The Resurrection brings Loving Sacrifice
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).
We need to die to self
You are reading this because of sacrifice. All that you benefit from The River comes from sacrifice. Starting with Jesus, people gave their all to share the hope we have in Him. Jesus died and rose again to give us hope. The Apostles, with the exception of John, were martyred for their faith. Many throughout church history died so you and I would know the truth of the resurrection. In fact, many died and suffered so you and I could read the Bible in our own language.
First offering was 100%
We get scared when people talk about money, and we get frustrated when people put demands on our time. When the church started in Acts chapter 2, the saints sold all that they had and had all things in common. Why? Pentecost was a pilgrimage feast. People from all over the known world would gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the receiving of the Torah (law). Suddenly there were a bunch of weirdoes speaking about a risen Jesus in their own language! They showed up to celebrate a feast, and they left as missionaries. The truth of Jesus rising from the dead radically altered the direction of their lives. Tradition tells us that a group of believers at Pentecost were the ones that started the church in Rome.
Loving our enemy to life
John tells us the world hates us because the world does not know the Father. Paul says whoever desires to live a godly life will be persecuted. Following Jesus could cost us a dream, our time, our job, friendship, and for some even our life. This sounds hard and unfair. This often seems foreign to us because our country is an exception to the historical rule. We have freedom of religion. What becomes radical is not to stand up for our rights, but to stoop down and serve. The pathway to winning people to Jesus is not bolstering our rights, but in lovingly serving our enemy.
In the end, we win
At summer camp, a pastor told a story of a girl who made a commitment to win her peers to Jesus. Her freshmen year they made fun of her and bullied her all year long. Sophomore year she made the same commitment. The suffering increased. Junior year she made the same commitment, and the bullying got even worse. Ridiculed by the school, stuffed in lockers, books knocked out of hand, and she got back up. Senior year she made the same commitment, and the persecution started until she got yelled at by a classmate. She could not understand why after all these years she would not give up. Why?! The girl shared why and who once bullied her became a sister in Christ. One by one more got saved and a profound work of God came upon that school. She endured years of suffering because she knew in the end we win…
Pastor Ty Woznek
Pastor’s Academy Lead Professor