Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent
This new devotional by Keri Wyatt Kent is a look into the heart of Jesus, through both his teachings and actions. The devotional could also be a great Lenten exercise also, being divided up into 40 short sections with Scripture, commentary, and a call to practice each particular theme or concept. I wasn’t initially sure how I would feel about this book, primarily because the devotionals I’ve seen are either too fluffy are disjointed. Yet, I think this devotional has a lot to offer with both good biblical insights and practical application. Furthermore, the way the devotional is constructed with more attention to larger themes such as self-examination, intercession, and redemption that pushes the reader into the text to witness the mighty grace of God.
One great example of this combination of solid biblical insight and practical application is found in the section entitled ‘Listen.’ Quoting the good shepherd passage in John 10 concerning the voice of the shepherd Keri writes, “When we hear the voice of love, we are drawn irresistibly to it. It resonates in our soul, like a string plucked, a vibrations we both hear and feel” (118). This is certainly true, human beings are draw to the voice of love because they are identified as worthy of love, as being a safe place of feeling encouragement. Words of love have a way of implanting in our hearts in such a way as to provide a reminder of the feeling and connection of love that does not go away. Keri goes onto connect Jesus’ words with Ezekiel 34 concerning God’s chastisement of Israel’s leaders with by writing, “Jesus is anything but boring. By alluding to Ezekiel’s rant against corruption and social injustice, Jesus is making a bold statement – he’s going to push out the fat sheep and bring justice for the skinny sheep” (119). This sound connection between what the original listeners might have heard when Jesus was speaking and how his message speaks right to our hearts is an indication of Keri’s willingness to plumb the depths of Scripture for insight.
Another aspect of this devotional that was a highlight for me was Keri’s insistence that all focal points of theology find their reference point in Jesus Christ. In the section on Creation, Keri writes, “Walk and pray; imagine Jesus walking beside you. Talk to him. Jesus loved being outside, in the world that he had created. Think about the fact that he created this with you in mind - to give you a gift of beauty and delight” (86). We often remember that Jesus was creating the world with the Father and Spirit in the beginning, but we often forget how amazing it is that the creation reflects Jesus’ intention to reflect beauty and delight. Also, the idea that creation is a gift that displays the love of God is a thought that should give us pause to delight and wonder in the intricate way of nature. Furthermore, God accommodates himself in order to be known, through creation, through incarnation in order that he might be known. Keri has a way of drawing together big themes of God’s work in the world with an eye towards the life of an everyday believer engaging the struggles and triumphs of life.
I really enjoyed this devotional. I think it will be a great help to those seeking to study God’s Word alongside some very insightful and engaging comments. Bringing the focus back to Jesus time and again was a powerful way to witness to the Bible’s intent to point to him on every page.
Thanks to Abingdon Press for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.