God's Heart for Cities

Luke 19:17 (NET) - “…Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, you will have authority over ten cities.”

 

I was sitting in my chair on Sunday May 1, 2016 when I received the vision I’m now calling “TEN CITIES: A Multisite Vision to Reach Out.” I’ve been sharing it with our church the past few weeks and it is changing our view of who we are and what God wants us to do.  

 

I’ve also been announcing that in response to the Holy Spirit’s direction to fulfill our vision of reaching people with the Gospel that GateWay will be one church in three locations as of August 28.  Faith Summit Church in Clovis, led by Pastors Sam and Kim Beckworth will become one with usand transform into GateWay City Church as our Clovis campus.  This is a marvelous way for all of us to be stronger and better at reaching people!

 

I believe God is giving us authority in cities beyond San Jose to preach the Gospel and make disciples.  And it is not because we are amazing.  It’s because GOD is amazing.

 

“Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  2 Corinthians 3:2-6 (NIV) 

 

There’s a SPIRITUAL NEED, a HARVEST OF SOULS and a DISCIPLESHIP MOVEMENT coming.

 

This vision only makes sense in light of how much God loves cities.

 

GOD’S HEART FOR CITIES

 

The Lord God Almighty has a heart for cities.  He created them for a purpose.  

 

“In their misery they cried out to the Lord, and he saved them from their troubles.  He led them on a straight road to a city where they could live.”  Psalm 107:6-7 (NCV) 

 

Over one-half of the world's population lives in cities…Three out of every four people on earth. Many Christians think cities are evil places. If they were asked, they would say the city is a curse, not a blessing. However, that is not God's view. After all, the human story begins in a garden and ends in a city!

 

The devil did not invent cities, God did.  He uses cities to heal us, connect us and bless us.

 

1.  God calls us to love cities.

 

“Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”  Jonah 4:11 (NLT) 

 

When Jonah was told to go to Nineveh, the great city of its day, he went and preached well, though inwardly he hated the city. He preached to people, but he didn’t love them. Too many preachers are like Jonah. And when God said, “I won’t destroy Nineveh,” Jonah got extremely angry because he hated those the Ninevites. 

 

So God came to Jonah and said, “Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than 120,000 people in darkness?” As Tim Keller points out, the word “feel sorry” there is the Hebrew word “to weep.”  He says, “Jonah, I weep over this city. Why don’t you weep over them? 

 

Our God loves cities.  This is reflected best in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

 

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it…”  Luke 19:41-42 (NIV) 

 

GateWay: Today I believe Jesus is approaching our city in a new way.  I know beyond any doubt that the heart of Jesus is looking at our community and longing to something through us.  

 

Are you like Jonah? God says, “Are you weeping over the city? Does your heart go out to it? Do you love the place? Do you remember what I’ve done for you? We’re called to love the city.

 

Loving cities is at the heart of our mission as a church.

 

2.  God calls us to identify with cities.

 

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.”  Jeremiah 29:4-7 (NIV) 

 

The Israelites were in exile, conquered by the wicked, terrible city of Babylon.  God did not tell them, “Hate the Babylonians! Resist them, stay away from them and as fast as you can, get out.”  He says, “Settle down. Builda family. Identify with the city. Weave your lives into the life of the city.  I’ll use you there and bless you there.”

 

An intercessor is someone who identifies with a people or a city.  When Nehemiah prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem, he didn’t pray as if he were not part of it.  He said, “Both I and this people have sinned.” (Neh. 1:6,7)  God calls Christians to be intercessors for cities and stay identified with cities.

 

3.  God calls us to reach cities.

 

As he was getting into the boat the man who had been demon-possessed asked if he could go with him. But Jesus did not permit him to do so. Instead, he said to him, “Go to your home and to your people and tell them what the Lord has done for you, that he had mercy on you.” So he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him, and all were amazed.”  Mark 5:18-20 (NET) 

 

This verse reveals part of my heart in the Ten Cities message.  Decapolis was a place that Jesus saw a great response to His compassionate ministry.   He had a heart to reach cities that were in need.  This vision drives us. 

 

The best way to bless a city is for us to follow Jesus together.  He went to earthly cities, wept and ministered. He identified with its people. He preached the gospel incities, and he sacrificed himself in a city.  he rose again in a city.  

 

He has a heart for cities.  As His followers, we should ask ourselves:  Are we ready to join Jesus in His heart for cities?