AUGUST 7

REMEMBER ME

Nehemiah 5:19 | Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.

Nehemiah 13:14 | Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service.

Nehemiah 13:22 | Remember this also in my favor, O my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your steadfast love.

Nehemiah 13:31 | Remember me, O my God, for good.

Nehemiah didn’t try to leave a legacy. We remember him, of course, as the man who built the wall in 52 days against all odds. The drama is compelling enough for a Hollywood movie starring Brad Pitt. But that is not how Nehemiah wanted to be remembered. For him, only one thing mattered: Remember me, O my God, for good.

We know Nehemiah too well to second-guess his motive. His prayer to be remembered by God springs from love, not self-love, as his tireless zeal for God has testified. To hear God’s ‘Well done’ is the most innocent and most cleansing of ambitions (Derek Kidner). Nehemiah is not an actor aiming for an Oscar. He’s a humble servant pleading for mercy.

God’s remembering in Scripture is never a mere recollection of the past, as if he forgot. It always includes his resolve to act in the present or in the future, either in mercy or in judgment. For example, God remembered Noah in the ark (GEN 8:1). And the Psalmist prays: Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people (PS 106:4). Likewise the thief who was crucified with Christ: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (LK 23:42). Blessed are these whom God remembers.

By the same token, God’s forgetting in Scripture is never a lapse of memory, but an impartial decision to ignore those who constantly ignore him. …those whom you remember no more…are cut off from your hand (PS 88:5). According to Ivan, the quasi-atheist in The Brothers Karamazov, those whom God forgets sink down to the lowest hell. Ivan is not far from the truth. Woe to those whom God forgets.

Being ignored by God is the ultimate misery. To be left alone with our false and fallen self forever. This is torture. To be abandoned to our superficial, sensual, D.I.Y. ‘happiness’ for eternity. This is hell. There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell (C.S.LEWIS). Remember me, O my God, for good.

WALL OF DUTY

■ Blessed are those who remember God. Regardless how busy Nehemiah was, God was always on his mind. His prayers punctuate the story from beginning to end. The greater the pressure, the more he remembered God. May we follow his example. Remember God, no matter what. No matter the scale of our unending challenges. No matter the twists and turns of Covid. No matter how tired, tried, and tested we feel. Remember God who keeps us in perfect peace when our minds are stayed on him, because we trust in him (ISA 26:3). Remember God who is all-present, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving, all-merciful. He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old… (PS 77:11-12). I will constantly speak of his glories and grace (PS 34:1).

■ Blessed are those whom God remembers. God is no man’s debtor. But he remembers and rewards those who earnestly seek him (HEB 11:6). As we approach the end of the 40.Day season, spend a few moments today and this weekend asking God to remember the Singapore Church. Start with these beautiful lines of the psalmist and continue in your own words: Remember us, O LORD, when you show favour to your global family. May we look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones. May we rejoice in the gladness of your nation. May we glory with your inheritance (PS 106:4-5 ADAPTED).

■ How will God remember us? J.C. Ryle invites us to become people of godly zeal. Read and reflect deeply on his insight. Respond prayerfully:

It is not enough to say that [the zealous man] is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, wholehearted, fervent in spirit.

[The zealous man] sees one thing. He cares for one thing. He lives for one thing. He is swallowed-up in one thing, and that one thing is to please God.

Whether he lives or whether he dies; whether he has health or whether he has sickness;

Whether he is rich or whether he is poor; whether he pleases man or whether he gives offence;

Whether he is thought wise or whether he is thought foolish;

Whether he gets blame or whether he gets praise, whether he gets honour or whether he gets shame —

For all this, the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.

If he is consumed in the very burning, he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn, and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him…

If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, then he will do the prayer-work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill (Ex 17:9-13).

If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest until help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done.

Make this your holy passion. Pray: O God, may I be remembered for one thing — that I lived my life to please you and to glorify you.