If you only know one verse from the book of Joshua in the Bible, you probably know Joshua 1:9 which says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go”. This is where my most recent Bible study gets its title. Surprisingly, there is not much emphasis on courage or living without fear beyond the initial chapter.However, it still turned out to be very good, and I am glad that I read it.
When I got back from the mission trip I went on last summer, I was eager to begin a new Bible study. I don’t have the best track record of keeping up with daily devotions, but I was ready to start again and determined that this time I would finish what I started. I wanted something with real substance, more than a fleeting paragraph that I could read and forget in five minutes in the morning. (There’s nothing wrong with brief devotions, especially for those who are so busy they struggle to find any time to read the Bible. These types of studies just don’t stick with me enough to be worthwhile.) Additionally, I didn’t want something that was going to tell me things that I already knew; having grown up in a Christian family, regularly attending church, and now attending a Christian university, there comes a point where you’ve heard just about all of the basic sermons, to the point that when any pastor gives the text of his sermon for the day, you can accurately predict what the bottom line is going to be. There is always something new to be gotten from reading the Bible, but sometimes you have to look a bit deeper in order to find it or to find a study you haven’t already heard a couple times. This narrowed my choices significantly. After walking through the majority of Mardel’s bookshelves, I decided on this one: Live Fearlessly: A Study in the Book of Joshua. The daily readings were advertised to take about twenty minutes, and are each a few pages long. One of the things I liked right away was that the entire book of Joshua was covered with equal attention, not just the exciting parts.
This is a fairly thorough study into Joshua. Relevant history, culture, context, and connections to other Biblical passages, especially those relating to Jesus as Messiah, are prevalent in each of the lessons. There are 7 daily devotions/studies for each week-long lesson, and each week inspects a new story of Joshua’s life by focusing on a few chapters. After reading the passage for the day’s lesson, there are a variety of questions. Some of the questions are factual, to make sure that you actually pay attention to what you are reading and didn’t just skim through without comprehending as I am frequently prone to do, especially when reading first thing in the morning. Next, the questions get a little deeper, encouraging the reader to introspect for a few minutes and see how the lessons from Joshua’s life can apply to our own.
Heitzig and Rose’s voices are combined flawlessly, so it is easy to forget that there is more than one author. There are no problems of lurching between perspectives or jarring transitions between chapters, as is common in books with multiple authors. The format is visually pleasing as well; each daily devotion is approximately four or five pages long, but there are five sections each day. This divides up the text and makes it look less daunting.
I must admit that this was supposed to be a twelve-week study, and it took me closer to eighteen to get all the way through, but I made it! I created a routine around reading from this book every morning, and despite days of oversleeping or simply not being motivated, I completed the study just a few days after the end of my school semester. I am proud of this, but now I have to decided if this was just a one-time thing or if it will become a way of life. I am hoping for the latter, as I again search for a devotion which will be interesting and informative for my next season. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them! I really don’t have any specific criteria, as long as it is a biblically sound daily study.
I was a little disappointed in the notable lack of emphasis on being fearless when the very term is in the book’s title. I feel this is a bit misleading, as the title is what initially caught my attention and made me pick up the book. However, this is outweighed by the good content. Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose have created a solid study through the book of Joshua, and I do recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about Joshua or looking for their next Bible study.