• Download

“The Church Thrives by Focusing on God”

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

I don’t know about you, church, but I don’t want to be complacent. I don’t want to merely survive. I want to thrive.

Back in April of 2021, I preached a sermon that challenged our church to thrive in 2021 and beyond. We were coming off our first year of COVID and folks seemed to be a little defeated. I prayed that God would light a fire in the church and I believe He has. Our numbers are up, our spirits are high, people are being saved, being baptized, and joining our church. We’re praying for our city, serving others, growing in our faith, and looking ahead to what God will do.

However, now is not the time to be complacent. Now is not the time to let our foot off the gas. Now is the time to continue to look to God as we seek to thrive as a church!

So, we are taking a small break from Romans to consider a three-week series called, “How Does the Church Thrive?”

In part one, we’re going to remind ourselves of this truth: “The church thrives by focusing on God.”

If you’ve ever gone out into the woods to look for animals, for whatever purposes (hunting, photography, or just for fun), you’ve probably learned that you need to focus. Oftentimes, you’re excited to be out there and you are extremely focused. However, after time you can get hungry, tired, cold, and bored. You might think, wow, I’d really like to have a cheeseburger right now. Or, wow I bet that bed would be nice right about now, Or, perhaps you just fall asleep. You see, it’s easy to lose focus.

In the same way, it’s easy for us to lose our focus on God. We must remember this: if we lose our focus, we cannot thrive.

So, let us look at three ways that we can thrive by focusing on God. Before we do, let’s go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to bless us.


So, here we go. Let’s uncover three ways we can thrive by focusing on God.

First, . . .

I. The church must believe in God.

Belief in God is the foundation of what it means to be a follower of God. That may be obvious to some. You may be thinking, “Well of course we must believe in God.”

However, we must not take this reality for granted.

As a church, we must begin our focus on God by believing that there is a God, He is sovereign over all things, and He is the reason that the church even exists.

We must be intentional to focus upon our belief in God.

Consider what the Jewish people would do to remember this reality.

They had a saying that they would repeat often that was based on

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

. They called this, The Shema.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

says, “4 Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.”

The Jewish people would take many different steps to constantly remind themselves that their faith was based on their belief in God.

Church, we must remember and believe in who God is and all that His Godness brings.

Our foundation as a church is built on our belief in God.

Listen to how the prophet Isaiah reminded us that God is who we need.

Isaiah said in

Isaiah 12:2

, “Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust him and not be afraid, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.”

The church needs a lot of things but our utmost desire must be God. He is the strength and song of the church. He is the salvation of the church.

The facilities we desire are not what we need most; God is who we need most. The music or teaching style is not what we need most; God is who we need most. Fellowship meals, great programs, or powerful ministries are not what we need most; God is who we need most.

Also, when we put our focus on God we will receive the blessings that we truly need to thrive.

Listen to what the prophet Jeremiah said in


, “The person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence indeed is the Lord, is blessed.”

Church, let us put our trust in the Lord. Let us put our confidence in the Lord and He will bless us with all that we need to thrive.

Listen also to how the apostle Paul commended the Church of Thessalonica. He said in

1 Thessalonians 2:13

, “This is why we constantly thank God, because when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you welcomed it not as a human message, but as it truly is, the word of God, which also works effectively in you who believe.”

I love what Paul says here. Pay attention again to the end of the passage. Paul says, “ . . . the word of God, which also works effectively in you who believe.”

As a church, when we believe in God and His Word, He will work effectively in us. When we believe in God and His Word, we can thrive!

Church, we don’t need to believe in how great we are, we don’t need to believe in our wonderful legacy, we don’t need to believe in our tradition, we don’t need to believe in our great ideas, we don’t need to believe in our moral beliefs, we need to believe first and foremost in God and in His greatness.

If we are to thrive as a church, we must focus on God, and the first step is to believe in God.

Second, . . .

II. The church must belong to God.

When the apostle Paul spoke to a young pastor named Timothy, he said this regarding the church:

1 Timothy 3:15

, Paul says, “But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

Whose household is it? God’s! The church of the living God belongs to God. It is His household.

Church, if we are to thrive, we must belong to God!

Paul continues this same thought in

1 Corinthians 3:9

. He says, “For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”

The church is not only God’s household, we are God’s field and God’s building.

Belonging to God is not only what’s right, it’s what’s good for us.

We belong to Him and we thrive because we are under His care and He dwells within us.

You may remember from our study in Ephesians that Paul talks about people from different backgrounds and cultures coming together. The Jews and the Gentiles came together as one.

Paul says in

Ephesians 2:19-20

“19 So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”

The church is the household of God, composed of people who belong to God because they have been brought together as brothers and sisters who have been adopted by God and united under the blood of Jesus.

Because of the work of God, we are the people of God and the church of God, who belongs to God.

Speaking specifically of God the Son, Paul says of Jesus in

Colossians 1:18

“He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.”

The church is God’s household, the church is God’s field, the church is God’s building, and Jesus is the head of the church.

God is in charge and we belong to Him.

Church, if we are to thrive, we must realize that we belong to God.

Finally, . . .

III. The church must bow to God.

So often churches become consumed with making themselves look great, accomplishing their preferences, and wielding their power, that they forget that the one to whom we owe all of our allegiance and all of our devotion is God.

The one to whom we must bow is God.

Jesus said in

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Church, if we bow ourselves and submit ourselves to God, everything else will work out.

It won’t matter what our buildings look like, what our budget looks like, what our staff looks like, what our programs and ministries look like, what our attendance looks like, or what our calendar looks like. If we submit our allegiance to God and bow before His throne, we will thrive!

So, let us seek His kingdom and His righteousness.

What will happen if we submit to Him? All that we need will be provided by Him.

Listen to what Paul says in

Ephesians 3:20-21

“20 Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Church, God is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think.

Think about that for a second.

Why are so concerned with trying to get our way or trying to figure things out on our own?

God’s got this. It’s all good. So, let us bow before Him.

Let glory be shown to Him in this church through all generations.

Also, as we bow to God, we do so because He deserves all the glory in all that we do.

The apostle Paul reminds us of this truth in

1 Corinthians 10:31

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”

I want us to continue to grow, I want us to continue to add new members, I want us to continue to baptize, I want us to continue to see lives changed, I want us to continue to hear from people who have a hunger and thirst for God’s Word; but more than any of that, I want us to bring glory to God in all those things and in everything we do at First Baptist Church Bartow.

Church, if we are to thrive, we must bow before God in worship and devotion.

Here’s our bottom line for today; it’s the same as the title of the sermon:

Bottom Line: The church thrives by focusing on God.

In order for us to be a church who becomes all who God called us to be, in order for us to thrive, we must focus on God.

We must believe in God, we must belong to God, and we must bow to God.

So, will you do your part?

This church is a body composed of individual people. In order for us to thrive, you must do your part to focus on God. You must believe in God, you must belong to God, and you must bow before God; and so must I.

On that note, commit to challenge yourself this week in the following ways:

Weekly Challenge #1 – Pray for our church to really believe in God.

We need to constantly stay focused to keep our focus on God and our belief in God.

So, pray for yourself, pray for me, and pray for our church to really believe in God.

Weekly Challenge #2 – Reflect on how you belong to God.

Take some time this week to think about what God has done for you so that you might be adopted as His child.

Think about what Jesus did on the cross to purchase the church as His own.

Reflect upon how you belong to God and thank Him for what He’s done.

Weekly Challenge #3 – Consider how you can bow to God.

Think of a way this week that you can live out your devotion to God.

How can you bow before God this week?

Perhaps you need to commit to serving the Lord or giving to His work.

Perhaps you need to commit to reading your Bible or spending time in prayer.

Perhaps you need to commit to telling others about the work God has done in your life.

Consider how you can bow to God this week.

Some of you may not focus on God at all. He may not even be a part of your life.

Well, the reality is God may have His focus set upon you at this very moment. God might be calling you at this second to give your life to Him.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.