Strong and Courageous (1)

Fear seems to be the emotion “du jour.” We seem to be afraid of just about everything from a virus to our government. Should we be so afraid, or is there a better way?


I want to use Joshua 1:1-9 (NKJV) as our text for this lesson. Please pay close attention to the reading.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.”


Moses died, and God installed Joshua as the leader of the Hebrew nation. Joshua had supported Moses for forty years in their wilderness journey from Sinai. Now he is to fill the shoes of the legendary leader, Moses.


I imagine that Joshua was intimidated by God’s action. How hard would it be to follow such a leader as Moses? We often see the difficulty that a new Pastor has in following a renowned Pastor of a congregation. How much harder would this have been?


Joshua, along with the other Israelites, had relied on Moses for four decades. The nation saw Moses lose his place in the Promised Land for striking the rock instead of speaking to it as God had instructed. Now, Joshua would take the reins of leadership for the nation that had pushed Moses to the brink of insanity. What a challenge!


In the first chapter of Joshua, God tells him to be strong and courageous or of good courage four times. Three appear in the first nine verses and then in the last verse. Joshua’s fear must have been a severe issue for him. Strength and courage were the subjects for the day as Joshua would lead the nation against the powerful Canaanite nations.


People do not change that much over time. Our Founding Fathers understood the sinful nature of man. We have the desire to abuse power when we are in leadership roles. The abuse of power is why our Forefathers instituted a Constitution with built-in accountability for our political leaders. They had experienced tyranny, and they knew that unchecked political leaders could initiate tyranny again.


We are in such a mess today that fear dominates us. We feared the virus, so people ran out and took a shot with unknown side effects. Now people are fearing the long-term side effects.


You have seen fear displayed on the very faces of people. How many people are wearing masks out of fear, even though studies have proven the mask to be ineffective? Studies have shown that wearing masks is even detrimental to our health. People drive in their cars alone, wearing masks because they are afraid.


God urged Joshua to be “strong and courageous.” Leaders always impact their followers. If the shepherd is afraid, his flock will be. If the shepherd is confident, the flock will be. The sheep trust the leadership of their shepherd. Too many church leaders lead out of fear. They have forgotten 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV):

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.


Fearful leaders typically are afraid of viruses, the government, and losing “nickels and noses” in their churches. These leaders have abdicated their responsibility of hearing from the LORD. They are taking their marching orders from the “Mainstream Media” with its fearmongering.


We know that fear magnifies fear. If the shepherds are afraid, the congregation will be as well. If a man of courage emerges, fear declines. Joshua was such a man and an excellent example for church leaders today.


When we are fearful, to whom should we turn? We should listen to the LORD, not the mainstream media. We heed the courage-filled shepherds, not the shepherds who abuse their flocks with fear. Fearful shepherds remind me of Jeremiah 23:1-4 (NKJV):

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord. “But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,” says the Lord.


I have heard that during the “plan-demic,” churches have lost significant numbers of members. One church has retained one-third of its membership; one-third has left to attend other churches, and a final third is missing. Who is responsible for these sheep? Why did two-thirds leave?


By contrast, other churches with courageous leaders are growing instead of declining. These leaders are “faith-full,” not fearful. They can stand against governmental overreach and tyranny to tend their flocks.


Some churches lament that some of their members have changed churches. Some of these members may be fickle and just looking for something new. Others have even crossed denominational lines to find a liberty-minded congregation in a time of tyranny and fear. Most of those who left their congregation did so out of dissatisfaction with fearful shepherds.


A good friend once told me, “You can’t steal satisfied sheep.” I think he was correct. People who are satisfied with their church leaders will not look for greener grass. The dissatisfied will look for strong leaders to help guide them.


Keep The Light of Courageous Leadership Burning!