“. . . looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

BETWEEN NOW AND THE TIME WE REACH OUR HEAVENLY GOAL, WE NEED TO KEEP OUR MINDS FOCUSED ON THE FINISH. I am not so sure but what this is the major challenge of the Christian life. Most of our problems would shrink to manageable size if we would just do what Peter says: “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). After all, it was focusing on the finish that got Jesus through His suffering.

Sinful temptations. The devil is going to tempt us to leave the path we’re on. A master at deception, he will try to convince us that where the Lord wants us to go is not where we would be happiest going. He knows the truth, of course, but he will tempt us to sin with him and die, rather than walk with God and live.

Difficulties. In addition to temptations to sin, there are also difficulties that have to be dealt with, situations that don’t necessarily involve sin but which are simply hard to handle. If anybody knows about difficulty, it is certainly our Lord, and He held up under the load that He carried only by thinking of the joy ahead.

Distractions. The third thing we need help with is the multitude of distractions that have the effect of pulling our attention away from God. Even the things God has made can do this if we’re not careful. It is only by keeping heaven clearly in mind that we can keep the temporal world in proper perspective.

But do you think you can make a one-time decision to focus on the finish and then life will automatically unfold as it should? Well, I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Keeping a right focus on heaven requires refocusing our minds daily, and maybe even many times daily. As often as we see that we’re not setting our minds “on things above” (Colossians 3:2), we have to bring our minds back to their proper focus. It’s a habit we have to get ourselves into, but if we will do that, the sinful temptations, difficulties, and distractions that come our way will be much less of a problem.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal” (Hannah More).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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