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INVITE ME to speak to your church or civic group! Email me at: [email protected] or visit my INVITE ME page for more info.

Click HERE to read my FREE short stories, 

A Chalybeate Springs Thanksgiving & A Chalybeate Springs Christmas.

Available now! A BOATLOAD OF TROUBLE, the 2nd book in the Bargainomics Lady mystery series. Where can you buy it?

(1) You can order a signed copy directly from me by mailing $11 + $3.82 postage via check or money order to:

JUDY BATES, P.O. BOX 90, EMPIRE, AL 35063. Any extra you can include to cover mailing envelopes, labels, etc. is greatly appreciated. You can also pay with PayPal & order directly from me.

(2) A Boatload of Trouble is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle eBook formats. It's clean, fun, and has a message.

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

(2) You can also order a signed copy directly from by mailing $12 + $3.82 postage via check or money order to: JUDY BATES, P.O. BOX 90, EMPIRE, AL 35063. And any amount you could add to help cover mailing envelopes, labels, etc. would be greatly appreciated. You can also pay with PayPal & order directly from me.

(3) Copies are also available at Jeff Dennis Jewelers in Gardendale, AL. $12 each.

(4) For multiple copies for a church or Bible study group, contact me: [email protected] 

Click HERE to see what The Baptist Paper's review of THE BOOK OF REVELATION UNLOCKED.

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

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

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

Where else can you buy A Bargain to Die For?

(1) You can phone, go by, or go online to Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million & have them order it for you.

(2) You can order a signed copy directly from me by mailing $10 + $3.82 postage via check or money order to: JUDY BATES, P.O. BOX 90, EMPIRE, AL 35063. Any extra to cover expenses like mailing envelopes, labels, etc. is greatly appreciated. You can also pay with PayPal & order directly from me.


“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 2022

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 2022

Judy Woodward Bates


“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 2022

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 2022

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 2022

Judy Woodward Bates


Two more days in the book of Job and we’ll be back in Genesis. I hope you’re committed to reading through the Bible and reading the entire Thru-the-Bible passage for each day. Now take a look at today’s focal passage:

“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 2022

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 2022

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 2022

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 2022

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 2022

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 2022

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).

I vividly remember some of the remarks that were made about me and Larry when our son and his wife first stopped communicating with us. Even though we said repeatedly that there hadn’t been a disagreement or any reason whatsoever that we were aware of for the break in our relationship, it had happened and all our efforts to talk to them were ignored. I remember two “friends” in particular who told anyone who’d listen, “I know something happened between them. They just won’t admit it.”

Years later – we’re headed toward 17 years of their absence, and we now have two granddaughters we’ve never met – those same two people came to me and said, “We owe you an apology. I know the whole family didn’t offend them, and they’ve cut themselves off from everyone on your side and Larry’s.” News flash: we could have told them that a long time ago.

In the course of speaking in umpteen churches, I’ve come across so many people who are in the same boat as me and Larry. It’s astounding how many broken relationships exist among professing Christian families. And yes, some of those rifts began for specific reasons. Others have no idea what set things off.

Point is, we can be doing as close to 100% right as we know how, and yet find ourselves in a heartbreaking situation. That, my friends, is life in this fallen, sinful world. So what can we do about it? Confess that hurt and pain to the Lord and give it to Him over and over every day until you can truly let it go – I can’t count how many times it took for me! And once you let it go, LET IT GO. Don’t bad-mouth anyone. Don’t talk about it except in prayer or in a way that can minister to someone else who is hurting. Don’t become the whiny person everyone steers clear of. Become an overcomer in the Name of Jesus!

Have that good, long cry. Have a bunch of ‘em if that’s what it takes. But keep giving that pain to Jesus until you can fully let it go. There is real joy available through Christ even when, at this time, life isn’t what you’d hoped it would be.


Copyright 2022

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 Jewish 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 2022

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” (1 Timothy 2:5).


Copyright 2021

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.

If we allow our problems to embitter us toward God, to whom can we turn? In John 16:33b, Jesus reminds us: “In the world you’ll have trouble. But cheer up! I have overcome the world” (GWT).

The Conquering Savior is following His plan. Through His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection, He defeated the curse of sin. But if that’s so, why are there so many terrible things in this world? As the writer of Hebrews says: “… this world is not our permanent home …” (verse 13:14a, NLT).

As I’ve said many times, Satan is a big dog on a short leash, and God holds the leash. He is allowed this time on earth before he is, as Jesus told us, cast “… into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons” (Matthew 25:41b). And believe me, as bad as things may sometimes seem, Satan is greatly restrained by the hand of God. But that will change completely when the Church, the Bride of Christ, all those who truly know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is taken out of this world. Then, my friends, there will truly be hell on Earth. Oh, how we need to get busy warning others!


Copyright 2022

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).

But if Noah only brought two of each creature onto the ark, how’d all the species survive if Noah used some of them as burnt offerings? Because the Lord had instructed him: “Take with you seven pairs—male and female—of each animal I have approved for eating and for sacrifice, and take one pair of each of the others. Also take seven pairs of every kind of bird. There must be a male and a female in each pair to ensure that all life will survive on the earth after the flood” (Genesis 7:2-3).

Some animals and birds were used as offerings and others were kept to repopulate the earth after the flood. Remember: even the temporary forgiveness of sin back in the Old Testament always required a blood sacrifice. Only when Jesus came as fully God, yet fully man, was there One Perfect Sacrifice to permanently forgive the sins of all who would believe in Him.

So how did God respond to Noah's offering? “… 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 2022

Judy Woodward Bates


(Yesterday we started reading through the Bible in chronological order. If you missed yesterday’s reading, scroll down and catch up and let’s read the entire Bible together in 2022.)

“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” (1 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 2022

Judy Woodward Bates


How many times have you read the entire Bible? Jesus is identified as “the eternal, living Word of God” (1 Peter 1:23b, NLT). That alone should tell us how important it is to know the “Word of God.” I hope you’ll join me for a chronological look through the entire Bible during 2022. We’re going to start with the earliest writings and go all the way through in the order in which it was written. In addition to what you’ll see here, there’s a suggested reading to follow. If you do that during 2022, you’ll read the entire Bible in only a few chapters a day.

“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 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).

So we see that the Triune God who created everything in existence did so through the “Living Word.” Jesus. 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. Use your life to show others how good God is.


Judy Woodward Bates

Copyright 2022


“If the Lord does not build the house, it is useless for the builders to work on it” (Psalm 127:1a, GWT).

Jesus delivered this same message in Matthew 7: “… a foolish man … built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and battered that house, and it collapsed, and its collapse was total” (verses 26b-27, ISV).

A house without a firm foundation cannot survive the storms of life. Neither can a marriage. No life built on anything other than the firm foundation of Jesus Christ can ever reach its full potential. No life lived without Jesus Christ will ever see the eternal life He promises every person who will trust Him as Lord and Savior.

Want a solid life? Put it fully in the hands of Jesus: “Therefore, everyone who listens to these messages of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation was on the rock” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 7:24-25).

“…the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His’ …” (2 Timothy 2:19a, NASB).

“… the Good News of peace – a firm foundation for your feet” (Ephesians 6:15b, Weymouth New Testament).

“… He will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10b, NLT).

A brand new year is about to begin. Commit to live it more fully for Jesus.

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6, ESV).

I couldn’t begin to count the number of tears I’ve cried over our son and his family who have no contact with us. And, no doubt, many of you could say the same thing about loved ones in your lives. Jesus understands our sorrow and He promises in His Word that “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”

Our sorrows should never keep us FROM Jesus, but should lead us TO Jesus. We can cry until our eyes are dry, but unless we’re also crying out to Jesus, we’re only expressing distress – we’re not doing anything that can alleviate it.

When we pray in and through our sorrow, we “sow in tears.” As we release our worries and grief to the Lord, the Holy Spirit comforts us and brings us peace. And as we see those prayers answered, we “reap with shouts of joy!”

No tear shed in prayer is ever wasted. Anything big enough to worry you is big enough to give to God.

“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).

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


“… the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:7b-8, NIV).

When Jesus Christ willingly went to the cross to pay our sin debt, then died and rose again, “He broke the power of death” (2 Timothy 1:10, NLT), showing all who would believe on His Name the only doorway that could lead them to heaven. He clearly identified Himself in John 10:9 as “the door.”

And that “door,” my friends, was and is our only escape from an eternity in torment. Hebrews 2:3 reminds us: “… how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (NIV). Jesus also warned the hypocritical religious holier-than-thous: “How will you escape the judgment of hell?” (Matthew 23:33b, NLT).

There’s only one “escape” from “the judgment of hell” and that’s through faith in the Suffering Servant Savior, Jesus Christ. As today’s passage tells us, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Without Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, no one will ever enter into heaven.

Have you given much thought to what Jesus’ free gift of salvation has made it possible for you to “escape”? You should, you know. And your life should reflect your gratitude.

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


Back to that wandering sheep again. The shepherd, having left “the ninety-nine others” (Luke 15:4b, NLT) searched diligently until he found the lost sheep. Then what?

 “And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders” (Jesus speaking, Luke 15:5). He takes the weight and smell and dirt of that sheep upon himself and carries the frightened fur ball back to rejoin the rest of the flock.

Was the shepherd tired after climbing up and down hills and valleys and risking and possibly facing predators during his search for the missing sheep? He most likely was exhausted. But he put the welfare of the sheep above his own, even when that meant carrying that sheep every step of the journey.

So let’s say this same little sheep roams away again. Will the shepherd leave it to die this time? Of course not! Instead, he leaves the flock and goes to find it. But this time, when he finds it, he teaches it a very hard lesson: he breaks one of its legs.

Sounds pretty mean, doesn’t it? But here’s the rest of what happened. After breaking the sheep’s leg, the shepherd would bind the leg so it would heal. He’d then hoist the sheep onto his shoulders and carry it back to the flock. Once there, he’d sleep next to that sheep because it was the most vulnerable to predators – as always, the shepherd puts himself between his sheep and any danger.

Next morning, when it was time for the flock to find new grazing ground, the shepherd hoisted that heavy sheep again and lugged it along to green pastures. Can’t you just see the shepherd pulling up plants and helping it feed? And that night and every night until the sheep’s leg was fully healed, the shepherd slept beside it, maybe even resting his head on the soft wool of its body.

When the leg was healed, what happened? The sheep that used to wander became the shepherd’s closest follower. God never disciplines out of anger, but only in love.

“I used to wander off until You disciplined me; but now I closely follow Your word” (Psalm 119:67).

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11, NIV).

“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice” (Psalm 51:8, ESV).

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


Yesterday we saw that sheep are smelly, dirty, vermin-infested, and dumber than a box of rocks. Do they have any redeeming qualities? One, which often appears to make them smarter than we are: “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. … he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow …” (Jesus speaking, John 10:3b, 4b-5a, ESV).

Sheep recognized the voice of their shepherd. Even when corralled with dozens of other flocks in a community enclosure, a single shepherd could come to the pen and open the gate, and only his own sheep would follow him out. Why? Because “they know his voice” – those who weren’t a part of his flock would stay put: “A stranger they will not follow.”

“I just want to know what the will of God is for my life.” What’s His will? For you to follow Him. Following Jesus doesn’t always mean knowing precisely what He wants you to do every minute of every day. It simply means choosing to put that moment, that hour, or that day to the very best use for the glory of God.

Let’s say you have an off day and you’ve been dreaming of piling up on your sofa with a good book. Or playing a round of golf. Or hitting the mall. But you also remember that your widowed neighbor Mrs. Cravat is alone and recovering from surgery. Do you go on with your plans or change your plans to minister to your neighbor?

News flash! Many times when we give up our selfish plans to do a selfless deed, our time is miraculously multiplied back to us. You might just manage to bring some sunshine into Mrs. Cravat’s life and still have some sofa, golf, or shopping time. And even if you can’t manage both, I guarantee the joy you’ll receive from spending time with Mrs. Cravat will far outweigh what any of those other pursuits would have given you.

Knowing Jesus means knowing “his voice.” And knowing “his voice” means being able to distinguish between what’s of God and what isn’t. When you attune yourself to the Holy Spirit, you don’t have wonder or wander. He will lead you “in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3b, NIV).

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


Yesterday we looked at Psalm 119:67: “I used to wander off until You disciplined me; but now I closely follow Your word” (NLT). I want to start there and dig a little deeper.

I’m sure you’ve seen paintings of Jesus the Great Shepherd carrying the little lamb in His arms. A shepherd spent a lot of time out in the wilderness with a bunch of smelly, dirty, vermin-infested sheep – sounds fun already, doesn’t it? And those sheep were so dumb that they were utterly helpless. They could feed themselves, yes, but only because the shepherd took them to places where there would be plenty of greenery on which to forage. Let any kind of trouble come along, though, and those sheep were clueless as to what to do. They were entirely dependent upon their shepherd.

Which is why the shepherd couldn’t afford any wanderers. See, the wilderness included plenty of vicious carnivores that would love nothing better than a meal of fat juicy lamb chops. The shepherd, wielding no more than a staff or a slingshot, could make quick work of any predator who tried to harm his sheep. The shepherd would always put himself between any threat of danger and his sheep. Matter of fact, if necessary, “The good shepherd [was willing to lay] down his life for the sheep” (Jesus speaking, John 10:11b, NIV).

But the sheep never gave any thought to what the shepherd was willing to do to keep them safe. Sheep basically had one thought: what’s to eat? And in pursuit of their life’s goal – food, food, and more food – one would sometimes meander away from the flock and find itself lost and terrified with no idea how to get back to the flock and zero means of protecting itself from danger.

The vigilant shepherd, however, knowing every one of his sheep, would quickly realize which sheep was missing, and as Jesus asked, “Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4b, NLT).

The shepherd had to leave the rest of the flock on its own while he went after the wandering sheep. One sheep’s ignorance put the entire flock at risk. But the shepherd considered that one little sheep worth going after.

Our Great Shepherd puts Himself between us and danger more times than we’ll ever know this side of heaven. Our Great Shepherd lovingly brings wanderers back into the fold. Our Great Shepherd loved us enough to “lay down His life” to save us.

What are you doing with your life to thank Him?

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates