Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson study options which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson option includes opening activities, Scripture passages, and discussion questions.
Part of today’s lesson is about financial giving. That sometimes requires some math, so let’s check your math skills today. I’ll give you seven math questions, and number five asks for an explanation.
Depending on the size of your group, people can compete individually or in teams. The answers are given after each math problem. We recommend the leader go through these first.
You can download this in PowerPoint, Keynote, or PDF formats here.
Divide your group into two teams (or have two people as representatives for the two teams). One team is given money to put into five unmarked containers. You can use real money or play money such as Monopoly money, or you can get play money at Party City or online at https://www.partycity.com/big-daddy-money-175750.html?extcmp=pla%7CGoogle&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIgqz_9YXF5AIVlKDsCh0sPQ7HEAQYAyABEgLL8vD_BwE. If you use real money, you can use coins or bills—your choice! This could be the offering for the week or money allocated for Youth Sabbath School.
The second team chooses which container receives which of the five labels. We provide five labels for you to print by clicking on the button below. You can have team two put these labels on the containers before or after team one allocates the funds for each purpose. We recommend that the donations to the five containers be given without knowing which container is for which cause. Let this be a springboard for discussion following the activity.
(Please place download buttons here for “Give & Take” in PowerPoint, Keynote, and PDF formats.)
As we consider “Famines and Feasts” today, some people feel like they have a lifestyle of feasting, while others think they are living in a perpetual famine. Both might be more extreme than reality. But God set up times of feasting and also times of fasting. And he promised feasts when people followed their covenant relationship with God, and he also promised famine when they broke their covenant with God. We’ll look at both feasts and famines today, as well as giving back to God what he has given to us. Would that result in a famine or a feast?
This is a short video and an idea to help you create your own video on this week’s topic, plus a few follow-up questions to spark discussion afterwards.
Create a video that corresponds with this week’s lesson. Ask someone in advance to create follow-up questions based on this video.
Go to YouTube for a 9:22 Q & A with Melinda Gates on the Gates Foundation’s approach to philanthropy.
If you have more time, we recommend Bill and Melinda Gates’ 25-minute TED Talk titled “Why Giving Away Our Wealth Is the Most Satisfying Thing We’ve Ever Done.”
These are more approaches to the same topic featured in the Teacher’s Guide, but just a different way of looking at it. Expect activities to illustrate the topic followed by some questions.
BASED ON GENESIS 14:19-20; NUMBERS 18:21; LEVITICUS 27:30-33; MATTHEW 6:19-20
Coming to terms with the concept of tithing can take some time. The thought of returning 10% of our income, especially during hard times, can be very scary. But, why do many people choose to return a portion of their income to God?
The tithing system began when Abraham rescued his nephew Lot who had been taken captive by the armies of Mesopotamia. On his way back from the war, Melchizedek, a priest, met Abraham (previously known as Abram) in the Valley of Shaveh. The priest brought out bread and wine to feed Abraham, his men of war, and all the people Abraham rescued. Melchizedek blessed Abraham, saying, “19 Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” After that blessing, Abraham gave Melchizedek “a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:19-20, NIV).
The Bible further explains that the tithes was to be given “to the children of Levi…as their heritage…as payment for the work they do, the work of the Tent of meetings” (Numbers 18:21). This tithe was and is still used to support the public worship of God. The Bible also tells us that if we trust God enough to return a tithe He will bless us abundantly. This promise can be found in Malachi 3:10 (NKJV), which states: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’”
Tithe was explained to the Israelites in Leviticus 27:30-33 (NIV): 30 “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. 31 Whoever would redeem any of their tithe must add a fifth of the value to it. 32 Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord. 33 No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.’”
Today we return tithe using the tithe envelopes provided at church or online through the church website or Adventist Giving app. (If your church isn’t set up to receive online donations, ask your church treasurer about getting started.)
Our tithe is then sent to the General Conference where it is dispersed for paying pastors and other church employees, funding evangelism, and supporting the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In addition to tithe, many Seventh-day Adventists give offerings as well. By giving offerings designated for the local church budget, we can support the maintenance and utility costs for our local church, along with other local ministries.
To learn more about stewardship and how tithe and offering funds are used, visit the website for the Stewardship Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America: https://www.nadstewardship.org/.
Tithing is not the only way we can give to God. We can also cultivate our talents for compassionate service. Let’s take a few minutes to watch a video featuring Justin Khoe, also known as That Christian Vlogger, to see how he shares his talents for God’s glory.
Take a moment to reflect on your talents. Usually things we are good at are our God-given talents. Maybe you good at organizing, cooking, singing, reading, music, or making things. Let’s take a few minutes to come up with ways you can use at least one of your talents for God this week. Here are some ideas:
Our final verse for today’s lesson comes from Matthew 6:19-20 (CEV):
19 “Don’t store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. 20 Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. 21 Your heart will always be where your treasure is.”
Notice the last part of this passage—your heart will always be where your treasure is. Most people think it’s the opposite. They think their treasure will be where their heart is. But according to verse 21, where we put our treasure dictates where our heart ends up. Let me paraphrase: “You can place your heart with God simply by putting your treasure with God.” This can also be stated in the negative: “If you don’t put your treasure with God, your heart won’t be with God.”
Stewardship involves how we use our resources including time, talents, and money. These resources are gifts from God that we can use to help spread the gospel. Remember that no matter what resources God has given you, there are ways to use them for his glory.
Think of someone you admire—maybe a family member, friend, actor, author, politician, or otherwise famous person. Find a way to join this person on a meaningful project. Follow these steps:
BASED ON LEVITICUS 23
While God’s people were in the wilderness they ate manna God provided each day. Yet they began experiencing famines and feasts on a yearly basis in preparation for life in the Promised Land where most would be farmers—certainly not their desert experience!
God helped shape their new identity and culture with annual feasts and festivals focused on the past, present, and future. These are explained in Leviticus 23. Just like the weekly Sabbath is a time to stop and reflect on God, the yearly festivals were also times to stop and do things differently. It’s not surprising that God instituted seven yearly festivals. The number seven seems to be God’s favorite number. It symbolizes perfection, which is what God does.
Additional festivals have been added since the Israelites’ time in the wilderness, but we’ll focus on these seven as outlined in Leviticus 23. Because several of these happened right after each other, they are sometimes viewed as just three major gatherings (see Deuteronomy 16:16). But Leviticus 23 spells out seven festivals, so we’ll look at them from this perspective.
In order to enrich your understanding of these festivals God instituted for his people, use the “Jewish Festivals” presentation and add your own notations. The first sheet lists the seven festivals in Leviticus 23 and asks questions about each one. You can use this as a type of information gathering sheet for participants. The second sheet is the leader’s answer key. The third sheet has just the headings in case you want to customize this in your own way. These same three sheets are repeated (for a total of six sheets) with their Hebrew names instead of the English names (in case you prefer that).
As you read the portion of Leviticus 23 for each section, have participants fill in their sheet with these seven festivals:
And have them respond to these questions for each festival (or substitute your own):
Based on these festivals and questions, cover Leviticus 23 in sections, by festival. Below you’ll find it in the NIV translation, starting with the Sabbath each week, and then leading into the yearly festivals and Sabbaths.
1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
3 “‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
4 “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (For more details, see Exodus 12:1-30.)
The Festival of Unleavened Bread
6 On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.8 For seven days present a food offering to the Lord. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’”
9 The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. 11 He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. 12 On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, 13 together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil—a food offering presented to the Lord, a pleasing aroma—and its drink offering of a quarter of a hin of wine. 14 You must not eat any bread, or roasted or new grain, until the very day you bring this offering to your God. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
15 “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. 16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. 17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of first fruits to the Lord. 18 Present with this bread seven male lambs, each a year old and without defect, one young bull and two rams. They will be a burnt offering to the Lord, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings—a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.19 Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering.
20 The priest is to wave the two lambs before the Lord as a wave offering, together with the bread of the first fruits. They are a sacred offering to the Lord for the priest. 21 On that same day you are to proclaim a sacred assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
22 “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’”
23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’”
26 The Lord said to Moses, 27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves,[d] and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God. 29 Those who do not deny themselves on that day must be cut off from their people. 30 I will destroy from among their people anyone who does any work on that day. 31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
33 The Lord said to Moses, 34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. 35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. 36 For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
37 (“‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing food offerings to the Lord—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day. 38 These offerings are in addition to those for the Lord’s Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the Lord.)
39 “‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest. 40 On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees—from palms, willows and other leafy trees—and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 Celebrate this as a festival to the Lord for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 Live in temporary shelters for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters 43 so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.’”
44 So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed festivals of the Lord.
It’s one thing to talk or write about a festival, but it’s quite another thing to experience it.
Work with the youth to plan an event they can host for the church—perhaps on a Friday evening or Sabbath afternoon. This could be a potluck, holiday celebration, or another type of gathering. What if you did a September 25 celebration instead of a December 25 celebration? What aspect or practice of Christmas feeds your connection with God? Do that! The youth may choose to incorporate elements from biblical festivals.[CM2]
God has the Jewish people come together each week for a Sabbath festival. He also instituted yearly Sabbath festivals. These brought his people together to look back to what God had done, experience it in the present, and look forward to the future. Many of these festivals were celebratory, but some were also somber. They also called for personal sacrifice as well as getting right with God and one another.
One way to apply this is to plan your own religious festival this week. Usually it takes more time if you want to be more extensive in your planning, but you could do this tomorrow night as a group if you wanted to do so.
Another option is for the youth to plug into the church calendar and offer to help plan an upcoming event. Depending on the size of your Youth Sabbath School, you could offer to provide food for an upcoming gathering, plan a program for kids, or something else—identify what is a good match for your group. Begin brainstorming during Sabbath School and follow up this week with some of those plans.
This is a bonus just for the youth leader—a quick tip and an illustration to enhance your youth leadership. You may already know this idea, have learned it through trial and error, or just need a quick reminder.
Facts are important, and stories can bring facts to life. A story helps facts become personal and meaningful. For example, it is easy to access many facts about Hurricane Dorian such as the number of lives lost, homes destroyed and supplies needed. Another dimension is added when you hear the story of someone who experienced it.
Some people say we use reason to explain how our emotions motivated us to act. In reality, we draw from both facts and stories, and from our thoughts and our feelings. Stories help us put it all together. Tell stories when you want to make a major impact. Listen to stories for the same reason.
Here’s a collection of trends related to the world of young people, as well as the sources of that information. This is to help the youth leader understand the general world of young people today. Your specific youth may differ, but this is the general trend.