by Pastor Tim Burt
When our children were very young, there were times where we would sit around the kitchen table, pull out the coloring books, and teach them to color. In doing so, we first taught them to outline the object they were going to color. Then we taught them to color within the lines. Of course neither was done well in the beginning, yet we’d praise them and shower them with encouragement. Now in reality, they’d initially try to outline for about ten seconds before resorting back to scribbling.
When we sat down to teach them, we knew this would be a process. We knew that over time they’d improve, and eventually become proficient at it. We also knew that our constant encouragement and reminding them to color in the lines was important to the process of their improvement.
A good parent has enough instincts―even with their first child, to know that patience is required in teaching your children. You give them a plan. You teach them how to execute that plan. And then you are patient as they learn and grow in that plan. That principle is what the entire education program is built upon.
God has a plan for our life. God revealed in Jeremiah 29:11 NIV that it’s a good plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.“
God has a perfect will for your life. Romans 12:2 NIV says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, acceptable, and perfect will.”
In this verse, “good” means something that is beneficial. “Acceptable” means it’s agreeable to all and well pleasing. “Perfect” refers to producing growth and moral character helping one to become mature and complete. Everyone does things on occasion and hopefully with frequency that are good. But a person can do good things while still having much of their life out of the will of God. For example, many young Christian couples live together and have a sexual life thinking it’s okay. Are these people capable of doing good things or acceptable things? Of course they are and most likely do. But are they in the acceptable and perfect will of God? No they are not. A a sex-life before marriage is fornication and is not acceptable nor the perfect will of God. Waiting until they were married is what would produce growth and moral character learning to walk in God’s will.
God wants us to learn how to live a godly life and pursue it the best we can. As a new reader of the Bible begins to study the New Testament and see the patterns for godly living that are given, their first attempts might be like the child learning to outline and color between the lines. They may have brief moments similar to a child tantrum―I can’t do this! But they can and they will get it if they keep it up. And God is no more condemning them in their efforts than you would yell at a child learning to color between the lines. The Holy Spirit has the character of the perfect parent―full of mercy, compassion, grace, and patience to help and encourage. The Holy Spirit knows that if, out of your love for Jesus, you work to pursue the will of God, that your life will align with God’s and from there He can guide you into God’s perfect will and plan for your life.
Coloring within the lines doesn’t mean that as you learn to obey God and His word, that everything in your life will be perfect, seamless, or without problems. The great godly Bible characters that we often study still experienced plenty of hardship. The perfect will of God is not measured by a lack of hardship or by the accumulation of resources. It is measured only by you judging yourself with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to learn to walk in the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. It is measured by a self-evaluation and ongoing discussion between you and the Holy Spirit as to whether your life is following the direction that God has and continues to give you. And you should know this: in your self-evaluation, the Holy Spirit NEVER condemns you. He will chastise or correct you through God’s Word, but in a loving way that encourages you to try again and again. Any voice you hear that is condemning is the voice of the enemy.
So, God has a plan for your life. You begin to discover that plan by aligning your life with the perfect will of God. You continually seek Him for how He wants you to live your life and as you do, you’ll learn to color between the lines and enjoy God leading you to His unfolding promises manifesting in your life!
Psalm 143:10 (NKJV) “Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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