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Charles Stanley - How to Stay Young and Useful All Your Life




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How To Stay Young And Useful All Of Your Life, that's what I want us to talk about. And somebody says, "Well, is it a drink? No. Is it a pill"? No. "Is it like a course of exercise"? No. "Well, what is it"? That's what I want to share with you. And I want you to turn to the ninety-second Psalm. And in this ninety-second Psalm, I think the Lord lays out for us an idea of how we can indeed live young and useful all of our life. Many people just want to live long. If you are not useful, what's the use of living long? How do you remain youthful and young all the days of your life?

Look at this ninety-second Psalm and let's begin in the twelfth verse. The Scripture says, "The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age, they shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright," Now I believe in this passage of Scripture is a key to being useful at any age in our life. And you'll notice how he begins this. He says, "The righteous man," not just anybody, "The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree". What does he mean by righteous? That is a person who is godly, not just anybody but a person who's godly will flourish. That is, will be abundant in whatever's going on in their life, like the palm tree, like a cedar in Lebanon.

Now the palm trees that they were talking about were date palms and they'll go fifty or sixty or more feet high. And if you'll think about a palm tree that produces dates, it has fruit and they use the leaves to build fences, part of their house, on the roof of their house and so forth. And then the cedars of Lebanon will grow and can grow up to a hundred and twenty feet tall, thirty feet around and all of their limbs are straight out. It's a majestic sight to see one of those trees. So he says, "The righteous man will flourish like a palm tree, grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. That means there will be abundance. There's something going on, awesomely going on. They will still yield fruit in old age, and they shall be full of sap and very green," They're going to be growing and they're not going to look all that old, full of sap and very green, speaking of strength, fruitfulness and healthy, to declare that the Lord is upright.

So the question is, how many of you really believe that God expects you to be useful all the days of your life? All right. So, how do we do that? What I want to do is I want to give you what I believe is the key to making that truthful. So I want you to jot down these simple phrases I'm going to give you. And I want you to think about them in your own life. So I don't want you to think about this as a sermon. I want you to think about it as a word of instruction, how you and live longer and be more useful. Now I know that God is the one who makes the final decision about how long we live, and some people not meant to live as long as others. But let's just say you're who you are and you don't know when you're going to die. And so, as long as you and I are alive, we have the responsibility of being fruitful all the days of our life. And I wonder sometimes if some people shorten their life because they're not useful. They come to the point in life and they say, "Well, I'm fifty-five and I've got sixty-two... let's see, I've got seven more years to live and then I'm finished".

Let me tell you something. When you tell your body that you're finished, your body begins to break down. Because your mind sends your body a message, "In seven years I'm finished. Finished doing what? God created you and me to be fruitful all the days of our life, ever how long that is. And I do believe that if you're fruitful, it's going to lengthen your life, humanly speaking. So, the question is, "What is essential to making your life useful all the days of your life"? And the first one is very important and that is, keep learning. When you cease to learn, you cease to grow. When you cease to learn, you sort of begin to decay a little bit. You are to learn how to stay healthy. And you say, "Well how do I do that"? With a proper diet and exercise and rest. That's part of it. In other words, we're not healthy by accident. It's by learning some key things in life that really make a difference.

And when we keep learning, something happens in our life. For example, you and I are living in an age when we've had to keep learning. Because when I was born, there were no computers that I knew of in nineteen hundred and thirty-two, so, we go back and you look at your life and think about all the things that you've had to learn that your predecessors and your parents didn't have to learn, because they didn't even exist. So if you, if you're going to be useful all the days of your life, you've got to be willing to keep learning. So I would simply say that a lazy brain, is an aging brain. You don't want to learn, what happens? You start decaying. And so, there's something interesting and exciting about learning things in life no matter who you are and no matter what your age might be. So, I would say at the top of that list is learning the Word of God. Learning to quote a verse of Scripture, if you can't do any better just, learn this one. Jesus wept. If you can't learn that one, you can't learn anything.

So the first step, this, remember we're talking about remaining useful all the days of your life. Number one, keep learning. Secondly, keep loving. Love is a very important part of our life. And in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy, the God commands us to love Him. We're to love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our strength. And Jesus talked about loving one another. And I believe that the very experience of loving someone is like a flow that's in your life. And it's like loving is an, is an expression of something on the inside of you that you don't ever want to stop. For example, if there's no love, there's bitterness, resentment, hostility or hatred, all of which damage a person's emotional and their mental life. God made us to love one another. He made us to love Him. Loving is a very important part of staying young all the days of your life and having the spirit that promotes a good health. Then of course, there is the whole idea of keeping laughing.

Now somebody says, "What does that have to do with being useful"? When a person is laughing, something's going on in the inside of them. It's like everything flows. And when you laugh, for example, you just laugh from your belly, "Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho". You laugh and laugh and laugh, and what happens? Something happens to you. And when there's laughter, and there's love, and there's joy, your body is going to respond accordingly. But if you're uptight, and you're not laughing, and, if you'll just think about what happens to your whole nervous system, when you can't laugh. And somebody says, "Well, I don't have anything to laugh about". Well, yes you do, if you'd think about it, you do. There are times we don't feel like laughing, but there ought to be the joy of the Lord in our life. When you have the joy of Jesus in your life, you've got a lot to laugh about. In fact, Christians have more to laugh about.

And when you think about all the good things that God has done in your life and is doing in your life, you could counter some tough things, but there's much to be laughed about. But if you can't laugh, let me put it this way. If you can't laugh, I'm not too sure you've got many friends. Who wants to be around a grouch all the time? Always frowning. There's always something wrong. And when you say, "Well, let me tell you something good happened to me". "I'm not interested". Well, when people have that attitude, I believe your nervous system is affected. Your whole system is affected. I think there are some simple things God placed in our life and the process of exercising them, we'll live longer. Now you say, "Can you prove that"? Well so far, I can. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! So far I can. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. And one of the things I love about my friends is, we're always jabbing each other and one of my friends and all, I think all of them are sitting here this morning. Not all my friends, but we're always jabbing each other about something. We're always laughing. And I think that frees up your nervous system.

So you may say, "Well, I don't have anything to laugh about". Well, make something. Get something going and watch something that will help you laugh. And you find people sometimes they're just stiff. It's like they think it's a sin to laugh. Christians ought to be the happiest people in the world because we've got more to be grateful for. And then, there's another one and that's keep leaving. You say, "Well, leaving what"? That's very important. Keep leaving your cares behind. Don't drag yesterday's problems in today. And don't drag situations and circumstances and conversations and incidences that have been in your past. I could think of things in my life that were not the most pleasant of all, but you don't have to, you don't have to think about it.

And I love what Peter said in that first chapter, or the fifth chapter and the seventh verse, in First Peter, he said, for example, "Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you". In other words, God says when you have cares and burdens and heartaches or whatever it might be, He says, "Cast them upon the Lord. In other words, just lay them down. And so, when we talk about leaving, there are people who live with a rear-view mirror in their life. Well let me tell you what happened. They can always bring up something and I think oftentimes they're looking for sympathy or whatever it might be. "Well, back yonder..." All of us can bring up some junk in our life, but we're to live every day with that behind us. We, we don't have to think about that. God doesn't want us thinking about all the difficulties and hardships. There may be times when a word of testimony about how God's brought you through that, but you don't drag it along with you.

So let me ask you a question. Is there something in your past that you drag with you? If you do, it slows you down. It affects your attitude. It affects your whole emotional system. And I believe it affects your health. God intended for us to leave our burdens behind. Then of course, not only keep leaving, but keep longing. Well what in the world do you mean by that? Well, simply this. You've got to keep dreaming. A person who doesn't know how to dream is not going to enjoy life very long. You've got to keep dreaming, that is, about the future, and never stop. Somebody says, "Well, you know, at this point in my life, I don't see anything to dream about". Well, start thinking about it. It's a matter of attitude. Nobody can keep you from dreaming. And you say, "Well, I just don't think I can do this, and so. Well, why don't you stop thinking about that and think about the things you can do? And it's not a matter of just having a positive attitude, it's a matter of being, watch this, a child of God. You would agree with that, amen? And you're indwelt by the Holy Spirit, amen? So all power exists within you, amen?

So don't live in the past thinking about what you can't do. You can do anything God calls you to do. And don't underestimate God. If you agree that the Holy Spirit is living within you, if you agree that God is within you, then don't chalk God off as to what He can't do. Because He can do anything and everything that it is His will for your life. Somebody says, "Well, that's not the will of God for my life". Well, how do you know it's not? Have you asked Him? Now, around my computer, I have all these little sayings that have impressed me and affected me and, and I counted them the other day and I had twenty-five. Well, here's one of them. "You're young and useful".

Listen to this. "You're young and useful at any age, if you're still planning for tomorrow". You ought to write that down. Listen. "You're young and useful at any age, if you're still planning for tomorrow". Because that means you're dreaming. That means you're planning. It means you're looking ahead. And so, whatever the age is, don't give up, don't stop, don't quit. Just think about, "What would I like to do? What do I believe God would have me to do"? So you keep longing. And then keep looking. Well you say, "What, looking at what"? Well, look your best. You've heard me say then look your best, do your best, be your best. I think that, in other words, watch this, if you think you look your best, you are going to act differently. Right? Ladies, is that true or not? Absolutely. If you think your hair's just right, and you've got on just right, you're looking just right, you're going to act differently.

So you look your best, do your best, be your best. Then of course, keep laboring. That is, keep working. One of my favorite seminary professors, was teaching in his early nineties. I loved him, I, first time I ever saw the man I loved him, because he just kept going. Now he didn't run. He'd walk slowly, but he was an awesome man, a godly man. And here he was at that point in his life. And I remember Bertha Smith, who was a missionary to China for forty years, when she was in her late nineties, she already had on her calendar times that she was going to speak, up to the age of a hundred and five. And I know that to be absolutely true. I tell people they shouldn't retire if that means you stop and do nothing. You may change something.

In the Bible, only the priest could retire. They start at twenty-five and fifty, there was, they're finished. But the Bible doesn't teach retirement. The Bible teaches us to be fruitful. And as we said, all the days of our life, our life, if our life is to be counting for something, in somebody's life. And so, we keep laboring. When you say in your mind and you think it, and you say, "Well, that's it. I quit. No more work. I'm just going to... You send your body a message. And that message is, "It's all over. I don't need to function the way I've been functioning". That's not of God. We're to live it out through the last day of our life. And so, keep laboring is a very important part. And if you'll think, think about this. The longer you live, your faith should be greater. Our confidence should be stronger. The things that we do, we would do maybe better than we've ever done before.

So, laboring, keep laboring. And then of course, keep leaning. And we lean on the Lord, which means we rely upon Him. We trust in Him. He answers our prayer. He answers our needs. We keep leaning on Him. That is, we should live every day trusting Him, depending upon Him. And acknowledging the fact, "Lord, I'm trusting You for today". What you're saying is, "I'm, leaning on You to give me wisdom and direction for my life, and guidance". And so, when I think about that and think about what the Bible says in the thirty-seventh Psalm three times, "Fret not, fret not, fret not". As believers we have Christ living within us through the Holy Spirit. we do lean on Him. We do rely upon Him. We do trust Him. So, that's what God wants us to do. He wants us to lean upon Him. He wants us to rely upon Him. He wants us to trust in Him. He wants us to come to Him acknowledging that we're dependent upon Him. Because He wants to be everything for us that we need in our life.

And then of course, keep listening. And this is one of the most important ones, keep listening. Learn to listen to God. And many people go through their life saying, "Well, God never said anything to me". Yes He did. You may not have listened. You may not have obeyed. He did not speak to you audibly, but God speaks to us. And He wants us to listen to Him. For example, how do you find the will of God? You have to listen to Him. How do you know what to do in making critical decisions in your life, or simple decisions? You listen to Him. And how do you listen to Him? You be quiet. How do you listen to Him? You get in the Word and you ask God to speak to your heart. And I think it's the most important lesson in the Christian life, is learning how to listen to God and know that you're getting direction for your life, the confidence to know what to do next. Learning to listen to Him is absolutely essential to living a godly life, a useful life, a profitable life. Listening to Him.

And I've preached a number of sermons about that. And um, if I should ask you, "Do you know how to listen to God"? You can know some of these other things, but learning to listen to Him. What is God saying? How is He giving me direction for my life at this point? Learning to listen to Him. And so if I'm going to stay on the right path, watch this. If I'm going to walk in the will of God, I've got to listen to Him. If I'm going to make wise decisions, I've got to listen to Him. If I'm going to have right relationships with other people, I'm going to listen to Him. If I'm going to avoid yielding to temptation, I'm going to listen to Him. If I'm going to have my needs met, I'm going to listen to Him. You can ask any question you want to, but learning to listen to God is absolutely the basic one of all.

How are you going to be saved? Are you going to be saved by listening to the conviction of the Holy Spirit who convicted you of your sin and said that if you die without Christ, you're going to be lost. You listened, you got saved. You listened to Him when it came to convicting you about your sin and you want to go to heaven when you die. Well, we listen to Him about everything. And when you start the day off, every morning you should be listening to Him. Lord, speak to my heart, give me guidance for today, make me sensitive today to what's going around me. Make me sensitive, Lord, to the people I meet, how I'm to respond. If there's a need, something I could say or do, "Lord, help me know how to listen so some things I need to avoid".

Learning to listen to Him is absolutely essential. Because you see, you don't have a discerning spirit, really unless you know how to listen to Him. Should I do this or should I not? Listening to Him. And so, we're talking about being useful all the days of your life. Learning to listen to God is absolutely essential. Because what happens? Well, for example, let's say you're married. How are you going to build an intimate relationship with your wife or your husband? You learn to listen to them. How are you going to raise godly children? You learn to listen to them and teach them to listen to you and teach them to listen to God.

Listening is essential to every single aspect of our life. And certainly if we're going to be useful all the days of our life, we're going to learn to listen to God. And in light of what we've said, look at this verse, "The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree," date palms, "grow strong like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age, they shall be full of sap and very green, that is strong and fruitful and healthy, to declare that the Lord is upright".

And I've simply said to you today, I do believe this is the way you stay strong and healthy as possible, and useful all the days of your life. It doesn't make any difference where you are now. You can start today and ask God, "Lord, I want You to, I want You to make me sensitive every day to all of these attitudes because that's what I want in my life". It's a decision you make. And it begins with trusting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. That's the beginning. That's when you start learning to listen right then. And if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, you're probably not even going to attempt what I've shared with you this morning. But asking the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, surrendering your life to Him, and then saying, "Lord, I want my life to count every day. I want to be useful all the days of my life. Show me how to do that". And I trust that if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, you'll be wise enough to make a decision this morning. Jesus forgives all sin. He will take you right where you are, and if you will trust Him as your personal Savior today, and listen, begin with this list today. Your life will change beginning today if you're willing to allow Him to work it in your life. Amen?

Father how grateful we are that you're more than willing to give us your best. I pray that every person who hears this message will remember carefully listening to you and obeying you, that's the key to life at its very best no matter who we are. So we want to say we love you and praise you for being patient with us. For guiding us, for helping us for providing for us and giving us this awesome, indescribable gift of eternal life. We say bless your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.
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