The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates

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“About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 32:24-26a, NLT).

Yesterday we read about the miraculous sign Hezekiah was given to confirm the Lord’s healing of his sickness. Can you imagine the buzz around the palace? “Not only was Hezekiah miraculously healed by Jehovah, but He gave Hezekiah a sign – He caused the shadow on the royal sundial to go backwards! You should have seen it!”

Perhaps people began to attach a greater significance to, as Perry Mason’s writer would have put it, “The Case of the Backward Shadow” than to the healing of a dying man. And perhaps Hezekiah began to thoroughly enjoy leading a throng of admirers out to the sundial so he could show them, “Yes, this is where it happened.” However it came about, Hezekiah became afflicted with a serious case of “pride.”

Did Hezekiah heal himself? Did he cause the shadow of the sun to move backwards across the sundial? Of course not! And yet he began to take great pride in the fact that these things had taken place. And he was pretty proud of all the wealth that well-wishers had heaped on him when they heard about his “sundial miracle” and astounding recovery.

Pride is such a dangerous thing. And it’s highly contagious. The people of Judah began to think of themselves as “the subjects of the miraculously healed king who got the sundial miracle.” Instead of living in awe of the Miracle Worker, they were enamored with themselves.

Whatever the Lord has done for you, don’t let it become a thing of pride. Every one of God’s children is His absolute favorite, so get over the idea that you’ve been singled out for special treatment. Over and over He warns us that He is “a jealous God” – see Exodus 20:5, 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15; Joshua 24:19; and Nahum 1:2 – and that He “is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The prophet Isaiah had delivered the Lord’s message to the godly king of Judah, Hezekiah: “…Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die” (II Kings 20:1b, NLT). But Hezekiah wept and prayed and the Lord heard his prayer and sent Isaiah to deliver His message: “I will add fifteen years to your life…” (II Kings 20:6a).

When Isaiah delivered the good news, Hezekiah asked for a sign: “What sign will the Lord give to prove that He will heal me and that I will go to the Temple of the Lord three days from now?” (II Kings 20:8).

“Isaiah replied, ‘This is the sign from the Lord to prove that He will do as He promised. Would you like the shadow on the sundial to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?’ ‘The shadow always moves forward,’ Hezekiah replied, ‘so that would be easy. Make it go ten steps backward instead.’ So Isaiah the prophet asked the Lord to do this, and He caused the shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!” (II Kings 20:9-11, NLT).

Has the Lord stopped giving His people signs when they ask for assurance? Absolutely not. However, it takes a great deal more faith to simply believe than it does to ask Him for a sign to prove that He’s actually going to fulfill whatever He’s promised. Too, we have to remember that Hezekiah and the other believers of his time didn’t have the continual presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit as do God’s people today.

When Simeon took the infant Jesus in his arms, he turned to Mary and Joseph and told them: “He has been sent as a SIGN from God…” (Luke 2:34). Don’t get hung up on asking for signs every time you pray about something. Remember that New Testament Christians have already received Him.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“The Lord says, ‘I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on My Name. All day long I opened My arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult Me to My face… I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at My Word. But those who choose their own ways… I will send them great trouble – all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before My very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise’” (Isaiah 65:1-3a, 66:2b-3a, 4, NLT).

Today’s passage is loaded with great spiritual truths, the first of which is that you can’t find what you’re not looking for. Sounds like a pretty “duh” statement, doesn’t it? But fact is, there are countless people struggling frantically with the troubles in their lives and looking to drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, material possessions, professional prestige, and the like, hoping to lift themselves above the pain or maybe even sink down into it and accept it.

God’s not hard to find. He’s ready and waiting to answer any person who sincerely calls on His Name. But here’s what I don’t want you to miss: in today’s passage He’s speaking to people who claim to be His!

Believers, we need to get past the attitude that once we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, everything is a done deal and we don’t have to worry about anything from that moment onward. A person who’s been genuinely transformed by the saving power of the Holy Spirit is not going to live a life that shows zero evidence of His presence. A person who’s been genuinely transformed will not live a sinful lifestyle. Having Jesus inside you is like having an elephant in your living room – if He’s there, you can’t hide Him.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates  


“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, for the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent Me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair” (Isaiah 61:1-3a, NLT).

After Jesus had spent forty days being tempted in the wilderness, He returned to the region of Galilee and began to teach in the synagogues. Returning to Nazareth, He stood in the synagogue and opened the scroll containing God’s message through the prophet Isaiah; and He began reading the passage written in the paragraph above – see Luke 4:18-19. And then He told the people, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

How’d that work out for Him, since this was His hometown? Luke 4:28-29 says that “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.”

Even though the Lamb of God had no flaws, no sins, He still was met with outright hatred when He proclaimed His rightful title. Hometown crowds are the toughest. When it comes to me or you – especially me – we have flawed pasts. And the hometown crowd is the one that knows all about it. No matter how much we’ve changed and matured, they remember how we used to be.

Good News! God doesn’t remember. What we confess, He forgives and FORGETS. He didn’t come to keep us in the prison of our guilt – He came to free us. He came to give us “blessing instead of mourning” and “festive praise instead of despair.” He’s offering you blessing. He’s offering you a “festive [spirit of] praise instead of despair.” Sound like a good trade? Then receive it.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


In Isaiah 58 the Lord lays out His complaint against the “religious” crowd. As you read this portion of today’s passage, I hope you’ll examine your own heart and see if there’s any area that hits home with you, especially about how you spend your Sundays. Even in these pandemic days, you can join in an online worship service just as easily as you can read this devotional. Anyway, if this makes you stop and think as it did me, talk to the Lord and let Christ’s healing forgiveness blanket you with His love and urge you to do greater things for His glory. (I added bracketed text in the first sentence.)

“…they act so pious! They come to [church] every [service] and seem delighted to learn all about Me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask Me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near Me. ‘We have fasted before You!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t You impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and You don’t even notice it!’ ‘I will tell you why!’ I respond. ‘It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with Me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? No, this is the kind of fasting I want:

Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ He will quickly reply. Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I, the Lord, have spoken”
(Isaiah 58:2-10a, 13-14a, 14c, NLT).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


As I said a few days ago, the salvation of the world has always been God’s plan. Isaiah 42:6 proclaims God’s call to Israel to “be a light to guide all nations to [Him].” In today’s passage we see exactly how He intends for this to be accomplished:

“…the One who formed Me in My mother’s womb to be His servant, who commissioned Me to bring Israel back to Him. The Lord has honored Me, and My God has given Me strength. He says, ‘You will do more than restore the people of Israel to Me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and You will bring My salvation to the ends of the earth’” (Isaiah 49:5a-6, NLT).

Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant and Savior, has always been God’s plan. He has always been God’s “salvation to the ends of the earth.”

There are so many religions out there today who blend a little of Jesus with a little of this and that; we need to be very careful to do our own studying and know that whatever we’re hearing in Bible class or from the pulpit is being correctly taught according to the Word of God. Do you know your church’s doctrinal beliefs? You should.

You also need to be careful about taking the attitude that your church is “the one.” Of all the true Christ-teaching churches, God has not singled out any one church or denomination as the “right” one. Since churches are made up of people, they’re flawed. Maybe you’ve never thought about this before, but whole church groups aren’t going to be taken in the Rapture – individuals will be taken; which means that in churches everywhere, there will be people left behind who got all the head knowledge but never let it into their hearts. The One True Church that Christ Himself will gather will be made up of individual blood-bought believers from all over the world, regardless of what sort of church they attend. As the old hymn says, make sure you know you’ll “be in that number.”

Revelation’s song to the Lamb: “… your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


The army of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had invaded Israel and was about to attack Jerusalem. His chief of staff gave Sennacherib’s warning to the people of Judah:

“Don’t let [your king] Hezekiah deceive you. Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord … Choose life instead of death! Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’” (II Kings 18:29a, 30a, 32b, NLT).

“When King Hezekiah heard [Sennacherib’s message], he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz” (II Kings 19:1-2).

Hezekiah and the other leaders humbled themselves, praying and mourning for Judah. And God heard and saw their desperation. Isaiah sent this message from the Lord:

“Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against Me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I Myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’ That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there. One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords” (II Kings 19:6b-7, 35-37a, NLT).

When God promises His protection, He gives it. When He promises destruction, He fulfills it. And as with King Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem, when He is on your side there is no such thing as insurmountable odds – the victory is already His.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Kings 18:9-19:37; Psalms 46, 80 & 135

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


Let all the world look to Me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. I have sworn by My Own Name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on My word: Every knee will bend to Me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to Me. The people will declare, ‘The Lord is the source of all my righteousness and strength’” (Isaiah 45:22-24a, NLT).

The salvation of the world has always been God’s plan. As yesterday’s passage told us, the Lord called Israel to “be a light to guide all nations to [Him] (Isaiah 42:6). I’ve heard people say, “Look at all the religious people who believe in a higher power or authority. Even if they don’t acknowledge Jesus, surely God isn’t going to condemn them.” News flash, people: Jesus is God. And if you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know God. And I might also add that God condemns no one – He simply gives them a choice: choose life in Me or death apart from Me.

Look again at today’s passage: “For I am God; there is no other.” A person may not want to accept the fact that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate, but the Bible plainly warns that “Every knee will bend to [Him], and every tongue will confess allegiance to [Him].” Think about it: even those who are going to miss out on heaven will do so having first seen Him and having first recognized Him for Who He Is.

“He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. Because of this, God raised Him up to the heights of heaven and gave Him a Name that is above every other name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:7-11).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, NLT).

Today’s passage is loaded with Good News, but I chose three verses to focus on because they contain such a great message of encouragement. You, child of God, are loved so very much by “the Lord who created you.” And I believe it’s no misplacement or displacement to take the words of this passage and apply them directly to believers who are struggling today:

“Do not be afraid.” Why? Because Jesus Christ has “ransomed you.” He’s paid for your pardon and your freedom.

God has “called you by name; you are” His! The Creator of the Universe not only calls you by name but calls you His own!

“When you go through deep waters, [He] will be with you!” Even “when you go through rivers of difficulty, [He] will not [allow you to] drown.” No matter how deep the trouble or sorrow, the Comforter is with you and encouraging you and supporting you.

And though you may find yourself “walk[ing] through the fire of oppression,” the Victor who has already won the war will intercede for you and bring you victoriously through.

He is “the Lord.” He is “the Holy One of Israel.” But the Almighty brings it to a personal level: He’s also “YOUR God” and “YOUR Savior.”

Celebrate His faithfulness today!


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“… Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’ When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, ‘Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.’ Then he broke down and wept bitterly. Then this message came to Isaiah from the Lord: ‘Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life …’” (Isaiah 38:1-5, NLT).

Does God still heal? Absolutely. Does God still answer prayer? Most definitely. Hezekiah was sick with an illness that was going to take his life – God’s own prophet Isaiah confirmed this to be true. But when Hezekiah prayed, God granted him 15 more years of life. Prayer is powerful!

But here’s what I don’t want you to miss: Hezekiah didn’t seek the Lord as a last-ditch effort – he was already serving Him. And Hezekiah didn’t in any way indicate that the fact that he was faithfully serving God gave him any right whatsoever to demand healing. He simply prayed, “Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you …”

God’s choices don’t always make sense to us. He gives one person earthly healing and denies it to another. But short of the Rapture, any person He chooses to heal is still going to die at some point. However, the person who receives SPIRITUAL healing will NEVER die.

None of us are in a hurry to get out of this world, and none of us want to lose a friend or family member to death. But what we need to be most concerned about is making sure that all of our friends and family know the One who can give them spiritual healing and eternity in His heavenly Kingdom.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display His glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’ And when He comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived. And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways…” (Isaiah 35:1-8a, NLT).

Isaiah told the people that their Messiah was coming; and when He came, He “open[ed] the eyes of the blind” and He “unplug[ged] the ears of the deaf.” “The lame” walked and “those who [could not] speak [sang] for joy!”

All those miracles were wonderful, but what was His chief purpose in coming? “To save you!” Jesus Christ came, bringing salvation to all who would believe in Him. He’s still in the saving business today, and each one of us who already knows Him as Lord and Savior has an assignment, a mission, to tell others the Good News.

“With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear …’”


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“Look, a righteous King is coming! And honest princes will rule under Him. Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a Great Rock in a parched land” (Isaiah 32:1-2, NLT).

When Christ returns for His Bride, He will set all things right. And amazingly, He will allow US to rule and reign WITH Him as “honest princes.” How can we possibly achieve such an honor?

We can’t. But what we can do is latch onto the full truth of what Christ has already done for us. Suffered unimaginable torture so that we don’t have to. Paid the penalty for our sin simply because He loves us.

Let’s say you have one child. That child grows up to be a man that makes you so proud to call him your own. And that child does nothing but good everywhere he goes and everywhere he turns. Then one day as he’s walking by a bank’s doorway, he sees a robber holding the employees and customers hostage. Your son, your one and only child, bangs on the door and yells to the robber, “Take me, and let these other people go free!” The robber agrees and your son walks into the bank as the robber releases his captives.

How would you feel? Would you prefer the robber take someone else? Would you prefer the robber keep everybody else and let your son go free? Wouldn’t you rather your son just stay out of it completely and let those other people deal with their own problem? Why, you’d almost wish anything on anyone if it kept harm from coming to your child!

But see, that’s just the point. It wasn’t your choice. It was his. He volunteered.

And so did Jesus. He saw the choice before Him and saw the price we’d have to pay, and chose to pay it for us. How can you not love a Man like that?


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“And so the Lord says, ‘These people say they are Mine. They honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. And their worship of Me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.’ How foolish can you be? [The Lord] is the Potter, and He is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, ‘He didn’t make me’? Does a jar ever say, ‘The potter who made me is stupid’? This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘Only in returning to Me and resting in Me will you be saved.’ Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken” (Isaiah 29:13, 16; 30:15a; 28:16, NLT).

Throughout history the very people who claimed to belong to the One True God have been unfaithful; and yet the Lord has over and over proven His absolute faithfulness. What love He has for His people!

We who claim to be His today need to be very careful to keep our worship truly worship. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than parking your Chevy in a luxury car showroom will transform it into a Maserati!

Where you physically are isn’t remotely as important as where you spiritually are. Yes, the Bible absolutely tells us that we should regularly gather together with fellow believers to worship, pray, and learn together – see Hebrews 10:25 – even if, these days, that might be online. But doing any of those three things – worshiping, praying and learning – requires that your heart and mind be in the same place that your body is.

Go to church. But go prepared to worship. And when you get there, worship. And when you can’t be there, worship where you are. Join online worship. Do what you can to spend time in fellowship with other believers. Your life should be lived as an act of worship to the One and Only One you can securely build your life on.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called My son out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from Me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols. I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with My ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I Myself stooped to feed him” (Hosea 11:1-4, NLT).

If you’ve ever had children, you’ve probably experienced something similar to what I have. I recall trying to shop with my son Mickey when he was a toddler. The moment I let go of his hand, off he’d dart into a rack of clothes. If I stooped to get him out, saying, “Come to Mommy,” precious child that he was, he would take off in the opposite direction. Much like the problem the Heavenly Father experienced with His people Israel and much like He still experiences with His children today.

Why is it that we, like stubborn little children, want to ignore the very One who calls us, loves us enough to die for us, teaches us His ways, leads us along the right paths with “kindness and love,” carries our burdens and feeds us spiritual food that we can’t get anywhere else? Because we’ve still got a lot of growing up to do.

The more we mature, the less we stray. Had a faithfulness checkup lately? How’re you doing?


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“I will make you My wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know Me as the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20, NLT).

The prophet Hosea married a woman who was unfaithful, and the Lord used Hosea’s situation to portray the unfaithfulness of Israel. He used Hosea to portray His own faithfulness despite the behavior of His chosen people.

Look again at the words of today’s passage as the Lord speaks through Hosea. Even though the people dishonored the Lord in countless ways, still He continued to love them and rescue them each time they turned to Him. He hasn’t changed, you know. He loves His own today just as He did in Hosea’s day.

If you’ve been unfaithful to God, He hasn’t stopped loving you. However, if you’re His child, He loves you far too much not to discipline you. And what it takes to get your attention depends on how long and how far you choose to keep wandering away from Him.

The Holy God of Heaven promises you, “I will be faithful to you…” Make that same promise to Him. And then keep it.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“In the very first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah reopened the doors of the Temple of the Lord and repaired them. He summoned the priests and Levites to meet him at the courtyard east of the Temple. He said to them, ‘Listen to me, you Levites! Purify yourselves, and purify the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove all the defiled things from the sanctuary. Our ancestors were unfaithful and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord our God. They abandoned the Lord and His dwelling place; they turned their backs on Him. They also shut the doors to the Temple’s entry room, and they snuffed out the lamps. They stopped burning incense and presenting burnt offerings at the sanctuary of the God of Israel. That is why the Lord’s anger has fallen upon Judah and Jerusalem. He has made them an object of dread, horror, and ridicule, as you can see with your own eyes. Because of this, our fathers have been killed in battle, and our sons and daughters and wives have been captured. But now I will make a covenant with the Lord, the God of Israel, so that His fierce anger will turn away from us” (II Chronicles 29:3-10, NLT).

Hezekiah didn’t have a godly father. He was brought up in a country filled with evil practices and people. And yet he wasted no time putting things in order when he began his reign as king of Judah. He cleaned up the mess his father Ahaz had made, reopening the Temple and restoring the daily sacrifices and proper worship of Jehovah. Second Kings 18:5-6a says that “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything…”

Hezekiah didn’t let his past dictate his future. Instead of wallowing in the sins of his father, Hezekiah saw the devastation it had caused his family and his nation; and he chose to walk a different path. Maybe you didn’t have godly parents. What you do have, though, is your own choice to make.

“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped… and serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14, NIV).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Kings 18:1-8; Second Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


You know, we can claim to love Jesus and even claim to be one of His children, but the proof, as the old saying goes, is in the pudding. That very phrase, “the proof is in the pudding,” is actually a shortened version of a very old expression or proverb, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Meaning what? That the pudding can look right and even smell right, and still be a bad pudding. Tasting it is the way to know its real value.

Perhaps that’s what Isaiah was saying when he wrote the words of Isaiah 26:8: “Lord, we show our trust in You by obeying Your laws; our heart’s desire is to glorify Your name” (NLT).

Plenty of genuine Christians have been in the Kingdom so long that they’re just ticking along, waiting on their ride home. They look good and, hopefully, smell good; but they’re actually as stale as old toast – living on past works and depending on their past confessions. Folks, we can’t afford to live IN the past or ON the past!

The Christian life is a daily life. It doesn’t matter if you gave your heart to Jesus at age 9 or age 90 – if He’s left you here, He’s left you here for a purpose: to obey His laws and glorify His name. And it’s impossible unless you’re committed to serving others.

“…all we have accomplished is really from You. O Lord our God… You alone are the One we worship” (Isaiah 26:12b, 13).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“At that time the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn. He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse. But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, ‘Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (Isaiah 22:12-13, NLT).

As we saw with Israel in yesterday’s passage, God’s warning to the people of Jerusalem was included with warnings to the Gentile nations. Why? If God’s people chose to act like the people around them, then God would treat them as He would the nations around them.

Isaiah had been given a vision of the Babylonian army coming against Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem fortified the city walls and hoped for the best. Some fatalistically decided, “Hey, let’s just live in the moment.” They partied hearty, knowing or fearing that they were soon to be destroyed.

The one thing they didn’t do? “…weep and mourn…” Repent. God’s own people had strayed so far from Him that calling on the Lord didn’t even occur to them. God Himself spoke through Isaiah, telling them: “…you never ask for help…” (Isaiah 22:11).

We need Jesus every day. As the old hymn says, “I need Thee every hour.” We don’t need to go through good times or bad ones without Jesus as the center and focus of our lives. If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you’re His child. And what Good Parent doesn’t want to be there for His child? Depend on Him for everything.

“My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me” (Psalm 62:7).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


In today’s passage, Isaiah issues the Lord’s warning about impending disaster for Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, and Damascus. And then He moves on to Israel, stating precisely why this devastation would take place:

“Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you. You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you” (Isaiah 17:10, NLT).

So often it takes hardship or tragedy for people to be willing to turn to God. But for those of us who have learned from these difficulties, we know there is nowhere else to turn and no one else who can help us. We cry out with Simon Peter, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life” (John 6:68).

Don’t wait for a crisis to come into your life to turn to Jesus. Stand daily on the Solid Rock.

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9b, NIV).

“Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will no longer look to their idols for help or worship what their own hands have made” (Isaiah 17:7-8, NLT).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“At that time King Ahaz of Judah asked the king of Assyria for help. The armies of Edom had again invaded Judah and taken captives. And the Philistines had raided towns located in the foothills of Judah and in the Negev of Judah. The Lord was humbling Judah because of King Ahaz of Judah, for he had encouraged his people to sin and had been utterly unfaithful to the Lord. So when King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria arrived, he attacked Ahaz instead of helping him. Ahaz took valuable items from the Lord’s Temple, the royal palace, and from the homes of his officials and gave them to the king of Assyria as tribute. But this did not help him. Even during this time of trouble, King Ahaz continued to reject the Lord. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus who had defeated him, for he said, ‘Since these gods helped the kings of Aram, they will help me, too, if I sacrifice to them.’ But instead, they led to his ruin and the ruin of all Judah. The king took the various articles from the Temple of God and broke them into pieces. He shut the doors of the Lord’s Temple so that no one could worship there …” (II Chronicles 28:16-18a, 19-24a, NLT).

A nation’s leader points the people in either the right or wrong direction. Ahaz was a leader that clearly pointed Judah away from God. But before we start looking at the political figures in our country, let’s look at our own lives. Every one of us is leading someone. Every one of us has someone watching and even following our example.

And that example will either draw people into the Kingdom of God, or it will repel them. What is your life teaching others about Jesus?

“Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (II Timothy 2:2).

“… each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12, NIV).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Chronicles 28; Second Kings 16-17

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has made this promise!” (Micah 4:3b-4, NLT).

For those who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is coming a day when Christ’s eternal reign will mean living in total harmony with one and all, with “nothing to fear.” Bad news – sickness, wars, physical and financial catastrophes – will be nonexistent. Worry will be a forgotten thing of the past.

How can we be sure of this? “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has made this promise!” How can we be sure we’ll be a part of this eternal kingdom? Acts 16:31 tells us how: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (NIV). But we need to be very careful about stopping at merely believing – after all, James 2:19 plainly reminds us: “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.”

True belief in Jesus Christ leads to true and complete commitment to Him. As Jesus Himself said it, “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matthew 7:18-20).

If you are fully surrendered to Jesus, your life is dedicated to serving Him. You’re consistent in your walk. You’re consistent in your talk. Your focus is on Christ and on others.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” (Jesus speaking, John 10:27-28a).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited. The earth will shake at the force of His word, and one breath from His mouth will destroy the wicked. He will wear righteousness like a belt and truth like an undergarment” (Isaiah 11:1-5, NLT).

Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, followed his friends’ foolish advice which led to the division of the tribes of Israel into two nations – Judah, the Southern Kingdom consisting mostly of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel consisting of the other ten tribes. Instead of ruling all Israel, Rehoboam ruled only over Judah.

But God was and always will be faithful to His promises. Psalm 89:3-4 reminds us of what He had said concerning David’s descendants: “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations’” (NIV).

Yes, the realm of David’s family had been greatly diminished, but out of that “stump,” the nation of Judah, grew the “shoot,” the “Branch” that said to His astounded audience, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58, KJV). He who “was with God in the beginning” (John 1:2, NIV), the Living Word, fulfilled His Word, coming to earth to be born of a virgin in the lineage of the house of David.

We are to be like Jesus, and His delight is “in obeying the Lord.” Honor the Father by serving the Son.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Chronicles 27; Isaiah 9-12

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ I answered, ‘A plumb line.’ And the Lord replied, ‘I will test My people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins’” (Amos 7:7b-8, NLT).

Amos sees a vision where the Lord is holding a plumb line and standing by a wall. First, what’s a plumb line? It’s the tool that was used in olden days as a level. A string with a piece of metal on the end was dropped, causing the string to drop straight down and hold taut. If whatever the string was dropped alongside – such as a wall – was straight, then the string would be equidistance from the wall all the way down, top to bottom.

But in this passage the Lord says He’s going to test His people with His plumb line. What does He mean? He means that the people are out of excuses. They know what’s right and what’s wrong. And God knows they’re not going to measure up to His standard, His plumb line. The people are crooked, not aligned with God’s will.

Remember, Amos has been given these words before Jesus came to pay our sin-debt. How much more can these words be applied to those of us who know the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and still ignore Him? God’s Plumb Line, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the One Perfect Man, and only through faith in Him can we ever measure up to God’s standard.

Measuring up is more than giving your heart and life to Jesus. It’s growing and continuing, just as the branch in the Vine Jesus talked about in John 15. God is patient and God is loving, but He is also the One Righteous Judge. Live for Jesus while there is yet time.

“Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ” (Hebrews 3:12-14).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“Come back to Me and live! Don’t worship at the pagan altars at Bethel; don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba. Come back to the Lord and live! Otherwise, He will roar through Israel like a fire, devouring you completely. Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of His people. I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies” (Amos 5:4a, 5a, 6a, 14-15, 21, NLT).

As I said a couple of days ago, going to church doesn’t make you a believer in Jesus Christ. Matter of fact, going to church doesn’t necessarily do anything for you. What do I mean? You get no more OUT of church than you put INTO it. If you waltz into a service expecting nothing, you’ll leave with nothing. And if you mistakenly go thinking you’re fulfilling your Christian duty, you are wrong, wrong, wrong, my dear brother or sister.

Taking yourself to church is like taking your car to the service station – you go in order to be filled. And you must be emptied in order to need filling.

If you’re filled with the clutter of the world, you’re not filled with Jesus – there isn’t room for both; and only repentance can empty you of worldly clutter. If you’re filled with Jesus, you, like your car, are filled in order to be emptied as you serve the Lord faithfully as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Coming to church without expecting the Lord’s presence is like pulling up to the gas pump and refusing to open your gas tank. And that includes online church, which many of us are now attending. Point is, we, my friend, must be open. Ready to receive whatever the Lord wants to give us, to speak to us. Let’s pray for our spiritual eyes and ears to be open, and for receptive hearts and minds.

What are you expecting the Lord to do in your life? Trust Him for great things. He will never disappoint you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates  


“Now, you people of Jerusalem and Judah, you judge between Me and My vineyard. What more could I have done for My vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did My vineyard give Me bitter grapes? Now let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it. The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are His pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead He found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead He heard cries of violence” (Isaiah 5:3-5, 7, NLT).

Nowhere in the Bible does God issue a warning of impending judgment without carrying it out except where we see the people come together as one and ask for His forgiveness and then live according to His Word. America cannot be a strong Christian nation unless it is filled with strong Christian people.

God’s hand is either for us or against us. What are you doing to seek His favor?

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (II Chronicles 7:14, NIV).



Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. ‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey Me, you will have plenty to eat. But if you turn away and refuse to listen, you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies. I, the Lord, have spoken!’” (Isaiah 1:17-20, NLT).

Yesterday we looked at the downfall of King Uzziah: pride. Seems to me America is suffering from the same affliction, and we’ve yet to see one smattering of what awaits our nation if we don’t turn back to the Lord.

God isn’t interested in mediocre faith. He demands total commitment. Jesus sternly warned His own closest disciples, telling them:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples” (John 15:5-6, 8, NIV).

Folks, church attendance doesn’t show you to be a believer in Jesus Christ. Baptism doesn’t show you to be a believer in Jesus Christ. NOTHING shows you to be a believer in Jesus Christ except the fruit you bear. What are you doing for Christ’s Kingdom?



Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“All the people of Judah had crowned Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son, Uzziah, as king in place of his father. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success” (II Chronicles 26:1, 4-5, NLT).

The name of Uzziah is familiar because of Isaiah 6:1, in which the prophet Isaiah declares, “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…” (NIV). But what about when Uzziah was still living? Our passage today tells us that “…as long as [he] sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.” Since we see the phrase “as long as,” we can tell that there must have been a time when Uzziah decided to do things his own way.

Which is exactly what happened. After a great deal of success, Uzziah got the big-head. Second Chronicles 26:16a says that “…when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God…” And God’s discipline was immediate and severe:

“…leprosy suddenly broke out on [Uzziah’s] forehead. So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land” (II Chronicles 19b, 21, NLT).

Three things we can learn from this passage: (1) We, like Zechariah, have the opportunity to teach others to live according to God’s Word. (2) We, like Uzziah, must be careful to remember who gives us every success and good thing in our lives. (3) Always be thankful and careful to live lives pleasing to Him.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Kings 15; Second Chronicles 26

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


How would you like it if God sent you into the midst of an entire city of evildoers to let them know that God was fed up with them and was about to render judgment? Can’t you just imagine the warm welcome? This is the situation that Jonah found himself in when the Lord ordered him to “go to the great city of Nineveh” (Jonah 1:1).

So what did Jonah do? He ran – in the opposite direction. And the Lord couldn’t find him, right? Of course not! He knew exactly where Jonah was and what he was doing, and He sent “a violent storm” (Jonah 1:4) that was about to sink the ship Jonah was aboard. Jonah may not have wanted to face the people of Nineveh, but he knew it wouldn’t be right for the whole ship full of people to perish on his account. So what did he do? He ordered the sailors to throw him into the sea.

And the God of the Universe had to think fast, didn’t He? No! The Bible tells us that He had already “…arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah” (Jonah 1:17). And finding himself in a fish’s belly, what did Jonah do? He prayed and praised!

“But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone” (Jonah 2:9).

Can you imagine praising the Lord in such a horrible situation? Jonah did, and was delivered up onto dry land. And because he repented and obeyed, he himself was saved along with the entire population of a major city.

Praise God in the good times and the bad. Don’t wait for your situation to improve; praise Him for who He is, not where you are. That’s important to be worth repeating: Praise Him for who He is, not where you are.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


Amaziah son of Joash began to rule over Judah in the second year of the reign of King Jehoash of Israel. Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not like his ancestor David. Instead, he followed the example of his father, Joash. Amaziah did not destroy the pagan shrines, and the people still offered sacrifices and burned incense there” (II Kings 14:1, 3-4, NLT).

See how Second Chronicles 25:2 describes Amaziah’s behavior: “Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.”

Unlike the kings in Israel and many of the kings over Judah, Amaziah wasn’t an evil ruler. However, his zeal for the Lord wasn’t great enough for him to be willing to “destroy the pagan shrines.” Why was that? A decline in faithfulness.

If you’re only partially committed to serving God, how committed do you expect your children will be as adults? Every day we show our children, our grandchildren, and all those around us what we value most. If it’s not Jesus, they know it.

“Serve [work] wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does” (Ephesians 6:7-8a, NIV).

“Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as though you were working for your real Master and not merely for humans” (Colossians 3:23, God’s Word).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Kings 14; Second Chronicles 25

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“When Elisha was in his last illness, King Jehoash of Israel visited him and wept over him” (II Kings 13:14a, NLT).

Years ago when my father-in-law Travis was diagnosed with cancer, the pastor of his church – I’ll call him Pastor Williams – continually preached and encouraged him to have faith that the Lord would heal him. Travis had lived a rough life, to say the least, and when he surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, he was gloriously transformed inside and out and was one person who truly had faith “like a little child” (Mark 10:15, NIV).

Pray as he and we all did, Travis’ cancer worsened until his condition was heartbreaking. As he lay on his hospital bed one evening, he turned to his family and said, “I’ve seen heaven and I want you stop praying for my healing. I want to go home.” And in a very short time, that’s exactly what happened.

Afterwards, Pastor Williams continued to teach that, “had Brother Travis only had enough faith, he would have been healed.” What that well-intentioned pastor failed to understand was that Travis had indeed been healed and had been healed in such a way that he would never again have to worry about being sick or worry about anything else whatsoever – he had received ultimate healing.

Some years later Pastor Williams himself was diagnosed with cancer. He claimed his healing. He proclaimed he was “walking in victory.” And yet his cancer continued to worsen. Although his physical battle had become severe, his spiritual battle was even greater. This man truly had great faith. This man truly trusted the Lord with all his heart. But he still grew sicker and sicker.

One Sunday morning he tearfully stood before his congregation and said, “I’ve been wrong. God doesn’t always choose to give physical healing.”

Yes, God still heals. But He and He alone chooses when and how He will do it. Sometimes He allows earthly healing; but even for those who are healed, there is no way out of this world alive – short of the Rapture. And sometimes He chooses ultimate healing – He allows the sufferer to leave this world and go on to his eternal home, where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4a, NLT).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Kings 12-13; Second Chronicles 24

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


“When Jezebel, the queen mother, heard that Jehu had come to Jezreel, she painted her eyelids and fixed her hair and sat at a window. Jehu looked up and saw her at the window and shouted, ‘Who is on my side?’ And two or three eunuchs looked out at him. ‘Throw her down!’ Jehu yelled. So they threw her out the window, and her blood spattered against the wall and on the horses. And Jehu trampled her body under his horses’ hooves” (II Kings 9:30, 32-33, NLT).

Jehu, anointed by a prophet of God, was to take the kingdom of Israel from Joram, the son of Ahab and Jezebel. As Jezebel arrogantly perched in the palace window, Jehu’s call prompted her servants to throw the evil queen mother to her death.

Jezebel’s husband Ahab ruled Israel for 22 years, followed by their son Ahaziah who ruled for 2 years; after that, another son, Joram, ruled for 12 years. While Ahab was still king, what had the Lord spoken concerning Jezebel? Through the prophet Elijah, God said to Ahab:

“I will bring disaster on you and consume you. I will destroy every one of your male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel! … for you have made me very angry and have led Israel into sin. [And] Dogs will eat Jezebel’s body at the plot of land in Jezreel” (from I Kings 21:21-23).

What God says, God does. And we need to remember that. Like the rest of God’s warning to Ahab, Jezebel’s death didn’t occur instantaneously – it was years before Elijah’s message was fulfilled. But fulfilled it was, as will be everything God has spoken.

Our heavenly Father is patient and loving, but we mustn’t forget that He is also the God who “will judge everyone according to what they have done” (Romans 2:6). What have you done for Jesus?


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates  


Although Naaman suffered from some form of contagious skin disease considered to be leprosy, he was still allowed to hold the position of commander of the Aramean army. A captive young Israelite girl who served as Naaman’s wife’s maid told her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy” (II Kings 5:4, NLT).

Naaman’s wife saw genuine faith in the young Israelite girl and told Naaman what she had said. This prompted Namaan to go to Elisha, along with an entourage of soldiers and horses:

“But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “‘Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.’ But Naaman became angry and stalked away” (II Kings 5:10-11a).

Naaman was used to the royal treatment and Elisha didn’t even come out of his house to meet him. Naaman fumed, “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel?” (from II Kings 5:11-12).

Angry with both Elisha’s lack of respect for his position of authority and for his absurd-sounding instructions, Naaman left in anger. But the men who had accompanied him asked him, “‘Sir if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it?’ So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times … And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s” (from II Kings 5:13-14).

God’s way is the only way. Naaman could have dipped himself in every puddle of water between Elisha’s house and his own and still not have been healed. Why? Because that’s not the way God said to do it. There is but one way to be healed of sin. It isn’t complicated, but it is specific: the Way is Jesus.

“Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (Naaman’s words from II Kings 5:15).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


Today’s passage includes the amazing account of the prophet Elijah leaving this world for eternity. Unlike the rest of mankind – with the exception of Enoch (see Genesis 5:24) – Elijah didn’t experience physical death:

“As [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11, NLT).

What an exit! But as we read about Elijah, what we need to remember more than his departure from this earth is his life while he was here. Elijah honored the Lord and faithfully served Him. And because his life was a consistent testimony of service to God, he taught others to do the same.

Elisha had served as Elijah’s personal assistant – see Second Kings 3:11. Day after day he had watched Elijah and learned from his example. So when Elijah was taken into heaven, Elisha was ready to serve in Elijah’s stead.

What is your life telling others about your faith? Is your example teaching others to faithfully serve Jesus?


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“The day is near when I, the Lord, will judge all godless nations!” (Obadiah, verse 15, NLT).

How do you end up with a godless nation? Fill a country with godless people. Over and over God warned His people to obey Him or suffer the consequences; and over and over they turned away from Him and chased after false gods and materialism. And every time they did, God punished them.

Nothing has changed about God. He still expects obedience and He still disciplines His children when they disobey Him. Each one of us was assigned the fulfillment of the Great Commission the moment we gave Jesus Christ His rightful place of Lordship over our lives. I am and you are to “go and make disciples” and we are to teach “them to obey everything” God’s Word says (from Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).

Based on your own performance, how are we doing? How many people have you shared the love of Jesus with today? In all the time since you became a believer, how many people can thank you for telling them how to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

A recent study ( ) shows that 51 percent of people who responded as being churchgoers have never heard of the Great Commission. Another 17 percent say they’re aren’t familiar with the Matthew 28 passage I mentioned into today’s study. And get this: another 25 percent say they’ve heard the term “Great Commission,” but don’t know what it means. Folks, we can’t be doing our work as representatives of Christ and hear answers like this coming from within the church!


Somehow we’ve softened Christianity into something we can take or leave, dependent on what day of the week it is or how we feel. We somehow think that a little bit of religion is “good enough.” Trust me; it ain’t.

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Jesus speaking, Revelation 3:15-16, NLT).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


Jehoshaphat received word that “the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and some of the Meunites [had] declared war” against Judah. The Bible goes on to say that “Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the Lord for guidance” and that “he also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting” (from II Chronicles 20:1-3, NLT).

“As all the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their little ones, wives, and children, the Spirit of the Lord came upon… Jahaziel…, a Levite who was a descendant of Asaph. He said, ‘Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s’” (from II Chronicles 20:13-15).

Knowing that these mighty armies were bearing down on them, what did King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah do after hearing God’s message? Verses 18 and 19 tell us that they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshiped Him! And then the Levite praise army cut loose “with a very loud shout.”

And this passage just keeps getting better! When the army of Judah marched out, who led the way into battle? The singers! “… singing to the Lord and praising Him for His holy splendor” (verse 21a).

And then what happened? “At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped” (verses 22 & 24).

People of God, we serve the mightiest Warrior of All. When the going gets tough, praise Him! When the odds seem insurmountable, praise Him! “The battle is not yours, but God’s!” And He will bring you through victorious.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. Then during the third year, King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to visit King Ahab of Israel. During the visit, the king of Israel said to his officials, ‘Do you realize that the town of Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? And yet we’ve done nothing to recapture it from the king of Aram!’ Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, ‘Will you join me in battle to recover Ramoth-gilead?’ Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, ‘Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.’ Then Jehoshaphat added, ‘But first let’s find out what the Lord says’” (First Kings 22:1-5, NLT).

Even though the Israelites were divided into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, they were still one people in the heart of Jehoshaphat. When asked to help Ahab in battle, he readily agreed, but with a caveat: “first let’s find out what the Lord says.”

All the suck-ups (can I say suck-ups in a Bible study?) had told Ahab what he wanted to hear – “Go for it. You can defeat Aram’s forces.” But the prophet Micaiah was more concerned with pleasing the King of Kings than with pleasing King Ahab. He warned Ahab not to go to war; but Ahab refused to listen and paid with his life in just the way the Lord had forewarned him – see First Kings 22:29-38 and First Kings 21:17-19.

Don’t jump into anything without first praying and then waiting on the Lord to answer. Many a heartache could be avoided by refusing to put the proverbial cart before the horse. We can’t plan and then ask the Lord to bless our already-made plan. We can’t act and then ask the Lord to bless our actions. His guidance must be sought first and then obeyed.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 22; Second Chronicles 18

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“(No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. His worst outrage was worshiping idols just as the Amorites had done – the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites)” (I Kings 21:25-26, NLT).

King Ahab ruled over Israel. And what is he remembered for? Being the one person most “completely sold [out] to … evil …” And how did he arrive at such a sorry state? By following “the influence of his wife Jezebel.”

There isn’t a person on this planet who doesn’t have some type of influence, be it good, bad, minimal, or substantial. And the influence of a spouse is nothing short of enormous. A husband or wife can be the driving force that brings a wayward spouse into the kingdom of God or he or she can be the force that drives that spouse away.

Years ago a dear friend of mine I’ll call Susan told me she wanted her husband Phil to go to church with her so badly. “I don’t like going by myself,” she often complained. “I just wish he’d go with me.” But Phil was never interested. So guess what? Susan stayed home.

One day when she was again on this subject, I plainly told her, “Why should Phil be interested in going to church when it’s obviously not important enough for you to go without him? Show him what it means to you and then he might start going.”

And you know what? It was no overnight change, but after Susan had consistently gone to church alone for several months, she prepared to leave for church one Sunday morning, walked into the living room to pick up her Bible, and there sat Phil, dressed and ready to go! “I believe I’ll go with you this morning,” was all he said.

Years have passed since that day, and Phil is now a vital growing believer who faithfully serves his and Susan’s church in several capacities. Don’t underestimate your influence on others. People are watching. And they want to know if the body of Christ is really all that important to you.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


Today’s passage covers one of my favorite accounts in all the Bible – the showdown between the God of the prophet Elijah and the god of Israel’s King Ahab. The Lord sends Elijah as His servant against 450 prophets of Baal who were intent on showing the power of their false god Baal.

So here they are on Mount Carmel. Elijah was to call down fire from God to accept his offering, and the prophets of Baal were to do likewise. Elijah tells the Baal followers to take their best shot and they launch in, crying out to Baal “from morning until noontime” (I Kings 18:26, NLT), at which point Elijah begins mocking them, going so far as suggesting that Baal may be too busy “relieving himself” (I Kings 18:28) to hear their pleas. This sends the Baal prophets into a futile frenzy while Elijah calmly waits his turn.

As you’ll see in First Kings 18:30-38, Elijah took the time to rebuild the altar of the Lord – he wouldn’t offer a sacrifice to the True God on anything pagan. He then dug a trench around it, piled the altar with wood and put the sacrifice on top. And then what? He had the whole thing soaked 3 times with so much water that it even filled the trench around the altar. After which he prayed “At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice” (I Kings 18:36a). The result?

“Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, ‘The Lord – He is God! Yes, the Lord is God!’” (I Kings 18:38-39).

Was Elijah worried while Baal’s prophets were screaming and dancing and cutting themselves? Was he afraid that Baal was going to answer them? Of course not! He had absolute confidence that he was serving the One and Only God. And so should you. Never doubt the power of the Lord God Almighty. He’s “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“Jehoshaphat his son succeeded [Asa] as king … The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father (actually, ancestor) David had followed. The Lord established the kingdom under his control; and all Judah brought gifts to Jehoshaphat, so that he had great wealth and honor. His heart was devoted to the ways of the Lord….” (II Chronicles 17:1a; 3a; 5-6a, NIV).

Asa broke out of the mold set by his preceding generations; and his son Jehoshaphat continued the God-honoring lifestyle that Asa had chosen to follow. Was Asa perfect? Hardly. But what he did do in seeking to live for the Lord put an example in front of Jehoshaphat that influenced him to live his life accordingly.

Your family’s past or present doesn’t have to dictate what your future will be; but it will undoubtedly be a powerful influence – as will your own choices. Choose to honor Christ in the way you live. Set the example before your children and your children’s children. Make this your prayer: “O Lord, let them see Jesus in me.”

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 15:25-16:34; Second Chronicles 17

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“When Abijah died, he was buried in the City of David. Then his son Asa became the next king. There was peace in the land for ten years. Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God” (II Chronicles 14:1-2, NLT).

“Like father, like son.” How many times have you heard that old saying? Solomon’s son Rehoboam learned a lot from his father’s mistakes – he learned to repeat them. He turned his back on the Lord and his son Abijah followed the same pattern.

But then along came Abijah’s son Asa, and look what the Bible has to say about him: “Asa did what was good and pleasing in the sight of the Lord.” Asa saw his grandfather’s and father’s lifestyle and chose a different pathway.

When I was in elementary school, one of our little town’s families had several children attending my school – one was in my class and one was in my sister’s. These two and their siblings always came to school dirty, smelly, and unkempt. Except for one.

This young boy whom I’ll call William came to school each day wearing a perfectly clean, well-ironed shirt and jeans (you know it was a long time ago if jeans were ironed!), himself clean, and his hair neatly combed (another sign of how long this has been).

Why was William different from the rest of his family? William chose to be different. William came home and washed his own clothes and hung them up to dry. He got up early on school days so he could iron his clothes. And every Sunday William walked to church all by himself.

Today William, his beautiful wife, and their children are all serving the Lord Jesus. William made a choice that made his life radically different from his siblings’. What about you? Your choices are writing your future.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 15:1-24; Second Chronicles 13-16

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the older men and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him and were now his advisers. ‘What is your advice?’ he asked them. ‘How should I answer these people who want me to lighten the burdens imposed by my father?’ The young men replied, ‘This is what you should tell those complainers who want a lighter burden: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist! Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” (II Chronicles 10:8-11, NLT).

Rehoboam had become king in his father Solomon’s stead and had quickly put his buddies into places of authority. Spurning what the older and more experienced advisers had to say, he foolishly listened to his immature, arrogant friends who gave him the errant counsel one would expect from the prideful inexperienced.

It’s so easy to ask advice from the people we think will tell us what we want to hear. Be careful who you go to for advice. Believers should first seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit and then the counsel of mature and trustworthy Christians.

“The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong” (Psalm 37:30).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“When the people of Israel learned of Jeroboam’s return from Egypt, they called an assembly and made him king over all Israel. So only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the family of David” (I Kings 12:20, NLT).

Remember the passage we looked at a couple of days ago? “…Solomon has abandoned Me and… has not followed my ways and done what is pleasing in My sight. He has not obeyed My decrees and regulations as David his father did. For the sake of My servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed My commands and decrees, I will keep Solomon as leader for the rest of his life. But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you. His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign, shining like a lamp in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for my name. Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David – though not forever” (I Kings 11:33-36, 39).

There is no idle talk when God speaks. What He says He will do, He does. Whether blessing or discipline, He’ll carry it out.

Has God warned you about anything? Heed Him. There may not be obvious imminent danger, but His warnings aren’t without purpose and, as Solomon’s family had to learn, the consequences of ignoring what God says are disastrous.

On the flip side, has God made you a promise? Hold onto it because its fulfillment will come to pass.

“God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Corinthians 1:9, NASB).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“She is energetic, a hard worker, and watches for bargains” (Proverbs 31:17-18a, LB).

The Living Bible paraphrase of Proverbs 31:17-18a is the passage from which I coined the word “Bargainomics,” which is simply money management God’s way. Among the Proverbs 31 “virtuous” woman’s many good qualities (and I don’t think it’s a stretch in any way to say that these are certainly great attributes for men, too), she was “energetic.” Nobody appreciates laziness, nor should they. I’ve personally known bedridden individuals whom I could have described as “energetic.” They didn’t let their limitations prevent them from doing all they could do in service to others.

The Proverbs 31 woman is also “a hard worker.” You know, a person can be “energetic” and never accomplish a cotton-pickin’ thing. But when you are attuned to God’s call, you know what you’re supposed to be doing – being His hands and feet to a lost and dying world – and you’re doing it. It’s not about being busy – we’re insanely busy all the time; it’s about being busy for the Kingdom. It’s about accomplishing things that will bless others and bring glory to God.

Lastly, the Proverbs 31 woman “watches for bargains.” One thing this says about a God-focused woman is that she’s not a last-minute gal – she’s constantly planning ahead and staying ahead of the less motivated crowd. When you don’t wait until the last minute to plan for what you need, whether it’s a major purchase like a car or simply a gift item or a loaf of bread, you have time to do your homework; save ahead if needed; and locate the best buy for your dollars, understanding that all you have belongs to the One who bought and paid for the very life you claim as your own.

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price…” (I Corinthians 6:19b-20a, NIV).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


“… Solomon has abandoned Me and … has not followed My ways and done what is pleasing in My sight. He has not obeyed My decrees and regulations as David his father did. For the sake of My servant David, the one whom I chose and who obeyed My commands and decrees, I will keep Solomon as leader for the rest of his life. But I will take the kingdom away from his son and give ten of the tribes to you. His son will have one tribe so that the descendants of David my servant will continue to reign, shining like a lamp in Jerusalem, the city I have chosen to be the place for My name. Because of Solomon’s sin I will punish the descendants of David – though not forever” (I Kings 11:33-36, 39, NLT).

The Lord spoke to Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah, promising that he would rule over the vast majority of the tribes of Israel. Why the change in plans? Because God’s blessing on Solomon’s family was conditional on Solomon’s obedience to God’s commands.

Solomon blew it. And because he did, his descendants missed out on the abundant blessings the Lord had promised His faithful servants in the lineage of David – “though not forever,” since we know Jesus was born of Mary through the lineage of David.

You, my brothers and sisters in Christ, are aligning your families, your descendants, for blessings or curses. Which have you chosen?

“I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses” (Deuteronomy 30:19a, God’s Word).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 10-11; Second Chronicles 9

Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10a, NLT).

“Do everything you want to do; take it all in.” Good advice when coupled with the next part of today’s passage: “But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.” When you submit your will to God’s will, the things “you want” and the things you’ll “take … in” will be things that are pleasing and honoring to the Lord Jesus.

Who’s “young” these days? As we see people living longer and longer, “young” has taken on a whole new meaning. “You’re as young as you feel!” is an oft-spoken sentiment. And I believe that’s true. No, I don’t move as quickly as I used to, but I still love to be active. Matter of fact, I love it more now than I did when I was younger. Why? Because I realize my time on earth is growing shorter.

Don’t wait until your health is failing to begin doing all those things you were going to “get around to.” “… refuse to worry …” “… keep your body healthy.” Live fully. Live now. Live for Jesus.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“For everything there is a season,
 a time for every activity under heaven.
 A time to be born and a time to die.
 A time to plant and a time to harvest.
 A time to kill and a time to heal.
 A time to tear down and a time to build up.
 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
 A time to grieve and a time to dance.
 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
 A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
 A time to keep and a time to throw away.
 A time to tear and a time to mend.
 A time to be quiet and a time to speak”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-7, NLT).

You’re heard the saying many times, and it’s so very true: “Timing is everything.” Grieving a loss is a necessary part of healing, but there comes a time when, if given daily to the Lord, the hurt lessens and leaves you with happy memories of your loved one. Yes, there’s a time for everything Solomon wrote in today’s passage, one of which I think is critically ignored these days: “A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” When is the last time you finished praying and then sat silently waiting on the Lord to speak to you?


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates 


“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person” (Psalm 27:19, NLT).

When Solomon had completed the Temple, the Lord appeared to him, saying of the Temple: “My eyes and My heart will always be there” (II Chronicles 7:16, NIV). Just as He watched over the Temple before the day of Pentecost, so He focuses His love and attention on believers whose bodies are now “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 6:19a, NLT).

We, too, focus on the things we love. How did Jesus put it? “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Luke 12:34 & Matthew 6:21).

You can “play church” and “play Christian” and fool a lot of people. You can fake concern and even fake friendship; but the One Person who really matters is never fooled because He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows your heart because He created it. And He didn’t make it to be fickle or phony.

“O God, let the secrets of my heart be uncovered …” (Psalm 139:23a, BBE).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person” (Psalm 27:19, NLT).

When Solomon had completed the Temple, the Lord appeared to him, saying of the Temple: “My eyes and My heart will always be there” (II Chronicles 7:16, NIV). Just as He watched over the Temple before the day of Pentecost, so He focuses His love and attention on believers whose bodies are now “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 6:19a, NLT).

We, too, focus on the things we love. How did Jesus put it? “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Luke 12:34 & Matthew 6:21).

You can “play church” and “play Christian” and fool a lot of people. You can fake concern and even fake friendship; but the One Person who really matters is never fooled because He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows your heart because He created it. And He didn’t make it to be fickle or phony.

“O God, let the secrets of my heart be uncovered …” (Psalm 139:23a, BBE).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“I have set this Temple apart to be holy – this place you have built where My Name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to My heart” (I Kings 9:3b, NLT).

The Lord told Solomon that the Temple was set “apart to be holy.” The word “holy” itself means “set apart,” as in for the worship or service of the Lord.

After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, the Holy Spirit came to indwell all believers. While still walking this earth as a Man, Jesus spoke about how the Holy Spirit’s coming would change the way those who believed in Him would worship. Remember what He said to the Samaritan woman:

“Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. But the time is coming – indeed it’s here now – when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21, 23-24).

WE are God’s temple – every person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are to live lives of holiness, set apart to worship and serve Him. And each and every one of us is “dear to [His] heart.”

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 9; Second Chronicles 8

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NLT).

When it comes to a broken heart, complaining never helps. Crying may make you feel better for a little while; and pouring your heart out to a sympathetic friend can be a great temporary fix.

But let’s face it: some things hurt too much to even talk about. Like the refusal of our son and daughter-in-law to communicate with us, or allow us to meet our precious granddaughters. There was a time when that pain cut so deeply that I couldn’t even find words to explain how much I hurt. As I prayed time and time again, I would run out of words and simply sob and plead before the Father.

And you know what? God heard me. Romans 8:26 explains it this way: “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (NIV). God’s Holy Spirit expressed what I could not.

And not only did He hear me, but He healed me. He took that pain – yes, I had to turn loose of it – and He made it His own. He carries for me what I can’t bear to carry. He’s a great God.

No matter what you’re going through, give it to Jesus. He’ll carry your burden IF you’ll let Him.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, ‘…I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy – a place where My name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to My heart” (II Chronicles 7:11-12a, 16, NLT).

The Lord told Solomon that the Temple was “dear to [His] heart.” What about nowadays? Does the Lord have a special place where He desires to be worshiped? You betcha: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Corinthians 3:16, ESV). “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price” (I Corinthians 6:19-20a, NLT).

You! Me! In our lives is where God desires to be worshiped. If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, His Spirit lives within you and is worthy of your praise.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Chronicles 6-7; Psalm 136

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then the priests carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple – the Most Holy Place – and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim. Then the priests left the Holy Place. All the priests who were present had purified themselves, whether or not they were on duty that day. And the Levites who were musicians – Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun, and all their sons and brothers – were dressed in fine linen robes and stood at the east side of the altar playing cymbals, lyres, and harps. They were joined by 120 priests who were playing trumpets. The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praised the Lord with these words: ‘He is good! His faithful love endures forever!’ At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God” (II Chronicles 5:8, 11-14, NLT).

This special day called for great celebration and the people of God let loose with absolute joy. When’s the last time you recall a worship service that exciting?

While it’s important to have a worship plan: planned sermon, music, etc; it’s also important to be sensitive to the movement of the Holy Spirit and willing to get off the printed page or schedule and get on the same page as whatever the Spirit is leading in.

Can you imagine! “The glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God” to the point that “The priests could not continue their service.” I’m so thankful to have a pastor who is sensitive to the Spirit of God. There have been times when God’s presence is so heavy in our services that we do nothing but pray and praise Him.

Don’t put God in a box and expect Him to stay there. He is in charge of worship and He is the One to be worshiped.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 8; Second Chronicles 5

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“King Solomon then asked for a man named Huram to come from Tyre. He was half Israelite, since his mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali, and his father had been a craftsman in bronze from Tyre. Huram was extremely skillful and talented in any work in bronze, and he came to do all the metal work for King Solomon” (I Kings 7:13-14, NLT).

Even as the Temple of the Lord was being built, God was pointing us to the day when those who put their faith in Jesus Christ would become one blended family. Because Huram’s mother was Jewish, Huram was legally considered a Jew; but his mixed lineage brings to mind Jesus’ no doubt startling words to His Jewish listeners in John 10:16: “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

The Lord spoke to the Jews through the prophet Isaiah, declaring: I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6b). Addressing the Gentiles or non-Jewish believers, Paul said, You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. … God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into His cultivated tree” (Romans 11:24a).

Rich or poor; black or white; male or female; Jew or Gentile; we who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are one family.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 7; Second Chronicles 4

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“It was in midspring, in the month of Ziv, during the fourth year of Solomon’s reign, that he began to construct the Temple of the Lord. This was 480 years after the people of Israel were rescued from their slavery in the land of Egypt” (I Kings 6:1, NLT).

After 480 years, the Israelites were about to see the construction of “the Temple of the Lord.” Why did it take so long? Why do we have to wait so long for so many things? The answer, my brothers and sisters, is multi-faceted:

  • Waiting is a part of life. Jesus Himself knew what it was like to wait: “The right time for Me has not yet come” (Jesus speaking, John 7:6a, NIV).
  • Living in accordance with God’s law prevents needless delays in God’s plans for your life. Look again at what the Lord told the disobedient Israelites after He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt and they had refused to go in and claim the Promised Land: “Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years – a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins” (Numbers 14:34, NLT).
  • God doesn’t force His will on anyone. Even if you’re living according to His Word and praying fervently for a lost loved one, that person still must choose to repent and turn to Jesus Christ. God is never the hold-up when it comes to salvation: “Today is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2b). Just remember that every prayer you pray sends the Holy Spirit to speak to that lost person’s heart and “The Lord is patient” (Nahum 1:3a, God’s Word).
  • When you live for the Lord and trust Him regardless of your circumstance, He will “…lift you up in due time” (I Peter 5:6b, NIV). “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NASB).

    TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 5-6; Second Chronicles 2-3

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If you fail under pressure, your strength is too small” (Proverbs 24:10, NLT).

Other translations word this passage as:

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” ( NIV).

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” (ESV).

“If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited” (NASB).

“If you faint in a crisis, you are weak” (God’s Word).

What all that boils down to is this: if you can’t handle tough times, “your strength is too small.” The strength the Lord Jesus Christ provides to each and every one of His children is UNLIMITED; so if you’re “weak,” it’s because you’re fighting life’s battles in your own strength. Don’t do it.

“The Lord gives strength to His people …” (Psalm 29:11a, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3, NLT).

Why is it that some people want to take personal credit for anything good that happens in their lives and want to give God all the blame when anything bad comes along? While we all experience problems in this world – Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33, NIV) – there are many totally avoidable difficulties that come into people’s lives because of their own foolish choices. Yet they still want to be “angry at the Lord” for allowing these things to happen.

As I’ve said many times and many ways, God isn’t our “go-fer.” And He should never be treated as our fall-back guy – the one you rely on or blame things on when your own efforts don’t work out. Pray BEFORE you take action. Pray BEFORE you make decisions. And don’t just talk to God; wait and listen for Him to talk to you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“It’s poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt or put up security for a friend” (Proverbs 17:18, NLT).

Now here’s a proverb that The Bargainomics Lady has mentioned on many occasions. Why is it “poor judgment to guarantee another person’s debt”? Let’s answer that question with a question: Why does a person need a guarantor, as in co-signer? Because his credit isn’t good enough to qualify for a loan on his own. Which means what? Most likely, the person has a poor repayment history.

What about young people who are just getting started in the credit world? Don’t help them get into debt! Companies are overly eager to get their credit cards into the hands of young adults – many will issue one to an unemployed college student!

I’ve said this many times and many ways, but a person who mismanages his own money doesn’t need your money to mismanage. Likewise, a person who poorly manages his credit doesn’t need your credit to mismanage.

Creditors extend credit well beyond what some people have the ability to repay, so you can only begin to guess how overextended or underemployed a person must be in order to need a co-signer. If a friend or family member asks you to co-sign a loan, do the right thing: say “No.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).

Yesterday we looked at the dangers – and sins – of harboring hatred and slandering others. Today’s passage is good follow-up since we’ve been talking about refusing to speak negatives to or about other people.

Think about these scenarios and choose the pair that would “deflect anger” and which one would “make tempers flare.” (1) Kaye tells Pat, a volunteer in the church library, “It’s impossible to find anything in here! You should keep this place in better order.” (2) Kaye tells Pat, “I’m hoping you can help me find a book that isn’t on the shelf.” (3) Pat responds to Kaye: “If you and a lot of other people would put a little time into volunteering in here like I do, things wouldn’t be so messy and you’d know your way around.” (4) Pat tells Kaye: “I’m sorry about the problem. Tell me what it is you’re looking for and I’m sure I can either locate it or see who has it checked out.”

(1) and (3) would definitely make “tempers flare.” (2) and (4) would “deflect anger.” But think about these individually. What if the conversation began with (1) and Pat responded with (4)? Or if it began with (2) and Pat responded with (3)? It only takes one calm voice to “deflect anger.”

Even when we aren’t the angry party, we have to choose whether to respond in KIND or in KINDNESS. Which would Jesus choose?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Hiding hatred makes you a liar; slandering others makes you a fool” (Proverbs 10:18, NLT).

Some of Solomon’s proverbs are pretty straight-spoken, aren’t they? How does “hiding hatred” make a person “a liar”? Think about how many times you’ve smiled and greeted someone at church or work or elsewhere – maybe even at home – and said to yourself or to someone else as you walk away, “I can’t stand that person!” If you’ve ever done that, you, my friend, are “a liar.” And I can’t write another sentence without first admitting that I’ve been guilty of this very thing myself.

“But you don’t know what that person did to me!” you may retort. No matter. Whatever has been done to you, the right thing to do is to forgive. And when you forgive, you can’t hate.

Today’s passage also warns that “slandering others makes you a fool.” Whether your information is true or not, don’t bad-mouth other people. It only shows you to be a troublemaker and a negative busybody. (Here again I step on my own toes!)

Let me summarize with the words of Paul from Colossians 3:13: “Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been forgiven an awful lot. I “must forgive others.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, NLT).

What are the meanings of “knowledge,” “wisdom” and “understanding”? According to, “knowledge” is “acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation.” “Knowledge,” in other words, means knowing.

“Wisdom” is “knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action.” “Understanding” is “knowledge of or familiarity with a particular thing.” Just comparing these three definitions is a real eye-opener to grasping the truths of Proverbs 9:10.

Allow me to give you the long, but I think clear, “Judy-an” translation: The fear (awe, great respect, reverence) of the Lord is the starting point for realizing that everything about Jesus Christ is fact and truth. He means exactly what He says and He does exactly whatever He says He will do. Knowing this to be true, having investigated and studied everything about who He is, a person can literally become acquainted with the God of the Universe in such an intimate way that this relationship dictates how that person chooses to live his life: in accordance with the teachings and will of God.

Read that last paragraph again, slowly and then answer this question: how intimately do you know Jesus?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT).

Yesterday we looked at Proverbs 3:5, which begins with the words: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Now re-read our passage for today: “Guard your heart above else, for it determines the course of your life.”

If your heart is fully trusting in Jesus, there’s no room for doubt. If your heart is fully focused on Jesus, there’s no room for sin. Will you make mistakes? Certainly. Will you sin? As long as you’re breathing. But get this: it’s impossible to sin when you’re one hundred percent focused on Jesus – like Peter sinking in the sea (see Matthew 14), you start sinking into sin when you take your eyes off the Lord and start looking elsewhere.

Every human sometimes thinks or does things he shouldn’t. And even more so, every human sometimes fails to do the things that he knows he should do. But knowing this doesn’t give us a license to sin; we should be consciously seeking to avoid allowing any form of sin in our lives.

When you determine to “guard your heart,” you mess up far less and you avoid so many needless heartaches and problems. Are you married? “Guard your heart” against any wrongful affections. Single? “Guard your heart” so that whether you’re determined to be married or stay single, your One True Love is always honored.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
 Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
 Write them deep within your heart.
 Then you will find favor with both God and people,
 and you will earn a good reputation”
(Proverbs 3: 3-4, NLT).

While the above passage might not be familiar to you, I’m sure you recognize the passage that follows it:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths”
(Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV).

In order for you to be able to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart,” your heart has to be “loyal.” Are you a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? Do you follow Christ’s example of treating everyone with “kindness”? Then and only then will you “find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation” – for yourself and for the One you claim as your Savior.

Jesus gets plenty of bad press. Please don’t be the reason anyone gets a negative impression of the totally positive Redeemer.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“I am the rose of Sharon, The lily of the valleys” (Song of Solomon 2:1, NASB).

In this book of poetic verse about the Bride and Bridegroom, we see the passage written above, a verse which may remind you of the hymn that says, “He’s the Lily of the Valley …” But in this passage, it’s not the Bridegroom, but the Bride who identifies herself as the “rose of Sharon” and “lily of the valleys.”

Most commentaries attribute the “rose of Sharon” to the crocus family of flowers. These delicate blossoms are some of spring’s earliest bloomers and push their way up even through late snows. Their fragrance is powerful and attractive. The “lily of the valleys” refers to the type of lily that would be found in the East, a tall and beautiful plant but with a weak stem that requires a very strong root system to sustain it.

Are you beginning to see the picture? The Bride of Christ, the church – that’s me and you, my brothers and sisters – is, as Paul words it in Second Corinthians 2:15, the “… fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing …” And without the firm foundation of Jesus Christ we’re weak, but in Him we “… from weakness [are] made strong” (Hebrews 11:34).

Whose strength are you living in today?

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Song of Solomon 1-8 (also called Song of Songs)

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105, NLT).

Today’s passage describes the Word of God – the Bible and the Holy Spirit’s inner guidance – as “a lamp” and “a light.” Picture yourself as a hiker lost in the middle of a dense forest. It’s dark and you want to find a way to safety. In your pocket is a flashlight – what are you going to do? Turn it on! Put it to use!

And when you turn on that flashlight, what happens? Light floods your path. But there’s a problem: it only lights the way a few feet ahead of you. So do you stand there feeling hopeless because you can’t see very far ahead? No! You start walking. And as you walk, the light goes with you and in front of you and lights more and more of the pathway as you continue walking.

So it is with the Christian life. Jesus, [the] Lamp to guide [your] feet and [the] Light for [your] path,” goes with you and before you. No, He doesn’t show you the entire pathway all at one time – if He did, it’d be more than you could handle. What He does do is show you enough; enough for you to take the next step, and the next step, and the next step.

Like the flashlight in the hiker’s pocket, God’s power is present in every believer’s life. Like the flashlight, He’s waiting for you to avail yourself of His power. Don’t live life in your own strength when the Greatest Power in the Universe stands ready to guide you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“‘Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David… Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong.’ The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, ‘Because you have asked for wisdom in governing My people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies – I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for – riches and fame!’” (First Kings 3:7a, 9a, 10-13a, NLT).

Solomon is still considered today to have been the wealthiest man who ever lived. But he didn’t get that way by asking the Lord to heap riches on him. He got that way by asking the Lord for “an understanding heart.” Have you ever asked for that?

Having “an understanding heart” would mean being able to cope with your own problems and help others with theirs. Having “an understanding heart” would mean having a lot less arguments and lot more agreement.

You want to load up on true riches? Ask the Lord for “an understanding heart.”

“…who will trust you with true riches?” (Jesus speaking, Luke 16:11b, NIV).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 3-4; Second Chronicles 1; Psalm 72

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees” (Psalm 119:71, NLT).

Is any suffering “good”? It is when we learn from it. Is any suffering unnecessary? I answer both questions with a question: Ever got a speeding ticket? We suffer from it – our wallets and our insurance rates – but we also learn from it: slow down.

While life can bring about some painful and inevitable suffering, there’s a great deal of unnecessary suffering that we endure because of disobedience. When a person has become a child of God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, acceptance of that kinship means that your Father is going to love you enough to dish out whatever discipline is necessary to get you to obey his “decrees” (laws, commandments, teachings).

Discipline may involve suffering, but its goal is always to teach, just as with David who said that his “… suffering … taught [him] to pay attention to [the Lord’s] decrees.” God wants us to be like Him; and that, my brothers and sisters, requires discipline.

Jesus didn’t beat around the bush when He said in John 16:33: “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” Suffering is a part of life, and it can make you bitter or better – it’s up to you which you choose.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved” (Helen Keller).

And here's a quote I hope will stay with you forever:

“God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering” (Saint Augustine).



Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“About that time David’s son Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, began boasting, ‘I will make myself king.’ So he provided himself with chariots and charioteers and recruited fifty men to run in front of him. Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time …” (First Kings 1:5-6, NLT).

David, elderly and growing feeble, had already promised the throne to Solomon, his son by Bathsheba, even though Adonijah was David’s oldest living son. Knowing this, Adonijah still had no respect for his father’s decision nor his father. He didn’t even wait for David’s death to make his move.

So what became of Adonijah? Today’s passage tells us that David enthroned Solomon and that Solomon mercifully spared Adonijah’s life only to have him ask – immediately after the death of their father David – for Abishag, David’s youngest and newest wife/concubine. Adonijah even had the nerve to send Bathsheba to make the request of her newly crowned son King Solomon.

That may not seem to us like a particularly significant deal, but Bathsheba and certainly Solomon knew exactly what Adonijah was up to – marrying the widow of King David was a way of staking a claim to the throne. That was the last straw for Solomon, who had Adonijah executed.

Why did Adonijah’s life come to such an early end and why was he so disobedient and disrespectful? “… his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time …” Proper discipline is an act of love, even though the disciplined party never sees it that way at the time. We are DISCIPLES of whatever DISCIPLINE we follow. Discipline consistently; and make sure your own life is one of discipline according to the Word of God – you’re teaching whatever you’re living.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Kings 1-2; Psalm 37, 71, & 94

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Hallelujah! How happy is the person who fears the Lord, who truly delights in His commandments” (Psalm 112:1, ISV).

Now here’s a man who is celebrating! He’s “happy.” He’s joyful. Why? He understands what it means to fear “the Lord.” He isn’t cowering in terror of some evil, vindictive god. He’s rejoicing in the presence of the God he knows and trusts with every fiber of his being. He is in awe of God’s love. Knowing God knows everything about me and loves me in spite of it all, how can I not be in awe of Him? How can I not have a very healthy fear of One so great as He?

Note, too, the psalmist’s attitude toward God’s “commandments.” He doesn’t begrudgingly obey them – he “delights in” them. He’s learned that God didn’t give His commandments to spoil our fun, but to protect us. He gave His commandments out of love. And we who love Him should obey them.

I know that bad things can happen to God’s people, but there are unavoidable bad things and there are avoidable bad things. And we will never know this side of heaven how many avoidable bad things we missed because of God’s protection. You can’t change the past, but you can change today. Be a faithful follower. Obey “His commandments” and know the joy that comes from being in a right relationship with Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel – the Lord’s assembly – I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance. And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek Him, you will find Him” (First Chronicles 28:8-9a, NLT).

David was about to pass his crown to his son Solomon and he wanted all Israel to hear the words he shared with his son. While none of us like to think about dying, nothing short of the Rapture will prevent our deaths. One day each one of us will speak our last words on this planet. What will your last words here be? If you knew you that your time was very short – and let’s face it: even a full lifetime passes like proverbial greased lightning – what advice, what words of wisdom would you want to leave with those you love? David leaves us some very good examples.

“Be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God …”

“… learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately.”

“Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind.”

“If you seek Him, you will find Him.”

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Chronicles 26-29; Psalm 127

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“O Lord, You have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place Your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!”
(Psalm 139:1-6, NLT).

Nothing is hidden from the Lord. If we really latch onto that truth, we’ll live much purer, holier (set apart, not like the rest of the world) lives. He knows “everything about” us. He knows when we “sit down or stand up.” He knows “everything [we] do” and “what [we’re] going to say even before [we] say it.”

And knowing “everything about” us, what does He do? Forgive us as we confess our wrongdoing. Love us. Expect great things from us. “Go before [us] and follow [us],” surrounding us with His Holy Presence, love, mercy, grace and protection. And get this: He “place[s His] hand of blessing on [our] head[s]!

God isn’t merely a great God. He is THE GREAT AND ONLY God. He isn’t watching for chances to discipline us for doing wrong – He’s looking for opportunities to bless us as we live our lives in obedience to His will.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 131; 138-139; 143-145

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“When David was an old man, he appointed his son Solomon to be king over Israel” (First Chronicles 23:1, NLT).

“For everything,” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a tells us,“there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die.”

David knew that his time was growing short. In preparation for his own death, he “appointed Solomon to be king over Israel.” David didn’t merely call Solomon into his presence one day and say, “Okay, son, I’m turning my kingdom over to you.” No, David spent Solomon’s lifetime teaching him by example so that, when the time came, Solomon would know the kind of person and ruler his father was and wanted him to be.

Was David perfect? Hardly. Yet what did the Lord say? He called him “a man after His own heart” (First Samuel 13:14).

The Lord doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Matter of fact, He knows we won’t be – this side of heaven. But what He does want is for us to seek to be like Him. Because whatever our example, we’re passing it on. Let’s teach others to live and love like Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet’” (Psalm 110:1, NLT).

Jesus quotes this same passage in Mark 12:36, asking the gathered Sadducees and other religious leaders: “David himself calls him ‘Lord.’ How then can he be his son?” (Mark 12:37a, NIV). The verse goes on to say that, “The large crowd listened to Him with delight” (Mark 12:37b, NIV).

The Holy Spirit, speaking through His servant David, penned Psalm 110, declaring to all, as Jesus Christ Himself declares in Revelation 22:16, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David” In other words, as God, He was preexistent, meaning He has always existed. But He also chose to come to earth and be born of a woman long after the time of King David, thus becoming also “the Offspring of David.”

The Bible is a wonderful treasure for those who will take the time to delve into its pages!


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:11-12, NLT).

Tuscumbia, Alabama-born Helen Keller was without doubt one of the most hard-working, ambitious women ever to live. Stricken both blind and deaf by an early childhood illness, Keller chose to concentrate on her abilities rather than disabilities. She was the first deaf and blind person to achieve a Bachelor of Arts degree and she went on to author a dozen books and countless articles, as well as traveling the world over and tirelessly working for every cause she believed in.

Don’t wait until “things are better” to choose joy. Choose it now. If the Light of Jesus Christ lives within you, you are never in darkness.

“I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark” (Helen Keller).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 24; First Chronicles 21-22: Psalm 30

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord has announced His victory and has revealed His righteousness to every nation! The ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God” (Psalm 98:2, 3b, NLT).

Have “The ends of the earth… seen the victory of our God”? Yes and no. For those who see with eyes of faith, it’s as clear as the proverbial handwriting on the wall – see Daniel 5. But for those who lack faith, it’s impossible for them to see or believe that Jesus Christ has already won “the victory of our God.”

Jesus addressed that very topic in John 9:39. He told the religious leaders, “I have come to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”

The only real “Know-It-All” is God Almighty. When we put our faith completely in His Son, we can know with absolute certainty that we will receive the promised inheritance of eternal life in Christ’s Kingdom.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (First Corinthians 15:57, KJV).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you …” (First Peter 1:3-4, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“My heart is confident in You, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing Your praises!” (Psalm 57:7, NLT).

Confidence. Webster’s defines it as “faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper or effective way.” How strong is your faith in God?

Some years back, two of my friends were battling cancer. One was edging toward 60 while the other was in his 30s. Both of these believers had absolute confidence in God. One was hospitalized  numerous times, underwent extremely powerful chemotherapy, and yet used her good moments to write cards of encouragement to others and to pray for them. She also made phone calls checking on and uplifting her friends and family.

My other friend recorded his testimony for our church. I can assure you that there wasn’t a dry eye in the building when the video was shown. But again, here was a believer being totally realistic about his condition and putting absolute faith in Jesus Christ to work His will regardless of whether He chose to heal him here or in eternity.

Confidence. Unwavering faith in the eternal promises of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Is that what you have?

“No wonder I can sing Your praises!”

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 22-23; Psalm 57

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2a, NLT).

When’s the last time you could truly say that you longed for the Lord’s presence? If your life is feeling dry and empty right now, your focus needs to be on Jesus. And when it is, the Faithful Father will make His presence known.

Luke records the words of Peter in Acts 3:19-20a: “Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.”

Did you notice that little word THEN? We can’t dabble in sin and know God’s peace and contentment. We have to ‘fess up and “be cleansed” if we want to experience those “wonderful times of refreshing.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“After this, there was another battle against the Philistines at Gob. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, another descendant of the giants. During another battle at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair from Bethlehem killed the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of his spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam! In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, they encountered a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also a descendant of the giants. But when he defied and taunted Israel, he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea. These four Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but David and his warriors killed them” (II Samuel 21:18-22, NLT).

Ever been in a battle against a giant? There have been quite a few times in my life when I’ve sure felt like I have. People of God, no giant is a match for God Almighty. Matter of fact, NO ONE and NO THING is a match for Him!

Whatever you’re up against, God is greater. Remember what David said to Goliath? “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord” (First Samuel 17:45). Believer, stand firm and declare to the enemy: “Today the Lord will conquer you … This is the Lord’s battle” (First Samuel 17:46a, 47b).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear Your name” (Psalm 61:5b, NLT).

What does it mean to fear the name of the Lord? The easiest way for me to relate is to tell you about my daddy. Ellis Woodward was a kind, gentle man, but he was also a father who expected his children to do what he told them to do. I knew that my daddy would never do anything to hurt me and that he would put his own life on the line to protect and defend me.

However, if I ever disobeyed him, I was in trouble, because I knew he meant what he said. If he said, “When we get home…,” I knew the punishment might be delayed, but it was still forthcoming. In other words, I had a very healthy fear of my daddy.

As good as my daddy was, though, God is far better. And the reward, the inheritance, promised by Him to all those who accept His Son as Lord and Savior, is incomparable.

Those who truly know God can’t help but have a healthy fear or reverence for who He is. Do you? If so, your inheritance awaits you.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 26, 40, 58, 61-62, and 64

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab … Then [Joab] took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him” (Second Samuel 18:9-10a, 14b-15, NLT).

As we read a couple of days ago, Amnon assaulted his own half-sister and their brother Absalom took Amnon’s life as revenge. Now we see Absalom’s own death. Folks, it never pays good wages to seek revenge. After all, what does the Bible say?

“Never take your own revenge … but leave room for the wrath of God …” (Romans 12:19a, NASB).

The Lord is Judge – not me, not you. And when we seek revenge on a person who has wronged us or anyone else we care about, we’re usurping the place and authority of the Lord God Almighty. Don’t do it. He can and will dish out justice in His own time and way.

“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution,

In due time their foot will slip;

For the day of their calamity is near,
And the impending things are hastening upon them”
(Deuteronomy 32:35).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“O Lord, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
So many are saying,
‘God will never rescue him!’
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
You are my glory, the one who holds my head high”

(Psalm 3:1-3, NLT).

Sometimes it feels like no one believes in you, doesn’t it? But child of God, while earthly friends and even family may let you down, God never will!

Sure, things get rough sometimes, and all this craziness with the pandemic is hard to deal with, but we will never know this side of heaven how many negative events never came to pass in our lives because of God’s mercy, because of having Him as “a shield around” us.

Even when you don’t feel like holding your head up, guess what? Jesus loves you enough to do it for you.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3, Amplified Bible).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 3-4; 12-13; 28; 55

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. She was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her. But Amnon had a very crafty friend – his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea” (II Samuel 13:1-3, NLT).

Jonadab was a friend that Amnon should have done without. Because of his “very crafty friend,” though, Amnon set a trap for his own half-sister and brutally assaulted her. Had Jonadab chosen godly friends, his life would have been different and so would poor Tamar’s. In only two year’s time, Amnon lost his life when his brother Absalom took revenge for Tamar’s attack.

We need to be very careful not only about the company we keep, but the advice we listen to. Surround yourself with godly counsel and steer clear of “crafty” people.

“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel…” (Proverbs 1:5, NASB).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
‘May you have peace.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem”
(Psalm 122:6-9, NLT).

The Bible tells us to “Pray for peace in Jerusalem.” Do you? The Lord’s promise to the Jews hasn’t changed. Even though non-Jews (called Gentiles in Scripture) who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have become members of the family of God, the Lord hasn’t tossed aside the Jews. And neither should we. We should include Israel in our daily prayers.

“…I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them. For since their rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, their acceptance will be even more wonderful. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in… You are just a branch, not the root. Remember – those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree” (Romans 11:14-15a, 17b-18a & c, 20a, 23).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her” (II Samuel 11:1a, 2c-4a, NLT).

David’s “one-night stand” with Bathsheba had enormous consequences that affected not only David, Bathsheba, and Uriah, but many other people who died in David’s attempt to hide what he had done. How did David get himself into such a mess?

The same way we sometimes do. David should have been on the battlefield with the rest of his army. And because he wasn’t, he found himself in a position of temptation that otherwise would never have happened.

Temptation is a powerful tool of the devil, but every believer has an even greater Power within to resist. Remember: resisting begins with a strong prayer life and commitment to Jesus Christ, but also requires staying out of situations that put you in the pathway of temptation. Never be where you shouldn’t be.

“Resist (literally, keep on resisting) the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 11-12; First Chronicles 20

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18, NLT).

Unconfessed sin hinders our communication with the Lord. Think of it this way. You just drove by a local game room and saw your teenage son going in the door during school hours. When your son arrives home, you try to carry on a normal conversation and give him time to ‘fess up on his own. But he doesn’t. And the more you try to talk to him, the more frustrated you become with the fact that he isn’t being honest with you. A barrier has risen up between the two of you and the only thing that’s going to resolve it is his admitting that he’d cut class. How you wish he’d do that without you having to confront him!

Your heavenly Father feels likewise. He doesn’t want to have to bring up your sin – He wants you to confess it of your own volition. And until you do, there’s that barrier.

Don’t let anything hinder your communication with God. Your prayer life is far too valuable. Stay ‘fessed up and know the joy of an open line between you and your Father.

“But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me” (Psalm 66:19-20).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
May He send you help from His sanctuary
and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
May He remember all your gifts
and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
May He grant your heart’s desires
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
May the Lord answer all your prayers”
(Psalm 20:1-5, NLT).

“May the Lord answer all your prayers.” No matter what that country song told us, there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. I remember praying fervently in the third grade for my friend Teddy’s family not to move away – they did. Did the Lord ignore my prayer? No. He didn’t give me what I’d asked for because He understood the importance of Teddy’s dad having found a job in another community. All I wanted was not to lose Teddy.

What about when we pray for healing? Does the Lord ever say, “No?” What did He tell Paul when Paul asked for healing? “My grace is sufficient for thee…” (II Corinthians 12:9, KJV). Even when He allows suffering, He gives every believer ultimate healing in the end, leaving this temporal world and entering eternity where there will be no pain or suffering – matter of fact, there won’t even be a memory of it!

So if God never ignores a believer’s prayer, why haven’t we seen the salvation of all the people we’ve been praying to be saved? Does He refuse to save any person? God is NEVER the holdup when it comes to salvation – He simply doesn’t force anyone to turn to Him. “Today is the day of salvation,” declares First Corinthians 6:2b (NLT). Every time you breathe a prayer for someone to be saved, the Holy Spirit speaks to that person’s heart; but it’s up to that person to listen and obey. Keep praying! Keep praying!

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 10; First Chronicles 19; Psalm 20

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for He will trample down our foes” (Psalm 60:12, NLT).

Or as Paul said it in the New Testament, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31b).

The key to success in any area is the Lord Jesus Christ. Being centered in His will positions us to be blessed with success!

Instead of coming up with a great idea and then asking God to bless it, try putting first things first: (1) ask the Lord what He would have you to do; (2) wait on His answer; and then (3) obey wholeheartedly.

“When they call on me, I will answer …” (Psalm 91:15a).

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength …” (Isaiah 40:31a, NKJV).

“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly …” (Deuteronomy 11:18, NLT).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people” (II Samuel 8:15, NLT).

“… David … did what was just and right for all his people” – what a way for a leader to be remembered! What a way for anyone to be remembered!

Unless we make it out of here in the Rapture, each of us will one day be the visited rather than the visitor at the funeral home. And when that day comes, what will be said? “She did what was just and right” or “I just hope she made things right before it happened?”

Not a single solitary one of us is guaranteed tomorrow – or even our next breath, for that matter, as the recent tornadoes and this crazy pandemic have certainly reminded us. We need to live every moment of every day as if it could be our last, because it very well could be.

“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the One who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (Jesus speaking, John 9:4).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 8-9; First Chronicles 18

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord is good and does what is right;
He shows the proper path to those who go astray.
He leads the humble in doing right,
teaching them His way.
The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness
all who keep His covenant and obey His demands”

(Psalm 25:8-10, NLT).

“The Lord is good and does what is right.” Unlike us humans, God doesn’t have to consider whether or not something is the right thing to do – He knows with absolute certainty what is right because He is “… the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jesus speaking, John 14:6).

Look at the passage that began today’s study. Notice what those three short verses say about God’s leadership: (1) “He shows the proper path to those who go astray.” More than a disciplinarian, God is a loving Father who points His wayward children to “… the proper path, teaching them His way.” (2) He’s also a God who “… leads with unfailing love and faithfulness …” Who wouldn’t want to follow a Guide who is never going to lead you astray and never going to bail out, no matter how difficult the journey? (3) But there’s a condition to being led “… with unfailing love and faithfulness …” – it requires “… keep[ing] His covenant and obey[ing] His demands.” “His demands ? You betcha. The God of the Universe has yet to make a suggestion!

“The Lord leads with unfailing love and faithfulness all who keep His covenant and obey His demands.” Does this mean that He doesn’t lead “… with unfailing love and faithfulness …” those who disobey and follow wrong paths? That’s exactly what it means. He won’t desert you, child of God, even if you go down the road of adultery or pornography or gossip or lying – no, He’ll stay right with you. And He’ll urge you to return to “the proper path.” But He won’t make you.

A believer is never alone, even when they’re in the midst of the worst kind of sinfulness imaginable. The Holy Spirit is right there with them.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 25, 29, 33, 36, & 39

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“‘For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house – a temple – for My name.’ Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and prayed, ‘Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, O Lord God, I am your servant; do as you have promised concerning me and my family’” (II Samuel 7:12-13a, 18, 25a, NLT).

David wanted to build a temple to the Lord, but that wasn’t God’s plan – His was for David’s son Solomon to carry out that task. How often do Christians come up with ideas to do something “for the Lord” and then get all miffed if their fellow church members and/or church staff don’t jump on board and go along with it?

David had a good plan, an honorable plan; but it still wasn’t God’s plan. Maybe you have an idea that you believe would greatly benefit your church. Be careful how you present it. More importantly, be PRAYERFUL how you present it.

First and foremost, spend a huge amount of time in prayer making certain that this idea is from the Lord. Even if you’re 100 percent positive, your suggestion may be turned down. If it is, don’t get angry or get your feelings hurt. Wait on the Lord and trust Him to open that door in His own time and in the place of His choosing.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 7; First Chronicles 17

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
 Worship the Lord with gladness.
 Come before Him, singing with joy.
 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
 He made us, and we are His.
 We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
 Enter His gates with thanksgiving;
 go into His courts with praise.
 Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
 For the Lord is good.
 His unfailing love continues forever,
 and His faithfulness continues to each generation” (Psalm 100, NLT).

Psalm 100 contains the formula for pure worship. Plenty of us go to church, but how many of us truly worship? Many buildings hold what they call “worship services,” but look around at the faces and ask yourself if the Lord would call what He’s seeing “worship.”

We aren’t to sit and humdrum our way through an hour’s service. We’re to “Shout with joy to the Lord …!” We’re to “Come before Him, singing with joy.” We’re to “Acknowledge that the Lord is God!” We’re to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving [and] go into His courts with praise.” We’re to “Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.”

“We … His people, the sheep of His pasture,” have a Great Shepherd watching over us, a Great Shepherd who “…lays down His life for the sheep” (Jesus speaking, John 10:11, NASB). You, child of God, have much to be thankful for! There’s nobody who loves you like Jesus.

When this pandemic is over, I hope your who are churchgoers will return with a new enthusiasm for worship. And those of you who haven’t been attending a church fellowship, please take the first opportunity to go and be a part of corporate worship as a body of believers.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 89; 96; 100-101; 105; & 132

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
(Psalm 23, NLT).

In this familiar psalm, we see the manifold blessings bestowed on those who walk closely with God. But one thing in particular I want to point out:

“He lets me rest in green meadows …” Note the verb in that passage: “lets” – it’s a more correct translation of the original language because it denotes a word of permission, allowance, privilege. So many exhausted Christians trudge through life without ever slowing down to rest in Jesus.

This pandemic has given us a time to slow down. When things get back to whatever the new normal turns out to be, discipline yourself to keep some open time in your schedule. Intentionally slow down. Eliminate the unnecessary and make room for the important.

You’ve heard this a thousand different ways, but it’s true: we make time for whatever we really put value on. If your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ is worth anything, it’s worth reevaluating where you spend your time, reducing or stopping activities you can, taking time to talk to the Lord and read His Word, and simply resting in Him.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 1-2; 14; 22-24; 47; & 68

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him” (II Samuel 6:16, NLT).

In his joy at having the Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem, King David made a complete spectacle of himself. He forgot his dignity. He forgot his kingship. He forgot everything but the joy of the Lord. His wife Michal, however, only saw that her husband, the king, was behaving in a manner unbefitting his position of royalty.

Matter of fact, verse 20 tells us that “When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, ‘How distinguished the king of Israel looked today…!”

What was Michal’s problem? True, she was jealous of the attention David was drawing from the women who admired the handsome king. But look at the hint we get from this other portion of today’s passage:

“They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes” (II Samuel 6:17-19).

The people of Israel worshipped and celebrated with King David. “Then all the people returned to their homes.” But what about Michal? She didn’t have to go home because she’d never left there! When you aren’t part of spirited worship and celebration, it’s easy to criticize those who are participating. Maybe Michal saw herself as far too dignified to be a part of such an overboard display of emotion. Maybe Michal didn’t want to mingle with common folk. 

Whatever her reasons, Michal stayed home from worship, missed a blessing and negatively impacted her relationship with her husband and her Lord.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 5:11-6:23; First Chronicles 13-16

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Let them praise the Lord for His great love
and for the wonderful things He has done for them.
Let them exalt Him publicly before the congregation
and before the leaders of the nation”
(Psalm 107:31-32, NLT).

Our assignment as members of the body of Christ is to “… praise the Lord for His great love.” How do we do this? In words. In heart. In action.

As today’s passage clearly shows us, our praise isn’t confined to times of private prayer. We’re to “… exalt Him publicly before the congregation …” Does the joy of the Lord shine on your face as you worship? Do you ever raise your hands in an open display of praise? No, you shouldn’t be trying to draw attention to yourself, but let’s face it: in most cases, our lack of display in worship isn’t for that reason, but because we don’t want to be embarrassed or stand out as “fanatics.”

Note that the psalmist doesn’t stop with telling us to “… exalt Him publicly before the congregation …” He also says we’re to exalt Him “… before the leaders of the nation.” It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re with. There’s no time like the present to put in a good word – or deed – for Jesus!


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“How wonderful and pleasant it is
 when brothers live together in harmony!
 For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
 that was poured over Aaron’s head,
 that ran down his beard
 and onto the border of his robe.
 Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
 that falls on the mountains of Zion.
 And there the Lord has pronounced His blessing,
 even life everlasting”
(Psalm 133, NLT).

The word HARMONY comes from the Greek word HARMONIS, meaning JOINT. I want you to hold onto that thought as we look at the definition of the word HARMONY: accord; internal calm; tranquility.

Our passage today proclaims “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!” It says that “…harmony is as precious as… anointing oil…” It’s “…as refreshing as the dew…” Harmony, in other words, has enormous value.

Remember that thought I asked you to hold onto? Now put it to use. If the word HARMONY comes from a word meaning JOINT, we should realize that the best way to have HARMONY is to BE FLEXIBLE.

“Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken” (Albert Camus).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“…all Israel gathered before David at Hebron and told him, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, even when Saul was king, you were the one who really led the forces of Israel. And the Lord your God told you, ‘You will be the shepherd of my people Israel. You will be the leader of my people Israel.’ So there at Hebron, David made a covenant before the Lord with all the elders of Israel. And they anointed him king of Israel, just as the Lord had promised through Samuel” (I Chronicles 11:1-13, NLT).

David was just a youth when the prophet Samuel was appointed by the Lord to anoint him as Israel's king. Years later, at age 30, David became ruler over Judah. It wasn’t until he was around 37 years old that David ruled over all Israel - both Judah and Israel. 

Had you been the youngster David, would you have wondered if the Lord was ever going to fulfill His word? I know I would have! Even as an adult I have trouble waiting on the Lord’s timing. Do you? Patience isn’t easy, but it definitely is Christ-like.

Realize that God doesn’t work on our time schedule, but that He is ever faithful to carry out every promise He’s ever made. And remember, too: when it comes to a person’s obeying the Lord’s plan, He doesn’t force anyone to do His will. If you’re waiting on a loved one to be saved, God isn’t the hold-up.

“Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything He had spoken came true” (Joshua 21:45).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Second Samuel 5:1-10; First Chronicles 11-12

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.”

(Psalm 103:1-5a, NLT)

“May I never forget the good things He does for me.” Yes, I’ve known sickness. Yes, I’ve known sorrow. And these recent days have shown many people incredible terror, pain, and loss. But I and all of us who have been affected by this pandemic and even the recent tornadoes have also known countless days of peace, joy, love, and overwhelming blessing.

Has the Lord “… [forgiven] all my sins”? You betcha. Has He “… [healed] all my diseases”? Yes, He has. Not in this world, but He’s promised me a new one where “He will remove all of [my] sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils [will be] gone forever” (Revelation 21:4).

If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He’s done these same great things for you. He has shown you His “… love and tender mercies [and] He [has filled your] life with good things.”

If you’re in a position to help those affected by the Coronavirus or tornadoes or any other crisis or tragedy, do it. You never know when you may be on the receiving end of that kind of assistance.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Now the Philistines attacked Israel, and the men of Israel fled before them. Many were slaughtered on the slopes of Mount Gilboa. The Philistines closed in on Saul and his sons, and they killed three of his sons – Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malkishua. The fighting grew very fierce around Saul, and the Philistine archers caught up with him and wounded him. Saul groaned to his armor bearer, ‘Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to taunt and torture me.’ But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it. So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium instead of asking the Lord for guidance. So the Lord killed him and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse” (I Chronicles 10:1-4, 6a, 13-14, NLT).

Saul “… consulted a medium instead of asking the Lord for guidance.” While this was hardly the only charge that could be laid against him, this was a very serious one. The Torah, or Pentateuch (“penta” meaning five), the first five books of the Bible, were scriptures that Saul was well acquainted with. For example:

Leviticus 20:6: “If any among the people are unfaithful by consulting and following mediums or psychics, I will turn against them and cut them off from the community.”

Deuteronomy 18:10b-12a: “And do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord.”

God hasn’t changed. He abhors the TV and roadside psychics of today just as He did those in the days of Saul. And He finds those who consult these ungodly people equally appalling.....

Don’t “dabble” in witchcraft. Horoscopes, tarot cards, mediums, and psychics are not of God.

“So why are you trying to find out the future by consulting mediums and psychics? Do not listen to their whisperings and mutterings. Can the living find out the future from the dead? Why not ask your God?” (Isaiah 8:19).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“You thrill me, Lord, with all You have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what You have done.
O Lord, what great works You do!
And how deep are Your thoughts.
Only a simpleton would not know,
and only a fool would not understand this:
Though the wicked sprout like weeds
and evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever”

(Psalm 92:4-7, NLT).

My husband Larry loves rollercoasters; me, I’m terrified of them. My idea of high adventure is bicycling around Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountain National Park. One thing we can both agree on, though, is this: Jesus Christ is the biggest thrill in our lives.

What about you? When you think of “… all [He has] done for [you],” does it make you want to “… sing for joy …” ? I hope so.

When believers look around and see those who don’t know Christ as Lord and Savior happily plugging along through life with financial security and seemingly few problems, sometimes we wonder how we got so short-changed. “… simpleton[s] …” that we can sometimes be, we forget that we didn’t get short-changed – we inherited the wealth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our eternal home and the glories of heaven will outweigh the most luxurious lifestyle ever seen on this earth.

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither” (C. S. Lewis).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“David assigned … men to lead the music at the house of the Lord after the Ark was placed there. They ministered with music at the Tabernacle until Solomon built the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They carried out their work, following all the regulations handed down to them. These are the men who served, along with their sons …” (I Chronicles 6:31-33a, NLT).

I recall visiting my grandfather’s church many times when I was a youngster. Papa often led the music and I can remember being so proud of him as he stood, little red hymnal in hand, joyfully singing out, “How Firm A Foundation,” “Bringing in the Sheaves,” and “I’ll Fly Away.”

Something else I recall, though: the vast majority of the congregation was women and children. Rather than attending themselves, many of the men sent their wives and kids to get their Sunday dose of religion for them. Folks, it was wrong then and it’s wrong now!

Men were ordained by God to lead in worship (which is not to say that women can’t also be spiritual leaders – how many families depend on a mom as the head of the household?) and yet many of them have allowed Satan to convince them that attending church, praying, and reading the Bible is for wimps. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ladies and gentlemen, when we’re able to go back to our churches, go. Even if you haven’t been going in the past, take the opportunity to go as soon as churches are allowed to gather together again. And don’t just go to “church.” Go to worship. Take your Bible – and don’t keep it in the back car seat in between Sundays. Read it daily. Do this and you’ll not only grow as a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, you’ll be setting an example that will lead your children along the right pathway.

“These are the men who served, along with their sons …” (I Chronicles 6:33a).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Whom have I in heaven but You?
 I desire You more than anything on earth.
 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
 but God remains the strength of my heart;
 He is mine forever”

(Psalm 73:25-26, NLT).

Let’s bring it down to the proverbial brass tacks today: either God is real or He isn’t; either heaven exists or it doesn’t. Do you really believe in God? Do you know Him as Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior? If you do, then you should have no doubt that no matter how many loved ones who knew Him have gone on before you, He is the One and Only Way to ever see those loved ones again. He is the One, your Righteous Advocate that you “… have … in heaven …”

A friend in his 30’s – a young husband and father of two beautiful little girls – battled colon cancer for years. His health failed, but “… God remain[ed] the strength of [his] heart.” He left a lasting testimony that touched thousands of lives and he’s now experienced ultimate healing.

No, he didn’t want to leave his family; but he knew that even if he did, he would see them again. He refused to be angry with God for allowing cancer to afflict him. Instead, he and his precious wife and girls chose to do what all of us should do: trust God and cherish every moment of their lives.

Don’t wait for something catastrophic to realize how precious life is and how much you can trust the Lord with your future – here and in eternity.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Today’s passage ends with the history of the tribes who remained east of the Jordan when the Israelites entered the Promised Land:

“There were 44,760 capable warriors in the armies of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. They were all skilled in combat and armed with shields, swords, and bows. But these tribes were unfaithful to the God of their ancestors. They worshiped the gods of the nations that God had destroyed. So the God of Israel caused King Pul of Assyria (also known as Tiglath-pileser) to invade the land and take away the people of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh as captives. The Assyrians exiled them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the Gozan River, where they remain to this day” (First Chronicles 5:18, 25-26, NLT).

These Israelites had plenty of military men and weaponry, but what they didn’t have was a healthy fear of God. Because of their unfaithfulness they ended up slaves of the Assyrian ruler Tiglath-pileser.

According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, actual Assyrian inscriptions uncovered by archaeologists “… afford striking corroboration of the Biblical narrative. Pul assumed the name of one of his predecessors, Tiglath-pileser I, and reigned as Tiglath-pileser III [from] 745 B.C. to 727 B.C. [as] … one of the greatest of Assyrian monarchs.”

A monument discovered in the ruins of ancient Assyria has an inscription that gives you an idea of the sort of brutality the Assyrians inflicted upon their captors: “Their men, young and old, I took as prisoners. Of some I cut off the feet and hands; of others I cut off the noses, ears, and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I built a minaret (a tall narrow tower).”

So much suffering and all of it needless. The decisions we make today affect our own futures and our future generations. Choose a strong faith in Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Those who are wise must finally die,
 just like the foolish and senseless,
 leaving all their wealth behind.
But as for me, God will redeem my life.
 He will snatch me from the power of the grave”
(Psalm 49:10, 15, NLT).

No one escapes death. Yes, the Bible records a couple of people who didn’t experience physical death: Enoch and Elijah – see Genesis 5:23-24 and Second Kings 2:11. But for the rest of us, unless we’re alive when the Rapture of the Church occurs, there will come a day when we draw our last breath on this planet.

What you’ve done with Jesus Christ prior to that moment will determine where you take your next breath. For those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the place will be heaven. David confidently trusted that his life would be “… snatch[ed] from the power of the grave.” And so can you.

For the believer in Jesus Christ, death is the natural transition into the eternal supernatural. While I don’t think any mentally healthy person relishes the idea of dying, neither should any Christian fear it. Ecclesiastes 12:13 tells us what we are to fear: “Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person.”

No one will escape God’s judgment. No unbeliever will enter heaven, and no believer will miss it. There so many confused and lost people in this world. Don’t be one of them. Know the Light and share Him.

“A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell” (C. S. Lewis).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 43-45, 49, 84-85, 87

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Abraham was the father of Isaac. The sons of Isaac were Esau and Israel. The sons of Israel were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. Jesse’s first son was Eliab, his second was Abinadab, his third was Shimea, his fourth was Nethanel, his fifth was Raddai, his sixth was Ozem, and his seventh was David” (First Chronicles 1:34, 2:1-2, 13-15, NLT).

In Genesis 12:1 Abram (whom the Lord renamed Abraham) was told, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you.” Obediently he took his wife Sarai (whom the Lord renamed Sarah) and went. Then in Genesis 15:5 Abraham was told by the Lord, “Look up into the heavens and count the stars if you can. Your descendants will be like that – too many to count!”

Only problem with God’s message was that Abraham was older than dirt and he and Sarah had no children! So what did he do? The next verse tells us: “Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord declared him righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:6).

In Exodus 1:9 we read the words of Pharaoh, unknowingly affirming the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham: “These Israelites are becoming a threat to us because there are so many of them.”

From 100-year-old Abraham came Isaac; and from Isaac came Jacob whom the Lord renamed Israel - see Genesis 32:28. And through Israel's son Judah came the line from which Jesse’s son David was chosen as king. And that same line was the one through which the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords chose to be born in human flesh to walk this earth as a Perfect Man and then die as the One Perfect Sacrifice for the sins of fallen man.

Abraham. One man’s faith – and look at what happened. Imagine the promises in store for the generations of your family because of your faith. What are you believing God for?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


When I behold Your heavens,

the work of Your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

which You have set in place—

what is man that You are mindful of him,

or the son of man that You care for him?

You made him a little lower than the angels;

You crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler of the works of Your hands;

You have placed everything under his feet:

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

(Psalm 8:3-6, 9, BSB)

David asked a question that all of us should ask as we look around at the wonders of all God’s creation: “… what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them?” (NLT). What an amazing love the Lord has to love us flawed and constantly problem-causing humans!

And yet He, in His incredible compassion and mercy, entrusted “… everything [He] made …” into our care. While we’re not to worship nature as deity; we are to worship the Creator who gave us the beautiful landscape of this planet. And we’re also to care for it. Believers in Jesus Christ should do their part to conserve energy; reduce landfill waste; prevent littering; and anything else that will help maintain this magnificent place we call Earth.

While we’re caring for our temporary home, though, we’re to be telling others about the eternal place God is preparing for His people. Who have you told today?

“But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world where everyone is right with God” (II Peter 3:13).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


In First Samuel 16:13 we read where the Lord showed Samuel that David was the one to be anointed as king over Israel. He was to replace the wayward ruler Saul. But years passed and David still wasn’t on the throne and had even been gone into hiding out of fear for his life as Saul, intent upon David’s death, pursued him.

In today’s passage David learns of the deaths of Saul and his son Jonathan. He mourned this loss, but asked the Lord, “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?” and the Lord replied, “Yes” (from II Samuel 2:1, NLT). So David sent a message to the people of Israel, “Now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king” (II Samuel 2:7).

“But Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had already gone to Mahanaim with Saul’s son Ishbosheth. There he proclaimed Ishbosheth king over… Israel. Meanwhile, the people of Judah remained loyal to David. David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years” (II Samuel 2:8-9, 10b-11).

Ishbosheth’s kingship and the resulting fighting between Judah and Israel “…was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker” (II Samuel 3:1).

As a young man – hardly more than a boy – David was anointed king over all of God’s people Israel. But his ascent to the throne didn’t happen immediately or even in a short time. And in the meantime, David did nothing to force his way into power.

If the Lord has made you a promise about anything, wait on His timing. As we’ll see with King David, God’s timing is always perfect.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


In First Samuel 16:13 we read where the Lord showed Samuel that David was the one to be anointed as king over Israel. He was to replace the wayward ruler Saul. But years passed and David still wasn’t on the throne and had even been gone into hiding out of fear for his life as Saul, intent upon David’s death, pursued him.

In today’s passage David learns of the deaths of Saul and his son Jonathan. He mourned this loss, but asked the Lord, “Should I move back to one of the towns of Judah?” and the Lord replied, “Yes” (from II Samuel 2:1, NLT). So David sent a message to the people of Israel, “Now that Saul is dead, I ask you to be my strong and loyal subjects like the people of Judah, who have anointed me as their new king” (II Samuel 2:7).

“But Abner son of Ner, the commander of Saul’s army, had already gone to Mahanaim with Saul’s son Ishbosheth. There he proclaimed Ishbosheth king over… Israel. Meanwhile, the people of Judah remained loyal to David. David made Hebron his capital, and he ruled as king of Judah for seven and a half years” (II Samuel 2:8-9, 10b-11).

Ishbosheth’s kingship and the resulting fighting between Judah and Israel “…was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker” (II Samuel 3:1).

As a young man – hardly more than a boy – David was anointed king over all of God’s people Israel. But his ascent to the throne didn’t happen immediately or even in a short time. And in the meantime, David did nothing to force his way into power.

If the Lord has made you a promise about anything, wait on His timing. As we’ll see with King David, God’s timing is always perfect.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“I look up to the mountains –
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
the One who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, He who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps”
(Psalm 121:1-4, NLT).

Do you ever feel totally alone and deserted? I sure have, and these days, many of us are really feeling that way. But the truth is, if you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He is always with you. Just look at the promises in the passage above:

Your “…help come[s] from the Lord.” Where could you get greater help? Nowhere! You have the most awesome Power in existence ready to meet your needs.

“He will not let you stumble.” If you attune yourself to the Holy Spirit, He will keep you from slipping up. You won’t have to wonder if something is right or wrong – He’ll tell you.

“The One who watches over you will not slumber.” God is with you 24-7. He’s the on-time, all-the-time God who loves you unconditionally. There is never a problem too big to take to Him and there’s never a time when He’s too busy to listen.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 121, 123-125, 128-130

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“O God, You are my God;
I earnestly search for You.
My soul thirsts for You;
my whole body longs for You
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen You in Your sanctuary
and gazed upon Your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise You!
I will praise You as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to You in prayer”
(Psalm 63:1-4, NLT).

David, out in the wilderness of Judah, knew what it was like to be thirsty. But as he wrote this psalm, he wasn’t thinking about physical desires, but spiritual ones. Look at what he says in these four short verses:

“I EARNESTLY search for you.” How much effort are you putting into seeking the Lord? So many people tell me they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives. Just start doing something that you know will honor Him. Make that first move and He will continue to point you in the direction you should go.

“My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you …” Spiritual thirst can only be quenched by the Living Water. Jesus Christ isn’t hiding from you – you have as much of Him as you truly want.

“I will praise You as long as I live, lifting my hands to You in prayer.” Want more of God? Praise Him! Be bold! Be radical! If your church doesn’t show much in the way of outward displays of praise, dare to be different – even if your hand-raising is only during times of prayer when the congregations eyes are closed. (And now’s your time to “practice” at home until this pandemic is over.)

God has so much more for each of us than most of us ever experience. Seek Him and know the mighty work He wants to do IN you and THROUGH you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Now Samuel died, and all Israel gathered for his funeral” (I Samuel 25:1, NLT).

Samuel had been faithful to God and the often unfaithful nation of Israel knew it. Are you a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? Both the faithful and the faithless know the real thing when they see it.

Some years ago I attended the funeral of a professing believer who, to my knowledge, never went to a church service in all his adult years. The pastor who’d been drummed up by family members and spoke at his funeral couldn’t even keep up with the man’s name and struggled valiantly to make some positive statements about the deceased’s faith.

A dear friend of mine, also a professing believer along with her husband, are currently bringing up two children who have hardly ever been inside the doors of a church. How are these children ever going to know the wonderful Word of God? How are they ever going to know the priceless worth of Jesus Christ? Yes, I know these things can be taught at home, but are they? If parents don’t see the value of being a part of a church, their children certainly won’t see the importance.

My paternal grandparents left no money, but flooded our family with their examples of faith. When your time to leave this world comes, what will be said at your funeral? Who will be there? What will you be remembered for? And what values will you have left behind for your family to follow?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).

Don’t ever think that Jesus Christ doesn’t care about what you’re going through – He does. And don’t ever think that the tears you shed as you pray for yourself, your family, your friends, your church, your country, this world, and anything else that lies heavy on your heart are without purpose. God is keeping track of them!

Most of you are aware that Larry and I have two granddaughters we’ve never been allowed to meet. Our son and daughter-in-law stopped communicating with us 14 years ago and have ignored all our efforts to find out why or reestablish our relationship.

Larry and I both have cried an ocean of tears over this. And as we’ve cried, the Lord has heard us, comforted us, and collected and recorded every single one of our tears. The Man of Sorrows knows our sorrow, and I can say with absolute sincerity that He has replaced our tears with absolute peace, even though our situation hasn’t changed.

Is God the holdup in reuniting our family? Certainly not. But He is the Sustainer and Giver of Peace that keeps us living joyfully and fully even as we wait for that day to come.

Whatever you’re going through; whatever you’re waiting for; He is enough and He is faithful.

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 56, 120, & 140-142

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“I come to you for protection, O Lord my God. Save me from my persecutors – rescue me!” (Psalm 7:1, NLT).

“Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done …” (Psalm 27:11-12a).

“The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time” (Psalm 34:19).

Ever been accused of something you didn’t do? I have. And one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done was to refuse to bad-mouth the person who invested a great deal of her own time and energy into bad-mouthing me. Instead, I did what David did – I gave my problem to the Lord and asked Him to deliver me.

And He did. Did His deliverance include clearing my name with everyone who’d heard the falsehood the other person was spreading? No. But what He did do was give me absolute peace. I stopped worrying about what that person was saying or who she was saying it to, and started praying for her. And the longer I prayed for her, the more I found myself sincerely wanting good for her rather than hoping to see payback.

Got enemies? Pray for them.

“I have heard the many rumors about me … But I am trusting you, O Lord … My future is in your hands” (Psalm 31:13a, 14a, 15a).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Psalm 7, 27, 31, 34, & 52

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


After being upstaged by David, Saul decided that David must die. David ended up fleeing for his life and hiding out in a cave. We pick up the story here:

“After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats. At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave! ‘Now’s your opportunity!’ David’s men whispered to him. ‘Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’ So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, David came out and shouted after him, ‘My lord the king!’ And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him. Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me. When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, ‘Is that really you, my son David?’ Then he began to cry. And he said to David, ‘You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil’” (I Samuel 24:1-4, 7b-8, 11, 16-17, NLT).

David, urged by his men, could have killed Saul and felt justified in doing so. But he refused to harm the one God had made king over Israel, choosing instead to wait on the Lord’s timing to ascend to the throne himself. We need to be careful about taking matters into our own hands. Sometimes “opportunities” aren’t opportunities, but tests.

Secondly, look at Saul’s response to David’s behavior: “…you have repaid me good for evil.” Saul wasn’t the only one who saw this – his 3,000 companions also witnessed it, as well as all the men who had accompanied David. Word gets around. People talk. And when they talk about you as a believer in Jesus Christ, your behavior should cause them to speak of your kindness, not your vindictiveness.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike. When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals. This was their song: ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!’ This made Saul very angry. ‘What’s this?’ he said. ‘They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!’ So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David” (I Samuel 18:5-9, NLT).

One day Jill decided to exercise her authority over newly hired underling Tisha, instructing her to finish a project that their boss, Nathan, had originally dumped in Jill’s lap. Tisha completed the project in record time; then delivered it to Nathan who praised Tisha’s quick start at the company, assuring her, “People like you have a real future here.”

Jill was more than bit miffed. She’d figured on Tisha needing her help. She’d already rehearsed her speech to Nathan about “the new girl just putting more work on me while I train her.” Instead of Jill’s move earning her points with her boss, Tisha scored the kudos while Jill stood watching from the sidelines – kind of like Saul did with David.

Jealousy is lethal. It can destroy a relationship, a career and even a home. Refuse to go through life with “…a jealous eye…”

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: First Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11 & 59

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Lord sent Samuel to Bethlehem to the house of a man named Jesse to anoint the new king; but He had not yet told Samuel who that person would be. Jesse assembled his seven big strapping sons, but the Lord didn’t indicate any of them as the chosen one.

At last Samuel turned to Jesse and asked, “Are these all the sons you have?” (I Samuel 16:11, NLT). Then Jesse told him that he had one more, but that he was out in the fields taking care of the family’s sheep. Samuel told Jesse to send for him and, when the young man arrived, he was the runt of the litter and the youngest of them all!

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7, NLT).

Little David was the “…man after [God’s] own heart” (I Samuel 13:14b, NLT).

You may not consider yourself the biggest, best, or even brightest bulb in the box; but you have to remember that these are not the attributes God is looking at. He sees the heart; and will work great things through anyone who is seeking after His.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Israel had demanded a king and they'd gotten one - Saul. Samuel was no longer over the people of Israel, but as the Lord told him, “it is Me they are rejecting, not you” (I Samuel 8:7, NLT). By asking for an earthly king, they’d rejected their Heavenly One and were going to reap the harvest of their foolish behavior.

Saul was fighting with the Israelite army against the Philistines. Samuel had instructed Saul to wait for him at Gilgal where Samuel would come and offer sacrifices and pray for the Lord to give them victory over the Philistines.

But like we are today, Saul was impatient and his troops were tired of waiting, too. Finally, Saul commanded, “‘Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!’ And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself. Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, ‘What is this you have done?’ ‘Saul replied, ‘I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.’ ‘How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command” (I Samuel 13:9-14, NLT).

Saul was a big man, but not too big for the Lord to discipline. Saul had become enamored with his own power and had forgotten Who placed him in that position of authority. Therefore, his authority was about to be removed and given to “…a man after His own heart.”

Are you “…a man [or woman] after [God’s] own heart”? These are the people He blesses.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Samuel has made his farewell speech. The people have asked for a king, so Samuel will no longer lead them as their judge. But even though he’s being displaced, he tells the people: “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve Him. Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you” (I Samuel 12:23-24, NLT).

A good while back, Larry and I ran into a guy who had attended our church a couple of years previously. We chatted a while and then asked him where he and his family were presently going to church. “Oh,” he said, “my business is taking off like wildfire and I’m working six days a week. Sunday is our only day to relax.” In other words, they weren’t going to any church.

This virus outbreak has cured this guy’s need to work six days a week. In fact, it’s making it downright hard to even make ends meet, let alone prosper.

If God is good enough to be our God in the good times, He’s good enough to be our God in the bad times. In fact, if He’s God at all, He’s God of All – good times and bad.

If you aren’t regularly attending a Bible-teaching, Jesus-preaching church, find one and get started, even though that means participating online for now. Learn and grow with a group of fellow believers – there are tons of online resources and I’ll be happy to point you to reliable ones. Heed the words of Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (NIV). Just because we’re all at home right now doesn’t mean we can’t worship and fellowship together, even if we’re having to find new ways to do that.

God is good, so “…faithfully serve Him. Think of all the wonderful things He has done for you.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


In that great old hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” we sing the words, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come.”

Why are we raising an “Ebenezer” and, even if we are, what are we raising? The word comes from a portion of today’s passage. I hope you’re reading the entire sections for our through-the-Bible study; if not, let me urge you to read this one – it’s power-packed.

In today’s passage, we see that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines. But the Lord sent such trouble upon them that they returned it to the Israelites. Still, the Philistines continued to be a thorn in Israel's flesh. Samuel, who was judge over Israel, told the people, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then He will rescue you from the Philistines” (I Samuel 7:3, NLT).

The people did as Samuel told them and the Lord intervened so that the Israelites were able to defeat the Philistines. And that’s when “Samuel… took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means ‘the stone of help’), for he said, ‘Up to this point the Lord has helped us!’ So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time” (I Samuel 7:12-13a).

You, my brothers and sisters, also have a Stone of Help. Got problems? You’ve also got an Ebenezer! Lift up His Name and see Him perform a mighty work in your life.

Hope you’ll take a few minutes to hear “Come Thou Fount” and sing along and celebrate your Stone of Ebenezer, the Lord Jesus Christ. The lyrics will be on the screen:


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Hannah, the previously barren wife of Elkanah, had been blessed with a son, Samuel, whom she promised to dedicate to the Lord. True to her word, she brought him to the temple as a young boy, and he served and trained under Eli the priest. Eli had two sons, which the Bible says, “…were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests” (I Samuel 2:12b-13a, NLT).

One has to wonder about Eli’s efforts as a disciplinarian, particularly in light of the fact that he didn’t seem to be particularly in tune with the Lord. After all, if you read First Samuel 1:14, which was before Samuel was conceived, Eli had already accused Hannah of being drunk rather than in fervent prayer. We see him again having difficulty recognizing the movement of God:

“Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, ‘Samuel!’ ‘Yes?’ Samuel replied. ‘What is it?’ He got up and ran to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’ ‘I didn’t call you,’ Eli replied. ‘Go back to bed.’ So he did. Then the Lord called out again, ‘Samuel!’ Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’ ‘I didn’t call you, my son,’ Eli said. ‘Go back to bed.’ Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’ Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’” (I Samuel 3:1-9a).

If we want to recognize the voice of God, we have to be attuned to Him by faithfully praying, reading our Bibles, and gathering with fellow believers. Through His Holy Spirit, God still speaks to people today. Has He spoken to you? Be ready to hear and obediently respond.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


When the widow Naomi’s two sons died, one of her two Moabite daughter-in-laws returned to her own people. The other one, Ruth, refused to leave her mother-in-law, telling her: “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16, NLT).

Ruth’s words are often repeated as part of a wedding ceremony. Her commitment was firm – Rock solid, in fact. She promised not to leave; to go wherever Naomi chose to go; to live wherever Naomi chose to live; and to accept Naomi’s people and God has her own. In other words, her commitment was completely selfless.

So many people today tend to live by the motto of “to thy own self be true” – if it’s not the best move or decision for ME, I’m outta here. “I” problems are destroying our homes and marriages. And married or single, there is nothing pleasing to God about an “I”-centered lifestyle.

What motivates you – self-desire or the needs of others?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25, NLT).

At least four times in the book of Judges you see the above passage repeated. And if you read the remaining chapters of the book, you see just how messed up the people of had become. Why?

“Israel had no king.” More accurately, “Israel had no King.” The Lord wasn’t revered as head of the nation. Therefore, “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” And what the people decided was right and what was truly right were at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Let me add another reminder that the people of the Old Testament lived pre-grace. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, didn’t indwell all believers as He did after Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected. Jesus had told His followers, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (John 16:7, KJV).

And because we believers of today have God within us, His Holy Spirit to “…guide [us] into all truth…” (John 16:13, Jesus speaking), we are “…without excuse” (Romans 1:20) when we sin. We know better. We have God Himself inside of us warning us away from every wrongful thought or action.

Who is your King? Whoever or whatever is most important to you. I pray your answer is Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Samson, an Israelite and a Nazirite, didn’t want an Israelite wife – he wanted a pagan Philistine. His parents had already tried to reason with him, saying, “Isn’t there even one woman in our tribe or among all the Israelites you could marry? Why must you go to the pagan Philistines to find a wife?” (Judges 14:3, NLT).

But Samson ignored his parents’ pleas. Scripture records that: “Some time later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, ‘Entice Samson to tell you what makes him so strong and how he can be overpowered and tied up securely. Then each of us will give you 1,100 pieces of silver’” (Judges 16:4-5).

Hebrews 11:25 speaks of “…enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin.” That’s exactly what Samson did – until one day Delilah succeeded in prying his secret from him: “‘My hair has never been cut,’ he confessed, ‘for I was dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me…’” (Judges 16:17).

Samson fell asleep, foolishly trusting Delilah, who had someone come in and cut off some of his hair. If you read the rest of Judges 16, you see that Samson was blinded literally and spiritually and his life came to a tragic end.

There’s a warning here for all of us. Sin is attractive. Sin is exciting. And sin can be downright fun – “…for a season…” (Hebrews 11:25, KJV). But ask a pregnant teenager or a guy with HIV if it was worth it. The price of sin is always far greater than the pleasure.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Israelites were still under the oppressing hand of the Philistines. During this time, there lived a man named Manoah of the tribe of Dan whose wife hadn’t been able to have a child. One day, “The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, ‘Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son’” (Judges 13:3, NLT).

This child was the famous strongman Samson. His parents were instructed to raise him from birth as a Nazirite, a person who made specific vows to the Lord – in Samson’s case, he was never to drink alcohol or eat the fruit of the grapevine and he wasn’t to cut his hair. As we’ll see in tomorrow’s passage, breaking his vow to the Lord cost Samson dearly.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:33-37 (NASB): “…you have heard that the ancients were told, 'you shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’”

As a believer, you are constantly being scrutinized by those who want to see what, if anything, makes you different from “the average Joe.” Whether it’s a simple commitment – “I’ll call you tomorrow” – or a big one – “…’til death do us part” – keep it. Be a believer who shines Jesus in a positive light daily.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


For the umpteenth time the Israelites were living in disobedience to God and found themselves oppressed by the Philistines and Ammonites:

“The Israelites were in great distress. Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help, saying, ‘We have sinned against You because we have abandoned You as our God and have served the images of Baal.’ The Lord replied, ‘Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to Me for help, and I rescued you. Yet you have abandoned Me and served other gods. So I will not rescue you anymore. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen! Let them rescue you in your hour of distress!’” (Judges 10:9b-14, NLT).

So much of man’s misery is self-made. Ed, the married man who has a fling with his co-worker Tara. Julie, the married woman who has an affair with Andy, her best friend’s husband. Carmen, who spends her aging parents’ money she’s been entrusted to manage for their care.

In every case, the one person’s sin affects many. Ed’s marriage ends and his wife and children are devastated. Tara becomes known as an easy mark for every man in the office. Julie’s husband will struggle for years to ever trust her again. Ditto for Andy’s wife. And Carmen’s parents find themselves unable to afford the assisted living they’d so carefully prepared to pay for.

God is merciful, but He won’t undo the results of our sins. He will, however, forgive us. Look at what happened with the Israelites:

“But the Israelites pleaded with the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned. Punish us as you see fit, only rescue us today from our enemies.’ Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the Lord. And He was grieved by their misery” (Judges 10:15-16).

The Lord doesn’t delight in our misery – He grieves over it. His desire is for His people to live in such a way that we are blessings to Him and to each other.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then the Israelites said to Gideon, ‘Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.’ But Gideon replied, ‘I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The Lord will rule over you!’” (Judges 8:22-23, NLT).

Gideon’s victory over the enemies of Israel with only 300 fighting men at his side was an impressive one. According to Judges 8:10, they’d been pitted against an army of 135,000! But Gideon knew who had given him the victory – the Lord God Jehovah.

Gideon’s mistake came after the battles had ended. When he refused to be made king, he asked that each man give him a gold earring from the spoils of their enemies – see Judges 8:24-26. Gideon made an ephod, a priestly vestment, out of all this gold; and in no time at all the Israelites began worshiping the ephod! Once again, the people forgot the God who’d given them the victory.

But let’s not lambast the Israelites until we examine our own doorsteps. Man has always had a desire to worship “stuff.” God is the one who gives us the air we breathe; the strength and ability to think and work; and yet how often do we find ourselves adoring our new car or new house or new jewelry or new something else instead of the One who made all these things possible?

Be careful to worship the Creator and not the created.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


A divine messenger appeared to Gideon as he was going about a normal task, threshing wheat, and called him to lead the people of Israel to victory against their oppressors:

“‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’ ‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’ The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man’” (Judges 6:14-16, NLT).

Gideon’s story isn’t one of a brave warrior. Gideon was afraid and he even asked the Lord repeatedly for signs of assurance that He would be with him. And merciful God that He is, God assured Gideon at every turn.

And the story just gets better and better. Gideon mustered 32,000 men to fight against the Midianites, but the Lord told him, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to Me that they saved themselves by their own strength” (Judges 7:2).

In obedience to and in growing confidence in the One who called him, Gideon heeded the Lord’s instructions and trimmed his troops to only 300 men.

Maybe you think you’re too insignificant to accomplish much. Maybe you think you need more backers to do whatever you’re considering. Brother or sister, if the Lord is on your side, you’ve got all the help and backing you need. Trust in Him completely.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They forgot about the Lord their God, and they served the images of Baal and the Asherah poles. Then the Lord burned with anger against Israel, and he turned them over to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim. And the Israelites served Cushan-rishathaim for eight years” (Judges 3:7-9, NLT).

How could the Israelites who had seen so many powerful acts of the Lord turn away from Him and serve false gods? The same way many professing Christians serve money, materialism, and other false gods today. By focusing on themselves rather than Him.

If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you belong to the mighty loving Lord of heaven and earth. Loving, yes; but willing to discipline. Even though we live in the wonderful day of grace, the Lord warns us through His Word and through checks in believers’ spirits as His indwelling Holy Spirit reinforces those warnings, urging us away from sin and its consequences.

Sin carries a terrible price. Jesus Christ paid the sin-debt for every person who believes on His Name; He became the door into the Promised Land of heavenly eternity. And while He forgives and forgets the sins we repent of, our sins still set in motion earthly consequences that affect not only ourselves, but those around us. No believer ever “gets away” with sin and no sin affects only the sinner.

If you’re harboring a “pet” sin, now’s the time to repent of it and get rid of it.

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts 3:19, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. They buried him in the land he had been allocated, at Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:8-10, NLT).

My paternal great-grandfather was a circuit-riding minister. My paternal grandfather was an active member of his church’s congregation, using his carpentry skills to build pulpits and pews and serving in a number of leadership roles; my grandmother served alongside him. Likewise my daddy. He and my mother sang, taught, served, and lived out lives that showed me as much as they told me about what they believed. One generation set an example that led the next generation into lives of faith and service.

What kind of example are you setting today with your involvement in church? I have a dear friend who has been telling me for over 20 years that she and her husband are “going to get started in church.” Today they have a son who, based on conversations I’ve personally had with this young person, knows next to nothing about who Jesus is and hasn’t been in church a handful of times in his lifetime.

One generation, folks. That’s all it takes. One generation can put a family on the pathway to heaven or steer a course straight for hell. There’s no middle ground. If church, if Jesus, is a “little bit” important to you, it’ll be a little less important to the next generation of your family. Serving Jesus must be first priority in your life if you’re to lead the next generation to “acknowledge the Lord.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!” (Joshua 23:14b, NLT).

Joshua's life was coming to an end, and he wanted to leave his people with a reminder of God’s faithfulness. In spite of what had often seemed insurmountable odds or difficulties – including the Israelites’ self-made ones – the Lord had kept His word and brought them to the Promised Land.

However, even this new land wasn’t problem-free. No earthly place is. Sometimes we get discouraged and we turn our eyes onto our troubles instead of The Promise. We wrestle with understanding why there are so many difficulties in this life even when we’re trying to live according to God’s Word.

Beloved, don’t be discouraged! The apostle Paul reminds us again of God’s faithfulness:

“…He always does just what He says, and He is the one who invited you into this wonderful friendship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Corinthians 1:9b).

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27, NKJV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So the Lord gave to Israel all the land He had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, just as He had solemnly promised their ancestors. None of their enemies could stand against them, for the Lord helped them conquer all their enemies. Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything He had spoken came true” (Joshua 21:43-45, NLT).

God is the ultimate Promise Keeper. It was never God’s perfect will for the Israelites to take so much time getting to and conquering the Promised Land. Sin delayed the fulfillment of their promised reward, but their faithful Father didn’t break His promise.

He is just as faithful to you, child of God. What are you trusting Him to do? Believe, even if, like the father who asked Jesus to heal his son, you have to cry out, “I do believe, but help me not to doubt!” (Mark 9:24).

The Lord has no problem with absolute honesty. Remember, He identified Himself as “…the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6). He already knows what you’re thinking. Why not talk to Him about your doubts and fears? He wants to assure you that “Not a single one of all the good promises the Lord [has given you will be left] unfulfilled.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then Joshua asked them, ‘How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given to you?’” (Joshua 18:3, NLT).

I once read that author John Grisham’s first book, A Time to Kill, was rejected 47 times before he found someone willing to publish it. Making it in the writing world takes persistence. Matter of fact, making it in this world, period, takes persistence.

We can’t always blame God for the delays on things we want or hope for. I’m waiting on the day when my son and daughter-in-law allow my husband Larry and me to meet our precious granddaughters.

Is God the holdup? No way. Every time Larry and I – or the many friends and family members who are also praying – lift up a prayer for our situation, the Holy Spirit moves and speaks to our son’s and daughter-in-law’s hearts. But God is a Gentleman. He gives us the freedom to choose. Likewise, He gives us the freedom to take the actions necessary to accomplish our goals in life, and hopefully those are goals in accordance with His will and purpose.

If you’re waiting on something to happen, examine your heart and life and prayerfully seek God’s guidance. Is there something you can do to move this process along? Is this something you should do or is it something you should resist doing? Is this a time to wait or act? Ask your Heavenly Father and He’ll show you the right answer for your situation.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Lord gave the Israelites the Promised Land, but in order to receive it, they had to fulfill their part of the covenant. They had to cross the Jordan and possess it and they had to conquer the peoples who already inhabited the land. And so they did:

“When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, ‘You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered’” (Joshua 13:1, NLT).

Joshua spent his entire life fighting to keep sin out of the lives of his people. And even as his life drew to a close, the Lord reminded him that the battle wasn’t over.

Folks, sin is never stagnant – it’s either DEFEATED or DEFEATING. Which is it in your life?

As long as you are living on this earth, there will never come a time when you “arrive” spiritually – sin-free. You’ll always need to be battle-ready, actively seeking to remove any sin that comes into your life and steering clear of any sin that you would otherwise wade into.

Then when your life comes to a close, your greatest accomplishment will be to have left behind an example that taught your children and grandchildren to be ready for battle.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Lord gave the Israelites the Promised Land, but in order to receive it, they had to fulfill their part of the covenant. They had to cross the Jordan and possess it and they had to conquer the peoples who already inhabited the land. And so they did:

[Joshua and the army of Israel] completely destroyed everyone in the land, leaving no survivors, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. So Joshua conquered the entire region – the hill country, the entire Negev, the whole area around the town of Goshen, the western foothills, the Jordan Valley, the mountains of Israel, and the Galilean foothills. The Israelite territory now extended all the way from Mount Halak, which leads up to Seir in the south, as far north as Baal-gad at the foot of Mount Hermon in the valley of Lebanon. Joshua killed all the kings of those territories, waging war for a long time to accomplish this” (Joshua 10:40b; 11:16-18, NLT).

Old Testament history, remember, is pre-grace and sometimes bloody, gruesome, and difficult to understand. Boiling this down far more simplistically than it really is, the gist is that the vast majority of earth’s inhabitants had become evil and disobedient and turned to false gods. Rather than destroying the entire population of the planet as He had come close to doing in Noah’s day – see Genesis 7 – God chose for Himself one people, the people of Israel, to spread His Name and Truth. The other peoples and the disobedient Israelites – those who followed false gods – were to be totally eliminated. As brutal as it seems, Joshua obediently wiped out the people of every city the Israelites conquered.

Sin, like cancer, can’t be destroyed if it’s only partially removed. The people of the cities Joshua conquered worshiped idols and practiced some really sick “religions,” including some that required children to be sacrificed. The Lord didn’t want His people picking up any of these people’s evil ways, so He instructed Joshua to destroy them.

God knows we’re all going to mess up, but He still doesn’t want us to allow any habitual sin to remain in our lives. Getting rid of it, however, takes time. Yes, there are those rare few whom the Lord delivers from addiction the moment He saves them, but most believers have to fight a daily and even moment-by-moment battle to keep sin knocked in the head. Hang tough, claim your victory in Jesus, and remember that even for Joshua and the entire army of Israel, “…it took a long time to accomplish this.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Israelites had come to the walled and fortified city of Jericho. With a vast army at his command, how was Joshua to conquer it? One way – by obeying the Lord’s instructions:

“I have given you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days. Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn. On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can charge straight into the town” (Joshua 6:2-5, NLT).

Can you imagine how creeped out the people of Jericho had to have been, watching this army and waiting for the attack that never came? What happened? The Israelites did exactly as the Lord told them and, because of their obedience, the Lord did precisely what He’d said He would. Joshua 6:20 records that: “When the people [of Israel] heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it.” 

You can’t outsmart God. If (haven’t we seen that word before recently?) you’ll only submit your will to His, He’ll lead you to victory, whatever the battle. Don’t exhaust yourself futilely trying to win your way; listen to the Lord’s instructions and obey Him.

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8, NASB).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


We saw at the end of the book of Deuteronomy that Moses died and, in one of the most astounding passages in the Bible, “…the Lord buried him…” (Deuteronomy 34:6). Joshua, the faithful spy who along with Caleb brought back the only favorable reports from the Promised Land, had been training at Moses’ and Aaron’s side, and now takes over leading the people of Israel.

The Lord speaks to Joshua, saying: “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is My command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-9, NLT).

Repetition is one of the strongest means of reinforcing a statement. In this passage, the Lord repeatedly tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous,” even “very courageous.” And notice that, in case Joshua still didn’t get it, the third time around the Lord emphatically states: “This is My command!”

God’s command to Joshua stands true for every believer. Each of us is a leader. Each of us has other people watching us, looking up to us, and following our examples. If (there’s that little word again) we “Study this Book of Instruction continually,” we’ll succeed in leading many others to faith in Jesus. Don’t wimp out on your witness in your workplace, school, home, church, or social setting – “Be strong and courageous!”

And may I add in this time of quarantine and isolation, text, tweet, call, and mail cards sharing your confidence in the Lord and your prayers for others.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


“If you make the Lord your refuge,
 if you make the Most High your shelter,
 no evil will conquer you;

 The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love Me.

 I will protect those who trust in My name.
 When they call on Me, I will answer;
 I will be with them in trouble”
(Psalm 91:9-10a; 14-15a, NLT).

Three things I’d like us to focus on from today’s passage:

(1) That little word “if.” It just keeps popping up, doesn’t it? “If” makes the statement conditional: “IF you make the Lord your refuge, IF you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you.” Want the strength to resist evil? Then obey the word: “…make the Lord your refuge” and “…make the Most High your shelter.”

(2) “No evil will conquer you.” Note that nothing in this passage says that evil won’t tempt you – it will. But IF you “…make the Lord your refuge,” evil cannot and will not win in your life. As First Corinthians 10:13 puts it: “…remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.”

(3) “I will be with them in trouble.” If we weren’t going to sometimes find ourselves “in trouble,” there’d be no reason for the Lord to promise to be with us in it. Here again, despite what the “name-it-and-claim-it” preachers would have you to believe, God doesn’t promise you smooth sailing – He promises to go with you through the storms.

“…for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23b).

TODAY’S THROUGH-THE-BIBLE PASSAGE: Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 91

Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20a, NLT).

You know, there’s living and there’s surviving. According to an MSNBC article, the majority of Americans are simply surviving. They spend their lives at jobs they despise: 61 percent of workers under age 25 fall into the job-hating category, along with 55 percent of workers ages 45 to 54.

Work isn’t a curse; it’s a privilege. And God has created each and every person with special gifts, talents and abilities that can be used to earn a living in a field that is both satisfying and rewarding.

If you want to know the right pathway for your life, first you have to know Jesus. And if you know Jesus, you’ll realize He isn’t hiding or complicating His will for your life. What has He given you a passion to do? What has He given you the ability to do? Look for a place where you can put that passion and ability to work. And as you search, pray this scripture:

“Show me the path where I should walk, O Lord; point out the right road for me to follow” (Psalm 25:4).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


More than America needs health care reform or debt reduction or anything else, we need to turn back to faithfully serving the Lord Jesus. And that turning, my friends, begins with YOU and ME. Take a look at the passage below and note the number of times you see the word “IF” (which I’ve put in all caps).

“IF you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all His commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. You will experience all these blessings IF you obey the Lord your God:

Your towns and your fields will be blessed.
Your children and your crops will be blessed.
The offspring of your herds and flocks will be blessed.
Your fruit baskets and breadboards will be blessed.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be blessed.

The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will scatter from you in seven!

The Lord will guarantee a blessing on everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain. The Lord your God will bless you in the land He is giving you.

IF you obey the commands of the Lord your God and walk in His ways, the Lord will establish you as His holy people as He swore He would do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the Lord, and they will stand in awe of you” (Deuteronomy 28:1-10, NLT).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15, NLT).

Everyone doesn’t have a college education. Everyone doesn’t have a high school education. Matter of fact, according to an article on InsideHigherEd’s website, the United States scored below average in literacy (reading, writing, understanding what they read), numeracy (math), and technology (solving problems via computer). Just as one example, Japan’s scores were almost four times as high as those of the U.S.

According to a survey done by the U.S. Department of Education, more than 1 in every 8 American adults has very poor literacy skills (reading and writing ability). The majority of these 32 million adults have trouble finding any type of work and, in most cases, perform jobs that pay very little and often include hard manual labor.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:12a: “Do for others what you would like them to do for you.” If you are financially blessed enough to afford to hire workers to help with projects around your home or office, or if you’re in a position of authority within a business or other organization, remember the words of Jesus and pay a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If you see your neighbor’s ox or sheep or goat wandering away, don’t ignore your responsibility. Take it back to its owner. If its owner does not live nearby or you don’t know who the owner is, take it to your place and keep it until the owner comes looking for it. Then you must return it. Do the same if you find your neighbor’s donkey, clothing, or anything else your neighbor loses. Don’t ignore your responsibility” (Deuteronomy 22:1-2, NLT).

Most of us probably don’t have a neighbor who owns “…an ox or sheep or goat…,” but we do have neighbors. And this passage hammers home one truth about them: “Don’t ignore your responsibility.” We have a God-commanded responsibility to help our neighbors.

Nowhere in the Bible do you hear the theme song, “It’s not my problem.” Instead, you read the words, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How important is it to “love your neighbor as yourself”? Critical, I’d say; especially when you consider that you’ll find this stated in at least 9 passages: Lev. 19:18; Matt. 19:19; Matt. 22:39; Mk. 12:31; Mk. 12:33; Lk. 10:27; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; and James 2:8.

Lest we forget who our neighbors are, Jesus answered that question in the Parable of the Good Samaritan – see Luke 10:30-37. And look at today’s Deuteronomy passage: “If its owner doesn’t live nearby…” Pretty much sums up the fact that neighbors aren’t just the people close around you.

“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ [Jesus asked.] The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’” (Luke 10:36-37, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“…do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18:10b-12a, NLT).

Horoscopes, Ouija boards, psychics. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9b, “…there is nothing new under the sun” (NKJV). The gadgets and gimmicks of this so-called “New Age” have been around for centuries; and they’re just as wrong today as they were in Moses’ day.

Note the word “witchcraft” in today’s passage. We need to take a look at what the prophet Samuel had to say to King Saul who had just finished partially obeying a specific command of the Lord – see First Samuel 15: “For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft…” (First Samuel 15:23a, NKJV).

Folks, partial obedience is disobedience. And disobedience is sin. And sin is plain ol’ rebellion against your Creator. If there’s any area of your life you haven’t fully submitted to the Lord Jesus, repent; then surrender everything to His Lordship.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land He is giving you as a special possession. You will receive this blessing if you are careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. The Lord your God will bless you as He has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you” (Deuteronomy 15:4-6, NLT).

“There should be no poor among you…” According to a 2018 report more than one out of every ten Americans live below what the U.S. Government considers the “poverty threshold.”

But it’s not just individual Americans in financial straits – it’s also corporations and even our federal government. The U.S. debt in the hands of foreign governments is over five trillion dollars. As of 2019, China holds over one trillion dollars of our country’s debt.

The country that wants to bail everybody else out is enormously in debt to other countries. What has happened? We’re no longer a nation “under God” – that is, under His leadership. If we want the favor of God on America, we’ve got to stop ignoring the needs of others around us and, above all, enthrone Christ as the Ruler of our hearts and our nation.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord and serve and worship other gods” (Deuteronomy 11:16b, NLT).

While you may not worship “Mother Nature” or any other pagan deity, it’s still a good idea to examine your values and see if some “other god” has crept in and stolen the Lord’s place in your priorities. Such as? The god of “stuff.” People today are obsessed with having stuff, stuff, and more stuff. And if we’re not careful, the pursuit of material wealth can easily exceed our pursuit of Christ.

What do you spend the most time on: thinking about how you can reach a lost family member or friend, or thinking about how you can get that new boat, car, bike, house, or other temporary “treasure”?

Real life isn’t about loving stuff – it’s about loving people. Love others enough to tell them about Jesus.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 6:20, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey His commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful!” (Deuteronomy 8:11b-13, NLT).

America may be going through some tough times right now and this Coronavirus thing has the whole world shaking, but still, compared to most any other country you want to shake a stick at, Americans have no idea what real hardship is. In this girl’s humble opinion, America's biggest problem is that we have forgotten. We’ve forgotten to put Jesus Christ first. We’ve forgotten how truly blessed we are. We’ve forgotten that material possessions aren’t what this life is to be about. In short, we’ve forgotten pretty much everything Moses warned the Israelites not to forgot if they wanted the favor of God to remain with them.

If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, He’s not just your God in the good times. He’s your God in the toughest of times, and all the times in between.

Stop right now and count your blessings. And tell your Heavenly Father “thank You” for all His provision.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NLT).

Do you have a quiet time of your own, a time when you get alone with your Bible and read and pray? Do you encourage your kids or grandkids to have a quiet time? And what about your spouse? If you’re married, do you and your spouse read the Bible and pray together? Do you and your kids or grandkids read the Bible and pray together?

Let’s use our imaginations for a moment, shall we? You’ve just read in the paper that a farmer in a nearby county has discovered a spring on his property that is a real fountain of youth. One application of this water and your skin is as smooth as a baby’s. And even more amazing, the farmer refuses to accept any payment from those who come to his spring. How quickly would you make a beeline over there? Wide open, I’d bet. Why? Because there’s something amazing there and it’s free for the taking. How quick would you be to tell someone else about it? As fast as your fingers can text or speed dial!

And yet look at the Living Water Jesus offers. You want to talk amazing and free – He’s more than a wrinkle remover – He removes the sin that would separate you from Him for eternity. If He’s all that big a deal; if He’s the Real Deal, then tell somebody. Starting with your family. And then your friends. And everyone you can. While there’s still time.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. If you obey all the decrees and commands I am giving you today, all will be well with you and your children. I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time” (Deuteronomy 3:39-40, NLT).

My life verse is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV). Nowhere in the Bible is there a secondary verse that says, “But seek ye second… and most of these things…” There’s only one way to live life rightly, and that’s God’s way.

So many of life’s difficulties are self-made through disobedience. Why add unnecessary troubles to the ones the Bible already tells you are going to be a part of life on earth? Jesus Himself warned: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, NIV).

Thank God that’s not the end of that verse, though. Jesus also said: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Believer, whatever you’re going through, there truly is victory in Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The book of Deuteronomy opens while the people of Israel are still on the east side of the Jordan. Moses reminds the people of God’s instructions and all they’ve been through from rebellion to victory. And he also reminds them of the Lord’s constant presence:

“…you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now He has brought you to this place” (Deuteronomy 1:31, NLT).

Where do you find yourself today? It wasn’t the Lord’s perfect will that had the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty long years – it was their own disobedience, their rebellion against Him. God had a perfect plan for them, but they rejected His way for their own way.

God has a perfect plan for you. And the day you choose to follow His leadership is the day you get on that right pathway. If you’re already listening and following, know that He truly “…has brought you to this place” wherever you find yourself today. And be it a valley or a mountaintop, He’s with you and will bless you as you trust Him to guide you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“You must not defile the land where you live, for I live there Myself. I am the Lord, who lives among the people of Israel” (Numbers 35:34, NLT).

You’ve probably heard the old hymn that says about Jesus: “You ask me how I know He lives; He lives within my heart.” Do you honestly believe that? If you do, then the verse printed above from today’s passage applies to you. And it applies to every person who claims Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Christians are to live as though Jesus is right there in the room, in the car, or on the sidewalk with us. Because He is.

“But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (I Peter 1:15-16, NIV, Peter quoting from Leviticus 11:44).

To be holy is to be different, set apart. Don’t try to fit into the world; stand out and stand up for Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The tribes of Gad and Reuben, along with half the tribe of Manasseh (one of the two sons of Joseph whose families were counted along with Joseph’s brothers as tribes of Israel), received land on the east side of the Jordan. The remaining nine and a half tribes (remember, the Levites weren’t allotted their own property) were to receive property on the east side. So the Lord gave Moses gave these instructions:

“Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun are the men designated to divide the grants of land among the people. Enlist one leader from each tribe to help them with the task. These are the tribes and the names of the leaders:

Judah – Caleb son of Jephunneh
Simeon – Shemuel son of Ammihud
Benjamin – Elidad son of Kislon
Dan – Bukki son of Jogli
Manasseh son of Joseph – Hanniel son of Ephod
Ephraim son of Joseph – Kemuel son of Shiphtan
Zebulun – Elizaphan son of Parnach
Issachar – Paltiel son of Azzan
Asher – Ahihud son of Shelomi
Naphtali – Pedahel son of Ammihud

 These are the men the Lord has appointed to divide the grants of land in Canaan among the Israelites” (Numbers 34:17-29, NLT).

Imagine the honor and responsibility of being one of these leaders! And yet, when you stop and think about it, everyone is a leader. YOU have people looking up to, watching, and emulating what is seen in YOU. I pray that your example is pointing your watchers to Jesus.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The tribes of Gad and Reuben were rich with livestock and, as they reached the banks of the Jordan, asked Moses if, rather than crossing over and taking land on the other side of the Jordan, they could have land where they were at present – the east side of the Jordan. Moses told them that it wasn’t fair for them to take land that had already been conquered when the rest of the Israelites had to do more fighting to take the land on the west side of the Jordan. So the men of Gad and Reuben committed to cross over and fight alongside all the other Israelites even though their own two tribes would settle on the east side.

“Then Moses said, ‘If you keep your word and arm yourselves for the Lord’s battles, and if your troops cross the Jordan and keep fighting until the Lord has driven out His enemies, then you may return when the Lord has conquered the land. You will have fulfilled your duty to the Lord and to the rest of the people of Israel. And the land on the east side of the Jordan will be your property from the Lord. But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out’” (Numbers 32:20-23, NLT).

When we think of “sin,” all too often we think of things we’ve done that we shouldn’t have. But what about things we SHOULD have done, but didn’t? James 4:17 holds the answer: Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

The men of Gad and Reuben kept their word and they and their families were blessed. We will never know this side of heaven how many blessings we have, as individuals, as families, and as churches, missed out on because of failing to keep our commitments.

Want to be blessed? Keep your word.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“A man who makes a vow to the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do” (Numbers 30:2, NLT).

What exactly constitutes a vow? According to Webster’s, it’s a solemn promise or assertion; specifically: one by which a person is bound to an act, service, or condition. To put it simplistically, making a vow is keeping your word.

No Christian should ever break a promise, a commitment, unless there is absolutely no way he or she can prevent doing so. When a believer promises to help coach a ball team, that guy or gal should be the most encouraging, enthusiastic, and faithful coach that team has ever seen. When a believer promises to come into work early or stay late to catch things up, he or she should be there hammering away at the task, regardless of whether or not there’s anyone else at the office to see the job being done.

You are a member of the body of Christ. You represent Him. And He hears every promise you make – and the Living Word expects you to be a man – or woman – of your word.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“One day a petition was presented by the daughters of Zelophehad… These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle, ‘Our father died in the wilderness,” they said. ‘…But he had no sons. Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.’ So Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord replied to Moses, ‘The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father. And give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If a man dies and has no son, then give his inheritance to his daughters” (Numbers 27:1-8, NLT).

It was never the Lord’s intention for a woman to be considered a lesser person than a man. As Peter declared in Acts 10:34, “God shows no favoritism” (NIV). Or as Paul put it in Colossians 3:28 (NLT): “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Male, female, rich, poor, black, white; God loves each of us individually and equally.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“God is not a man, so He does not lie.
 He is not human, so He does not change his mind.
 Has He ever spoken and failed to act?
 Has He ever promised and not carried it through?”

(Numbers 23:19, NLT).

Balak thought he was sending Balaam to curse the Israelites, but in God’s plan, Balaam was sent to bless the Israelites; and he did so three times, one portion of which is shown above. Let’s take these four simple statements apart and look at each one of them individually:

(1) “God is not a man, so He does not lie.” Jesus identified Himself as “…the Truth…” (John 14:6). Every word of the Bible is Truth, and “…all God’s promises are ‘Yes’ in [Christ]” (II Corinthians 1:20, ISV). If the Word of God says it, it’s so.

(2) “He is not human, so He does not change his mind.” Jesus came as fully God and fully man, not as simply man. Maybe this second statement would be better understood if it was worded as: His mind doesn’t change. It’s not that God never relents. It’s that He’s consistently who He is. Faithful. True. Just. And merciful. If you read Isaiah 38, you see King Hezekiah at the point of death, having been told by the Lord to “Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover” (Isaiah 38:1, NIV). And yet after Hezekiah prayed and wept before the Lord, He sent Isaiah to tell him, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:4b).

(3) “Has He ever spoken and failed to act?” Again, this speaks of God’s consistent nature. God told Jonah that He was going to destroy the people of Nineveh. And He would have done exactly that. But when they listened to Jonah’s preaching and heeded his warnings of impending judgment, the Lord relented and spared them – see Jonah 3.

(4) “Has He ever promised and not carried it through?” Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV). Stephen, even as he was drawing his last breath, “…gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Acts 7:55, NLT). Stephen left this earth, immediately experiencing eternal life; and the Bible records for us his very first glimpse of heaven.

I wish I could develop this further, but in the interest of keeping these dailies brief, let me just say this: Nothing changes God. Prayer changes the PRAY-ER. God will never behave in any way contrary to who He is. It’s our attitudes and actions that either enable Him to bless or force Him to discipline.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


When the Israelites crossed into Moab, Balak the king, seeing how vast their numbers were and having heard of their victory over the Amorites, sent a message to Balaam requesting that he “…come and curse…” the Israelites (Numbers 22:6, NLT). Eventually Balaam agreed to go with the men, but en route, his donkey three times saw an angel of the Lord and refused to move forward on the roadway – see Numbers 22:23-26. Finally, the Lord opened its mouth and gave it the ability to speak!

“‘What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?’ [the donkey] asked Balaam. ‘…I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life… Have I ever done anything like this before?’ ‘No,’ Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him” (Numbers 22:28, 30-31, NLT).

There are an unlimited number of great lessons from today’s passage, but what I’d like to focus on is the donkey. Did the Lord need a donkey to speak for Him? Does the Lord need ANYONE or ANYTHING to speak for Him? The answer, of course, is a resounding, “No!”

And yet He chooses to speak through His creation. In Psalm 19:1, David rejoiced, saying, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands” (NIV). Mankind is also His creation. When Ananias told the Lord that he didn’t want to go and minister to Paul (also called Saul), the bloody persecutor of the followers of The Way, God told him, “Go! This man is My chosen instrument…” (Acts 9:15a).

In Romans 9:20b-21a, Paul wrote: Can an object that was made say to its maker, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay.”

God can and will do what He wants, when He wants, with and/or to whomever or whatever He chooses. He doesn’t need our help in any way, and yet He loves us enough to include us in His great plan of salvation and to use us to further His Kingdom by letting others know how much He loves them. Please don’t neglect this tremendous privilege and responsibility.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Israelites had encamped at Kadesh in the desert of Zin and Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, had died there. There was no water in the area and the people turned on Moses and Aaron and, as usual, wished themselves back in Egypt where they now recalled the plentiful food and water but forgot the severely harsh treatment they’d received as slaves of the Egyptians. The Lord, as always, heard their complaints and spoke to Moses, saying:

“‘You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water.’ Then [Moses] and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. ‘Listen, you rebels!’ he shouted. ‘Must we bring you water from this rock?’ Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust Me enough to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!’” (Numbers 20:8a, 10-11a, 12, NLT).

The Lord had instructed Moses to take the staff with him and Aaron, but to merely “…speak to the rock…,” not strike it. And yet Moses, with Aaron alongside him, disobeyed the Lord’s instructions and struck it twice, saying of himself and Aaron, “Must WE bring you water from this rock?”

God’s word is to be obeyed, not partially obeyed. It isn’t to be distorted or ignored. And no one – not even the person through whom the Lord chooses to work – should ever take credit for God’s miraculous actions and power. Neither Moses nor Aaron dropped dead on the spot when they did, but both paid the price of never entering the Promised Land because of their disobedience – see Numbers 20:28 and Deuteronomy 34:5. God is good. God is patient. But God is also Righteous. No one, not even anointed leaders like Moses and Aaron “get away” with sin. Nor do we.

“…be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. They united against Moses and Aaron and said, ‘You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and He is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people?’” (Numbers 16:1-3, NLT).

Moses hadn’t called himself into the position of leadership over God’s people – the Lord had appointed him. Criticism of and jealousy for Moses’ authority led to one of the most horrifying judgments you’ll find in the Bible. I hope you’ll take the time to read the entire through-the-Bible passage for today.

We need to be very careful about criticizing those whom God either places in authority or even allows within His permissive will to have positions of authority. If you don’t like the way your company, your family, or your country is run, don’t criticize the leaders – pray for them.

“Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men” (I Peter 2:13a, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Seventy years are given to us!
 Some even live to eighty.
 But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble;
 soon they disappear, and we fly away.
Teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom”
(Psalm 90:10, 12, NLT).

Life is so very short and, believe me, the older you get, the faster it flies by and the more you look back and see things you should have done differently. While nobody is going to get it all right all the time, we can avoid a lot of regrets by staying in the Word and surrounding ourselves with strong, faithful believers who will lift us up and encourage us. And as we’re lifted up and encouraged, we, in turn, are to do likewise for others.

I hear so many people talking about when they’re going to “get in church.” Stop talking about it and do it. Your children and grandchildren are following your example, and if being a part of a body of believers isn’t important to you, why would you think your kids or grandkids will find any value in it?

Christ died for the Church, not a denomination, but the corporate (combined/all) body of believers. In return, He asks believers to live for Him. If you aren’t attending church on a regular basis, your kids and grandkids are very likely following you down a pathway that doesn’t lead to heaven. No matter what else you give them, if you fail to give them Jesus, you have truly and utterly failed them. Please stop making excuses and get yourself and your family involved in a Bible-teaching, Jesus-preaching church.

“…how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?” (Romans 10:14b).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Only Caleb and Joshua believed God would do what He said He would do: give the Promised Land into their hands. While all the other scouts came back whining, “We can’t!”, Caleb and Joshua told the people:“The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” (Numbers 14:7b-8a, 9, NLT).

But these naysayers angered the Lord so much that He told them, “…as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen My glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested Me by refusing to listen to My voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated Me with contempt will ever see it” (Numbers 14:21-23).

Only Caleb and Joshua, the two explorers who had believed God would give them the victory over anything that stood in the way of their taking possession of the Promised Land, would ever see their faith become reality.

Caleb and Joshua spoke in faith that they WOULD possess the Promised Land, and they did. The rest of the people cried out, “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” (Numbers 14:2). Seems to me both groups got what they were expecting.

Words are powerful. Are you speaking negatives or positives?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned… This was their report to Moses: ‘We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country – a land flowing with milk and honey. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified.’ But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. ‘Let’s go at once to take the land,’ he said. ‘We can certainly conquer it!’ But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. ‘We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!’ So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites” (Numbers 13:25, 27a, 28, 30-32a, NLT).

The scouting party saw the Promised Land, but everyone didn’t return with the same positive report. They all saw the beauty and bounty and they all saw that the land was exactly what the Lord had told them it would be. But the majority also looked at the people who inhabited the land and said, “We can’t do this.”

As humans, it’s easy to get scared. But as Christians, we absolutely have to learn to trust in our Creator. He who spoke the world into being calls us “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8b, NIV). He loves us so much!

And He’s 100 percent trustworthy. When you feel God leading you to do something, do it. Take “I can’t” out of your vocabulary. Because if God calls a believer to do something, He equips them to get ‘er done. There’s no limit to what He can and will do through His fully surrendered children.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses” (Numbers 9:15, 17-18, 20-23, NLT).

Can you imagine not knowing from one day to the next whether you’re going to have to pack up and leave or stay put? The Israelites lived with this situation for forty years. And despite all their grumbling and disobedience, they did get this one thing right. When it came to going or staying, “…they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them…”

Our lives are rarely ever stationary. Things are constantly changing. And as Christians, we’re to listen for God’s directions. He speaks to us through His written Word and He speaks to us through His Holy Spirit IF we’ll only listen.

If you’re facing a big decision, pray, pray, pray; and ask other believers to join you in prayer. Get alone with God and listen – don’t do all the talking. He’s ready and willing to guide you. Whether it’s “…two days, a month, or a year,” wait or move forward as the Lord leads you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement – that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord spoke to him from there” (Numbers 7:89, NLT).

Where did Moses first meet God? While tending his father-in-law’s sheep. Read Exodus 3:4: “When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ ‘Here I am!’ Moses replied.”

What about Samuel? First Samuel 3: “…the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night… Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, ‘Samuel!’” (from verses 1-4).

And Paul (or Saul – see Acts 13:9)? He was on the road to Damascus, intending to arrest anyone he could find who was following “The Way.” Suddenly a light blinded him and brought him to his knees. Paul said: “I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene...’” (Acts 22:7-8b).

Whether you’re young like Samuel; old like Moses (see Acts 7:23-30); or in the prime of your life like Paul, God can speak to you today anytime, anywhere. No, He may not choose to do so in an audible voice and He may not choose to accompany His presence with a burning bush or blinding light; but He is just as real and reachable today. And His Holy Spirit is constantly speaking, encouraging the hearts of believers and urging the lost to come to Jesus.

Find a quiet place and listen.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

 “The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.’

‘So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them’”
(Numbers 6:22-27, NKJV).

Every moment of every day we have the opportunity to choose whether we spread blessing or cursing, favor or disfavor. Child psychologists say that for every negative or criticism you speak to your child, you should speak at least 10 positives. I’d say that’s good advice about speaking to anyone anytime.

Think before you speak and consciously choose words that are positive and uplifting.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


We’re seeing a consistent theme throughout our passages: obedience brings blessing; disobedience removes God’s favor. Look at these verses from today’s passage:

“‘Record the names of the members of the tribe of Levi…’ So Moses listed them, just as the Lord had commanded” (Numbers 3:15a, 16, NLT).

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now count all the firstborn sons in Israel… So Moses counted the firstborn sons of the people of Israel, just as the Lord had commanded” (Numbers 3:40a, 42).

 “And Moses gave the silver for the redemption to Aaron and his sons, just as the Lord had commanded” (Numbers 3:51).

“…the total number came to 3,200. So this was the total of all those from the Merarite clans who were eligible for service. Moses and Aaron listed them, just as the Lord had commanded through Moses” (Numbers 4:44-45).

“And so the registration was completed, just as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Numbers 4:49b).

In every passage we’ve looked at today, we see the same phrase: “…just as the Lord had commanded.” God’s way is the only way. Nothing is more important than obedience.

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (I Samuel 15:22, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So the Israelites did everything just as the Lord had commanded Moses (Numbers 1:54, NLT). At least, they did on this particular occasion.

The Lord delivered the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and promised them “the land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 33:3a, NIV). He told them to “Take possession of the land and settle in it, because I have given it to you to occupy” (Numbers 33:53, NLT).

So how did they end up wandering around in the wilderness for forty long years? We find the answer in the Lord’s words in Numbers 32:11-12: Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed Me wholeheartedly. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have wholeheartedly followed the Lord.”

When the Israelites were “wholeheartedly” – not half-heartedly – obedient to the Lord’s commands, He blessed them. When they disobeyed, His favor was not with them. News flash: He still expects wholehearted obedience from those of us living today.

“I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If you follow My decrees and are careful to obey My commands, ...I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear” (Leviticus 26:3, 6a, NLT).

Ever gone to bed fearful? Or awakened during the night, heart pounding, because of a noise you heard? Being “…able to sleep with no cause for fear is no small blessing.

But there’s a condition on God’s promise of “…peace in the land…” and restful sleep. He promises to bless us with these things “IF you follow My decrees and are careful to obey My commands.”

An obedient life is a peaceful life. Obedience doesn’t mean trouble-free living. It means having “…God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:7). It means His peace even in our darkest moments.

If you want the best night’s sleep of your life, read God’s Word and talk to Him before you go to bed. Confess anything that stands between you and a right relationship with Him, “…and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If you want to live securely in the land, follow My decrees and obey My regulations. Then the land will yield large crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it” (Leviticus 25:18-19, NLT).

The passage above or similar ones are found throughout the Bible. Over and over the Lord warns His people that the only way to “…live securely in the land [is to] follow My decrees and obey My regulations.”

Yet we’re “…a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts [are] not loyal to God, whose spirits [are] not faithful to Him” (Psalm 78:8, NIV). 

Many people today think of God as a fire extinguisher. They may not be able to remember the last time they had contact with it and they rarely ever think of it at all; but when a fire breaks out, they know it’s a very handy thing to have around.

No wonder our world, our nation, and our individual homes and lives are in such messes! We’ve taken the Creator of the Universe and subjugated Him to the level of an emergency tool.

Hear my heart on this one, folks: Jesus Christ didn’t come to HELP YOU OUT. He came to TAKE OVER. If you want daily peace and provision, get out of the driver’s seat and give Him complete control.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Leviticus 22 continues instructions to the priests from the previous chapter, then goes into instructions about offerings. Leviticus 23 details the prescribed festivals. What I want to focus on is the offerings.

Leviticus 22:17-33 talks about burnt offerings, peace offerings, and thanksgiving offerings, giving specifics about what offerings are considered acceptable or unacceptable. In each case, the Lord says, “…whether it is to fulfill a vow or is a voluntary offering…,” there are explicit requirements for what is to be presented.

Which brings us to our offerings today. If you believe in the scriptural validity of tithing, then you’ve made a vow to tithe. If you’re led to give for other special offerings, then you’re also presenting gifts above and beyond your tithe. But here’s the question: what makes whatever you give acceptable or unacceptable?

Your attitude. And your attitude is determined by your spiritual condition. As God told Samuel, “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart(I Samuel 16:7b, NLT).

The next time the offering plate or bag is in your hands, consider your attitude before you give. And think about your other giving: your time to prepare a lesson; rehearse with the choir; take care of the nursery; visit, phone, or send cards to the sick and shut-ins. Whatever you’re doing, remember Who you’re giving to and why you should be “…a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


It would behoove all believers to spend some time in today’s Leviticus chapters. Chapter 19 is filled with commandments for personal conduct while Chapter 20 prescribes punishment for disobeying those commands. Chapter 21 instructs the priests in how to handle these things. Let’s look at just a few of the commandments from Leviticus 19:

“Each of you must show great respect for your mother and father…” (3a). Respect them, period. Nowhere does the Bible say, “IF they deserve it.”

“Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people” (16). If you can’t say something nice, close your mouth.

“Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives…” (17a). Don’t harbor resentment toward anyone – family or otherwise.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite [in other words, a believer], but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (18). As the song from “Frozen” says, “Let it go!” Let the Lord deal with those who wrong you.

“…do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord” (28b). Here’s a link to a very good article about tattoos:

“Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord” (32). Don’t you dare make fun of those who are fading mentally or physically. And I think standing in honor of the elderly is a wonderful practice.

“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord” (14). If you can make fun of any sort of disability, you better back up and reassess your salvation.

I saved Verse 14 for last because I wanted to home in on it. Who is more deaf and blind than those who have yet to open their hearts to the Gospel? Don’t bad-mouth the lost. It’s not their specific sins keeping them out of heaven; it’s their rejection of Christ as Lord and Savior. Just like you and just like me, the moment anyone “…calls on the name of the Lord [that person] will be saved” (Acts 2:21). Pray for their salvation.

You should also read the punishments for breaking these commandments – you’ll be even more thankful to be living in the day of grace!


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all My regulations and be careful to obey My decrees, for I am the Lord your God. If you obey My decrees and My regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18: 3-5, NLT).

God told Moses to remind the people of Israel that they were to be different from the people around them. Drawing from the warnings of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, the apostle Paul warns the believers of Corinth and of today: “…come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord” (II Corinthians 6:17a).

True life is knowing Jesus. And knowing Jesus means being holy, set apart, different. You’re not into the office gossip. You’re not into the dirty jokes. You’re not into the flirting and innuendos. Nor the dishonesty. Or backbiting. You’re into Jesus.

What will people think of Him as seen through your life today?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“But if the mildew reappears after all the stones have been replaced and the house has been scraped and replastered, the priest must return and inspect the house again. If he finds that the mildew has spread, the walls are clearly contaminated with a serious mildew, and the house is defiled. It must be torn down” (Leviticus 14: 43-45a, NLT).

More instructions about mildew? Yep. Again we see God’s care for His people’s physical health. But we also see an important lesson about spiritual health. The instructions for cleaning a mildew-contaminated house said that if the mildew persisted, the house had to be torn down. Completely destroyed.

Spiritual mildew needs to be handled likewise. Let’s say your “pet sin” is alcohol. You start out having one drink at lunch and then two or more. You begin stopping off for a nip or two on the way home, and pretty soon, you find yourself drinking at home and more heavily on weekends.

Eventually you realize your drinking has become a problem and you decide to cut back. But cutting back seems to be sporadic at best. You may slack off one day or one week, but by the weekend you find yourself right back in the same ol’ rut. Time to tear that house down, folks. Stop the drinking altogether.

Or the lying. Or the illicit affair. Or the embezzling. Or the gossiping. Or the complaining. Or the criticizing. And the list goes on and on. You get the idea. Pick your own pet sin and put it in the scenario.

If ANYTHING besides the Lord God Almighty controls YOU rather than you controlling it, you’re in trouble. Take Barney Fife’s advice and “Nip it in the bud.” Don’t cut back; cut it out.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Now suppose mildew contaminates some woolen or linen clothing, woolen or linen fabric, the hide of an animal, or anything made of leather. If the contaminated area in the clothing, the animal hide, the fabric, or the leather article has turned greenish or reddish, it is contaminated with mildew and must be shown to the priest. After examining the affected spot, the priest will put the article in quarantine for seven days. On the seventh day the priest must inspect it again. If the contaminated area has spread, the clothing or fabric or leather is clearly contaminated by a serious mildew and is ceremonially unclean. The priest must burn the item – the clothing, the woolen or linen fabric, or piece of leather – for it has been contaminated by a serious mildew. It must be completely destroyed by fire” (Leviticus 13: 47-52, NLT).

Care of mildew-contaminated clothing doesn’t sound very spiritual, does it? But fact is, many of the Lord’s commands were for the protection of His people’s physical health. Mildews and molds can be lethal, and by requiring these items to be inspected by the priest and appropriately cleansed or burned, the spread of the contaminant was eliminated.

As our Great High Priest (see Hebrews 4:14; 10:21), Jesus Christ sent His Holy Spirit to indwell each of us who believes on Him as Lord and Savior. His Presence convicts us to examine ourselves and confess any sin that has contaminated our lives and witness; and those confessed sins are forever blotted out by the purifying fire of His Spirit.

“For the Lord your God is a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24, NIV – see also Hebrews 12:29).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


The Lord gave Moses specific instructions as to the construction of the Tabernacle and everything associated with it, including the clothing and conduct of Aaron and his sons who were to serve as priests. But one day two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, disobeyed the Lord’s instructions and presented “… coals of fire in their incense burners [which they had] sprinkled incense over… In this way, they disobeyed the Lord… So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1-2, NLT).

What prompted Nadab and Abihu to act so foolishly? The Lord’s words to Aaron make it clear what had happened: “You and your descendants must never drink wine or any other alcoholic drink before going into the Tabernacle. If you do, you will die. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed from generation to generation” (Leviticus 10:8).

Nadab and Abihu had been drinking, and their overindulgence cost them their lives. God didn’t give us His commands in order to hamper our fun – He gave them to protect us and teach us a better way of living. Father always knows best.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin” (Leviticus 5:1, NLT).

It seems that this passage has been totally forgotten by a lot of believers today. Instead, it’s been replaced with the ever-popular “I don’t want to get involved.”

How often do we read or see on news broadcasts reports about horrible crimes being witnessed by entire crowds of people who made no attempt to help the person in need or even offer information that could help the police catch the criminals? As believers in Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to help others, which includes being willing to get involved in situations we’d prefer to steer clear of.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“If the entire Israelite community sins by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but the people don’t realize it, they are still guilty. If one of Israel’s leaders sins by violating one of the commands of the Lord his God but doesn’t realize it, he is still guilty. If any of the common people sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands, but they don’t realize it, they are still guilty” (Leviticus 4:13, 22, 27, NLT).

When the Lord spoke the words above to Moses, He followed each one of the listed sentences with: When they become aware of their sin …” (Leviticus 4:14a). In other words, at whatever point the person or persons realized they had committed a sin, they were to bring an offering before the Lord and seek His forgiveness.

And each of those offerings required the shedding of blood. As New Testament believers in the resurrected Savior, we know that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross paid the one perfect and permanent blood sacrifice for the sins of all who would accept His saving grace. However, we still need to remember that we, corporately as the body of Christ and individually as His children, have a serious obligation to confess our sins as soon as we realize them.

God never breaks fellowship with His children, but a believer can allow a barrier of unconfessed sin to build up like a wall between him and the Lord. Don’t let sin “pile up” unconfessed. As my former pastor was advised by a wise older preacher, “‘Fess ‘em as you does ‘em; don’t bunch ‘em.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:38, NLT).

The people faithfully gave so the Tabernacle could be completed. Once it was finished, what happened? “... the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34, NLT). God’s presence was with the Israelites in a real and visible way and remained with them “... throughout all their journeys.”

You may never see a visible manifestation of God’s presence while here on earth, but if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have His very real Presence within you and He will remain with you “… throughout all [life’s] journeys.”


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: ‘Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!’ So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project” (Exodus 36:6-7, NLT).

Can you imagine a church with a problem like this? The people of Israel so eagerly gave to help build the Tabernacle that Moses finally had to tell them, “Enough!” Why were they so happy to give? They recognized the worthiness of the Lord, and they saw their giving as a privilege and not a burden or obligation.

How do you see your giving?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.’ Moses responded, ‘Then show me Your glorious presence.’ The Lord replied, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will call out My name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at My face, for no one may see Me and live.’ The Lord continued, ‘Look, stand near Me on this rock. As My glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen (Exodus 33:17-23, NLT).

“He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.”

(He Hideth My Soul, by Fanny Crosby, 1890)

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2, NIV).

“As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame’” (Romans 9:33, NIV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep My Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between Me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy’” (Exodus 31:13, NLT).

Most Christians celebrate Sunday as the Sabbath, but the Jewish Sabbath was and is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. While there are some Christians who would vehemently argue the error of worshiping on Sunday (in recognition of Sunday as the day of Christ’s resurrection) rather than Saturday, the big issue here is to set aside a day that is unlike any other and spend it resting from your normal weekday routine; meeting with fellow believers and truly worshiping the Savior; and reflecting on His goodness.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“…Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord” (Exodus 28:29, NLT).

As a member of the priesthood, Aaron represented his fellow Israelites when he stood before the Lord in the Holy of Holies. As a fellow Israelite and as a member of the priesthood, Aaron represented his Lord every time he stood before any other person, whether Jew or Gentile.

Have you ever stopped to think about who you represent? If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you represent Him wherever you go, whatever you do, and whomever you stand before. Honor Him.

“And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are His holy priests” (I Peter 2:5).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Have the people of Israel build Me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you” (Exodus 25:8-9, NLT).

God is a God of detail and order – see First Corinthians 14:33. He didn’t instruct Moses to build some sort of sanctuary. He gave him precise instructions about every single part of it including the furnishings.

If God is so detailed, why do we think we can be so haphazard? Haphazard about what? Our time in the Word. Our attendance at our chosen place of worship. Our prayer life. Our witnessing. Our lifestyle.

Today God does a lot more than “live among” us. Jesus’ death and resurrection empowered the Holy Spirit to indwell each and every person who has trusted Christ as Lord and Savior. And when He comes to indwell a believer, He doesn’t do so sporadically. He isn’t there one moment and gone the next; He isn’t there one day and on vacation the next. He’s consistent. Faithful. Completely trustworthy.

Are you?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it aloud to the people. Again they all responded, ‘We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood [of the sacrifice] from the basins and splattered it over the people, declaring, ‘Look, this blood confirms the covenant the Lord has made with you in giving you these instructions’” (Exodus 24:7-8, NLT).

When Moses received the Ten Commandments from the Lord, he also received many other instructions about social responsibility, annual festivals, and more. The Lord also promised to send an angel before them (see Exodus 23:20) to protect and lead them, making them this promise:

“…I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you” (Exodus 23:22).

But this promise was conditional. The Lord would fulfill His part of this particular covenant IF the Israelites kept their part of the agreement.

Making a commitment to the Lord is a serious matter. When it comes to committing your heart and life to Him, it’s truly a matter of life or death. Those who choose Jesus choose life.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then God gave the people all these instructions: ‘I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.’

(1) ‘You must not have any other god but Me.’

(2) ‘You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected – even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject Me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love Me and obey My commands.’

(3) ‘You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse His name.’

(4) ‘Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day He rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.’

(5) ‘Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.’

(6) ‘You must not murder.’

(7) ‘You must not commit adultery.’

(8) ‘You must not steal.’

(9) ‘You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.’

(10) ‘You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor’”

(Exodus 20:1-17, NLT).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow My instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual. Then Moses told them, ‘Do not keep any of it until morning.’ But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell” (Exodus 16:4-5, 19a, NLT).

The people of Israel complained about their lack of food in the desert and the Lord miraculously rained down manna from heaven, instructing them that He would provide this heavenly food every single day except the Sabbath and that the normal amount they prepared on the sixth day – be it manna-cotti or manna burgers – would be enough for the Sabbath’s meals as well.

Isn’t it interesting how quickly the Israelites became accustomed to a daily miraculous provision of manna? And even though the Lord provided for each day’s food, many still didn’t trust Him. Instead of waiting for the next day’s provision, they hoarded away extra manna just as the Lord had told them not to do. And the result? Rotten unusable manna.

That hoarded manna was just like worrying: no good to anyone. If you trust God at all, you have to trust Him daily. Jesus said, “…don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the Lord said to Moses, ‘Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.’ So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the Lord swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers – the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived. But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides” (Exodus 14:26-29, NLT).

Never doubt that God is still in the miracle business. We may not see literal waters parted for our deliverance, but His hand still works to deliver His people. Does He always? No, not when it comes to earthly deliverance. His way of doing things doesn’t always jive with the way we think things should be done or turn out – read Isaiah 55:8. But still today He sometimes chooses to intervene in miraculous ways.

But what exactly constitutes a miracle? It’s far more than just the parting of the Red Sea. If you’ve never seen this news report, please take a moment to look at this brief video about a 92-year-old woman’s deliverance from a would-be mugger:

God is faithful and He loves you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“This is what the Lord says: ‘At midnight tonight I will pass through the heart of Egypt. All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest servant girl who grinds the flour. Even the firstborn of all the livestock will die. Then a loud wail will rise throughout the land of Egypt, a wail like no one has heard before or will ever hear again. But among the Israelites it will be so peaceful that not even a dog will bark. Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites’” (Exodus 11:4b-7, NLT).

After all the plagues the Lord sent against Egypt, Pharaoh continued to harden his heart and refused to release the people of Israel from slavery and allow them to leave the land. Finally, the Lord sent the most terrible plague of all – the death of the first-born. But the Israelites weren’t touched by this horror. Why? Because they were protected by the blood of the Lamb.

There is always a distinction between God’s true people and those who don’t belong to Him. When my father went home to be with the Lord, he was living with me and my husband Larry. I held his hand as he drew his last breath and Larry was right beside him. Even though we didn’t want him to leave us, we were at absolute peace because we knew where he was spending his eternity. Afterwards, when the hospice nurse arrived, she said, “We’re not supposed to talk about religion, but I know this is a Christian home. You wouldn’t believe the chaos we have to deal with when a person dies in a household where there’s no faith in Jesus Christ.”

Do you know Jesus as Lord and Savior? Take comfort in knowing you’re covered by the blood of the Lamb.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what the Lord had commanded them. Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent! Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic. They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents! But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs” (Exodus 7:10-12, NLT).

Through Aaron and Moses the Lord worked miraculous signs and wonders before Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. When Aaron “threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, it…” was transformed into a snake. But Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do the same thing, but when they did, Aaron’s one snake swallowed all of theirs!

The Bible clearly warns us that the devil can mimic miracles. Paul reminds us that, “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (II Corinthians 11:14b, NLT).

But that’s just the point: it’s only a disguise. Nothing Satan can throw down is remotely as powerful as what the Lord Jesus Christ can do. Besides, Satan is really just a big dog on a short leash.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, ‘O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though You have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.’ Then the Lord asked Moses, ‘Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say’” (Exodus 4:10-12, NLT).

Many people lack self-confidence – Moses, for one. Having had the finest education the royal family of Egypt could provide, he still felt inadequate for the task God laid before him.

Do you ever feel like Moses – totally out of your own league? If you’re a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, your Heavenly Father has great confidence in you. He’s placed His Holy Spirit within you to guide and instruct you, and there is nothing He will ever call you to do without equipping you to do it.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in His steps” (I Peter 2:21).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. …God called to him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ ‘Here I am!’ Moses replied. ‘Do not come any closer,’ the Lord warned. ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then the Lord told him, ‘I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them... Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt’” (Exodus 3:2a, 4b-6a, 7-8a, 10, NLT).

By the time of Moses’ birth, Joseph’s importance to the Egyptians had long been forgotten. The Israelites had become slaves and the Egyptians had become cruel taskmasters. Fearing that the growing population of Israelites would outnumber the Egyptians and cause trouble, Pharaoh ordered the death of all Israelite baby boys.

But Moses’ mother protected him and he was taken into the household of the Pharaoh’s own daughter. Later, as an adult, Moses killed an Egyptian he saw beating an Israelite slave. He then fled for his life and ended up in Midian.

Moses may have been hiding out, but God knew exactly where to find him and the plan He had for his life.

God has a special plan for the life of every believer, including you.

For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


As Jacob lay on his deathbed, he blessed each of his sons, saying to Judah:

“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the One to whom it belongs, the One whom all nations will honor” (Genesis 49:10, NLT).

From the lineage of Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel - look back at Genesis 35:10) came the Lion of Judah. When God makes a promise, He keeps it. What are you trusting Him for today?

“Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory” (Revelation 5:5b).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates 


“So Jacob set out for Egypt with all his possessions. And when he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. During the night God spoke to him in a vision. ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ He called. ‘Here I am,’ Jacob replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ the voice said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. But you will die in Egypt with Joseph attending to you’” (Genesis 46:1-4, NLT).

­When Jacob’s sons returned and told him the good news about Joseph, their father was overjoyed. Gathering all the family’s members and possessions, they headed for Egypt to live on the land Joseph had offered them.

Imagine leaving your home country at the ripe old age of 130 to settle in a foreign land. It took faith and trust in Jehovah for Jacob to make such a move. But note how Jacob began his journey: by offering sacrifices to God.

Faithfulness is always rewarded. Jacob trusted the Lord and the Lord gave and fulfilled a tremendous promise to him.

“There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (I Peter 1:6b-7).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“‘I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. And He is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh – the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. I will take care of you there…’ Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him” (Genesis 45:4b-5, 8b, 10-11a, 15, NLT).

During the widespread famine, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt hoping to buy grain. How stunned they were to find that the brother they’d sold as a slave had become a powerful ruler! How terrified they were that he would take revenge on them for what they had done to him!

But look at Joseph’s response. He realized that his hardships as a slave and even in prison were all part of an amazing plan orchestrated by God Almighty. A right attitude on Joseph’s part brought blessing for himself and for his family. A right attitude can do the same for you.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge…, but love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. So Pharaoh asked his officials, ‘Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours’” (Genesis 41:37-40, NLT).

Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers; falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife; and thrown into prison. Then after Joseph interpreted the royal cup-bearer’s dream and assured the man that he would be released from prison – which is precisely what happened – the cup-bearer completely forgot about Joseph for two full years.

But when a troubling dream upset Pharaoh, the cup-bearer remembered Joseph languishing in prison and told the Pharaoh about him. Joseph was brought to Pharaoh, interpreted the dream and, in doing so, helped the entire country prepare for a coming famine. The Pharaoh was so grateful that he put Joseph in a place of authority second to no one but himself.

Joseph used an amazing gift to help the Pharaoh. Joseph’s amazing God gave Joseph that gift; and Joseph, in turn, gave the Lord full credit for his ability.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor” (I Peter 5:6).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man, and Potiphar’s wife soon began to look at him lustfully” (Genesis 39:6b-7a, NLT).

Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt and bought by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guards. The man treated Joseph kindly and trusted him. When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, Joseph rejected her advances, infuriating her so that she falsely accused Joseph of trying to attack her. Joseph was sent to prison and, as far as we know, Potiphar’s wife continued her life as usual.

What was fair about that? Nothing. But you’ll find that Joseph’s circumstance does eventually change for the better.

Vera’s granddaughter stormed in one day, complaining, “My tryout was just as good as Haley’s, but she made cheerleader and I didn’t. It’s just not fair.” Vera’s answer said a mouthful: “Honey, FARE is what you pay to ride the bus.” Life isn’t always fair; but God is always faithful.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt” (Genesis 37:28, NLT).

Joseph’s brothers despised him and decided to kill him. One brother intervened and convinced the rest to throw him into an empty well (cistern) to die on his own – this brother’s real intent was to come back and rescue him when the rest of the brothers weren’t around to stop him. But before he could act, a chance to make a fast buck came along and Joseph was sold into slavery and carried off to Egypt.

Sounds like a horrible ending, doesn’t it? But God’s plans are so much bigger than anything we can imagine! Joseph’s journey into Egypt brought him blessings and enabled him to become the rescuer of his entire family.

Remember, my brothers and sisters: sometimes our darkest moments are truly just before dawn.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26b, NLT).

Have you ever been desperate for an answer to your prayer? I know I have. God is faithful, but you must also be. If you know in your heart that what you’re asking is in His righteous will, then do as Jesus instructed in Luke 11:9:

“…keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

In Ephesians 1:17, the NIV quotes Paul as saying, “I keep on asking…”

Never give up. Keep praying; keep asking. Hold on and believe.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another” (Genesis 31:49, NKJV).

These were the words of Laban as he and Jacob parted ways. As they made their agreement, these men stacked stones together as a memorial and as a boundary between them.

Note what Laban’s words recognized: that even when they were not in each other’s sight, the Lord was with both of them and watching over them. No act is done in secret from God. No agreement is ever broken without His knowledge. Be faithful to your Lord and honor the commitments you’ve made.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep. As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. At the top of the stairway stood the Lord, and He said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions – to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants’” (Genesis 28:11b-14, NLT).

The Lord appeared to Jacob in a dream and made Him a promise: “…all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.” And ever true to His Word, God fulfilled that promise by sending the Messiah, the Lion of Judah, through the lineage of Jacob’s son Judah. (Remember, the Lord gave Jacob a new name, Israel - see Genesis 35:10. Jacob/Israel was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel - see First Chronicles 2:1.)

Think of all the promises the Lord makes to us throughout His Word. He is faithful!

“For all God's promises are ‘Yes’ in Him [Christ Jesus]. And so through Him we can say ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God” (II Corinthians 1:20, ISV).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, ‘I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!’ (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means ‘red.’) ‘All right,’ Jacob replied, ‘but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.’ ‘Look, I’m dying of starvation!’ said Esau. ‘What good is my birthright to me now?’ But Jacob said, ‘First you must swear that your birthright is mine.’ So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn” (Genesis 25:29-34, NLT).

Before her twin sons were even born, the Lord told Rebekah, “your older son will serve your younger son” (Genesis 25:23). Nothing takes God by surprise. He’s seen the future just as surely as He’s seen the past. Being first-born son was a huge honor and a huge responsibility, yet the Bible records that Esau “showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.” For a bowl of stew and a piece of bread, this man gave up his birthright.

If you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are a child of God. And Romans 8:17a says that “since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” What an incredible privilege!

And yet how often do we show contempt for our birthright as believers in Jesus Christ by talking or behaving in ways that dishonor Him just so we can fit in at the office, at school, or with “friends”?

Stay true to Christ. Before you even knew Him, He loved you so much it hurt.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then [Isaac] said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering’” (Genesis 22:7b-8a, NKJV).

The Lord tested Abraham’s faith by seeing if he would place his and Sarah’s only son Isaac on the altar of sacrifice. The elderly Abraham obeyed. And just as amazingly, the strapping young man Isaac obeyed his father’s command to lie down on the altar. As they walked the final steps to the place of sacrifice, Isaac looked at his father and asked, “…where is the lamb…?”

And Abraham answered with confidence, “God will provide… the lamb…” Folks, that’s faith. Two questions for you to ponder: (1) Is there anything you’re holding back from God? (2) How much are you willing to trust Him?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt” (Genesis 19:26, NLT).

The blast of intense heat as God rained down judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah transformed Lot’s wife into “a pillar of salt.” Whether you want to take her demise literally at face value or delve into a more scientific explanation of the event, it happened.

Because of what? Looking back. But may I suggest that Lot’s wife did more than look back? She also hung back. See the passage again: “…as she was following behind him…” While Lot and his daughters moved away from the evil cities God was about to destroy, Lot’s wife dawdled, not wanting to break her ties with a place that, were it not for its impending destruction, she would not have wanted to leave.

If you stick close to evil, it rubs off on you and can lead to your earthly and/or eternal destruction. If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, don’t look back on your old life. Look to Jesus and move forward for His glory.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:13-14, NLT).

Sarah doubted, and what did God do? Fulfilled His promise. Are you struggling with doubt? Confess it – your Heavenly Father already knows.

NOTHING is “too hard for the Lord.” Trust Him to work His will, His way, in His time.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


If you’ve been reading the entire Thru-the-Bible passages for each day since we started this year-long chronological (in the order in which the passages were written) read through the Bible, you know we went through the first 11 chapters of Genesis before we read the whole book of Job. Today we move back into Genesis. Remember,

“Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’ And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis 15:5-6, NLT).

The God of the Impossible has never made a promise He hasn’t kept. He told the aging and childless Abram that he and his wife Sarai would have descendants as abundant as the stars in the sky. A big promise? Yes. But a small thing for an Almighty God.

His Word is full of promises for you and me. What are you believing Him for today?


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


Today completes our readings in the book of Job, and we’re going to focus on what I think is one of the most important lessons in the entire book. I hope you’re committing the time to read the full Bible passage for each day. Nothing you can do with your time will bless you like absorbing the Living Word. After all, John 1:1-4 clearly identifies Jesus Christ as the Word. That said, let’s wrap up our look at Job:

“When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” (Job 42:10, NLT).

Job’s friends had been more his accusers than his defenders. Yet the Lord told those men, “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf” (Job 42:8b). Though his friends had acted more like enemies, Job was willing to pray for them, an impossible task unless Job had refused to hold any ill will against them. He fully forgave them and asked his Creator to also forgive them.

And the result? Job was blessed. AFTER Job had “prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.”

“… I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 5:44-45a).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


One more day in the book of Job and then we’re back in Genesis. If you’re reading the entire Thru-the-Bible passage for each day, you’re starting this year off right! Now on to today’s passage:

“Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?” (Job 38:36, NLT).

An older gentleman I knew when I was growing up often said, “A fella’ll do okay if he’ll just use the sense God gave him.” There’s a lot of truth in that. Our Creator made us “in His own image” (Genesis 1:27) and, in doing so, He gave us “intuition,” which is perception of truth independent of any reasoning process. In other words, sometimes you just KNOW. Likewise with “instinct” – it’s a natural intuitive power.

Despite man’s tendency toward sin, we instinctively know when something is wrong. No one “falls” into a lifestyle of sin – a person walks in step by gradual step. Those God-given alarm bells go off, but he ignores them. And every time, it gets a little easier until, finally, he doesn’t even hear the alarm anymore.

God has given you His wisdom – read First Corinthians 1:30. Use it. No, your life won’t be trouble-free if you do; but you’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary difficulties by staying attuned to the Holy Spirit’s warnings.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty; but even though He is just and righteous, He does not destroy us. No wonder people everywhere fear Him. All who are wise show Him reverence” (Job 37:23-24, NLT).

God sees our sinfulness and yet “He does not destroy us.” Why? Because He loves us. And He doesn’t just love humanity as a whole – He loves each one of us individually. The One so mighty that His Word alone spoke the world into being cares for YOU. For ME. He knows us by name; and we should daily thank Him for His grace and mercy.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“We don’t set the time when we will come before God in judgment” (Job 34:23, NLT).

Have you ever talked to someone about the Christian life only to have them say something like, “I’m gonna get myself right with God one of these days?” How foolish for any person to risk eternity by delaying putting his faith in Jesus Christ!

None of us are guaranteed our very next breath. Life at best is short – and believe me, the older you get, the faster time flies.

Second Corinthians 6:2 reminds us: “…the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” No believer should waste an opportunity to tell someone about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. And no believer should begin or end a day without consciously searching his heart and confessing any sins of omission or commission.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“Let God weigh me on the scales of justice, for He knows my integrity” (Job 28:28, NLT).

Job’s statement is a bold one. Is your life so aligned with God’s perfect will that you could say such a thing? I know I’d be terrified to! But here’s what I don’t want us to miss: Job’s statement says more about the Lord than it does about himself. In spite of all his troubles, Job knew God was the Righteous Judge and that he could trust Him.

Do you? He’s worthy of your absolute faith and confidence.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“…this is what He says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding’” (Job 28:28, NLT).

There’s such a thing as a healthy fear. I had great parents, but I feared them. No, I wasn’t terrified that they’d hurt me or abuse me in any way; but I did know that disobeying them carried consequences. And I also knew that many of the rules they laid down weren’t to cramp my style or spoil my fun, but to protect me and teach me. Above all, I never doubted they loved me.

Our Heavenly Father is the Greatest Parent of All, and He loves us beyond what any human can even comprehend. His rules, His commandments, are for our good. When we mature as believers, we realize this truth; and we realize that a healthy fear of who He is and His absolute authority is a very good thing.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“I go east, but He is not there. I go west, but I cannot find Him. I do not see Him in the north, for He is hidden. I look to the south, but He is concealed” (Job 23:8-9, NLT).

Have you ever felt like you were praying but no one was listening? Ever felt so alone that you had no sense of God’s presence? Job did. And I know there have been times when I’ve felt that way.

Yet the Lord Himself makes each and every believer this promise: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5). The Christian life is not just about feelings – it’s about faith. Trust Him even when it doesn’t seem He’s listening – because He is. Trust Him even when it seems He isn’t with you – because He’s there and He’ll never, ever leave you.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see Him for myself. Yes, I will see Him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (Job 19:25-27, NLT).

How long has it been since you’ve stopped to think about the awesome reality that you will one day see God for yourself? That you will one day see Him with your own eyes? Job realized this truth and, even in the midst of his troubles, was “overwhelmed at the thought!”

Eternity is more real than the present. Your Redeemer is more real than your greatest difficulty or worry. Your Redeemer is more powerful than any enemy that can assail you. Your Redeemer lives! And He knows you by name. We serve a loving, all-powerful, personal God.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“My eyes are red with weeping; dark shadows circle my eyes. Yet I have done no wrong, and my prayer is pure” (Job 16:16-17, NLT).

Ever found yourself overwhelmed by troubles and wondering why so many things went wrong? I sure have. Many of you are aware that Larry and I have a son and daughter-in-law who, for reasons we don’t know, stopped communicating with us a number of years ago. Since that time, they’ve become the parents of our two granddaughters, neither of whom we’ve ever laid eyes on. The amount of tears we’ve shed over this situation could certainly fill an ocean.

But thanks to the wonderful indwelling Holy Spirit, our Comforter has helped us move past the pain and live in peace. Like Job’s friends, many people – even with the best of intentions – have offered us advice and tried to get me and Larry to ‘fess up to whatever we did to cause the rift. Yet we can offer no explanation for why it happened and know of nothing we could admit to having done that might have caused it.

Not all suffering can be explained, and certainly not all suffering is due to personal sin. I didn’t cause the estrangement in our family and neither did Larry. Yet here we are, living with a situation we deeply wish didn’t exist.

If you’re in a valley of sorrow and you haven’t done anything to cause your problem, know that the Lord is also aware of your innocence. And be assured that He loves you and can fill you with His peace no matter your circumstance.


Copyright 2020

Judy Woodward Bates


“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are His (Job 10:13, NLT).

When Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar heard of Job’s troubles and came to him, they sat with him in silence for seven days. (You can read more about the custom of “sitting shiva” by following this link:

And after the seven days had passed, they began to offer their words of “wisdom,” chiefly that Job should confess and repent of the sins he had committed that had caused these catastrophes to come upon him.

Job’s response was firm: “Stop assuming my guilt, for I have done no wrong” (Job 6:29). Job wisely rejected his friends’ advice and clung to his trust in God not only in spite of, but also because of, his circumstances. Troubled times are not the time to turn FROM God, but TO Him.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


“If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together” (Job 9:33, NLT).

Job longed for someone to stand between him and the Lord, someone to speak to God on his behalf,“a mediator.” How thankful we should be to have been born after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, after He sent His Holy Spirit to live within each and every believer!

Every moment of every day we have access to the One whom Job so greatly desired. As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “... there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity – the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


“‘I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!’ In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God” (Job 1:21-22, NLT).

Job had been slammed with all sorts of bad news – and more was to come. Yet he chose to trust God rather than focusing on his current difficulties and sorrow. Child of God, troubles pass; but the love of God is never-ending. The resurrected Jesus Christ sent His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to indwell every person who has put his faith in Him.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


When the floodwaters subsided and it was safe to leave the ark, what did Noah do? He “…built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose” (Genesis 8:20, NLT).

And how did God respond? “…the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice and said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night’” (Genesis 8:21-22).

Noah expressed his gratitude for God’s protection and, because he did, “…God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables” (Genesis 9:1-3).

And then God made a covenant for all time:  “…God told Noah and his sons, ‘I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants, and with all the animals that were on the boat with you – the birds, the livestock, and all the wild animals – every living creature on earth. Yes, I am confirming my covenant with you. Never again will floodwaters kill all living creatures; never again will a flood destroy the earth.

 Then God said, ‘I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.’ Then God said to Noah, ‘Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth’” (Genesis 9:8-17).

Next time you see a rainbow, remember that it’s a promise from God. And whatever promise He’s placed in your heart, trust it, too. He is faithful.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


“When everything was ready, the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the boat with all your family, for among all the people of the earth, I can see that you alone are righteous.’ So Noah did everything as the Lord commanded him. That very day Noah had gone into the boat with his wife and his sons – Shem, Ham, and Japheth – and their wives. Then the Lord closed the door behind them” (Genesis 7:1, 5, 16b, NLT).

Prior to the flood, humans lived long, long lives. Noah was 600 years old (See Genesis 7:11) when the flood came and he’d spent years – there’s a big debate over just how many years – building the ark. The world of Noah’s day, instead of living to please God, had chosen evil. And because of that, God said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years” (Genesis 6:3).

I’ve heard people quote “three score and ten” – 70 years – as a normal lifespan. Where does that come from? Psalm 90:10a: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years…” (KJV). Or as the NLT words it: “Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty.” God didn’t set 70 or 80 as a limit – the writer of Psalm 90, Moses, stated it as what he was seeing as a typical lifespan. Point is, whether you live to 70, 80, or 120, God determines your years and has reduced the years of man from what it was in Noah’s day.

Several things I want us to note about Noah’s situation: (1) God told him to build the ark – God didn’t do it for him. God warned Noah of the impending flood – see Genesis 6:17 – but Noah had to choose to believe God and obey Him. God doesn’t drag any of us to His safety – He simply gives us a very clear choice. (2) Noah’s faith became his family’s faith. Noah set an example that rubbed off on his family. (3) Noah believed God in spite of the likelihood that he had never even seen rain, let alone flooding.

Lastly, (4) look who closed the door of the ark – God did: Then the Lord closed the door behind them” (Genesis 7:16b). The ark represents Christ. In Him and through Him alone is there salvation. “God waited patiently” (I Peter 3:20b) for Noah to finish building the ark and then He sent the floodwaters. Undoubtedly Noah’s sons worked alongside him in its construction and endured the scoffing and ridicule of their neighbors – the construction site had probably become a regular tourist attraction! But had any of those onlookers believed when Noah told them why he was building the ark, God would have spared them. Their unbelief, however, forced a just and holy God to close the door on their opportunity to be saved.

I don’t believe for a skinny minute that Noah neglected to warn his neighbors. There’s no way that a man like Noah could have developed a fatalistic attitude toward all those souls he knew would be lost forever. And neither can we. We are not responsible for the outcome of our witness; but we are assuredly responsible to witness. Time is short. Tell somebody about Jesus.

“Noah was a righteous man… and he walked in close fellowship with God” (Genesis 6:9b).


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates


Today we begin a year-long chronological (in order according to the time the passage was written) look at the Bible. I hope you’ll stick with it and go back and catch up on any days you miss. If you read the Through-the-Bible passage noted at the end of each day’s study, you’ll have read the entire Bible by the end of 2020. Each day, we’ll look at a portion of the Through-the-Bible passage:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then God said, ‘Let Us make human beings in Our image, to be like Us’” (Genesis 1:1, 26a, NLT).

“In the beginning God…” The Creator of the Universe is, always was, and always will be. When Moses had his burning bush experience as God commissioned him to lead him to Israel out of slavery, Moses asked how he should identify the One who sent him. “God replied to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).

In John 8, Jesus, while teaching a crowd of Jews, said to them: “Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to My coming. He saw it and was glad.’ The people said, ‘You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” (John 8:56-58a).

God the Father was present at creation. The Holy Spirit was present at creation. Jesus was present at creation. John opens his gospel proclaiming the preexistence of Christ: In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him” (John 1:1-3).

Peter, speaking of the salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ, calls Jesus “…the Eternal, Living Word of God” (I Peter 1:23b). And as John declared, “God created everything through Him.”

So we see that the Triune God who created everything in existence did so through the Living Word. As you read today’s passage, you’ll see that Jesus literally spoke the world into being. And speaking of being, what an astounding thought that we human beings, of all living things, are the one and only part of creation made in God’s own image.

“…God is good…” (Romans 11:22, Bible in Basic English). “…God is great…” (Job 36:26, ESV). “…God is love…” (I John 4:8, NASB). And we’re to “…be like Him…” (I John 3:2, NLT). In the great heroes of the faith chapter of the Bible, Hebrews 11, it is said of those who faithfully serve Him that “…God is not ashamed to be called their God…” (Hebrews 11:16b). May this be said of you and me throughout this year and always.


Copyright 2020
Judy Woodward Bates