Sermon: Making a Difference (5.15.22)
Last week’s message was about living a fulfilled life. Today I want to take on a related topic: how dop we make a difference? How do we work to influence the future, and how do we make our next years the most productive that we’ve had?
The CEO of the business I work for, Chief Outsiders, likes to say they hire CMOs who enjoy what they do and want to do the best work of their careers. Everyone in this company has at least 25 years of executive marketing experience…no young folks in our business. Is it possible for older (or maybe more experienced, senior people) to continue to be productive? And if so, what does it look like? Let’s look into that today.
Psalm 71:5-9 and 14-18
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6 From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. 7 I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge. 8 My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.
9 Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
14 As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. 17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.
I remember how often my Dad reflected on his retirement. As I recall, his plan was to work until the mandatory age (for fire men it was 55), and then move to Arizona. I’m not sure when my Dad actually even visited Arizona, but that was his plan. The reality played out differently. He discovered that he could continue working past age 55 if he took an annual physical exam, and he did that for three additional years until age 58. Then, because he was used to working two jobs, he got bored and spent another few years working as a tile setter. That ended when his knees were shot. For him, retirement wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.
The concept of retirement developed in Western countries, and we’ve found it has had an unintended effect. People thought that since their “serviceable years” were behind them, they could relax, travel, take life easy, and bide their time until it was their time to meet their Creator.
Here’s what the psalmist who wrote Psalm 71 said about our golden years: “Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.” God wants us to make a difference now—to this generation and to the generations to come.
The writer of Psalm 71 wanted to make a difference now, doing all he could to declare God’s strength to his generation and to the next—his children, grandchildren, and their generations.
That might be one reason we often say as Christians that “if we’re not dead, we’re not done.” If you check your bible, you will realize that every word written was for you as a young person, and middle-aged person, and a not so middle-aged person. Verses don’t change or disappear when we hit certain ages. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
A local pastor, John Piper, says “This is the key to growing old to the glory of God. If we are to make God look glorious in the last years of our lives, we must be satisfied in him. He must be our treasure. And the life that we live must flow from the all-satisfying Christ. And the life which flows from the soul that lives on in Jesus is a life of love and service.” Piper continues “This is what will make Christ look great. When our hearts find their rest in Christ, we stop using other people to meet our needs and instead we make ourselves servants to meet their needs.”
Here are four questions to ask yourself.
1. What do I most enjoy doing?
2. How could I do it for the glory of God?
3. What little thing could I do today to serve someone else in Jesus’ name?
4. What can I imagine doing tomorrow for my family, my church, my neighbors or for someone else God brings to mind?
Small seeds can produce large harvests over time. Each of those harvests involve more seeds which, when planted, multiply. This is the way the Gospel has spread since the day of Pentecost.
Our life impact doesn’t have to stop when we go to the Lord. Those we win to Christ will continue winning others. Those we disciple will disciple others, who in turn, will keep multiplying the gifts we give.
These four suggestions will help you live a life which is blessed and certainly not lived in vain.
1. Begin each day with prayer, and ask the Lord “what do you want me to do today?”
2. Look around for unmet needs and don’t worry about what God may want you to do five years from now. Figure out what you do now to create a testimony.
3. Prepare to share your gifts, and if you need to freshen them up, read some books or talk with someone who can help, coach, or mentor you.
4. And finally, place yourself in God’s hands and ask him to use you. Be joyful and accept the help of the Holy Spirit who gives energy, wisdom, words, and encouragement.
Our desire, Father, is to be fully engaged. Share your plan for our lives and give us realistic expectations and the means to accomplish them here, in this place, and at this time. We believe in the promises you gave Isaiah, when you said, “Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you.”