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Bible Search
A Fantastic Family Sunset

 

A Fantastic Family Sunset
Luke 2:36-38
 
I am concluding a series of messages about the family. I have tried to touch on every area of family life that I know to touch on. This morning I want to speak on a Fantastic Family Sunset. We will talk about the sunset years.
 
I have chosen a personality in the Bible found in Luke 2 named Anna. This is in the context of the birth of Jesus, Jesus being brought into the temple, and the sacrifices being made on His behalf. In that atmosphere an old saint named Simeon came and this dear saint of God, Anna, came.
 
There are some of you today who say that the senior years are a long way off for you and this won't apply to you. But I will assure you that if you live long enough, the sunset years will be a part of your life. It is also true that in your family setting you probably have someone who is coming to those sunset years. It may be mom or dad. It may be a grandparent.
 
Or it may be that you have a friend who is in the senior years of life. Maybe you work around some people who would be classified as senior citizens. You may work in a particular industry that brings you in contact with people who are senior citizens. So whether I'm talking to you in particular, what I have to say is certainly going to be useful to every one of you.
 
 
 
We know that the senior population in America is a growing population. There are 35 million people who fall into that category. That's about 12 percent of our population. In the next 25 years that population will continue to grow, and they estimate that it will be 20 percent of the population. The lifespan of the senior citizen is increasing.
 
In 1910 the average lifespan was 49 years. In the year 2001 the lifespan had moved up to 77.2 years. If you are 77, don't have a heart attack. That doesn't mean you just have .2 years to go. It's the average age of people who fall in this category.
 
There are some definite characteristics of those who are in that category. They are referred to as the builders. We have the boomers in our population. We also have the builders. The builders are going to be a large segment of our population, and some who study such things say that it is going to bring about perhaps the most profound social change in American history.
 
What about these builders? There are several characteristics of them. One of them is that they respond to teaching. When they are taught the Scriptures, they are very responsive to being taught. Another thing we know about them is that they have respect for authority. They listen to authority. Builders have a high degree of loyalty. They are loyal in their marriage. They are loyal to their job. They are loyal to their church.
 
In other ages of the population they estimate that about 33 percent of that group will be in church once a week.
 
Those who fall into the sunset years category, about 50 percent of them, will be at church at least one time a week. The largest givers in any average congregation of people are made up of the builders, the senior adult category.
 
The sunset years are years where there are a number of adjustments going on. You have to adjust to declining strength and health and energy.
 
I was reading some interesting things. Here are some of the advantages of aging. In a hostage situation, you are like to be released first. There is nothing left to learn the hard way. You enjoy hearing about other people's operations. Your back goes out more than you do. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
 
You’ve probably heard the story about three elderly sisters who lived together. They were 96, 94, and 92 years old. The 96-year-old sister decided to go upstairs to get a bath. She had one foot in the tub and the other out. She called down to one of her sister, "Was I getting in or out of this tub?" The 94-year-old said, "Just a minute and I'll come up there to help you figure it out." She started up the stairs and got half way. She said, "Was I going up or down stairs?" The 92-year-old said, "I'm sure glad I'm not forgetful like that," as she knocked on wood and then said, "Hello, who's that?"
 
There are some adjustments. You have to adjust to the whole idea of retirement. For some it means you are going to live on less income. Sometimes you have to make adjustment to suitable living conditions. You may not be able to live where you have always lived before.
There are also some advantages to the senior years. When you are 20, you are worried about what other people are thinking about you. When you get 40, you really don't care what other people are thinking about you. Then when you get 60, you discover that other people weren't thinking about you in the first place.
 
The senior years can be great years of opportunity. They can be dreadful years or they can be delightful years. They can be years of gloom or they can be years of glory. So I want to lay some warm, sympathetic hands on the whole subject of the sunset years, and I pray that I will be a blessing to you.
 
Anna is one of those people in the Bible who lived a long time. It seemed that the last years of her life were the best years of her life. I want to share with you some important considerations when you come to the sunset years of your life.
 
I.       The Length of Your Life.
 
We don't know just exactly how old Anna was, but it seems that she might have been over 100 years of age. She had lived a lot of days.
 
When you are young the days seem to go very slowly. But when you are older the days seem to go by very swiftly. Your days become almost like a greased string going through your fingers.
 
One of my favorite books is Just As I Am, the biography of Billy Graham. In that book a university student asked Dr. Graham what was his biggest surprise in life.
Dr. Graham replied that the greatest surprise of life was the brevity of life. Then he told about a friend of his, Allen Emery.
 
Allen Emery said this: "I have discovered that as a Christian I was taught how to die, but I have discovered also that I have never been told how to get old."
 
It is a lesson that all of us need to learn if we are going to live long enough. The older you get, the more you will realize the years have passed by so very swiftly and where have all the years gone? How do you deal with these years and these days as they lengthen your life?
 
I would suggest to you that you face the fact that you may be getting a little bit older. It's all right to get older, it's not all right to get old. There is a difference between the two.
 
Listen to Proverbs 20, verse 29. "The glory of young men is their strength and the beauty of old men is the gray head." Accept the facts.
 
Stay young in heart. Winston Churchill was getting his photograph at the age of 80. The young photographer said to him, "I would like to take your picture at age 100." Sir Winston said, "That seems reasonable to me, young man. You seem to be fairly healthy."
 
You can remain young in heart. You can stay alive in your spirit. Learn to be useful. Learn to cope with the problems and difficulties that may come in your older years. Learn everything you can about eternity.
 
This life is a very brief life and no matter how long the length of your life may be, somewhere out there life will be over and you will be in eternity.
 
You are here for just a little while. Learn everything you can about eternity. That's where you are going to spend the rest of your life. So when I think about the length of life, I think about its days.
 
I think about the length of life and I think about its difficulties. I think about the physical issues that do come. I think about the fact that there is declining health as you get older. You begin to develop the B's of old age. Baldness, bifocals, bay windows, bunions and some other B's I'm not going to say anything about.
 
When you read the book of Ecclesiastes 12, you will see a description of the difficulties of physical age. We find ourselves in declining strength in those sunset years.
 
One writer put it this way. He says, "I can live with my arthritis, my dentures are just fine. My bifocals serve me well, but I sure do miss my mind."
 
You've heard about the senior adults who were talking about their ailments and one of them said, "My arms have gotten so weak I can hardly hold this cup of coffee. The other one said, "Yes, I know. My cataracts are so bad I can't even see my coffee." The other one said, "What? Speak up. I can't hear you. I can't turn my head because of the arthritis in my neck."
 
The other one said, "My blood pressure pills make me so dizzy."
Another one said, "I forget where I am and where I'm going." One lady said, "We need to count our blessings. At least we can all still drive." That's truer than you know.
 
When we lived over at Duncan, we had a ninety-something year old man in the church named Louis. He still lived at home by himself, and drove his car. His son told of meeting him one day for lunch. After lunch, Kermit waited to watch dad and observe his driving. Uncle Louis backed up until he hit the car behind him, then shifted into drive and drove away.
 
Kermit gave him time to get home then called and chewed him out. He said, “You didn’t even look behind you. You just backed up until you hit the car.” 
 
Uncle Louie responded by saying, “It hurts my neck to turn around and look behind me.”
 
I can’t wait to get old! We have to deal with the matters of physical strength.
 
We have to deal with loneliness as people get into the sunset years. They discover that the population shifts and there are more over there than there are here. I want to encourage you who have people in the senior years in your family to know that just a phone call or a cheerful word will brighten their day. Many of them feel that they are the unwanted generation.
 
You have to deal with the meaning of life. I read about a man who said, "When I got to be sixty I began to study why I had been doing what I had been doing for sixty years."
 
The question of life for all generations becomes especially pertinent when you come to the sunset years of life. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? Sometimes people get to the sunset years and wonder why they are still here. They wonder why God doesn't take them on home.
 
But God has a meaning and God has a purpose and God has a plan for your life.
 
You come to those years and you deal with the difficulty of the fear of death. People become afraid of death. If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, you have a reason to fear death. You don't want to die and be unprepared. You don't want to die and go to hell. You want to be ready so that when death comes it will be a chariot that will take you into the very gates of glory into the presence of Jesus.
 
For a believer to live is Christ but to die is gain. For a believer, absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
 
The length of your life. Anna lived a long, long time.
 
Now only do we learn from Anna about the length of your life, but you learn also,
 
II.     The Breadth of Life.
 
See this dear lady Anna. Listen to what the Bible says about her in verse 37.
 
There we see the breadth of her life. She did not depart from the temple.
 
There is the temptation for those who get into the sunset years to begin to sit back and say, "I have done my church going and I have done my church work. It's time for me to do nothing."
 
Did you know that doing nothing is one of the most difficult things in all of life? If you do nothing, how do you quit it? If you do nothing, how do you get a rest from doing nothing?
 
Some of you have worked and served the Lord all through these years. I want to encourage you to spend the sunset years among the people of God. It’s fine to have a trailer, and use it ever once in a while. It’s fine to travel and see the world. It’s OK to go see the kids, but I can tell you this: they aren’t nearly as excited about it as you are.  
 
I would encourage you to bury your life in the fellowship of your local church. You are needed in your local church. We have to have your commitment. We have to have your prayer power. We have to have your spiritual maturity and depth.
 
Anna spent her life among God's people. I want to encourage you to do that. Be faithful! Some of the most faithful people in our church are those in the sunset years. I see them coming in on walkers. I see them hardly able to walk. I think about some of you young folks who hardly ever come on Sunday night or Wednesday night. I see these dear old saints of God, barely able to get in here, and they come to all of these services. I get my encouragement from you precious saints. Don't fail to come. I need you to be here. Make yourself useful. You can be useful in the senior years of your life.
 
William Gladstone was Prime Minister of Britain at the age of 83. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, preached daily at the age of 88. Michael Angelo painted his last judgment at 66. Ronald Reagan was elected president of this nation at 69 and served until he was 77. Billy Graham is still preaching in his 80s. Be useful.
 
Find something to do for the Lord. Write letters. Be sweet when you write them. Get on the phone. Don't gossip. Talk about Jesus. Get some tracts and pass them out. Put them in the offices of the hospitals and doctor offices where you go. Make yourself useful. Be cheerful.
 
If you will come to God's house and live among God's people, it will help you to be cheerful. Some of you are so grouchy no one wants to be around you. 
 
Live your life among God's people!
 
Live your life in God's presence.
 
It was said of Anna that she spent those days in fasting and prayers night and day. That means she had a devotional life. It means she spent time in the presence of God every day. I would encourage you to spend a great deal of time reading your Bible. Your Bible is the road map to glory. I would encourage you to spend a great deal of your time in prayer. It is through prayer that you learn the language of heaven. The older you get the deeper should be your walk with God. The closer you should live to the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me encourage you in the sunset years to be very careful about the breadth of your life.
 
We learn something else from Anna. Verse 38 says, "And she coming in that instant." What instant? It was the instant when Jesus had been brought by Mary and Joseph, as a little baby, for the sacrifices to be made. The old man Simeon had the baby Jesus in his arms. At that very moment Anna came in. There we learn about,
 
III.    The Height of Life.
 
Your life must have an outward dimension, but your life also needs to have an upward dimension. Here was this precious old saint of God named Anna. She sees the Savior. Anna was part of that godly remnant people who were waiting for the coming of the Savior, the Messiah.
 
Some of you have been waiting for the second coming of Jesus a long, long time. Anna sees her Savior. God had made a promise to Simeon that he would not die until he had seen Jesus. Do you see that promise in verse 26? "And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." God promised Simeon that he would see Jesus before he died.
 
Whatever you do, before you die, meet Jesus. If this Bible is true, and it is, the Bible says that when we die there are only two destinations for the soul. Not three, not four, not multiple choice. When you die you will either go to heaven or you will go to hell. What makes the difference is your relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
 
 
 
If you have never met Jesus Christ you are not prepared to die. Some of you need to make the most important decision you will ever make in all of your life. That is to turn from your sin and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior. I'm telling you that old folks are sinners and need a Savior, too.
 
I read a few years ago about a food fight they had at a retirement home in Winter Haven, Florida. True story. 
 
Let me read you something. "A food fight broke out at a salad bar at an upscale retirement home. Police said that resident, Lee, 62, was picking through the lettuce which disgusted William, 86, who was standing in line behind him.
 
William said to Lee that no one wanted to eat food he had been playing with. So Lee yelled and cursed at him. William called him a nasty name. Then Lee punched William in the face. Then everything broke loose.
 
Alan, 79, tried to grab Lee who had bit him on the arm. Lee's mother, Arlene in her 80s who also lived there, jumped in to break it up and she wound up getting her arm cut. Harry, 92, jumped in and got his head cut when they knocked him to the ground. The police said that all the folks were either getting up to help or trying to get out of there. They have asked Lee to move out."
 
 
 
 
 
 
That just tells you that whether you are young or whether you are old, you are born with a sinful nature; and it tells you that what you need more than anything else in your life is to repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you of all of your sins and invite Jesus Christ into your heart and life.
 
Your life needs to have an upward dimension. There needs to be some height to your life. It says when she saw Him, she gave thanks.
 
It's sweet to serve Jesus. It's sweet to know Jesus Christ. It gets better and better. He gets sweeter and sweeter every day. Don't walk out on Jesus. Don't back out on Jesus. Get as close to Jesus as you possibly can so that when that hour of death comes it will be just a step across the river and right into the arms of the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Not only does Anna see Jesus, the Bible says she shares Jesus. She came in; she gave thanks because she saw the Lord and then, "She spake of Him to all them who looked for redemption in Jerusalem." She started telling other people about Jesus.
 
Some of the finest soulwinners in our church are people in the sunset years. You can lead people to Christ. Let me tell you a special group God can use you to lead to Christ in the sunset years of your life. It may be your grandchildren. Somehow God can use these grandparents to win these boys and girls to the Lord.
 
It's the sweetest thing in all the world to come to the sunset years of your life and still know what really counts and what is really important.
I heard about a dear old saint of God who had memorized many verses of Scripture. As she got older she was having difficulty remembering some of those verses. As she got closer to dying she got down to only one verse of Scripture out of the many she had learned. It was II Timothy 1, verse 12. "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." She got to where she couldn't get the whole verse out. Finally she got down to just one little line, "which I have committed unto Him." Then in the closing moments of her life all she could say was, Him, Him, Him.
 
She had lost the whole Bible except one word. Yet in that one word she had the whole Bible.
 
A dear old saint of God called for her pastor. She was almost ready to cross over Jordan. She said to him, "Pastor, I can't remember the promises. I know God has given us His promises in His Word, but I can't remember all of the promises." The wise young pastor said, "Ma'am, do you think God has forgotten His promises to you?" She said, "I'm tired. I'll just go to sleep and count on God to remember His promises to me."
 
Do you think God is going to forget His promises to you? He's not going to forget. Just rest in these sunset years in the promises of God.
 
The sunset years can be beautiful. Without Christ, it is a road only to the grave. With Christ, it is a road that leads to glory. Are you on the road! Do you know Jesus as your Savior?
 
Let's bow our heads in prayer.
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