Are you a man of courage, determined to obey God's commands? You need a battle plan.
He was the man who, above any other individual in Scripture, is admonished to “act like a man.” Joshua 1:1-9 is a direct charge to him to “be strong and of good courage.” God orders him to act this way in light of his gargantuan task of bringing Israel across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. His beloved mentor Moses is dead. The weight of responsibility now lies on his shoulders. He is to take courage in God’s command—"Have not I commanded you?"—and face his task.
How does Joshua respond?
He immediately swings into action (Joshua 1:10).
He begins by commanding the leaders, “Prepare because within three days you will cross over the Jordan River.” What we must not miss is that Joshua is passing along the very command he received. God told Joshua to take courage and “go over” Jordan. Joshua has so taken courage that he now turns God’s command into a future tense verb for the people he leads: "You will cross over Jordan."
Joshua then turns to the Transjordan tribes, the two-and-a-half tribes that would receive their inheritance east of the Jordan River, and reminds them that all the mighty men of valor are to cross over Jordan and assist the other tribes in wrestling their inheritance from the Canaanites (v. 14).
If we continue to follow Joshua's actions, we see that right around the same time as his actions in chapter 1, he sends two spies to scope out the situation at Jericho (2:1). Why? Crossing the Jordan River will put the city of Jericho in their cross-hairs. Joshua is strategizing and thinking ahead.
Joshua also moves from the Shittim camp—where they had been for the last several months—by transitioning to the Jordan itself (3:1). He then readies the people (3:5) and instructs the priests (3:6). Joshua moves fast: he takes all of these steps within a few days’ timeframe (regardless of how you interpret the various “three days” of the passage, 1:11; 2:22; 3:2).
Joshua’s actions exemplify what a man does when he faces his responsibilities with courage.
The command had gone out. He had been summoned to courage. His spirit within him rose up to obey. He then proceeded to work through the steps necessary to obey the command—ready the leaders, remind the Transjordan tribes, plan ahead for the battle at Jericho, move the camp to the Jordan, prepare the people, and instruct the priests.
Once a man has determined to show courage and obey, he thinks through the logical steps necessary to accomplish his God-given task and formulates a battle plan.
Perhaps you, too, have made the decision to take courage and obey the Lord's commands to you. What is the very first thing you must do? If you are going to move forward with decisive action, you--like Joshua--must think through the steps needed to fulfill the task at hand.
This can take various forms, but it almost inevitably involves writing something down.
Each day I grab my planner or a sheet of paper and make a list of the things that come to mind that I need to accomplish that day. Sometimes something that needs to be done by tomorrow creeps onto my list, but that is okay too. There is nothing wrong with planning ahead or building a runway for the future. What I find is that making such a list gives me an objective target to shoot at for the day. It's my battle plan for obedience.
When is the best time to do this?
Some people do this at night so they can wake to a battle plan already formed. For me it works best to do it first thing in the morning, right after my personal devotional time with the Lord. Sometimes, to be honest, part of the list forms while I am still having my personal devotional time. While I am reading or praying, various things I need to do that day flit across my mind. I write those things down so that I don’t have to keep wondering whether I will remember them after my devotions. I jot them down immediately and then turn my focus back to what I am doing.
A benefit of making my list at this time is that I can take some additional time to pray through the list or even talk my list over with the Lord while I am making it. Nothing is so helpful as talking over your battle plan with your Commander-in-Chief! It is only in the power of His might that you will carry it out anyway.
This to-do list governs the actions I take throughout the day. What if you have too many things? What if it is impossible to do everything? I have found that having this list actually enables me to accomplish far more than I thought I could because I have a target to shoot at. It also keeps me from frittering away my time until I finally decide to launch into my day. It encourages me to attack my work and accomplish the most difficult things first by adhering to a strategic battle plan.
In addition to my daily to-do list, my wife and I take a twenty-four hour Annual Goal Planning Retreat each year where we strategize and make goals for the year. This long-term planning time enables us to break our large projects or goals down into their smaller moving parts, which we can then complete one by one throughout the year. This helps us to keep our focus on our greatest responsibilities and how God wants us to fulfill them.
Are you a man of courage?
Have you made out your battle plan for today?
What does it mean to act like a man?
Men are in short supply and high demand.
I don't mean males. There are plenty of those around.
But real men -- men who take responsibility, do their duty, sacrifice for a cause, and live by their convictions -- are a rarity. Unfortunately, men who do not act like men pass it down to their sons. It is dreadfully contagious.
What does it mean to act like a man?
Too many men think it means that you must have muscles like Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Having an accent like his doesn't hurt either.) But does racking up hours in Gold’s Gym or winning Mr. Olympia seven times qualify one automatically for manhood? Or is there more to it?
In the final lines of I Corinthians, Paul urges the church there to "Be on the alert, stay firmly committed to the faith, act like men, be strong" (16:13, my translation). The verb act like men is literally the verb form of the Greek word for man (not humankind, but man). It occurs only once in the New Testament, but is found about twenty-two times in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint). Essentially, to act like a man is to muster up one’s courage or to be brave. It assumes that an essential part of manhood is courage or bravery.
Courage is sorely needed because, frankly, life is full of risks, discouragements, and opportunities to fail. In light of the overwhelming possibility that an undertaking might fail, it is easier sometimes not to try. Why try if you will probably fail anyway?
What this world needs is men with the courage to try. And to fail. And then try again. And then fail again. But then try one more time—mustering all their courage for one last whack—and succeed.
Can you think of a man in the Old Testament who was repeatedly admonished to be strong and courageous?
If you guessed Joshua, you are correct (Deut. 3:28; 31:6-7, 23; Josh. 1:6-7, 9, 18).
Joshua had plenty of reasons to need courage. He was the successor to Moses, an unrivalled leader and prophet of God. He was tasked with bringing more than two million people into an inheritance that had been promised to them over four hundred years previously. The nation had already failed to enter their promised land forty years earlier and had instead wandered in the wilderness until a whole generation had been killed off. Now Moses was dead, and Joshua was the man chosen to make all this happen for the nation of Israel.
How could he possibly muster the inner courage to embrace his daunting task? How can you, when faced with your own daunting tasks?
For Joshua the key was a simple truth, phrased as a question: "Have I not commanded you (Josh. 1:9)?" Because God had commanded him to do the task, he could muster up the courage to do it.
This is also the key for you to act like a man every day. You must determine what God has commanded you to do. If God has commanded it, then God will be with you (Josh. 1:9), and you can be ensured of ultimate success. In other words, an important key to acting like a man is to live on the basis of commands, not feelings.
A platoon of soldiers does not rush into battle because they feel like it. They do so because they have been commanded to do so. Their assumption is that the command has been thought out carefully, the options have been weighed, the risks counted, and the ultimate necessity of the mission decided upon. Armed with this command, the soldiers press forward bolstered with courage.
Similarly, a man acts like a man when he gets a hold of what God has commanded him to do. He will not always feel like doing it. That’s beside the point. A man lives by commands, not by feelings. Too many men are drifting aimlessly down the river of life either because they don't know what God has commanded them to do or because what they know to do goes against what they feel like doing.
It may be easy for us to look at such men and point a finger at them.
Instead, ask yourself: Will I act like a man today? Will I summon the courage to obey today what I have been commanded to do today?
Go ahead, act like a man today!
Then do it again tomorrow. And the day after.
Before you know it, you will act like a man every day.
This blog post was written by Timothy W. Berrey, author of From Eden to Patmos and Planning Your Life God's Way.
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
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