your doubt. You are as young as your determination, but as old as your fears. You are as young as your hope, but as old as your negativism.
Then how do the seasoned make a difference? How do they stay young in the faith? And by the way, for all of you every age, how do you keep your walk with Christ vibrant and alive? Answer–you read and apply Psalm 90. Psalm 90 gives five tips on staying young, no matter what your age–turn there. For you seasoned, write these truths down right by Psalm 90 or in the back of your Bible. Though it’s challenging to not forget, today is a don’t forget challenge–I know it’s not easy to remember.
One of the lay leaders challenged one seasoned woman to be thinking about the hereafter. She told him, “Oh I think about it all the time. No matter where I am, in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen or in the bedroom–I ask myself, ‘What am I here after?’” So write these down in a permanent place, not just your outline.
I will walk through the Psalm focusing on one verse, then draw out principles, teaching us how to stay young at heart–no matter how old we are, to live fresh, alive, genuine in faith. I love Psalm 90, because it’s written by an old man, Moses. See the superscription: “A prayer of Moses, the man of God”. I have a feeling he didn’t write it when he was in his 40’s, I’m convinced he didn’t write it when he was a shepherd, living in the wilderness. I believe he wrote it after he began to lead the people toward the Promise Land when he was between 80 and 120. That gives every older person hope, doesn’t it?
This is the oldest Psalm in the Bible and the only Psalm written by Moses. This Psalm is a prayer written by Moses while he was leading the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. Because of their disobedience and lack of faith, God would not let Israel enter the Promised Land until everyone over twenty years of age had died–Numbers 13 and 14. But knowing the facts of this Psalm is not enough to feel the punch of reality.
Have you considered how many Israelites died during those forty years? Bible scholars estimate over a million adults had to die–about half of the population. If you do the math (a million deaths in forty years). That means that the children of Israel were experiencing seventy to eighty funerals a day. Added to their wandering and waiting were death and dying–it was the stuff of their everyday life. Death was literally knocking at the door. Now you are ready to read it aloud with me—verse 12 is key.
#1 God is permanent, and you are not Verses 1 to 6
“A Prayer of Moses, the man of God
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
3 You turn man back into dust
And say, ‘Return, O children of men.’
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it passes by,
Or as a watch in the night.
5 You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep;
In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew.
6 In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew;
Toward evening it fades and withers away.”
Ever babysit an infant? They are like verse 5, “grass which sprouts anew.” They’re like little sprouting flowers–but towards evening (verse 6) they will fade and wither away.
#2 People must answer to a wrathful God Verses 7 to 12
Now read aloud verses 7 to 9.
“For we have been consumed by Your anger
And by Your wrath we have been dismayed.
8 You have placed our iniquities before You,
Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.
9 For all our days have declined in Your fury;
We have finished our years like a sigh.”
Look at those analogies concerning age–getting older. Plus God is permanent and you are not–verse 3, “You turn man back into dust.” Verse 4, “like yesterday, a watch in the night.” Verse 5, “like a flood . . . like grass.” Verse 6, “fades and withers away.” Verse 9, “like a sigh.” Then look at verse 10, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years, yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; for soon it is gone and we fly away.”
That is so vivid–you are here for just a season. But you and I will have to answer to a holy, wrathful God. Verse 11, “Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You?” Because of their disobedience, God was angry and there were consequences. But it all leads to the most important point in verse 12.
#3 The answer to God’s judgment and our weakness is to number our days Verse 12
“So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”
Obedience to this truth and daily dependence upon Him will not only create wisdom, but allow us to . . .
#4 Respond by appealing for mercy, joy and a meaningful life Verses 13 to 17
Here Moses describes joy, gladness and favor. Read aloud with me the next five verses.
“Do return, O Lord; how long will it be?
And be sorry for Your servants.
14 O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness,
That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us,
And the years we have seen evil.
16 Let Your work appear to Your servants
And Your majesty to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”
Here they are surrounded by death and the Lord says in verse 12, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Although we measure our age by years (birthdays)–)it is wiser to number our days, for we live one day at a time and life is brief. In the camp of Israel, a twenty-year-old would not live beyond sixty. It was a funeral march for forty long years. In light of eternity, verses 1 to 4, life is brief–no matter how long you live. We need God’s help to use our days wisely (verse 12) and joyfully (verses 14 to 15). The real satisfaction comes in doing God’s will (verse 14) living for God’s glory (verse 16) and growing in God’s beauty in verse 17. So practically, how can we number our days? Chuck Swindoll was helpful with five practical applications.
#1 Your MIND is not old–keep developing it
If we are to number our days, we need to be developing a mind that is wise. How do you develop your mind in order to be wise?
Suggestion 1 READ more and watch less (TV/computer/video games)
Isn’t it interesting when you ask someone about a book, you say, “What did you think?” after they’ve read it. But after they watch something we say, “How’d you like it?” Why? Because media doesn’t make us think, but books make us think. You should be reading 2, 3, 5, 10 or 40 books a year–just to keep your mind alive at any age . . . deliberately in different fields, outside the realm of faith, along with your reading in the realm of spiritual things. Keep fresh there as well.
J.O. Saunders, “Spiritual Leadership”
Piper, “Desiring God” or “Providence”
MacArthur, “Slave” and “Battle for the Beginning and “Parables”
Christian biographies, especially those of missionaries
“The Chronicles of Narnia”
Tozer, “The Pursuit of God”
Read a marriage book as a couple
Read JC Ryle’s, “Thoughts to Young Men” to your grandsons
Regularly go to our book table for good, inexpensive books
Go to Costco to get their best-selling history books, only the best—then talk to people who read
Suggestion 2 DISCUSS ideas and events more, but people less
The sorriest conversation is people talk. If you want to know about people, buy “People Magazine”–it’ll tell you all you want to know. And if that’s not enough, watch “Entertainment Tonight”–that’ll tell you what “People” left out. On Sunday, you would not believe some of the conversations I overhear while walking by–I’m not spying. But when you speak, I can hear all about people, politics, sports. Your mind doesn’t get old–keep developing it.
A little book called, “You and Your Thoughts” reminds you. “The human mind is a fabulous computer. As a matter of fact, no one has been able to design a computer as intricate and efficient as the human mind. Consider this: your brain is capable of recording 800 memories per second for 75 years without ever getting tired. Some complain their brains are too tired to get involved in Scripture memorization. The body can get tired but the brain never does. A human being doesn’t use more than 2% of his brain and some… demonstrate this fact… more than others.” (Earl Radmacher)
Here’s the point–the brain is capable of an incredible amount of work and it retains everything it takes in. It never gets tired. Keep developing, keep reading, talking with those who read and stay in touch with the real world. And finally . . .
Suggestion 3 Read more Bible than you scan the internet
Believe the Bible more absolutely than you do the news. The Bible is the truth–the Word of God is absolute. Most of the news is tainted with fallen reporters’ opinions. Sometimes it’s twisted by the reporter or network. Sadly, many believers are moved by stories in the news and bored with the absolute truths of the Bible. Read, study and meditate on the Bible as truth and talk about it more than the news, weather, sports or politics. Choose to get ten times more excited about the Scripture.
#2 Your humor isn’t over–keep enjoying it
Humor doesn’t end when you hit 60. I don’t know of a more essential companion for the journey of life than a good sense of humor. Personally, I don’t want to be around those without one. People with a good sense of humor are contagious, exciting, alive, fun and there is no greater therapy in life than laughter. A sour, old, crotchety man or a bitter sullen critical woman is one of the crowning works of the devil–and no one wants to be around you if you are like that.
I am not talking about the latest clean joke, but someone who takes the Lord seriously but also doesn’t take themselves seriously. Like the seasoned woman who wrote her family this letter . . .
I have become 65 years old since I saw you last, and a few changes have come into my life. Frankly I have become quite a frivolous old gal. I am seeing five different gentlemen every day. As soon as I wake up, Will Power helps me get out of bed. Then I go to see John. Then Charlie Horse comes along, and when he is here, he takes a lot of my time and attention. When he leaves, Arthur Ritus shows up and stays the rest of the day. After a really busy day, I’m really tired and glad to go to bed with Ben Gay. What a life–I’m never alone. Love, Mother”
Teen to seasoned, look for the bright side of life. Get beyond the weather and world news. The weather is always awful. They never say tomorrow will be mostly sunny, they say tomorrow will be partly cloudy. It may rain–what is wrong with rain? (Except when building a building.) Be thankful in all things–rejoice always. Decide to look for the good, blessings and treasures in life. A vulture finds a carcass in the desert, cause that’s what it’s looking for. A hummingbird finds a flower in the desert, cause that is what it’s looking for. What are you looking for? I hope to laugh.
In Psalm 90, after numbering our days, did you notice verse 14, “that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days”? Then in verse 15, “make us glad.” Your kids, and especially your grandkids, don’t want to be around a cranky old man or a bitter old woman. But they love being around a grand who is still having fun and is still fun to be with. When my boys are not teasing me over my planned vacations and “edu-vations”, what do they recall?
They never bring up my sermons, devotions, or paycheck—but they remember the fun, vacations, wrestling, friends over and laughing. Every wedding I officiate, I ask what they remember from their childhood. Almost always, it’s fun on vacation. You seasoned, stay humorous. Parents, enjoy your kids.
#3 Your strength is not gone–keep using it
Verse 17, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us;
And confirm for us the work of our hands;
Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”
That’s from an 80+ year-old-man. Our hands have work to do—”confirm the work.” God has wonderful ways of confirming the work of our hands.
Suggestion 1 Be of HELP to people
Volunteer at church–especially as we get on property, we are going to need you, now more than ever, during the day. The most faithful laborers in our church are determined not to sit at home behind drawn blinds. We will need an incredible force of folks to give their time to make Sundays run, to keep the buildings and parking lot clean, the surrounding property trimmed, the beds cared for–even some additional building.
Don’t ever forget, if you get time with your grandchildren, remember the major purpose of grandparents with grandchildren is to affirm the importance of their parents. One of your jobs is to convince your grandchildren that they have the greatest parents in the world. Continually think when you are with them, “How can I affirm their mother and dad?” Be of help to others.
Suggestion 2 INVEST time with friends
Form new friendships. It’s easy to sit around and mourn that a lot of your old friends are gone–life just isn’t like it used to be. Well, aren’t you glad? A lot of it was crummy! So what? Your friends are leaving–make new ones. Why do you think God let you live or let you stay? If you remain with just the old friends, you’ll get cliquish. We have some incredible people coming to our church that could really use an older, wiser friend. All it will take is a choice to reach out.
Suggestion 3 Maintain a consistent EXERCISE program
If you can’t run, jog. If you can’t jog, walk. If you can’t walk, rock. I haven’t met anyone who couldn’t rock. I heard of a doctor who, when he was diagnosing an older lady he had known for years who was in her 80s–a lady that ran every day 4 to 5 miles. He looked at her little body and was a little concerned about her and told her she should maybe take it easy and encouraged her to slow down. She did. God is sovereign over death. And three months later she died.
He said if he could take anything back, it would be telling her to take it easy. Never tell someone to take it easy or not to exercise. King Jillian, “You’ve got to move it, move it!” On the other hand, you’ve heard about the old couple who died in a crash. They were walking around Heaven together, going, “OOO, AHH, WOW.” Finally, the husband says to his wife, “Wow, Honey, we could have been here ten years earlier if it weren’t for oat bran. There is nothing wrong with going home.
#4 Opportunities have not VANISHED–keep pursuing them
Again, verse 12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” One version says, “assign significance to each and every day.” Teach us how to do that–make each day count. It’s a prayer. Instead of beginning each day with a sigh—or for me, with a groan. Think of what the day will hold for you–untouched treasures, untapped opportunities, unappropriated privileges, and conversations to be held. Pursue what wonderful things there are to see and hear. Think about what lonely lives you can encourage, opportunities to travel, to be of service, cheer, or give hope.
“But,” you say, “I’ve done a lot of that and I’ve failed many times.” Trying new things is risky, isn’t it? Yes, but if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed. When I mention the name Babe Ruth, everyone I know thinks of the home run king–714 homers in his career. But very few realize Babe set the record for strike outs. Babe Ruth struck out more than any other baseball player in the history of the game–1,330 times. “What’s the secret of your success?” he was asked. “Well, I just keep going up there and swinging at them.”
Great counsel–just keep stepping up to the plate and keep swinging, even when you strike out. That’s the way it is with opportunities. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). You figure stuff out. Ever tried to disciple someone? Disciple another? Ever tried to shepherd a small group? Ever tried to go overseas on a missionary trip? Have you invited a friend to church lately and sat with them–then followed them up? Have you sought to minister to younger people? Are you serving behind the scenes? Your opportunities have not vanished, keep pursuing them–at church, now more than ever.
#5 Your God is not dead–keep seeking Him
“So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of . . .” perfection? No. He doesn’t want that. A heart of bitterness? No. A heart of wealth? No. A heart of achievements? No. “Wisdom.” That’s the one ingredient the young don’t have–but want it, and desperately need it. And the only way they find it, is if someone will show them how they have applied the Bible. Titus 2:3, older women are to train younger women. And 1 Peter 5:5, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders.”
Are you investing in the next generation in some manner? So many seasoned have time and money–but are bored. Some have filled their lives with perversion, pornography, pleasure, pampering, profanity and various practices—yet they have no purpose at all. It’s easy to see gray hair and think because they attend church, they must walk with God. Sadly, just because you’re growing old, doesn’t mean you are wise. And just because you are up in years and have earned enough to retire, doesn’t mean you’re godly.
And the biggest concern above all concerns for the seasoned–some of you who are up in years have never come to know Christ personally, intimately with saving faith. You’ve lived a fairly moral life. You’ve been faithful. You may have lost a good deal, learned much and maybe are worldly wise, even gone to church faithfully. But today, are you absolutely certain you are a Christian? I believe you need to hear how the Lord changed Larry Preston’s life.
Some of you do not know Jesus Christ. And if you don’t, you’ll never be totally wise, nor will you go to Heaven when you walk through the final door. The only way to Heaven with God is through Christ. His love keeps us going. His truth makes us wise. His holiness helps us stay pure. His life keeps us alive each day.
“Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, no man [or woman] shall come to the father except through Him” (John 14:6). He died for all your sins, and He died for your mistakes. He took your punishment out of love for you, and He rose from the dead to give you new life now and eternal life forever. Nothing keeps us younger than Christ. Cry out to Him to open your heart–to make you new. Then you can turn from your sin and depend on Him daily.
Tell Christ you need Him in your life–especially as you grow older. That you are lonely, lost and need forgiveness. That you need to start over with your remaining time–now with your Creator, not against Him. Surrender your life to Christ, the One who took all the punishment you deserve for your sins on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven. Cry out to Him today.
You, FBC family, keep me young and I love you very much. Your mind is not old, keep developing it. Your humor is not over, keep enjoying it. Your strength is not gone, keep using it. Your opportunities haven’t stopped, keep pursuing them. Your God is not dead, keep seeking Him. Number your days.
A God’s CHARACTER drives us to number our days
Look again at Psalm 90
Verse 2, As our Creator, we know we are accountable
Verse 2, His eternality reminds us this life is short
Verse 7, His anger, wrath and fury produces godly fear
Verse 14, His lovingkindness satisfies each one of us
Verse 16, His work and majesty encourage us as His children
Verse 17, His favor motivates us to serve
Live each day remembering who God is. He is the one who made you. God is the one who hates sin. Christ is the one who took the punishment for your sin. He loves His children and His favor motivates us to live for him, serve Him, and make every single day count for Christ.
B Our TRANSITORY nature drives us to number our days
Look at Psalm 90
Verse 2, “back to dust”, verse 5 to 6, “like grass fads away”, verse 9, “like a sigh”. Moses reminds us we are not here on Earth forever. You either live for the Lord or you live for yourself. Living for Him means doing those things that will last forever. Though people die physically, they will all exist eternally–and it is His Word alone that saves and sanctifies. Do all you can with your time and your resources to invest God’s Word into people. Make your life count. “Only one life soon past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Let’s pray.