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Innovations

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Making innovations is nothing new to the people of God when it comes to the things of God.  Indeed, the first people of God, the Israelites, could not wait before they began to introduce innovations to the way God had commanded them to behave as His people.  Shortly after they told Moses that they did not want God to speak to them directly and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen.  But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” [Exodus 20.19] Then the Lord said to Moses, Tell the Israelites this:  ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from Heaven:  Do not make any gods to be alongside Me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.” [Exodus 20.22-23] When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, [Exodus 20.22-24.2] they (the people) responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” [Exodus 24.3]

However, less than 50 days later, because Moses was up the mountain for more than 40 days, these same people gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.  As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” [Exodus 32.1] They were quick to change the prescribed way of worship of God, adding to it or deleting from it.  Innovations that, as history would show, led them from trouble to trouble and only when they repented and went back to the original way established by God, did they experience the deliverance and prosperity that God’s way held.

However, as one generation repented from their innovative ways and went back to the traditions established by God, the subsequent generation would find the traditional too burdensome to keep and added again a new innovation.  So if you read the history of Israel’s relationship with God, it is a history of blessings followed by innovations followed by repentance followed by blessings followed by innovations until the Lord tired of their schemes and destroyed Israel and sent a remnant of them into captivity via Nebuchadnezzar.

Innovations in themselves are not bad or evil… but when a system is given to you, when a way of life is given to you that is already perfect… why add or delete from it?  Why change it?

Likewise, the Lord had shown the disciples so that they had seen and heard with their own eyes and ears a series of miracles that culminated in His ascension from the Mount of Olives before their very eyes having heard Him speak to them.  However, no sooner had Jesus gone that they introduced innovations to His way of selecting apostles, for they chose Matthias by casting the lot instead of praying and waiting for the Father to tell them whom He had appointed like Jesus did.  And so for 2,000 years, innovations upon innovations have been added to the way – the traditional way, the original way – that Jesus had introduced.

You see, elect, the way the Lord gave Israel, every time they stayed true to it, their enemies were vanquished before them in physical battle and warfare, but whenever they departed from it, they experienced defeat in battle.

As they persisted generation after generation to depart from the way of God and added to it their innovations, from Aaron right up to the end… so God finally sent Nebuchadnezzar and his army to let Israel see that their innovations were absolutely useless against an enemy in battle.

Now the way Jesus laid down for us to follow Him, to listen to Him and to practise His words under the supervision of the Holy Spirit was demonstrated to the disciples as being capable of defeating lack when water was changed to good wine, and a few loaves of bread and some small fish were multiplied to feed crowds of 5,000 and 4,000 men besides women and children with basketfuls leftover.  Jesus’ way was capable of defeating every sickness known and unknown to men, from fevers to leprosy to madness to epilepsy to physical deformities from birth or injury as multitudes upon multitudes were healed.  It was capable of overcoming the elements as storms were calmed and winds were suppressed again and again.  Even death was not a problem as a widow received back her son, sisters their dead brother, and parents their child.

However, like the Israelites, we have persisted and insisted in our innovations and have hung onto them like golden calves… wanting to do things our way rather than His way.  And so here we are 2,000 years later, surrounded all over the world with the product of innovations that we have introduced from the day we chose to select Matthias by the casting of the lot to whatever innovative device we have concocted that would keep us from doing things the way Jesus told us to do it.

So what will God do?  Elect, remember, God is Love [1 John 4.8, 16] and Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres… [1 Corinthians 13.4-7] as John and Paul wrote to tell us.

So what will God do?  Nothing, elect, nothing really.  For God does not have to send lack; we create it by our demand.  Nor does He have to send sickness, plagues and disasters; this world will generate it because of the way sin works and has been multiplying.  However, the result is predictable… it is already known.  Famines, that is, lack, will increase.  Plagues, that is, sicknesses caused by elements not natural to the human body, will increase.  Natural disasters will affect more and more people as more and more people populate the surface of the world, and so the effect of earthquakes and storms will increase.  You see, God did not send the bubonic plague to devastate Europe; Europeans’ lack of hygiene and sanitation did.  God did not send the HIV virus; the excessive exchange of partners did.  For if humans remained faithful to one partner regardless of their sexuality, there would be no outbreak and the virus would be limited to just the two (the pair) and die out with the pair.

So what will God do?  Elect, nothing… but in His patience, He will wait until the time comes when the famines, the plagues and the natural disasters affect everyone.  And in His kindness, He will send out His churches – some with their respective innovative methods and others without any innovations but just with the simple traditions laid down by Jesus – to help those affected by the famines, the plagues and the disasters.  In fact, in His kindness, the Lord has ensured that His churches are placed in the midst of humanity and not away from humanity so that when these famines, these plagues and these disasters strike, His churches will be right in the middle of it all… extending help to their fellow humans.

God does not envy the way of other gods, so He will not complain or compare about the way other churches or synagogues of other gods react to these disasters.  Nor does God boast about His churches, but has humbly planted them everywhere in all the disaster prone zones of the world to help.  Neither is God proud, no, elect… He is not too proud to accept anyone who comes along who wants to innovate His simple ways.  So God has accepted the innovations made by men into His churches and allowed them to remain, for after all, who is to say that the innovations are useless and are not indeed superior to the traditional way He gave to Jesus until they are tested in real environmental situations?  So in His humility, God has accepted the innovations, and the men who stand by them have been permitted to remain in the church.

God is not rude, so no one has been removed harshly or suddenly, but all who have introduced these innovations have been allowed to remain without disruption from God as they pursue their innovations.  For after all, who is to say that these innovations will not deal with the lack, the plagues and the disasters, even death, better?

God is not self seeking, so He is not concerned that those who have made the innovations might share His glory or even outshine His glory as their innovations prove to be superior to the simple traditions He gave His Son, Jesus.  Neither is God easily angered, so there are no avenging angels killing these innovations, but indeed, they have been allowed to thrive.  And God keeps no records of these innovations in His books.  Indeed, His books only record the acts of those who have followed His way.  As such, there are no records of the acts of those who have practised the innovations so that there is no record either way, whether of wrongs or rights, concerning the innovations.

God does not delight in evil.  As such, He has shown no evil to the innovators, but has permitted them to prosper… and after all, God’s way is good and these innovators are innovating what is good and not what is evil.

And in keeping with these qualities of God’s faith and character of always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering… so God has persevered with the innovators and their innovations, allowing them to live out their three score and ten years, hoping that for their sake and the sake of their disciples, the innovations work better than God’s traditions, trusting in their motives for good and not for evil, and protecting them against the elements until their innovations are ready and fully installed everywhere in all His churches… ready for the days of distress unequalled since the beginning of the world.  So that truly when the famines arise, the plagues strike and the disasters happen, His innovative churches will outperform those who have stuck to the traditional way that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ… so that this world would behold the glory of these innovators as their ways multiply the food and water to relieve the famines, their health programmes stem the plagues and heal all afflicted without cost, and they somehow conjure up by their science and magic the power to stop hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and ensure that the cracked crusts of the Earth’s plates do not slip and slide out from each other in one final explosive moment as the Earth seeks to be restored to its original size.  For then truly those innovative churches have fulfilled the words of His Son, “He will do even greater things than these…” [John 14.12] But wait, elect, alas that is not the complete truth of the statement, but rather, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me (anyone who believes in Me) will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” [John 14.12 NIV, NLT]

So if you seek to change, to improve, to innovate, the way He laid down, is that true faith?  Is that true belief?

So then the time has come for the innovators to be proved right, and God has raised up once more His traditional church as well so that we will all see if the way Jesus commanded us to do things was not perfect already from the beginning, in need of no improvements or innovations.

It will be those who are left alive to the end who will vindicate themselves and the way they have chosen… and just so that they will not boast, as Paul wrote for us:  …we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever. [1 Thessalonians 4.15-17]

So those whose methods and ways of doing things that do not have sufficient power to overcome the lack, the plagues and the elements will perish and die, overcome by the disasters, and only those whose ways have the power will stay alive until He arrives.

Now, elect, see that both the dead and those who are left alive will meet with the Lord in the clouds… but Paul was not shown by the Lord who would actually return back to Earth with Him.  However, Paul was shown only those who are martyred who will actually be resurrected and of course those who never died.

So may the best team win for the glory of God.  If your innovations will truly bring God the greater glory, then we rejoice, for alas I fear to confess that we are too slow and dull in our capability to master the original traditions, much less to be able to consider something as challenging and elevated as an innovation to the word of God!

So each should hold onto that which he believes to serve God best and protect himself and his family first, for see, the end of days are upon the pagans just as they have predicted.

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NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION [NIV]

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NEW LIVING TRANSLATION [NLT]

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