Sacred Questions: A Transformative Journey through the Bible

Sacred Questions: A Transformative Journey through the Bible

by Kellye Fabian

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631469282
Publisher: The Navigators
Publication date: 11/06/2018
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 240,988
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Kellye Fabian serves at Willow Creek Community Church, where she writes and develops daily reflections, small-group content, and class curriculum, and leads spiritual discipline workshops and spiritual practices. Formerly a trial attorney, Kellye has a Certificate of Spiritual Formation through the Transforming Center and is pursuing a master of arts degree in New Testament at Northern Seminary. She lives with her family in the Chicago area.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Invited

Responding to Jesus' Invitations

IN ONE OF my most vivid memories, I stand with my younger sister in front of the fish tank in our room and say, "We're on our own now. We have to take care of ourselves." I was ten. My mom had just gotten remarried, and we had moved from a house in southwest Michigan to a high-rise across the lake. We were separated from our dad and stepmom and ushered into a new life. My stepdad was a quadriplegic, and it became clear to me that our lives, and particularly my mom's life, now centered around him.

The funny thing about this memory is that I'm not certain it actually happened. I do have a younger sister, and we did have a fish tank. But I don't know if I said those words. I only know that I had a deep sense early in my life of being on my own.

My sense of aloneness only increased as I grew up. I became convinced that life was an individual sport, like golf. I would have to fight my way to importance and value. I couldn't rely on other people; I had to carve my own path.

I learned what it meant to be responsible, independent, and self-sufficient. Those aren't bad qualities in and of themselves, but for whatever reason, I didn't simultaneously feel the counterbalance of childhood whimsy, the ability to depend on others, or the sense that if I reached out, someone would be there. Over time I learned how to stay safe and keep secrets, to not let anything about my inner world — my desires, struggles, doubts, loneliness, worries — show. This way of living led me to isolation — a refusal to allow other people into my experiences, my thoughts, or my heart. Ultimately, it made me struggle to receive love.

The fortress around my heart grew impassable. But in the midst of the most destructive, desperate years of my life, I became aware of a kind of beckoning deep in my soul. Slowly my ears began to open, and eventually I received the invitation of Jesus: "Come to me. Come to me. Come to me and I will give you rest." In response, I gave him my life. And as the psalmist said, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" (Psalm 40:2-3, niv). The fortress walls came crumbling down and love flooded in.

Jesus' invitations have continued since I received and responded to that first one. He invites each of us in personal and profound ways throughout our lives. So it only makes sense that we begin this transformational journey through the Bible by immersing ourselves in his life-changing, life-giving invitations. Over the next fifteen days, we will begin to understand how to respond to Jesus' invitations with our minds, hearts, and bodies.

Day 1

COME TO ME

a prayer to open

Here I am, Lord. Quiet my mind. Open my heart. Give me ears to hear your invitation and the faith to respond.

READ MATTHEW 11:2530

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!

"My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."

REFLECT

In this passage, we read Jesus' most fundamental invitation. "Come to me," he says, and we cannot help but exhale. We are weary of our own struggles, the brokenness of the world, the painful relationships in our lives. We are burdened by our drive to achieve, by unmet expectations, by the wounds we carry with us. The sins of our pasts and the pain we have caused haunt us, and we long to be free. Aware of what pulls at our hearts, Jesus invites us not to believe doctrines or abide by rules but to find in him the rest we have been longing for.

• As you read today's passage, what words of Jesus stood out to you the most? Why do you think those particular words caught your attention?

• Read the passage again slowly. Which of your burdens or struggles come to mind? Where are you longing for rest? What invitation do you sense Jesus extending to you through this passage with respect to that particular longing?

• Do you know someone who seems burdened or weary? Seek God's guidance as to how you might share Jesus' invitation with that person or be a channel of the rest he offers.

RESPOND

Loving God, thank you for this invitation that my soul longs for so deeply. Give me the courage and faith to say yes and move toward Jesus. Help me see what weighs on my heart and causes me to live in the ways of hurry and worry instead of peace and freedom. Teach me to walk with you and to show others, by the way I live, what it means to be yours. Amen.

Day 2

COME AND SEE

a prayer to open

Here I am, Lord. Quiet my mind. Open my heart. Give me ears to hear your invitation and the faith to respond.

READ JOHN 1:35-39

The following day John was again standing with two of his disciples. As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, "Look! There is the Lamb of God!" When John's two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.

Jesus looked around and saw them following. "What do you want?" he asked them.

They replied, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"

"Come and see," he said.

REFLECT

"Come and see." Jesus offered this invitation in response to the question "Where are you staying?" But he seemed to have much more in mind than simply showing his disciples his lodging. As we continue reading, we understand what he was really saying: "If you want to know who I am, just follow along. See what I do, how I respond to others, how I love." Jesus didn't demand blind allegiance. He didn't ensure that those he encountered had the right beliefs or behaviors first. He invited them to walk with him and watch his interactions. He invited them to draw their own conclusions. And this invitation sparked such curiosity and expectancy that fishermen dropped their nets, and tax collectors gave up their profits to follow.

• What do you think Jesus was seeking to communicate to each person he approached?

• Read today's passage again slowly. What invitation do you sense Jesus extending to you through this passage? What does he want you to come and see about him right now?

• Do you know someone who doesn't have a relationship with Jesus? Seek God's guidance and wisdom as to how you might be able to extend an invitation to "come and see" so that person can learn more about Jesus.

RESPOND

Loving God, thank you for the simple invitation to come and see, to experience your goodness and love. Give me eyes to see where I've gotten off track or forgotten what's true about Jesus and the life and love he offers. Call me again and again to come and see. Grant me the courage and words to extend this invitation to the people in my life who are longing for more and only need someone to pique their curiosity and invite them. Amen.

Day 3

FOLLOW ME

a prayer to open

Here I am, Lord. Quiet my mind. Open my heart. Give me ears to hear your invitation and the faith to respond.

READ LUKE 9:5762

As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go."

But Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head."

He said to another person, "Come, follow me."

The man agreed, but he said, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."

But Jesus told him, "Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God."

Another said, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say goodbye to my family."

But Jesus told him, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."

REFLECT

Our world offers many leaders, causes, and trends to follow. But Jesus says, "Follow me." This seems an easier invitation for those who lived when he walked the earth — they could, quite literally, follow Jesus and watch how he loved, healed, forgave, and shared about the Kingdom of God. Yet even with Jesus physically present and calling to them, many still could not say yes. Responding to Jesus' invitation to follow will always mean saying no to other responsibilities and desires. We will want to say, "I will follow you, but first let me ..." Jesus asks us to say, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you," and trust that our competing obligations and wants will find their proper place.

• What emotions and reactions stir in you as you read Jesus' response to each person in today's passage?

• Consider the primary places in which your day-to-day life happens — your home, workplace, church, or neighborhood. What does it mean to follow Jesus in each of those places? What kinds of relationships, obligations, and desires tend to distract you from Jesus' call to follow him?

• Read today's passage again slowly. What invitation do you sense Jesus extending to you through this passage?

RESPOND

Loving God, thank you for Jesus' invitation to follow. As best I know how, I say yes. My heart wants to follow, but give me the faith, the courage, and the strength to trust that as I do, you will help me love the people you've placed in my life well, do the work you've given me with faithfulness, and serve with compassion those you've called me to serve. When distractions come and obligations threaten to pull me away from you, call me back and remind me to follow. Amen.

Day 4

BELIEVE

a prayer to open

Here I am, Lord. Quiet my mind. Open my heart. Give me ears to hear your invitation and the faith to respond.

READ MATTHEW 9:18-31

The leader of a synagogue came and knelt before [Jesus]. "My daughter has just died," he said, "but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her."

So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed."

Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed. ...

When Jesus arrived at the official's home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. "Get out!" he told them. "The girl isn't dead; she's only asleep." But the crowd laughed at him. ... Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside.

After Jesus left the girl's home, two blind men followed along behind him, shouting, "Son of David, have mercy on us!" ...

Jesus asked them, "Do you believe I can make you see?"

"Yes, Lord," they told him, "we do."

Then he touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, it will happen." Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, "Don't tell anyone about this." But instead, they went out and spread his fame all over the region.

REFLECT

In today's passage, we see Jesus perform three stunning miracles: healing a chronically sick woman, raising a dead girl to life, and restoring the sight of two blind men. But Matthew reports these miracles so matter-of-factly and quickly that we are apt to miss their significance. Through miracles, Jesus implicitly invited people to believe that he was the one God had promised to send to his people — the Messiah and King who would save and restore. And if Jesus was the Messiah-King, then God had kept his promises, and God's Kingdom had arrived. Jesus is still inviting us to believe he is the one who saves, heals, and restores.

• Imagine being present to witness one of the miracles we read about in today's passage. What do you see around you? What words and noises do you hear? What do you feel as Jesus acts to bring restoration? What does Jesus want you to believe about him in that moment?

• Read today's passage again slowly. What invitation do you sense Jesus extending to you? What is he asking you to believe?

• Do you have friends or family members who say they are Christians but seem unsure or unclear about who Jesus is? Seek God's guidance as to how you might be able to extend them an invitation to believe.

RESPOND

Loving God, thank you for this invitation from Jesus to believe that he is the fulfillment of your promises to bring healing and restoration and that he is the one who saves and brings life. Grant me experiences that will deepen and expand my faith and allow me to surrender to you more fully. Bring to my mind or allow my path to cross with someone who is stuck in his or her faith, and use me to strengthen that individual's belief in Jesus. Amen.

Day 5

BE BORN AGAIN

a prayer to open

Here I am, Lord. Quiet my mind. Open my heart. Give me ears to hear your invitation and the faith to respond.

READ JOHN 3:1-15

There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. "Rabbi," he said, "we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you."

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"

Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit."

"How are these things possible?" Nicodemus asked.

Jesus replied, "You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don't understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won't believe our testimony. But if you don't believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.

REFLECT

Nicodemus, a leader among the Jewish religious authorities, came to Jesus at night, obviously not wanting to be seen for fear of what his friends and fellow teachers might think. But something about Jesus caused Nicodemus to ask questions, and to Nicodemus's surprise, he learned that Jesus was not asking anyone to add another religious task to their daily routine as a way to earn God's favor; rather, Jesus was inviting people to receive a new life altogether — one that would allow access to the Kingdom of God.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Sacred Questions"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Kellye Fabian.
Excerpted by permission of NavPress.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Invited: Responding to Jesus' Invitations 1

Surrendered: Opening to God's Love 21

Revealed: Knowing the One You Follow 61

Rooted : Finding Your Identity in Christ 101

Grounded: Abiding in God in a World of Distractions 137

Reshaped: Being Formed by What's True 179

Centered: Loving Like Jesus 247

Blessed: Opening Your Eyes to the Kingdom of God 269

Empowered: Aligning with the Holy Spirit 283

Heard: Lamenting Your Pain and the Pain of the World 365

Amazed: Worshiping God for the Beauty of Creation 387

For the Sake of Others: Reaching Out to Serve 405

Christmas: Waiting for the Coming Christ 447

Easter: Experiencing Jesus' Last Days and Resurrection 469

Acknowledgments 478

Notes 480

Topical Index 481

What People are Saying About This

Steve Wiens

I’ve always been drawn to reflective people who ask probing questions, which is why I fell in love with Sacred Questions immediately. Kellye Fabian is a seasoned and trusted guide for anyone who wants to enter a holy dialogue with God that will transform them from the inside out.

Keith Ferrin

Sacred Questions is unique in the “devotional” space. Where many devotionals leave you pondering the words of the author, Sacred Questions leaves you pondering God’s Word—and God himself. Kellye Fabian is a masterful guide who takes you into God’s presence, then gracefully removes herself and leaves you alone with your Father.

Tricia Lott Williford

When a smart woman chases after the Lord, a book like this is born. Kellye ushers us right into the throne room, with grace and humble confidence. This book is a lifetime companion.

Shauna Niequist

Kellye has been a friend for years, and I’ve had the privilege of being guided by both her questions and her prayers many times in those years. Kellye’s intelligence and depth and creativity shine through every page, and I’m so delighted that her gentle and wise questions and prayers have now been captured in a format that will allow so many people to experience their transformative power.

Mark Scandrette

A significant crisis in contemporary Christianity is our difficulty relating Scripture to life. What we lack isn’t information but integration. Kellye Fabian knows the power of good questions. They invite honesty, wonder, and a loving response to what is most real. If you have the courage to ask the questions in this book, it will change your life.

Darren Whitehead

The questions we ask define our future. Like large doors swinging on small hinges, the questions we ask unlock new journeys, holy conviction, and unexpected destiny. Kellye Fabian has a unique gift with the most perceptive and illuminating questions. In her book Sacred Questions, Kellye will gently guide you on a journey that will inevitably lead you to new doors of discovery.

Margaret Feinberg

Kellye’s love of the Bible and spiritual disciplines shines bright everywhere she goes—including here!

Scot McKnight

God designed Scripture to speak to us, to speak to you and to me, to speak to each of us—daily and deeply. We often don’t hear from God daily or deeply because we are afraid to listen to the sacred questions God’s Word provokes in us as we read. Instead of listening to those sacred questions, we too easily skirt and suppress and slide away from the deep questions the Bible provokes. But Kellye Fabian designs this book with pastoral sensitivity and theological depth to permit those questions, then to listen to those questions, and finally to seek answers by listening to what God is saying in his ever-new-and-fresh Word. Sacred Questions is designed to promote sacred faith seeking sacred understanding.

Steve Carter

Each morning for the past four years, Kellye Fabian's devotions have been feeding my soul, reminding me how to slow down, guiding me into prayer with the Father, and helping me walk deeply with Jesus and receive all that the Holy Spirit has for me. When you dive into Sacred Questions, come expecting to be pastored and empowered, guided and equipped through the use of Scripture, story, prayer, and reflection on how to live your one and only life in response to our great God.

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