Three Reasons to Be Courageous

Joshua 1

1After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ assistant. He said, 2“Now that my servant Moses is dead, you must lead my people across the Jordan River into the land I am giving them. 3I promise you what I promised Moses: ‘Everywhere you go, you will be on land I have given you—4from the Negev Desert in the south to the Lebanon mountains in the north, from the Euphrates River on the east to the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and all the land of the Hittites.’ 5No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.

6“Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. 7Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. 8Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. 9I command you—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9, NLT)

The Daily DAVEotional

In December, our family attended a Christmas Eve Service at Saddleback Church in Southern California. The church was as full as I’ve seen it since before the pandemic.

After 40+ years, this was the first Christmas Eve service without Rick Warren as the Senior Pastor.

After a great session of worship through singing, the new pastor, Andy Wood, came out on stage and greeted the crowd. Knowing that many of the people in the audience may not have attended a Saddleback service since last Christmas, he shared, “Some of you may be wondering, ‘who’s this guy?’ Well, after 42 years at the helm of Saddleback church, Pastor Rick stepped down as the senior pastor at the end of August. I remember last spring when I heard that Pastor Rick was going to be stepping down. I wondered ‘who is the moron who is going to follow the legendary Rick Warren in leading Saddleback church?’ Well, it turns out I’m the moron and I’d like to welcome you to Saddleback’s Christmas Eve Service!”

In Joshua 1, there is a similar exchange of leadership that occurs. Moses, who has led the Israelite people for 40 years, has just died and Joshua, his loyal understudy, is now assuming the mantle of leadership.

Try to put yourself in Joshua’s shoes (or sandals as it were) for a moment if you can. What do you think was going through his mind? He’s probably asking questions like:

Do I have what it takes? 

What if I fail?

How can I effectively lead all these people?

I’m not Moses. What if these people won’t follow me?

What emotions do you think you would be feeling if you were asked to take over for a legendary leader? Keep in mind too that Joshua was tasked with finishing the job of bringing the entire Israelite nation (probably over 1 million people) into the promised land, which would require countless military conquests to displace the many different inhabitants of the land.

It’s quite possible, maybe even likely, that Joshua was experiencing fear, insecurity, anxiety, doubt, hesitation, loneliness and even grief at the loss of his friend and mentor.

God’s message to Joshua is simple: be strong and courageous.

God gives Joshua three reasons to be strong and courageous.

First, he says Joshua should be strong and courageous because he (Joshua) will lead the people into the land that God swore to give them. God had made a promise that He would bring His people into the land and God is faithful to fulfill His promises. The first reason to be strong and courageous is because God is faithful and completely trustworthy to do what He has said He would do.

The second reason to be strong and courageous is because God has given guidelines for success. Twice in this passage, God says that if Joshua obeys His word and follows His commands, he (Joshua) will be successful (verses 7 and 8).

In God’s economy, success is not measured by the amount of money you have, the kind of car you drive or the zip code where you live. Success is measured in obedience to God’s word. By following God’s commands, Joshua would be ensured of success.

The third reason to be strong and courageous is because of God’s presence. God tells Joshua that he doesn’t have to be afraid because He (God) will be with him.

You may not be in a position where you’re replacing a legendary leader, but you may be experiencing doubt, anxiety or fear just the same because of the situation you’re in. God’s message is the same to us as it was to Joshua – we can be strong and courageous because God is faithful, God has given us guidelines that, if followed, will yield success, and God is with us.


What kinds of situations make it more difficult for you to be strong and courageous?

What difference would it make in your outlook if you truly believed that God is faithful to fulfill His promises, following His word ensures success, and we’ve been assured of His presence with us?

Which of the three reasons given to be strong and courageous (recognizing God’s faithfulness, obeying His word and experiencing HIs presence) are most difficult for you and why?

What systems or habits do you have in place to help you recognize God’s faithfulness, integrate God’s word into your life and experience His presence?


Photo by Dave Lowe – Saddleback Christmas Eve service, December 2022

The Consequences of Not Checking Your Facts!

1Now all the kings west of the Jordan heard about what had happened. (These were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who lived in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far north as the Lebanon mountains.)  2These kings quickly combined their armies to fight against Joshua and the Israelites.

3But when the people of Gibeon heard what had happened to Jericho and Ai, 4they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old patched wineskins. 5They put on ragged clothes and worn-out, patched sandals. And they took along dry, moldy bread for provisions. 6When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask you to make a peace treaty with us.”

7The Israelites replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.”

8They replied, “We will be your servants.”

“But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?”

9They answered, “We are from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the LORD your God and of all he did in Egypt.  10We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). 11So our leaders and our people instructed us, ‘Prepare for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and declare our people to be their servants, and ask for peace.’

12“This bread was hot from the ovens when we left. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. 13These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and cracked. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our long, hard trip.”

14So the Israelite leaders examined their bread, but they did not consult the LORD. 15Then Joshua went ahead and signed a peace treaty with them, and the leaders of Israel ratified their agreement with a binding oath.

16Three days later, the facts came out—these people of Gibeon lived nearby! 17The Israelites set out at once to investigate and reached their towns in three days. The names of these towns were Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the Israelites did not attack the towns, for their leaders had made a vow to the LORD, the God of Israel.

In Joshua 9, we see Joshua, the new leader of the Israelites committing a rookie mistake of leadership – check your facts!

The Israelites had spent 40 years wandering in the desert and when they finally crossed the Jordan river into the land of Canaan, they had a simple directive from the Lord – destroy the cities of the Canaanites who inhabited the land.

At this point in the narrative, the Israelites have removed the cities of Jericho and Ai. The Gibeonites hear about what happened to Jericho and Ai, and fearing for their own lives, they resort to deception to save themselves.

When they arrive on the scene, they tell Joshua and the other leaders that they’ve heard about the Lord’s amazing miracles in delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians and also His deeds in subduing the Amorite kings on the east side of the Jordan River. Cleverly, the Gibeonites make no mention of the recent conquests of Jericho and Ai, for that would likely reveal their ruse.

Joshua’s mistake is revealed in verse 14 where it says that he examined the bread but he didn’t consult the Lord.

How often have you neglected to consult the Lord when confronted with a critical decision or an important issue?

The facts came out just a few days later that the towns of the Gibeonites were close by, only a three days journey in fact.

If Joshua had paused to check the facts before signing the treaty, he could’ve learned that the information he was being fed wasn’t true and that the people were in fact part of the contingent of people that the Lord had directed them to remove from the land.

How exactly would Joshua have checked the facts? He didn’t have Google or

The Lord was Joshua’s fact checker. Joshua was being directed by the Lord and his unique relationship gave him access to God’s insight and wisdom. But instead of checking with the Lord, Joshua instead chose to rush to judgment.

I see this rush to judgment play out all the time, even today. For example, have you ever received an e-mail from someone that shares some important information urging you to pass it on to everyone you know, only to find out, after checking or some other fact-check website that the information was completely false?

We live in an age of urgency, where people have a desire to be the first to get the scoop or demonstrate to others that we’re in the know. As a result, disinformation is rampant.

This passage reminds me that it’s important to verify information before passing it on and before acting on it. We have lots of tools at our disposal that allow us to verify the facts of a story or situation. When facts are in question or tools aren’t available to help us, we still can consult the Lord and ask for wisdom.

When we rush to make decisions without examining the facts or consulting the Lord, we’re more likely to make rash decisions that we later come to regret.


When have you experienced the result of someone who neglected to “check the facts” before passing on misinformation?

What safeguards can you put in place to ensure that you aren’t unknowingly an agent of misinformation?

What are some simple ways you can “consult the Lord” in  your decisions?


Photo by Dave Lowe