Cornerstone Community Church
A Heart for the City
Intro: Francis of Assisi- “Rebuild my walls, you see they have fallen.” WH needs help!
Big Idea: God creates a Heart for the City among His people.
Timeline of Events
597 BC – Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar capture Jerusalem- first exile (Jeremiah)
586 BC- Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonian army (Ezekiel & Daniel)
539 BC- Medes capture Babylon
538 BC- Cyrus Edict allows exiles to return to Jerusalem (Haggai)
516 BC- Temple completed by Zerubbabel (Zechariah)
458 BC- Ezra leads a group of returning exiles
445 BC- Nehemiah hears news of Jerusalem (Malachi)
I. A Heart for the City Hurts for the City (vs.1-4).
- Susa is the winter palace of the Medo-Persian empire, in SW Iran.
- Nehemiah is the son of Hacaliah- “wait for YHWH”, waiting for God to restore them.
- His brother (Hanani- YHWH is gracious) arrives from Jerusalem.
- The people are in great trouble & disgrace. Walls broken & gates are burned.
- They are in great danger & objects of scorn/taunts. “Where is your God?!”
- He weeps & mourns; fasts & prays. Why? Ill. Nashua (1930, 1936, 1938), WH
- Love for God => love for Jerusalem & His people => benefit of the nations.
- Jesus wept for Jerusalem (Luke 19) moving toward the cross. Brokenness => ministry
- Love for God => love for the Church => benefit of the city (Jeremiah 29:7).
- God was dishonored! His people suffered! What do you cry about? Ill. Wilberforce
Transition: Ministry is often a response of a heart for the city to its desperate circumstances.
II. A Heart for the City wants God for the City (vs. 5).
- Nehemiah: “the comfort of YHWH or YHWH has comforted”- the point of the book!
- The task is too great. He wants God to comfort His people & restore His reputation.
- He is God of heaven who overlooks & rules all of creation.
- He is the great and awesome (fearsome) God. God, not Nehemiah, is the hero here.
- He is the faithful God keeping His covenant of faithful love. Ill. 586 BC
- He is the God who hears the prayers of His people. Ill. Alaska
- Know God’s character & deeds <= Bible => trust & pray
- We want a N, not his God. We want to be N. w/out knowing the One greater than him.
Transition: A heart for the city wants the city to have God himself, and relies on God alone.
III. A Heart for the City Prays for the City (vs. 5-11a).
- He fasted & prayed regularly from Kislev to Nisan (Nov/Dec – March/April).
- Heart work precedes the hard work! We jump the gun, relying on ourselves & strategy.
- Prayer confesses sin (Israelites, me my father’s house- solidarity). Ill. Lewis quote
- How can God bless corrupt people like us? Died i.o.p. <= J => obeyed i.o.p.
- Jesus expressed His solidarity with us by becoming sin for us (2 Cor. 5).
- Sin breaks the heart of God, and should break our hearts. Do we cry for our sin/city?
- Prayer remembers God’s promises. He asks God to grant repentance & restore them.
- Assessment & repentance <= Bible => expectations & obedience
- Prayer is a servant seeking his/her Master’s honor! Servant used 7 times
- Christ’s work for us => His work in us => His work thru us
- Cross => Comfort => Comforting others (2 Cor. 1). God will comfort thru Nehemiah.
- Jesus prays for us => Spirit empowers us to pray => ministry & mission happen
Conclusion: God is at work to create a heart for the City in us. He wants us to see the City like he does- and hurt for it. He wants us to see Him as the only hope for the City. He wants us to pray for the city and identify with the City precisely because Jesus does. This only happens as God transforms us thru the renewing of our minds & hearts by Word & Spirit. Do you want that?
"There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.” C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves)
AMEN'd this Sermon: