By James Smith
Nothing affects us more than our thoughts, therefore we ought to direct our attention to them. The intellect should be under control, as well as the heart and life. Indeed we cannot keep the heart, or regulate the life aright--unless we attend to the intellect. Therefore God often directs attention to the thoughts in his most Holy Word.
The Jews were now in deep trial; they had much to do, little strength to do it, and many hindrances in their way. Not only so--but their enemies taunted tnem, and sneered at them; and their taunts and sneers deeply wounded them. Nehemiah offered prayer for them; pleaded with God against their enemies; and did all he could to encourage them. "Do not be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!" Better advice cannot be given us. We are apt to remember what is calculated to discourage us, cast us down, or produce improper feelings within us. Let us now seek grace, that we may "Remember the Lord," for three purposes:
First, as a stimulus to exertion. We often need a stimulus, for we are apt to get weary in well-doing. Many of us were more industrious in the ways of sin when we had Satan for a master--than we are in the ways of God now we call Jesus, Lord. But this should not be. How much there is to be done in this world of ours, and how few are heartily engaged in doing it. How much there is to be done in the church, and yet many of the wise virgins slumber and sleep. How frequently we get disheartened, and are ready to give up our commission. But this ought not to be. Let us remember the Lord--he can use the weakest instruments--he can bless the feeblest efforts. He often has done so. Joshua's rams' horns brought down the walls of Jericho; and Gideon's pitchers and lamps routed the army of the Midianites. The simple preaching of Peter at the Pentecost brought three thousand to Christ; and the plain, unadorned preaching of Paul transformed the appearance of the Roman world. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church; and the prayers of the poor shook the kingdom of Satan to its foundation!
It is nothing for the Lord to save, whether by many--or by those who have no might. His wisdom is infinite; and he displays it by overturning the counsels of the crafty, and accomplishing his purposes by the most unlikely means. Do you wish to be useful? Are you willing to work for God? Do you feel discouraged because your talents are small, and your sphere of action very limited? Remember the Lord! He can work by you. He can make you a polished shaft in his quiver. He can make for you a sharp thrashing instrument, with which you may thrash the mountains and beat them small. Put yourself into his hands. Beseech him to use you to his glory. Ask him to put honor upon you by using you to do a great work for him and his cause. Let nothing discourage you--while God is omnipotent, while his word stands good, and while you have a heart to pray.
Remember his promise, to plead it. Remember his precept, to do it. Remember his grace, to expect it. Remember his cause, to advance it. Remember his honor, and seek to promote it. Let nothing daunt or discourage you--but amidst all the changes you feel within, or witness without, exercise faith in God, and sing with David, "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
Second, "Remember the Lord" as an antidote to your fears. Fear at times you will; but give way to fear you should not. Fear weakens faith, agitates the soul, generates gloom, and cuts the sinews of exertion. Therefore the Lord says more than sixty times in his Word, "Fear not!" The soul that renounces self, that ventures on Jesus, and relies on God's Holy Word--has nothing to fear.
Does the nature or the number of your sins lead you to fear? Remember, the Lord God is gracious and merciful, long-suffering, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. He is ready to pardon. He blots out our sins as a cloud, and our iniquities as a thick cloud.
Are your enemies numerous, powerful, and determined? "Remember the Lord;" for the Lord is a man of war; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will subdue our enemies, and give us the victory over those who hate us. Sweet are the words of Moses, the man of God, "The eternal God is your refuge--and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from before you, and shall say, Destroy them."
Is your strength small, and your way rough and rugged? Remember, your Savior has said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Let your sense of weakness--lead you to your God. Let the roughness of your road--but stir you up to seek more earnestly the strength of God. His wisdom marked out your road, and his word has bound him to give you sufficient strength. No words can be plainer than his, "As your days--so shall your strength be." Yield not then to fear--but "Remember the Lord," who is great and awesome; whose terror shall not make you afraid--but shall scatter and confound your foes. His greatness should be your glory; since all he is and all he has is employed for your security and glorification.
Are you feeble? He is strong.
Are you weary? He will give you rest.
Are you discouraged? Hope in God--who is the health of your countenance, and your God. Encourage no fears, for they are unfounded. Doubt not the promises, for they shall all be made good, trust in the Lord at all times; wait on your God continually; and glory shall crown your course.
Third, "Remember the Lord," as a preventative to sin. Tempted to sin you will be; yield to sin you should not. When tempted, and inclined to yield, remember if you sin--it must be under God's eye--it must be to the grieving of his love--it must be in direct opposition to his command. He says, "Be holy--for I am holy." "Be like me. Resemble me. Represent me. Let your spirit be like my Spirit. Let your conduct resemble my conduct. I hate nothing but sin. I hate no one--but for sin. I cause my rain to fall on the evil and on the good; and I cause my sun to shine on the just and the unjust. I am merciful to the unthankful and the unholy."
Remember what God is to you, what he has done for you, what he has prepared to be enjoyed by you, and what he has promised to bestow upon you. Let these thoughts be kept constantly before your minds--and then deliberately break God's commands, coolly insult him by your sins, if you can. It would be impossible. When Joseph was tempted to sin by his lascivious mistress, he remembered the Lord, and said, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" When Nehemiah saw the trying situation of his brethren, and called to mind the conduct of former governors, he remembered the Lord, and said, "I did not behave this way--because of the fear of the Lord." Brethren, let this be our preservative: The Lord is my God--he loves me with an infinite love--he sent his only-begotten Son to die for me--he pardoned me when a criminal at his bar-he took me and placed me among his children--he now welcomes me at his throne--he has promised me a home in his glorious heaven, and will withhold no good thing from me. How can I sin against such a God--against such love--against such infinite grace!!
Alas, how often have we forgotten the Lord! In our prosperity--we have forgotten to praise him! In our perplexity--we have forgotten to consult him! In our difficulties--we have forgotten to trust him! In our trials--we have forgotten to submit with patience to his wise and holy will. This has been our infirmity; and the consequences have been that we have dishonored him; we have grieved his Spirit; we have given Satan power over us, and have increased our troubles ten-fold!
If we had only remembered what the Lord is in himself--what he is in the person of his Son--what he is to his people as their covenant God--what he has done for us--what he has given to us--and what he has set before us--then our confidence would have been stronger; our peace would have been deeper; our joys would have been sweeter; our holiness would have been more profound; and our usefulness would have been greater! O for grace to remember the Lord in future; that so we may live in his sight; walk by his side; work in his vineyard; meditate on his word; grow up into his likeness; do his will; aim at his glory; and at last die in the sweet enjoyment of his love!
Spirit of God--in all our seasons of trouble--in all our days of darkness--in all our times of conflict--may you sweetly and secretly suggest to our souls, "Remember the Lord!"