I really wanted to do something from the book of Joshua that wasn’t this passage, but let’s be honest – How much better can you get than Joshua 1:9?

Just imagine being Joshua.

You are following Moses…enough said.

You have an entire nation waiting on you to get them safely home and enter a new land.

What more fitting words and assurance could God have given Joshua than to be strong and courageous?

And what more fitting words God wants to speak to you and to the students he has placed in your path.

Be strong and courageous because God is with you.

It’s possible that someone reading this lesson is feeling anything but strong and courageous at this point, and to you, I say don’t lose faith.

Remember that God wouldn’t have repeated these words over and over to Joshua if God didn’t think that he would need to be reminded.

And that is why God reminds us that He is with us.

He will do the ‘being strong and courageous’ thing for us even when we don’t feel it.

God is with us.

– Tiffany, Ministry to Youth

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Bible:  Joshua 1:9

Bottom Line: Be Strong and courageous because God is with you.


Funny trophy for the Thumb Wrestling tournament such as a strange ring for their thumb or a statue!

Poster board for the Thumb Wrestling tournament

Paper, markers, scissors

Poster board

Double stick tape


Create a funny Championship bracket poster for the Old School Thumb Wrestling Tournament.

Have a ‘Loser’ and a ‘Winner’ side.

Challenge the youth to grab a piece of paper, some washable markers and make a thumb print on a piece of paper.

Then, they can decorate it and create a character to represent themselves on the amazing Championship bracket poster.

Give them time to make and cut out their thumb character and then using removable double stick tape have them tape their character on the ‘winner’ side.

If possible, have one made already for you that is funny and strange, yet clearly your thumbprint to get them excited!

Explain that the winner will receive a prize worthy of such a test of strength.

Instruct the students that as they battle one another, to move their thumbs either to the winner or the loser side.

After each battle have students come and move their thumb to the correct side and then find someone in that same ‘bracket’ to challenge.

The rules:  Players must put one arm behind their back.

The thumbs attack after saying “1, 2, 3, 4 – I declare a thumb war.’

You can also ask the group to create one other rule for the thumb war to really make it funny, such as they must do the chicken dance as they thumb wrestle or stand on one foot.

This tournament might go on forever so set a time limit and if there is no one winner, then have fun determining a winner!


Winners and Losers.

Share a time in which you truly felt like a loser and make it a funny one. 

No crying in thumb wars!  

It really stinks to feel like a loser, right?

Yet, if we are all honest, it just isn’t possible to be best, the brightest, the strongest, the top dog every single moment.

We all face these moments in which we just might be in over our heads.

What is the most impossible situation that you have been in?

You remember the phrase they would always say at the beginning of the Hunger Games?

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Well, sometimes, let’s just face it – the odds really don’t seem to be in your favor, right?

Share a time in your life when the odds truly did not seem to be in your favor.  

How many times do you feel like this?

There are always those people who seem to have it all together and are fearless, but I bet if you were to ask them and they were totally honest with you, they have moments of fear, doubt, and weakness.

Because I will let you in on a little secret – that’s what it means to be human.

We all reach points in our lives, some of us much sooner than others, when we see the mountain in front of us; or the assignment we procrastinated on; or the sickness of a loved one; or on and on until we reach the end of our strength and courage.

Maybe you can think of a situation in your life or someone else’s life right now where it’s truly scary to see what they are facing.

The decisions are just too much.

The risks just too high.

The expectations too crushing.

Well, today we are taking a look at someone who had every right to feel this way.

He was following arguably the greatest leader of all time.

Someone who parted water and made river turn to blood and entire countries fall to knees and God used him in mighty ways.


The leader of all leaders, right?

Even though what we often forget is that Moses begged God not to choose him.  Repeatedly!

Then, Moses dies and God’s people are still not home yet after the world’s longest road trip of 40 years!!!!

And Moses is dead.

Now, imagine being the leader who follows.

How would you feel?

All of these eyes…on you.

That is Joshua.

And that is when God says these words to Joshua that are so amazing that we are going to really chew on them today.

Ask a student to read Joshua 1:9.

Ask another student to read Joshua 1:9.

Ask ANOTHER student to read Joshua 1:9.

Then ask the group if we need to read it again.  

What did God say to Joshua?

Be strong and courageous.

Don’t be afraid: check.

Don’t be discouraged: check.


Because God will be with him wherever he goes.


Think about the situations in your life.

The challenges.

The worries.

And then put them up against these words that God gave to Joshua.

See, God isn’t telling Joshua to just suck it up and be strong and courageous.

No, God is giving Joshua some pretty amazing punch behind his command:  God himself will go with him.

THAT is why Joshua and you can be strong and courageous is because NO MATTER what you face…who is there with you?

See, some many people think that when you are a Christian that your road will be easy because God will make the path full of rainbows and flowers, right?


God knows that life is hard and that people die and get sick and you face challenges that scare you to the core of who you are.

And it is for THOSE reasons that God doesn’t make you walk alone.

He goes with you.

God KNOWS it will be tough.

And He goes with you.

That is an amazing gift, right?

So, be strong and courageous.

And when you face the next battle or failure or worry or whatever…..take heart and know that you are not alone.

You are never alone.


What situation in your life do you need to remember that God is with you?

What is the hardest for you – being strong or courageous?

Who is someone you know who needs to be reminded that they are not alone and that God is with them?  Commit to remind them that they are not alone this week.

Write the words “Be strong and courage ous…I go with you. From God” on your mirror in your bathroom when you get home where you can see it and remember!


End lesson.

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2024 SUMMER BUNDLE – Save 78% on $450 worth of youth ministry lessons and games for the summer and beyond!

Want another free lesson? Check out this…

Youth Group Lesson on Nehemiah

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