New Courage for a New Mission

Bible Book: Joshua  1 : 5-9
Subject: Courage; Victory; Rededication

Tonight we come to look at the subject of having the courage to accomplish new things in the cause of the Lord. In the passage before us it is important to see that God told Joshua on three occasions in only four verses that he was to, "Be courageous." Now, why would God say that to Joshua? After all, Joshua was one of the most courageous men in all of Israel and had proven it on more than one occasion. Why is it necessary to tell a believer - a Christian - who has seen God do great things in and through his or her life to be courageous when facing a new mission?

It was Joshua who fought Amalek in the valley of Rephidim when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness. He faced a rugged enemy with only a few good men, most of whom had never been trained in warfare. Joshua and those men defeated Amalek that day. He had proven his courage in the past.

It was Joshua who had courage and faith to believe that the Israelites could take Canaan the first time they stood on the border of the land. He and Caleb alone stood on God’s promise that the Land was already there for them to occupy.

So, we must ask, why would God tell Joshua at this point in time to be courageous? Joshua had proven that he as a brave and faithful soldier for the Lord.

Well, let me tell you why God reminded Joshua to be courageous as the Hebrew people were ready to cross over the Jordan and occupy the Promised Land. Joshua was facing a totally new challenge and he needed to be reminded of the source of his strength. Yesterday’s strength and victory will not suffice for today. One must always look again to the Lord in each battle and every situation. Only in this way can one find true faith, power and peace to serve God effectively. You will recall that Samson was a man of great courage, but he failed God. Samson failed to check for the true courage of God before attempting to face the enemy. When we test ourselves before God, we have the opportunity to discover whether we are going out in our own strength or facing the enemy with God's strength.

Joshua needed to realize anew that he was not to depend upon old habits, former experiences, past glories, or personality traits to get him through the present situation. He was to turn in a new way to find strength and direction from the Lord. Look again at I Corinthians 10:11–12, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

If you think that you can stand in your own strength, you will fail!

Now look with me at our text for this evening, found in Joshua 1:5-9:

”5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

A preacher once went to visit a man who had fallen out of church and had not been in the church for many years. When the pastor question the man about the validity of his faith in God, the man assured the pastor that he had in his past a blessed experience. He told his wife to go out in the garage and find the copy of his blessed experience and let the preacher read it. The wife returned without the copy of the blessed experience and when her husband asked why she had not retrieved it, she replied, "Husband, I think the blessed rats ate your blessed experience."

We need to be careful lest we are depending upon past glories rather than present grace. We need to be careful, lest we think that what we have been in the past determines what we will be or do for the Lord in the future. To truly possess all that God has planned for us, we must keep our walk with God fresh, current, and real. That is what this message is about. The Lord desired that Joshua understand that he needed fresh courage and an updated commitment in order to deal with the problems he was about to face.

Three things were necessary for Joshua and the people to go on over and possess that which was already their possession as a promise from God. Note first…

I. Determination in the Heart

When the Lord told Joshua that he was to be strong and courageous, He was sharing with him the place where victory for the Christian begins. Where is that? It is in the heart! It is in the will! And, courage for spiritual work can only come from God's Spirit. We must have the fullness of His Spirit in our hearts - in our will - if we are to accomplish His task.

The two words which are used to encourage Joshua are deep and profound words when read in Hebrew.

A. Be Strong

The word for strength is a word that means “to seize” or “hold to”. The word can mean “to catch” or “to bind”. The Lord was telling Joshua that he needed a fresh determination in his heart to lay hold of the commitment necessary to gain the victory in Canaan.

Yes, the victory belongs to the Lord and, yes, God had given them the land, but they could not possess their possessions without determined faith in God to do so. We find this same message in other contexts. For example, the Lord tells us that those who seek Him will find Him. God does not hide from us, so what does He mean by that statement? He means that we cannot fully see Him, experience Him and know Him while we are so deeply engaged in this world that we shut out the spiritual and the heavenly thoughts in our daily lives.

B. Be Alert

Secondly, the word courage means “to be alert”. It means to set up a priority, which nothing can remove.

Think of a mother who faces an intruder who breaks into her home. She has a child in the house and she will stare down a man twice her size and struggle with him as much as any man could in order to protect her child. She is bold and alert to protect her child – in other words, she has courage!

God told Joshua that he needed a special courage in order to reach the goals that the Lord had for him. This is something every believer must possess in order to obtain that which God has promised. We cannot reach our divine destiny in this world without God’s strength and courage.

You have to have courage to witness to the lost, otherwise you will feel self-conscious and fail to speak in the Lord's behalf!

You must have courage to tithe, or you will fear that your money will not be sufficient for your family and you will falter.

You must have courage to take on a position of leadership in your church, if you fail to have that courage you will turn away from a God-given opportunity.

Now, note something important in each example I've given. In each one, the courage needed only comes from a love for and a commitment to the Lord. It is not my strength which makes work for Him possible, it is rather His strength working in me.

The devil and the world will seek through all means to bog you down in this world and will create an atmosphere in which you fail to reach God’s greater goals and plans for you. Honestly, do you think every Christian is becoming or has reached God’s greatest potential? How about you, have you become all He means for you to be? Listen to Paul, who is regarded as a man who was sold out for Jesus:

“7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” (Philippians 3:7-15 NKJV)

It all begins with determination. If you are not determined to know Him and to have all He has for you, you will never experience all that has been laid up for you. Yes, I said laid up for you. That is the context of the Scripture before us. God told Joshua that the land was already theirs. The word used to describe this means that something has been allotted. It means that it is in the bank! But it is not yours unless you reach out and take it. Part of taking all God has allotted for you is found in having a determination that you will not settle for a mediocre Christian life. It requires that you want all of God in your life and all that God has for you to do in this life! That is Courage with a capital "C."

II. Meditation in your Head

Next, Joshua is told that he must also practice meditation. I am not talking about yoga or some form of humanistic meditation, but rather the Lord was leading Joshua to plant the Word in his head and in his mouth. God knew that Joshua needed the divine Word of assurance in order to gain the full victory that was planned for God’s people.

Look at Psalm 119:15:

“I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.”

The word meditate in this passage means “to bow down.” We are to bow to His commands and to His Word. We are to take this Word from Him and keep it so close that we are speaking it in our own mouth. The idea here is one of musing and muttering the Word of God as you go along the way to victory.

Psalm 104:34 states,

“May my meditation be sweet to Him;
I will be glad in the LORD.”

In other words, when we meditate, muse, repeat and think about God’s Word it brings the Lord pleasure. The Psalmist in Psalm 104:34 had a desire for his meditation to please the Lord and be sweet in the ear and heart of God.

In Psalm 1 we read that the prosperous man is one who meditates on the Word of God day and night. To have victory, one must remain in the Word of God and the Word of God must remain in that person.

Friend, if we would have victory, we have to read the battle plan before the struggle beings. We have to read about the greatness of our God. We are to meditate upon the glorious victories He has won and the promises He has made to us. We must not let this Word leave our heads, our mouths, our lives, or our hearts.

III. Activation in your Hands

Finally, we must put into practice whatever the Lord teaches and shows us. It is not enough to think good thoughts about the scripture and about our God. We must live out what He tells us to do. Yes, we must work at this matter of truly walking with God in victory.

Always remember that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary. We must do our part to be obedient to the Lord in every way. The songwriter penned, "We'll work till Jesus comes," and that is what we must be determined to do.

We read in 1 Samuel 15:22:

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.”

The Word of God clearly states that God delights in obedience and not in ritual activity among God’s people. When I speak of activation in the hands, I am not simply saying that we are blessed because we do certain things. God desires that first and foremost our hearts are His. It is possible to continue to do spiritual things without living spiritual lives. God wanted Joshua to know something essential about gaining success in the Promised Land. That essential thing was that the Lord’s will for Joshua was that Joshua’s hands were controlled by the love he had in his heart for God! Going through rituals and religious activities without true devotion to God leads to defeat every single time!


I read a story many years ago that will illustrate the difference between having everything ordered the way we want it, but ending up without success. A man cut his hand doing a home project one night and decided to go to the hospital. He had never been there before, so he parked and went in the first set of doors he saw. When he got inside he saw two doors – one read Male and the other read Female. He went in the one that read Male and there was no one there. He did see two more doors and one read Over 50 and the other read Under 50. He was fifty-six years old, so he went through the door that read Over 50. Again, he was in an empty room, but there were two more doors before him. One read, From the Waist Down and the other rear From the Waist Up. He knew that his injury was from the waist up, so he entered that door. Again, he was in a room with no one in it, but he saw two more doors. One read Minor and the other read Major. He thought about for a minute and decided his injury was minor, so he went through that door. As he walked through the last door he realized that he was back out in the parking lot near his car. He told someone about it and they said, “How was that hospital emergency room, did they help you?” He replied, “Not really, but I can tell you one thing, they certainly were organized.”

My friend, it is a good thing to be organized but to do God’s will by depending on organization will never do. Simply going through motions will not bring about miracles.

i. We must have a determination to do God’s will in our Hearts
ii. We must have a meditation upon God’s Word in our Heads.
iii. We must have an activation of God’s work in our Hands.

When we do these things, the giants in the land before us don’t stand a chance!!!