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Cornerstone Community Church

The Battle for the City

Intro:  My dream- too tired for the city.  Need a plan to build the church for the city.

Big Idea: God glorifies Himself as we persevere thru conflict for the city.

Context: The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC.  In 444 BC Nehemiah arrives as governor and begins to rebuild the walls & gates.

I. Pursuing God’s plan for the city produces conflict.  Rival Persian governors often fought.

-         The rebuilding of the wall incites Sanballet; “multiplied his anger”- nurse & rehearse.

-         Opposition: insult => inciting => intimidation.  Increased the heat as they failed.

-         They were “feeble,” & lacking perseverance & materials (stones “ruined by fire”).

-         Tobiah- “a fox would knock it down.”  (Note: ANE documents).  Wall 9’ thick!

-         Ashdod joins the “troublesome trio”.  Jerusalem is surrounded by enemies.  Ill. Mag. 7

-         They have joined together to plot, inciting one another against Jerusalem.  Ill. Mars Hill

-         They intimidate with death threats & shows of arms (Ps. 2).  Ill. Least expect it…lawsuit

-         God’s enemies oppose God’s plan.  Obedience often produces conflict w/disobedient.

-         Evil people oppose the progress of the gospel which changes the heart of the city.

Transition:  If we pursue God’s plan for the city, we’ll face great opposition.  What can we do?

II. Pursue God’s plan for the city thru prayer and perseverance.

-         Their enthusiasm waned in light of the opposition.  They were filled with fear!

-         Prayer => Preparation => Perseverance

-         They ask God to judge His enemies (Gen. 12)- talonic justice.  Ill. Batman Begins

-         It sounds like a Psalm- and possibly sung by the workers on the wall for encouragement.

-         Key: Nehemiah is a layman leading laypeople.  Everyone helped out (Neh. 3).

-         They prepared for attack- didn’t ignore threats.  No preemptive strike, but prepared.

-         Opposition often distracts us from God’s plans & loved ones.  Ill. Putting out fires

-         Nehemiah again evaluated the situation.  Jesus inspects, encourages & rebukes (Rev).

-         Goal was to glorify God by rebuilding the wall, not destroying people.  Stayed on task!

-         People grew weary (too much rubble), fearful and were stumbling.

-         Perseverance was costly but sustained by prayer (1 Pt 4).  All great projects are costly!

Transition: Meet opposition w/prayer, preparation & perseverance to change the city.

III. God works to accomplish His plan for the city.

-         God is the central figure to all that happens in the text, and our city.  Ill. circumstances

-         God frustrated the plans of His enemies, thru the prayers of His people.

-         We must keep our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12) not our enemies (resurrected & reigning).

-         “The Lord is great & awesome”, greater than our enemies.  What can they do to us?

-         God must be at work for this to happen (Ps. 127), and He was at work.

-         He has revealed just how great & awesome He is so we will rely on Him not ourselves.

-          “God will fight for us!”  Jesus triumphed over evil for us on the Cross (Col. 2).

-         Jesus works in us to subdue our sinful nature which resists obedience.

-         Jesus works thru us to crush Satan under our feet (Rom. 16:20).

Conclusion:  A heart for the city calls us to fight for the good of the city.  Opposition is certain, for many benefit from the sin & misery of the city.  They have many tactics, but we serve a great & awesome God.  Prayer will lead to preparation & perseverance on our part.  God glorifies Himself by working in Christ for us, in us and thru us for the well-being of the city.  Let not fear or exhaustion deter you from taking up the sword & trowel.


 

“…when heaven breaks in, all hell breaks loose. … This gospel stuff can be bad for local industry and economy.”  Mark Buchanan

“Suffering is the badge of discipleship; taking up the cross authenticates the reality of faith.”  Raymond Brown

“It has been said that in the history of the church, pessimism has always been a greater problem than atheism.”  Raymond Brown

 

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.  1 Peter 4 (NIV)

 

1 Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.  Psalm 127 (NIV)

 

15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Colossians 2 (NIV)

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