STUDY | Spend the week studying Joshua 1:1–9. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Remembering God’s presence, power and promises makes me fearless.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
PARALYZED BY FEAR
Henry can’t stop worrying about finances. When Mike thinks of the future, dread fills his heart. Heather loses sleep over her relationship with Steven. Jonathan worries he won’t have what it takes to make it in the real world after graduation.
If any of these fears sound familiar, you’re not alone. Fear is all around us. It’s a common experience, even for believers. Fear can be paralyzing. It makes us feel inadequate and insecure and keeps us from being all God created us to be in Him. But there is another way to live other than living in worry and anxiety. God gives us strength and confidence to move forward in life with faith, not fear.
Q: Why is it so natural to give in to fear instead of choosing faith? What are we looking for?
Q: How does fear cause you to think and act differently?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, through the wilderness, to the threshold of the promised land (the land of Canaan), but he wouldn’t lead them into it. He had died, and a change in leadership was necessary. The time had arrived for Joshua, Moses’s assistant, to lead the Israelites into a land full of enemies and danger. God had promised Canaan to the Israelites. Now it was time for God’s people to step forward in faith and take what was promised.
Before entering the promised land, God speaks to Joshua. Three times He tells Joshua to be “strong and courageous.” God wasn’t giving Joshua a feel-good, chin-up speech. He was pointing Joshua to Himself, the Source of real strength and courage. Joshua’s success depended not on him looking within for strength and courage, but relying on God to supply it.
Q: Read Joshua 1:1–9. Put yourself in Joshua’s position. What would you be thinking?
Recall a time when God gave you strength and courage to do something. Share with the group.
PRESENCE, POWER AND PROMISES
Joshua’s task was enormous. His decisions as a leader were literally life or death. Could he handle the weight of leadership in such perilous times? Would he be able to fulfill the mission God gave him? To answer these questions, God reminds Joshua of His presence, power, and promises. God was with Joshua. Just as He led Moses, He would lead Joshua. God tells him “no man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life.” Joshua’s task might have appeared impossible, and his enemies were certainly imposing (there were giants in the promised land, after all). But God was more powerful than Joshua’s enemies and powerful enough to do the impossible in his life.
All God was calling Joshua to be was obedient. God would take care of the rest. Joshua had no reason to fear. God promised to give Joshua success. He had proven Himself faithful to His promises in the past, and He would do the same in the future.
Q: Consider past or current fears you have. What excuses have you given yourself for holding on to them?
Q: Where would you like to see more of God’s presence and power in your life?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
God still calls His people to be strong and courageous today. Let’s look at some ways you can be fearless in life, regardless of your circumstance.
FEARLESS IN WALKING
You can be fearless when you walk in God’s calling. God called Joshua to lead His people, and He prepared His servant for the job at hand. Whatever God calls you to do, He will give you exactly what you need at just the right time to accomplish His purposes. God’s call comes with God’s provision.
You can be fearless when you walk in God’s promises. God promised Joshua success. He promised to be faithful to all He had said. God’s Word is full of His promises. All He asks us to do is stand in them and take the next step forward in obedience. A fearless heart trusts in the character of God, believing He will act in the future as He has in the past.
Q: What would it look like for you to walk fearlessly? What would be different?
Q: How can hope in God’s promises give you confidence to step forward in faith?
FEARLESS IN FOLLOWING
You can be fearless when you follow God’s commands. God’s promise to Joshua was conditional. As long as he walked in obedience, success was guaranteed. Like any good father, God takes great delight in you when you seek to please Him. The Father loves you, and He wants you to see that obedience to Him is the way to ultimate joy and satisfaction. You can find strength and courage in the Father’s perfect love, which casts out your fears (1 John 4:18). He’s not out to punish you, but to bless you through His promises.
Q: Explain why obedience is the way to ultimate joy and satisfaction.
Q: What’s one thing you can do to remember the Father’s love this week?
A GREATER BLESSING
God promised to give His people the land of Canaan long before Joshua arrived on the scene. That promise was given to Abraham back in Genesis 12:1–9. God also promised to bless the world through Abraham’s descendants. God’s promise to Abraham encompassed more than land. Through Abraham a greater blessing would come.
That blessing arrived two thousand years ago when God’s Son came to this earth on a mission from the Father. He did the impossible. He lived a perfectly obedient, sinless life. He was strong and courageous in life, but also in death. He knew His mission would lead Him to the cross, but He was fearless. He was confident that God would fulfill His promise to bring sinners into God’s family. As a servant, Jesus emptied Himself of all His glory as God’s beloved Son and died the death we deserved. He took our place so we could enjoy a relationship with the Father based in love, not fear.
Q: How does the gospel change the way you see your fears?
Q: What’s your biggest fear right now? How can you respond differently to it?
Confess any fears you are currently experiencing. Ask God to replace those fears with faith. Thank God that He gives you strength and courage to overcome your fears.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read 1 John 4:18 and meditate on how the Father’s love casts out your fear.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Background on Joshua
Joshua was a military, political, and spiritual leader in Israel. He is mentioned over thirty times in the first five books of the Bible. His name means “Yahweh saves.” He is first mentioned as a military commander who helped defeat the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8–13). Joshua would go on to play an important role as Moses’s assistant. He was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan (Numbers 13:1–4, 8). He and Caleb were the only spies who were confident that God would give them victory. Before Moses’s death, God selected Joshua to be Moses’s successor (Numbers 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 31:14 and 23; 34:9).1
Responding with Humility
Citing 1 Peter 5:6–7, Ed Welch writes that the secret to dealing with fear and anxiety is to humble yourself. Ultimately, we must trust God because He is God, “not because he is going to immediately remove our anxieties or our fear-provoking situation.”2
Fear and Anxiety as Unbelief
Where do fear and anxiety come from? John Piper says they come from unbelief. “Jesus says that the root of anxiety is lack of faith in our heavenly Father.” We lack faith when we allow fear and anxiety to consume and overwhelm us (Matt. 6:30). The right response to fear and anxiety is faith in the Father and His promise to care for your needs.”3
1. Dan Gentry Kent, “Joshua,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 950; Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 394.
2. Ed Welch, “The Secret to Dealing with Fear and Anxiety,” Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation, April 19, 2011, https://ww- w.ccef.org/resources/blog/secret-dealing-fear-and-anxiety (accessed April 5, 2018).
3. John Piper, “Battling the Unbelief of Anxiety” (sermon, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN, September 25, 1988), https://www.desiring- god.org/messages/battling-the-unbelief-of-anxiety (accessed April 5, 2018).