The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates

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Does the Book of Revelation intimidate you? This book, currently the #1 selling new release in Amazon's Eschatology (end times studies) category, walks you through the entire Revelation in easy-to-understand segments that can be read daily or straight through. It's available on Amazon right now in Kindle (ebook) format for $2.99, & paperback for $11.99

You can also order a signed copy directly from by mailing $12 check or money order to: JUDY BATES, P.O. BOX 90, EMPIRE, AL 35063. And any amount you could add to help cover postage would be greatly appreciated. It costs $3.45 to ship to most zip codes.

I now have copies in the Encouraging Word Bookstore at Gardendale First Baptist Church.
Copies are also available at Jeff Dennis Jewelers in Gardendale, AL. $12 each.

Although the Book of Revelation is one of the most significant books in the Bible, it is also one of the most misunderstood.... Living in these last days, there has never been a more critical time to fully grasp what God reveals to His people in Revelation. Judy does a marvelous job of helping us understand that revelation! – Dr. Kevin J. Hamm, Senior Pastor, Gardendale First Baptist Church

See what Publishers Weekly says about my very first Bargainomics Lady mysteryA Bargain to Die For.

A Bargain to Die For is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats. It's clean, fun, and has a message.

Where else can you buy A Bargain to Die For?

(1) You can phone, go by, or go online to Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million & have them order it for you.
(2) You can order a signed copy directly from me by mailing $10 check or money order to: JUDY BATES, P.O. BOX 90, EMPIRE, AL 35063.

(3) For wholesale/bulk orders, contact Judy: 


Did you know that the word “prejudice” is not found anywhere in the Bible? How about that! What exactly is prejudice? Mr. Webster says that it’s: “a preconceived judgment or opinion.” Preconceived. In other words, a judgment made without fact or evidence.

Certainly racial prejudice is a problem many people struggle with today. But aren’t there many other kinds of prejudices? Social? We see someone who appears much better off financially and assume that person considers himself “above” us. Or we may see someone who seems to have far less than we do and consider that person “beneath” us.

But what about denominational prejudices? Do we as the family of God have prejudices against our own family members? “That bunch doesn’t believe like WE do,” one might say. Or, “They believe …” All around us we look at those who don’t do things OUR way, who don’t worship as we do, and we label them “wrong.”

But think about this: the Holy Spirit manifested Himself as tongues of fire in the Book of Acts. In Luke, He appeared as a dove. When Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples, no outward sign is recorded as accompanying this infilling. Same Spirit, diverse manifestations.

If the Holy Spirit can manifest Himself in different ways in different situations, why do we think every person or denomination that doesn’t worship and believe exactly as our own is wrong? The Bible isn’t complicated. Jesus’ message was never complex. Salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

This salvation brings about a change (repentance = a turning) from following sin to following Christ. This change is then professed through water baptism – see Acts 9:18. Having received Christ as Lord and Savior, the reality of the new believer’s faith is shown through the fruit of the Spirit being manifested within his or her life – see Galatians 5:22. Any person who believes these things and has personally experienced salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, who believes that the Bible is the errorless, irrefutable, Spirit-breathed Word of the Living God, is a part of the body of Christ. He is our brother. She is our sister.

Which brings me to the last point: check the Bible from cover to cover. The word “denomination” isn’t in there, either.

“For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all” (Ephesians 4:4-6, NLT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV).

What a marvelous God we serve! He became a man so He could know exactly what it was like to live as one of us. And then, even after living among us and seeing us as we truly are – despicable, unworthy, and vile – He, through His death and resurrection, chose to become the bridge that opened the Holy of Holies. His substitutionary act gave every believer direct access to the very throne of God. Jesus Christ became our One High Priest.

So what do we find at the throne of God? First, we find that it is a throne of grace. God’s unmerited favor is poured out on those who have accepted Christ’s redeeming sacrifice. Second, we see that at the throne there is mercy, the loving compassionate forgiveness of the Father. And third, we see that at the throne there is “help in time of need.”

All those blessings in one verse of His Living Word! And we’re not finished yet. Neither did He leave us to beg and grovel our way to the throne. Through His shed blood, we have become the children of God with the amazing privilege of coming “boldly” to Him. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending His angel to His servant John” (Revelation 1:1, NIV).

If the revelation given to John was to take place “soon,” what’s going on? Could it mean that the Bible is in error? No way! And if you read this in the originally language you’ll have a better understanding of that verse. The word “soon” was translated from the Greek word “tachi,” from which we formed the word “tachometer,” for example.

What that text means is that when these events begin to take place, they will occur with great speed. In other words, once God calls “It’s time,” He will waste no time fulfilling that which He has given us hundreds and hundreds of years to prepare for. It will all begin to occur in rapid succession.

And when Jesus Christ splits the eastern sky and gathers His Bride, the Church – those who have repented and received Him as Lord and Savior – it will take place in such a split second of time that there will be no opportunity for the unsaved to make things right. They, like the people of Noah’s day, will have missed the boat.

If Jesus called out His Bride right this second, do you know He’d be coming for you?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


The father stood in the kitchen and watched his son polish off the last of several cans of beer. “I know you’re an adult, but I really think you need to stay home tonight,” the father told the son.

“Didn’t nobody ask you what you think,” the son snapped. He grabbed the keys from the kitchen counter. “Don’t wait up,” he snarled, banging the door behind him.

The next evening wasn’t much different. “Son, I thought we could go grab a bite to eat down at the diner. Whatta you say?”

“I don’t think so. I got stuff to do.” The door banged shut and the father stood alone, watching his son drive away.

“I care about you. I don’t want you to do that.” That’s what the father was saying. “I care about you. Spend time with me.” That was all he wanted.

Child of God, when you don’t spend time with the Father, it’s all too easy to live in willful disobedience. It’s all too easy to find yourself getting deeper and deeper into territory you should never have walked into. Just like the father in this scenario, God will warn you, but He’ll let you walk away. He’ll never force you to obey Him or respect Him.

By the same token, it’s impossible to continue in willful disobedience when you ARE spending time with the Father. Are your actions speaking louder than your words? You don’t have to ask the Father what He thinks. If you’re His child, you already know exactly how He feels about your lifestyle.

“And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I was completely blown away when I recently read the John 13:1-17 account of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. It’s amazing how the Word truly is alive and how the Holy Spirit reveals more and more insights each time you read a passage. I hope you’ll take your Bibles and study this entire account.

As Jesus went around the room washing each of the disciple’s feet, Peter protested about the Lord stooping to such a lowly task. Jesus replied to him by saying, “… unless I wash you, you have no part in Me” (Verse 8, NIV). Jesus, as always, was teaching His followers lessons with meanings they would become increasingly aware of after Jesus had gone to the cross.

If you look over in Matthew 23:25-26 you’ll see a very pointed statement Jesus made as part of seven “woes” He spoke against the Pharisees. The disciples were present. They had witnessed Him saying, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Now think about whose feet Jesus was washing and prepare to be blown away like I was: right along with the rest of the disciples, He washed the feet of Judas. The Lord knew who His true disciples were, and yet He lovingly continued to call to Judas, and to remind the others that inward cleanliness – cleanliness of the mind and heart and spirit – were marks of a true believer.

Does your inward cleanliness match your outward appearance?

Suggested further reading: Acts 22:30-23:3; Ezekiel 13:10-16; Matthew 23

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Who do you think you are?” Ever had anyone ask you that? Undoubtedly, the tone of this question is intended to put you in your place, to let you know that the speaker considers you beneath him, that you’re trying to step beyond your bounds.

If you’ve ever been asked that question, don’t think you’re alone! In John 8:53b the Jews spat that very question at Jesus: “Who do you think you are?” (God’s Word). Can you imagine! They asked this question of the very Son of God!

And Jesus answered them by saying: “I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am” (John 8:58).

You see, Jesus was well aware of Who He was. He knew that He was doing His Father’s will, no matter how many people ridiculed or scorned Him.

If you’ve sought the Holy Spirit’s guidance and fervently prayed about your life’s direction, then rest assured that the Lord is faithfully guiding you. Don’t let anyone or anything discourage you or turn you from the path the Father has laid out before you. Walk victoriously in the knowledge of who you are: a child of the King and a man (or woman) on a mission!

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Are you a grudge-holder? I had a relative who often said, “I’ll forgive it, but I’ll never forget it.” Now how’s that for forgiveness? Certainly when we’re hurt or wronged by someone, it can be extremely difficult to forget what was done or said. But in order to truly forgive, we have to forgive with an attitude of letting go of the past.

See, we’re supposed to, albeit imperfectly, do as our Father does. No, you may never be able to completely wipe away the hurtful incident, but you CAN refuse to dwell on it, and you can ask the Lord to take away your recollection of it.

Which brings us to the point of today’s passage. How do you pray for your friends? Do you pray for them as you would for yourself or your own family members? Do you pray for those friends who have hurt you in the past, maybe even in the recent past?

Of all the people in the Old Testament, Job is the one whose tragedy-filled life is recorded in detail. Job clung to his faith even as he lost his children and his wealth. He clung to his faith even as his friends insisted that he should ‘fess up because there was no way all these bad things could be happening to him unless he was a sinful man.

So what happened to Job in the end? He repented. There are a number of viewpoints as to what it was he repented of, but most scholars believe Job was repenting of his refusing-to-budge attitude in insisting that he had done no wrong – pride in his “sinless” lifestyle may have been his sin. Too, he was surely very unhappy with his friends who had been less than supportive during his time of trial; so I would imagine Job also repented of any resentment he may have felt toward them.

Maybe you harbor some animosity toward someone you feel has wronged you. Perhaps this person is even a close friend who has no idea there’s even a problem between you. Let go of your grudge. Give it to God and repent. After all, He forgives AND forgets your repented sins, doesn’t He?

And what was the result of Job’s repentance? Job 42:10a says: AFTER Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again” (NLT). Just as God’s forgiveness is critical, so is our forgiveness of others. Without forgiving others, we can never know an unhindered relationship with the Father. Let go of your grudges and see the blessings of Jesus Christ poured out in your life.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Where do you get your beliefs? From your parents? Your pastor? Your Bible study teacher? Who?

All of us need to continually study the Word of God for ourselves no matter how much training and teaching we’re receiving from other sources. Why is this so important? Unless we’re knowledgeable as to what the Scriptures have to say, it’s far too easy to be misled by people who may intentionally or unintentionally provide us with errant information.

Paul knew there would always be people who had their own agenda in mind and would try to subvert the Word of God in order to gain support for their own viewpoints. Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus of this very thing: Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following” (Acts 20:30, NLT).

I thank God every day for the number of people He allows me to touch through these daily studies and Facebook messages – only God could make this possible. But don’t ever take my word or anyone else’s as the final authority on any matter concerning Jesus Christ. Read and study the Bible first and foremost. How else will you know if something you read or something someone says is off-base?

How urgent was this matter to Paul? He didn’t just tell the Ephesian elders to “Watch out!” He said: “Remember the three years I was with you – my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you” (Acts 20:31, NLT). I’d say this was a critical matter in Paul’s eyes, wouldn’t you? Make it priority in your own life too.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


While watching a TV show, I learned a common method for capturing one type of monkey. A hollow log is drilled with holes just large enough for the monkeys to get their hands through. Then coconuts, their favorite food, are placed inside the log. The ends of the log are sealed and it’s then placed in an area where the monkeys live.

The little critters soon spot the log and become curious about it. When they explore a little closer, they smell the tantalizing aroma of coconuts. They peek into the holes and see treasure. Reaching into the very small holes, they clutch the coconuts and begin to tug and bang against the log, trying their best to extract these huge treats through these tiny holes.

The hunter then walks up to the monkeys, a capture bag in hand. The monkeys, seeing the hunter coming, increase their frantic but futile attempts to pull the coconuts through the openings. The hunter calmly, one by one, grabs the monkeys and stuffs them into the capture bag.

The monkeys knew the danger of the hunter approaching. The monkeys could have easily scampered up a tree and escaped. But they stayed in their dangerously vulnerable positions. How could the hunter just walk right up and take the monkeys captive? Because they refused to let go of the coconuts.

Don’t miss this, folks. Those monkeys are a lot like us. Sometimes we suspect the danger, smell the danger, then see the danger; yet like the foolish monkeys, we want to hold on just a little longer. This is how Satan so easily entraps us.

Are you holding onto something that you should let go of? NOTHING, no temporal pleasure, no worldly gain, is worth being ensnared in evil. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you examine your own heart today.

“… lest the people be ensnared” (Job 34:30, KJV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


While visiting a church away from home, my husband and I listened as the pastor talked about his college-age son. When the boy was only a toddler, a serious illness afflicted him. Fever raged through his body and caused him to lapse into a non-responsive state, or coma. Doctors gave the child little hope, but miracle of miracles, he awoke without brain damage and without any of the other feared effects of the fever. But not every was okay. It was soon apparent that the child had become completely deaf.

The family went through all the usual “whys” as their son learned to adjust to his non-hearing world and as they learned to communicate with a child who could no longer hear their voices or enjoy the simple sound of laughter. All this was lost to their beautiful child. But at least their child was still with them.

“But why MY son?” the pastor posed the question. “We were serving the Lord, doing what He wanted us to do. Why did He allow this?”

The son grew and became a strong believer in Jesus Christ. He participated in youth meetings and mission trips around the world. Everywhere he went he was able to shine with the love of Jesus. He showed the world that his disability was simply a new-found ABILITY when he surrendered it to the Lordship of Christ. Because of his witness, a deaf church was begun in one country, a deaf ministry in another place, and on and on the work of the Lord expanded because of this one young man.

This son, this entire family, became excited about what God was doing. The pastor concluded by saying, “Can you imagine! The next voice my son will clearly hear will be the Lord Jesus, saying, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant!’ Now that’s worth waiting for!”

Maybe you consider your shyness or your lack of education a disability. Perhaps you have a physical impairment. Whatever your disability, placing it in God’s hands will transform it into an ABILITY that He can use for His glory.

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God … He upholds the cause of the oppressed and … sets prisoners free, … gives sight to the blind, … lifts up those who are bowed down ...” (Psalm 146:5, 7-8, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Why am I here? Is there really a higher purpose for my life? Have you ever asked yourself those questions? If so, the Word of God has Good News for you.

In Psalm 138:8a we read: “The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me” (ESV). Look at those eight words and you’ll see a world of encouragement within them:

  • The Lord of Lords and King of Kings is personally interested in YOU.
  • Not only is He interested in you, but He has a SPECIFIC PURPOSE for your life.
  • Unless your life is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ, YOU will never fulfill your reason for existence.
  • “Fulfill” means just what it implies: FILLED FULL. If your life seems empty, you’re not fulfilling your purpose for being here.
  • In your weakness God is truly shown to be strong. What you can’t do, He CAN. THROUGH YOU. If you’re committed to Christ, His Holy Spirit will work through your life to achieve that for which you were created and called.

The Christian life is an exciting life, a Spirit-led life, a purposeful life. If you’re not fully surrendered to the leadership and Lordship of Jesus Christ, you’re missing out on the greatest adventure this world – and the next – can offer.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Did you know that the book of Acts contains a formula guaranteed to bring a believer peace, strength, encouragement, and spiritual growth? Could you use a little of all that?

This formula is found in Acts 9:31. It says that the believers: “… enjoyed a time of peace. [They were] strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, [and] grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (NIV).

These Christians were enjoying all sorts of blessings because they were “living in the FEAR of the Lord.” What exactly does that mean? Simply put, it means to live in reverential awe of the Creator of the Universe. As usual, though, my best explanation is through example.

Growing up, I can’t recall my father dishing out a whole lot of punishment, yet I knew that I should do what he told me to. My father loved me and treated me with respect. He taught me his values and principles. In turn, I learned to love and respect him and I never wanted to do anything to hurt or disappoint him.

Surely, if an earthly father deserves that kind of respect, a perfect Heavenly Father deserves far more. Yes, God is loving; but He’s also One who will discipline His children for their own edification. When we ignore God’s laws and live as though He’s going to gently turn His head and pretend like He didn’t see us do anything wrong, we’re setting ourselves up for a fall. Satan is such a subtle deceiver. Once we allow even the smallest of sins to take root in our lives, he’ll water it and fix it in place – and quickly make room for even more.

The only way to avoid getting caught in this trap is to live in reverential fear of the Lord. And when you do, you’ll find that the very things your spirit desires most – peace, strength, encouragement – will grow more plentiful in your life.

Do you have peace? Are you strong in your faith? Do you feel the daily and moment-by-moment encouragement of the Holy Spirit? Are you growing in your faith? If you can’t answer YES to all of these questions, stop right now and ask yourself why not. Can you honestly say that in every way you live your life in respect of your Father’s teachings?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Yesterday we continued with the subject of having the courage to do what you feel God calling you to do. Perhaps you’ve already heard the Lord directing you to do something out of your usual realm. Let me encourage you to listen to His leading.

In Acts 8, Philip may have really wondered what the Lord was asking of him. As the church in Jerusalem began to suffer greater persecution, the believers spread to other areas, taking with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. Philip went to Samaria and preached the message of the Gospel. There, he was gladly received by a people who were hungry for the message of the Messiah.

Then the Lord directs Philip out into the desert to a road that ran from Jerusalem to Gaza. Here he was in Samaria, having an incredibly successful ministry and, right in the midst of it all, the Holy Spirit directs him to leave and go out in the middle of nowhere to the desert! Don’t you know Philip had to be wondering why he’d been sent off like that?

But Philip obeyed the Spirit and, once in the desert, was told: “go to that chariot and stay near it” (Acts 8:29, NIV). There the official in charge of Queen Candace of Ethiopia’s treasury was riding along reading the writings of the prophet Isaiah. When Philip realized this, he offered to explain these prophesies to the man. Philip’s obedience to the Holy Spirit gave him the opportunity to win the official to Christ, thereby spreading the Good News to the household of the ruler of Ethiopia.

Maybe you’re already involved in an active ministry. Wonderful! But don’t let a successful ministry stop you from hearing and obeying the Holy Spirit, should He begin to lead you in a new direction. No matter how well things are going right now, if God is pointing you elsewhere, rest assured He has even greater things in store.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Have you ever had an idea for a mission or ministry? Did you act on it? If not, why didn’t you?

So often we’re fearful that our ideas are not of God. Let’s look at that for just a minute. How many powers are at work in this world? Two: God’s unlimited eternal power, and the limited temporary power allowed Satan.

Would an evil being implant an idea that would bless others? No!

Don’t allow fear of failure or rejection to stop you from taking the steps of faith necessary to present or implement your ideas. In Acts 5 we read where Peter and some of the other believers were jailed because of their preaching of Jesus. An angel released them and told them to go back to the temple courts and continue preaching. The believers did just that, and were promptly brought before the Sanhedrin.

In the midst of the chaos that ensued, a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood before the tribunal and made a statement that was so profound that it was preserved within the Word of God so that believers throughout the coming generations would be able to read it. He said, “I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39, NIV).

Do you believe God is calling you to a work? Do you believe He is leading you to present an idea for a new program or ministry for your church? Fast, pray, seek Him with all your heart. Just as Gamaliel said, if God is leading in this, it cannot fail. Step out in faith and go for it.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Have you ever had an idea for a mission or ministry? Did you act on it? If not, why didn’t you?

So often we’re fearful that our ideas are not of God. Let’s look at that for just a minute. How many powers are at work in this world? Two: God’s unlimited eternal power, and the limited temporary power allowed Satan.

Would an evil being implant an idea that would bless others? No!

Don’t allow fear of failure or rejection to stop you from taking the steps of faith necessary to present or implement your ideas. In Acts 5 we read where Peter and some of the other believers were jailed because of their preaching of Jesus. An angel released them and told them to go back to the temple courts and continue preaching. The believers did just that, and were promptly brought before the Sanhedrin.

In the midst of the chaos that ensued, a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood before the tribunal and made a statement that was so profound that it was preserved within the Word of God so that believers throughout the coming generations would be able to read it. He said, “I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39, NIV).

Do you believe God is calling you to a work? Do you believe He is leading you to present an idea for a new program or ministry for your church? Fast, pray, seek Him with all your heart. Just as Gamaliel said, if God is leading in this, it cannot fail. Step out in faith and go for it.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Has the Lord ever done anything incredible in your life? If He’s saved you and brought you into His eternal Kingdom, He most certainly has! Every day we receive countless blessings, divine protection, untold touches of the Lord’s love, yet we rarely even notice.

Did you make it to work safely today? Do you have an income that meets your needs? Are you healthy today? As human beings we tend to complain to each other and to the Lord when things aren’t going well, but how often do we thank Him when things are going right?

Ever noticed how when you give a little child a special privilege or treat, he’s forgotten all about it and is ready for something else in no time at all? “But that was a long time ago!” he may tell you. Don’t we act just like that? When a momentous event occurs in our lives to clearly show the hand of God intervening in a situation, we are thankful, joyous, ecstatic. But a few years or months or even days later, we’re back to “situation normal” and we fail to appreciate His hand continuing to protect us and meet our daily needs.

How can we ever hope to win a lost world to Jesus Christ when we are so ready to complain and so slow to give thanks? We should be busy telling others what the Lord has done for us. We should be mindful of the little blessings just as we are the big ones. We should have so much joy that those around us who don’t know Christ as Lord and Savior look at us and have to ask, “What makes you so different?”

We should be praising God when we find a safe parking place at the mall. We should be thanking Him for the money to whisk through the drive-through and pick up dinner. We should be glorifying His name for His continual presence in our lives. Our attitudes of joy should be winning others to Jesus.

“For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Yesterday we looked at how the disciples were taught an important lesson about how those things we entrust to the Lord can be bountifully blessed and multiplied. But that same passage, Matthew 14:13-21, contains another valuable lesson.

In Verse 16b Jesus said “You give them something to eat” (NIV). Think about that for just a minute. Did Jesus need His disciples’ help? Of course not! Yet He privileged them with an opportunity to be a part of His ministry.

Jesus doesn’t need my or your help either. Yet He gives us this same privilege of being used for His glory. If you read the wonderful words of John 21:15-17, you see Jesus instruct Peter: “Feed My sheep” (John 21:17b, NIV). And then over in First Peter 5:2 Peter continues his Lord’s command: “Feed the flock of God which is among you” (King James, Cambridge edition).

Jesus wants those of us who have been nurtured in the Word to share our food. We’re not to tank up even on the Word of God for only the sake of feeding ourselves – we’re to share with others.

Are you being spiritually nourished? If so, are you sharing your bounty with others?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“I’m just one person!” “We’re a small church.” “A lot of the classes are bigger than ours.” “You know, we’re not ‘money’ people.” You hear all these statements often preceded by “We [or I] wish we could do more, but …” Truthfully, though, what does each one of these boil down to? We can’t do it!

The disciples were people just like us. In Matthew 14:13-21 we read about the five thousand men who followed Jesus far out into the middle of nowhere. In addition to the men, there were untold numbers of women and children. Jesus began to minister to the crowd and, as evening drew closer, the disciples pointed out to Jesus that He should send the people away so they could go buy something to eat. Isn’t that just like us humans – imagine, giving the Lord advice!

Jesus, knowing that the people were hungry and knowing that His disciples needed to learn a lesson, told His disciples, “That isn’t necessary – you feed them” (Matthew 14:16, NLT).

So the disciples promptly obeyed, right? Not exactly. They went through the crowd and came back to Jesus and reported, “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” (verse 17). In other words, they were saying, “See, Lord! What you asked of us is impossible. Now send these people away so they can find food.”

But what did Jesus do? He multiplied that which was entrusted to Him and thousands of people were fed on the bounty of one submitted meal. How He desires to do the same thing for us today! No, He won’t pry it from your hands and force you to hand it over, but when you willingly give Him your time, your talent, your gifts, your money (which are all His anyway, if you are His – see First Corinthians 6:19a-20b) He will multiply these abundantly.

True enough, we can’t do much. But we serve an awesome God who can do anything through a believer who is fully trusting Him.

What wonders will you allow the Lord to work through you?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Winning eternal life is a contest no one has to lose. Winning means accepting Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. But becoming a Christian is the beginning of new life, not the end of it. Once a person is saved, each new day is another opportunity for personal growth and to reach others for the Kingdom of God.

I love to read the writings of the apostle Paul because I enjoy word pictures and Paul was big on these. In First Corinthians 9:24 Paul uses the image of a foot race to depict the Christian life. He says: “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” (NLT).

Can you imagine entering a foot race without doing any training beforehand? Can you imagine entering without any intentions of trying to win? Neither behavior would make any sense, would it?

Yet many who have entered the Christian life through faith in Jesus Christ have entered with the misunderstanding that their arrival into the family of God marks the end of their journey rather than its beginning. A lot of folks might have a pretty good shot at winning a fifty-yard dash, but what about a marathon? Now that’s an entirely different story. While many might be able to put out the short-term effort required for a fifty-yarder, it takes rigorous, self-denying discipline to train for the endurance of a marathon.

And a marathon is what Paul is referring to when we read the word “race” in First Corinthians! The Christian life isn’t some namby-pamby jog through the park. It’s a gut-wrenching, all-out, full scale enduro!

Don’t just take up space on the racetrack. Get in there with the determination to be the best you can be. Ask the Lord to strengthen you for the long haul. Your Companion, your Comforter, God’s Holy Spirit, will run with you every step of the way.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


The story is told of an old mule that lived in a small pasture near a farmhouse. One stormy night the gate blew open and the mule wandered through the opening and out of the safety of his corral. As he was ambling along he walked across some boards covering an ancient dry well. The boards promptly gave way, plunging the mule to the bottom of the hole.

The farmer, waking and hearing the mule’s braying, hurried to the spot and immediately realized his mule was in a miserable situation. There was no way to assess the mule’s injuries without going down into the well. There was no way to pull the mule out without someone going down into the well and getting the mule into some sort of harness. Neither task was a viable option because there was too much danger of the well’s sides caving in or the injured animal thrashing about and crushing the would-be rescuer.

As time passed and the farmer continued to consider the problem, the mule ceased his struggling and lay on his side, his breathing becoming more and more shallow. The farmer realized that his faithful workmate was about to breathe his last.

“The best thing we can do,” the farmer told his gathered friends, “is go ahead and bury the poor thing. There’s no reason for him to keep suffering.”

With that, the farmer dug a shovel into the earth and began to heap dirt on top of the mule. The other men joined in and the soil began to rain down on the motionless animal.

Dirt filled his ears and nostrils and scattered across his closed eyelids; but the old mule wasn’t quite dead. Suddenly, with all the strength he had left, he raised himself onto his haunches, shook, and stood. As he did, the soil fell to the floor of the well and the mule stepped atop it.

The mule was so far down in the well that the men never saw the mule stand up, and the animal was far too spent for even the feeblest of brays. So the men continued to throw the dirt into the would-be grave. But the mule had decided to fight for his life. Each time a load of dirt landed upon him, he would shake it off and climb to the top of the mound.

As time passed and the men kept shoveling, the mule’s ears came into view. “Hey, look!” the farmer called to his friends. “Why, that mule must be smarter than we are!”

Realizing what the old mule was doing, the men began to shovel faster and faster. And each time the dirt hit the hole, the mule would step up on the load and get a little bit closer to the top. Little by little the mound grew taller and the mule was at last able to climb out.

Moral of the story? That mule took a negative and turned it into a positive. He took the very thing intended to bury him and used it to give himself a brand new start.

Are you in a situation that threatens to bury you? Don’t give up. Get up! With the Lord Jesus Christ in your life, there is absolutely nothing that can defeat you.

“The Messiah has set us free so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. So keep on standing firm in it …” (Galatians 5:1a, ISV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I have a confession to make: I’m a chocoholic. I love chocolate. I love milk chocolate, light chocolate, and white chocolate. I just plain love chocolate.

Chips and dip are another of my weaknesses. Onion dip, salsa, cheese, you-name-it. These are all absolutely scrumptious to me. Although I’m working hard to resist some of these taste bud tantalizers, I sure do enjoy each and every one of them.

No doubt you have favorite foods too. And if any of them are junk foods, I’m sure you’ve noticed the same thing I have: no matter how much you eat, these never seem to fill you up. They look good, they smell good, and they taste even better; but their nutritional value is minimal or nonexistent. They may temporarily fill the tummy, but they just don’t do much at all to provide proper nourishment.

I’ve sometimes wondered what the junk food of the Bible was. If there was such a thing, you know David – being a king – had access to it. Matter of fact, he was such a powerful ruler that there was nothing he hadn’t had the opportunity to sample, including forbidden goods.

But through all his experiences, he came to an awesome conclusion: he realized the emptiness of filling his life with anything other than the Lord.

Sure, we need physical food, but taking in the right foods is critical to our bodies’ well-being. The same holds true of our spiritual intake. There are many spiritual diets that can temporarily ease our hunger; but there is only One True Bread of Life. Honestly evaluate your spiritual intake and see how healthy your diet is.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the person who takes refuge in Him” (Psalm 34:8, GWT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“As long as I have you, I don't need anyone else in heaven or on earth” (Psalm 73:25, GWT).

If you had to give an immediate answer, what would you reply if asked, “What’s the most important desire of your life?”

I would imagine there would be any number of answers. “I want to have a child of my own.” “I want to find a life mate.” “I hope to become a …” Consciously or unconsciously, every person determines in his heart what he wants to do with his life.

I can remember writing being a part of my life even as a small child. I was seven when my Papa Woodward had to go to the hospital. I wrote him a letter every day and my daddy would take it to him as he went to visit – children weren’t allowed to visit back then. When Papa passed away, writing a poem about his death was the only way I could deal with my grief. Even though it was many years before I became a published author, I always knew in my heart that I wanted to do just that.

I can’t say that God intended for me to wait until I was in my forties to do some of the things I’m now doing, but I do know that, in earlier years, I wasn’t spiritually mature enough to have been entrusted with most of the opportunities He’s now given me. While I still have much growing to do, I at least know that anything I’ve accomplished for the kingdom of God has been through Him, and certainly not through any strength or ability of my own.

What is it you want to do with your life? Maybe you have a desire to write. Perhaps your desire is to do something entirely different from writing. Whatever it is, let me assure you that if you seek God, He will guide you and equip you to do whatever it is He has planned for you.

In recent years I’ve had some incredible opportunities come my way. And in a lot of cases, I have to confess I’ve been tempted to think, “This is so good, it’s got to be right!” But I’ve learned – and am still learning – that any time I don’t seek God FIRST, that glamorous opportunity may turn out to be a disastrous choice. Only when I’ve prayed and sought the Lord’s guidance have I been able to move forward with confident assurance of God’s blessing.

Child of God, your Father loves you. He wants to see you bloom into a mature and fragrant witness of His goodness. Every plan He has for you is in your very best interest. If there’s ANYTHING you’re seeking more strongly than to PLEASE GOD, you’re walking on a treacherous pathway that could crumble beneath your feet at any moment. Stop right now, before disaster strikes, and submit your life totally to His leading and Lordship.

“But first, be concerned about His kingdom and what has His approval. Then all these things will be provided for you” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 6:33).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Read Luke 13:23-30 and you’ll have a very graphic picture of what it will be like for those who ignore Christ’s calling and refuse to accept His offer of salvation. Jesus warns His listeners in Verse 24a to “enter through the narrow door” (NIV). Many people would have us to believe that there are many ways to enter into heaven. Jesus very clearly states that HE is the ONLY way, and that many people will try to enter through other means, all of which will fail.

But it’s important to realize Who is in charge of that gate. He goes on in Verse 25b and says: “When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late” (NLT). Time after time the Lord offers His saving grace to the lost, but a time will come for each person when that window of opportunity is no more. A person may repeatedly feel God calling him, feel the Holy Spirit tug at his heartstrings, and yet refuse to submit to His Lordship; only the Lord knows if or when that person has refused his final opportunity for salvation.

The message of salvation through Jesus Christ is the central theme of the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament. When God commanded Noah to build the ark, who shut the door when the rain began? The Lord Himself. Noah had warned the people throughout his years of boat-building that the flood was going to come to pass, but no one believed until the Lord closed the door of the ark and the rains began to fill the earth. Then all those who had laughed at crazy old Noah were suddenly pounding on his boat, begging, “Let us in! Let us in!”

But just as Noah had not had the authority or power to close the door, neither did he have the authority or power to open it – that right was solely in the hands of a Sovereign God.

If God closed the door of salvation this very moment, would you know without a doubt that you were safely inside His fold? What about your family members? Your friends? Your co-workers? A day is coming when Jesus will return for His own and only for His own. But even before that time comes, many will have ignored their very last opportunity to be a part of His Kingdom.

If you haven’t yet accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, please do so right now. If you have, then commit to use every day of your life to honor Him and draw others into His family – while there’s still time.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


In Mark 5:21-34 we read the account of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. This poor lady had been bleeding for twelve years and had spent everything she had in seeking a cure for her illness.

Imagine enduring this kind of problem every single day for twelve years – what probably began as an ordinary “time of the month” had turned into a sickness that continued for over 4,000 days! This blood loss had sapped her strength and health.

Equally troubling, she lived at a time when there were no feminine care products to help with her malady. This may not sound like such a big deal, but if you read Leviticus 15:19-30 you’ll see that the Levitical law imposed serious restrictions regarding this. Of course, we have to realize that some of the law was a means of dealing with genuine health concerns, but it still meant that a woman afflicted with continual bleeding was a veritable outcast.

Physically, emotionally, and financially ruined, the woman had nowhere to turn. But then she heard that Jesus had arrived in her town. She hurried to where He was, only to find that He was surrounded by a huge crowd of people.

Now let’s be realistic. How would many of us have responded? “I guess it wasn’t meant for me to get near Him. If it was, there would have been an opening in the crowd.” “I’ll just stand over here, and if it’s meant for Jesus to heal me, He’ll know I’m here and come and touch me.”

How often do we use “I guess it wasn’t meant to be” to excuse our own lack of faith or will to strive for victory? This woman was weak, sick, helpless, and hopeless. Yet in faith she fought her way through the crowd and went to Jesus. She didn’t get there and say, “Oh, now maybe He’ll turn around and touch me.” No, she reached for Him with all the strength she had. She grasped the hem of his garment IN FAITH and received her healing.

Jesus immediately knew that power had gone out from Him. When she told Him what had happened, He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace” (Mark 5:34a, NIV). She received physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. First Peter 1:9 talks about the spiritual healing that can only come through faith in Jesus Christ: “The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls” (NLT).

None of this would ever have happened had this woman not had the faith and will to overcome the obstacles between her and the Lord. Do you desire healing? Do you simply want a closer walk with the Savior? What are the obstacles between you and Jesus? What are you willing to do to overcome them?

It is never “meant to be” that a person not be saved. It is never “meant to be” that a believer walk in less than total victory. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from touching Jesus. He stands ready to meet your every need. Push aside the obstacles and go to Him today.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


The father doted on his son. On the boy’s sixteenth birthday, Dad had handed him the keys to a brand new red convertible, the very one his son had admired in a local dealer’s showroom. The father had already upped the young man’s allowance to an amount almost equal to his own first paychecks, but with his own birthday approaching, Dad stopped his son on his way out the door. “Here,” he said, handing him an extra fifty-dollar bill. “You might need a little extra this week.”

On Dad’s big day the family gathered to celebrate. While one table was laden with every imaginable good food, another was mounded with presents. The father beamed with pride and excitement as he saw his son slip a small package onto the stack.

The birthday songs sung, and the cake and ice cream having topped off the meal, the father was ushered to a seat beside the gift table. He opened and admired each gift, profusely and sincerely thanking each giver. This went on for several minutes, with the father carefully moving the smaller package about, saving his son’s special gift as the last.

He scanned the crowded room and gave his son a quick wink as he reached for the final package. Tearing off the paper, he lifted the top from the box and pulled out a $5 gift card to a local fast food eatery. Fighting the redness he could feel growing in his cheeks, the dad forced a smile as he met his son’s eyes. “Thank you, son. That was very thoughtful of you.”

Now let’s be honest here. Was the dad disappointed? Certainly. Was he embarrassed when the other people saw the token gift his son had presented to him? Yes. Obviously the dad was not in need of anything. Financially, he was able to buy himself whatever he needed or wanted. But knowing that his son had put so little thought into his gift, that he had obviously squandered the extra money he’d been given rather than use it for his father’s present – this is what hurt the most.

In Malachi 1:6, the Lord expresses His own feelings about how we show our respect to Him through our tithes, offerings and service. “So if I am a Father, where is My honor? … where is My respect?” (GWT).

Our Heavenly Father deserves our best. Not our leftovers. Not a dollar tossed in the offering plate every week or so. The Lord wants you to give of yourself financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. He wants your life to be a daily witness of His saving grace and life-changing power.

Picture yourself at your Father’s party this very minute. There’s no time to dash out for a last-minute purchase. Your “present” to the Father is the respect and honor of your current lifestyle and giving. Hold onto that mental image. He’s opening your package right now. What will He say to you? And what will you say in response?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Many studies rank financial problems as the number one excuse for divorce. We’ve all been so brain-washed into the mentality of the NOW generation that we don’t want to wait on anything. If we see a new car, we buy it. After all, you can get one with no down payment and no payment due for the next six months! Can’t afford a vacation? Why, just say, “Charge it!” Who needs cash when plastic gets the job done even quicker?

Satan has fooled us into thinking that the money we earn is our own. Not so. First Corinthians 6:19b-20a begs to differ: “… you are not your own; you were bought at a price …” (NIV). Jesus Christ gave His very life to pay for your salvation. You are HIS and, therefore, everything you claim to have is His, and not your own.

My Daddy used to tell me that I needed my “wanter” turned off. I think a lot of us would do well to heed Daddy’s advice. Getting caught up in the desire for worldly possessions is not a new thing. The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk addressed this issue in Habakkuk 2:6b: “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own” (ESV). The NIV goes on to say: “Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim” (Habakkuk 2:7).

Strong words, huh? And if you’re being haunted by overdue debts, you can certainly relate to feeling like a victim. In this day and time, it takes super determination not to owe money for housing or transportation, but we have allowed ourselves to be drawn into a society where credit is used for everything from groceries to gasoline. And this shouldn’t be.

Only two verses earlier we see a much more familiar passage: “… the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, NASB). When we “live by … faith,” we trust the Lord to provide our needs. Certainly we do our part to see that these needs are met, but we do so with the understanding that our needs and our wants are separate issues. When it comes to wants, saving and waiting is the way to appreciate those extras when we acquire them, and it’s also the way to honor the Lord by refusing to be foolishly encumbered with debt.

How are you honoring the Lord with your money management?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Continuing our look at Nehemiah, we see that his work on the walls of Jerusalem was a breeze, right? After all, God had appointed this task to him and the king had provided him with help and supplies. The people had all jumped in to help and everything was going along peachy-dandy. Am I right so far?

Wrong! First, if you look in Nehemiah 2:19a, you see the typical naysayers that are always around to offer their discouragement: “But when Sanballat …, Tobiah …, and Geshem … heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us” (NIV). Nehemiah had risked his life in getting the king’s permission to go and lead in the rebuilding, yet these men, rather than offer their help, criticized the whole idea.

Opposition to the work became so severe that Nehemiah had to divide the people so that some stood watch as armed guards while others performed the labor. Nehemiah 4:21 says: “So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared” (NASB). Backbreaking dusk to dawn work.

And yet the people kept at it and succeeded. How? Nehemiah 4:6b holds the answer: “… for the people worked with all their heart” (NIV).

Note two things about this passage: (1) the people gave their all on this project. It wasn’t just a work of man – it was a divine assignment blessed by the Lord; and (2), because the people understood this, they worked with ONE HEART; the passage doesn’t say “all their HEARTS.” The people were of a single heart, mind, and spirit.

What is the Lord calling you to do today? Whatever it is, do it. And do it with your whole heart. No, it may not be easy, but God will keep you moving forward if you'll listen and follow His leading. Obey His call, continue your work faithfully, and He will bless you with success.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Nehemiah served as the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes. One day his appearance was so sad that the king asked Nehemiah what was troubling him. Nehemiah explained to the king that one of his brothers had come from Judah and told him how Jerusalem’s walls had been torn down and the gates burned, that the people were disheartened and in need of help.

Nehemiah asked King Artaxerxes to allow him to go to Jerusalem to take part in the rebuilding. How did Nehemiah succeed in getting the king’s permission? First, according to Nehemiah 1:4, he sought the Lord the moment he received the news of Jerusalem’s condition: “When I heard this, I sat down and cried. I mourned for days. I continued to fast and pray to the God of heaven” (GWT).

Which means that Nehemiah was confident that he would be allowed to go to Jerusalem, right? After all, Nehemiah 1:11b shows us that he specifically asked the Lord to “… grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (NLT).

But no, Nehemiah was still human, and in Nehemiah 2:2b we read: “I was terrified.” Nehemiah was “terrified” to approach the king. After all, how dare this Jew prefer a city in rubbles to the luxuries of a king’s palace! Nehemiah knew that if the king was angered by his request to leave the palace that he had the power to end his life in an instant.

But being fearful didn’t stop Nehemiah from going through with what he believed the Lord wanted him to do. He received the king’s permission and was not only allowed to go, but the king provided soldiers and letters granting Nehemiah supplies and safe passage. Nehemiah 2:8b puts it this way: “And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me” (ESV).

If you read on, you’ll see that Nehemiah’s work was hindered from within and without. His task was at no point easy. But he was successful because he continued to trust in the Lord and do what he believed God had called him to.

Too often when we are led toward a decision, we think our fear is a sign that this is not the direction God would have us to go. Yet Nehemiah’s life shows us that this isn’t necessarily so. Through prayer and, yes, through fasting, we can be far more certain as to what the Lord would have us to do. Don’t allow fear to stop you when God is calling.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Has an untrue statement about yourself ever made its way back to your ears? Several years ago, I found out that a lady had been (and still is) bad-mouthing me, saying I had taken advantage of an elderly relative of hers. If you call being a friend and taking her places and spending time with her “taking advantage,” then I’m guilty as charged.

This lady assumed that: because her relative was (A) elderly, and (B) well-off financially, I wouldn’t want to spend time with her unless there was something in it for me. And she was right. There was something in it for me: a wonderful friendship and the sharing of years of experience and godly living.

Did I confront that charming relative? Nope. I’ve finally gotten old enough and maybe even wise enough to realize that when it comes to people who can’t be reasoned with, the best thing to do is leave them alone. Pray for them, yes; but don’t try to change their opinions of you or anything else. I rest in the knowledge that Jesus Christ, who knows me better than I know myself, knows my heart and that I would never take advantage of anyone.

If you’re like me and want to “fix” everything, you need to hear this: we’re not obligated to solve every problem that involves ourselves, let alone the whole world. What we are obligated to do is either prayerfully: (A) take whatever action we can to ATTEMPT to resolve the problem and then, REGARDLESS of how we are received, to respond in a loving, Christ-like manner; or (B) leave the situation alone, put it in God’s hands, and continue to pray for your own attitude and that of anyone else involved.

And only by following the Holy Spirit’s guidance can you know which of these is the right thing to do. Be at peace knowing that Jesus knows the truth and let that be enough.

“When people verbally abuse us, we bless them. When people persecute us, we endure it. When our reputations are attacked, we remain courteous” (I Corinthians 4:12b-13a, GWT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I’m so blessed to have a godly husband and friends I trust and confide in. How wonderful to know that these people know me – I mean REALLY know me – and yet love me, warts and all. They encourage me and pray for me.

But even with people like these surrounding me, I have an even greater confidante in the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows me better than my husband, better than my family, better than my friends. He knows all about my sins, shortcomings, and faults – beyond anything that anyone else can even imagine. And yet, in spite of knowing all this, He loves me!

Psalm 62:8 says: “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (NASB).

When was the last time you truly poured your heart out to the Lord? He’s your very dearest Friend, your Father, the Lover of Your Soul. You can’t shock Him. You can’t cause Him to stop loving you. And there’s no time when you can’t fully trust Him.

No child of God will ever face any circumstance alone. The Lord is with His people and He offers forgiveness, comfort, and refuge.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


My church is blessed with an amazing staff, including music ministry leaders like Bro. Roy McNiel who delivered a wonderful message a few years ago that impacted me so much that I still remember it. His topic was “Dancing with God” and he talked about how when two people dance together, one must lead and the other follows.

That one statement really got me to thinking: there’s such beauty in seeing a couple who really knows how to dance. I’m not talking about vulgar gyrations, but elegant dances like the waltz and other ballroom dancing. Remember Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire? You can see them in action in this video clip:

Fred and Ginger had danced together for so many years that they were simply beautiful together. I don’t think Ginger ever went onstage worried that Fred would forget a step. And undoubtedly Fred never wondered if Ginger would foul things up by trying to take the lead.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be that confident as we “dance” through our lives with the Lord? Since He knows exactly what He’s doing, why would we ever want to do the leading? And since He knows us better than we know ourselves, He knows our next step before we even take it.

Trying to do life your way instead of God’s way is a recipe for needless suffering and heartache. He wants to hold onto you and take the worries off your shoulders and onto His. The Lover of Your Soul wants you to let Him lead. We can’t survive on our own; we need Jesus!

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4, NLT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I’m always quick to call on my brothers and sisters in Christ to join me in praying for a need. I know there’s power in prayer and that some people are true prayer warriors who won’t quit until they know they’ve heard from the Lord.

But when people ask me to pray for their needs, how do I do? Do I pray for these needs as fervently as I do for my own? Not always. Yet when my needs are being prayed for, I want people who are fully committed to bringing my requests before the throne!

While reading the book of First Samuel, I came across this passage in 12:23: “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (AKJV).

What! Not praying for someone can be a sin? Well, let’s see what the New Testament has to say: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (James 4:17, NIV).

Have you told someone you’d be praying for them when that very moment was really about the last time you gave their request a single thought? Or do you seek the Lord for others as sincerely as you want others to seek Him on your own behalf?

We are family, God’s children. Let’s encourage and pray for each other as our Father would have us to.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Once when my dad was in the hospital I had gone downstairs to the cafeteria and was standing in a long line of employees and visitors, each of us waiting for our chance to place our lunch order. I watched the ladies behind the counter as they hurried from one task to another, each one completing their own part before the order was passed to the next worker so she could perform her part of the preparation.

By the time the tray was delivered to the cash register each worker had had a hand in making the meal. Everyone had helped prepare the food. And what was really amazing was that each person had done her part cheerfully. Those ladies worked together like well-oiled machinery. Their goal was not just to move each patron through the line as quickly as possible, but to also treat each person kindly and fulfill their requests.

Not a single one of them complained about anyone’s order. None of them whined about the monotony of their work. None of them demanded special attention or claimed that their part in the order was the most important. They all smiled and joked with each other and with their customers and made our wait in line much more pleasant than it could otherwise have been. I even suspect that these dear ladies worked with the realization that the people standing in that food line didn’t need any added stress in their day—after all, many were either working with critically ill patients or sitting with critically ill family members or friends.

The church, the body of Christ, is to work together with this same fluidity, this same oneness of attitude and purpose. Each member of the body of Christ has a responsibility to do the Kingdom’s work, to meet the needs of others and to do it CHEERFULLY, “as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23, ASV). The people we encounter each day don’t need any added stress, and we as Jesus Christ’s representatives here on earth certainly don’t need to be the source of added stress.

The cafeteria ladies left no doubt as to the Source of their teamwork and spirit. At the end of the counter was a handwritten sign: “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth!” Don’t we all need that kind of help! And guess what? It’s available. All we have to do is ask.

“I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say” (Psalm 39:1, NLT).

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


On a city sidewalk a man roughly shoves past an elderly lady who is toddling toward the crosswalk. Suddenly the woman cries out, “My purse! That man stole my purse!” The thief darts across the intersection and disappears.

A policeman, hearing the alarm, hotfoots it to the lady’s side. “You say your purse was stolen?” the officer asks.

“Yes, that’s right,” the woman shakily answers. “He ran that way,” she points.

“Okay,” the officer says, flipping open his notebook. “Tell me exactly what happened.”

“It’s difficult for me to explain,” the lady stammers. “Maybe that gentleman over there can help.” She indicates a hot dog vendor nearby.

“You! Come here a second, will you?” the policeman calls. The vendor steps in front of his cart and looks questioningly at the pair.

“Did you see the man that snatched this lady’s purse?” the officer questions.

“Nah,” he replies, “I was taking a break. But I was mugged last year. This big guy …”

“Uh, thank you, but I want to know what happened to this lady,” the officer interrupts.

“Now look, ma’am,” the policeman turns back to the woman. “You’re your own witness. So let’s have it. What exactly went on here?” He poises his pen expectantly.

“Officer,” the woman indignantly huffs, “I’ve been through enough already! I refuse to talk about it.”

Did the behavior of the lady in the above scenario strike you as a bit odd? Yet that’s exactly how most of act when anyone approaches us about witnessing. Whether your conversion was a simple act of confession as a child or a dramatic change in later years, YOU are the one it happened to. And like it or lump it, this obligates you to tell your story. Every person who has experienced the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is a witness, albeit a good one or a lousy one. What sort of witness are you?

“A truthful witness saves souls …” (Proverbs 14:25a, World English Bible).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


A man sat down for his interview with the sales manager of a shoe manufacturing firm. “I’m a salesman,” the man told the manager. “That’s what I’ve done for the past twenty years and that’s what I still want to do. All I need is a chance.”

“Well,” the manager told him, “we only have one opening and it’s in a very remote country on the continent of Africa.”

“I’ll take it!” the man told him, and off he went to the little country in Africa.

Shortly after his arrival, the sales manager received an email: “Am returning as soon as possible. No one in this country wears shoes.”

Sometime later another man asked for an interview with the sales manager. “I’m a salesman,” he said. “That’s not just what I do. It’s who I am. All I need is an opportunity.”

“I’m going to tell you the same thing I told the last man,” the manager said. “The only opening we have is in a tiny country in Africa.”

“I’ll take it!” the man responded, and off he went to the little country in Africa.

Shortly after his arrival, the sales manager received this email: “Send the largest assortment of shoes you can ship. Everyone in this country needs shoes!”

You see, where the first salesman considered his trip to Africa chance, the second man thought of it as opportunity. Where the first salesman saw a people with no desire for shoes, the second man saw a people who needed someone to introduce them to shoes.

Just as the pessimist sees the glass half empty while the optimist sees it half full, your willingness to see and use your opportunities to witness are all in your attitude. And like the shoeless people in the story, non-Christians aren’t interested in what they know little or nothing about. In order for them to see their need, someone has to tell them.

Don’t write anyone off as not worth witnessing to. Don’t think chance will ever bring you to a time to witness. Opportunity is everywhere. When the grocery clerk asks “How are you?”, tell him, “I’m blessed; and I hope you are, too.” You can’t imagine the doors a simple statement like that can open! Every day we have dozens of opportunities to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. How many of yours are you using?

“… and you shall be My witnesses …” (Jesus speaking, Acts 1:8b, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“So if you… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 7:11, NLT).

The book of Luke includes a very similar passage: “So if you… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Jesus speaking, Luke 11:13, NLT).

Matthew 7:11 is so often used as a “name-it-and-claim-it” passage, yet look at its partner from Luke. These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. The “good gifts” of Matthew 7:11 are clearly defined in Luke 11:13: “the Holy Spirit.” The third person of the triune Godhead is the greatest gift we can ever receive. And He is the one who gifts each and every believer to be a working member of the body of Christ.

Think of it this way. A person can go to a two-hour seminar and learn the basics of CPR. But would you want that person performing your open heart surgery? No way! In order to develop that kind of skill, a person would have to spend years and years and years getting the necessary education and training.

The moment a person asks Jesus Christ to become Lord and Savior of his life, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside that person. But through reading and studying God’s Word, listening to sound preaching and teaching, it’s possible to receive a deeper filling of the Spirit.

Look back at the passage from Luke. Jesus said, “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit.” Would He have said “more” if more wasn’t possible? Certainly not. But most believers are operating on so much less than what God has to offer and missing out on so much that He wants us to know, receive, and have working in our lives.

How do we change this? God is never the One who complicates things. He said, “to those who ask.” You want the “good gifts” in abundance? Study the Word; be faithful in a Bible-teaching church; and ask God for a deeper filling of His Holy Spirit.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Living in the “Bible Belt,” you pass churches galore whenever you’re out driving. Most have signboards out front where changeable messages can be posted. Recently I did a double-take as I saw one that read: “If you die without Jesus, you will split hell wide open.”

Was it a true statement? Well, those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior won’t be making it to heaven, but was that message Good News? No! Read your Bible and you won’t find a single place where Jesus reprimanded the unbeliever. His only harsh words were for those who claimed to know and believe. Jesus reached out in love. He gave hope. And we’re to do likewise.

Certainly inside the church the whole truth is to be taught; but as we reach out to those outside the body of Christ, we’re to do so with a positive message. Telling someone that he’s condemned to hell is not a great way to encourage them to walk through the church doors.

Let’s not criticize those outside the body of Christ. Instead, let’s pray for them and show them the hope we have in Christ Jesus. And let’s not bad-mouth our brothers and sisters in Christ, either – to those within the church and especially to those outside of it. Matter of fact, let’s keep all our criticisms to ourselves. There are more than enough people out there ready and willing to share a discouraging word. Let’s share a message of encouragement, within and without the body of Christ.

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (I Thessalonians 3:12a, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Years ago I used to think that a nominating committee and the hand of God were pretty much one in the same. When I was asked to lead a Wednesday night class of first and second grade girls, I must say that I was stunned that the Lord would appoint this task to me; after all, I was used to being around boys, not girls, and I’d always worked with groups a little closer to adult level. But if God was calling me to teach these youngsters, who was I to refuse?

Thus began the most miserable year in my teaching history – and I suspect an equally memorable and miserable one for those poor little girls. I in no way related to them. Even as a young girl myself, I was a tomboy. Week after week we struggled through the lessons. I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy with my position as their teacher when God had obviously directed me to fill that slot. How wrong I was!

The Lord has a place of service for every person in His kingdom. No one is left out of that calling. Sure, some prefer to work quietly behind the scenes. Others love to be up front, the very center of attention. But wherever your spot is, you’ll feel drawn to it. Maybe you’ll have to try several places before you find your fit, but you will KNOW when you’ve found the right place.

Looking for a place of service? Pray diligently for the Lord to lead you to where He would have you to serve. Uncomfortable in where you’re now serving? Consider changing positions. As a member of the body of Christ, most assuredly there’s a perfect fit for you somewhere.

“… the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” (I Corinthians 12:12b, NLT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“I don’t know why Sue Ann thinks she has to be in charge every time we do anything.” “My Bible study teacher doesn’t hold our attention.” “If Johnny Lee sings one more solo, I’m going to scream! That boy can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out why certain people end up in the positions we find them in. At times it seems some spots are filled by the absolutely most unqualified, incapable people. Why is that?

Paul answers this in a humorous but honest way in First Corinthians 12:12-26. He talks about a foot deciding it would rather be a hand, an ear that wants to be an eye, and an eye that decides it’s so important that it doesn’t need the other body parts. Sounds ridiculous, huh? Not really, when we look at this as Paul intended: a glimpse into the body of Christ here on earth.

Some of us just feel like any job could be better handled if WE were the ones in charge. Then there are others who think their abilities are not adequate to allow them to perform any role within the church. Both of these attitudes can create problems. When someone takes over an area where he is not called to serve, it’s just like the foot preferring to be a hand. And when someone refuses to recognize or be obedient to his own calling, that position ends up being filled by someone who really doesn’t fit as that part – like the ear trying to perform the eye’s job. The result is a crippled or semi-functional body.

You have a place of service in the body of Christ. If you are overloaded, realize that you are not THE BODY – you are only a part of it. If you’re miserable in the place you have taken, recognize the possibility that you are probably not performing your designated function within the body. And if you aren’t doing anything, get busy! Pray; seek Godly counsel; and find your place of service for the Lord.

“God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them” (I Corinthians 12:18a, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


One night I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom, and since I’d accomplished this feat plenty of times without mishap, I didn’t bother to turn on any lights. This time, though, I got a little too close to the foot of the bed and caught my little toe on the base of the footboard.

Talk about pain! I let out a yelp and collapsed to the floor, hugging my poor foot and hoping that I’d not broken my throbbing toe. Once I was able to get up and flip the light on, I could see that I was going to live, albeit with a badly bruised toe.

You know, a little toe makes up a very small percentage of the human body, but when injured, it can put the entire body into some kind of pain. Similarly, the body of Christ is made up of many parts, each with its own specific function. There are no unnecessary parts and, in order for the body to be healthy, no parts should be nonfunctional.

Paul wrote in First Corinthians 12:26a: “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (NIV). This is a twofold statement, in that: (1) when a fellow believer hurts, we as his brothers and sisters in Christ should share his pain; and (2) when any part of the body of Christ is not functioning properly, the rest of the body suffers.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are a part of His body. So let me ask you: do you know your position, your place of service, in the body of Christ? And are you diligently fulfilling that function?

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (I Corinthians 12:27).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Elijah was one of the great Old Testament prophets. Just as each of us has a time to leave this earth and, if we are truly saved, go on to be with the Lord in heaven, Elijah knew that a time would come when he would no longer walk the earth. In preparation for that day, he took Elisha under his wing and taught him so that the work of the Lord would continue through Elisha even after Elijah’s departure.

The miracles God worked through Elijah are numerous and astounding. Surely Elisha witnessed things beyond what most of us could imagine. But more importantly, through the power of God, Elisha went on to DO equally amazing things.

Having learned from the greatest prophet of his time, having been in the limelight, so to speak, along with Elijah, Elisha was well aware of the awesome power that had been bestowed upon Elijah. As Elijah is preparing Elisha to take over as prophet, he asks him, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away” (II Kings 2:9a, NLT).

Wow! Having seen such wonders first-hand, Elisha could have expectantly asked for a zillion things, but he didn’t. He asked for one: “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me” (II Kings 2:9b, ESV).

What’s your greater desire: more faith or more “stuff”?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 6:33, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


My sister and I are the only two children of our parents. My sister became the “Mama’s girl” and my dad took me under his wing as “Daddy’s girl,” making me into a pretty fair carpenter and woodworker in the process.

One of the tough projects I worked on with my dad was rebuilding my grandfather’s garage. It had been torn down years before and my dad wanted to rebuild it right where it had originally stood. The concrete floor remained, but that was about it.

As we surveyed the situation, I was flabbergasted that my dad wanted to take up concrete and all and start from scratch. “Daddy, that’s a lot of work,” I told him, as if he didn’t already know.

And I remember his reply: “I know that, but the garage won’t be any good unless we come up off the right foundation.”

There’s a world of wisdom in that little sentence, isn’t there? Psalm 127:1 speaks of this very thing: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (NIV).

Single people, is your home planted on the Solid Rock of Christ? Being single may be your desire for your lifetime, but if you’re seeking a lifemate, what’s the basis for the relationships you’re cultivating? Are these firmly built upon Jesus?

Married folks, what foundation is your home on? Is it the never-failing foundation of Jesus Christ, or do you find you’ve built on shaky ground?

As long as you’re breathing, it’s not too late to change who’s in charge of your life’s direction. Whether it’s your personal commitment to the Lord or your commitment to your spouse, your significant other, your children, or anyone else, the Foundation stands Rock solid and ready to lead you. All you have to do is put aside all the junk and rubble of the things of man that you’ve tried to build on and call on Jesus. He’ll show you how to clear away the debris, climb out of the mess, and start building on that one Foundation that will never, ever fail you.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


In recent weeks we’ve looked at how mankind was created in the image of God. We’ve seen how we are to praise God because He literally indwells the praises of His people. But what we haven’t examined too closely is the duty of man.

Webster’s defines “duty” as: “obligatory tasks or functions that arise from one’s position.” We, as Christians, are in what position? Ephesians 5:23 teaches us that “Christ is head of the church” (ESV). And who is the church? The body of Christ. Us. That same verse goes on to remind us that “He is the Savior of the body.” What body? The church. Again, that’s us.

So, as His earthly body or representatives saved solely by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we are UNDER the Lordship of Christ. And if we are UNDER Him, then He is ABOVE us, making us, sort of as Webster’s put it, obligated to Him based on our position in Him. In other words, we have a DUTY to Christ.

And just what is that duty? The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us in 12:13: “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” 

See? Nothing mysterious or hard to understand about that, is there? (Bear in mind, of course, that the word FEAR means REVERENCE.) One old hymn talks about Christians being “soldiers in the army of the Lord.” A true soldier will honor his Commander-in-Chief by fulfilling his DUTY. Do you?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


There are often no explanations for the troubles Christians experience in this life. One of my dear friends was a strong woman of faith and yet she went through more tragedies than some of us can imagine. Her house burned; her son was shot in a freak accident; her first grandchild was stillborn; and she battled cancer three different times. That may sound like an overwhelming heap of trouble, but believe me, I’m only hitting the highlights.

Tragedy seems to strike indiscriminately, or as the Bible puts it: “He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 5:45b, NLT).

So what makes us as believers different from non-believers? Our response. We can go along the bumpiest of roads knowing we are not alone.

Secondly, we who are children of God know that at the end of our road is an eternity with a loving Father who will never again allow us to suffer and will erase all memory of every pain and sorrow we’ve experienced.

“Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


A couple of years ago, a friend told me about running into a mutual acquaintance of ours. “Can you believe Judy’s getting to travel to all those places?” Ms. Mutual commented. “And can you imagine her being on television! Did you ever dream she could do anything like that? I sure didn’t!”

First, I have to say I agree with that lady! I’m still amazed at the opportunities the Lord has given me. But if you’ll look over in the book of Numbers in the Old Testament, Chapter 22 relates an event that explains God’s using me as well as it could ever be explained.

Look in Verse 28a. It says: “Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said…” (NIV). (And it’s okay to laugh and/or agree with the comparison!) You see, God can do anything! He is the ruler of all creation and, even though we don’t always understand His ways or choices, He is nonetheless just as much in control.

If the Lord can open the mouth of a four-legged little ol’ donkey, it is well within His power to open doors of ministry to a two-legged little ol’ Alabama girl like me. Or do something far greater through YOU.

Great or small, the Lord has a work for YOU to do. Don’t let anyone discourage you; don’t let anyone cause you to doubt. Seek the Lord; and when He points you toward your work, don’t say, “I can’t do that!” because you can! “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Jesus speaking, (Luke 18:27). And when you submit yourself to be used by Him in whatever way He chooses, you will dare not be prideful – you will give praise and credit to your Savior.

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


“Therefore … let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NIV).

Note Verse 1 above begins with the word THEREFORE. In others words, the writer is saying, So because of the things I’ve just told you, “let us throw off …”

And what had just been said? Hebrews 11 is known as “the faith chapter” because it lists the great heroes of faith from throughout Scripture – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, David, Samuel, and on and on. The writer of Hebrews is saying, Look what each one of these people accomplished. YOU can do great things for the Kingdom, too, when you put your trust fully in Christ.

Look at the formula in those verses: (1) “Throw off everything that hinders.” In other words, give those burdens to the Lord; a runner strips himself of every unnecessary weight. (2) Get rid of “the sin that so easily entangles.” How can a runner hope to win the race with one foot tangled in a trap? (3) “Run with perseverance.” Where do you get the stamina to keep going? From daily communication with your Heavenly Father and time in His Word. (4) “The race marked out for us.” As a believer, like it or not, you’re in a race. You aren’t a spectator. You’re a participant. Live your life so as to finish knowing you have done your very best. (5) “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.” Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes on the prize. When you focus on Jesus, He will keep you on track.

Now you’re probably familiar with the part of Verses 1 and 2 we just looked at. But what else does Verse 2 have to say? “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” Jesus endured the cross because He saw beyond it to His eternal glory and the redemption of those He loves.

Run your race with the same attitude. Look beyond your circumstance and concentrate on your goal. Racing requires your best, your all. That’s what Jesus was willing to give for YOU. What are you willing to give for Him?

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Yesterday’s Bible passage talked about the importance of consistent discipline for children. I want to expound on that a bit more today.

Can you imagine this? A policeman stops you for speeding. “I was doing 55, sir. This is a 60 mile per hour zone,” you tell him.

“I know the sign says that, but we’ve decided to reduce it to 50,” the officer replies.

Disgusted though you are, you pay your fine and put the incident behind you. Two days later, you’re driving down the same stretch when a patrol car again pulls you over. “Now what?” you grumble as you fish for your license and registration.

“Ma’am, this is a 45 mile an hour zone and you were doing 50,” he tells you. “I’m gonna have to write you a ticket.”

“But,” you sputter, “the sign still says 60! And I was doing 50 because I was just told two days ago that 50 was the new speed limit through here!”

“Yeah, well, that was a couple of days ago, ma’am,” the officer shrugs. “We’ve decided that just wasn’t slow enough, so we dropped it another five miles an hour.”

Now wouldn’t that make a whole lot of sense? And yet on almost a daily basis, I run across parents whose rules and discipline are every bit as inconsistent. Verbal threats seem to be the weapon of choice: “You better not! I’m warning you. I mean it now. Alright, I’m going to count to ten.”

Then more often than not, nothing ever happens. When the parent finally acts, the child is astounded and distraught. Equally significant, having heard the parent’s idle threats so often, the child hasn’t the first clue what suddenly warranted the discipline.

Without clearly defined rules, it’s impossible for a child to understand his boundaries. Our Heavenly Father wants us to understand the confines within which He wills us to conduct ourselves, so surely His example should be the one we follow as earthly parents.

Whether you’re the parent, grandparent, or step, make certain the children in your care know precisely what rules your household operates within. In making these boundaries clear, you’ll avoid many conflicts and give those children a far greater sense of security.

“… bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4b, NLT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I love Dr. James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” programs. When he wrote the bestselling book “Dare to Discipline,” I knew he was a man after my own heart!

With all the moms who choose or find it necessary to work outside the home, sometimes discipline seems to fall to the wayside just a bit. “I just hate having to get onto him when I haven’t even seen him all day!” one mom told me.

Granted, you don’t want to meet your child at the door with a switch in your hand, but it’s sheer nonsense to think that allowing him to disobey you or disrespect you is acting in love!

God addresses this issue throughout His Word. In Proverbs 13:24 we read: “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them” (NLT). In Hebrews 12:8, we read this stern statement: “If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all.”

Trendy psychologists and “child advocates” of today would have us to believe that disciplining a child can do irreparable harm to his little psyche. Begging all their learned pardon, I’d say that failing to discipline a child can do far greater harm. And of course, when I use the word “discipline,” I’m referring to constructive restraint or punishment that is administered firmly and timely, and with an end goal of teaching a child to live within the boundaries his parents set before him.

By establishing consistent rules and discipline, your child will have less difficulty learning to accept the moral and spiritual boundaries of the Christian lifestyle. And until he makes his own decision to follow the Lord, this training, your own lifestyle’s witness, and a whole lot of prayer are the three constants that will help point your child (or grandchild) in the right direction.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Few people can imagine what Jonah went through while he was in the belly of the whale, or great fish. Scripture tells us that when Jonah repented, the fish vomited him out onto dry land – and he hurried off to do what the Lord had commanded him to do in the first place.

I’ve heard people who think themselves scholarly explain that the story of Jonah is merely a fable, a fictitious parable, meant to teach us a lesson about obeying God. I beg to differ! John identified Jesus as the WORD; Jesus called Himself the TRUTH. Why should THE WORD AND THE TRUTH have to use fiction?

Somewhere in the volumes of your local library is a book called The International Shark Attack File. In it you’ll find every documented case of shark attack known to man. You’ll even find the attacks that inspired Peter Benchley to write the book Jaws.

But among all those other bits of information, you’ll find the account of a sailor who fell overboard and was swallowed intact by a mammoth shark. The shark was later killed and hoisted onto the ship’s deck. When the shark was cut open, the crew was astounded to discover their shipmate was alive! The only permanent harm the man seemed to have suffered was that the acids within the shark’s body, in working to digest him as lunch, had bleached the poor fellow chalky white from head to toe!

God told Jonah to go and preach to the Ninevites so they could be given an opportunity to repent before their wickedness brought down God’s destructive wrath. Maybe they would have listened had Jonah gone on over there when he was originally commanded to. Who knows? But undoubtedly, when a cotton white guy walked into town and began telling them about his experience in trying to run from God, don’t you know those Ninevites wasted no time turning over a new leaf and begging God to forgive them!

Admittedly, this is my own speculation on how Jonah looked when he came out of that fish; but the point is, there is modern evidence that proves an incident such as Jonah’s was a realistic account. Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking any part of God’s Word is less than genuine. Over and over again, the Lord continues to show man that His Word is irrefutable and everlasting.

“The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 12:41a, NLT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Who hasn’t seen the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life?” Actor Jimmy Stewart plays a man who believes that his entire life has been one useless waste. But then he’s given the chance to see what his part of the world would be like if he had never been born. Through that experience, Stewart realizes that his life has counted for far more than he could have ever imagined.

Maybe you’re finding it difficult to see where your life is making a difference. It’s not likely that you’ll have a “Wonderful Life” experience, but you can know that your life is making a difference.

Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Luke 11:23a, NIV). If you are truly “with” God, in that you’re living a life that is in keeping with Christ’s teaching and you’re witnessing to others, then count on it: you’re most certainly making a difference.

Paul explained it this way in First Corinthians 3:6: “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (AKJV). We may not have the privilege of seeing the seeds of our witness come to fruition; nonetheless, God is faithful. When we obey Him and sow our witness in others’ lives, He will faithfully bring in the harvest in His own time. Be encouraged, my fellow worker!

“… for in due season we shall reap …” (Galatians 6:9b).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Can anything good come from a bad experience? That depends on whether or not you give that experience to the Lord. If you do, amazing things can happen.

But still, who in their right mind wants to go through a crisis? I’ve heard people quote Romans 8:28 to explain how a terrible tragedy can be a good thing. Yet I cannot corroborate this with Scripture. All things are NOT good. What the Bible does affirm is that IN all things – good times and bad times – God continues to work for the good of His people.

So can anything good come from our troubles? Isaiah 48:10 says difficulties are part of our refining process: “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (ESV).

Still, that’s not much of an answer, is it? Why would God allow one of His children to go through affliction? First Peter 1:7 explains a little further: “… that the tested genuineness of your faith … may be found …” (ESV).

No one expects you to celebrate bad times, but it definitely takes a lot more faith to praise God when things aren’t going so well. You CAN have hope and peace throughout difficulties; and as you pass through the fire, you can also know that, as you entrust these troubles to the Lord, your faith will increase and mature.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Are your needs being met? I’m talking physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. If you consider yourself short-changed in any of those areas, First Thessalonians may have the right piece of advice to solve your problem.

In 4:11a we read: “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands” (NLT).

Okay, that’s three areas for us to examine. (1) Are you leading a quiet life, or are you trying to cram far too much into one space of living? Make a commitment to God to eliminate some of the unnecessary things that keep your life at high speed. (This is something I have to do on a regular basis.)

(2) Next comes a toughie. Do you mind your own business? Life is often stressful, but stress is first and foremost caused by failing to take our burdens to the Lord, and secondly, by interfering in other people’s lives. A lot of people want to tell others their problems, but here’s what you need to remember: Listening is one thing; interfering or advising is another.

Too many times we add our two cents where it doesn’t belong and we end up being hurt or angry. Certainly we’re to care about and minister to others, but we have to draw the line at forcing our help or advice on anyone. Learn to listen without comment.

(3) The last part of 4:11a talks about “working with your hands.” Plainly put, you can’t bum off others and expect to have your needs met. If you’re physically and emotionally able to care for yourself, do for yourself whatever you can before seeking the help of others. And remember, too, that when a person is busy, he or she doesn’t have time to meddle in other people’s business.

Learn these things and what happens? The next verse gives the answer: “you… win the respect of outsiders (unbelievers), and have need of nothing” (I Thessalonians 4:12b, ISV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


To me, one of the gutsiest verses in the entire Bible is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul is talking to the Corinthian believers about making certain that their walk matches their talk. He wanted them to be Christians from the inside to the outside.

And here’s what he says: “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1, NLT). In others words, “Hey, Jesus is not here in the flesh, but I am. Don’t worry about how to conduct yourselves. Watch me, and do as I do.”

Could you make that kind of statement? I’d be scared silly to tell anyone that! Why? Because too often my walk and talk don’t match up. I don’t want to advise anybody to look to me as an example of what Christ is like.

And yet, fellow believers, here’s the truth: every day, people are watching us and assuming that whatever they’re seeing us doing IS showing them what Jesus is like.

Gandhi, a great leader of India, once said, “Were it not for Christians, I might have been one.” God forgive us, there’s a mouthful of truth in that statement, isn’t there?

Like it or not, people are looking to you as their example of Jesus on this earth. Make every effort to be like Him. You truly are the only Jesus some may ever see.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


You’re in the showroom, gazing longingly at a brand new car. A salesman walks over and says, “Great weather we’re having, huh?”

You really like that car. You continue to admire it as you tell the man, “My car is just about ready for the graveyard.”

“Uh-huh,” he nods seriously. “Maybe you just need a tune-up.”

“No, it’s so old I’m afraid to drive very far in it anymore,” you explain. “And my job requires a lot of road travel.”

“That’s tough,” he shakes his head sympathetically. Then extending his hand, he says, “Hey, been real nice talking to you.” And off he goes.

“Hey!” you call to the retreating figure. “Aren’t you a car salesman?”

“Well, yeah,” he answers, red-faced, “but I just hate to be pushy.”

“Believe me,” you tell him without even attempting to disguise your irritation, “pushy is the last thing I’d call you. When’s the last time you sold a car, anyway?”

“Well, uh,” he stammers, turning an even darker shade of red, “my wife bought one from me a couple of years ago.”

“Oh, brother,” you mutter, as you make a hasty retreat.

Of course, this isn’t a very likely car sales scenario, but it’s very typical of how we often witness: very reluctantly.

People WANT to know about Jesus. People are DYING for lack of that knowledge. No one wants to be bowled over by a pesky, over-zealous Bible-pounder; but if you’re listening and watching for opportunities, you’ll realize how often people want to ask, “Where does your hope and peace come from?”

Don’t pass up chances to tell others about Jesus. Better yet, pray for and consciously seek them.

“Go therefore and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19a, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Ever feel like God’s a million miles away from you? I’m sure you’ve already heard all the stuff like “Guess who moved?” and all that, so that’s not what this is about.

Fact is, there are times when a believer is reading her (or him) Bible, spending time in prayer, and attending church, and yet there seems to be an aching gap between her and the Lord. Are you feeling like that right now? Having been in that spot quite a few times, I may have a solution that fits your case. Psalm 22:3 tells us that God “… inhabitest the praises of …” His people (ASV).

See, we can read and pray and “church” ourselves to death, but if we don’t priase the Lord along with doing all these other things, we’re going to eventually hit a wall of separation. After all, if, as the Bible tells us, God is IN the praise of His people, it would certainly explain why He seems so far from me sometimes. And maybe that explains why you, too, may now feel, or have in the past, felt a distance between you and the Father.

Maybe you’re not in the best of circumstances right now. Maybe things aren’t going well at all. No matter. Just praise Him, and see the glory of God lift your spirit above your circumstances.

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His righteousness” (Psalm 7:17a, ESV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Praise Him, praise Him, Jesus our Blessed Redeemer …”

Are those words familiar to you? They’re from one of the grand old songs of faith I grew up singing in church. Maybe you did too.

As I was sitting down to write, that tune was running through my mind. And I began thinking, why did God create us? A visit in the book of Isaiah answered my question. Isaiah 43:21 says: “… the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My praise” (NIV). The God of heaven formed us FOR HIMSELF – to be His children, to fellowship with Him!

If you delve into some serious Scripture study, you’ll find that Lucifer, who became Satan, was in charge of praise and worship in heaven. And since that was his position before his fall, it is presumable that the angels who followed his rebellion were those who were already under his charge – in other words, the praise team. Certainly the remaining heavenly angels – two-thirds of the original number – honor and praise the Lord. But in the case of mankind, look back at Isaiah 43:21: this was God’s purpose for our creation – for us to PRAISE Him!

So if you’ve ever wondered, “Why am I here?” now you know the answer.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Have you ever seen any of those programs where they interview movie and television stars and show their “before” photos? I remember seeing one and going, “Wow! Did her looks change or what?!?” Patsy Ann McClenny’s (the actress’s real name) high school pics didn’t remotely resemble the person I knew as Morgan Fairchild.

Maybe you remember Andrew Agassi promoting Kodak in the 1990s with the slogan “Image is everything.” True enough, when it comes to photography, it’s all about capturing the right image. But I can think of a few zillion other commercials that emphasize how driving this particular car or wearing these certain clothes are critical choices in order for a person to maintain the right image.

In today’s society, image is pretty much everything. If you don’t own the latest iPhone, iPad, house, car, boat, and everything else, you’re a hopeless outcast – at least that’s what advertising campaigns want you to believe. And in fact, there are a lot of silly indebted-to-their-eyeballs folks out there who have literally bought into this ridiculous mentality.

What I find most interesting is that the word IMAGE is what’s used in Exodus 20:4 as the graven thing we aren’t supposed to create. We’re to be hung up on ONE IMAGE and that one is spelled out at the beginning of the Bible. In Genesis 1:26 the Trinity says, “Let us make man in Our image …” (NASB). The Holy Trinity: God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ the Son. As Colossians 1:15a puts it, Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (NLT). And we, my brothers and sisters, are made in the image of Christ.

So see, it’s true – image IS everything! But there are a lot of images out there. Make sure you’re following the right one. Submit your life to Jesus Christ and let Him mold you into His likeness.

“… to be conformed to the image of His Son …” (Romans 8:29b, ESV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


So often I’ve opened my big mouth and said something that I would give just about anything to be able to take back. But sadly, once words have been spoken, all the apologies on earth don’t take away the hurt that has been caused.

The book of James has much to say about the power of the tongue, but I’ve found a passage – Psalm 141:3 – that’s a tremendous help. In this verse David is asking the Lord to help him not only KNOW when to keep silent, but to be OBEDIENT to that knowledge. And if a man of God like David felt the need to pray this prayer, I should be praying it all day every day!

It says: “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips” (NLT).

Do you struggle with opening your mouth first and engaging your brain later? I sure do. I hope you’ll make this verse a part of your daily prayer life. I still have a long way to go, but praying this specific prayer is helping me get there, and I know it will help you, too.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18, NLT).

Can you remember when you first committed your life to Jesus Christ? Though raised in a Christian home and taken to church every time the doors were open, I was woefully ignorant of Scripture, God, and most everything else. Today I know I have a long journey ahead of me as I grow in the Lord, but I can also look back and see how very far the Lord has brought me.

But that’s one of the neat things about being a Christian. Even the tiniest step of faith brings us closer to our goal: being like Jesus. And as we move in His direction we see that “first gleam” become brighter and brighter and brighter.

Why’s that? In First John 1:5b we read: “God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.” Jesus Christ is the pure and perfect Light; and as we draw nearer through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers, our paths through life truly are illuminated so that we can more and more clearly see the direction the Lord desires us to take.

Another amazing thing happens as we draw closer to the Light: we start to glow, too. Just as the moon reflects the blazing light and power of the sun, we as believers reflect more and more of the SON as we draw nearer. And as we reflect His Light, we in turn show His Light to others.

I love what my former Bible study teacher Sandy often said: “We hope you feel warmed and welcome here.” Warmed, as from the glow of the Son. How’s your glow today?

“… you are a guide for the blind and a light for people who are lost in darkness” (Romans 2:19b).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


In Luke 17 we read the account where Jesus and His disciples had come into a town and met ten lepers. The lepers cried out to Jesus, “Master, have mercy on us!” (v. 13, NLT). Jesus did just that, saying to them, “Go show yourselves to the priests” (v. 14).

As far as what the Scripture tells us, Jesus didn’t approach these ten men – He merely spoke to them and gave them one simple instruction. But was His instruction really that simple? Lepers were to steer clear of all other people. They were to call out as they passed nearby, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn people of their disease. They most certainly weren’t to go near the priests! And yet this is where Jesus sent them. And most significantly, He sent them just the way they were: unclean.

But as they stepped forward in obedience to the Lord’s command, something incredible happened: “… as they went, they were cleansed …” (v. 14). Hallelujah! What a Savior! The Living Word spoke and ten men were healed of a dreaded disease.

And then what? They all rushed to thank Him? No, the Scripture paints a clear picture of how ungrateful we humans can be once we’ve gotten what we want. One, a Samaritan, “when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’ He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him for what He had done” (v. 15b-16a). One man out of ten. Weren’t those nine the most ungrateful people you can ever imagine?

But let’s bring that example a little closer to home. We believers are continually asking God to move, aid, and intervene in our lives. Sometimes He acts so immediately that we are astounded, and profoundly grateful. At other times, the little things we’d mentioned during times of prayer are so subtly taken care of that we hardly notice that the problem about which we’d been so concerned never came to fruition.

Is the picture starting to form? The Lord works so many wonders in our lives every single day, and yet, more often than not, we chalk those up to having “had a good day” and never thank Him – say maybe nine times out of ten …

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


The blind man in John 9 was seated by the roadside when Jesus passed by. When Jesus stopped beside him, He spat into the dirt, made a mud or clay from the mixture, and anointed the blind man’s eyes. Then He told him in Verse 7: “Go … wash in the pool of Siloam” (NIV).

Now let’s be realistic here. The man couldn’t have had an easy time maneuvering around the city. Doubtless he could have found a well or some other source of water a whole lot closer than the pool of Siloam. But what did he do? He trusted Jesus at His word and fully obeyed His exact instructions.

This is why I said I believed him to have been a man of great faith. He didn’t ask Jesus to explain the biological makeup of Siloam pool water. He didn’t question Jesus’ medical credentials or methodology. And he certainly didn’t say, “Let me see what I can do on my own and then I’ll get back to you.” No, he simply did what the Lord told him to do.

And the result? Verse 7b tells us that answer: “He … came back seeing” (NASB).

Do you want to see the power of God? Oh, my brother or sister in Christ, how the Lord wants to do so many great things in your life! I know some things that happen in your life may seem to make no sense at all, but even in those times God is still God. Trust Him and obediently do the things He’s calling you to do.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


The blind man in John 9 was seated by the roadside when Jesus passed by. When Jesus stopped beside him, He spat into the dirt, made a mud or clay from the mixture, and anointed the blind man’s eyes. Then He told him in Verse 7: “Go … wash in the pool of Siloam” (NIV).

Now let’s be realistic here. The man couldn’t have had an easy time maneuvering around the city. Doubtless he could have found a well or some other source of water a whole lot closer than the pool of Siloam. But what did he do? He trusted Jesus at His word and fully obeyed His exact instructions.

This is why I said I believed him to have been a man of great faith. He didn’t ask Jesus to explain the biological makeup of Siloam pool water. He didn’t question Jesus’ medical credentials or methodology. And he certainly didn’t say, “Let me see what I can do on my own and then I’ll get back to you.” No, he simply did what the Lord told him to do.

And the result? Verse 7b tells us that answer: “He … came back seeing” (NASB).

Do you want to see the power of God? Oh, my brother or sister in Christ, how the Lord wants to do so many great things in your life! I know some things that happen in your life may seem to make no sense at all, but even in those times God is still God. Trust Him and obediently do the things He’s calling you to do.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


So bad things do happen to good people? First of all, Jesus said, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18b, NASB).

Look over in John 11:4 and read what Jesus said about Lazarus: “This illness is not meant to end in death. It is for God’s glory” (ISV). Lazarus was Jesus’ dear friend and yet he obviously endured a sickness severe enough to kill him. And even though Lazarus was brought back to life by the power of Christ, he still went through a very difficult time – to put it mildly – along with his entire family. Have you ever thought about that part of Lazarus’ experience?

And think about this one. Look back in John 9. Here Jesus and His disciples come upon a man who was born blind. Before Jesus heals the man, the disciples ask Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2, NASB). And Jesus’ answer still speaks volumes to those who will hear with spiritual ears: “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” (John 9:3, NLT).

Note that Jesus said this before the man was healed. Was the healing how God’s glory was revealed? Surely this was a mighty showing of God’s power. But what was the man’s life like prior to his receiving his sight? I believe it was a life of great faith. I believe he was expecting the Messiah, his personal Savior – and we’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

Not only can we show others God’s glory when He performs miracles in our lives, we can also glorify Him in and through sickness and trouble.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Based on yesterday’s passage, do you think it’s resisting the devil so forcefully that keeps you worn out? After all, that’s a full-time job in itself.

In Ephesians 6:11 we read: “Put on all the armor that God supplies. In this way you can take a stand against the devil’s strategies” (God’s Word). If you read Verses 14 through 20 there, you’ll see a list of very specific armor we are to be covered in at all times.

But look up at Verse 10. It says: “… be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” (NASB). How strong is God? How limited is His power?

Child of God, there is absolutely nothing that can come against you and defeat you when you are battling in the power and might of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you’re using God’s power and might, when does He tire and run out of energy?

Sure, in this life, we may experience many things that we’d prefer not to, but the ultimate battle has already been won, and the daily battles can prove Christ victorious again and again when we suit up in His armor and combat the enemy in His strength.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


You’re sitting in your apartment watching television one evening when you hear a noise that definitely didn’t come from your TV. You glance toward your front door and are horrified to see that the doorknob is turning.

That’s when you realize that you’ve forgotten to fasten the safety chain and dead bolt. As you race toward it, the door edges inward a fraction of an inch and you know that you’re in a battle that could mean life or death. If you can shove the door into place and latch the chain and deadbolt, you’ll have time to phone for help. If you can’t, you don’t even want to think about the possibilities.

Heart racing, you push against the door. The force on the outside pushes a little harder. You push again. The door is shoved back at you more forcefully.

Now, it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to answer this question, but I’ll ask it anyway: Pushing against that door is going to be exhausting work. Do you think you’ll give it a couple of tries and quit, or do you think you’ll give it all you have? After all, it’s only your life that depends on your reaction.

In James 4:7b we read: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (NIV). Guess what? The original tense of the verb translated as “resist” actually means to “resist and keep on resisting.” Born-again children of God, every moment of every day you remain on this earth, Satan’s desire is to wreak havoc on your life. He can’t steal your eternal life, but he most certainly can kill your joy, your peace, and any aspect of your life where you do not firmly and continually resist his attacks.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” These words of Jesus are recorded in Mark 11:24 (NLT). Sounds good, but was He serious? You better believe He was! Yet I’ve prayed for many things that I never received. And I’ll bet you have too. What are we doing wrong?

James answers that question in 4:3: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (NIV). Hmmmm. So you mean there’s no blanket “gimme” factor we can use to call down the blessings of God?

James explains Verse 3 in Verse 15. He says, “… you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will …’” (NIV). Yes, God most assuredly hears every prayer lifted up by a believer, but His answers are according to His will and purpose, not our personal agendas.

Before you ask God for anything, spend time in His Word, in conversation with Him, and in personal reflection and meditation. Then when you do bring a request to Him, you will be far more able to ask only for those things that are within His perfect will.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Strolling across a field covered in neat rows of trees, you look around and admire the rich red apples covering the branches. When you arrive at the roadside you see a ramshackle old shed and an elderly gentleman seated on the stoop of the narrow front porch.

“Hello!” you call out. “Could I pay you to let me pick a few of your apples?”

“Don’t see why not,” he smiles.

“Your apple trees have really put on the fruit this year,” you comment as you reach for your wallet.

“Oh, them ain’t apple trees,” he looks at you conspiratorially. “Ever’ last one of them’s pear trees. Dangedest thing you ever seen, ain’t it? And this is the first year this has ever happened! Why, up ‘til last year, I sold the hound out of pears from that orchard!”

“That’s, uh, almost unbelievable,” you tell him as you slowly replace your wallet. “On second thought, I really don’t need any apples right now. You have a nice day.” You make as quick an escape as possible, wondering all the while about the old fellow’s mental state.

You see, it would make no sense at all for apples to be growing on a pear tree. Why, without grafting or other unnatural interference, that would be an impossible phenomenon!

A plant cannot change the fruit it produces. And the same holds true for believers. James put it this way: “My brothers, a fig tree cannot produce olives, nor a grapevine figs, can it?” (James 3:12a, ISV).

A true believer in Christ Jesus will produce the things of Christ. You don’t have to wonder about your salvation. Look at your crop and you’ll know.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Have you ever dashed into a grocer’s to pick up one or two items? You scurry past the produce, suddenly remember you should pick up a couple of tomatoes, stop, back-track, and bag those. Down the next aisle you go to grab a loaf of bread. But before you get there, you see the shelves of salad dressing and decide you better add that while it’s on your mind. Before you get to the checkout line, you’re clutching a two-foot high stack of goods.

Now let’s suppose you finally decide you need that grocery cart. Would you go get it and then only drop in the things that were falling out of your overloaded arms? No, you’d dump the whole load, wouldn’t you? No one would be foolish enough to wag all that around with a perfectly good grocery cart right there with them, would they?

Yet this is how many of us handle the burdens of life. We’re going along and suddenly a problem lands right on top of us. We take it in stride, move ahead a bit, and then BANG! Another problem drops into our lap. And another, and then another, and then another. We keep this up to the point that we’re carrying all we can carry, our knees are buckling, and we just don’t think we can take another step without collapsing. Then, when it finally reaches that point, we say, “Lord, I’m so burdened. Here, take this one and I’ll just keep hauling the rest.”

Why? First Peter 5:7 says: “… casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (KJV 2000). Note the word ALL. The Lord didn’t tell us to hand over the things that are breaking our backs and our spirits. He said to turn it ALL over to Him.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Your teenager gets a speeding ticket. “That’s it,” you say. “You are no longer my child. I don’t want to see your face again.” Is that how a loving parent would react? Undoubtedly you wouldn’t be happy with this bit of news, but it’s unlikely you’d disown your child – although I would hope you’d at least make him pay his own fine!

So how does a loving Father God react when His children sin? I mean, what is it that keeps a saved person saved? Perseverance? Endurance? Achieved perfection? No, the answer can be found in First Peter 1:5, which says: “… who are kept by the power of God” (AKJV). Now that’s holding power!

The Christian life is not a matter of hanging on for dear life, clinging to the coat tail of a Savior who is dragging you along as you plead with Him not to leave you. He is your Heavenly Father and the most loving Father of all.

Know that He loves you enough to discipline you when needed, but also know that He loves you far too much to ever let you go. He may allow you to pay the earthly consequences for your sin, but He will continue to love you as His own dear child.

“… and I give them eternal life. They will never be lost, and no one will tear them away from Me. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than everyone else, and no one can tear them away from My Father” (Jesus speaking, John 10:28-29, God’s Word).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Now let’s just suppose you’ve started to get your feet wet in the waters of service. Mind you, when I talk about service for the Lord, this most certainly doesn’t mean that everyone is called to teach or even to a specific job within your church. But every single Christian most assuredly is called to a place of service somewhere!

Let’s say you’ve found that spot you feel the Lord wants you to work in. You’re wading along and beginning to feel a bit confident in the Lord’s leading. (No, you’ve not doubted God’s ability to lead – you’ve been concerned about whether or not you’re hearing Him correctly.) Before you know it, the water gets deeper. You find yourself up to your ankles, then your knees, then your waist, and on and on.

Or you may be one who steps into a very sudden drop-off! Either way, you reach a point where you cry out, “Lord, I knew this would happen! I’m in over my head!” And there you go, frantically heading back to shallower water.

Stop! Stay right where you are; quit struggling; and be still. So you can drown? No! So you can discover the power of your Life Jacket, Jesus Christ. He wants you to get in deep enough to learn to depend totally on Him.

“Have courage! It’s Me. Stop being afraid!” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 14:27b, ISV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I want to tell you about a ladies’ Bible study class I used to lead. I am delighted to say that this class began to shrink rapidly after the second year. If that sounds strange, let me explain.

I had taught a number of different age groups from ladies to children, college/career to co-ed adult; and the one thing I’d realized was that most adults liked to “sit ‘n’ soak.” So when I agreed to lead this ladies’ group, I fervently asked the Lord for a name for our class that would encourage them to step out in faith.

What He gave me was “The Boat Class.” And He directed me to a graphic artist friend who drew the very picture God laid on my heart for our classroom door. The drawing depicted a small wooden boat – no motor, just oars – with a number of ladies seated or standing inside. One lady was standing in the water with her hand reaching to help the next lady out of the boat.

That image became a powerful message to our class as, Sunday after Sunday, the Lord gave me His message for these ladies. You see, there are so many lessons we learned from that little boat: (1) as believers in Christ Jesus, we’re all in the same boat. We are one. (2) We are not alone. (3) We are to put there to minister to each other. (4) When we step out in faith we find that our fears are unfounded – God didn’t let us get in over our heads. The lady in the water was standing only knee-deep; she’d never have known how deep the water WASN’T if she hadn’t stepped out in faith! (5) God is always ready to help us, often through the ministry of another person. And (6) once we have stepped out in faith, we need to help someone else get their feet wet.

So why did my class dwindle? Almost half the class accepted places of service during the Bible study hour. Don’t be afraid to take action on what you feel the Lord calling you to do. You won’t have to go it alone. Get out of that boat and into the waters of service. Come on in, the water’s fine!

“He [Jesus] said, ‘Come.’ And Peter got out of the boat …” (Matthew 14:29a, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Sometimes it gets downright disheartening to see what ungodly people seem to get away with. Ah, there’s that little word: SEEM. God is consistent. No sin goes unpunished.

“So,” you ask, “why is it that I get into trouble every time I step out of line and yet my unbelieving acquaintances manage to get away with everything short of murder?” For the explanation, picture this scenario:

You’re in a crowded store and you have your five-year-old with you. As you turn to look at a rack of clothes, you hear a loud crash. Spinning around, heart pounding, you see your child standing right beside you while another youngster is standing three feet off the ground amid a smashed display of merchandise.

“Lady, get that kid down from there!” the store clerk angrily calls to you as he charges toward the scene.

“Hey,” you retort, “that’s not my child!”

Are we beginning to see the picture here? God’s discipline is extended only to His own children. Those who refuse adoption into His family through faith in Jesus Christ will never be disciplined by God upon this earth. While we as His children may be lovingly reprimanded at every turn, despite our shortcomings and because of His tender mercy, we will one day live with Christ in eternal glory. On the other hand, lost people will be forever separated from God.

So when you see someone who appears to be going unpunished, could be that’s God’s way of saying, “Hey, that’s not My child.”

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering …” (1 Peter 4:12a, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Maybe you have children of your own; if not, I’d bet you used to be one! Remember whenever you were outside playing? One youngster would be at “home base” as “It” in a game of Hide-and-Seek. “100! Ready or not, here I come!” he’d bellow. Even though you were tucked away in the lower forty, you heard the shout and you knew that he would never figure out where you were hidden.

Now think back about how selective your hearing could be. This time it’s your mom calling you. “I didn’t hear you,” you tell her when she finally comes out to haul you into the house. Sure you did; you just ignored her.

If we aren’t careful, we find ourselves tuning God out too. At first it’s really hard to ignore Him. But as He calls and calls and you continue to ignore Him, it gets easier and easier to simply pay no attention. Hebrews 3:13 says: “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (NIV). This verse is not just addressing the call to salvation; it also speaks to God’s guiding voice speaking to believers.

What has God spoken to you about lately, and what has been your response? One day the Lord will shout, “Ready or not, here I come!” There won’t be any hiding then.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


We’ve talked about praise, adoration, confession, and intercession. Now let’s look at thanksgiving. What’s the difference between praise or adoration and thanksgiving?

Praise and adoration stem from simply recognizing who God is. The Creator of the Universe is worthy of all praise and adoration. Thanksgiving is thanking God not just for what He’s done, but also thanking Him in faith and trust that He has heard your prayer and that He will answer in a way that is in the absolute best interest of you His child.

So before you add that concluding “Amen” to your next prayer, take some time to thank the Lord for having heard you. And let Him know that you thank Him and trust Him not only for what He’s done, but for the things He’s going to do.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done” (Philippians 4:6, NLT).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


How often do you praise God each day? The answer to that question determines the attitude with which you face the problems and circumstances of your daily living.

Here’s why: Psalm 22:3 says of the Lord: “But you are holy, O you that inhabit the praises of Israel” (AKJV). Our Savior lives in, shows up, and exults in the praises of His people! Based on that information, ask yourself: what kind of house do I provide for the Lord Jesus Christ to dwell in? Is it a glorious mansion, built on continual praise and thanksgiving? Or is it closer to a pup tent or hastily erected tarpaulin?

You want to have a closer walk with the Lord? You want the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to be as close as the whispers of your heart? Then “praise the Lord,” regardless of your circumstance.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6, ESV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
praise Him in His mighty heaven!
Praise Him for His mighty works;
praise His unequaled greatness!
Praise Him with a blast of the ram’s horn;
praise Him with the lyre and harp!
Praise Him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise Him with strings and flutes!
Praise Him with a clash of cymbals;
praise Him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!”

(Psalm 150, NLT).

There’s a time to quietly worship and there’s a time to shout His praise from the rooftops! The final verse of the final psalm in the Book of Psalms declares: “Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

Or, as the NIV words it: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” I just can’t see the psalmist writing this or thinking this without exclamation points. He was excited about God! Shouldn’t we be, too?

Do you have breath? Then use it to “praise the Lord!”

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


You go to the store; you buy a tube of your usual toothpaste; bring it home; open it; and squeeze a glob onto your toothbrush. When you begin to brush your teeth you instantly gag. “This isn’t toothpaste!” you sputter. “This tastes like car wax!”

Weird, huh? Of course, this isn’t likely to ever happen. Why? Because it’s pretty much a given: when you buy toothpaste, you get toothpaste. When you squeeze a tube of toothpaste, you get toothpaste. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

But let’s look at the Christian life. Jesus BOUGHT us with His very blood, making us His Father’s children, His brothers and sisters in the faith, and heirs to the Kingdom of God. If His death and resurrection and our acceptance of His sacrifice made us all of this, then why is it that we’re so inconsistent? James said it this way:

“Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!” (James 3:10, God’s Word; read the rest of the chapter and you’ll learn a lot more about this).

And don’t read this and think: “I don’t use bad language.” If negative situations in your life send negative words flying out of your mouth, then you, my friend, are cursing (speaking ill or expressing negative thoughts) rather than blessing – whether you’re speaking of your own life or someone else’s.

Let me ask you, my brothers and sisters: When life squeezes you, what comes out? I pray it’s Jesus.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Continuing from yesterday’s look at flashlights, there’s something else we need to see about flashlights: they require batteries. And what are batteries? Stored energy.

We who are Christians have been filled with the Spirit, just as a battery has been filled with energy. But just as a battery loses its strength as it is used, so do we. And sometimes our daily walk takes a lot out of us. The only way we can keep His light shining brightly in our lives is to keep our batteries fully charged.

How? By now, I’m sure you know the formula: Bible study, conversation with God (prayer, which should include praise, confession, repentance, intercession, petition, and thanksgiving), and fellowship with other believers.

Remember, God’s power is EVER READY, but our supply of that power needs regular recharging.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


You’re out in the woods and you hold in your hand a fully functional flashlight. It’s pitch dark and you need to get home. How do you get there? You turn your flashlight on. And now the light makes a narrow pathway visible ahead of you.

But you can’t see very far. What are you going to do? Stay put? No way! You want out of those woods. So you take one step, and then another, and then another. And as you do, the most amazing thing happens: every time you take a step forward, the flashlight illuminates a whole new section of the pathway!

The Holy Spirit works like that flashlight. For you, child of God, He’s your constantly available Source of Light and strength. But it’s still your choice whether or not you avail yourself of His Power. And it’s also your choice whether or not you follow the pathway He lights.

When you’re fearful of what lies ahead, the best way to combat that fear is to take one more step of faith. When you do, you’ll see that the Light has shown you just a little bit more of what’s ahead. And each time you take even the tiniest step of faith, the Light makes clear another stretch of your pathway.

“…you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place…” (2 Peter 1:19b, NIV).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Ever seen one of those tandem bicycles – the old bicycle-built-for-two? Just for the moment, picture your life as one of these.

Where are you seated? I’m sure that you have already pictured yourself up front and peddling away. Wrong! You’re on the back seat, like it or not. Because, see, whoever’s up front is doing the guiding.

The book of Ephesians makes it clear that there are only two true forces at work in this world: good (God) and evil (Satan). Either Jesus Christ is guiding your life or you have forces steering you in the wrong direction. Here’s what Ephesians 6:12 says: We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world(CEV).

Ever feel like you’re peddling like crazy but getting nowhere? Who’s in the driver’s seat? Friend or Foe? There’s no third choice. Every day, ask the Lord Jesus to guide your thoughts and actions.

“I am the way …” (Jesus speaking, John 14:6a, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


God places the lonely in families …” (Psalm 68:6a, NLT).

Mother’s Day can be a total bummer. For me, it’s because my only child and his family have no contact with us. For some, it’s their mom who chooses to be estranged. For others, their mom is no longer living and Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of how much they miss her. And for others, it’s a day that reminds them that they haven’t been able to become a mom when they want a child so badly. Still others have lost a child and Mother’s Day makes them miss them even more. And then there are those who teen or adult children are behaving in ways that are breaking their parents’ hearts. Or, through no choice of their own, marriage and children have never been a part of some women’s lives. Any way you slice it, Mother’s Day isn’t a day every lady feels like celebrating.

No matter your situation, though, if you’re a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, you’re not alone. Not now and not ever. Not only is God Himself with you in the form of His Holy Spirit, but He also “… places the lonely in families” – you have a worldwide family of brothers and sisters, fellow believers, who stand alongside you.

Instead of spending today in sadness, spend it letting someone else know how much they mean to you. I can name so many women who, through the years, were role models to me. And I bet you can too. Get in touch with those ladies and let them know what they mean to you. Wish them “Happy Mother’s Day.”

And from me to all of you wonderful moms and stepmoms, and to all you grandmas, aunts, cousins, friends, and neighbors who have been second moms to so many, thank you and may God richly bless you.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psalm 50:5, NIV).

“Consecrated ones”? What does “consecrated” mean? To set apart or dedicate to the service of God. So who is “consecrated”? Preachers? Seminary professors? Priests? Nuns? Monks? A person’s title doesn’t consecrate him or her; genuinely accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior makes a person “consecrated.” Set apart to serve God. So if you are a true believer, you, my brother or sister, have been “consecrated” to serve God.

And that means you and I have been appointed to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a lost and troubled world. And note how people become “consecrated”: they make “a covenant with [God] by sacrifice.”

What kind of “sacrifice” have you made because of your commitment to Jesus Christ? The very first “sacrifice” a person makes the moment he puts his faith in Christ is his own will. Believers are to set aside their own wills for the will of Christ. And as we do so, an amazing thing happens: our wills become His will. We become more and more like Jesus and we have less and less desire to do things our own way.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31, BSB).

Judgment on this ol’ world is coming, and I don’t think it’s too far away. At least, the removal of the One True Church made up of all believers, the Rapture, is definitely on the horizon. And as Paul told the people of Athens, the Lord “has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.” Or, as he says in 1 Corinthians 15:20: “… Christ has been raised from the dead…. [as] the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (NLT).

Every person who has died knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior has received the same promise Jesus made to the thief on the cross: “… today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43b, BSB). That person’s physical body won’t be resurrected until the Rapture, but their spirit (soul) went to be with Jesus the instant they drew their last breath on this planet.

But what about those of us who are still alive and kicking when the Rapture occurs? “… we who are alive and remain will be caught up together … in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Jesus is going to call his people home. And those who don’t know him as Lord and Savior will be left behind. I truly believe the time is very near. Live like you believe it.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God” (Isaiah 40:1, NLT).

Christians should be the most upbeat people on the planet. After all, as we’ve looked at for the past couple of days, we have Jesus as our loving, faithful, always-with-you Burden Bearer. So even when we’re going through really hard times, we don’t need to get so focused on ourselves that we forget to look around and see who else is hurting.

I recall reading an article years ago about a businessman who had been sidelined by leg injury and ended up with a pretty long stay in the hospital because of complications. When he was finally able to leave the hospital, he found himself wheelchair to wheelchair with a young boy of about 10 who was also waiting for his driver to pull up to the discharge area.

Quite innocently, the little boy asked him why he’d been in the hospital. The man snapped at him, “Because I had to have a very serious surgery on my leg.” The little boy replied, “I know all about surgery. This was my 18th. I’ve been having operations ever since I was born.” And with that, the little boy wished the man well and was rolled out to his waiting mother.

The man, however, totally lost. Burning with shame, he burst into tears, and, aloud, begged the Lord to forgive him for being so wrapped up in himself and throwing such a pity party.

‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God.” That assignment is for all of us. Look around you and see who you can comfort and encourage.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT).

Have you ever experienced God’s comfort? I have. More times than I can count. But, as I said yesterday, we can’t experience that comfort unless: (1) We know Jesus as our Lord and Savior; and (2) we willingly hand over our worries. The Lord, being a Gentleman, will never pry from you that which you won’t willingly let go of.

Which brings us back to the second passage I included yesterday: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7). Only when we trust Jesus to carry our burdens for us can we experience His comfort.

And once we’ve experienced that comfort, we know what a relief it is. We know how much better life is when we don’t try to wag all our problems around but, instead, lay them at the feet of Jesus. And when we know that kind of relief, we can share it with others. If you’ve experienced God’s comfort, I guarantee there’s someone in your circle of friends and acquaintances who is desperately seeking a way to cope with their own troubles. Tell them how Jesus helped you, and how He will do the same for them if they’ll let Him.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close” (Psalm 27:10, NLT).

Ever felt deserted? Alone? I know I sure have. Friends I thought would stick by me disappointed me. Close family members I thought would be there for me let me down. But you know who stuck right with me? My Lord Jesus.

Fill in the blank with whoever’s let you down and say it out loud: “Even if __ abandon(s) me, the Lord will hold me close.” If you belong to Jesus, He ain’t going anywhere. He’ll stick right by you. And if you’ll let him, He’ll comfort you and carry you through even the hardest times you’ll ever experience.

Just remember: He will never take your burden from you. You have to choose to hand it over. First Peter 5:7 reminds us: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” Need a load off your mind? Give it Jesus. He’s your loving, faithful, always-with-you Burden Bearer.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer” (Psalm 94:19, NLT).

God, being God, knows everything, including the fact that we sometimes have doubts. And look at his response when he saw doubt in the psalmist. He didn’t chastise him. He wasn’t angry or upset with him. Quite the opposite: the Lord comforted him.

Isn’t the Lord wonderful? There’s no comfort like the comfort the Lord can give us. But like everything he offers us, we have to be willing to receive it. The psalmist was willing. And because he was, God’s comfort gave him “renewed hope and cheer.”

Don’t ever be afraid to admit your doubts to the Lord. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, he’s also your Abba Father (see Romans 8:15), your Daddy. Talk to him. Tell him what’s troubling you. Tell him what you’re having doubts about, and you’ll experience his “comfort … renewed hope and cheer.”

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Isaiah 32:1 opens with this passage: “Look, a righteous king is coming!” (NLT). Of course, Isaiah was speaking of the coming of the Lord Jesus.

And indeed he came. He was born of a virgin; lived as fully man yet fully God; was crucified for our sins as “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b) rose to life again as proof of the resurrection and eternal life prepared for every believer; and ascended into heaven until the time when he will call his children home. And until then, he remains with every believer, giving each one, “his [Holy] Spirit as the guarantee of all that he has in store for us” (2 Corinthians 5:5, GNT).

Isaiah 32 goes on to say that, “This righteousness will bring peace” (verse 17a, NLT). What “righteousness”? First Corinthian 1:30 explains it well: If “… you are in Christ Jesus, [he] has become for [you] wisdom from God—that is, [your] righteousness, holiness and redemption” (NIV).

So what does all this mean? Knowing Jesus as your Lord and Savior means his Holy Spirit lives within you. God himself is with you. And because of his presence, you have his “righteousness, holiness and redemption.” You have his Holy Spirit “as the guarantee of all that he has in store for” you. And his presence brings you the gift of “peace,” just as Isaiah said it would.

God’s peace is within you, but you have to choose to access it. Say you have a million dollars in the bank. Not one cent of that money will benefit you unless you choose to access it. Likewise, the peace of God is there for you. Within you, in the form of the Holy Spirit. It’s up to you to draw on that peace. Consciously practice drawing on this wonderful gift of peace. You’ll see a positive difference in how you cope with every situation.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV).

A lot of you are probably familiar with this Bible passage. Our Creator is a whole lot smarter than any of us, and he knows and understands things we don’t. When we depend on our own understanding instead of putting all our “Trust in the Lord …,” we, at best, find ourselves unsure of what to do, and, at worst, find ourselves in trouble.

Which is why this pearl of wisdom continues into the next verse: “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:6, NLT).

When we “… seek his will …” in all we do, we avoid a lot of needless difficulties. How’s that? Because when we are intent on seeking God’s will in any situation, “… he will show [us] which path to take.”

Worried? Anxious? Confused? “… trust your [life] to the God who created you, for he will never fail you” (1 Peter 4:19b).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates