Arlington residents, students, and church members came together Wednesday night, only hours after shots rang out in Timberview High School in the Mansfield school district, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The suspected gunman, an 18-year-old student, was taken into custody by police after he began firing shots in a classroom. The alleged shooter, Timothy Simpkins, turned himself in with his attorney Wednesday afternoon.
Just hours after tragedy struck, one 15-year-old student from Arlington, Texas, joined her community in prayer not just for her four classmates injured by a gunman who opened fire in her school Wednesday, but for the shooter himself.
“I want to pray for the shooter, Lord God,” said Ashlyn Henson, praying through tears. “That you’d touch his mind. Touch his heart, Jesus. That you allow him to see his wrong. That you allow him to feel that remorse and that pain he caused. And that he fixes himself in your eyes, Lord God.”
Henson shared her grief during an evening prayer service at Cornerstone Baptist Church, where the youth minister, Al Curley, reminded the community that horrible things happen because of the sin in the world, urging them to turn to Jesus for solace.
He went on to urge fellow believers to “proclaim hope” in the midst of despair.
“And the hope is that God so loved the world that He gave His Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” Curley added, referencing John 3:16. “Yes, the world is fleeting and the world is perishing, but, for those of us who have the assurance of hope in Jesus Christ, we have the promise of everlasting life.
We’ve got to share that message with the lost, because the message of the Gospel, the message of redemption, is life itself, eternal life.
Do you pray expecting God to answer? In this prayer, note what David says after pleading his case; he watches expectantly. David expects God to respond.
“Listen to my words, Lord; consider my sighing. Pay attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for I pray to You. At daybreak, Lord, You hear my voice; at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly.“Psalms 5:1-3
Notice how specific David’s prayers wereand how specific God’s replies.
“And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”1 Samuel 30:8
After this David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the Lord said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.” 2 Samuel 2:1
God always prepares His servants, His people to do the job He calls them to do. Note, how God prepared the people to follow Joshua just as they did Moses. Likewise God will prepare you and all those that are to work with you, to do the job He has called you to do.
“The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.” Joshua 3:7
Just as God had Moses part the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to cross, he also had Joshua part the Jordan River to allow the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.
“Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” He said: “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan... When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.”Joshua 3:9-13
Just as David is a great example of how to pray correctly, sadly he also shows us what happens to our relationship with God when we sin as grievously as David did. First, we notice it separates us from God. God uses Nathan to tell David about the extensive consequences of his sin of killing Uriah and taking his wife Bathsheba.
“Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.‘ David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”2 Samuel 12:10-14
Note this prayer of thanksgiving by David well after the grievous sin involving Uriah and Bathsheba. He had learnt an important lesson: “kept myself from sinning“.
“He (Lord) rescued me from my powerful enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my distress, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; He repaid me according to the cleanness of my hands. For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not turned from my God to wickedness. Indeed, I have kept all His ordinances in mind and have not disregarded His statutes. I was blameless before Him and kept myself from sinning. So the Lord repaid me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in His sight.” 2 Samuel 22:18-25
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:42-44
This is the most challenging prayer of all. Here we have Jesus asking His Heavenly Father to remove the coming experience of suffering and death on The Cross. Thank goodness Jesus added the postscript, “not My will but Your will be done” otherwise all of us would be consigned to Hell on Judgement Day.
When the German Christian mystic Meister Eckhart would pray he would qualify whatever he brought before God with the following words. “Lord, give me nothing but what you will and do Lord whatever and however you will in every way”.
I was reluctant to quote Eckhart as much of what he had to say has been picked up and misquoted by New Age thinkers but this quote is Biblical.
According to Eckhart therefore, none of our prayers can insist that God give us this virtue, or this thing, or this way of life but rather “Lord give me nothing but your will, and do Lord whatever and however in every way..”
We truly have learnt how to live the Christian life when we come to the knowledge that we are not in control and that God is working out His plans and purposes on His earth. Moreover, in the Bible, His written Word, He has given us a history of His world from its beginning and with prophecy, what He is doing now and will do right up to its end. Our prayers need to get in step with what He is doing on this earth, particularly in our sphere of influence. All prayers need to have the postscript “Not my will but yours be done” and probably our greatest prayer is a simple “Thank You“.
Last Friday, the Canberra Declaration (Protecting our Australian Values) launched the October Month of Prayer and Fasting for Family and Nation. The same day, Gladys Berejiklian resigned as NSW Premier. This was not an outcome we had specifically prayed for or foreseen. As far as Australia’s premiers go, we would have said that Berejiklian was one of the better ones. Nevertheless, Berejiklian chose not to use her voice for the voiceless when it needed most. Almost exactly two years before her resignation, she had waved through horrendous abortion legislation that made abortion-to-birth legal in NSW. As Silvana Nile this week wrote, “It is a sobering reminder that we serve a God of Justice. He hears the cries of our hearts and He hears the cries of the blood on our land.”
On the 2nd of October, our 25-hour prayer event concluded. On the same day, the media began reporting that the most likely successor to Berejiklian would be Dominic Perrottet. Though the corporate press sought to smear him for his Catholic faith and large family, that is not God’s assessment.
Perrottet has an excellent track record on Christian values: he voted against the abortion bill and is a strong opponent of the euthanasia law that members of his party are seeking to push. New South Wales can only benefit from having a man of faith, a loving husband, and a father of six children at the helm. Over the following two days, the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and senior cabinet minister Andrew Constance also resigned from the NSW parliament. Both of these men had been strong proponents of both abortion and euthanasia. As leader of the NSW Nationals, Barilaro oversaw an egregious erosion of values in what was once a Christian country party. We’re not sure how to summarise these events but to say that God has been cleaning house. Early this week, Dominic Perrottet won his party’s ballot 39-5 to be confirmed as the 46th Premier of NSW. Normally we don’t comment in such detail on state politics, but it is hard not to see the hand of God as we have fasted and prayed for breakthrough in Australia and for Australia’s families.
Surely, this is enough evidence to encourage all Prayer Groups to persevere in prayer for their nation. I am confident that Kurt and Warwick of Canberra Declaration (www.canberradeclaration.org.au) are, as are their growing number of prayer warriors.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
What an amazing and encouraging Scripture. Do you believe what is says? Is it your experience? It should be, it is mine. Mind you, I am 85 years old and have been serving the Lord many years. For 30 plus years, I owned and managed Christian Press and Care & Share Products distributing Christian materials to Christian and secular gift shops. Over those years I have seen God answer our prayers in amazing ways. You can read about those in my book Build a Kingdom Business – Empowered by the Holy Spirit.
God’s Provision and Protection God miraculously intervenes in a watershed event at Care & Share Products to dramatically impact two organizations and the lives of a number of individuals. The following scripture is appropriate to this story. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 As I previously explained, I purchased Christian Press Pty Ltd from Bill Dalrymple in October, 1983. Bill owned the premises and was very generous in giving us a low rent. One consideration in that decision was the fact we employed his two sons. Both were mentally retarded, one significantly so. In early 1988, Bill advised me that he needed to sell the premises and he gave me 18 months notice so that I had sufficient time to look for a new home for Care and Share. We had only just changed the name of the company from Christian Press to Care & Share and our customer focus from Christian Bookshops to Card & Gift Shops. As this was God’s call, we knew Care & Share had a future so were confident He would provide a new home for His company. Bill employed a major real estate group, Raine & Horne, to look after the property sale. Enter Ted Angus – the protagonist of the story. He is our hero.
Ted Angus was our contact at Raine & Horne. Ted was in his 50’s and I knew on his first visit to inspect the premises that the Holy Spirit was “knocking on his door”. He was not attending a church but had Christian friends and was clearly searching for meaning and purpose in life. Every time he brought people to view the property, we had deep and meaningful discussions. At times, embarrassingly, he was oblivious to the fact that his clients were ready to leave. Over the course of about nine months that it took to sell the property we became friends. During this time, I gave Ted a number of Christian books to read. As well, he became a regular visitor at the Christian Bookshop in Bankstown which was walking distance from Ted’s, Raine & Horne office. Cecil, the owner of the bookshop and Ted also became good friends. It was a joy therefore, for both of us when Ted finally came to know his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ about 6 weeks before we moved out of 3 Harley Crescent, Condell Park. I remember the phone call when Ted told me (“the penny had dropped” – his phrase) he had come to realize who Jesus Christ really is. Ted subsequently repented and accepted Jesus as His Lord and Saviour. The circumstances were interesting; Ted had just finished reading a Christian book Cecil had sold him. Whilst I can’t remember the title, I do remember Ted telling me, the author died before the book was published. The book was about the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. The author had had problems with what he perceived as discrepancies in the different Gospel accounts. I remember Ted’s excitement as he explained to me how the Holy Spirit had given the author understanding. “It was like he was at a football match and realized that a person on the other side of field would have a different perspective on the match and therefore give a different report on it”. Amazingly, the Holy Spirit’s inspiration prompted the author to write the manuscript. Though he died, it was the instrument God used to convert the author’s brother and get the book published so it could aid the Holy Spirit to change the lives of people like Ted Angus. Also, if Bill had not sold number 3 Harley Crescent, I would never have met Ted and be used by God in his conversion. No doubt, God could have done it differently but as you will see, God had much more to show Ted through the relocation of Care and Share.
If you want to read the rest of this amazing story which includes God using a hail storm to get us into the right premises, you will need to purchase the book.
God is behind a massive wave of Muslims coming to Christ in the past 30 years according to David Garrison, executive director of the evangelical missions group Global Gates and author of A Wind in the House of Islam. Garrison has described his three years traveling the Islamic world and interviewing more than 1,000 Muslim-background believers. “What I discovered was this remarkable surge and movement towards Jesus Christ coincided with the beginning of 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world, 28 years ago this year,” Garrison said. He travelled 250,000 miles investigating movements where at least 1,000 Muslims in a community had been baptized into the Christian faith, but he never made the prayer link until he shared his findings with Paul Filidis of World Christian Concern, who helped launch the 30-Days of Prayer for the Muslim World in 1993.
“I’d come back home and sit down with my friend Paul and I told him about these movements that we’re seeing probably 84% of all the movements that have ever happened in history have happened in the last 30 years, and that’s when Paul looked at me and said, ‘David that’s when we began 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world.‘” While Muslims might not know that Christians are praying for them, God knows and He’s listening, Garrison said. “And as He promised our prayers are tearing down strongholds, they’re opening up hearts and they’re aligning us as Christians with God’s desire for the Muslim world to know His Son, Jesus Christ.”
All About 30 Days of Prayer
The purpose of 30 Days is to call Christians to pray with love and respect for Muslims around the world. In doing so, we hope to see:
+ Christians gain a better understanding about Muslim people, their faith and their various, diverse cultures. + An increase in efforts to respond with love and compassion to the needs of Muslims around the world. + A greater interest in Jesus among Muslim peoples.
We do this by hosting an annual prayer event coinciding with Ramadan each year, and creating prayer guide that enable Christians to pray regularly.
Chan shared that his latest book, Until Unity, was inspired by John 17, where Jesus prays for unity among the Body of Christ. Though he didn’t want to write another book, the bestselling author felt compelled to do so after seeing the severe lack of unity among believers.
“When I look at Scripture, I see how much God wants unity. This is why Christ died on the cross; to make the two one. And I see how Ephesians four says that we actually grieve the Spirit of God by our disunity. I really believe this is God’s desire. And I just saw the Church getting worse and worse, and I would see the way people would bash each other. We’re getting further and further away from what God wants.”
The Crazy Love author emphasized the power of silence, citing Exodus 14:14, which reads “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still,” and Proverbs 10:19: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking.” We don’t know how to quietly be in awe of Almighty God together. If we did, we’d find ourselves on our knees, in tears,” he said.
Unity, Chan stressed, “has to start with Christ; it has to start with, ‘Wow, I was created in the image of the triune God.”
“But how many people wake up in the morning and have this reverent awe?” he lamented. “And because we don’t have that, and we’re not spending time marveling in silence at God and our oneness with Him, we try to jump to, ‘OK, let’s all get along.’ And I’m going, ‘No, we cannot all get along if we’re not in shock that we are one with Him and He’s given us His glory so that we can become perfect.’”
“The reason why we fight and the reason why we’re so sure of our opinions … is we don’t get into the presence of God,” he said. “All of this horizontal stuff is because we really aren’t truly, with all of our hearts, soul and mind loving Him, and entering into His presence.”
The author said he fears that many Christians are becoming the “Second Timothy 3 group that are always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”
“I don’t want to be one of those that are constantly acquiring information but not knowing it,” he said. “I worry about my friends, everyone else that grew up in the same type of evangelical faith that I did that it’s busy, and we don’t take time to meditate and know these truths. If we did, we wouldn’t be so quick to speak.”
“Get alone with the Lord,” he advised. “Let Him open you up. You may find issues and He may find issues in you that you need to know are wrong. You may have thought you’re just going in for a checkup, and He cuts you open. We’ve got to get back to getting people into the presence of God.”
Five days ago I posted Getting in Step with God which was also based on David’s Psalm 25. I was extremely disappointed as I did not get one like or one comment and yet I thought it was a powerful message that needed to be reinforced. Hence this post, although this time, I am giving you almost the entire psalm. God’s word is more powerful that my words.
Teach Me Your Paths – Psalm of David (Psalm 25)
“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man whofears the LORD?Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and He makes known to them his covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.
Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”Psalm 25:1-21
We know David was a sinner (Bathsheba and Uriah) but he understood repentance and God’s forgiveness. He was a man who feared the Lord. God even said He was a man after God’s own heart. What does this mean? I think it means David knew and trusted God and was doing His best to live that out.
What we need is humility in relation to ourselves and confidence in relation to God.
David understood the truth of God’s Word. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” Psalm 66:18-19, What about us? Do we know God has heard our prayers as David did?
If you want to improve your prayer life then I would recommend you get the book by Alvin Vandergriend Love to Pray. It will take you on a 40-day journey that will change your prayer life forever. Love to Pray is all about loving the one to whom you pray and learning to express that love in a continuing dialogue with God. This book will help you discover how to become “devoted” to prayer as a way of life rather than as a duty. This 40-day devotional will transform your prayer life. This book may be done individually, as a small group, or an entire congregation.
Dr. Alvin VanderGriend is the Prayer Evangelism Associate for Harvest Prayer Ministries in Terre Haute, IN. He holds degrees from Calvin College, Calvin Seminary, and Fuller Theological Seminary. He pastored Christian Reformed churches from 1963 to 1982 when he moved to serve that denomination as Minister of Evangelism Resources. In 1996 Alvin became director of HOPE Ministries (Houses of Prayer Everywhere) where he developed the Lighthouse strategy and provided prayer-evangelism training. More recently he served as the National Facilitator of Lighthouse Ministries for the Mission America Coalition.
David understood the truth of God’s Word. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” Psalm 66:18-19
What about us? Do we know God has heard our prayers as David did? Read what David had to say in this Psalm and then let us consider what we now have in Jesus and how we pray.
“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Psalm 25: 8-10
“For your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man who fears the LORD? Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land. The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for He will pluck my feet out of the net.” Psalm 25:11-15
We know David was a sinner (Bathsheba and Uriah) but he understood repentance and God’s forgiveness. He was a man who feared the Lord. God even said He was a man after God’s own heart. What does this mean? I think it means David knew and trusted God and was doing His best to live that out. What we need is humility in relation to ourselves and confidence in relation to God.
Consider now what Jesus has provided for all who believe in Him as Lord and Saviour. Through His sacrifice, Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to indwell our Spirit, to be our counsellor, teacher and comforter.
“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
For us the Spirit is there revealing God’s will to us in the Scriptures and bringing God’s prayer concerns to life within us. He is searching our hearts and trying our ways so He can bring us to true repentance. He reveals the glory and goodness of God so that our prayers will be filled with praise and thanks.
We can be confident that God will hear when we come to Him. God answers every prayer that starts in heaven, every prayer born in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, every prayer based on a sure promise from His Word. As we pray to our Heavenly Father we need to acknowledge the Spirit and ask Him to help us to pray aright and to recognise His promptings that our prayers may be pleasing to our Heavenly Father and accomplish His purposes.
If you do not, it really is an insult to your Creator. You have failed to recognise your true dependence upon Him. You do not take your next breath without His provision. He sustains His universe. Moreover, you do not know the extent of His love for mankind as revealed by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, and in His Word, the Bible.
Dwell on these scriptures:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (Also read the preceding two verses)
Our heavenly Father is delighted when his children acknowledge their dependence as His children.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
Jesus makes it clear here that our heavenly Father, who is perfect in His love and unlimited in power wants good things for us , his children.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”1 John 5:14-15
God does not promise to give us anything and everything we ask for . But He does make an astonishing promise to us that is even better. He promises to give us whatever we ask for that is according to His will. He knows what we need, the things that are truly good for us, the riches of His grace that He wants us to have.
To find out what is according to God’s will, just read God’s Word, there He tells us what He wants most for us. Go to Romans 8:29 – “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son“.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30
This then should be our starting prayer: “Please heavenly Father conform me into the image of your Son.” You can be sure this prayer is according to His will and it will be answered. The Holy Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life, love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control.