29 Sep

The Bible v/s Nature

What are the comparisons and contrasts between the Bible and its authority and general revelation and its authority?

When comparing and contrasting the Bible and its authority to general revelation and its authority, it is important to understand that the Bible is in the category of special revelation.  The nature of special revelation is such that it is not observable or discoverable by natural means.  It must be told—revealed—to us by God.  Therefore, there are many things revealed to us in the Bible that we would never know otherwise, such as the knowledge of the gospel, how to live a life pleasing to God, and God’s will.  Even if we tried to find these things out, we could not on our own.

General revelation is knowledge given to all mankind through nature.  Because God created everything, creation bears His marks and points to who and what God is.  In fact, Paul tells us that that which is known about God is evident within [mankind]; for God made it evident to them; for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that [people] are without excuse (Romans 1:29-20).  This information about God is discerned through our physical senses—sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch—and then reflected on in our minds to bring about knowledge.  Everybody can and should know these things about God.  Therefore, this general knowledge about God is sufficient enough to leave every person liable to know God and to worship God, such that no can say, “I knew nothing about God and had no idea He existed.”

So, general knowledge is enough to make us accountable to God, but given our fallen nature, all mankind suppresses this truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).  When general revelation meets human depravity, idolatry is birthed, leading mankind to worship creation instead of the Creator.  Therefore, while general revelation is a blessing, it alone is insufficient for deriving truth.  It doesn’t tell us the gospel or instruct us in as to what is right and wrong.  While it’s true that mankind who is made in the image of God is born with an innate sense of right and wrong called the conscience (Romans 2:14), sin has so tainted our consciences that they’re not trustworthy in themselves.

For this reason, special revelation is essential to right knowledge.  General revelation is like having raw data.  Special revelation gives us the right interpretation of that data, leaving the Bible as authoritative over general revelation.  The Bible as special revelation delivered to us from God is objective truth from above and not prone to the influence of sinful mankind.  Therefore, all general revelation, even that data that is derived through modern hard sciences like biology and soft sciences like psychology, is subject to Scripture.  Again, the Bible is the authority over general revelation.

27 Sep

Frustrate the Devil

How would you like to ruin the devil’s day?  Want to see him with shoulders drooped, face all scrunched up in a frown of disappointment, and sitting on a bench pouting?  That sounds awesome, doesn’t it?  Okay then, here’s the game plan:  rejoice in your suffering.

No seriously.  God has ordained suffering for your life to bring about much good, but the devil wants to take what was meant for your good and destroy you.  He wants to discourage you, infuriate you at God, and push you to doubt God.  But, you can totally foil his plan be rejoicing in your suffering.

Whether you realize it or not, suffering is a privilege from God.  The early church considered it a privilege to suffer for the name of Christ.  Acts 5:41 tells us that after the apostles took a beating for preaching the gospel, they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. Furthermore, Paul tells us that suffering has been granted along with salvation for all who believe on Jesus (Philippians 1:29).  So, salvation and suffering are both gracious blessings from God.  Suffering is actually a cause for joy!

To the natural mind, the combination of suffering and joy sounds like the makings of a psychological diagnosis.  But, to the biblically informed mind, it’s nothing more than understanding God’s will for our life.  It’s not that we’re to take pleasure in the pain.  Rather, we take pleasure in the product the pain produces.  With that mindset in view, let’s look at six reasons the Bible gives for rejoicing in your suffering so that you can frustrate the devil.

1)  Suffering gives a contemporary visible witness that Jesus is worth joyfully enduring the most awful things for.
In Colossians 1:24, Paul says, Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. When he says that he’s “filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions, I believe he’s talking about an ongoing visible example to us.  Jesus Christ is not before our eyes suffering.  In fact, He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father right now in heaven.  But Paul was before the eyes of his contemporaries.  He was an ongoing visible example to them.  In fact, he even wrote this letter to the Colossians while in prison for preaching the gospel.

In 1 Corinthians 15:32, we learn that he had to fight wild best while in Ephesus.  In 2 Corinthians 11:21-27, he gives us an even more extensive list of his afflictions:  much hard work, imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death, five times received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes, three times beaten with rods, once stoned, three times shipwrecked spending a night and a day in the deep, dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from his countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren, and many sleepless nights in hunger and thirst and in cold and exposure.

Paul was much afflicted!  Everybody in Paul’s day could look at him and his willingness to endure such hardships with rejoicing and had to make a choice.  They could either call Paul insane or call Jesus awesome.  That’s the choice our contemporaries should have to make concerning us too.  Either we are crazy, or Jesus is awesome.  God desires for you to rejoice in your sufferings so that people will come to the second conclusion:  Jesus is awesome!  They’ll look at your suffering and your rejoicing and come to the conclusion that Jesus is worth enduring joyfully the most awful things for.  Who knows who will be saved or encouraged through our suffering.

Is making much of Jesus reason for rejoicing?  Absolutely!  Then rejoice in your suffering and frustrate the devil.

2)  Suffering brings us into closer union with Christ
Paul tells us 1 Corinthians 11:1 to be imitators of him as he imitates Christ.  Christ rejoiced in His suffering (Heb 12:2), and Paul imitated that (Col 1:24).  So, we come into closer union with Christ when we suffer.  Christians are called to take suffering patiently, “because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).  Paul’s goal in Philippians 3:10 was to share [Christ’s] sufferings, being conformed to His death.  This goal should be our as well.  Furthermore, our suffering is connected with sharing in Christ’s glory when he returns: …if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17).

Is closesness with Jesus reason for rejoicing?  Absolutely!  Then rejoice in your suffering and frustrate the devil.

3)  Suffering assures the believer that he belongs to Christ
Jesus said, If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, “A slave is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… (John 15:18-20).  So, your suffering for Jesus proves that you belong to Jesus.

Is assurance of your salvation reason for rejoicing?  Absolutely!  Then rejoice in your suffering and frustrate the devil.

4)  Suffering deepens our dependence on and hunger for God
Why do you think the gospel spreads so much more rapidly in Third World countries?  I think it’s because they don’t have all the junk that we have to pacify or satisfy them.  Many Americans aren’t impressed with the rewards God puts before us because they’re pleased enough in this life, but that’s why events of suffering and loss through calamity are so important.  They shake us out business as usual so that we’ll turn from temporal joy and be prepared for eternal joy.  It’s in these moments that we realize that all we have is Christ, and Christ really is enough.  God uses seasons of tragedy and loss to drive men to the cross of Christ for salvation and then to greater depths of dependence upon the Lord.

The Scripture bears this out:

  • Romans 5:1-5, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:7, But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong

Is a deeper dependence on and hunger for God reason for rejoicing?  Absolutely!  Then rejoice in your suffering and frustrate the devil.

5.  Suffering makes us into Christ’s likeness
Comfort and goodwill are nice, but there’s something that God desires so much more for our lives, namely that we would be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.  God does this in many ways, but one of the ways He does this is through suffering.

Notice two of several passages that bear this truth:

  • 1 Peter 4:12-13, Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.
  • Romans 8:28-29, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

God loves us enough to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.  Suffering is simply one of the tools in the Potter’s hand.

Is becoming more like Jesus reason for rejoicing?  Absolutely!  Then rejoice in your suffering and frustrate the devil.

6.  Suffering can discipline in God’s children, making us more holy.
For those that are God’s children, suffering can be used to discipline us.  The following texts point this truth out:

  • Jeremiah 19:15, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have stiffened their necks so as not to heed My words.”
  • Hebrews 12:7, It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
  • Revelation 3:19, Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent

Is becoming more holy through God’s loving hand of discipline reason for rejoicing?  Absolutely!  Then rejoice in your suffering and frustrate the devil.

Christian, suffer well by rejoicing in your suffering because of what God is going to do through your suffering, and in doing so, you will definitely ruin the devil’s day!

20 Sep

Knock, Knock…Who’s There?

Perhaps you have recently had a knock at your door, and on the other side are Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They are zealous and excited to share with you what they believe to be good news.  Are they Christian?  Should you listen to them or take their literature?  Let’s take a look at this group and see.

How Did the Jehovah’s Witnesses Begin?
We’ll look at three key aspects of the development of this group:  the founding, the naming, and the translation of the Bible.

First, the movement was started in Pittsburgh, PA by Charles Taze Russell at the age of 18 in 1870.  Russell formed a Bible class whose members eventually made him their pastor. Russell wrote, traveled, preached, and formed the Watchtower Society, the governing body for the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs). He died in 1916.

Second, Russell was succeeded by Joseph F. Rutherford, who coined the term “Jehovah’s Witnesses” for the group. Rutherford died in 1942.

Third, Rutherford was succeeded by Nathan H. Knorr, under whose leadership the Watchtower’s own New World Translation of the Bible was produced. Knorr died in 1977.  Since Knorr’s death, the office of president has been diminished but is still in operation.  The current JWs president is Don Adams.

How Large Is the Jehovah’s Witness Group?
JWs claim to have approximately 7.5 million publishers worldwide.  A publisher is someone who reports some amount of time in the ministry, normally at least an hour per month.  Their actual affiliation is probably larger and is definitely growing.

Are They Christian?
While there is room for disagreement among the minor points of doctrine with the diverse groups of the Christian faith, there is no room for disagreement over the major points of doctrine, and unfortunately many of the JWs’ doctrine are opposed to true Christianity.  Let me point you to a few of their most troubling teachings:

  • Jesus. Originally created by God as the Archangel, Michael. Michael was later given a human body and renamed Jesus. Therefore, Jesus is not God.
  • Holy Spirit. Not regarded as a person, but rather God’s force.
  • Justification by works. According to JWs, a person is made right with God through allegiance to Jehovah and good works
  • Necessity of affiliation with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society for salvation. A requirement for salvation is to be associated with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, which they see as “God’s channel, His organization;” thus, there is no salvation apart from the WBTS.
  • Heaven. Only 144,000 special believers will spend eternity with God in heaven.  The rest of the believers will spend eternity with Jesus on a refurbished earth.
  • Soul Sleep. Believers will not immediately be with Christ after death. They remain in a soul sleep until His second coming.
  • Annihilation. Those who reject Jesus are eventually annihilated in hell, passing out of existence completely; therefore, hell to them is not eternal conscious punishment.

Those doctrines alone place them outside of the Christian faith, and these other marks firmly put them in the category of a cult:

  • They claim a monopoly on truth through the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
  • They exert great control over their adherents
  • They have made additions to the Bible
  • They target Christians
  • They teach works-based salvation
  • They have a tainted view of Christ and His finished work on the cross

Even though the JWs are not Christian and are a cult, do not underestimate them.  They know their doctrine inside and out.  They’ve heard every rebuttal to their faith and are most likely prepared to respond.  They may become adversarial.  Therefore, given their knowledge, preparedness, and potential argumentative nature, extra caution is needed when talking with them.

What is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ authority?
The JWs knocking on your door have two sources of authority.  First is the New World Translation of the Holy Bible (NWT).  This translation, produced by the JWs, is a very poor translation.  Even secular Bible scholars (I know it seems oxymoronic to be a “secular” Bible scholar, but there are plenty of nonbelievers who study the Bible for various reasons) agree that the NWT is a very poor translation of the original languages of the Bible.  There’s a perfectly good reason for this reality.  Translators of the NWT were kept secret for many years in the name of humility, but when they were finally revealed, none of the five “translators” had any biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek training.  This fact combined with the translation they produced leads me to conclude that they did not set out to provide an accurate translation.  Rather, they wanted a translation that would support their doctrine, and that’s exactly what they have:  an intentionally-biased JWs Bible.

While the NWT is a source of authority for the JWs, the person knocking on your door is most likely leaning on another source of authority, an even higher authority in the JWs’ eyes:  the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WBTS).  You see, to fully put the JWs authority into words, we would have to say it this way:  the New World Translation of the Bible as interpreted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.  The WBTS is regarded by the JWs as God’s only channel of accurate biblical interpretation in the world today.  So, it’s not most important to agree with the NWT.  It’s most important to agree with the WBTS.

That’s why when they do a “Bible study” in your home, they’ll most likely only use the literature published by the WBTS and not the Bible.  Again, there’s a perfectly good reason for this reality.  Consider this question:  does anybody become a Jehovah’s Witness simply by reading the Bible?  The answer is a resounding “No!”  That’s why the WBTS literature must be used in spreading their false doctrine.

Why are the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door?
First and foremost, the JWs’ salvation is based upon works.  Therefore, they are knocking on your door to earn their way to heaven.

But secondly, I have to say that the JWs take the Great Commission seriously.  If there’s anything praiseworthy of this false religion, it’s this fact.  Although they get the gospel wrong, they are committed witnesses nonetheless.  They have been trained to go and tell of Jehovah’s Kingdom, and that’s exactly what they are doing.  Therefore, make no mistake about it:  the JWs knocking on your door are seeking to convert you to their faith away from Christianity, plain and simple.

What to expect when Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on your door
Sometimes the JWs will purposely neglect to tell you that they are JWs when you answer your door.  You might even assume they’re Christian visitors because they’ll sound in the beginning very Christian.  So, anytime someone knocks at your door trying to pass out literature, you must determine whom they represent.

Much of what JWs will initially tell you when they come to your door is in agreement with the beliefs of most Christians.  After giving a prepared introduction (usually about the sorry and frightening state of the world), they might say something like the following, “God loves you and wants to do something special with your life. Make sure of where you stand with him because he’s coming back again.”  As they continue talking with you, they’ll try to determine your religious background so they can decide which Watchtower publications to give you.

You see, JWs come to your door with one main objective:  to place literature from the WBTS in your hands so they can come back and discuss it with you in what they call a “Bible study” with the purpose of converting you.

Should you accept Jehovah’s Witnesses’ literature?
Unless you’re a mature Christian who’s well-grounded in the Bible and experienced in witnessing to cultists, you should politely refuse any Watchtower literature.

You have to realize that Watchtower literature is deliberately deceptive and scholastically dishonest. It’s full of Scripture references that are either misquoted or taken out of context. Since their articles often use quotes from obscure foreign books and Bible translations to defend their beliefs, it’s almost always very difficult to verify their sources. And, when Watchtower publications quote recognized Christian biblical scholars, they often use only partial sentences and paragraphs to make the reader believe that the scholar supports their heretical teachings.

Therefore, the average Christian who accepts Watchtower literature may spend much precious time dealing with their lies and deception, only to experience confusion, doubt, and frustration.  Only accept the literature if you are mature in the faith, ready to defend your faith, and plan on working to convert your JWs visitors.  If you are not, politely decline the literature.

Basic steps to witnessing to a Jehovah’s Witness
If you are a mature Christian who is established in the faith, ready to defend your faith, and plan on working to convert your JWs visitors, then the following tips will get you started on your way to sharing the gospel with JWs:

  1. Compassionately treat them like a human being who is hungry and searching for God.
  2. Refrain from having a hateful, arrogant, or know-it-all attitude.
  3. Have a clear understanding of your faith and the Bible.
  4. Acquire a basic knowledge of Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs and practices.
  5. Make a definite plan for the witnessing encounter and take the initiative.
  6. Initially, talk about personal concerns to establish a friendly, courteous, and sincere relationship with the Jehovah’s Witness and gradually move on to a discussion of theological issues.
  7. Make them explain to you in their own words how you can enter into Jehovah’s Kingdom.
  8. Be prepared to cite and explain specific biblical passages supporting Christian doctrines.
  9. Define your terms clearly and ask the Jehovah’s Witness to do so also.
  10. If you have more than one JWs visitor, concentrate your witnessing efforts on the one who is less mature in the faith.
  11. Focus the discussion on the primary issue of the person and work of Christ, stressing the need for grace through a faith relationship with Him.
  12. Be prepared to share your personal testimony of God’s grace and your faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
  13. Thoroughly and passionately present the true gospel to your JWs visitors and beg them to trust in Christ.
  14. Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to open the JWs eyes and minds and to lead you.

Also, below I’ve provided a very informative video from a webinar by Jerry Robinson, who converted from being a Jehovah’s Witness to Christianity.  The first half of the video lays out the history and beliefs of JWs, and the second half of the video provides advanced witnessing approaches to JWs.

Conclusion
I pray that you will safeguard your heart and mind against the schemes of Satan as he tries to use the Jehovah’s Witnesses to draw people away from Jesus.  I also pray that you who are mature in the faith will work to pull the lost souls out of the Kingdom Hall and into the church by introducing them to gospel truth.

*The information I’ve provided you here is a compilation of other people’s writings as well as my own.  Therefore, I do not claim this entire article to be completely my original work.  Much of what I presented to you has been pulled from http://www.4truth.net/jehovahs-witnesses, http://www.equip.org/articles/a-beginner-s-guide-to-witnessing-to-the-jehovah-s-witnesses, and Jerry Robinson’s webinar embedded above.

05 Sep

God Reminded Me In Honduras That…

In the middle of August, I was blessed to teach systematic theology to twenty-three Honduran pastors outside of Tegucigalpa, Honduras at a Bible institute ran by Baptist Medical & Dental Mission International (BMDMI).

On the heels of returning from that week-long trip, God has reminded me afresh of five major truths, which I share with you to stir you by way of reminder (2 Pet 1:13).

1.  God’s desire is for the nations. Thankfully, one of Southern Baptists’ greatest strengths is that we get this truth so well. We fully affirm “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,” (Mt 28:20) and “Be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth,” (Acts 1:8). However, God doesn’t want to us to simply affirm these Scriptures. He wants us to personally experience the fulfilling of these Scriptures because it leads to great joy in God.

I can’t describe to you the joy it is when you travel to another nation and see people living for Jesus. To personally witness brothers and sister in Christ, who don’t look like you or speak the same language as you but who worship the same God you do, causes unspeakable joy to well up in your heart. You can’t help but worship God more and marvel at His abounding grace when you see it poured out on all the nations of the earth. My heart couldn’t help but join in praise with the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders of Revelation 5 who sang a new song to Jesus, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation,” (Rev 5:9).

Remember that God’s desire is for the nations, and so should ours be as well.

2.  God’s Word is really all we need. I was so impressed with these pastors. Although they had very little formal education, they were so smart. They loved the Scripture and had poured themselves into it. It was all they had. In fact, I probably get more books through attending a single conference than these men will acquire in their entire lives.  So again, the Bible is all they had, but it’s enough. The Word had done what God had promised it would do:  “The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple,” (Ps 19:7).

When they talked about doctrine, rather than quoting theologians, they quoted Scripture.  When they spoke, rather than supporting their position with opinion or tradition, they used Scripture.  When they discussed issues in their church, rather than looking to the latest church growth fad or some sanctified sociological how-to book, they looked to the Scripture, and in all cases, the Scripture was gloriously enough.

How we need a renewed commitment to not just the authority of Scripture but to the sufficiency of Scripture as well.  God’s Word is really all we need.

3.  People are basically the same worldwide. During the discourse of the week, we had many pastoral conversations about issues going on in their churches. As they explained what was happening, I quickly began to see that these pastors face in their churches and communities the very same basic things I face back here in Alexandria. The reason is that the fallenness of humanity is universal and leads to the same universal struggles worldwide.

Some might be dismayed at the pervasiveness of this situation, but it actually gives me hope because we also have the universal answer, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I looked over the city of Tegucigalpa with 1.5 million people with the vast majority lost and a terribly high crime and poverty rate, I felt overwhelmed. But, God graciously reminded me that city, nation, and world transformation begins with individual transformation in the hearts of mankind. Transformation that’s any count must come through the gospel.  People are basically the same and therefore, need the same gospel remedy.  Give them the gospel above all things!

4.  What we’ve been given by God is to be passed on to others. We as Americans and Christians have been extremely blessed by God. Just travel to any other nation of the world, and you’ll see. God has poured His common grace out on us as Americans and His special grace out on us as Christians in abundance. However, God’s blessings to us are not to end with us. They’re to be passed on to others. We’re to be channels of blessing! Finances, time, abilities, knowledge, and the gospel itself were all given to us so that we could pass it on. To be stingy with these things is to be disobedient to God. So consider how you can bless others by passing on what God has blessed you with.

5.  God is in control. Oh what a glorious thought that we have to be reminded of again and again! I faced quite a bit of spiritual warfare trying to discourage me from even going to Honduras, but God was faithful in reminding me from Scripture why I should take risks for Jesus. My theme going into and during the week was very simple:  “Father, I trust you.” I must have prayed that a thousand times—going through airport security, during planes taking off and landing, weaving through the insane traffic of Tegucigalpa, looking at the speedometer of our truck registering around 80mph as our translator drove down semi-paved mountain highways.

God is in control, which is a cause for great praise as Psalm 66:8-9 instructs us, “Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad, Who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip.” It’s also cause for great trust. As biblical counselor Paul David Tripp wrote recently:

  • “You don’t have to work yourself into control over your world. You just need to rest in the care of the One who is in control.”
  • “No matter how chaotic your world seems, God rules over every situation and location for his glory and your good.”
  • “Remember, what is out of your control, exists under the careful control of the One who is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, all-good,” (http://twitter.com/#!/paultripp, Aug 17).

I was actually able to read those words in Honduras in the middle of the week and was greatly encouraged by them.  Fear and anxiety be gone. God is sovereignly in control!  Trust Him!

Thanks be to God for bringing these truths to the forefront of my mind again, and may they stir you up by way of reminder as well!