RISEN!: Week 6
“Are You Fully Alive?” Part 2

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
Ezekiel 37:1-14
We have come to the final message on how the resurrection of Jesus Christ can make a difference in our lives today, if we allow it. 

Last week we began looking at six ways Jesus taught to keep our spiritual passion for Him alive. I will recap the three we looked at last week:

Jesus knows you’re better off young – 
In other words, the younger you are, the less likely you are to view the world with biases and preconceived notions.  When we are young, trusting in Jesus, in a no-brainer.
“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  – Matthew 18:3

Jesus knows you’re better of dead – 
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” 
– Matthew 16:25

Jesus knows you’re better off dependent – 
When we let go and let God, life gets better. It doesn’t always get easy, but it gets better. 
“Apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

This week we will look at three more ways Jesus taught to keep the fire going.

Jesus knows you’re better off connected
Jesus knows you’re better off focused 
Jesus knows you’re better off missional

Let me ask you a passion-defining question. Has there ever been a time in your life when you were closer to God than you are right now? If the answer is yes, what happened? These are the things to ask yourself: 
Why don’t I feel the passion that I used to? 
Why don’t I feel the same excitement about my career that I used to? 
Why don’t I still feel the same enthusiasm about my marriage that I used to? 
Why aren’t I as close to and on fire for God as I used to be? 
Why does my relationship with Jesus feel so stale . . . or distant . . . or cold?
What keeps me from being spiritually on fire for God? 
Why does so much of my life lack any sense of urgency?
We lack all of this usually because we’ve lost connection.
Untended fires soon become nothing more than piles of ashes.

I’ve never had the courage to tell this story until now. When I was younger, because of some amazing connections, I received an invitation to meet the president of the United States in the Oval Office. 
I was thrilled, but the protocol was unbelievable. They sent letters. The FBI contacted me. It was really something. It finally came down to one final question I had, which was, “What am I supposed to wear?” The answer was, “Just wear what you normally wear to church.” So I went out and bought a new dress and made airline reservations. I flew to D.C. and checked into the closest hotel to the White House the night before. 
My friend said to meet her at the front gates at 6:30 a.m. with my identification, and be prepared to take a while to get checked in. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I closed the heavy drapes on the window, set the alarm on the clock next to the bed for 6:00 a.m. The next morning, my room was pitch dark when I woke up. My hotel room phone was ringing. My friend said, “Hey! Where are you?”
“I’m still waking up,” I said.
“Why aren’t you here?”
“What’s the problem?” I said. “My alarm hasn’t even gone off yet.”
“You were supposed to be here at 6:30,” she said. “It’s 6:30 now.”
I looked at the clock and it was dead! I checked my watch and it read 6:30. She was right.
“I can be there in ten minutes,” I said. “I’ll run across the street.”
She said, “I am really sorry. You’ve missed your chance.”
It slowly dawned on me, I’ve just slept through my one chance to meet the president of the United States in the Oval Office. I sat in bed stunned.

Now let me tell you two things about that story:
One, it’s not true. It never happened. I never have received an invitation to meet with the president. 

Two, this same scenario happens to Christians all the time. Every day, every morning, we have the opportunity to meet with Somebody far more important than the president of the United States, and a lot of times we sleep through it. The God of the Universe has invited us to get up, to read His Word, to pray, to connect with Him. We actually get to connect with the President of the Universe, but many of us sleep through it every morning. 
No wonder we’re so distant, disconnected, dissatisfied, and joyless.

God, the actual God of the Universe, longs to be close to you. You are as close to God as you want to be. 


The only people I know who have sustainable, positive, long-term joy and passion are all people with one thing in common—they believe God has amazing plans for tomorrow. Why? Future focus creates passion.
That leads to a very critical question: 
Do I have any future dreams? 

I love being around people who have expectations for their future! They believe God is alive, the resurrection really happened, God is still going to work, and God is going to work tomorrow. 
A psychologist once said, “What a person believes about their future is more important than anything that has happened in their past or anything that is happening in their present.”

Whit Hobbs, a treasury analyst wrote, “Passion is waking up in the morning, wherever you are, however old or young, and bounding out of bed because you know there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you’re good at, something that’s bigger than you are and you can hardly wait to get at it again. It’s something you’d rather be doing more than anything else in the whole world. You wouldn’t give it up for money; it means more to you than money. And hopefully it’s something that makes the world a better place.”
Sounds good Marilee, I’d really like to live like that, but how. God tells us in chapter 29 of Jeremiah, beginning with verse 4,
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:4-14.
If you feel like you are living in exile, and you want to be living back in Jerusalem, in a place where God has His plans for you, then, “Seek God, with all your heart. He has some amazing plans for you, He is just waiting for you to join Him. 


Never have people had more comforts than in the life we now live in America. 
Americans should be the happiest people in history. Yet the suicide rate is skyrocketing. Suicide among teens is now the second leading cause of death. Sales of antidepressant drugs have gone through the roof. Why? Because people have everything except . . . purpose. People with no purpose will have no passion because passion and purpose go together. Passion actually creates purpose.

Whether they realize it or not, everyone gives their life away for something. Some people give their lives away for a career, and forty years later they get a gold watch—big deal!
Some people give their lives away to get a big bank account. 
Some people give their whole lives to get some kind of pleasure out of life. 
Some people give their whole lives to attain some status.
The real question is this: Am I living for a compelling purpose? The problem is that many people are giving first-class allegiance to second-class causes. How much is it going to matter in eternity? How much is it going to matter forever? When you die, is it going to matter at all? You’re going to give your life for something. The question is, are you going to give your life for something that actually matters?
Contrast the lives of two of the most successful people of the twentieth century.
Elvis Presley was the first global rock star. He sold millions of albums, made thirty-three movies, claimed a billion fans around the world, and twenty-five years after his death his Elvis Presley: The 50 Greatest Hits was the number one album in America. In spite of his enormous success, his friends say that Elvis was an unfulfilled and unhappy man when he died at age forty-two. His wife, Priscilla, said in an interview years after his death, “Elvis never came to terms with who he was meant to be or what his purpose in life was. He thought he was here for a reason, maybe to preach, maybe to save, maybe to serve, maybe to care for people. That agonizing desire was always with him, and he knew he wasn’t fulfilling it. So he’d go on stage and he wouldn’t have to think about it. Elvis hadn’t a clue where to begin to look. In a sense, he was lost.”

Nelson Mandela had horrific life circumstances, but he had a driving purpose. He said,
Leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people.
I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now and will do so until the end of my days.
Difficulties break some men but make others. 
I was made by the law a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for.
We are fighting for a society where people will cease thinking in terms of colour.
What kept him going? What gave him strength? 
What filled him with the kind of passion that frees an entire country? Purpose. In short, Nelson Mandela was living for a purpose more important than making himself as comfortable as he could be. 
The great thing about people who live with purpose, who are connected, and who have future dreams is that their passion overcomes any obstacle. Max Lucado told a story that illustrates this brilliantly.
“I have everything I need for joy!” Robert Reed said. His hands are twisted and his feet are useless. He can’t bathe himself. He can’t feed himself. He can’t brush his teeth, comb his hair, or put on his underwear. His shirts are held together by strips of Velcro. His speech drags like a worn-out audio cassette. 

Robert has cerebral palsy. The disease keeps him from driving a car, riding a bike, and going for a walk. 
But it didn’t keep him from graduating from high school or attending Abilene Christian University, from which he graduated with a degree in Latin. Having cerebral palsy didn’t keep him from teaching at a St. Louis junior college or from venturing overseas on five mission trips. 
And Robert’s disease didn’t prevent him from becoming a missionary in Portugal. He moved to Lisbon, alone, in 1972. There he rented a hotel room and began studying Portuguese. He found a restaurant owner who would feed him after the rush hour and a tutor who would instruct him in the language. Then he stationed himself daily in a park, where he distributed brochures about Christ. Within six years he led seventy people to the Lord, one of whom became his wife, Rosa. I heard Robert speaking recently. I watched other men carry him in his wheelchair onto the platform. I watched them lay a Bible in his lap. I watched his stiff fingers force open the pages. 
And I watched people in the audience wipe away tears of admiration from their faces. Robert could have asked for sympathy or pity, but he did just the opposite. He held his bent hand up in the air and boasted, “I have everything I need for joy.” His shirts are held together by Velcro, but his life is held together by joy. 
Everybody is trying to figure out how to live longer. That’s not the real issue. It’s not how long you live that matters, it’s what you live for that matters. It’s not the years in your life. It’s the life in your years.

So what do you think? Are you fully alive? Do you wake up most days raring to go and excited about life? Or could you use a pick-me-up, some fine-tuning? I encourage you to take some time today and talk with God and discuss how things are going for you. You may need to write a prescription to keep you “fully alive for Christ?” 
If so, maybe you need to start with one the six ways Jesus taught to keep the faith alive. Maybe God has something else that can work for you. The fact remains, each of us lives for something, it’s my prayer we take hold of the power of the resurrection and choose to live for Christ and do so with abundance. 

Let’s Pray. 

This sermon is prepared from a new book, Jesus Called: He Wants His Church Back, by Ray Johnston, released by Thomas Nelson.