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Dive On In!! The Water’s Fine!!

There is nothing more affirming for people than to get advise from someone who has “been there.”  You know what I mean.  They speak from experience and that personal testimony about something makes it more real, more believable.  When I was six years old my dad bought a fishing dock in Arkansas and we moved from Southeast Missouri to North Arkansas and took up residence in Gamaliel, Arkansas. SALUTE (Hee Haw fans will get that one).  Gamaliel was so small if you blinked when going through town you would miss it.  I mean a LITTLE town.  The boat dock we owned had a house on the hill that went with it and we bought the whole thing from a man by the name of Roy Fout.  Our business was to supply fishing boats for fishermen to rent and store boats that fishermen owned in boat stalls at our dock.  We had well over a hundred stalls and it was a thriving business that our whole family worked at on a daily basis.  While living in Missouri I had never been able to learn to swim and I needed to really learn how, now that I was living on a lake.  My brother in law was a really fun guy and he took me under his wing when we moved there and made it his mission to teach me to swim.  He would show me how to swim and then put me in shallow water and hold me up while I learned to dog paddle.  Then one day I noticed he was on our swimming dock a good ways from shore.  He swam in and helped me make my way to the dock and I climbed up on the wooden dock and asked him what we were going to do today to help me learn to swim.  He smiled and said, “Today, you will swim!”  It was at that point that I came to realize that he wasn’t going to help me swim back into the shore.  He picked me up and threw me in the water.  As I went under the water I held my breath and started fighting to the surface.  When I got to where I could get a breath I could hear him say “swim.”  And guess what, “I started swimming” and made it to the shore safely.   The shock of being thrown into the deep water was quickly overtaken by a desire to live and I remembered all the lessons and then started swimming.  All of the training had to come forward to keep me from going under (of course he was ready to jump in to help in case his plan didn’t work) and guess what?  I was a swimmer from there on!!  Our favorite saying became “Dive on in, the waters fine.”  I trusted my brother in law and when he threw me in the water I knew he knew something more than I did about how I would handle that dive.  He knew I knew everything needed to be able to swim.

There is a point in our lives when we just have to get out there and do something when it comes to living.  In the Christian life we do daily quiet times, Bible study groups, and church worship as a way to prepare us to live the life Christ has called us to live.  For us, DOING the ministry is the only way to see that we have LIFE, and that is the abundant life.  We can’t just go through life “saying” we are a Christian without something happening as a result of that faith.  James said it this way in James 2:4 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?  James is muddying the “saved” water here as he asks the question “Can a faith without any works save a person?”  Hmmm.  That is an interesting question and the thinking has gone from “Is a person just lazy and faithless if they don’t serve?” to “Is a person really saved?”  It went from life here on earth and brought in eternal life in glory as a result of the qualifying life.  In other words, “if your faith doesn’t compel you to serve Christ, is it really a life-changing, saving faith?”  James continues in 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.  This is where relative Christianity seems to kick in.  You know, where we say, “Well, all of this is according to who you listen to and how you interpret the Bible.”  To this weak way of thinking James actually clears up the mud and makes it very evident what a true faith is really like and how it impacts a persons life.

So, where are the most churchgoers?  Good question.  Here are some examples of what I see in most churches that are dying.  We cannot get anyone to serve, especially in the nursery.  Deacons have left their purpose and now take on the “office” of the deacon and they hardly ever leave their office to define who they are in church life…..servants.  Church members try to find excuses “not” to serve and still keep a clear conscience and we wonder why our churches are dying.  I guess it comes back to the spirit of the whole thing.  I give my life to Christ and He gives me salvation and life in the Spirit.  That’s really what is happening here, isn’t it?  YES!!  The reason we have so much bickering when making decisions is that those who are dead are trying to live their lives from a Spirit they don’t have and the result is havoc.  In verse 26 James says a great truth.  26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.  What does a dead faith accomplish?   NOTHING!!

What can be done?  REPENT!!  It all starts at the house of God with true repentance and it is time for it to start NOW!!  We all skip over the truth in the book of James because if we get deep into it we will find ourselves in a condition we don’t like.  For some, it could a “lost” condition.  For some, it could be a saved, but a dead condition.  For some, it could be a “shot in the arm” as they strive to follow Christ with all their heart.  Whatever it is for you, be real and honest about where you are because God is painfully honest about it.  If you find yourself convicted now and wanting to serve Christ out of the realization of your faith, “Dive on in, the water’s fine!!”  You will find your true identity when you begin to serve and join hands with other believers who are serving.  You will also find you don’t have to have a lot of skill, just a willing heart and God will do the rest.  Jump in and take what you have learned through those daily quiet times and Bible study groups and start paddling and God will make you an Olympic level swimmer in no time.  If you are still fighting the battle to actually give in to serving then James has a word for you too.  James 2: 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Live a “useful” faith and see what God is wanting to show you about other ways to serve Him.

The Pilgrimage continues…

David Warren

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