And from there, when the brothers heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw…
I. THANKFULNESS FOR THE PAST. The Bible is full of exhortations to thankfulness, which leads us to regard it —
1. As a duty —
(1) To ourselves. Gloom and despondency are injurious, while a merry heart doeth good like medicine. Sunshine is good for health as medical men know, for they are careful to put all the patients they can in the sunny rooms of hospitals. Why, then, put children in a shady back room, when the best room is in the front, with the blinds down for fear of spoiling the carpet. Better pay for a new carpet than pay for doctors' bills. Value the sunshine, for no one grows strong in Doubting Castle. It is in Beulah, where the sun always shines, that men grow strong; and the more sunshine the better, for sunshine here prepares us for God's sunshine hereafter.
(2) To others. No man liveth to himself. Every one must cheer or depress, help or hinder those around him.
(3) To the Church. It is a blunder that the good God has given as a religion of gloom. Let the services of the Church be cheerful. Take your doubts and fears to the Mercy Seat in private, and don't air them at fellowship meetings.
(4) To the world. Religion was created to make the world happy. To be gloomy is to say that religion is a failure.
(5) To God. Thankfulness glorifies Him, and that is the great business of life.
2. As a reasonable service. Reasons for thankfulness abound on every side.
(1) Look at the evils escaped. There is a tendency to look at those who have more than ourselves; the bright thing is to look at those who have less. It is common to look at a splendid equipage and envy the possessor; why not look instead at the poor invalid?
(2) Look at the blessings received.
(a) Temporal — life, health, home, etc.
(b) Spiritual — sonship with God, hope of heaven, etc.
II. COURAGE FOR THE FUTURE. When Paul thanked God and took courage, imprisonment awaited him. Every one will have trouble, but —
1. We should be on our guard not to make troubles. Trouble making is the oldest manufacture in the world, and the largest trade going. The Jews had home-made sorrow after sorrow. Obadiah made a trouble when Elijah sent him to Ahab. Some people carry on a wholesale business, making troubles for others as well as for themselves. There are the newspapers which draw pictures of invasion and what-not which fills people with misery. There are people whose children cannot be a few minutes late from school but they imagine they are run over; whose husbands cannot be detained by business but they think of railway accidents.
2. Then there are some who go to meet troubles. They can never enjoy the present for fear of the future. They cannot go for a holiday in the sunshine without remembering that the Americans had telegraphed a storm, and so they darken the sky with troubles before they come. The storm might never come at all. Men commit suicide or die of broken hearts in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred because they bring sorrow out of the future into the present. Sufficient for the day is the strength. The builder of a railway truck marks it to carry seven tons. He knows what it can bear, and God knows what we can bear. If we bring tomorrow's trouble into today we shall have too heavy a load to carry.
3. Real trials will come, and it is well to look at the encouragements.
(1) Nothing can happen without the permission of Him who loves us best.
(2) All things will work together for our good. There will be no grumbling at the last day when we shall see the end from the beginning, and sing, "My Jesus has done all things well."(3) Recall the enterprise of those before us, a cloud of witnesses.
(4) Remember the promises. When the sun goes down, the stars come out. The stars are never visible till the sun has gone down. Out of the night of sorrow the promises shine.
(5) Our best Friend will never leave us.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.