Summary: A message on biblical principles of giving.
OPEN: I want to start today by introducing you to a man named Amedeo Obici. Anybody familiar with him? Well, you might not know who he is but I'd bet you know about the company he founded. Let me tell you a little about him. He was born in 1876 in a small village near Venice, Italy. His widowed mother read him letters from his uncle in America, and Amedeo told everyone he was going to America one day. Everyone knew he was an exceptionally bright and enterprising child. By the time he was 11 years old, his family had helped him save enough money for an immigrant's ticket to America, and he set sail by himself. Amedeo had very little money for food and he spoke no English, so his mother gave him a bag of peanuts, which was all he had to eat for the 10-day trip across the ocean. His parents had pinned his destination on the lapel of his coat so that he would end up in the right place after landing here. So he ended up on a train headed for PA. He was supposed to get off in Scranton, but made a mistake and hopped off in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Not knowing what to do with him, since he only spoke Italian, they took him to the owner of the local fruit stand, who also spoke Italian. Amedeo ended up working at that fruit stand as a helper and as a bellhop in a local hotel.. He worked hard and saved his money as he had promised his mother.
So let me put a second image up that might give you a clue to who he is.
Are you familiar with this guy? (Mr. Peanut)
Amedeo soon learned that Americans liked the peanuts he had enjoyed on the ship. Interesting enough at Musante's fruit store they had a peanut roaster and a fan that blew the fragrance of the roasting peanuts out to the street to lure customers to buy fruit and peanuts. The time Amedeo spend with the Musante's inspired him to get his own peanut cart. Soon he found a place to plant a few peanuts. While his peanuts were growing, he saved enough money to buy a horse and wagon. When his peanut crop came in, he drove around calling himself "The Peanut Specialist" selling roasted peanuts. By 1906 he had developed his own method of blanching and roasting peanuts and eventually founded Planters Peanuts headquartered in Suffolk, VA. He became wealthy enough to send money to his family in Italy; and, years later, he gave to the city of Suffolk the Louise Obici Hospital named after his wife. Now, Amedeo had only a handful of peanuts; but he had the choice of what he could do with them. He could have eaten them or sold them, but he wisely chose to plant what he had so that, in time, he would have enough to eat, give away, and sell to send money to his family.
Now this morning everyone had a bag of peanuts given to you as you came into the sanctuary. Every once in awhile you might hear someone say "we had peanuts for an offering." Well, this morning we are going to take a second offering at the end of the service and this is literally going to be true for our church. We are going to have peanuts for an offering. So do not eat your peanuts during the service. You will need them after the message --
Today we are going to be talking about the issue of giving. Typically on the Sunday before Thanksgiving we address half of the word (the thankful part) and seldom get around to talking about the second part of the word (the giving part). The last passage we looked at in the book of James addressed the issue of longing for wealth. So I thought it would be wise for us to explore what the Bible says about giving our wealth away. Now for the preacher, there is probably no area that is approached with more sensitivity and sometimes fear and trepidation than the area of money. We've all probably seen the "televangelist" on our TV sets work the crowd up to an emotional frenzy then come those words flashing across our TV sets "Call and Make your $5000 pledge today! Receive your money miracle." So before we get too far into the message today we want to acknowledge that there are some who approach this topic with mixed and sometimes something less than pure motives. We recognized that, but at the same time we also don't want to avoid the topic of dealing biblically with our resources because the Bible does have a great deal to say about money. Most of us understand that this is just another area that needs to be addressed from a spiritual perspective. Proper stewardship is a matter of Lordship in our lives -- establishing Christ's reign. So while we don't major on this topic week after week, we don't shy away from it either.