What a wild week in college basketball! As conference tournaments take place throughout the country, this is the last chance for many teams to earn a spot into the NCAA Tournament that officially begins uon Tuesday

The conference tournaments are especially important for the smaller leagues and mid-majors because most of them only send one team to the “Big Dance.” There are 32 automatic bids for the NCAA tournament, which teams qualify for by winning their conference tournament. 

Selection Sunday is coming up this weekend and the brackets will be revealed. These 32 winning teams will be resting easy with their assured spot into this year’s tournament. 

On the other hand, the rest of the teams will be anxiously awaiting to hear their name called as one of the remaining 36 teams to get in. With great anticipation, they will hope the selection committee determines their wins outweighed their losses and that they proved themselves worthy throughout the season. 

In thinking about the teams with automatic bids, this is an important illustration of the promise we have as followers of Jesus. When we receive His free gift of salvation by faith in His work on the cross, we are given a guarantee and “automatic bid” into eternity with God.  

Thankfully, this isn’t determined by anything we do or by our worthiness, but instead solely based on the grace and mercy through Jesus. As we continue living in this world, we can be confident of our faith and that we’re “getting into the Big Dance.”

We no longer have to wonder if we’re good enough, or hope our wins outweigh our losses, because we know we have an “automatic bid” into heaven because of Jesus. 

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT), “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

We no longer have to worry or question our eternity because Jesus tells us in John 10:28 (ESV), “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” 

Today, let’s live with certainty that we’ve been given an “automatic bid” into eternity with God, and allow that assurance to give us tremendous peace and joy. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that! 

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I know that I don’t deserve Your grace and mercy, but I’m extremely grateful that You made a way for me to know You and spend eternity with You. I’m thankful it’s because of Jesus and not based on anything I’ve done. I pray I’d be filled with hope, confidence, and assurance while removing all doubt. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.