(Lesson based off of (The Youth Cartel, LLC, Viva 69, "Presence"))
How do you normally face a challange?
Do you find challenges invigorating, overwhelming, or something in-between? Why?
Do you feel like God is with you in the midst of a challenge or leap of faith? Why or why not?
Read Joshua 1:1-9
A little background on this Scripture: The people of Israel had been slaves in Egypt, endured a crazy battle be- tween the gods of Egypt and their God (the plagues of Egypt), miraculously crossed over the Red Sea into the wilderness and then had wandered there for 40 years. Now the leader who had led through all of that, Moses, was dead, and Joshua was set to take the mantle of leader. These were not small shoes that Joshua was stepping into, nor was it a comfortable situation.
Three different times, God repeats his encouragement to Joshua, which gives us some insights into how Joshua had been feeling about the challenge that was in front of him. “Be strong and courageous...be strong and very courageous...be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (emphasis added). Simply put, there are times in our lives where we will have to face challenges: starting a new school or job, confronting a friend or family member about something, standing up for the justice of others, admitting you need help, and starting counseling, or any number of things. Whenever we face those situations, we don’t have to do it alone but can heed the same message that God spoke to Joshua. (The Youth Cartel, LLC, Viva 69, "Presence")
How do you think Joshua would have been feeling about the challenge that was in front of him? Why do you think God tells Joshua three times to “be strong and courageous?”
What do you think would have gone through Joshua’s mind when God told him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you?”
Many of you know the well known vets Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ whoo strengthens me!"
This verse is often used for a sports game, homework, getting a part in a school play, etc.. The biggest problem that we run into with using this verse in this way is the mere fact that at some point, it won’t “work.” What happens when Christ doesn’t give you the strength to do what you want to accomplish? If we don’t understand a verse like this correctly, it ends up hurting our relationship with God in the long run. Rather than having a healthy view of our abilities and what God does in and through us, we end up being mad at God for something God never said.
As has been the pattern, the first challenge to this incorrect view of the verse is understanding the context. Paul is specifically talking about learning how to be content in every kind of situation: rich or poor, stuffed full or hun- gry, ignored and humbled or in the place of prominence; for Paul, it didn’t matter because he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength.
The second challenge is looking at the original Greek. When you look at an interlinear Bible – a translation that includes the original language and lays out the literal direct translations – you can learn a lot about a passage and get a more in-depth understanding of what the author may have been trying to get at. With this passage, it reads as: “All things I am strong for in the [One] strengthening me.” Right away, this can help us understand that this verse isn’t a magic formula to getting whatever we want, but instead an inner attitude for us to learn regardless of what we may be facing.
Do you think contentment like Paul had, or strength and courage like Joshua had, is possible in your life? Why or why not?
How do you know if a specific challenge is something you should take on or not? How can God help in that deci- sion making?
What would it look like to find contentment, strength, and courage through the presence of God amid challeng- ing circumstances in your life?