Thank God and Take Courage

This was the last leg of Paul’s journey to Rome.  What happened seems small but it was important.  He thanked God and took courage.  What a thanksgiving thought for us!

Acts 28: 11 And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux.12 And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.13 And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli:14 Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome.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.

If there was ever a time Paul needed courage it was now.  At every turn his courage sank, but the Lord provided something or someone to help.

As a prisoner, Paul appealed to Caesar and his trip to Rome from Jerusalem was quite a voyage.  He turned it into a missionary journey.  Regardless of how things look in our lives, we can turn any journey we find ourselves part of into a spiritual experience.  Use the resources God provided.  Traveling cross country, you need gas stations to fill up.  In our journey of life there will always be a filling station along the way so we can re-fuel.  The closer we try to get to the Lord, the more trouble the devil will send our way. These filling stations are God’s way of giving us what we need.

Luke was traveling with Paul and writing this down.  Something ordinary was thought noteworthy to be written down.  When Paul saw the brethren he thanked God and took courage.  Our attitude will make or break us.  If we pass off God’s blessings it will affect our life and how we handle it.  Our victory or defeat depends on how grateful or ungrateful we are.  In Romans 1, Paul talks about the sins of Adam’s race stating that the people were not thankful.

Paul was in the same boat as we were at one time.  He was lost.  The Lord appeared to him.  He was blinded in eyesight, but his heart was opened.  Later, instead of persecuting the church, he became a tremendous missionary who was a leader of the early church and one of the apostles giving us much of the New Testament scripture.

Everything imaginable happened to Paul in his walk with the Lord.  At this time a tempest of the sea came.  The people were afraid.  The Spirit of the Lord appeared to him and told him to have everyone stay with the ship and no one would be lost. Haven’t we all felt like we were going around in circles?  Then we’d hear the still, small voice of God that reminded us to stay afloat.  As long as we stay with the ship of Zion, we’ll survive.  If the boat comes apart as Paul’s did, God will do the same for us as he did Paul.  He provided planks for them to hold onto.  The Lord kept Paul’s ship together until they were close to an island.  If our boat comes apart, God will do the same for us as he did Paul.  He provided planks for them to hold onto.  The Lord kept Paul’s ship together until they were close to an island.  When they arrived, they started a fire.  Paul’s wood had a snake in it.  All of them thought Paul would die from the bite, but he didn’t.  He just shook the snake off into the fire.  It’s time to stop paying attention to the serpents.  Stay true to the Lord.  He’ll provide a plank of safety.  I don’t know how they found dry wood in the midst of such a storm.  I know it’s a cold, damp time, but if we stay true to God, he’ll keep the fire going.

They got onto a ship and then stayed at Syracuse three days.  A south wind came; they made the trip to Puteoli.  They made it to Appii forum and the taverns.  They were not far from the scary head of the Roman Empire.  Nero had no mercy on anyone.  All through the journey God’s hand was on them.  He provided for them and he will provide for us.  They found a compass.  We have a compass that gives us our directions.  It’s true and never lies.  When we don’t know which way to go, we have the Word of God to guide us.  It’s important to read now for the help we need.  When the Bible is not in our reach what is in our heart will come to mind.  God doesn’t fail to give us the right counsel from his word.  Proverbs tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding.  If we acknowledge God, he will direct our paths. The Bible is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  Some places in the world have only a few pages of the scriptures and they build churches on it.  If a few pages can do that, imagine what 66 books can do for us.

Paul needed a south wind and God provided it.  It doesn’t look like things are in our favor.  Washington doesn’t blow my sails.  Hollywood doesn’t inflate my sails.  The Lord is the provider.  He turned the winds in Paul’s favor.  Paul had reason to be thankful.  Because the south wind got him to Rome, he was able to share the gospel with Nero.  There will always be an enemy of the gospel around.  There will be someone against us. For all that is against us, there will always be our Christian brothers and sisters to help us; they encourage us.  Of all places for there not to be brothers and sisters around, Rome would be on the top.  Soldiers were everywhere.  Christians weren’t popular.  This is exactly the place they showed up to support Paul.  Rome had one of the greatest churches in early history.  We can thank God for the church at Rome who took courage from each other.

Paul thought about the compass, the planks of safety, the snake he shook off his hand, and the needed south wind to get them on their journey.  When he saw his brothers and sisters come to give support, he stopped and thanked God.  He took courage.  God always provides.  When we face our Nero’s and the Rome’s in our lives, we need to stop a minute.  We have a compass in the Word.  The winds are in our favor.

A grateful spirit produces a heart of courage and a life of steadfastness to the end.  It’s easy to see bad and overlook good.  Stop.  Smell the roses around you.  God has provided everything for the here and now.  He has never failed and he never will.

A grateful spirit will produce courage to be steadfast and go all the way for God.  If there is a good prayer for this thanksgiving holiday, it would be “Lord, help me like you did Paul to see the resources around me.  Help me take the moments and be grateful for them and take courage.”

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