Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving at Three Taverns

Acts 28:1-15 (text v. 15)
Acts 28:15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

Paul, as prisoner, is on his journey toward Rome. It was a rough trip:
He was shipwrecked (27:41-44)
He was cold and wet (28:2)
He was bitten by a poisonous snake (28:3)
He was accused of being a murderer and then a god (28:4-6)
He had no Christian fellowship for at least three months (28:11-14)
On Paul's approach to Rome, a "welcoming committee" of Roman Christians came out to greet and encourage him. They met up with Paul at Appii forum (about 43 miles south of Rome). An¬other group of brethren from Rome met Paul at a place called "Three Taverns" (about ten miles closer to Rome). Some Christians will travel longer distances than others to be a blessing to another saint
When Paul saw these brethren, he THANKED GOD. There’s nothing like the sight of a Christian friend when you are facing a trial.
There have been times when I’ve come to church a bit discouraged. But when I see a certain believer come through those back doors, gives me cause to THANK GOD! And when I thank God, I’m no longer discouraged!

I. The VISION of thanksgiving (“…whom when Paul SAW…”). Paul saw something to be thankful for.

A. We need to open our eyes to the blessings of the Lord.
1. Sight of these brethren reminded Paul of God Paul recognized God in his circumstances (2 Tim. 3:11).
2. Paul was thankful for brethren who cared about him.
3. Paul was thankful he was accepted by the Roman saints. Even in chains, the brethren were not ashamed to be asso¬ciated with Paul (cf. v. 20).
4. Paul was thankful he wouldn't have to enter Rome by himself. He was thankful for someone to stand by him.
B. Two responses to trials
1. You can look at what you've lost and be hateful, or
2. You can look at what you have left and be grateful. “People who are not grateful for what they have, would not enjoy the things they wish they had.”
3. Joseph was a great example of choos¬ing to be grateful instead of hateful in the face of betrayal. See: Gen 50:15-21; Job 1:20-21; 2 Cor 4:8-9.

"Count your blessings!" However, we must to recognize them first!
A man who owned a small estate wished to sell it. Sending for a real estate agent, he asked him to write an advertisement describ¬ing the house and land. When the ad was ready, the agent took it to the owner and read it to him. "Read that again," said the owner. The agent read the description of the estate once more. "I don't think I will sell after all," said the owner. "I have been looking for an estate like that all my life, and I did not know that I owned it!"
Count your blessings. Start by asking God to open your eyes to all the little things your enjoy almost everyday. Write them down. That will change your entire perspective and enable you to praise God for what you have.

II. The VOICE of thanksgiving (“…he THANKED God…”).

Every blessing that we receive is from the Lord's hand (James 1:17). Whether it be some brethren who encourage us or God's provision and protection for us,

A. VERBALIZE your gratitude. Put your thanksgiving into words (Ps. 26:7; Jonah 2:9).
B. Not enough to thank God for someone. We should thank them personally and tell them why we’re thankful.

III. The VICTORY of thanksgiving (“…and took courage”).

A. Choice of thanksgiving.
1. Instead of complaining about his stresses, pressures and persecutions, Paul gives thanks.
2. Instead of bemoaning his imprisonment, he thanks God for friends who come to support him.
B. Courage of thanksgiving. Being thankful, renewed Paul's strength and helped him to be courageous as he faced his imprison¬ment in Rome.
1. Gratitude produces fortitude! There is something invigorating about thanks¬giving that instills within us a confidence to face the trials of life.
2. Depression and thanksgiving cannot co-exist.
3. Unthankful people are discouraged people. As a person looks at God’s blessings with thanksgiving, it renews strength and instills courage.