God Designed Transitions

Courageous Strength

Joshua 1:1-9



Whenever God leads us into new territory in our lives, we trust Him for everything we need.  Often, when we follow His leading it is a disruption of our plans, sometimes it is a disappearance of our resources, and often a change in our close relationships with each other.  Moving into new territory can be exciting and exhilarating, but at the same time scary and discouraging. When things are going well in life, we don’t like to see change because we know that there will be many unknowns if things change, and honestly, we are comfortable with the way things are.

Those who were able to attend the congregational meeting where I shared God’s leading in a new direction, you may remember that I shared our life verses.  The interesting thing about Carrie’s life verse and my life verse is that these were our verses before God began His leading from our small town in Colorado.  Yet, these have been the verses which have kept us going through the changes God has taken us through in our lives.

Carrie’s life verse: Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Mike’s life verse: Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

So, we trust God with the new territory that He is leading us into.  This is the same for you.  Though you are not the ones moving to a new location, you are going into a transitional phase that will have many unknowns.  There will times when it is exciting to see God’s hand involved and times when it is scary because we don’t know the future.

We have talked about how transitions like this can bring renewed power to our walk with the Lord.  We saw this in the transition from Moses to Joshua, from Elijah to Elisha, and from Jesus to the Holy Spirit.  We talked about how transitions like this can bring transparent unity that the whole community will see.  Today I want us to talk about how transitions like this can develop courageous strength in our walk with the Lord.

As you know, Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land.  A land of plenty, according the spies sent in 40 years earlier, but a land of giants compared to the stature of an Israelite.  Rather than following God’s lead into this promised land, when they heard the report of the spies, they doubted God and they spent forty years wandering in the Sinai wilderness.  But now they were willing to trust God to take them into this new territory under the leadership of Joshua.  This was certainly a new territory for them.  They were not trained to be a fighting army, yet they were to take the land with God’s help.  The only thing they knew of the land and its people is what the spies said 40 years earlier.  But they learned to trust God and they took God at His word.

Let’s read what God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:1-9.

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' assistant, 2 "Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.  3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.  4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.

5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.  7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.

8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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 courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."

New Territory (vv. 1-4)

In Genesis 12:7, we find that the land of Canaan was promised to the descendants of Abraham, the nation of Israel, approximately 500 years earlier.  This was certainly new territory, but there are a couple things we need to recognize.  First, it was God’s plan all along.  God chose this nation to put Him on display to a watching world.  By giving them this land, God was putting them in the crossroads of the known world at this time.  Most trade and commerce went through this land.  The promise of this land was not just a promise given to Abraham.  The promise was reiterated to Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and now Joshua.  God had a purpose and design for His people.  God even gave them a description of the extent of the land they will possess in verse 4.

Second, we need to recognize that God expected the people to trust Him.  Think about this.  The only thing they knew of this land is what the spies saw forty years earlier.  Their report back then was a land of plenty, yes, but a land of giants.  That was kind of scary.  Who could fight off people who were twice your size?  Joshua and Caleb were the only two spies who believed that God would give them the land if they would just trust God.  But the people were fearful and doubted God and so they spent the next 40 years in the wilderness.  Now, forty years later, God has called Joshua to lead them into the land and now the people are willing to trust God with the outcome.  They are moving into new unknown territory.

But notice the reassurance God gives Joshua in verse 5.

Same Presence (v. 5)

Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Yes, Moses is dead.  The one Joshua looked up to for leadership and guidance is gone.  Moses was a tremendous leader for 40 years to the nation of Israel.  But now, God planned for someone different to lead them.  Joshua has a whole different gifting than Moses.  God was taking the nation into unknown territory with a man gifted for the work.  But verse 5 tells us, that it is so much more than a leader’s gifting or abilities, but rather it is about God’s presence.

I can’t imagine the power of this promise to Joshua.  It was not just his expertise, his might, his cunning, or any of that.  It was about the presence of God in his life.  Joshua saw God’s hand working in the life of Moses.  He saw the miracles God performed through Moses.  Joshua could have easily said, “I’m not Moses, I’m not that spiritual, I not that connected with God.”  But God made it clear that Joshua would have the same presence of God as Moses did.

Wow!  What a promise.  A lot of things will be changing for the nation of Israel over the next few years, but one thing will not change, they will have the presence of God.  Joshua will lead the people with God’s presence.  What difference will that make?

Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

This is the God who will lead Israel into the new unknown territory.  How about for the Christian today?  Philippians 4:13 says:

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Sometimes we become anxious and worry about the new territory God is leading us into because we forget that God is right there with us.  It is because of God’s continued presence in that we can be courageous.

Courageous Strength (vv. 6-7)

We talked about renewed power a couple of weeks ago, but here we have courageous strength.  Twice in verse 6 and 7 God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.”  How is it that Joshua can be strong and courageous?  Because God’s presence is with him.  Because God is fulfilling the promise made to his forefathers.  Because he is striving to be obedient to everything God has commanded.

Courageous strength comes from a heart that recognizes God’s working in their midst.  Courageous strength is the result of obedience to God’s leading.  Courageous strength is how God fulfills His promises to His people.  Joshua is not told to take courage in himself, that somehow, he can do it.  He is not told that to reach deep within himself to find the power to do this.  No, this courageous strength does not come from within himself, it comes from God.  As Joshua strives to be obedient to God and rely on God’s presence, courageous strength will be the result.

The imperative to Joshua to be strong and courageous is really an imperative to trust what God is doing.  We can have courage when we know God is present, God is leading, and we are striving to obey.  We can trust that the outcome will always be good as the life verses Carrie and I have chosen.  Courageous strength comes from our trust in God.  How can Joshua be assured of this?  How can you and I be assured of this?  We have the directives of God in our hands, the Bible.

Same Guidance (vv. 8-9)

God encourages Joshua to meditate upon God’s directives in the Law.  It should become a part of who he is as a person.  The Law will cause him to be prosperous and to have success.  This is the key to everything Joshua is about to face.  There are no new principles by which he should live his life now that Moses is gone.  The Law is the same and it doesn’t change.  The guidance we have today is the same guiding principles for our lives today.  The Word of God is what keeps us where we need to be as we live for Him.

When I think about Joshua preparing Himself to lead the nation of Israel into the promised land, I don’t think about a man that is shaking in his boots scared to death.  I think of a man who was attempting to do the will of God.  A man who wanted to make sure this is exactly what he was supposed to do.  A man that knew he could not do this on his own.  So, God encourages Joshua by reminding him of God’s continual presence.  He reminds Joshua to keep on being obedient and trusting Him with the outcome.  With that, Joshua can be strong and courageous to do what He wants Joshua to do.  Look at verse 9 again.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."


As Carrie and I have determined the mind and will of God for us, it has been difficult at times.  We think about the many friends we are about to leave.  We think about things like health insurance, work, income, things to take vs. things to get rid of, etc.  It is easy for us to become hesitant and fearful as to whether it will all work out okay.  But the instruction for Joshua is the same for us.  God has promised His presence and we need to continue to be obedient.

But this isn’t all about me.  It is about you also.  God is leading the Longville Bible Chapel into new territory.  Yes, you have been through a pastoral search before and you kind of have a feel for it now, but it is still easy to become hesitant and fearful of many things.  How long will it take?  Who will God bring along?  Will the new pastor be like Mike?  Personally, I think he will be so much better that I will become a distant memory.

But the instruction for Joshua is the same for you.  We need to accept that this was God’s plan all along, just like it was for Israel in the land of Canaan.  Just like it was for Israel, God has a design and purpose for this transition and God expects us to trust Him.  We need to trust God with the outcome as we move into this new unknown territory.

I will no longer be leading as pastor, but God is preparing someone with gifts that will take us further than we can imagine.  We just need to realize that God’s presence is ever here with us even during this time of transition.  God’s presence never changes.  Continue to be obedient to God, meditating on His Word, and living passionately for Him.  I hope you remind yourself of verse 9 every time you feel discouraged.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."