When 'Charge!' Beats 'Retreat'
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We might all be singing Dixie at our sporting events instead of the Star Spangled Banner if it hadn't have been for the death of one Confederate general. He was Robert E. Lee's most valuable general, Thomas Jackson. Maybe you know him better as Stonewall Jackson. He was such a brilliant leader and strategist. He repeatedly defeated and outsmarted the Union army. Unfortunately, for the Confederate cause he died in the middle of the Civil War. If he had lived, who knows how he might have affected the outcome. Dixie, here we come! Stonewall Jackson - obviously his mamma didn't name him that. Actually, he got that name during the second Battle of Bull Run. The Northern army was beating on the Southern army pretty bad that day, so much that the Confederates started to retreat, and as the boys in grey were running for their lives, another general saw General Jackson refusing to retreat! And he said, "There stands Jackson, like a stone wall!" That was the new battle cry. Jackson's courage rallied the Confederate troops and instead of retreating, they charged and they won.
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Joshua 1. Joshua has assumed the new command of the children of Israel. He's got huge obstacles and risks ahead of him. They're going to try to conquer the promised land with walled cities, barbarian tribes, giants, and a flooded river to cross, and the man he's depended on all these years has just died. Well, here's the word for today, Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Now, God is addressing our two natural reactions when we're facing something overwhelming or new. We get scared, and we get discouraged. So He says, "Don't be afraid; don't be discouraged." God tells his people this eleven times in the Bible. Forty years earlier He said, "Go up and take possession. As the Lord told you, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged." Now, there are those times when your feelings and your circumstances are just saying, "Retreat! This is too tough!" But while your emotions are saying, "Retreat!" the Lord is saying, "No, charge!"
It's interesting the kinds of situations in which God says this, "Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged." One is when He's asking you to take big risks. That's the situation here with Joshua and the Jews going against the giants of Canaan. When Solomon was facing the massive task of building God's temple, a huge assignment no one had ever done before, David said, "Be strong and courageous and do the work," and then you guessed it, "Do not be afraid or discouraged." God says "charge" when you're facing a big job. Another time God says this is after the Jews are in Canaan and they experience a deadly defeat. In Joshua 8:1, God says, "Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged." So He says it after a major setback. Another example is when King Hezekiah is facing a big threat - this vast army. God says, "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged because of the vast army. There is a greater power with us. With us is the Lord our God to help us and fight our battles."
Well, maybe right now you're facing a big risk, or a big job, or a big setback, or a big threat, and everything in you and around you is signaling, "Retreat!" Your fears are great, you're feeling discouraged. Remember, God's ancient people made their biggest mistake turning away from the Promised Land because they were afraid and they got discouraged. You'll probably miss God's best if your eyes are on the circumstances or your feelings. In each case the reason for your confidence is the same, "The Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Keep your eyes on the God who is bigger than every obstacle, every need, every enemy, every task. He's called the Lord, the all powerful One who rules everything. But He is the Lord your God making all of that power available to you.
On that day when everyone and everything around Him seemed to say, "Retreat!" one man stood his ground and ultimately turned, "Retreat!" into "Charge!" Well, that's what the Lord Jesus wants to do for you. This is no time to retreat!
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