A New Future

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In this message, we learn that only Jesus can give us a new future.

Alright. Hey, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you are here with us today. And we want to welcome all of our campuses whether you are in Denton, Flower Mound, Louisville, The Venue, watching online, wherever you are in the world at all of our campuses. Can we just welcome all of each other together? Can we just celebrate for a moment? It is so cool to be one church in multiple locations. We are glad that you are here and we had an incredible launch of our Louisville campus last weekend. It exceeded our expectations in every way, shape and form. And so, I am so grateful for you and what God is doing in this place because it’s been a good year so far. In fact, it’s been a great year. And I don’t know if you know this or not but Easter is only like two weeks away. And I – someone just said wow. Yeah, wow, that’s how I feel, too. I have got to write an Easter message just in two weeks away.

And I’m believing that it is going to be the best Easter we have ever had. Four campuses and 17 services. And so we have created lots of space for people who don’t know Jesus to come in and have an encounter with him. And the way they’re going to come into all our campuses and all those services is through you. It’s not through the building or the website or the signs or the banners, all that stuff is great. They’re going to come through you because we really believe you are our outreach strategy. And so we’re always looking for creative ways to resource you to be on mission with God. And so this year for Easter, we’re going to do something a little different. We’re going to give you all an Easter egg. And so in all our campuses, ushers are going to come forward and they’re going to pass out baskets of Easter eggs. And when they get to you, I want to you grab one. You can grab one, you can grab two, you can grab five. You can grab as many as you’re willing to give out. And basically, inside it – it’s just a green Easter egg, Valley Creek green. Inside, there’s a simple little invite and our hope was to just give you a creative resource that you can use to invite the people in your life.

Because here’s the reality. There is something about Easter time where people are open and receptive to coming to church. And the reality is that people show up because they’re invited. 90% of the new people we meet in this place, they come because a personal friend or relationship in their life has invited them to come. And so my question is who does God want you to invite this year? Maybe it’s your neighbor, a friend, a co-worker, someone in your city. We always learn this. Every time we pass out something, you’re all like little kids. You stop listening to everything I’m saying and you start playing with – you’re like worried you’re not going to get one or that there’s a better one in the basket so you dig to the bottom. They’re all the same, people. Just grab one and pass it on and take as many as you want. And there’ll be a whole bunch after service as well in the atrium. You can take – literally, take as many as you want. And here’s our thought. We just thought maybe this year, instead of just an invite card, you could do something like when you go out to dinner, you could leave a real nice tip in it and leave it on the table when you leave.

Notice I said nice tip. If you’re going to leave a bad tip, leave the egg in the basket. Just pass it along. We don’t want that kind of tip. You know, or maybe you take it to school and fill it with candy and hand it out to your friends. Maybe you write a little note to a neighbor or a co-worker or a friend and you put it in their mailbox and you give it to them. Maybe you’ll make a nice Easter basket for somebody and you put one little egg in there and you say come and join me. I don’t know. I just know this. Hurting people need the hope of Jesus. And you are Jesus’ outreach strategy. So you are our outreach strategy. And if you’ve been to a Valley Creek Christmas or Easter, you know we go out of our way to make it incredibly life-giving, incredibly fun and relevant so people have this encounter with the presence of God. The stuff our team is putting together is absolutely incredible. It’s going to be the best Easter ever. We just need you to be our outreach strategy. And not only do we want to encourage you with these eggs, I actually want to encourage you, if you go on our website, it has all the services, campus times, all the different stuff, there’s all kinds of things you can download and post on social media.

I want you to think about it like this. Just all the people sitting in this room, all the people we’re connected to on social media, hundreds of thousands of people that have no connection to Valley Creek or to Jesus except through you. So what if you posted something that we’ve created for you, all these different options that you can use and just say come and join me for Easter and watch what God will do. Invite everybody, bring someone and I’m believing God is going to show up in a profound and powerful way because a single invitation can change somebody’s life. Okay? Are you with me on that? This is kind of cool. I think it’s a little different. Let me throw you my Easter egg because I don’t want to hold on to it anymore. Okay. See, that’s how you do it. You just say, “Hey, come with me to Easter service.” And then just run away. And then just say something like this. “If you have a Bible, turn to Luke 7 and Ezekiel 37, okay?” In all seriousness, if you have a Bible, Luke 7 and Ezekiel 37. We are in a series called Brand New. And we’re talking about how Jesus changes everything in our lives.

2 Corinthians 5:17, it says there, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, new has come.” Jesus offers us such a promise of newness that what was can no longer be seen in the midst of what is. And last week we talked about having a new life and we looked at the man with leprosy. And this week, I want to talk about having a new future. Because you see, I think if we’re honest with each other, we’re often hopeless about our future. The situations, the circumstances, the realities in our life have created a discouragement, a disappointment. I think we’re often defeated about our future before it even comes. And what I want you to think is this, is if you don’t believe you’re going to have an awesome future, you won’t have an awesome future. I know that’s like rocket science there for you, but if you don’t believe you’re going to have an awesome future, you won’t have an awesome future. You say, “Why?” Because by faith, you will set that into motion. Whatever you believe, you – or whatever you believe, you expect and whatever you expect, you will find. So maybe we need a fresh touch and encounter from Jesus to change that thinking. Okay?

Luke chapter 7, it is a familiar story. Starting in verse 11, it says, “Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out, the only son of his mother and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.’ Then he went up, touched the coffin and those who were carrying it stood still. He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up.’ The dead man sat up, began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. ‘A great prophet has appeared among us,’ they said. ‘God has come to help his people.’ This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.” Okay. Here’s’ a woman that needs a new future. Her past and her present is full of death. Her husband has died and now her only son has died. And if you were a single woman in Jesus’ day, your life was hopeless. Like if you didn’t have kids, you couldn’t’ own property, you had no one to take care of you, you couldn’t pass your lineage on. And so here is a woman who is hopeless about her future. She is carrying her dead son. She’s in the middle of the funeral service and Jesus shows up and by the end of the counter, she has a brand new future.

And so the question is, how can that happen for us? So a couple of thoughts I want you to grab today. As simple as this, Jesus loves to interrupt our lives. Jesus loves to interrupt our lives. Anyone else want to agree with that? Like he loves to interrupt our lives. It’s like he shows up at the most inconvenient times. He comes when we’re least expecting it. He kind of blocks the path that we were going down. He shows up when we’re busy. He asks us to do awkward or uncomfortable things. Like, Jesus loves to interrupt our lives. And I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be interrupted. I don’t like to be interrupted when I’m talking, when I’m working, when I’m busy. And so let’s be honest, it takes a lot of patience to deal with my kids and my team and some of the people in my life when they happen to interrupt and you’re sitting there very polite as much as you can, “Mm-hmm. Uh-huh. Yeah, okay.” When what you really want to say is, “I don’t have time for this, not now.” Okay, don’t act like I’m the only one. And while when people interrupt our lives, they may complicate things. When Jesus interrupts your life, he wants to simplify things. See, Jesus doesn’t interrupt your life to take something away from you. He interrupts your life because he wants to give everything to you. And so the truth is that at the end of the day, divine interruptions are really divine invitations.

They’re invitations for a new life and a new future. Think about Abraham. Remember Abraham? He’s married to Sarah. He’s doing his life, living his life, doing his own thing and he’s got these kind of plans and purposes. He’s trying to make some money and do whatever. And one day, God shows up out of nowhere and totally interrupts his life. And he says, “Hey, Abraham, I want you to get up and go to a place I will show you.” “Well, where, God?” “Abraham, I want to get up and go to a place that I will show you.” If you want to talk about an interruption. And yet Abraham goes and by the end of the journey, he gets the miracle child, Isaac, when he’s 100 years old. He becomes the father of many nations and Jesus is ultimately birthed through lineage. That’s a new future. Or how about Moses? Moses is a washed out, burned out shepherd on the back side of the mountain running from his past, shepherding a few sheep. And God shows up out of nowhere and totally interrupts his life with the burning bush. And he has this encounter and he starts talking to Moses and basically says, “Moses, I know these sheep are so important to you and you’re so busy taking care of them every day.

But, Moses, I got something I want to ask you to do. I want you to go confront Pharaoh, set my people go and lead them to the Promised Land.” That’s an interruption. And yet by the end of the journey, Moses becomes one of the greatest leaders in all of human history. That is a very different future from the track that Moses was on. Or how about Peter? He’s sitting on the shore with an empty fishing net like every day before and Jesus shows up and says, “Hey Peter, come follow me and I’ll make you a fisher of men.” Interruption. You follow me, I’ll make your life. Let go of your boat, come with me and watch what I can do and by the end of the journey, Peter becomes one of the most famous disciples ever. It’s a totally new future. You see, maybe when God interrupts our lives, maybe we need to stop complaining about it and start paying attention to what He’s actually offering us. Like think of this poor woman. I mean, she’s literally carrying her dead son. She’s carrying him. They’re in the middle of the funeral procession and here comes Jesus in this interruption.

He stops the funeral procession. Okay, like who does that? I mean, really? Like who does that? He makes everything really awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. I’m sure she was really upset and frustrated like, “Jesus, not now.” And yet He reaches out and he touches the boy and He raises him to life. You see, Jesus messed up every funeral he ever went to including His own. He messed up every funeral He ever went to including His own because when God shows up, dead things come back to life. They can’t stay dead. And so He interrupts the funeral, raises the boy back to life, gives him back to the mother and what I want you to see in this moment is that divine interruption was a divine invitation for a brand new future. And the reason Jesus wants to interrupt our lives is because like this woman, we spent our lives carrying around dead things and yet the human heart was never created to carry dead things. And so we carry these dead things and they steal and destroy our future and so God will show up. The God of life wants to interrupt your life in the midst of your untimely funerals and he wants to give you a new future. Are you with me on that?

And there’s five things in particular that I think that she was carrying around the dead boy and the analogy that we’re using here. I think there’s five areas, five dead things that we tend to carry around in our lives. First thing is this, we carry around dead relationships. We may not be carrying a dead body in our arms but the truth is at the end of the day there are a whole lot of women sitting in this room, they know what it’s like to carry a dead relationship with their son. There’s a whole lot of marriages sitting in this room and they know what it’s like to be in a dead marriage. There’s a lot of parents and children that know what it’s like to have a dead relationship in that parental child engagement. There’s a lot of employees and coworkers and managers and bosses that are in this room, they know what it’s like to be in a dead working relationship.

There’s a lot of friends, they know what it’s like to be in dead friendships. The truth is that we carry around dead relationships. We’ve been hurt and disappointed in unmet expectations and betrayal and abandonment and lonely. I mean, we carry around these dead things. I mean, if you’ve been with us this year at Valley Creek Church, we said at the beginning of the year our theme for this year is Healthy Relationships. And we challenge each other to memorize a few verses starting in Ephesians 4:29 and those verses say this, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what is helpful for others that it may benefit those who listen according to their needs.” And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrifice and offering to God. So how — no, no. So how are you doing with hiding those in your heart because those are healthy relationships? And yet if we’re honest most of our relationships are full of toxic words, selfishness and unforgiveness. And yet Jesus wants to show up and He wants to interrupt your life and resurrect your relationships from the dead. He wants to touch your heart knowing you’ll be the key to touch their heart and there are no relationships too dead that Jesus can’t bring to life. I mean, 2 Corinthians 5 says, “All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ not counting men’s sins against them, and He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God was making His appeal through us.” In other words, He says, “You and your relationship with God was dead.”

But God raised it from the grave. He brought you and Him, that relationship back to life, and now He has anointed you to be a reconciler which means you are supernaturally empowered to bring forth broken relationships back together. And if he can raise your relationship with Him from the grave, He can raise any relationship in your life from the grave. So what is a dead relationship that you’re carrying around? The second area that we carry around dead things is I think we carry around dead jobs. If we’re just flat out honest with each other, I think like most of us, and this is extreme, but I would say it’s true. Most of us carry around dead jobs. Like we get up and we go to work or we go to school or we’re stay-at-home parent. We just lump it all together and the truth is we go into those mundane mindless routines. Everyday is the same as the one before it and the one after it and so we just kind of coast through trying to make some money and make it happen but there’s no joy, there’s no life and really there’s no purpose. Maybe you went to college or didn’t.

Maybe you got that job you wanted or didn’t. Maybe you got the promotion you thought you should’ve got or didn’t. Maybe it’s what you expected or isn’t it done really matter. If we’re honest, most of us know we’re carrying around a dead job. But Jesus wants to interrupt your life and He wants to give you new purpose. Ephesians 2:10 says, “You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for you to do.” In other words, you’re not just happenstance of whatever you are. You are placed there on assignment not to make widgets. You are anointed by God Himself to destroy the works of the devil, bring heaven to earth, release the kingdom of God and live a full life of purpose. And if He is with you, it’s not dead. You may not like it but if He is with you, it’s not dead because John 20:21, “Because the Father has sent me so I now send you.” So the question is this, are you doing a job or are you living your purpose? Don’t carry a dead job. Third thing is we carry around dead dreams. One of the first things that die in our lives as we start walking through it is our dreams. We just look at kids. Kids are full of dreams. I love like meet the teacher day at my kids’ schools, you know, when they’re still in elementary school and so you go in and you see all the things that they’ve been working on, all the different kids and you go and there’s usually an about me thing that they make and you start reading it and usually on there is like my dream is and you see all these kids, you know, like, “My dream is to be an astronaut. My dream is to be a fireman. My dream is to win the super bowl. Whatever.” You know, every kid has got a dream and then you get that one kid, he’s got like a hundred dreams. He’s like, “My dream is to be a doctor, a lawyer, start a business, cure cancer, you know, find water for kids in Africa, win the super bowl and go to the moon.” You’re like that kid, he’s going somewhere, you know, like he’s — he got something. And then you ask any adult in your life, “Hey, what’s your dream?” And they can’t come up with anything, writing that book, singing in that play, starting a business, taking a risk, traveling the world, doing new things, starting a ministry.

It’s amazing how life just squeezes it right out of us. In fact, Mark chapter 4, I love this, it says, “Still others, like seeds sown among the thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word out making it unfruitful.” Listen, I believe divine dreams start as divine seeds that God plants in our hearts. Divine dreams are divine seeds because there are words spoken from God somewhere in your life, He plants it in your heart and He wants it to grow. Unfortunately, the worries of life, deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things come in and choke it out. And there’s nothing sadder than person without a dream in their heart. But God wants to interrupt your life and resurrect your dreams. In fact Acts 2:17, in the last day is today, the church today, God says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people, that’s you, your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams.

He says, “Hey, this is a promise. I’m going to pour out my Spirit and when my Spirit comes, he’s going to bring things back from the grave and your young men will have visions and your old man will dream dreams.” Vision is a direction that you are headed from God., a dream is something you are believing God to do. And the reason He says young men will have vision is because young people need guardrails on their lives because they aim and wander and drift. They needed direction ahead and the reason old people need dreams is because their dreams die through life. And I’m not going to tell you if you need a vision or a dream. You decide that for yourself. I just know He wants to resurrect your dreams. The fourth are that we carry around dead things is we carry around dead hearts. Over time, life kills our heart. We become hard and emotionless and stoic and cold and apathetic and we build these walls around ourselves. We keep everybody in an arm’s distance length away because we want to the things that bite and claw and poke and scratch and that hurt our hearts. We want to keep it away from us. The only problem is when you start [indecipherable] [20:00] your heart in it, it starts to die.

And the truth is, at the end of the day, it’s really hard to find a soft heart in an old body. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart for it’s the wellspring of life.” He says this is really important. The world is coming after your heart. It wants to kill it. You’ve got to guard it because everything else flows out of that.

In other words, the quality of your life is determined by the condition of your heart. And a dead heart will live a defeated life. And so, instead of carrying around a dead heart, Jesus wants to interrupt that untimely funeral and bring it back from the grave. Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Where there are dead things in your heart that he can raise from the grave. And the last one is this. We carry around dead pasts. We know where we’ve been, what we’ve done. We know what’s been done to us. We’re embarrassed and ashamed and let me tell you something, shame is a cruel master. But Jesus wants to interrupt your life and he wants to tell you that your past has no authority over your future.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. What matters is where you’re going. It doesn’t matter about that misstep. What matters is your next step. Hebrews 8:12, “I will forgive their wickedness and remember those sins no more.” The things you can’t seem to forget, God says he can’t seem to remember. And you say, “Well, how?” Because Jesus already paid for the past, present and future on the cross, so he has resurrected your past so you can have a new future. That’s why Isaiah 43 says, “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See, I’m doing a new thing. Now it springs up. Can’t you see it?” And the reason we can’t see a new future is because we’re too busy focusing on the old past, so we can’t see the fresh thing because we’re still grieving and sorrowful and regretting the things that have happened in the past. Listen to me. The human heart was not meant to carry around dead things. A 65-year-old person is not meant to carry around dead relationships. A 50-year-old man is not meant to carry a dead job. A 35-year-old woman is not meant to carry a dead dream.

And an 18-year-old teenager is not meant to carry a dead heart. The God of life gave you life so you can be a life-giving person. And if the spirit of life is in you, then dead things aren’t supposed to be there. And so, what he will do is interrupt your life not to take something away from you, but to bring you a resurrection. He wants to turn your funeral into a party. And it doesn’t matter why the boy died or how the boy died, it doesn’t matter why your things died or how they died. What matters is Romans 4:17, “He is the God who gives life to dead things and calls things that are not as though they were.” He wants to speak life over you and he wants to give you a new future. And when he shows up, dead things rise from the grave. Are you with me on that? Okay? You’re not meant to carry dead things. So he’ll interrupt your life.

The second thing I want you to get is this, is that God’s heart is drawn to our cries. Look at verse 13. It says, “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, ‘Don’t cry.'” It’s fascinating to me. Jesus is on his mission to save the world. And out of all the things he could be doing, all the places he could be going, all the people he could be serving, he notices a funeral and his heart is drawn to this poor widow. It’s a reminder that a big God cares about even the smallest of pain. And what I think is fascinating in this story is she has no faith. This is not one of those stories where someone comes with his big faith and asks Jesus to do something. She has no faith. She doesn’t ask him for anything. She doesn’t invite him into the situation but Jesus himself decides to show up and come. Contrast it with the story right before it, you can read it on your own later, it’s the story of the centurion. The soldier who has another soldier under him who’s dying and he comes to Jesus and says, “Jesus, you don’t even need to come to my house. Just speak the word and he’ll be healed.” And Jesus says, “I have not seen faith like this in all of Israel.” He’s amazed by his faith. And the miracle happens and the man rises from the grave.

And we spend all our time in church talking about how God is drawn to our faith and that’s true, but listen to me, he is also drawn to our pain. Because sometimes things are so dead, we have no faith. Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his love for you in this while you were still sinners, dead with no future. God died for us.” Or how about Ephesians 2 that says, “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved.” He comes to you not because of your great faith, but because of his great faithfulness. And he’ll come to your life when you least expect it. He notices even though no one else does. 1 Samuel 9:16, “I have looked upon my people for their cry has reached me.” Your cry has reached his heart. And it’s drawn to it. And so he wants to bring it back from the dead. You see what I love is that while we’re busy judging people, Jesus is busy helping people. We look at people and we say things like, you know, “Why are you doing this? Why are you acting like this? Why do you talk this way? Why do you live this way?” It’s really easy for us to judge people. I mean, just think of that person or that stereotype or that people group you can’t stand. It’s really easy to judge them, isn’t it? Got real quiet at that question.

It’s really easy to judge them. But what we forget is that everybody has a sortie back here you know nothing about. They’re carrying a dead thing that you’re not even aware of. Like I remember when I first became a pastor. I had to learn how to deal with hurting people. It’s so much of what pasturing is, it’s just dealing with hurting and broken people. And I remember there was this couple and, oh my goodness, they were so difficult. They complained about everything. They wanted to fight everything. They just were grumpy about everything. You know someone in your life like that? If you’re not laughing, you might be the person that we all think that about. But, man, these were just like difficult people. I didn’t want to be around them. I was frustrated by them. I had judgment in my heart towards them. And then one day, their whole life exploded and everything that was going on got put on the table. And then as that moment happened and we were sitting down trying to figure out what was going on and trying to help them, we realized that both of them had been abused as kids and they never worked through it. They both had major health issues happening in their life that was bringing them down. And then there were some major things happening with their kids.

And all of a sudden, when I realized all the dead things they were carrying, the story I knew nothing about, no longer was I filled with judgment. My heart was filled with compassion. I wonder how many people in our life are really carrying dead things and we’re judging their behavior but we’ve forgotten that they’re widows carrying their dead one and only son to the grave. So the question I would as you is do you give other people the same benefit of the doubt that Jesus wants to give you? Because his heart is like a magnet drawn to the cries and the pain of people and he wants to give you bright new future, not judge you or define you by a bad beginning. I mean 2 Corinthians, I love this, it says, “For he says, ‘In the time of my favor, I heard you and in the day of salvation, I helped you. I noticed, I cared, I was drawn to it.'” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor and now is the day of salvation. In other words, your cry has reached his heart and he is offering you a new future. So I don’t know what’s going on or where you’re hurting. I know this though. He sees, he cares and he comes. Even if you’re like this woman and you have no faith.

And the last thing I want you to get is this, is only Jesus can give you back your future. Verse 14, “He went up and touched the coffin. Those carrying it stood still and he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, get up.’ The dead man sat up, began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” I want you to think about how awkward this interruption would be. We think of a coffin, we think of this closed box, nice casket, flowers on top. No, no. It would have just been the boy lying on some sticks. And so when Jesus interrupts everything, there is the body and Jesus himself literally walks up, he touches the body and he says to the boy, “I say to you, get up.” Can you imagine seeing him sit up? And Jesus puts his arms under the boy, picks him up and hands him back to his mother. She had lost everything. And only Jesus had the authority to give it back to her. It didn’t matter where she went, what she did, how she tried, what she struggled with, what doctors she went to. At this point in time, she couldn’t get her future back. She couldn’t raise her son from the dead, but Jesus could and Jesus did.

You see, here’s what I want you to get. Jesus is not bound by death. Revelation 1:18, “I am the living One. I was dead and behold, I am alive forever and ever and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Acts 2:24, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep his hold on him.” Romans 6:9, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again. Death no longer has mastery over him.” Jesus is not bound by death because he defeated death. And if he defeated death and he is not bound by death, then he is not bound by sin, sickness or failure. So when Jesus says to a dead thing, “I say to you, get up,” that death thing cannot stay down. It can’t. He controls the keys of death. He defeated death. He’s not bound by death. So if I say to you, “Get up,” that thing cannot stay down in the name of Jesus. I mean that’s like totally different than what we think. It’s like John 11, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He says, “I am.” Not you, which means it doesn’t matter how hard you try, how much you strive, how much you struggle, how much effort you put into it, you can’t get your future back.

But Jesus can and Jesus will. And so the question is, what have you lost? What has died? What dead things are you carrying around? He is the resurrection and the life. Joel 2:25, he says, “I will restore to you the years the locust have taken.” In other words, I’ll give you back everything you lost and then some. So stop focusing on what you should or shouldn’t have done. Start focusing on the one who offers you a brand new future because Genesis 50:20 says, “What Satan intended for harm, God is going to use for good.” He’ll take your brokenness and he’ll turn it into a bright future. He’ll take your mess and he’ll turn it into message. He’ll take your pain and turn it into platform. That was really dorky, but I thought I’d try it. Because see, here’s what I want you to get. Regret is of the devil, repentance is of God. And there’s a big difference between those two. 2 Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation, a new future, and leaves no regret. But worldly sorrow brings death.” Regret is of the devil, repentance is of God. Because what regret does is it gives more authority to the pain of your past than the promise of your future. Regret is focused on what was, repentance is focused on what will be. Regret focuses on what you did, repentance focuses on what Jesus has done. Regret is hopeless, but repentance is faith-filled because repentance moves you into your future while regret keeps you trapped in your past. That’s why Jeremiah 29:11, it says, “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to give you a new future.” So maybe we need to leave some of that regret behind and stop focusing on the things that hold us back and turn our eyes to Jesus and say it’s time for some repentance. I’m going to change the way I think because my future is found in him. Now, are you with me so far? Let me pull it all together in this. You can turn there if you want, or just let me read it to you, Ezekiel 37.

This Ezekiel the prophet. We don’t really know what to do with him. He’s kind of a weird guy. If you read him through your daily reading, you kind of like skip it. You know, it’s kind of like him in Leviticus, they’re just not sure what to do with it. But there’s good stuff in here. Here’s what it says, “The hand of the Lord was upon me. And he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley. And 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. And he asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ I said, ‘Oh, sovereign Lord, only you alone know.'” In other words, God takes Ezekiel and he puts him into this valley, full of dead bones, full of dead things and God points to them and says, “Hey, Ezekiel, do you think I can raise these things from the grave?” And Ezekiel gives like the religious answer like, “Only you alone know, Lord.” No, no. “Only you alone know, Lord.” “But you can’t, it’s not going to happen.” That’s what he’s thinking, okay? Then he said to me, “Prophecy 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 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 the 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 from the four winds oh breath and breathe into these slain that they may live.’ So I prophesied as he commanded to me and breath entered them, they came to life and stood up on their feet a vast army.”

We walk through life and the world steals, kills and destroys just about everything that we have. And if we’re honest, most of us are like the woman in the story, our life is a funeral procession. Our whole life. Because we’re always carrying something that’s dead. We’re always grieving it, we’re always regretting it. We’re always ashamed about it. We’re always carrying a dead thing. So we’re full of pain and brokenness and defeat and despair. Our life is a valley of dry bones. But we follow the God who resurrects the dead. And so what I would subject to you is that Ezekiel 37 is really our story. It says, “The hand of the Lord was upon me.” The hand of the Lord is upon you. And he wants to take you today and bring you into the valley of dry bones in your life and he says, “Look at this. Look at all these dead things, things you haven’t even been aware of and he’s, “Look at these dead things. Do you think I can raise them from the dead?” To which we say, “Only you alone know oh Lord.” No, no you can’t. “Only you Lord know Lord.” “You know, I’m in church. Everybody say you can, but you can’t.” He says, “Then watch.” And as he starts speaking to them, the bones of our lives are coming together.

Bone to bone, step to step, moment to moment, process to process as we hear the word of God, as we read the word for ourselves as we just sit in church, as we get in a group, as we serve, as we take next steps of obedience. It’s a process. It didn’t happen immediately. But it started coming together and the next thing you know, the thing is put back to life and just like with Adam, scraped together from the ground, whooo, the breath of God breathes life into him and whooo, the breath of God will breathe life [indecipherable] [0:35:33] and he will come back to life. And everything will be changed. And what was a valley of dry bones becomes an army of life. The thing that was dead that he’ll bring back to life, it becomes your weapon of warfare. The thing that Satan took and wanted to use for harm, God is now going to use it for good just like this boy, he was dead, he comes back to life. The whole town now hears about the goodness of Jesus. He’s a weapon of warfare because he’s no longer a valley of dry bones. He now is an army of life, okay? So your past and your present may be full of death, but in Jesus your future is full of life. So here’s what I want you to do, I want you to close your eyes with me for a second. And I want you to stay engaged with me for like two more minutes. And I just want to ask you, what are the dead things in your life?

Holy Spirit come and bring to our minds, our hearts, our attention the dead things we’re carrying. Maybe it’s a relationship, a job, a dream of long ago, a brokenness of your heart or something from your past. I don’t know. But every one of us in this room, we carry that thing. And I love that Ezekiel, as he started to prophesy, prophecy his hearing God’s voice and speaking to the world, those things had to come back to life because when Jesus says, “I say to you, get up,” that dead thing cannot stay down. And so I want to prophesy over the dead things in our lives today. And so, by faith, you reach out and you grab a hold of whatever thing needs to come back to life in your world because it’s time for a new future. So right now, Lord Jesus, we prophesy to dead relationships, we speak to those dead marriages, we speak to those dead parental and child relationships with one another, we speak to those dead friendships, we speak to every dead relationship in our life, those dead relationships at work, in our communities, and our neighborhoods, we speak to them now in the name of Jesus and we say, “Rise from the grave.”

We say marriages are coming back online. We say parents and children are coming back together. We say friends that have been separated for years, today is the day those bones come back to life. We speak to you and bring it forth. We now prophesy over those dead jobs, over those dead mundane tasks, routines, the mindless things we go through every day and we just declare that in the name of Jesus, no longer will it be doing a task, but now it’s going to be kingdom purpose. No longer is it going to be a place where we are defeated and discouraged and full of despair. It’s going to be a place where we are full of hope and life and purpose. Even though it’s a small task, we serve a big God who’s releasing big things through what we do every day with our hands. We call it forth to life. We now speak to the dreams in our hearts that have died, divine seeds that were meant to perform or to produce divine dreams.

Lord, we clear away the clutter and we plant new things. And we say, rise from the grave. Those dreams, to live and be free and go and do. Stay-at-home mom, you’re not defined by raising your children. Guy in a job you can’t stand, you’re not defined by that job. There is a dream that God has for you and he’s bringing it back online today. We now declare over the dead hearts in our lives, the broken and hard things that are there, that are numb and cold, we declare in the name of Jesus that they will come back to life, that you will soften even the hardest of our hearts, whooo, and breath life. And then we speak to the dead past, we say in the name of Jesus, you have no authority over our future. We refuse to live and regret any longer. We choose repentance, changing our mind, changing our thinking and looking to the future that Jesus has already bought for us. And so we say to our past, you are no longer dead, you will rise because I’m walking into a new future and you are coming with me under the redemption of the blood of Jesus. He holds the keys of death. You no longer have authority over our lives and so we rise from the grave. So Lord Jesus, today we say dead things are coming back to life. And a new future is released. May we have the courage and the faith to walk that process out. We love you, Lord. In your name we pray. Amen.

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