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Summary: As we trust in God, courage for life will come. Part of Seven Virtues series.

Joshua 1:1-9 "Be Strong and Courageous"

Seven Virtues #2 - Courage.

by James Galbraith

Bethel First Baptist Church - May 27, 2001

COURAGEOUS MISSIONARY DOCTOR

DR. ELIZABETH HOLLAND, A PEDIATRICIAN FROM MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE, WHO HAS SERVED AS A VOLUNTEER DOCTOR FOR WORLD VISION, IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE COURAGE WE CAN ALL ENJOY AS ONE WHO FOLLOWS GOD.

ONCE SHE TREATED PATIENTS IN THE MIDDLE OF AN AFRICAN CIVIL WAR, EXPLAINS WRITER ROBERT KERR. IN 1985 SHE PERFORMED ONE APPENDECTOMY IN WHICH THE "OPERATING ROOM" WAS A MUD HUT DEEP IN THE JUNGLE OF ZAIRE. THE ANESTHETIC WAS AN ANIMAL TRANQUILIZER, WHICH RAN OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OPERATION. OUTSIDE, MIG JETS WERE DROPPING BOMBS. EVERY TIME A BOMB HIT, DIRT FROM THE MUD HUT FELL DOWN ON THEM. SHE PERFORMED A VIRTUAL MIRACLE CONSIDERING THE CIRCUMSTANCES, AND HER PATIENT LIVED.

DURING THE ANGOLAN CIVIL WAR, HOLLAND ROUTINELY SAW 400 TO 500 PATIENTS A DAY. "I FREQUENTLY WRAPPED BROKEN BONES IN MAGAZINES AND USED BANANA LEAFS FOR SLINGS," SHE SAID. SINCE FOOD WAS IN SHORT SUPPLY, HOLLAND ATE A PASTE MADE FROM GROUND CASSAVA-PLANT ROOTS. "IT TASTED LIKE GLUE," SAID DR. HOLLAND. "THE FIRST FEW DAYS, I THOUGHT I WOULD DIE. BUT THEN I GOT TO WHERE IT TASTED PRETTY GOOD. SOMETIMES WHEN IT RAINED WE COULD GET A FEW LEAVES FROM THE TREES TO COOK IT IN FOR VARIETY."

ACROSS THE ANGOLAN BORDER WAS A MINEFIELD THAT OFTEN KILLED OR INJURED CIVILIANS; HOLLAND WOULD RETRIEVE THEM. SHE SAID, "I LEARNED IF I GOT MY NOSE DOWN AT GROUND LEVEL AND CRAWLED ALONG ON MY STOMACH, I COULD SEE THE MINES. SO I WOULD MAKE MY WAY ACROSS, THEN THROW THE INJURED PERSON OVER MY SHOULDER AND CARRY THEM OUT THE SAME WAY I HAD COME OVER."

MAYBE WE WILL NEVER BE FORCED TO PERSEVERE AS ELIZABETH HOLLAND HAS, BUT EACH OF US CAN GROW IN CHARACTER.

What is one essential quality that Dr. Holland demonstrates during her service in Angola?

Courage.

Today, as we work through what have been called the seven cardinal virtues, we are going to take a good look at courage.

I would like to answer two questions today, using our text in Joshua.

The first - What exactly is courage? and the second is "How can we grow in courage?

So - What is courage?

To answer that, let me bring back from last week the definition of wisdom.

Wisdom, briefly defined, is the ability to choose the right path. A wise person takes in all the possibilities in a situation and chooses a course of action, or reaction, that best suits not only the short term but also the bigger picture.

With this definition in mind, courage is the willingness to walk that path, no matter how easy or hard it may be.

Courage is doing what you know is right when it needs to be done, regardless of the level of difficulty involved.

Let’s look to our passage to learn more about courage.

In these verses God himself is letting Joshua know that he has been chosen to be the new leader of the people of Israel.

Moses has been laid to rest and the entire nation of Israel, millions strong, has spent thirty days in mourning for the man whom God used to bring them out of Egypt.

Joshua’s appointment is not "out of the blue" - his preparation for leadership dates back more than forty years.

Joshua served as Moses’ personal aide since his youth. He is chosen by Moses to lead the Israelites in their first battles, just weeks after they leave Egypt.

He alone accompanies Moses on Mount Sinai as God gives Moses the law that the people are to live by.

He is chosen to be one of the twelve men who spy out the Promised Land, and when they return only Joshua and Caleb are ready to enter the land. The other ten are full of fear, and the nation follows the fears of the other ten, and refuses to enter the land God promises them.

God takes their lack of faith and declares that of all those who have left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb will actually enter the Promised land, and forty years later these two lead the next generation across the Jordan River.

We don not know why Joshua was chosen over Caleb to be THE leader, but that isn’t really important. What is important is that Joshua is given a task which is no smaller than, which is no less than, building a new nation out of a wandering mob.

1. He must keep order amongst a people notorious for being fickle and faithless. To do this, he must keep them focused on the God who has brought them this far, and also on the mission God has given them to accomplish.

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