SERMON SERIES: GIVING FROM GOD S PERSPECTIVE Sermon 1: Gifts that Make God Smile

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1 Page 1 of 13 Dear Pastor, For over ten years I have worked with pastors to help them deliver biblical financial truths to their congregants. No greater platform exists for doing so than the one you have during weekend services. It is my heart s desire to partner with you to spread the truths about giving from God s perspective. We have provided these sermon teaching outlines. The content is organized around the four biblical truths presented in Plastic Donuts. As you present these truths, here is what you can expect. Your people will see giving differently than they ever have before. You will find that as your people receive the message, they will experience two things in great measure: freedom and challenge. Together, these two reactions will cause your people to evaluate their current giving and aim to give gifts at greater levels. From these truths, they will realize that giving from God s perspective means giving in much more meaningful ways than they ever considered both from their hearts and their possessions. These outlines are just the beginning of my commitment to serve. Please contact us, as I would love to help you walk out your sermon series. I believe strongly in this message because I have seen how it works on people s hearts. More importantly, I know how it has worked on mine. I desire the same experience for you and your church. Jeff Anderson President, Acceptable Gift, Inc. CONTENTS OF THIS DOCUMENT Note from Contributing Pastor.. 2 Introduction to Message Series.. 3 Sermon 1 Outline. 4 Sermon 1 Notes 5 Helpful Tips Vault Resource Contents. 12

2 Page 2 of 13 A note from Pastor Rodney James Senior Pastor of Sequoyah Hills Baptist Church, and contributor to these sermon and teaching resources. Several years ago when I met Jeff Anderson, I sensed that he truly had a fresh perspective on giving that struck a chord with my heart. As I began to read his research I found what I finally believed to be a solid Biblical message on giving that resonated with my heart and relationship with God. I began to teach these truths to my congregation and watched so many life transformations. Our people matured in their relationship with God, and the giving in our church increased along with their maturity. It was a win, win, win. God s truths were being taught, His children were growing, and our church was benefiting financially. The Biblical truths that Jeff has revealed through his study and research for Plastic Donuts will transform the way Believers look at their giving, and their relationship with God. Pastor Rodney Sequoyah Hills Baptist Church

3 Page 3 of 13 Introduction to Message Series Below are questions we want to help you answer for your congregation through this series. We want to empower you with outlines of biblical truth and practical application that can help you show your people how God really sees our giving. We are thankful that God s Word never returns void, so we are praying that as you adapt these outlines and teach these truths that your people will experience a transformation in their heart that will result in biblical generosity and spiritual growth. My Giving How does God really see it? When you give a gift to God (to your church, to a friend in need, to a stranger because you were prompted by the Holy Spirit, to the poor, or to a widow, etc.) how do you think He responds? Does He notice your gift? Is He keeping a record? Does He look at the ledger once a year to see how you are doing? Or could it be possible, that God receives the gifts you give as a Personal gift? If so, would He be pleased with your gifts? Would He, at times, be disappointed? Is it even possible that your giving could delight the heart of God and cause Him to experience joy? My Giving What does the Bible really say about how much to give? If you have grown up in church, you have probably been taught something about giving. You may have even heard different teachings and have questions. What does the Bible really say about the standard for giving to God? Is there a biblical giving standard? My Giving What does it mean to give from your heart? Most people understand that giving is more than just writing a check, paying dues to a religious organization, or giving to your church for a tax deduction at the end of the year. You likely know it has something to do with the heart. But what exactly does it mean to give from the heart? SERMON SERIES MESSAGES 1. Gifts that Make God Smile 2. How to Give an Amount that Matters 3. The Heart of the Matter 4. (Optional) Wrap-up, FAQs, etc.

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5 Page 5 of 13 Sermon One Outline: Introduce the Series 1. Have you ever considered how God sees your giving? 2. Video support: a. Acceptable Gift video - 60 second animated video b. Our first Sunday was Giving Sunday 2 minute testimonial Humorous and heartfelt. Introduce the Message Text: Genesis 4:3-5 Not All Gifts Are the Same 1. The Acceptable Gift One That Pleases God 2. Abel s Gift Was Pleasing To God 3. Cain s Gift Did Not Delight The Heart Of God How Can I give To Delight the Heart Of God? 1. It s All About the Heart, Right? 2. THE AMOUNT MATTERS (Truth #1) Giving an Acceptable Gift Will Bring Delight to My Heart, Too Summary Application 1.

6 Page 6 of 13 Sermon Notes INTRODUCE THE SERIES 1. Have You Ever Considered How God Sees Your Giving? When you give to your church, to a friend in need, to a stranger because you were prompted by the Holy Spirit, to the poor, or to a widow, how do you think God responds? Does He notice your gift? Is He keeping a record? Does He look at the ledger once a year to see how you are doing? Or could it be possible, that God receives the gifts you give as a personal gift? If so, would He be pleased with your gifts? Would He, at times, be left out or ignored? Is it even possible that your giving could delight the heart of God and cause Him to experience joy...maybe even smile? INTRODUCE THE MESSAGE (Somewhere in sermon, consider relating the Plastic Donut story in Chapter 1, or a similar illustration.) Today we are going to look at a story from early in the timeline of the Bible, and many other examples, that show us that God indeed receives our giving in a personal way like a father from a child. Like giving in any other relationship! What we want to understand from this giving encounter, is that sometimes our giving so touches the heart of God that He delights in our gift. But sadly, there are other times when we give, and our gifts are unacceptable and do not please the heart of God. From this story in Genesis, we will see some thought provoking truths. TEXT: GENESIS 4:3-5 When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the LORD. Abel also brought a gift the best of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The LORD accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. (NLT) NOT ALL GIFTS ARE THE SAME Have you ever considered that some gifts are acceptable to God while others are not? That some gifts delight the heart of God while others do not? 1. The Acceptable Gift One That Pleases God

7 Page 7 of 13 The Bible references multiple times that there are gifts that are acceptable to God. In today s vocabulary, the word acceptable may be barely good enough. In the Bible, acceptable is a significant word that means pleasing. (Ps 19:14, Is 58:5, Rom 12:1). Acceptable gifts are gifts that satisfy or delight the heart of God. (Note: Reference page 21 of Plastic Donuts Acceptable a Pleasing Word to help people grasp the full meaning of the word acceptable. ) 2. Abel s Gift Was Pleasing To God (v4) The word regarded comes from the Hebrew word sha ah which literally means gazed at, to look upon, to pay attention to. God gazed upon or looked with favor upon Abel s gift. Abel s gift got God s attention. a. Noah offered a pleasing gift to God (Gen 8:21) when Noah offered burnt sacrifices, God smelled the pleasing aroma. b. Animal sacrifices were to be acceptable and pleasing to God (Lev 1:3, 9) only unblemished animals were acceptable, resulting in a pleasing aroma to God c. Jesus presented Himself as an acceptable gift to God like the animal sacrifices of the past, Jesus was unblemished; His sacrifice is described as a fragrant aroma to God (1 Peter 1:19, Eph 5:2) d. The NT Church offered acceptable, well-pleasing gifts to God (Phil 4:18) The gifts of money and provisions for Apostle Paul were received as a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. This concept has been engrained in giving from the beginning! 3. Cain s Gift Did Not Delight The Heart Of God (v5) Again remembering the meaning of regard, we see that God did not gaze at or pay attention to Cain s gift. Many theological debates can be made as to why or why not, but our focus here is the very fact that God was not pleased with Cain s gift, clearly showing us that some gifts are acceptable to God, while others are not. Examples of unacceptable gifts: a. Animals which were not acceptable (Lev 22:19-21; Mal 1:8, 10) b. New Testament gifts that were not acceptable (Matt 23:23, Acts 5:1-4, 1 Cor 13:3) HOW CAN I GIVE TO DELIGHT THE HEART OF GOD?

8 Page 8 of 13 It s true we don t bring animal sacrifices to God any longer. So how do we determine if our gift is pleasing to God? 1. It s All About the Heart, Right? When it comes to the subject of giving, we re quick to mention the heart. You may have heard it said, It s all about the heart or It s the heart that matters. Yes, the condition or our heart is important when giving gifts to God. (And we will look at this more fully later in our series.) But there s more to giving an acceptable gift than having what we often refer to as a good heart. Throughout this series we take a look at four key biblical truths that help us give the kind of gift that pleases God. The first truth and the one we focus on today is this 2. The Amount Matters (TRUTH #1) When it comes to a personal gift like an engagement ring gift, the amount really does matter. The same is the case with our gifts to God. Let s take a look at a few biblical examples. a. Amounts that matter are costly (David s offering 2 Sam 24:24) David was preparing to offer a sacrifice to God. A property owner offered to provide David the land, materials and animals for the offering. David refused to accept the items for free. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God, burnt offerings that cost me nothing. Not only did he insist on paying for offerings, but he wanted to pay the full market value of the items (1 Chron 21:24). David knew that when it comes to gifts to God, amount matters. He knew that if the amount matters to him, it can matter to God also. b. Amounts that matter come in all sizes (The Widow Mark 12:41-44) Sometimes amounts that matter are large, like with David s offering. At other times amounts that matter are quite small. The widow gave a very small gift. Notice that Jesus was watching people give. (Remember, God is interested in our gifts.) The widow gave an acceptable gift, a gift that caught the attention of Jesus, even though the amount was exceedingly small. Why? Because she gave an amount that mattered to her she gave all she had to live on! The motivation of this message is not about increasing what you give here it s about pleasing God and relating to Him with your giving. We all have amounts that matter in our lives. Our mortgage payment, our rent, our car payment, a vacation package, etc. We set aside and insure these amounts are there. But what about our gifts to God? Do we give amounts that matter to us? As we learn from David and the poor widow, when amounts matter to us, they matter to God too! c. Amounts that matter engage the heart (Matt 6:21)

9 Page 9 of 13 Jesus instructs us that wherever our treasure (amount) goes, our heart follows. If we give an amount that matters to us personally, an equal measure of our heart will follow the things of God. If we don t give an amount that matters to our personal finances, it will not move a meaningful measure of our heart. The amount and the heart that s how they work together. And that s why when it comes to giving acceptable gifts, the AMOUNT MATTERS. GIVING AN ACCEPTABLE GIFT WILL BRING DELIGHT TO MY HEART, TOO One more great truth we see from out text today is the connection between how God sees our gift and how it affects us. Look back at verse 5 from Genesis 4. but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Why did Cain s countenance fall? Because his gift did not delight the heart of God. Cain s attitude was tied to the acceptability of His giving. When we delight God s heart, we experience a connection in a relationship that brings delight to our heart. (Illustrate with how parents feel when they give a gift to a child that causes them to overflow with excitement, or a heartfelt gift you receive from your child) Look at 2 Corinthians 8:2 Notice the contrast here of the attitude of the Macedonians who gave in the offering for the church in Jerusalem. Their giving, even in difficult circumstances, causes them to overflow with joy. Why? Because the amount mattered and it was an acceptable gift (v12). SUMMARY God does look at our giving in a very personal way. He receives the gifts that we give to Him through our church, other ministries, the poor, etc. as a gift from a child to a father. The amount we give does matter to Him. If we give an amount that matters to us, an amount that affects us and our lifestyle, an amount that connects our heart to His then He is delighted by our gift. It is a pleasing and fragrant aroma to Him and brings joy to us for delighting the Father. When we don t give an amount that matters, when we don t connect our gift with our heart and with His, then our giving, like that of Cain, does not catch God s attention, does not delight His heart, and is not acceptable to Him. This is a missed opportunity to connect with God in our daily lives. APPLICATION 1. I can give gifts that delight the heart of God like a child giving a gift to a father The amount may be large or small and still be acceptable if it is amount that matters to us.

10 Page 10 of I need to determine if I am giving an amount that matters Examine the amounts you give to God (i.e. to the church, for the needy, for missions and other kingdom causes, etc.). Examine the other amounts in your life (i.e. housing, transportation, taxes, entertainment, etc.). Consider not just the amounts but also the manner in which these items are paid. Which are the amounts that matter to you? Do your gift amounts matter? 3. When you give online, write a check, remove cash from your wallet, etc. are you taking that opportunity to connect with God? Giving your Father a gift?

11 Page 11 of 13 Additional Illustrations (from Plastic Donuts) NOT ALL GIFS ARE THE SAME Plastic Donut illustration on page 11 HOW CAN I GIVE TO DELIGHT THE HEART OF GOD The Amount Matters: a. See Gunnar illustration from Plastic Donuts, page 25 b. See John illustration from Plastic Donuts, page 27 c. See illustration of two cars from Plastic Donuts, page 28

12 Page 12 of 13 Helpful Tips: 1. Understand that the truths of what the Bible calls an acceptable gift are not at odds with the tithe. Most of your congregation has heard, in various ways, about the tithe, but may not know about an acceptable gift as revealed in both Old and New Testaments. a. We do address the tithe minimally in Chapter 5 of Plastic Donuts. For more discussion on the why we handle the subject the way we do, see A Donut Response to the Tithe in the vault resources. Also, for helpful research and discussion on the biblical tithe, see The Gift Box Teaching Series at b. Our experience has shown that when people understand the acceptable gift, their giving practices become more aligned with their faith. Tithers catch a vision for more meaningful and abundant giving. And non-tithers embrace a vision for giving in similar ways. (See the video testimonials at AcceptableGift.org) 2. Read the book, Plastic Donuts to become familiar with this sermon series and related resources. 3. Consider giving a copy of the book to each family in your church. Quantity discounts are available, along with custom printing with your church logo and a foreword/afterword by you. 4. We ve provided sermon outlines for a four-week series, but these resources are flexible, and could be used for a single Sunday event, or any multi-week series. Use them however you desire to make them fit your teaching flow and schedule. a. You will note that for Sunday school use there are three outlines (which line up with the first three sermon outlines). For Small Group study, there are four outlines. b. The week #4 sermon outline is optional and can be used to develop your own message based on the broader objectives for your series. 5. For fun, consider handing out toy plastic donuts in your church to reinforce the campaign theme. Contact us at for product ideas.

13 Page 13 of 13 Vault Resource Contents The following resources are available in the vault at Sermon Aids (Message #1,2,3 addressed the four truths; #4 is optional message) - Sermon #1 (this document includes introductory information) - Sermon #2 - Sermon #3 - Sermon #4 (optional wrap-up message) - A Donut Response to the Tithe Sunday School Outlines (covers the content of Sermons #1,2,3) - Lesson 1 - Lesson 2 - Lesson 3 Small Group Outlines (covers contents of the book, Plastic Donuts) - Lesson 1 Facilitator Guide - Lesson 1 Participant Guide - Lesson 2 Facilitator Guide - Lesson 2 Participant Guide - Lesson 3 Facilitator Guide - Lesson 3 Participant Guide - Lesson 4 Facilitator Guide - Lesson 4 Participant Guide Videos and Graphic Art Files - various

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