Nehemiah: Day 15

We Promised to Be Faithful to God


Today's Text: Nehemiah 9:38, Nehemiah 10:1-39, John 14:15, Hebrews 4:15

Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 9:38, Nehemiah 10:1-39, John 14:15, Hebrews 4:15

Find me managing a tantrum in the middle of the bread aisle and I might sing a different tune, but I want more from my children than blind obedience. I don’t want them to toe the line based strictly on fear of consequences. Our home is not a police state, after all. I want my children’s obedience to reflect the condition of their hearts, for their actions to be a response to the love and care they’ve been given.

As I consider my role in the family of God, I know the Father wants the same from me. As an unbeliever, I couldn’t work up the oomph to care much about what God said about how I should live. At best, He seemed like an aloof father figure, and at worst, an unreasonable tyrant. Like a toddler determined to have her own way, I rebelled.

As a new believer, I swung the pendulum of obedience to extremes. I wanted to obey all the rules, do all the right things, avoid all the wrong ones. I saw God as a hyper-attentive helicopter parent. I lived in constant fear of disappointing Him. But I’ve been walking with Christ for twenty years now, and a beautiful shift has transpired. Much like what happened with my earthly parents as I hit my mid-twenties, I want to please God—not because of fear of consequences, but because He is so clearly worthy of my unequivocal devotion and respect. Rather than being motivated by fear, my obedience has become the way I say “thank you” for all He has done for me.

Here, in Nehemiah 9-10, we see God’s people growing up, maturing. They’ve been through a rebellious phase, and it has cost them dearly. In the eras preceding Nehemiah’s day, God’s people saw Him as an oppressive and unreasonable Father, and their warped view of Him fueled generations of rebellion. But because He is a loving Father, He graciously gathered them together again. He reminded them of His expectations and gave them another chance to get it right. They looked around at their scattered tribes, their rubbled city, their fallen comrades, and their perspective shifted.

God is good.
His ways are best.
Rebellion leads to destruction.

For all of chapter 10, God’s children declared what they would and would not do in response to God’s love. We’ve heard it all before, but the tone is different here. Just like the children I tuck into bed every night, they would not obey perfectly, but their hearts had changed. For the first time in a long time, they wanted to obey their Father. In all things, they were determined to “not neglect the house of God” (Nehemiah 10:39).

Love and obedience are tied together with a sacred cord. That’s why Christ cut to the chase with these words: “If you love me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15). Author Paul David Tripp puts it this way: “Obedience is not what gets you grace. It’s the evidence that grace has gotten you.” Belief leads to obedience, because when we see who God really is, we want to live like He asks us to. It is our loving response to the God who is Love.


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • Kristen Elizabeth

    What a difference a change of heart has on wanting to be obedient. To not just live by God’s standards based on fear, but because of a heart’s desire to do that. And there is joy in being obedient to God’s Word when our heart is right.

  • Katie Cepeda

    Amazing how the truth of their tone is changed in a sincere heart way. So many times we make promises to God and fail at keeping them. When we look at our constant failures or short comings we can become bitter and hardened by self imposed expectation that its us doing it. This confirms that realization that His strength is made perfect in our weakness! I want this too for my daughter as well as the children in Sunday school! Finding the love of Jesus in our over stimulated/entertained and wicked world! Lord stir our hearts with compassion and love!

  • Jen Nohrenberg


  • Janna Jackson

    Obedience is a sign that I know him. If I had no desire to follow Christ I would wonder if I truly knew Him. I have’t always obeyed the Lord in my life and have suffered the consequences of disobedience but when I go against law the Holy Spirit is quick to convict me. Thankful for a God that lives me enough not to let me stay in my sin. He lovingly uses circumstances in my life to bring me back to him.

  • Courtney Warford

    I really needed to hear that line, “obedience is the evidence that grace has gotten YOU”! Isn’t it funny how a certain phrase by a spirit-lead author can take God’s word and pierce your heart with it? As a 33-year-old Christian woman living in NYC, I struggle greatly with sexual purity, it’s a constant pendulum swing laced with immense guilt. Please pray for me sisters if you feel lead. I want to obey him not because we’re told “not until marriage” but because I’m elated by the amount of love, provision, and grace the Lord has bestowed upon me in my time here.

    • Stephanie

      You got it, Courtney. I’ll be praying for you! I hope this doesn’t sound odd, but your openness and honesty cheers my heart.

    • Brittney Garvey

      Different cities, similar struggle. When I was single, I sought satisfaction, worth, and value in the men who surrounded me because I didn’t realize that I could only be satisfied in the one who satisfied my debt, I could only find worth and value in the one who created me for a purpose and would lovingly guide me throughout life to live in a way pleasing to Him. Temptation is real, but we must trust His grace and mercy. He took upon our sin and shame on the cross; he died for your past, current, and future sins. His grace is sufficient. Holy Spirit, would you shine light in this darkness, would you renew Courtney’s mind to discern your will, what is good and acceptable and perfect. We ask, Lord, would you remind her of your love for her daily. Amen.

  • Just this, yes.

  • Emily Gates

    The fact that I have a choice to rebel or obey.. it blows my mind. Thankful for a loving Father.

  • Soraya DosSantos

    Glory!!! I am rejoicing and glorifying God for his amazing grace!! Sharing this gospel today!!!

  • Logan Ranhofer

    Really loved this metaphor in today’s devotional! I pray my heart will always be in the right place to obey because of the love I have for Christ.

  • charlie woodruff

    oh this devotional! So timely for the season that I am currently walking through. Lord hear my prayers.

  • Terrisa Stewart

    I have to agree with my Sisters here. Showing love for God but obeying His commands is definitely a challenging task. I pray for continued strength in that regard and that when I fall short I don’t get angry with myself. I pray that I ask for forgiveness from Him, I forgive myself and that I move forward to be a better Christian woman.

  • Shelby Lynn

    Whew, John 14:15 “IF you love me, you will keep my commands.” How powerful and moving! Such another eye opener as to how we need to live, right in the heart means right to portray.

  • Wow! I absolutely loved today’s reading and this article that goes along with it. I’m in a stage of trying to fall into grace, and making conscious efforts not to fall into religion. My view of God is changing for the better daily, and this was so, so awesome to read. I relate. Loving this Kindgdom Work!!
    Rebecca Ince

  • Blessings my sisters! On this Memorial Day lets be thankful for all those who have sacrificed for our freedom in this country!

  • It is always encouraging to me to see the Israelites seeking and accepting God’s grace. It is a reminder to me that His grace is always available to me. And, as Erin shared in her devotion, my obedience to God is my “response” for His never-ending grace, not obligation…the difference between knowing of God (in my mind) and knowing God (in my heart).

  • What stuck out to me was the specific vows they were making: they were all about maintaining the house of God. While they could have (and probably did) vow to uphold the rest of the Law, here they specifically only list out those laws that are intended to provide for the upkeep of God’s house. First things first. Priorities. They must have known that if they get this area down and running smoothly, the rest of their society will flow from there.
    What a reminder to get those first things first – and as the reading said, to do so out of love.
    I’m walking into a major rebuilding stage of my personal life after a traumatic year exposed 20 years of mess inside me. My counselor had “tasked” me with daily Scripture reading. It still feels like a task, but increasingly more it’s something I do want to do each day out of my blossoming love for God and desire to see more of Him at work in this. Today’s reading was a beautiful reminder to keep the first things first, out of love.

    • Remi

      Amy, I love what awesome words of wisdom you’ve shared and taken from today’s readings. I am so encouraged! Keeping first things first isn’t a reading I originally took from today’s study but after reading your interpretation, it’s ALL I can see. This is something I need to constantly remind myself and work on. I think I can get so caught up in our human work on earth, and constantly preparing for the “next big thing,” whether it be buying a house, getting my career really moving, or thinking about where my husband and I might want to live in the long term. But truly, as you’ve said, first things have to be kept first. We aren’t preparing for more earthly things, but rather for all the spiritual things and those up above. Thank you so much for this awesome reminder!

  • Caralee Lilly

    There is a verse in John that says “ if you love Me you’ll do as I commanded”. That verse irked me for the longest time until I had children of my own and realized the pain simple disobedience caused to me as a parent. The things I would ask of my children seems so trite in comparison to the outpouring of love that leads our Father to ask obedience of us. Parenting can be such a daily object lesson. I get it now. Obedience does keep us from destruction…God desires better things for a His people because of His great love us.

  • Kathy Valentine

    To personalize what Erin said, “God wants my obedience toward Him to reflect the condition of my heart, for my actions to be a response to the love and care He has given me.” Thank you for replacing my heart of stone with a heart of flesh, and for helping me to will and to do what You want more than what I want, Lord.

  • Kelly Chataine

    Praying that I will have a tender heart as I continue to do what God has called me to do. Praying for my first grandchild, a boy, that is being knit in his mother’s womb. May he have a tender heart and serve in love.

  • Lorrie Bee

    It stands to reason: the One who knows everything about me is the One who loves me best. So also, as I know Him better, I love Him more and want to please Him with my entire life and being.

    Perfect love. It’s what we all want.

  • Churchmouse

    “Pinky promise.” Sacred words to my four year old granddaughter. I’ve made several to her over these few years and I have been able to keep most of them. I am not able to perfectly deliver all the time. She has done the same in her pinky promises to her Mimi. I see the Israelites acknowledging the same here. They’ve made promises in the past and failed. Failed miserably and with dire consequences. Yet here they are again, making a vow, signing on the dotted line. They mean well and will try their best. They will not keep the Law perfectly. They just won’t because they can’t. Even with the best intentions , they and I will fail. But in God’s economy, like mine with sweet Julia, all is not lost. Love triumphs. While my covenant keeping ability is weak, God’s is not. He is always and forever a promise keeper. Because of His great love for us, He sent His Son to fulfill the Law for us all. No matter our mistakes, His blood forever covers all. W need only believe. The best the Israelites can do is good effort. The best Julia and I can do is good effort. But God never fails. Never. He always keeps His Word. Always. Pinky promise!

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