We all were shocked when we learned of the death and destruction in Las Vegas this past Sunday night, the work of a highly disturbed man who was possessed by evil and obviously wanted to kill as many people as he could. Some say he didn't want to die and that he had a planned escape route, but carrying out the carnage from a hotel room on the thirty-second floor is not a place from which a getaway would be likely.
No, the man was so disturbed and filled with hate, whatever drove him to it, that he saw no way out and was possessed by his mission which had obviously taken months and perhaps years to fully plan. And we likely may not ever find out the full cause, but what we do know is that whenever we allow evil to fill our hearts, replacing the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ, the outcome will not be positive. Oh, we might be able to hide it for a long time and not be noticed, but you can rest assured that God knows everything about us, what we think, what's in our heart and what we actually do, and each of us will ultimately face our individual judgement from Him when our time on earth is done.
I heard someone say that a loving God would not allow such things to happen. That's an incorrect notion and it just shows the speaker has no concept of who God is and what He expects. God has given us, mankind, dominion over the earth even though Satan still roams free after being banished from the Kingdom. In so doing God gave us free will, the ability to make our own decisions and, later after the death of Christ, the Holy Spirit to be our guide for life. The Spirit is within us, but until we open our hearts to Him, He allows us to do what we wish even though when we make bad choices it saddens Him. Bad choices come from listening to the evil spirit lurking about, not the Holy Spirit within us.
Think about it for a minute. If God had not given us the freedom to choose between right and wrong, would we appreciate it when we make good decisions and realize that seeking forgiveness is the only way to cleanse our souls? No, we wouldn't and we are truly blessed that He gave us His Son on the Cross to die so that we would have the opportunity to redeem ourselves by faith.
A radio minister I enjoy had a short broadcast the other day where he told the story of a young man, a newlywed spending his honeymoon with his bride in Las Vegas at the time of the mass shooting. They were in attendance at the country music show when the shots rang out. He immediately put himself in cover for his young wife and was killed instantly. A first responder immediately came to the scene and whisked her away to safety. Later, while in tears, she made the following statement which is so appropriate for this message today.
Simply put, she said, "He died so that I might live."
And that, my friends, is exactly what Jesus did for us on the Cross. At the moment He died, we were forgiven. The only thing required is that we accept His forgiveness and the only way to do that is through believing in Him through faith. All of us have that same opportunity no matter what the sin is that we have committed. But remember, none of us is guiltless where sin is concerned, for we are mere mortals. Our task is to recognize our weakness and frailty and make the commitment to God through Jesus by accepting his gift and following Him. It is the only way we can escape real death, by accepting eternal life.
Even the killer could have avoided his fate if he had asked God to help him open his heart to belief in Jesus through faith. It's a simple request, but one that's hard to carry out if we put the matters of the world and our own loathsome desires above heavenly things. And that's my message from the Las Vegas incident. Only love, not hate coming from the heart can change the direction of this world, and that love is found in Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the gift of eternal life that is offered through the death of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to understand by faith why it is our only solution to the problems of life and be with those who mourn the needless deaths of their loved ones in Las Vegas and wherever else evil rears its ugly head. We ask in Jesus' name, Amen.