Cornerstone Community Church

Taking Risks for the City

Intro:  The City is the center of God’s redemptive plan.  Jerusalem => New Jerusalem

Big Idea: God’s gracious hand moves us to risk for the City.

Context:  Since the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, the temple and many homes have been rebuilt.  But the walls and gates are still rubble.  In 445 BC, God gave Nehemiah a heart for the city.

I. By God’s grace, we risk comfort for the City.

-         2 themes: God of heaven- sovereign, transcendent; gracious hand- immanent, active

-         Cupbearer- handsome, influential, listener (bartender), knows wine (Danny), trusted.

-         Though possibly a slave, he knows a life of great privilege and comfort in Susa.

-         Persian problems: father assassinated; Egypt & Greece aggressive.  Ill. 300/480 BC

-         He risked his life for the city by showing sadness in the king’s presence.

-         Prays to the King of kings before speaking to the king.  Moment of opportunity!

-         He risked his life for the city by challenging Artaxerxes’ decision.  Ill. Sadaam

-         He risked his life for the city with outrageous requests (title, time, timber).

-         Providence (God put Nehemiah there) => Prayer => Planning

-         Nehemiah left his position & comfort for the city.  Ill. Incarnation (Philippians 2)

-         What comforts or conveniences are we willing to risk or forgo for the city?  Ill. Orlando

-         He honors God, not himself.  God’s gracious hand moved the king’s heart  (Prov. 21:1)

Transition:  If God puts His purposes in our heart, we’ll risk our comfort/security for the City.

II. By God’s grace, we risk failure for the City.  Many decisions could have gone wrong.

-         Risked failure by accepting the armed escort.  Ezra rejected it (8:22).  How’d Ezra react?

-         1,500 mile trip along the trade routes and a 3-day vacation.  Tired, overwhelmed?

-         He risked failure by keeping quiet.  No boasts, not speeches.  Nothing.

-         He entered the city with a royal escort.  He’s the governor.  He waited, again.

-         He’s confident of the plan Q put in his heart, confirmed by the king’s actions.  Ill. Abe L

-         He inspects the walls at night to develop a specific plan (a wall = this wall).  Ill. remodel

-         Leaders need to know the church & community.  Know or only think you do?

-         He risks failure by confronting their participation in disgrace (Hag. 1:3-4).  Ill. 30 days

-         Hearts were not aligned with God’s.  Shared God’s plan with them (Mt. 16:18).

-         God’s gracious hand was at work in their response- joining him to rebuild.  Ill. Carey

-         Providence => prayer => planning => people.  W/out one of them, it fails!  Ill. GSPC

Transition: When God’s purposes are on our hearts, we’ll risk failure for the City.

III. By God’s grace, we risk persecution for the City.  Ill. Orlando

-         He risked mockery & scorn for the city.  Some people benefit from a broken city.

-         The plan revealed reveals the enemies of God’s purposes!  The ‘troublesome trio.’

-         Sanballat (Sin [moon god] has given life)- governor of Samaria will lose power.

-         Tobiah (YHWH is good)- governor of Ammon, Israel’s inbred, rebellious cousin.

-         Geshem (bulky, stout)- an Arab who controls trade will lose prosperity.

-         He risked false accusations for the city.  He Concerned with their kingdoms, not God’s.

-         Jesus bore false accusations in our place (Mt. 4).  Jesus shapes us by the truth too!

-         He refuted their scorn with God’s promise.  They had no authority over Jerusalem.

Conclusion:  A heart for the city is not content to hurt, long and pray.  God puts His purposes in our hearts to reshape our actions and priorities.  Thru Incarnation Jesus left His comfort & lost His life for us.  Now He works in us so we’ll take risks to accomplish His purposes, or so He can work thru us.  Take stock of how God is challenging you, thru the work of Jesus, to risk for the City.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.  Proverbs 21:1 (NIV)


3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:  4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”  Haggai 1 (NIV)


“I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.”  Abraham Lincoln


“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”  William Carey

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