Nehemiah wasn’t even born when the first exiles returned from Babylon in 538 b.c. and rebuilt the temple (Ezra 1-6). Several years before he came to Jerusalem Ezra had led a group to return to Israel around 458 b.c. (Ezra 7-10). Now the year is 445 b.c. and Nehemiah learns of the condition of the wall of Jerusalem and its gates (1:3). He is overcome with grief and begins to pray and ask God to “grant him mercy in the sight of” King Artaxerxes so that he may return and accomplish “what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem” (2:12). God does grant him mercy and the king agrees to his idea.
Notice, he did “what God had put into his heart.” Can you and I say the same? Have we lived our lives doing what God has put into our hearts as his disciples? Are we always faithful to the leading of the Lord as he guides us in our lives? Some might even question whether God acts in this way today.
But someone might question, “How do I know when God has put something on my heart?” I even know some prominent pastors who suggest that we can’t know this sort of thing subjectively until we see it in retrospect. And there may be a sense in which that is true. But look closely at Nehemiah’s prayer in Ch. 1. He referred to the teaching of the Scripture from Moses. He knew that what had happened to the people was what God had prophesied. But there obviously was no chapter and verse in the Scripture he had that said, “Thou shalt go to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls.” No, God simply put it on his heart.
So does God put things on our hearts today? I would say yes. Can we know with certainty that he has done so? Probably not absolutely. But I believe that, as we study the word, live a godly life before him and seek him and his guidance in prayer, we will have those times that God “leads us in our thinking” to do certain things for him. If we sense this strongly and if it is consistent with the Word of God, we should move forward. And I believe that we can trust that God has put it on our hearts.
Prayer: Father, I know that I am a frail human with a heart and mind that are probably rarely fully and completely devoted to you. But, Father, I do want that to be the desire of my heart. Help me to realize that every single idea I have cannot be attributed to your putting it on my heart. But, Lord, sometimes you do lead specifically and sometimes you do want me to move in certain directions, so help me to know that when it comes. Keep me so grounded in your Word that I won’t miss your truth that always guides my path.