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Summary: This sermon is an encouragement to stay the course in your service to God.

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Introduction- When the world trade center was bombed in 2001 President Bush used a phrase that is commonly used by politicians, “stay the course.” He said we would “stay the course” in our fight against terror. To stay the course is “to stand firm in pursuing a goal or course of action, to persevere in the face of whatever challenges or obstacles one may encounter. “ I was curious as to the origin of this term so I looked it up on the internet. The first use of the phrase in print, in 1885, comes from another sort of “course,” the racetrack. “To stay the course” in this sense referred to the ability of a horse to endure the race and reach the finish line, preferably in a winning position. Politicians have adopted this phrase and often use it to encourage their constituents. (www.word-detective.com)

I want to use this phrase as the title for this message. I want my message to be an encouragement for you to stay the course.

-in serving the Lord

-in your battle against discouragement

-in your battle against disease

-in your struggles at home

-in your struggles with other people

All of us need help staying the course from time to time.

Ill- It seems that one day a kindergarten teacher was helping one of her students put on his cowboy boots? He asked for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn’t want to go on. They got one boot on. Finally, when the second boot was on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, "Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet." She looked down and sure enough, they were.

It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. But she managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on - this time on the right feet. And it was only then that he announced, "These aren’t my boots."

She bit her tongue rather than scream, "Why didn’t you say so?" like she wanted to. And, once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner had they got the boots off than he said, "They’re my brother’s boots. My Mom made me wear ’em today."

Stifling a scream, she mustered up the grace and courage she had left to wrestle the ill-fitting boots on his feet again. Helping him into his coat, she asked, "Now, where are your mittens?"

To which he replied, "I stuffed ’em in the toes of my boots."(Contributed to Sermon Central by: Ken Kersten)

That teacher had a challenging day! She needed to stay the course.

For a text I want you to follow along as I read several passages. These passages are all found in the book of Joshua. (Joshua 13:1; 23:14-16; 24:14-16) Joshua was a man who “stayed the course.” I want to share some lessons we learn from a study of Joshua’s life. All of us need help in staying the course.

I. Lesson one is to Be Courageous.

When Joshua began his ministry career he faced a huge task. God knew he faced a huge task. In fact we find recorded (three different times in Joshua 1:6,7,9) where God encouraged Joshua to be courageous. Joshua displayed his courage in a number of ways. He faced a number of trials but I just want to mention three of them.

A. He had big shoes to fill. How would you feel if you had to fill the shoes of Moses? Each of us have mountains that we must climb. I cannot imagine a greater challenge than having to fill the shoes of a legend

Ill- Ray Perkins did this when he came to coach the University of Alabama after Paul Bryant retired.

B. He walked alone through much of his ministry.

(Refer to Num. 32:12)

Ill- When I was in college there was a song entitled “One is the Loneliest Number.” One is a lonely number. Joshua walked alone much of the time.

C. He faced much opposition..

Refer to Joshua 11:1-4)

If you are going to stay the course it will be necessary for you to stay the course in your spiritual life.

Ill- A man in Dundee, Scotland, was confined to bed for forty years, having broken his neck in a fall at age fifteen. But his spirit remained unbroken, and his cheer and courage so inspired people that he enjoyed a constant stream of guests.

One day a visitor asked him, “Doesn’t Satan ever tempt you to doubt God?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the man. “He does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along in their carriages and Satan whispers, ‘If God is so good, why does He keep you here all these years? Why did he permit your neck to be broken?’”

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