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Be Strong and of a Good Courage

Old Testament Lesson 18

Joshua 1–623–24

Has there ever been a time when you have had to replace someone that was AMAZING in a position?  Think of a time in church, at work or in the community.  Think about that time for just a moment.  Consider the thoughts you had when you first found out about the change.

How did you feel?

Now think about how you approached that position and how you ended up doing.  Take a moment to ponder whether or not you were successful – successful at FULFILLING not replacing.

What was the BEST thing you did when you started or took on the new position?


Joshua was called to lead Israel at a very crucial and difficult time.  He had to lead the people to conquer and settle Canaan.  But God gave him a promise.  In Joshua 1:5 we read “…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

We have been given that same promise – the promise that the Lord will be with us and not forsake us.

How can this reassurance help us in our challenges?

When my brother left on his mission, I was 16 years old.  I felt like I could not go on with the church because it took away my only brother.  But as time went on, I learned that the Lord was with us at home just as He was with Tom in the field.  Once I accepted that Tom was not the only one being watched over, I was able to embrace the role of a younger sister to a missionary.

In addition to promising to be with him, God gave Joshua additional counsel.  It was necessary to tell Joshua three times to “be strong and have courage”.

Why would he need to hear “be strong and have courage” three times?

When he was told to “be strong and have courage”, what kind of strength and courage do you think He was referring to?

Why was physical strength important for Joshua? (he had to lead an army to destroy the people of Canaan – all of the people)

What does it mean to have moral strength and courage?

Joshua was told two more things to remember.  In Joshua 1:7-8 you can find the last two items of counsel.

7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

What was the third counsel he was given? (turn not from it to the right hand or to the left)

As we learn in Matthew, “strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life” (Matthew 7:14)

What is the law that he has to meditate on day and night? (scriptures)

We all know daily scripture study will strengthen us, our testimonies and our resistance to temptation.
ALL of the counsel given to Joshua applies to us today.


When Moses left, there was not far to travel to get to the promised land, but they did still have to cross the river Jordan.  It was not as big of a body of water as the Red Sea (which proved to be no problem for Israel), but the river still stood in the way.

The Lord told Joshua to have the priest pick up the Ark of the Covenant.

What was in the Ark? (Sacred writings including Moses’ writings and the tablet that contained the 10 Commandments)

Where was the Ark typically kept? (In the Temple – in the Holy of Holies)

So, I would bet, taking the Ark and carrying it in front of all of the people was probably a bit of a deal.  Joshua told the priest to follow the Lord’s command and carry the ark and then step into the water.

Think of a time when you have been asked to have faith and take a step into a rushing body of water?  Do we often say, “If I knew for sure what was on the other side of the door, we’d open it”?

Elder Boyd K Packer described a time when he had to take that step, just as the priests with the ark did.

“Shortly after I was called as a General Authority, I went to Elder Harold B. Lee for counsel. He listened very carefully to my problem and suggested that I see President David O. McKay. President McKay counseled me as to the direction I should go. I was very willing to be obedient but saw no way possible for me to do as he counseled me to do.

“I returned to Elder Lee and told him that I saw no way to move in the direction I was counseled to go. He said, ‘The trouble with you is you want to see the end from the beginning.’ I replied that I would like to see at least a step or two ahead. Then came the lesson of a lifetime: ‘You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you’ ” (“The Edge of the Light,” BYU Today, Mar. 1991, 22–23).

When the priests stepped into the water, the flow of water stopped and raised up into a heap.  The priests stood their ground with the ark and the people were able to walk across on dry land.  As soon as they stepped out of the river bed, the waters began to flow again.

I find it interesting that they began their journey by fleeing from their land and a battle by the Lord parting the Red Sea.  And they concluded their journey by taking over a land with a battle by stopping the flow of the River Jordan.

Throughout the journey, Israel was often called upon to remember that which the Lord had done for them.  They suffered many hardships to remind them.  This time, as they crossed the river, the priests gathered 12 stones from the bottom of the Jordan River to represent the 12 tribes and then they created a memorial on the shore.

We all do things to help us remember good times, important times, lessons learned, blessing received.  I have a book that I wrote on my mission.  It was separate from my journal and was meant to help me remember the people that I helped come to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When my daughters were both blessed, we asked everyone that came to write down a few things they remembered from the blessing.

What are some things that you do in your family to help you remember?


As Joshua neared the end of his life, he gave us some important points to remember…

  1. Remember all that God has done
  2. Avoid Traps and Snares
  3. Cleave unto the Lord
  4. Choose who you will serve
  5. Be strong and have courage

How are you remembering what God has done for us?

What are some traps and snares that we can get caught in?

Why is it important to choose today whom we will serve?

Elder Marvin J Ashton tells us why it is so urgent.

“Joshua reminds us of the importance of making decisions promptly: ‘Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’ (Joshua 24:15). Not tomorrow, not when we get ready, not when it is convenient—but ‘this day,’ straightway, choose whom you will serve. He who invites us to follow will always be out in front of us with His Spirit and influence setting the pace. He has charted and marked the course, opened the gates, and shown the way. He has invited us to come unto Him, and the best time to enjoy His companionship is straightway. We can best get on the course and stay on the course by doing as Jesus did—make a total commitment to do the will of His Father” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1983, 41; or Ensign, May 1983, 30–31).

His last words of counsel to his people were the same ones that the Lord told him 3 times.  “Be strong and have courage”.

To conclude today, I have one last quote I would like to share.  It is from Elder Ezra Taft Benson back in 1950.  He says,  “First, trust in God; and second, a determination to keep the commandments, to serve the Lord, to do that which is right. … The Lord has made it very clear in the revelations that even though times become perilous, even though we be surrounded by temptation and sin, even though there be a feeling of insecurity, even though men’s hearts may fail them and anxiety fill their souls, if we only trust in God and keep his commandments we need have no fear” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1950, 146).

I know that if we can be strong and have courage, we will be able to remember the many wonderful things the Lord has blessed us with.  We will be able to avoid the traps of today and stay strong on our path to eternal peace and happiness.  I know that if we are strong and cleave unto the Lord and avoid cleaving to the luxuries all around us, we will find joy in the gospel.  And finally, if we choose today to only serve the Lord, we will have an answer ready whenever we are faced with temptations.  We will know what we are supposed to do and how we should do it.

Be strong and have a courage, for the Lord is with you and will not forsake you.


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Beardall 2000

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