Tuesday, December 13, 2016
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If you've ever been a Marine, this question is going to be a piece of cake. What's the motto of the United States Marine Corps? Even if you've never been a Marine, you may well know the answer: "Semper Fidelis" – always faithful. Or "Semper Fi," as the Marines like to say. But a former Marine recently told me there's another Marine Corps motto, and it doesn't appear on anything official, but he said it's one Marines learn to live by – "Semper Gumby." Remember Gumby, that rubbery cartoon character who could bend every which-way. Semper Gumby – always flexible!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Semper Gumby."
"Semper Fidelis" isn't just a good motto for a Marine – it should define the life of any follower of the Lord Jesus Christ – always faithful. But that other motto's a good one for us Jesus-followers too – "Semper Gumby." Because to be a man or woman who knows and does the will of God, you've just got to be "always flexible."
You can see that all through the Book of Acts in the Bible. Here's the story of the most powerful people who ever lived; the original followers of Jesus. Reading what they allowed God to do through them, ordinary as they were, it shames me. I want what they had. I want my life to have even a fraction of the impact theirs did. So as I read, looking for the qualities that make a person powerful for God, I come across this trait I call "spiritaneity." That's living by the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, which requires something that doesn't come naturally to a planner guy like me – flexibility. The willingness, the readiness to get a call from heaven's dispatcher, the Holy Spirit, and go that direction no matter what.
God is not against long-range planning, as long as you're always willing to let Him pre-empt your plan with His. He reserves the right to redirect your day, your energies, even your life without explaining Himself. Those who live supernatural lives are those who simply move at God's command – like God's ancient people who moved whenever and wherever the pillar of cloud and fire moved and who refused to move when it stood still.
Acts 8 gives us one of the many examples of a life of "spiritaneity." Philip is in the middle of a revival in Samaria when "the angel of the Lord said...'Go south...to the desert road.'" He goes, not knowing why, just knowing God has prompted him. He sees a man who's part of the royal court of Ethiopia and "the Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near it.'" Again, no explanation – just obedience. The Holy Spirit then begins to unfold a conversation that leads to this man coming to Christ and becoming one of the first representatives of Christ ever in Africa.
Our word for today from the Word of God, Acts 20:22, gives a great example of how the Apostle Paul lived this way. He says, "Compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there." Paul was a master strategist, the epitome of reason. But he's "going – not knowing." That's spiritaneity. I don't know what's ahead, but I know God is leading me there and I have no choice.
That's how I want to live, because I want a supernatural life. And I know you do, too. But rigidity can quench the promptings of the Spirit of God and leave you with what you think should be done. God puts this magnet inside of you, drawing you to a certain person or action or place. And He doesn't explain why. Often, His leading will seem like an interruption, an intrusion, a detour. But His way is always the right way. And you have to obey, not because you know the plan, but because you know the Planner.
Maybe you've been gripping the steering wheel of your life so tightly that your Lord can't begin to take you where He wants you to go. It's time to let go. It's time to live each day with flexible plans. You plan based on your best sense of His leading at that moment, and you proceed with the plan, ready to move another direction though at a moment's notice at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
You are Jesus' "Semper Gumby" follower – always flexible, so you can be His "Semper Fi" follower – always faithful. Spiritaneity – the kind of responsive heart that makes your life the great adventure that God made you for!