No Shortcuts to Home

I remember watching my sons play baseball when they were younger.  In one of the games, one of the players on the opposing team hit the ball hard, ran around first base and on to second.  There he baseball-home-platestood, standing on second base while trying to catch his breath.  No one expected what happened next!  His coach started telling him, in a rather urgent tone of voice, to go back to first – “Go back, Go back!”  When he tried to get back to first base, our team threw the ball to first and then tagged the runner out.  What went wrong?  The other team’s runner, in a rush to go to second base, ran around first base without touching it!  What should have been a double for the other team turned out to be an easy out for us!  It seems there are no shortcuts to home!

There are no shortcuts to our heavenly home either.  It would be foolish to deny that we are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  But it would also be wrong to conclude this requires no effort, or activity, on our part.  Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

In order to reach our heavenly home, we must hear and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17; Mark 16:16); repent of our sins (Acts 17:30); confess our faith in Jesus Christ as our savior (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:1); be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of our sins (Mark 16:16) and live a life of faithfulness to Christ (I Corinthians 9:27; II Peter 2:20).  Anything less is taking a shortcut, a route that does not lead to home.

The Value of Perseverance

basketball“I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot . . . and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed” (Michael Jordan).

Michael Jordan understood the importance of never giving up; he never allowed what would seem to be failures to cause him to quit.

Perseverance is not only important on the basketball court – it’s important that we all practice perseverance in our spiritual lives as well!

Paul’s trials and afflictions no doubt tested his faith.  He was able to persevere because he remained focused on heaven.  Paul knew his brethren at Philippi would also become tired and discouraged.  He knew their faith would also be tested.  To the church at Philippi Paul wrote, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s words, found in Philippians3:13-14, serve as encouragement for his brethren to remain focused, to persevere, to never, ever give up!  Those same words can serve to encourage us today!  When you become tired and discouraged, when your faith is tested, you can persevere and never give up by remaining focused on your goal – nothing less than heaven itself!

Today, I will focus my thoughts on heaven and refuse to give up!