In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.” Nehemiah 9:38

Dallas Willard in one of his most famous books, Renovation of the Heart, says, “Actions are not impostions on who we are, but are expressions of who we are. They come out of our heart and the inner realities it supervises and interacts with.” The reality is that out of our hearts come the things that we say and we do. God getting ahold of and changing us from the inside out is what radically changes us into devoted followers of Christ. 

In Nehemiah 9, we see a grand description of God and His faithfulness and the response of the people is to make an oath before God to change their ways and their actions towards God. As a result of God’s faithfulness, the people make a lot of promises and oaths in Nehemiah 10 about the things that they will do and how they will change. Ultimately, we know from history that they fail. Why? Well, it starts with the heart. The people of Israel tried to perform in their own strength and failed. Isn’t this the human experience? As my New Year’s goals have begun to falter less than a month in, it’s impossible to achieve devotion without a change in heart.  A heart of devotion starts with our pursuit of God and Him alone. As we pursue God, God begins the work of molding us and shaping us into the image of Jesus. As God changes our hearts, we start to see the practical effects of God creating a pure heart in us. As we see a statement of devotion written by the people of Israel, it’s impossible to keep the oath without a renovation of our heart that comes only through communion with Jesus. As we seek to devote ourselves to Jesus, we are changed from the inside by our relationship to God in Christ. Not just outer actions and the things we do, but our ideas, beliefs, and feelings that drive our actions in the first place. My prayer for us is that God would continue to tune our hearts to His heart and may we seek the ways that God might want to act and move in our lives so that we can have fully devoted hearts. 

Seth Redden
High School Ministry

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