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There can be no innovation without imagination; however the innovations are useless if the original version does not do what it is supposed to do.  A malfunctioning system does not deserve innovation, it deserves to be shut down, stripped down and whatever is making it malfunction removed so that it functions properly.  Only a system that is doing what it was purposed to do deserves to be innovated.

Thus, the failure to recognise that a system is not doing what it is purposed or designed for will only produce innovations that will only multiply and magnify its malfunction, and any imagination that gave rise to such innovation is futile and useless at best, and dangerous at its worst.  Just as a lack of imagination can hinder progress, overheated imagination, which blinds a person to the malfunction of a system, destroys all real progress.

The failure by anyone to recognise the current state of malfunction and malady that the church of Jesus Christ is in means that any innovation based on its current format is futile and dangerous.  And this has been proven time and again, and has taken them, without recognising that which they have accepted to be true and correct because that is the dogma, the doctrine, and the tradition, to be in fact incorrect and even false.  So, from the Nicolaitans and Judeaizers from James the Younger we now have sects of all different names mixing partial observance of the Mosaic Law with the Name of Jesus Christ and His Law.  As the whole system lurched forward, more and more ‘innovations’ were added so that new feast days, worship of relics and intercession by ‘special’ predecessors were added, and so on and so on, until you have the current wonderful splendid state of the church universal with its many denominations, cathedrals, programs, doctrines, identities and histories in which the blind can most assuredly know they will remain blind, the lame will remain lame and lepers will remain lepers until science is able to make suitable progress in medicine and other such technological advances as man can devise.

It is therefore physically impossible for anyone who has not listened to Jesus and who has not practised His word to see its goodness and understand what fellowship with the Holy Spirit really is, to see the church the way God intended and purposed her for, and the absence of such a reality makes all effort of innovation redundant.

God has a teaching pattern, which He uses repeatedly – repeatedly because it is flawless and it is perfect. It begins with listening to hear what is commanded, and then doing what is commanded.  After that which is commanded, He then teaches His student to speak about what he has heard and done.  After the student has got the first three parts correct, then and only then will He lead him to the final step of the learning, and that is to use his imagination to innovate what has been given to him to take the original to a greater height.

He did this with Adam from the beginning.  He spoke to Adam, giving him a command and told him what to do:  “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the Earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.  I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole Earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.  And to all the beasts of the Earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.”  “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  Then when Adam had heard and stayed away from that tree, the Lord God brought to Adam the animals that He had formed and had Adam name them. 

Can you see the sequence?  Adam heard what was spoken, did what he was told and then he was allowed to speak, so that the first recorded words of man are:  “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”  Because Adam sinned he never stayed in the garden long enough to apply his mind to understand and imagine what he could do to improve the garden.  Adam never got past the speaking stage of his training.

Likewise, Noah was spoken to by God, and he listened and obeyed, building the ark and completing it successfully.  However, in the recorded interaction between God and Noah in Genesis 6-8, it is always only God speaking to Noah and Noah listening and doing what he was told.  The first recorded words of Noah for our study are these words spoken after he got drunk and found that Ham had seen his father’s nakedness:  “Cursed be Canaan.”  Noah never even got to the speaking stage of the lesson.

Let everything be confirmed by two or three witnesses as it is written.  Moses listened to God and did all that was said, and was allowed to speak, but as for imagination, he was never shown what it would have been like.  As with Adam and Noah, God began to teach Moses, and so confident was God that Moses could pass all the stages, there was prepared for Moses a place where he would experience what it would be like to imagine and the power of imagination. 

For when Israel first needed water in Exodus 17, the Lord began to show Moses and teach Moses about listening, doing, speaking and imagining.  At the first rock, God said to Moses, “I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb.  Strike the rock and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”  And as Moses did what he was told or what he had heard, water came out.

At the second occasion after the first generation was wandering around in the desert as part of their forty years ‘death wait’, God used the need for water to teach Moses about speaking, saying to Moses, “Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water.”  However, Moses did not do what he was told, and because of his anger with the crowd, he struck the rock instead.  Water came out, yes, but Moses lost his place to bring Israel’s second generation into the Promised Land.  He said to the people, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” …and struck the rock twice with his staff.

Because of that, Moses never got to find out what God had prepared to show him at Beer when they needed water again, so God said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”  Yes, the Lord provided and the people drank, but Moses never found out what was prepared for him.

Adam never found out what was prepared for him in the garden.  Noah never took part in reshaping the Earth after the flood, and Moses never entered the Promised Land.  They never saw what God had prepared for them and they were never taken to the place where God would show them what to think.  All three were shown to listen, to do and to speak, but not how to think.  Adam missed out by listening to Eve.  Noah missed out by being drunk and cursed, and Moses missed out by being angry with the people. Listening to people you shouldn’t listen to, and being out of control of our flesh by intoxication and anger were what stopped Adam, Noah and Moses.

When Joshua came on the scene to take over from Moses, God said to Joshua, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.” 

God told Joshua to:

·       speak what he had heard,

·       think about what he had spoken,

·       and then act on it. 

The sequence is changed.  It was not do what you have heard then speak about it, but rather, speak about what you have heard, think about what you have said and then do it.  Joshua’s success was such that Ai was his only setback against 31 kingdoms when he made these mistakes:  He listened to spies and did what they said instead of doing what God had told him, which had succeeded with Jericho.  It wasn’t Aachan’s sin that caused the defeat; it was Joshua for listening to his spies and deviating from God’s one and only plan.  That defeat made God give Joshua an alternate plan.  It was after Ai that Joshua realised he had to write out a copy of the Law of Moses on stones, something Joshua did so that he would never forget the word of the Lord.  If you have laboured to copy on stones the Law of Moses, you will never forget.  Joshua went an extra mile, obeying what Moses said about kings making a copy of the law for themselves in Deuteronomy 17 to atone as it were for his failure to listen to the Lord at Ai.

There was a change of sequence because for Joshua, Moses had written the law on a book for Joshua to read and to meditate on, so that the reading preceded the listening, then the meditating and the doing.

However, when Jesus came, He reverted back to His old way.  He began to preach first, that is, to speak first as God spoke first so that men could listen, then He told His disciples to do what they had heard: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  “Do what you have heard,” and then He sent them out to preach, “As you go, preach this message…”  “Speak what you have heard” like Moses was to speak to the rock.  Mark recorded:  They went out and preached that people should repent.  And Luke recorded:  So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the Gospel and healing people everywhere.  They spoke and did what they had heard.

Now as they neared the end of their training, the Lord began to prepare them for the power that can come through the imagination, and not just the spoken word and action.  You and I know there is power in action.  Moses struck the rock and water came out, for there is power in the spoken word.  Moses was supposed to speak and there would have been water, if the action and speech were done in obedience of God’s command.  Just as Jesus showed His disciples again and again as He touched the sick and sent His word and healed them. 

However, the first of His miracles, the changing of water to good wine at Cana, was not done by His hand nor did He even speak the word.  He merely commanded, “Fill the jars with water … Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”  He never said anything about the water being changed to wine or even touched the water.  We only found out what He had in mind when the toast master drank it.  With His first sign, Jesus revealed to us the power of thought that is done.  See that technically He did not do it in direct obedience to what God the Father was saying to Him or showing Him, for He said to the mother, “Dear woman, why do you involve Me?  My time has not yet come.”

If you want to push the point, He did it out of disobedience to God’s perfect timing, but see what He did.  He didn’t say or do anything contrary to what God was doing or saying, that is, this sign did not come from word or action of the Father, but by thought.  Meaning, Jesus never not always did what the Father showed Him or told Him, and as such His outward obedience was always perfect, for by our words we are acquitted or found guilty and by our actions we are rewarded.

So in John 14:12, Jesus said something to the eleven that should have got them all really thinking and imagining:  I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these…”  They knew what He had been doing, but greater things than raising the dead, causing the blind to see, multiplying the food, walking on water, calming the storm, and so on and so on???  Greater things???  Just try and imagine what could be greater.  Just imagine!!!  The seed to provoke their imaginations was spoken at that moment… “greater things than these”… wow!  Imagine that.  Yes, imagine that… think!  Think about it.

For when we begin to imagine, when we begin to think of greater things than what we have heard, seen and done, we begin to innovate, and out of our imagination comes our wishes, and if we are determined to see our wishes fulfilled, we have a will!  So later Jesus told them, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, whatever you will, and it will be given you.”  That is, whatever you imagine that is the greater thing, whatever the innovation, it will be done for you.

However, the eleven did not stay the course, for first of all they never really found out what He fully meant by “remain in Me”.  Oh we know that anyone who eats His flesh remains in Him and He in them from John 6:56.  Yes, we know Jesus said that, and so He gave us the bread and the wine at the supper and we did it, we ate and drank it, but we didn’t really see what it meant.  And to this day, “remain in Him” and “He in us” is an esoteric, theoretical, spiritual concept, the reality of which no one has seen.  No one saw it because no one turned up on the day that They, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, had chosen to show us what it really meant.  There were no witnesses to that event.

As Jesus continued His way to the Mount of Olives after the supper when the bread and wine had been symbolically given, He would tell them the day He had in mind to show them exactly what it is to be in Him and He in them.  He said, “Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me.  Because I live, you also will live.”  He was speaking to the eleven about His death and the resurrection, and the fact that after His resurrection He would not be showing Himself to the Jews, Gentiles, Cephas and the Sanhedrin or the Romans, just to them, the eleven and His disciples, “because I live, you also will live,” was His way of saying, “You will understand why I said, ‘and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.’ 

Now see:  “On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.”  On what day?  “On the day you see Me alive again, on Resurrection Day at Galilee on the Mount of Transfiguration I will show you what these words mean in the presence of My Father and My Glory!”  No one turned up that day at Galilee, so to this day no one really knows or realises what these words really mean.  Forget your theories; no one saw what they were meant to see, hear, feel, smell or taste, no one was witness to what God had planned that day.  Just as Moses never saw what God had planned for him in the Promised Land!

“Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me.”  Which is why He asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?” because Peter had His commands: “Go to Galilee…” and, “stay in the city and wait until you are clothed with power from on High.”  Peter didn’t go to Galilee as the angels told the women to tell him, and he didn’t stay in the city either, but went fishing.  No wonder the Lord asked him three times, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love Me?” 

The rest of the story you now know, they didn’t listen, they didn’t go, they didn’t wait, and they didn’t do what they were told.  But worse still, they took matters into their hands and selected Matthias before the Holy Spirit arrived, just like Moses took matters into his own hands and struck the rock twice.

They didn’t listen to Jesus, and like Adam they listen to James and invited into their midst a man who should never join them, Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism, a man cursed because of his partial observance of the law, and not set free in Christ.  For the word does not record Nicolas as a man full of the Holy Spirit as it recorded of Stephen.  The errors of Adam, Noah and Moses – no wonder the eleven never ever got to see what the church at full power fulfilling John 14:12 was really like.  They had a church with some power, yes, but not full power. 

So what can we learn?  We learn as Joshua learned, for we have these things written for us as Joshua had a book written for him to read, to speak out what is written, to meditate on the words and to do what it said.  Joshua was not God’s first choice to lead His people into Canaan, Moses was.  The eleven were God’s first choice to lead His people to full power, not us.  But like Josiah, we found the lost law, and like Joshua, we have the opportunity if we let them teach us, rebuke us and discipline us with the history of what they did and said.

So then, is it any wonder now we had to read it, speak it, meditate on it and do it, even to sing it, the words of God and Jesus recorded for us, so that we might be found ready for His service?  So then, having listened, you practised, having practised, you spoke, and perhaps you are ready to think and to imagine and to wish for the greater things that He spoke of.

You have been shown the power of the arm that moves in obedience to God’s command and the power of the tongue that speaks in obedience to God’s command.  The application of imagination is the unleashing of the power of the mind that thinks in obedience to God’s commands, and from that mind will flow the innovations that will fulfil the words of Jesus Christ, “and he will do even greater things than these…

Listen, then do what you have heard, and testify to what you have seen, and having done so, think what it means to be called a son of God.  Amen.

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