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A Year with Jesus

I am not usually a huge fan of devotionals, not because they are not helpful for devotional practice, but usually they offer sentimentalisms that are neither biblical or helpful. Yet, I found this devotional by R.P. Nettlehorst very beneficial on both sides. For one, how can you go wrong with centering on the actual words and actions of Jesus. Often, as we read through the Bible we tend to focus on the passages that we love or that we most gravitate towards and fail to focus on the passages that are hard and difficult to understand. Nettlehorst does a good job at focusing on the key events and teachings of Jesus in the gospels and their significance. He does not get into sentimental over-spiritual garbage but is intent on drawing out the key applications about the text.

What I really enjoyed about this devotional was the various things Nettlehorst incorporates in each day's readings. For instance, on Day 226 Nettlehorst explains the background of the Decapolin in relation to Jesus' healing. Secondly, he goes on in the same Day to explain the significance of the healing of the deaf man and its relationship to our condition. He writes, "Jesus works with us where we are. He comes to us in our situation, and from there takes us where we need to be. He does not insist on our changing before he changes us" (255). The truth of this statement comes in the last part and certainly it was the case with the people that Jesus healed. We do not have to pull ourselves up by our own boostraps to enjoy his presence, rather he delights in meeting us right where we are, even in our sin.

This devotional was a good look into the life and teachings of the Savior. In some ways, this kind of devotional is alarming because it calls our attention to the many words of Jesus that are harsh, uncompromising and hit us right through the eyes. Often in reading through this devotional I was dumbfounded by the way I would have felt upon hearing these words for the first time in the 1st century, I believe it would an eye-opening experience. Even though we get a lot of good application, I think this devotional by its very nature could have been better. Sometimes in reading the selections I think Nettlehorst took much liberty in trying to muster up some spiritual advice that didn't jibe with the text. Yet, overall, I think this type of devotional can be helpful for a wide audience for none other reason than getting into the very life, ministry, and teachings of Jesus.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Book Sneeze program for providing this book for review.


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