Unless you’ve been in isolation, you’ve heard about the horrific shootings and tragic deaths that took place in Las Vegas last weekend. People simply going to a concert when a man opened fire. Just living life one moment and running for their lives the next.

As I listen to people all around me, one reaction in common is shock. We’re shocked that this happened. It’s being called the worst mass shooting in this country’s history.

Lord, may we never become so accustomed to such violence that we simply go on with our lives, no longer shocked by such horrible crimes. May we have hearts of love and compassion just like you.

There’s also disbelief. How can this happen in this county? I’ve personally known people who have stood on the roof of a university in another country, hearing the sounds of machine gun fire as they desperately wait for a helicopter to take them to safety. Thankfully, it happened, but not for everyone.

Lord, have mercy.

There’s wonder. Why is this happening? Some people blame God. The same God they kicked out of the schools. The same God they ridicule and ignore. The same God they don’t think about unless they want to blame him.

There’s fear. When will this happen again? In 2 Timothy 1:7, the Apostle Paul writes from his prison cell to encourage Timothy. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” There is power in love. So many people in Las Vegas stepped up to help total strangers.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

Jesus wept when he saw Lazarus’ sisters. He already knew he would raise him from the dead, but he was overcome with compassion for his friends in their sorrow. May we always have a heart like Jesus.

Frightening things happen in this world, but remember Jesus’ words to the disciples? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

There’s true peace in Jesus.

Pray for the victims and their families. There’s power in prayer. Prayer is direct communication with the creator of the universe. When Jesus was tired. When he was afraid, he talked to the Father. We have that privilege, too.

A clarion call. Come back to the Lord. Not one of us is guaranteed any time past this present moment. If you don’t know the Lord, ask for him to give you faith. If you do but you’ve slid away, come back home. There’s a party thrown in Heaven for each person who comes to faith and for each prodigal who returns home.

Give your children the best gift of all. Raise them in faith. It’s a legacy that will last much longer than money or power or anything this world has to offer. It’s an eternal legacy. Raise your children in faith or the world will raise them. Parents, it’s your choice.

Pray. For others. For ourselves. For our country. For other countries. “Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Be ready. Yes, for an active shooter. Have a plan, but even more importantly, know the plan for salvation. That God the Father loves each one of us so much that He sent his only begotten son, Jesus, to earth in human form. Not to condemn us, but to save us through Him (John 3:16-17). He died on the cross for our sins and on the third day, he rose from the dead. He’s in Heaven preparing a place for all believers.

Don’t be fooled. There is a Heaven (John 14:2) and there is a Hell (Revelation 20:10). As they stand outside the Promised Land, Joshua tells the people who have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years to take a stand. It’s time to choose.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

We all have a choice. It’s time for each one of us in this country to choose. Whom do you serve?

Lord, have mercy.

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at kathyyoder4@gmail.com.

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