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Summary: What a powerful church; what was their secret? They had learned to make focusing on God in praise and thanksgiving a life habit -- they got the "gratitude attitude." *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

FOCUSING ON GOD (3rd in a Purpose Driven Series - "The Way the Church Ought to Be"

NOTE: I am indebted to some sermoncentral.com users for some of the illustrations in this sermon.

Ac 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

42 ¶ And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

(NKJV)

WOW. . .what a group of people!

What made this church so powerful? Let’s look a little closer:

This church was powerful because they had discovered the secret to being a church that functions the way God intended. I want to share that secret with you. This church discovered that it could help it’s members do 5 things:

1. Fortify their faith. (Discipleship)

"They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine..."

2. Find their talents. (Ministry)

"[They] sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need."

3. Focus on God. (Worship)

"Continuing daily with one accord in the temple. . . praising God. . ."

4. Face life’s problems. (Fellowship)

"And they continued steadfastly in fellowship. . . Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common. . . and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart."

5. Fulfill their mission. (Evangelism)

"...having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

FOCUS ON GOD

"Continuing daily with one accord in the temple. . . praising God. . ."

Isn’t this what Thanksgiving is really all about? Spending time focusing on God as the source of all the blessings and good things in our lives?

The problem is, that not very many people live with that kind of focus!

Just having many blessings doesn’t mean that you’re automatically thankful. In fact, sometimes it seems like it’s the opposite.

A king was said to have suffered a terribly painful sickness. His advisor told him that his only cure was to located a TRULY THANKFUL man, asking for his shirt to wear it night and day. Immediately messengers were sent through the kingdom to look for such a man and bring back his shirt. Months passed when finally all messengers returned empty-handed. The king was exasperated, “Do you mean to tell me there was not even a single man in all my realm who is THANKFUL?” A messenger replied, “we found only one such man in all thy realm.” Then why did you not bring his shirt for me? “Master, the man had no shirt.”

James 1:17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father..."

this is a perspective that is hard to keep. . . God is the source of EVERYTHING good in my life? But when we keep that focus, it changes our lives!

"No, God sent the bread, he just let the Devil deliver it!"

Really, we should do more than Thanksgiving – we should get on to Thanks-living - not just a day of Gratitude - but a GRATITUDE ATTITUDE!!!

Thanksgiving is saying "thanks, God" on Turkey Day.

Thanks-LIVING is the gratitude attitude all year round.

Thanksgiving is giving a few words to God once a year.

ThanksLIVING is giving yourself to God daily because of His blessings!

This church was powerful, because they had gotten past just an occasional time of looking up toward heaven and saying “Thanks”. . . it had gotten right down into the fabric of their lives!

Have you seen those football players in the end zone tap their heart and look up toward the sky, as if to say, “Thanks, God.” But the question is not, do they thank God for an occasional touchdown. . . the question is, are they making thanks a real habit? Are they not just talking thankful, but living thankful?

When we make giving thanks a year-round habit:

1. It saves us from bitterness.

The first danger is that we’ll focus on the bad.

Thanksgiving as a habit (Thanks-living) saves us from that by reminding us that even in the bad times, we’ve got lots to be thankful for.

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