Devotions

This page will have short, scripture based devotionals that will help students focus on God and challenge them in their relationships with God and others. During this time in the world it is important to focus on the Gospel of Jesus. God has wonderful things planned for each of us. Will we take the time to listen?

Nehemiah 13

People want to be remembered for their heart, not always for their actions. It’s a person’s heart that speaks true intentions. Except, people’s actions may not always match their heart. I know that’s true for myself at times. I want to love God and people the best I can, but some days I’m a little cruder than I would like to be. Some days, I know I could have given more grace to others. There are many factors that can cause our actions to not line up with our heart. One of those factors is being human. Being human means, we will make mistakes because we aren’t perfect, and that’s okay. Another factor that can cause our actions not to line up with our heart is being in leadership. We see this play out at the end of Nehemiah.

 

Between Nehemiah chapters eight and thirteen Israel confesses their sins to God, more people move to live in Jerusalem, the wall is dedicated, and Nehemiah gives people assigned roles. In chapter thirteen Nehemiah had to travel back to king Artaxerxes and ask permission to go back to Jerusalem. If you remember, at the beginning of the book Nehemiah promised he would return to the king. It’s awesome that Nehemiah kept his word! When Nehemiah came back to Jerusalem he saw that the people assigned to be temple musicians and gatekeepers were gone, he was furious. They had to go home to their own farms and towns to survive because the storeroom was being used by a foreigner. Nehemiah goes to the storeroom and throws out all of the belongings and chews out those that were in charge of the storeroom. Then in verse 14 he writes:

 

Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”

 

Another situation stirs up that Nehemiah had to take care of. People were working and trading on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a commandment God gave the Israelites to rest and worship him for a whole day. No work was supposed to be done. This was a serious betrayal of a commandment. So, Nehemiah ordered for the doors of Jerusalem shut right before the Sabbath started. Any traders or people outside the city had to either sleep outside or go home. The Sabbath had to be honored by foreigners and Israelites. Again, Nehemiah writes:

 

Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.”

 

The last situation Nehemiah has to deal with is the Israelites marrying other families that don’t worship God. This got Israel in an extreme amount of trouble in the past. They should know better by now. At this point, Nehemiah snaps. He takes some of the men that married women that do not honor God and beat them and pulled their hair out. Nehemiah had a lot of anger when handling this situation. Again, after the situation is handled, Nehemiah writes:

 

Remember me with favor, my God.”

 

Nehemiah could have handled each situation with a little more grace. He acted on raw emotion. He was put in a tough spot because he had to make leadership decisions. He wanted to reflect the heart of God and bring the people of Jerusalem back to Him because it had been so long since their lives were fully dedicated to the Lord. Nehemiah did his best to keep Israel dedicated to God, even if that meant some pretty harsh decision. Nehemiah knew God wanted foreigners to worship Him, but Nehemiah was scared that they would pull Israel away from God. He was trying to prevent history from repeating itself.

 

Yet, Nehemiah had the awareness to pray that God saw his heart. He wanted God to see his true intentions. I think we can learn a lot from Nehemiah’s prayer. We should always strive for our actions to line up with our heart. We should always try to love God and people the best we can, but we are humans and will make mistakes. When our grace tank is low, or we were mean to someone, or don’t treat a friend or family member right we should first apologize, pray that God would help us to have more grace, and then ask him to remember our true intentions.

 

This week spend some time in prayer figuring out if your intentions are for yourself or for God. Then ask God to continue leading you to have a heart like his, and for your actions to match. God knows each of our hearts and our intentions, just as he knew Nehemiah’s. Even though Nehemiah’s actions may not have matched his heart, his intentions were always for God’s glory. We strive for the same thing; our actions and intentions are for God’s glory. 

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