Welcome to the November edition of Good News, the monthly newsletter of the Fairview Park church of Christ! We hope that you find the articles below helpful, edifying, and true to the Bible. If you find the articles helpful in your Bible study, please forward this e-mail to a friend. May God bless you as you study his word!
The Willing Heart
by Jacob Hudgins
There is a drought in Israel. Having fed his prophet Elijah with ravens, God sends him out of the country. “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you”(1 Kings 17:9). While it is surprising enough that God sends him to no Jewish widow, it is downright alarming when we learn more of the circumstances of the widow of Zarephath. Elijah meets her and asks her for food, to which she responds, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die”(1 Kings 17:12). To summarize, God sends Elijah on a long journey to a foreign nation so that he can be fed by a woman who has no food.
Have you ever looked for something or someone you could turn to for safety? Something to comfort you, and take away some worry you might have? We might turn to spouses, to entertainment or to filling our bellies, but those merely displace our worry and fear. When we need a true refuge, what do we look for? David, in Psalm 16 provides an answer: God.
“1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you (16.1-2).” In God’s refuge, David is comforted and unworried. He is hopeful and grateful. Being in God’s refuge means David entrusts his life completely in God’s care. David gives us two main ideas about the refuge of God.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”(Phil 4:6-7).
Hannah has a problem. She is childless, but that is not all. Her husband’s other wife (the Bible text calls her “her rival”, 1 Sam 1:6) constantly teases and needles her about her barrenness, pouring salt into the wound. She “(provokes) her grievously to irritate her”(1 Sam 1:6), particularly when they travel together to the house of the LORD at Shiloh, where Hannah stops eating and simply cries (1 Sam 1:7). “She (is) deeply distressed and (prays) to the LORD and (weeps) bitterly”(1 Sam 1:10) and prays “out of (her) great anxiety and vexation”(1 Sam 1:16). What does Hannah teach us about prayer and anxiety?
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain”(Psa 127:1).
Americans are all about accomplishments. We love to read inspiring stories of how companies are built, great athletes develop, and wars are won. Particularly Americans enjoy stories that highlight hard work and ingenuity. Here Solomon—a well-accomplished man in his own right—teaches us the danger of glorifying ourselves and what we have done while ignoring God’s hand in it.