The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates

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“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