VIDEO Where’s God in Hurricane Ian and the storms of life?

God is greater than Hurricane Ian and any storm either physical or emotional that has ever been

It’s storm season again. Sometimes we can see storms on the horizon, looming with all of their gathering force and fury. Sometimes they surprise us – arriving in the night with little warning. Our friends in Florida know this pattern all too well . The latest pounding by Hurricane Ian has left millions in its wake of destruction and devastation. And we all recall the recent pain left in the fury of Hurricane Fiona. 

So where is God when the storms come? Would it surprise you if I told you He was praying? For you? How do I know this, you could rightfully query? Let’s look at the scripture.   

In those moments when all seems lost, be assured, you have God’s Spirit as your advocate. “Even if people can do no more than sigh for redemption, and then fall dumb even as they sigh, God’s Spirit already sighs within them and intercedes for them.”

Don’t miss this. God’s Spirit is interceding. He is praying for us! We do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit does. And does he ever! You have the Spirit as your advocate and your Father as your provider. You may feel weak, but you’ve never been stronger. 

As a result, the greatest prayer warriors might very well appear to be at their weakest point. The single mom huddling with her kids in the closet waiting for the winds to pass and the waves to calm. The first responders wading into deep waters and deeper needs. The linemen trying to restore power to a dark land. Thinking of these many needs can be overwhelming. But, dear friend, our God is not overwhelmed. He specializes in restoring calm, bringing help and creating light where there is darkness.  

Right now, at this moment, as I write these words and you read them, the Spirit of the living God is talking to the rest of the Trinity about you. The eternal, unending, ever-creating Spirit is speaking on your behalf.  He…

…[is] making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. (Rom. 8:26 MSG) 

intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (ESV)

pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. (GNT) 

Do you not find this amazing? The greatest force—greater than any hurricane or storm–the only true force in the universe is your ally, your spokesperson, your advocate. 

“[He] keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (v. 28 the message). 

Now, you might not be facing a physical storm. The winds that buffet you might be the gales of disease, depression, or divorce. You may feel there is no switch that can be flipped to lift the darkness you find yourself in – be it anxiety, financial stress, or fear of the future. Rest assured; our God knows. He cares. And he is listening.

What you pray in the night is heard in the light of your Father’s throne. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Ps. 56:8 NLT). 

Let this assurance add value to your time of prayer. And let’s join together to pray for our neighbors both near and far who are struggling  with so many needs. Be assured God hears and will help. Because the Spirit is here, help is here!

Since entering the ministry in 1978, Max Lucado has served churches in Miami, Florida; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and San Antonio, Texas. He currently serves as Teaching Minister of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. He is the recipient of the 2021 ECPA Pinnacle Award for his outstanding contribution to the publishing industry and society at large. He is America’s bestselling inspirational author with more than 145 million products in print. His latest book is “Help is Here: Finding Fresh Strength and Purpose in the Holy Spirit.”




Jesus Calms the Storm

Where to Turn

The Lord longs to be gracious to you. Isaiah 30:18

Everyone in high school admired Jack’s easygoing attitude and athletic skill. He was happiest in midair above a half-pipe ramp—one hand holding his skateboard, the other stretched out for balance.

Jack decided to follow Jesus after he started attending a local church. Up to that point, he’d endured significant family struggles and had used drugs to medicate his pain. For a while after his conversion, things seemed to be going well for him. But years later he started using drugs again. Without the proper intervention and ongoing treatment, he eventually died of an overdose.

It’s easy to turn back to what’s familiar when we face difficulty. When the Israelites felt the distress of an upcoming Assyrian attack, they crawled back to the Egyptians—their former slave masters—for help (Isaiah 30:1–5). God predicted that this would be disastrous, but He continued to care for them although they made the wrong choice. Isaiah voiced God’s heart: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion” (v. 18).

This is God’s attitude toward us, even when we choose to look elsewhere to numb our pain. He wants to help us. He doesn’t want us to hurt ourselves with habits that create bondage. Certain substances and actions tempt us with a quick sense of relief, but God wants to provide authentic healing as we walk closely with Him.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to recognize God’s grace in times of failure? How can you better mirror His faithfulness in your relationship with Him?

Dear God, please set me free from sinful patterns. Help me to turn to You when I’m tempted to find relief in something else.

How to Handle the Bible

Once we realize the power of Scripture, we long to read, understand, and implement it. Psalm 1:1-3

The value we place on something determines how we treat it. For example, you probably wouldn’t give much thought to an old shoebox. But if someone put $10,000 inside it, you’d protect it. Similarly, once we realize the worth of Scripture, we no longer read merely out of obligation. Here are six things God tells us about how to read His “instruction manual for life.”

  1. Turn to it daily with eager expectation for what the Lord will reveal.
  2. Meditate upon the Word to more fully absorb its meaning and implications.
  3. Study God’s truth. There are a variety of ways to do this. For example, using a concordance or search engine, follow a specific word through the Old and New Testaments.
  4. Believe what the Lord says.
  5. Obey. In other words, apply what you read to your life situation.
  6. Share what you learn. This will encourage others while strengthening you and sinking the lesson deep in your heart.

The Bible is living truth that protects and guides, pierces and encourages. From it, we learn how to be saved. When we grasp Scripture’s value, our interaction with God’s Word will prove its worth.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The context of Jesus’ sixth “I am” statement in John’s gospel is the discourse in which Jesus had just told His disciples that He would soon be leaving them. The concern among the disciples was obviously building, especially after Jesus said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:4), to which Thomas replied, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (v. 5). Then Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (v. 6).

This profound declaration of His identity addressed the anxiety in the disciples’ minds, countering their confusion and uncertainty. Of course, this proclamation also has comfort for us as Christ’s followers in the midst of a turbulent and unpredictable world.

But Jesus was offering more than assurance and consolation. He was also making a profound statement of exclusivity, emphasized in the final clause “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This statement stands in direct opposition to the popular opinion of a fallen and rebellious world that wants to proclaim there are many paths to God. Indeed, we are admonished in Scripture that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), and “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

While there are many paths leading to deception and destruction, Christ is the only way to truth and life. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.” JPT

God Will Manifest Himself

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?Genesis 3:9

If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world?…

The Presence and the manifestation of the Presence are not the same. There can be the one without the other. God is here when we are wholly unaware of it. He is manifest only when and as we are aware of His presence.

On our part, there must be surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son. If we cooperate with Him in loving obedience, God will manifest Himself to us, and that manifestation will be the difference between a nominal Christian life and a life radiant with the light of His face. POG057-058

Oh, may He come to us now and light up the sanctuary of our hearts until they shall shine like the chambers above!…May He open to our vision…His own immediate, everlasting presence! Amen! CTAB061

More Than Performance

My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.—Proverbs 23:26

Many Christians live on the surface of life and rarely, if ever, look below the waterline. They do have inner longings sometimes to climb higher with God, but their response to these feelings is to focus their attention on what goes on above the waterline—the area of performance and behavior. So they try harder in terms of more Bible reading, more prayer, more giving, more Christian activities.

I would be the last person to view greater obedience as unimportant, but it is not the only, or indeed the final answer. A great mistake made by many Christians who recognize they are not receiving from God the things they ought to be receiving is to think that the solution lies solely in more spiritual effort. The assumption being that as we do more above the waterline, the problems that lie below the waterline will all come right.

Now sometimes greater obedience and more responsible effort do have this result. I have often found, for example, that when a man who falls out of love with his wife chooses a change in behavior and deliberately sets out to do loving things for her, the loving behavior can trigger loving feelings.

There is more to spiritual change, however, than a change on the surface. It can begin there, but it is not complete until the focus moves from the surface down into the depths. Those who remain above the waterline in their Christian living and resist the invitation to look beneath the surface will soon become legalists—good at performing but bad at being.


My Father and my God, I see that if change is to take place in me, then it must take place in all of me. Help me to see even more clearly that while what I do is important, what I am in the depth of my being is even more important. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

2Tm 3:1-5; Isa 29:1-13

What did Paul say would be a characteristic of the last days?

What was the Lord’s complaint against the children of Israel?

Sympathy with God

When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard.Acts 5:5

When God brings judgment upon someone, our natural inclination is often sympathy toward the one being disciplined. Yet when God acts in judgment, our sympathies ought always to lie with Him. Only God knows all that is at stake, and only He knows the full circumstances that provoked His wrath upon the one He is judging.

Ananias and Sapphira’s experience is one of the most perplexing stories in the New Testament. In a time when God’s grace had provided salvation for all mankind, His response to this couple seems unusually harsh. Yet there was much at stake in their deception. The church was in its formative stages. Ananias and Sapphira had witnessed the miraculous power of God and had seen thousands of people being added to the church. Nevertheless, they showed little regard for the Spirit of God when they blatantly lied to God and the church. Such irreverence would have been devastating to a church whose very life depended upon the presence and guidance of God’s Spirit. God left a sobering reminder that He would not tolerate sin.

Many times the sin of one Christian has a devastating effect on others. At times, God chooses to judge someone’s sin severely, as a deterrent for others. Don’t try to protect someone from the judgment of God. It is a terrifying thing to fall under His judgment (Heb. 10:31). Yet His judgment on one may ultimately save that person and many others. When God is judging others, take heed and examine your own life. God knows what is at stake; He loves His children enough to provide a stark warning of sin’s dangers.

VIDEO Worthy of Thanks

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Sometimes Americans, when watching a British period film, will be surprised to hear a judge, mayor, or other official referred to as “Your Worship.” Worship comes from two words: “worth” (value) and “ship” (a condition or state). So addressing someone as “Your Worship” means acknowledging their state of worth, or importance or their value.

Worship was used in secular contexts long before it entered the religious vocabulary. But it’s easy to see why it did: When we worship God, we ascribe worth, value, or importance to Him. To worship is to say God is worthy of our praise, to offer thanks for who He is and for what He has done. There is no end to the reasons to give thanks to God. In the Old Testament, a common refrain was to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” God’s attributes, like goodness and mercy, are never-ending. Therefore, He is always worthy of our thanks in worship.

In your personal times of worship, begin by giving thanks to God. Warning: You may run out of time before you run out of reasons for thanksgiving!

The measure of our spirituality is the amount of praise and of thanksgiving in our prayer. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

A Model for Giving Thanks (1 Chronicles 16:8-36)

The Coffee-Bean Bowl

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15

I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.

It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.

Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between a man and a woman (see 1:3; 4:11, 16). In Hosea, God’s forgiveness of Israel is said to be “fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:6). And Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet, which caused the house of Mary and her siblings to be “filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3), pointed ahead to Jesus’ death (see v. 7).

The idea of fragrance can also help us be mindful of our testimony of faith to those around us. Paul explained it this way: “We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

Just as the scent of coffee beans reminds me of Melissa, may our lives produce a scent of Jesus and His love that reminds others of their need of Him.

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

How can you be “the fragrance of Christ” to someone today? How has your life caused others to sense the presence of the Savior?

Dear heavenly Father, help me to pass along an aroma of life that makes others know I represent You.

The Book of Books

The Bible is an infallible source of truth.

Isaiah 55:9-11

Step into almost any bookstore, and you can find a volume on pretty much any topic you have in mind. Want new direction for your life? Are your children disobeying? Are you hoping to live in a healthier way? There are books that were written to help, but do the authors have trustworthy credentials? 

There is a place to find accurate information and true guidance: The Bible will bless and benefit everyone who reads and applies its wisdom. Here’s what Scripture’s Author—“the God of truth” (Isaiah 65:16)—says about His own Word: 

  1. The Bible gives direction for life (Psalm 119:105). God uses His Word to lead us, no matter what our circumstances may be. 
  2. Scripture strengthens us in grief or difficulty (Psalm 119:28Psalm 119:116). By spending time processing what God says, we’re reminded that He loves us, cares about our situation, and can handle whatever we’re facing. 
  3. God’s Word helps us understand our inner motivations (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture acts like a mirror that lets us see ourselves as we truly are. 

The Bible is the very mind of God put into words so that we can know Him more fully. To what extent do you depend upon this amazing Book as your foundation for life?