Summary: Focusing on being thankful - looking at the good instead of the bad - Paul

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Living a focused life – Part 4

Today we will conclude the sermon series “living a focused life”. Over the past three weeks, we have talked about…

· Keeping our focus, even when we fall. (Peter)

· Staying focused when temptations come our way. (Joseph and David)

· Focusing our time on what’s most important. (Mary and Martha)

This morning we will be talking about how to focus on what’s good, instead of focusing on what is bad. How to spend our time dwelling on what is positive instead of what is negative. How to be thankful for what’s good, instead of grumbling about what’s not.

Illustration: Glass of water…how many see it as half full? How many as half empty?

Have you ever noticed how depressing it is to be around someone who is constantly complaining? On the other hand, it can also be really annoying to be around someone who is overly appreciative of everything, especially when you are not very thankful at the moment. Kind of like this…

Video clip from “What about Bob” where Bob is eating with “the fam”

I Thes. 5:16-18 – “Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

God does not intend for us to be thankful “for” everything that happens, but He does expect us to be thankful “in” everything that happens.

What’s the difference?

· When you’re involved in a car accident – You don’t thank God for the accident, you thank Him that you weren’t hurt more severely.

· When you break your leg – You don’t thank God for the broken leg, you thank Him for vikadin.

· When you have dirty dishes – You don’t thank God for the opportunity to wash dishes, you thank Him that you have food to eat.

How do you know if you’re thankful?

· Which do you tend to talk about more…your blessings, or your disappointments?

· Are you a complainer, always grumbling, always finding fault with your circumstances?

· Are you content with what you have, or always dissatisfied and wanting more?

· Do you find it easier to count your blessings, or is it easier to count your afflictions?

· Do you express thanks to others when they help you, or do you just see it as their duty?

If we are completely honest with ourselves, it’s pretty hard at times for us to be thankful “for everything”.

Joke: A 4 year old boy was asked to return thanks before Thanksgiving dinner. The family members bowed their heads in expectation. He began his prayer, thanking the Lord for all his friends, naming them one by one. Then he thanked the Lord for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his Aunts and Uncles.

Then he began to thank the Lord for the food. He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, even the cool whip. Then he paused, and everyone waited….and waited.

After a long silence, the young fellow looked up at his mother and asked, “If I thank the Lord for the broccoli, won’t He know that I’m lying?”

Why is it that thankfulness comes easier for some of us, even in tough times and others of us find it hard to be thankful even in good times?

Have you ever thought about the fact that what’s inside of us, greatly affects the way that we see and react to things on the outside?

Reading “What’s it like in your town?” from the book “Stories for the heart”

Let’s take a look at the life of Paul, who wrote the verse in I Thessalonians that we looked at earlier. “Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Throughout the Bible, we find that Paul was put in jail, beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked. He faced danger, was weary, in pain, spent sleepless nights, was hungry, thirsty, and shivered with cold without enough clothing to keep warm.

Yet, we don’t find Paul complaining or feeling sorry for himself.

Instead he writes…

Phil. 4:11-13 – “…I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.”

If Paul were here today, he would probably say:

· Whether eating diner at a nice restaurant, or cleaning the toilet, give thanks.

· Whether you get a promotion and a raise, or a pink slip and shown the door, give thanks.

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