Be strong. Be courageous.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
— joshua 1:9 (esv)

I’ve learned that every time the Lord gives us a command of this nature we should stop and take notice. It’s like a big flashing sign saying, “YOU’RE GONNA NEED TO HEAR THIS!” There’s no question that in this life we need a whole lot of courage. To accomplish the plans and purposes of God we have to step out of the boat onto the water, hoping we don’t sink, time and time again. We will likely lead in environments where we feel inadequate, believe for things that seem impossible, and risk our comfort and reputation trusting in God.

In every book of the Bible you will find someone laying it all on the line trusting that God will come through. It’s an undeniable theme in Scripture. I think that’s because God wants to remind us that this is the way He wants to move in our lives. He wants to lead us into His promises but we will need to trust that He knows how to get there. On that journey we often find ourselves faced with things that we are afraid to do. In our efforts to not fail, we keep ourselves from trying. I think we know, though, that our breakthrough is right on the other side of faithfulness and obedience. All our dreams are right on the other side of our trying.

What are those areas for you? What are those dreams you’ve put on the shelf? The ones you dust off every once in awhile and then carefully return to the “one day...” spot. God wants to breathe on those things again. I think He is just waiting for someone to grab hold of those dreams and say, “God, I’m not leaving until You tell me what’s next!” Would you be willing to make yourself uncomfortable, do what’s unfamiliar, and take a risk if you knew it was the key to your breakthrough?

Would you be willing to make yourself uncomfortable, do what’s unfamiliar, and take a risk if you knew it was the key to your breakthrough?

I will never forget the first time I had the opportunity to lead worship at Bethel Church in Redding for a Sunday night service. I was nothing short of terrified. I was co-leading with Brian Johnson, which was awesome but didn’t help me feel any less anxious. He has always been a huge inspiration of mine and I couldn't have felt more inadequate or under-prepared. All that I knew was, sink or swim, I was going to do what God asked me to do. I was fully aware at some point my mind might just freeze up and decide this was too much. I feared I would stop recalling lyrics for the next hour! As scary as that moment felt it really was just another step in not listening to fear and not allowing any insecurity to trump my obedience. Embracing that moment and throwing every ounce of courage I had to get through it really did lead to breakthrough. It ushered in one of the most important seasons in my life. I grew so much as a leader over those next few years.

There is one reason and one reason alone that we really can “be strong and courageous.” It’s because the promise is that “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” He is our confidence. He is our comfort. We don’t have to be afraid. We can move forward boldly towards the dreams of our hearts. Towards the places and people He’s called us to.

Embrace where you are right now. Look again at those things you’ve tried to store in the background of your life. Maybe you felt afraid to take the next step. Maybe you were afraid to make changes or to take a risk. The good news is that you’re not too late. You can find your strength and courage in God and step into your dreams. You can see breakthrough in areas where you felt your hope dwindling.

Be strong. Be courageous. God is with you!


Derek Johnson is a singer-songwriter who has a heart to see people experience the power and extravagant love of God through music that carries God’s presence and anointing. He led worship at Bethel Church in Redding, CA for 5 years before relocating to the Sacramento area with the Jesus Culture team. He believes strongly in serving the local church and is a worship leader at Jesus Culture Sacramento. His heart is to see people transformed by encounters with the raw and pure love of Jesus. Derek’s solo album, “Real Love” was released in 2015 and charted to number 1 on the Christian iTunes charts. He is featured on the latest Jesus Culture album, “Let it Echo”.

Derek Johnson