The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates


“. . .the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7, NIV).

Do you give a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wages? Do you feel like you are justly compensated for the amount of work that you do? In the passage above Jesus was talking to those He sent out as workers for His Kingdom.

Everyone who has accepted Christ as Lord and Savior has been assigned as a worker in His field. With that in mind, what sort of payday, spiritually speaking, can you expect to draw? Bear in mind that the “crowns” that you are earning as you do the work of the Lord are not for your own glory, but these constitute the only treasures you’ll be able to lay at His feet. I don’t want to go to Jesus empty-handed, do you?

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Have you ever been to a carnival “fun house” – one of those maze-like walk-throughs with all the warped mirrors that distort your reflection? I remember seeing myself much wider and squattier than I already look and then going on a little farther and seeing myself tall and thin with a long, narrow face. No two mirrors were alike and none of them showed a reflection that looked very much like me.

We who are believers in Jesus Christ are to be reflections of Him. Like a good quality mirror we are to reflect Him clearly and consistently. Yet many times our lives are like those fun house mirrors; one minute His reflection is distorted in this area of our lives and at another time the distortion is in a different direction. And when people hear us claim to be children of God, and therefore reflections of Him, they sometimes get a warped view of what Christianity and God are all about.

What kind of image are you reflecting?

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (II Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. . . come out from them and be separate” (II Corinthians 6:14, 17, NIV).

Does this mean we aren’t supposed to associate with unbelievers? No, the term “yoked” is talking about being a part of the same team. Jesus was constantly criticized for His choice of companions – He was a Friend to sinners. But that’s just it; He was a Friend, not a participant.

In the workplace and all around the real world we are in contact with people who aren’t Christians; and unfortunately, we’re also in contact with people who claim to be Christians who live by standards that don’t reflect reverence or obedience to God’s Word. We can’t reach those we refuse to communicate with. Our purpose for being here is to serve God, and a huge part of serving Him is showing Him to others. Be a friend to all, but refuse to involve yourself in any activity that doesn’t honor Biblical principles.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Ever been asked to make a deposit on anything? I’ve had to make deposits on everything from church retreats to cruises. Seems people want you to put up something that will help them feel confident that you really intend to follow through with your initial commitment.

God, having created us, knows us through and through. He understands that we want to know that our reservations in heaven are secure. Paul explained it this way: “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose [to live with Him in heaven] and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (II Corinthians 5:5, NIV).

If you’ve sincerely accepted Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has come to indwell you. Not only is He your Friend, your Guide, and your never-failing Comforter, He is also God’s deposit and guarantee that your home in heaven is secured and awaiting your arrival. Now how’s that for Good News!

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches” (Matthew 13:31-32, HCSB).

Jesus compares “the kingdom of heaven” to “a mustard seed,” which He says is “the smallest of all the seeds.” Just how tiny is “a mustard seed”? They’re about one millimeter in diameter, and for those of you unfamiliar with metric measurement, 25.4 millimeters is equivalent to one inch. In other words, we’re talking teeny tiny!

So why is the Lord using something so seemingly insignificant to compare with the “kingdom of heaven”? To answer that, we need to see what’s been done with the “mustard seed.” It’s been “sown in the soil.”

Jesus said “a man took [the seed] and sowed [it] in his field,” which means that the “seed” was placed in prepared, receptive, fertile “soil,” thus enabling it to grow.

And then what? It grows so large that “it becomes a tree.” The planting of that single tiny “seed” results in “a tree” so big, so visible, and so attractive that “the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”

Who’s the “man” in this parable? Jesus, in the form of the Holy Spirit. He calls to the lost, urging them to listen, to come to Him. And as quickly as a person turns, listens, and receives the Message of Truth, the Holy Spirit, the “seed” of Truth enters into that life. Then, as that new believer studies the Bible, prays, learns, and fellowships in a Bible-believing and teaching church, that “seed” of Truth brings him deeper and greater understanding. The believer matures, thereby clearly evidencing a mature fruit, or “tree” that attracts others to the Truth.

When you’re “for real,” people know it. When you’re serious about your walk with the Lord, that’s also obvious. And those who are searching for answers, longing for hope, looking for a place to belong, are drawn to you, just like “the birds” in this parable.

Is your life as a believer growing and maturing? How long has it been since you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If you get honest about your growth rate, are you flourishing? Inching along? Wilting? Or spreading like kudzu? Mature believers attract other people to the “kingdom.” I pray that’s what you’re doing.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


In John 6 we read about the “feeding of the 5,000” – actually more like 10,000 or 15,000 when you add the women and children.You probably recall what Jesus used to perform this great miracle: a boy’s “five barley loaves and two fish” (John 6:9, HCSB). This young man trusted Jesus with all he had. And Jesus used the boy’s offering because it had been freely and fully given to Him. And the boy – not the “stuff” he gave – received the blessing of being used by the Lord.

Through this one young person’s willingness to entrust all he had to Jesus, thousands of other people were blessed. When we offer ourselves to the Lord; when we submit all we call our own to Him; and return to Him the tithes and offerings He tells us to give, our little becomes much in the hands of the Almighty God and Creator.

Jesus’ disciples were used to distribute these blessings. Jesus Christ privileges His followers with opportunities to serve Him and to extend His blessings to others. Whether it’s the blessing of the Good News or a physical or material blessing like the bread and fish, He wants those who are His to be actively distributing His blessings.

Note, too, when the people received the blessing of the bread and the fish. It was after Jesus “had given thanks” (John 6:11a, NKJV). Until the Son thanked the Father for the provision, the blessing of the loaves and fishes wasn’t multiplied. Perhaps many of our blessings would be greater if we were more consistent in remembering to thank our Heavenly Father for providing them.

And let me clarify: I’m not talking merely material blessings. There are many types of blessings, such as the tremendous blessing of peace. And there’s the awesome blessing of witnessing to and leading other people to Jesus. When’s the last time you – or have you ever – asked Him for this opportunity and blessing?

Another important point is that the disciples didn’t distribute the food until the rest of the people had obeyed the Lord’s instruction to “sit down” (John 6:10). Those sitting down were those who heard Jesus’ instruction, obeyed it, and thereby positioned themselves for His blessings.

We, too, can be positioned to receive His blessings. When we know what we are to do and we do it, He blesses us. When we know what we are to do and we ignore it, we miss out on blessings that would otherwise be ours. Friends, it’s the bucket under the spout that gets the water.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


What good does it do to bring children up in a Christian home? Nowadays I hear so many parents bemoaning the difficulties they’re having with their teenagers or even younger children that no doubt they wonder if the Christian training is having an effect. But count on it – it is.

In Deuteronomy 6:2 the Bible says: “you and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all His decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life” (NLT).

Does this mean righteous living can extend your years? Certainly that’s possible. But look at it from another viewpoint: it’s also possible to live a long time without enjoying life.

The only way to truly enjoy your life is to know that you have fulfilled God’s calling for you through the upbringing of your children and through the other ministries to which He has appointed you. No, your children may not always honor you or behave in ways that befit a Christian home’s teachings; but have no fear. God is faithful, and when your witness at home is faithful to Him, your children will see and believe.

Of course, we want to see God perfect them before our very eyes, don’t we? This isn’t always how it happens. Remember: spiritual maturity isn’t linked with physical age. Faithfully living out the Christian life before him may bring him into a full commitment at an early age. Then again, your child may not spiritually mature until he is far into his adulthood. Even if you’re already in heaven when that day comes, though, you can rejoice with the angels!

Believe me, I know firsthand how hard it can be to live out the Christian life with true hope and enjoyment when the child you hold dear is breaking your heart. Yet through and in spite of this difficulty, the Lord has taught me to focus on Him, on examining and maturing my own walk, and on learning that the true joy of this journey is in Christ alone.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


I really get irked at these Bible-thumping preachers who tell us, “If you have enough faith, you can be healed of anything!” If this is so, then why are so many of these same believers looking through eyeglasses or adjusting hearing aids as they preach to you?

I firmly believe that God can and will heal anything and anyone if and when He chooses, and I also believe that our prayers and faith can move God to act; but how dare we speak to Him in any way as though we have a right to demand healing or anything else? Even Jesus didn’t demand of God. What did He say? “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39b, NASB).

Did you catch that? “If it is possible.” What isn’t “possible” with God? Jesus Himself said in Mark 10:27b: “all things are possible with God” (ESV). What Jesus was saying was “if it is possible for this to be Your will.” “All things” are not God’s will. And that includes earthly healing.

However, ultimate healing belongs to every child of God. The moment any believer in Jesus Christ takes his last breath here, be it wracked with pain or peacefully in sleep, that person is immediately translated from this life into the eternal one Jesus has prepared – a land where “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4b, NIV). Not even a memory of it.

Look at Second Kings 13:14a: “Now Elisha was suffering from the illness from which he died” (NIV). Elisha, that great prophet of God, had asked for and received a “double portion” (II Kings 2:9) of the Spirit who had been with Elijah. Talk about power and faith! Talk about a man who was busy doing the Lord’s work on this earth! And yet he experienced illness, suffering, and death.

The number one cause of death is birth. We are born to die. But our focus should be on living. Live to serve others. In doing so, you’re honoring Jesus Christ and adding to your “reward in heaven” (Luke 6:23b).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


I have always enjoyed the radio program “Focus on the Family.” When its founder Dr. James Dobson wrote the bestselling book “Dare to Discipline,” I knew he was a man after my own heart!

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

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

God addresses this issue throughout His Word. In Proverbs 13:24 we read: “Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them” (NLT). In Hebrews 12:8, we read a stern statement about God’s discipline of His children: “If you aren't disciplined like the other children, you aren't part of the family” (God’s Word).

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

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

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Can you imagine having this conversation with God? He asked Solomon: “What should I give you?” (I Kings 3:5, HCSB). And how did Solomon reply?

“You have shown great and faithful love to your servant, my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, righteousness, and integrity. You have continued this great and faithful love for him by giving him a son to sit on his throne, as it is today” (I Kings 3:6).

What a family of faith! David had repented of his sins and received God’s wonderful forgiveness – so much so that the Lord was able to agree with Solomon’s statement that David had “walked before [the Lord] in faithfulness, righteousness, and integrity.” So much so that the Lord told Solomon that if he would “walk in [His] ways and keep [His] statutes and commandments just as [Solomon’s] father David did, [the Lord would] give [Solomon] a long life” (I Kings 3:14).

What God forgives, God forgets, and David was amazed by the tremendous grace of his Heavenly Father. No wonder he wrote in Psalm 103:12: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Note, too, that Solomon tells the Lord that he is “just a youth who no experience in leadership” (I Kings 3:7b). Age isn’t a factor when it comes to serving the Lord Jesus – it’s availability that matters. Those who submit themselves fully to His Lordship are used for His glory. Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was probably no more than 14 or 15 years old, and yet she was entrusted with the Most Precious Child Ever Born.

So in answer to God’s question, what did young Solomon ask for? “An obedient heart” (I Kings 3:9a). What did David proclaim in Psalm 37:4? “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” Solomon’s heart desired to be “obedient” to the Lord, and because this was truly what he wanted more than anything else, the Lord honored this request, plus heaped on many more blessings:

“So God said to him, ‘Because you have requested this and did not ask for long life or riches for yourself, or the death of your enemies, but you asked discernment for yourself to understand justice, I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for: both riches and honor, so that no man in any kingdom will be your equal during your entire life. If you walk in My ways and keep My statutes and commandments just as your father David did, I will give you a long life’” (I Kings 3:11-14).

Folks, you can’t fool God – He knows your real priorities. And if He’s not first, He’s not your God – something or someone else is. Ask the Lord to strengthen your desire for the things of the kingdom and to lessen your desire for the worldly.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12, HCSB).

A friend whom I’ll call Amanda married a handsome young man she’d been dating for several years. Expecting her new husband to whisk her from their reception to their honeymoon, she instead was drawn aside to hear these words from her new groom’s lips: “I should never have gone through with this. It was a mistake.” And he left. True story.

See, the commitment that guy made at the altar and what he did afterward didn’t add up. Sometimes we as Christians are just as unfaithful to our Father.

“Do not despise the Lord’s instruction.” We can’t ignore or “despise” God’s Word and truly love Him. After all, as John 1:1 plainly tells us, Jesus is “the Word.” To “despise” His Word is to “despise” the Lord Himself.

“…and do not loathe His discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father the son he delights in.” I recall a shopping trip where I encountered a mother and grandmother trying to appease a terror of a toddler. Between the two of them, the grownups had an easy 200-pound advantage over their opponent, and at least 65 or 70 years of experience; yet they were obviously losing the battle.

I had to use both hands to grip the clothing rack and pray for divine help to keep my mouth shut so I wouldn’t interfere in their melee. Never have I heard anyone give a more thorough reaming than this child did to these women; and never have I seen any other pair do any more cowering and coddling to try to soothe this tike’s ruffled feathers.

Is it love when parents or grandparents allow a child to behave like that? Is it love that sends a child off to school so accustomed to being the boss that the teacher’s entire class is disrupted by the authority-defiant little person? No! Love is willing to “discipline,” even when it’s easier to ignore the problem than deal with it.

But let’s say a youngster reaches for a hot pan. Does it require more love to swat the hand away or allow the child to be burned? Sure, the initial pain of the swat may not be appreciated, but learning to steer clear of hot pans will be an invaluable lesson for the future. Remember what we talked about yesterday? “Discipline” isn’t merely punishment – it’s training. A good parent will incorporate teaching into whatever punishment he metes out to his children.

You, child of God, are the “one He loves,” the precious child “He delights in.” Expect times of “discipline,” and be willing to learn from them so that these lessons won’t have to be repeated.

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“The one who lives with integrity lives securely, but whoever perverts his ways will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9, HCSB).

Real “integrity” is, according to Webster’s, “firm adherence to a code of especially moral values.” It lists “incorruptibility” as its synonym. Paul advised Titus that he should “set an example of good works … with integrity in [his] teaching” (Titus 2:7).

To live “with integrity” is to live firmly holding onto the teachings of Jesus Christ. This means more than going to church. This means more than doing “Christian” things. It means being sold out – inside and out – to the truth of the Gospel.

Let me lightly hit the last half of this Proverb and then I’d like to go back to the concept of living “securely”: “But whoever perverts his ways will be found out.” We can do all the “right” things, say all the “right” things, and still fool only ourselves and other people. God always knows what’s really in our hearts, on our minds, and in our spirits. And when our inward being (not to mention outward, which is another topic in itself) is any way contrary to what He has commanded us, He isn’t pleased – and He will not tolerate any believer’s duality.

Second Peter 3:9 puts it this way: “The Lord… is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” Our Wonderful Father doesn’t stand waiting to whack His children the first time one makes a wrong move. Instead, He stands watching over them for their protection, wanting them to walk in His ways and be obedient to His teachings. But when one doesn’t, He “is patient,” giving that believer ample time to repent before meting out discipline. And remember, even discipline is done for the purpose of teaching.

But back to the first half of our Proverb: living “securely.” Accepting the fact that, as His child, God holds your time and your life in the very palm of His hand allows you to rest in Him regardless of your circumstances. Beloved, let this sink into your innermost being, and I hope it will minister to you as it does to me: if God is in control, nothing is out of control.

Who’s in control of your life today?

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted” (Isaiah 52:13b, HCSB).

Nicodemus, “a man from the Pharisees” (John 3:1), came to Jesus “at night” (John 3:2) to learn more about what He was teaching. Jesus told him: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will Other mss add not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

I think we all know the verse that follows (John 3:16), don’t we? Jesus knew that suffering preceded His glorification. Whether we like it or not, folks, the same holds true for every single believer. Be it in mild or dramatic ways, all who claim the name of Jesus will suffer for their faith, and in the end receive glorification, “the goal of [our] faith, the salvation of [our] souls” (I Peter 1:9).

The apostle Paul said it like this: “We all, with unveiled faces, are reflecting the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (II Corinthians 3:18).

John 12 relates what Jesus taught to the crowds after He entered the city on what we refer to as Palm Sunday: “As for me, if I am lifted up Or exalted from the earth I will draw all [people] The bracketed text has been added for clarity. to myself” (verse 32). John notes in the next verse that “[Jesus] said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die.”

If we are to be like Jesus, we must be willing to endure trials for His sake. Being “lifted up” in the Christian world isn’t the same as it is in secular-thinking society. Did Jesus end up in the spotlight? Absolutely; but He did so as a Suffering Messiah. And He did so for one purpose and one purpose only: to “draw all [people] to [Himself].”

If any of us desire to be “lifted up,” let it be with an understanding of what that means as a Christian. We’re works in progress, y’all – the operative word there being “progress.” If you’re not moving forward in your walk with the Lord, it’s like standing on the down escalator – if you aren’t actively pursuing an upward path, you’re sliding downhill. And you may not even realize it.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“You are the light of the world. a city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 5:14-16).

“A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.” Joseph of Arimathea began his walk of faith as “a disciple of Jesus… secretly” (John 19:38), but his love for the Lord led him to take a very public stand, asking Pilate for the body of the crucified Jesus. A true disciple cannot remain a secret disciple.

Jesus tells His followers – and that includes us – that we “are the light of the world.” He goes on to say that “no one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.” What would be the point? Which is why Jesus continues, saying that rather than put that light “under a basket,” it is placed “on a lampstand,” which enables it to give “light for all who are in the house.”

What’s the purpose of light? It enables us to see. It’s also a vital part of what enables us to be healthy and grow. A hidden light can do none of these things. A hidden light is no light at all.

Jesus drives this point home in as plainly stated a truth as possible: “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Our faith cannot be real and remain hidden. Our faith is not only for our own personal spiritual health and growth – it’s to help others see the Truth, believe it, and then grow in it.

When we shine the True Light “before men,” all the praise and honor and glory goes to the Only One who deserves it – our “Father in heaven.” Our “good works” will never focus the attention on ourselves, but always on the One we’ve surrendered our lives to.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money! Turn my eyes from worthless things…” (Psalm 119:36-37a, NLT).

How many times have you heard it said that “money is the root of all evil”? That quote, of course, is a corruption of a Biblical truth: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil” (I Timothy 6:10a, NASB). Money is neither good nor evil – it’s a tool. A hammer can be used to build or it can be wielded as a lethal weapon. It makes no decision about which it does; its use is entirely dependent upon its operator.

Likewise our hearts and minds. We train them to focus on that which is important to us, which is precisely why the psalmist prayed, “Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money!” Every day we’re bombarded with news about and images of the rich and famous. And if we’re not careful to train our focus on the things of God, we find ourselves absorbed in the pursuit of “worthless things.”

Money’s one handy tool. I personally like having it. But I don’t worship it. And I like my freedom from debt far more than I want anything “better” than what I already have. I’ll keep my comfy little mortgage-free house and my paid-for economy car, thank you very much!

Some of my friends would be considered “upper crust,” but I can tell you in all honesty: it doesn’t matter how much they have; somebody has more. And to seek to compete with any other person’s material possessions is pure foolishness.

Be thankful and responsible with the things that the Lord has already blessed you with and save and work wisely to have the other items you need or want. Just make certain earthly “stuff” is not your life’s focus.

“You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“…good works are obvious, and those that are not [obvious] cannot remain hidden” (I Timothy 5:25, HCSB).

“Good works are obvious.” Not always, as Paul makes clear in the rest of the sentence. But often times they are. My pastor and his wife are wonderful, Godly people. They love the Lord, they love the family of God, and they have a tremendous desire to encourage the believer and to share the Good News with the unsaved. If it can be said of any couple that their “good works are obvious,” I would certainly say this of them.

But that’s not why they do what they do. If it were, that too would be evident. Anyone who is interested in puffing himself up will eventually end up like any other balloon of hot air – deflated. Yet it’s not up to any of us to be the one to let the air out: God will deal with that person.

The other half of Paul’s statement addresses those who may get discouraged because their work for the Kingdom goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and unrewarded: “…and those [good works] that are not [obvious] cannot remain hidden.” Everything done for the Lord is recorded in heaven.

In Matthew 10:42, Jesus talked about how even giving a cup of cold water to one of His disciples would be rewarded. Nothing you do out of love for Jesus Christ is unnoticed, child of the Savior. Nothing you give – or give up – for the sake of the Gospel is without reward.

God loves you so much! And He smiles every time you do the tiniest thing for His glory.

Some years ago, I read story about a man who fed parking meters. Every Tuesday, he went to the bank and had $20 changed into quarters, and he used those to go throughout his city and feed any meter that was about to expire. He didn’t leave a tract. Most of the time, he never saw the car’s driver. But what he did do was pray for the owner of the vehicle.

And on the rare occasion when he was caught feeding a meter (which is the only reason his story was ever made public), he simply explained to that person about second chances and the God who gave him that privilege.

Precious people, every good work is being written down in glory. Make this day one that will keep the angels’ pens busy!

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


No one patches an old coat with a new piece of cloth that will shrink. When the patch shrinks, it will rip away from the coat, and the tear will become worse” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 9:16, God’s Word). You’ll also find this recorded in Mark 2:21 and Luke 5:36.

This seemingly simple parable covers only one verse, but is important enough for three of the Gospel writers to record it. Before we get into its teaching, let’s examine the literal action Jesus describes. The natural fibers of the cloth used in clothing-making would shrink with washing, so an “old coat” would have been through enough washings to have shrunken noticeably, which wasn’t a problem when you consider the loosely fitting gowns and tunics of that period.

Now let’s say that the garment gets torn. To put a new piece of cloth onto the garment would mean that the patch would shrink as soon as the garment was washed, causing it to draw up and pull at the old fabric it’d been attached to. Instead of repairing the garment, it would end up making the tear worse. And, as the Luke version of the parable presents it, what person in his right mind would tear “a patch from a new garment?” (Luke 5:36a, NIV). Not only is that a crazy thing to do, it’s also a fact that “the patch from the new will not match the old” (Luke 5:36b).

Here’s the deal: you need either all old or all new. If you’re going to patch an “old garment,” use old cloth. If you’re going to make a “new garment,” the whole thing’s got to be new.

How can we apply this teaching? Think about it this way: What was your life like pre-Jesus? Would how you lived then fit with how you live now? I hope not. When you became a “new creation” (II Corinthians 5:17) through faith in Christ, you “put off the old man with his [old] practices and … put on the new” (Colossians 3:9b-10a, Young’s Literal Translation).

So what was Jesus saying? You can’t “add” the New Life to the old one – it will never work. In order to be a “new creation,” what has to be new? Everything. A person who has fully surrendered himself to the Lordship of Jesus has to daily and moment-by-moment put to death his own fleshly and earthly desires and embrace the higher and greater desires of the Holy Spirit within him. As the apostle Paul said, “I die every day!” (I Corinthians 15:31b). We don’t “arrive” while we’re on this earth. It’s a struggle, a daily confrontation with the forces of darkness who would have us mixing the “old” with the “new.”

And that will never work, because “the new will not match the old” (Luke 5:36b). What you used to do doesn’t work for you any more. Who you used to be pre-Jesus is no longer a part of you. Jesus doesn’t put a BandAid, a “patch,” on a person in need of salvation – He transforms him. Living for Jesus is all or none, folks. We can’t have a little of both, the “old” and the “new” – we have to choose. (Haven’t I mentioned that before?) Choose Jesus.

“…imitate Christ (I Corinthians 11:1b, NLT).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


As Jesus was suspended between heaven and earth suffering untold agonies on the cross to pay our sin debt, what were His final words? Seven sentences are recorded. From the cross, He looked down at the Roman soldiers who had mocked Him and beaten Him. He looked down at the Jewish religious rulers who laughingly taunted, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ of God, the Chosen One” (Luke 23:35, NIV).

And what was Jesus’ response? “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Even in inconceivable pain, He wasn’t thinking of Himself. He was thinking of others.

Two other crosses stood atop Golgotha. Matthew 27:38a explains that there were “two thieves crucified with Him” (AKJV). Already showered with insults from the soldiers and Jewish religious leaders, Mark 15:32b says that “Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed Him” (NLT).

But one of those men, seeing and hearing Jesus’ response to His tormentors, had a true change of heart. This man called out to Jesus and said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

And Jesus responded by saying what? “Forget it. You had your chance. I heard what you were saying about me earlier.” No, with eyes filled with love and compassion, Jesus looked at the repentant man on the cross beside Him and said, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Here we see the incredible grace and mercy of God. It has often been said that grace is getting what we don’t deserve while mercy is not getting what we do deserve. In the last moments of his life, this dying thief saw the Truth. And the Truth set him free. He deserved hell; he received heaven.

And you know what? It’s the same for each of us. You and I deserved hell, but God in His incredible grace and mercy went to the cross as that final Sacrificial Lamb whose blood covered our sins; and in His death and resurrection, He opened up the Door to eternal life through faith in Him.

Now’s a great time to tell Him, “Thank You.”

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Jesus died at Passover. The city of Jerusalem was packed with people who’d come there for the celebration. What was Passover about? When the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt and the Lord used Moses to speak to Pharaoh and tell him to release God’s people, He sent plagues upon the people of Egypt, culminating in the death of the firstborn. The only ones not affected by this were the Israelites who were instructed to put lamb’s blood on the doorposts of their houses – see Exodus 12.

When the death angel came, the houses covered by the blood of the lamb were PASSED OVER. Year after year, the Lord’s deliverance was commemorated in the observance of Passover, and then, “at the appointed moment, Christ died” (Romans 5:6, HCSB) for us, “the ungodly.” Jesus Christ was the Permanent Once-and-for-All Sacrifice, the True Passover Lamb, who redeemed mankind from their sins.

Because I have accepted the fact that Jesus took my sins upon Himself and have trusted Him as my Lord and Savior, death cannot harm me. If you have received Him as Lord and Savior, death can’t hurt you, either.

First Corinthians 15:56a words it like this: “Now the sting of death is sin.” Because of Adam, all men, as Romans 3:23 puts it, “have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This not only means that every one of us needs a Savior, but also that unless we are still alive when Christ calls His church out of this world, each of us will experience physical death.

“But” – that little three-letter word begins a critical piece of Good News, First Corinthians 15:57: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

We may die physically, but praise God, we’ll never die spiritually. Child of God, Jesus’ death on the cross led to His burial in a tomb. His burial in that tomb led to His resurrection, which led to His ascension, which guarantees that we will do likewise.

“For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the  firstfruits; afterward… the people of Christ” (I Corinthians 15:22-23).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Standing before Pontius Pilate, Jesus tells him, “I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth” (John 18:37b, HCSB). To which Pilate responds, “What is truth?” (John 18:38a).

Folks, “truth” has taken quite a beating over the years, and recent events confirm that we humans are still trying to invent our own versions of it. Case in point? A study done by Barna ( showed that only 44 percent of professing “born-again” adults and 9 percent of professing “born-again” teenagers are certain of the existence of absolute moral truth.

Jesus doesn’t change, which means Truth doesn’t change. How can I be so sure? He tells us in Malachi 3:6a: “I am the Lord, I do not change.” And in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He is and always will be Absolute Truth. And nothing we say, think, or do will ever change that fact. His Truth will win out – has, in fact, already won the victory; and those who oppose Him will suffer the consequences.

So after Pilate asks his pointed question, he goes out to the Jewish leaders and tells them, “I find no grounds for charging Him” (John 18:38b).

Where did that leave the Jewish leaders? Pilate, wanting to get this whole matter behind him, made them an offer: “You have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:39).

The Jewish leaders, along with the rest of the crowd they’d incited “shouted back, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’” (John 18:40). Different translations go on to refer to Barabbas as a rebel, a murderer, a rioter, and a Jewish freedom fighter. This is the man chosen above Jesus by the Lord’s own people.

After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, Peter and John are in the temple complex and Peter begins to preach, stating the facts plainly: “But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked to have a murderer given to you” (Acts 3:14). And then he adds: “And now, brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also did” (Acts 3:17).

Folks, that’s the big difference between those of us living today and those who lived back then. Whatever we do with Jesus, those of us today don’t do out of ignorance. We make a knowledgeable choice with a full written account of Jesus’ life available to all of us, and the Holy Spirit either calling to or already living inside us.

So let me ask you to truthfully respond to this question: Do you serve Jesus with all your mind, heart, and being? There aren’t multiple choices; your answer is either “yes” or “no.”

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


In John’s account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, he records an interesting question Pilate poses to Jesus: “What have You done?” (John 18:35, HCSB). Jesus doesn’t give a direct answer – after all, He’s done nothing in so far as a crime. He’s done everything in obeying His Father’s will and preparing to finish the work He was sent to do. Jesus tells Pilate:

“My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. As it is, My kingdom does not have its origins here” (John 18:36).

“My servants would fight.” Who is Jesus talking about? Did He expect His disciples to storm Pilate’s palace and try to rescue Him? Absolutely not. Besides, He had already told the disciples, “No longer do I call you servants,… but I have called you friends” (John 15:15a).

So who are these “servants” who would “fight” for Him? The same ones Jesus referred to in Matthew 26:53 as the crowd came into the Garden to arrest Him: “Don’t you think that I could call on My Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to help Me now?”

What constitutes “twelve legions of angels”? According to my research, a legion was the major unit of the Roman army and consisted of 3,000 to 6,000 infantry troops and 100 to 200 cavalry troops. So by conservative estimates, we’re talking somewhere between 36,100 and 72,200 angels.

And bear in mind that Jesus said His Father could have sent “more than” that many. How powerful an army would that be? Among a zillion other references I could point out, look at what God told Moses in Exodus 33:2: “I will send an angel ahead of you and will drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.”

Note there’s no plural there. One angel could handle all that and not work up a sweat in the process. But even if Jesus had wanted help, why would He have needed it? Because although fully GOD, He had totally submitted to His role as fully MAN. He would not use one speck of His immeasurable power to alter His situation. Nor would He avail Himself of any of the powers He had created.

How easily Jesus could have stopped what was happening! Yet with all of heaven’s powers at His disposal, Jesus stuck to His course: dying to pay the penalty for our sins.

The day you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, you began a course, a path, of service for His Kingdom and glory. Are you staying the course? Be as faithful to Him as He is to you.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


We live in a time of locked doors, barred windows, and burglar alarm systems. Yet with all our up-to-date efforts in place, we still don’t live in a time where we feel safe. That’s why I want us to look at the word “fear” and see what the Bible has to say about it.

The word “fear” is found throughout the Bible, but interestingly enough, there’s only one thing the Bible advises us to fear: God. What does it mean to fear God? It means to recognize and honor Him as the all-powerful, all-loving Creator and Father Whom He is. And this healthy fear has many beneficial results.

Here are just a few of the wonderful promises to those who fear (show reverence for) God:

“The Lord confides in those who fear Him; He makes His covenant known to them” (Psalm 25:14, HCSB). Want the Word to come alive to you? Want to hear that still small voice confiding in you? Fear the Lord.

“You who fear the Lord, praise Him!” (Psalm 22:23). Do you have true reverence for the Lord? If you do, you’ll praise Him.

“How great is Your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear You…” (Psalm 31:19). Imagine! God has literally stored up blessings for you as He waits on you to show Him proper reverence. Want those blessings poured out? Then fear Him.

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him...” (Psalm 33:18). Just as a mother lovingly and carefully watches over her children, so does the Lord watch over those who truly honor Him with their lives.

“Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing” (Psalm 34:9). What’s missing in your life? Have reverence for God and trust Him to know your real needs better than you do.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Back in the days of old when I was a youngster out shopping with my mom, things were very different than they are today. Whenever we walked into a department store, a perfectly manicured, coiffed, and dressed salesperson would be at our side by the time my mom had glimpsed the first piece of merchandise in that person’s department. And invariably we’d hear, “Did you find what you were looking for?”

Recalling that phrase from my childhood led me to think about all the people I see scurrying around frantically each day. All of them are searching for that better job, better home, better spouse, better “look,” better something. And unfortunately, it isn’t necessary to look beyond God’s own people to find these dissatisfied individuals.

Certainly we all need a degree of ambition. But what we don’t need is to be unable to find contentment in our present state, regardless of what we are hoping for or working toward for our futures.

There is nothing wrong with having a desire to improve your physical or financial condition. What is wrong is when our desires become our obsession.

As believers in Jesus Christ, HE IS TO BE OUR OBSESSION. So let me ask you: Have YOU found what you are looking for? Jesus is to be enough.

“…show us the Father and that will be enough…” (John 14:8, HCSB).

“…anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB).

But aren’t all of us “guilty” of sin? The Bible makes it clear that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Yes, we’re assuredly all sinners. However, there are two important distinctions that need to be made right here:

(1) The sins that a believer confesses and asks forgiveness for are forgotten. Jeremiah 31:34 speaks of the New Covenant God put in place through the shed blood of Jesus. Through grace, He promises: “…I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sin.” In other words, if you’ve confessed it, He’s forgotten it. You are no longer “guilty” and He will not punish that which He refuses to even remember.

(2) The sins of a person who has never received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ cannot be forgiven, even if that person confesses them. Huh? Why is that? Because there is only one prayer that the Lord will hear from those who aren’t His children: the prayer of repentance. Until a person has accepted Christ’s free gift of salvation, that person carries the full weight of his every sin.

An unbeliever’s every sin is remembered by God, and He “…will never leave the guilty unpunished.” Only by confessing Christ as Lord and Savior can a person be forgiven of their sins. If a person refuses to do this, he or she will, at the final judgment, be declared “guilty” and will spend eternity paying for rejecting the Savior.

We as believers are on the pay-as-we-go plan. When we sin, God prompts us to stop it, to repent. When we refuse, He allows circumstances to get our attention. When we continue to harbor that sin, He turns up the heat a little further, and will continue to do so until we let go of the evil. But we pay right here on earth. No one “gets away with” sin, so it is very important to confess it and leave it as quickly as we recognize it. Yes, believers are rewarded in heaven and there will certainly be greater rewards for those who have lived and served most faithfully, but that’s another deep topic for another day.

Pray for your own attitude toward those who have wronged you – never seek revenge. And don’t waste time deriding other people’s behavior. Concern yourself with keeping your own sins confessed – sweeping our own doorsteps is a full-time job.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished” (Nahum 1:3, HCSB).

Aren’t we all thankful that “the Lord is slow to anger! God is so merciful. I’ve often thought about different people and events, and how I would have dealt with these things if God had let me be Him for a couple of seconds. And before you arch an eyebrow at me, don’t tell me you haven’t thought the same sort of thing at one time or another!

It’s a very good thing that none of us will ever have the opportunity to be God, and we need to be very careful about attempting to step into His shoes in any respect. As this verse points out, He may be extremely patient, “slow to anger but [He is] great in power.” It is certainly never an inability to act that stops or slows God’s mighty hand. It is LOVE. It is every fruit of the Spirit that we, too, are to exhibit:

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Bear in mind that these are not merely the attributes of God; they are WHO HE IS. And we are to be like Him.

If someone has wronged you or hurt you in any way, what you need to be doing is praying for that person to repent. Sure, it’d be great if they’d ask your forgiveness, but what you really need to be praying is that he or she will seek the forgiveness of God. Why? Because “The Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished.” And that includes you and me.

More on this passage tomorrow.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore stand firm and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1, HCSB).

“Christ has liberated us into freedom.” Boy, can this one be misconstrued! Even in the early New Testament days, errant teachers went around telling believers that Christ’s forgiveness gave them liberty to do anything they pleased; that accepting Him as Lord and Savior meant that they were free to sin without fear of retribution. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

The “freedom” that this verse speaks of is “freedom” from manmade rules and regulations concerning worship. The Israelites had so many rules and restrictions piled on them that the Sabbath was no longer “a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord” (Exodus 16:23). That’s why Jesus told His listeners that “the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

It is this girl’s humble opinion that we Christians greatly abuse the Sabbath. While God intends for it to be a time when we pull away from the busyness of daily life and reflect on Him and His goodness, we often use it as a “catch-up” day for everything we couldn’t fit into our week. Churches do the same thing. It’s not enough to meet and study and pray and worship – many schedule every imaginable business meeting for this “day of complete rest.”

Too, most Christians set aside Sunday as the Sabbath rather than the traditional Friday sundown to Saturday sundown which is the true Jewish Sabbath. Why the change? It was originally made to designate the Christians’ recognition of Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.

Having grown up accepting Sunday as the Sabbath, I can’t say that I ever give a lot of thought to this change of days. But to some people, continuing to recognize Saturday as the Sabbath is vitally important. Are they wrong? No. Are they right? I don’t think so. What’s important is that we honor whatever day we consider as the Sabbath and use it the way the Lord intended for us to.

“Therefore stand firm and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.” The early Jews were literally enslaved not only as a people, but by the rules and regulations of their worship. We need to be careful not to allow this to happen to ourselves personally or to our churches. If anything a person’s church teaches can’t be backed up by Scripture, it’s time to change the teaching or else change churches.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


As God’s manager, holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it (Titus 1:7, 9, HCSB).

If we, as children of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, live as He desires for us to live, we will not call into question the legitimacy of what we believe. People will see the sincerity and truth of our faith and will be drawn to the Savior through our example.

As believers, we’re to know the Bible and share it with others. And not only are we to share it, we are also “to refute those who contradict it.” We have to know the Word so that we can clarify what we believe and why we believe it.

Yet no matter how carefully we walk with Jesus, there will always be nonbelievers who will confront us, make fun of us, and hope to be able to argue with us. What we have to remember is that it takes two to argue. Never argue about matters of faith. Even if you choose to discuss with another believer your differences of opinion regarding matters of faith, do it without unkindness or anger. Do it in love.

Read the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ interaction with people. He never argued, criticized, or coerced anyone into the Kingdom – He loved them into believing. And if we should be loving in our attitude toward those who don’t believe, certainly we should be even more so with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So what do you do when any person “contradict[s]” the Word of God? “Refute” his error with truth. Don’t spout opinion or doctrine. Quote Scripture. Show him the written Word. And refuse to be drawn into arguing. Even if it means agreeing to disagree, remember that every Biblical truth you speak is planting a seed.

My word, which comes from My mouth, is like the rain and snow. It will not come back to Me without results. It will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do” (Isaiah 55:11, God’s Word).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. [So] you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” (Romans 8:1-3, 9, 31 NLT).

With such Good News throughout the pages of the Bible, why are so many professing believers down in the dumps? Ephesians 6:12 plainly teaches that we aren’t in “a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world” (God’s Word).

By attacking believers, Satan accomplishes a great deal – if we allow him to: (1) He takes our focus off the One we’re to honor. When we’re wrapped up in our own worries, our focus is inward, not upward. (2) He destroys our witness. What can Christianity possibly have to offer if its followers exhibit attitudes of unhappiness?

One of Satan’s favorite weapons is condemnation. Every time a believer seeks a closer walk with the Lord, Satan throws his fiery arrows: “I know you. I know how you used to live. Do you honestly think God can love someone like you? Who are you kidding? Nobody can love a person who’s done the things you’ve done.” On and on he goes until the unprepared believer lies broken and bleeding, dismal and defeated.

How does this happen? By looking back. Lot’s wife (see Genesis 19) was safe until she turned her back on her Savior. As God led them forward, she looked back. That’s all it takes. Why? Because our defensive equipage, “all of God’s armor” (Ephesians 6:11), is designed to protect the front! It’s for charging into battle, not running in retreat.

Have you ever thought about this? When you turn your back on God, you also turn your back on the enemy. How’s that? Because wherever God’s at work, that’s where you’ll also find Satan; and his goal is to quash God’s plans and people. Face the enemy and remind him that his efforts are all in vain because Christ has already given you the victory!

Copyright 2018
Judy Woodward Bates



The book of Malachi speaks of God’s love for His people and His desire for them to live in obedience to His commands. The people of God weren’t offering their best and, therefore, God was not able to violate His own Word and bless a disobedient people. So He warns them:

“‘Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of (unacceptable) offering, why should He show you any favor at all?’ asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Malachi 1:9, NLT).

He also reprimands them for marrying unbelievers – see Malachi 2:11. And that command hasn’t changed. Paul reminds Christians of this in Second Corinthians 6:14a: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers” (NASB). And this isn’t just talking marriages, either – it’s about dating as well as business partnerships and other close relationships.

And then the Lord hits another target – unfaithful spouses: “Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, ‘Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?’ I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife (or husband) made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her (or him), though she (or he) remained your faithful partner, the wife (or husband) of your marriage vows” (Malachi 2:13-14, NLT).

Do you see a pattern here? One kind of disobedience emboldens a person to step out of God’s will in another area; and then another; and another. God’s people were even robbing Him of the tithes and offerings He commanded them to bring. And because they chose to live apart from His will for their lives, He was unable to bless them as He desired to.

Only in the area of tithing – giving ten percent of your gross income – does the Lord invite you to test Him: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse (local church)… If you do,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!’” (Malachi 3:10).

Now I don’t know about you, but I like those kinds of blessings! Are you living an abundant life? Do you have the peace and contentment and provision that can only come from a right relationship with the Savior? He wants to bless His children; but it’s up to you to align yourself with His will so that “the windows of heaven” will be opened “for you.”

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness” (Ezekiel 18:20, NLT).

In Ezekiel 18:2 the Lord asks why the people of Israel kept quoting this old saying: “The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (NIV). In other words, the fathers sin and the children pay the penalty. God said this was not true because “The person who sins is the one who will die.”

The Lord continued, saying, “The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins.” There’s a big difference between SUFFERING because of a parent’s sins and being PUNISHED for a parent’s sins. The child of an alcoholic may suffer greatly because of his parent’s addiction. Likewise the child of a thief or murderer. Or the child of an immoral mother or father. But God looks at the heart of the individual and judges accordingly.

Which is why He goes on to say: “Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness.” Who is righteous? In Romans 3:10, Paul reminds us: “No one is righteous – not even one.” So how can the Lord declare any person righteous? The answer, my friends, is Jesus. First Corinthians 1:30b: “…Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (NIV).

Death, in the real sense, is eternal separation from the Father; and this is the fate of any person who dies without knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The person who leaves this world having accepted Christ’s free pardon and salvation is merely translated from this world into eternal glory.

Every one of us has an appointment with our Maker. Do you know Him as Lord and Savior? If you do, that meeting is going to be a grand and glorious celebration!

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, ‘The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!’ The blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, ‘Praise God for the Son of David.’ But the leaders were indignant. They asked Jesus, ‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ ‘Yes,’ Jesus replied. ‘Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give You praise’” (Matthew 21:12-16, NLT).

There were a lot of activities going on in the Temple, but none of them were God-honoring. What was the problem? The money changers were swapping regular money for Temple money but at a rate that was exorbitant. This is totally my imagination, but let’s say people were handing over one-dollar coins and getting quarters in return. The people coming to the Temple had no choice but to use these money changers and the religious leaders were fully aware of how the people were being taken advantage of, yet did nothing to put a stop to it.

Likewise for the dove sellers. Those unable to bring a sacrifice with them had to buy it at the Temple. Plenty of people who did bring sacrifices were told by the priests that their sacrifice was unfit, which forced these people to buy “acceptable” sacrifices from the sellers in the Temple. The sellers and religious leaders were getting rich off the people who came to worship.

Infuriated with the dishonesty and commercialization He saw within what was supposed to be His Father’s House, Jesus handled business in order. He cleansed the Temple of the evildoers and then He began to heal “the blind and the lame.”

And who got the glory? “…even the children in the Temple [were] shouting, ‘Praise God for the Son of David.’” When God’s at work, no human gets the credit – it’s all about Him.

Jesus Christ wants to see His Father’s House pure and holy, fully dedicated to its Owner. Wonder what Jesus would do if He walked into some of our churches today? Wonder what He’d do if He walked into your house today? What does He think as He looks at your life today?

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (I Corinthians 6:19-20).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2018
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Let’s look at what Jesus said in Mark 11:25: “…when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too” (NLT).

How much do you need God’s forgiveness? How often do you need God’s forgiveness? How long can you afford to go without God’s forgiveness?

Jesus makes it crystal clear that God’s forgiveness of your sins is conditional on you forgiving the wrongs done to you. None of us is without sin, and none of us can afford to hold grudges. Whatever wrong has been done to you, let it go. If whatever has been done is so horrible that you just can’t release it, seek professional Christian counseling and work through the process of forgiveness.

None of us can completely forget the wrongs done to us, but we can allow these offenses to become dimmer and dimmer memories by refusing to dredge them up over and over. Besides, we have assuredly wronged others ourselves, haven’t we? We need to remember how imperfect our own lives have been.

Don’t make excuses for unforgiveness. If you know of any wrong you have done to someone, go to that person and ask for his or her forgiveness. If you recall any wrong done to you, don’t wait on that person to ask for forgiveness; go ahead in your heart and spirit and extend that forgiveness to them. YOU will be the one released from the burden.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called…” (I Timothy 6:12a, HCSB).

How do we “fight the good fight for the faith”? No matter what the struggle, there are only two sides to the battle: God’s and the devil’s. When we consciously “pursue” (I Timothy 6:11) the things of Christ, we are fighting an offensive war against the powers of evil.

Don’t miss this, folks: as long as we are the PURSUER, we are not the PURSUED. When we are chasing after, wholeheartedly seeking, to know God more and please and serve Him more, two things are happening:

(1) We are attracting the devil’s attention – mediocre Christians don’t concern him, but a passionate pursuit of the Savior puts the devil quaking in his britches! He will send his minions to hinder our progress, but that’s when we must dig in our heels and draw closer to the Savior. If we back off, he will win that battle; but as we keep on drawing nearer to the Lord, the demons are the ones who’ll retreat – they can’t stand to get too close to Jesus!

(2) Our pursuit of the things of God draws us closer to Him, which puts us closer to the “spout” of blessing and deeper into His protective arms. Why settle for the splashed-out “leftovers” from someone else’s blessings when your adoption into the Kingdom gives you the right to go to the well and be filled to overflowing? As we become more like Jesus, we want to be vessels that are continually filled so that we can continually pour out His blessings on others.

Does drawing nearer to God mean we won’t have to deal with the attacks of the devil? Of course not. But we’ll deal with them in the limitless strength of the Savior.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“The next day when they (Jesus and the disciples) came out from Bethany, He was hungry. After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘may no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ And His disciples heard Him. Early in the morning (on a later date), as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up” (Mark 11:12-13, 20, HCSB).

What’s the significance of “the fig tree”? I’m not too up on horticulture, but this is one thing I’m familiar with. On the back of his house, my paternal grandfather built what he called “the wash room,” a glassed-in sunroom of sorts where my grandmother used to hang her clothes to dry. The concrete floor was apparently poured right over the stump of a fig tree and even still today, that tough ol’ tree fights its way up out of the ground at the end wall of the wash room.

In the wintertime, it’s just a bunch of bare sticks. But when the weather begins to warm, tiny knots will begin to develop along those branches. Soon those little nodules will be identifiable as miniature figs; and just as quickly, leaves will sprout around them to cover and protect them – rich green leaves that become bigger than a man’s hand.

You see, unless it’s past growing season – that is, the figs have already been harvested – if you’ve got leaves, you’ve got figs. Unless something is very, very wrong. Did Jesus really need to go and “find out if there was anything on” the tree? Hardly. What He did need to do was pump all the lessons He could into His disciples in the limited time He had left to walk among them in human form.

See, that “fig tree” was a phony. If it “was not the season for figs,” then it wasn’t the season for fig leaves. That tree had the appearance of productivity, but there was no “fruit” with which to back up its appearance.

“The fig tree” represented Israel. In 1948 when Israel once again became a nation, their national flag was emblazoned with a fig tree, although today’s flag features the Star of David. Couple this with Judges 9:11’s description of the fig tree’s “sweetness and… good fruit” (ESV) and we can see the spiritual lesson in what the Lord did. He showed the disciples the fate of the person, the people, or the nation who did not bear “good fruit” for His glory.

Specifically, “the fig tree” represented “religious” Israel - the temple-goers and leaders who were so piously working their way to heaven through adherence to the stringent manmade regulations added onto to God’s instructions. These, Jesus told a parable about in Luke 13.

But did Jesus curse Israel? No. Jesus, after all, came to earth as an Israelite. We read in Romans 11:7 that “Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God” (NLT). Nonetheless, the door is still open, for the Jews and for anyone who is lost, to be saved. Yet the choice still remains for every individual: choose blessing (Jesus), or cursing (reject Him).

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


Same passage, different day: “But don't begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first getting estimates and then checking to see if there is enough money to pay the bills? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of funds. And then how everyone would laugh at you! They would say, ‘there’s the person who started that building and ran out of money before it was finished!’” (Jesus speaking, Luke 14:28-30, NLT).

I want us to think for a moment from Christ’s perspective about “count[ing] the cost.” He, fully God and fully man, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, sickened with dread of the suffering He would endure on the cross. Luke 22:44 tells us that Jesus agonized so deeply that “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

For real? Jesus really sweated “blood”? Yes. The medical term is “hematidrosis.” Jesus’ extreme distress caused the capillaries in the sweat glands of His body to rupture, causing blood to ooze from the pores of His skin.

He could have backed out – He had a choice. And He made it, saying, “O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not what I want but what You want” (Matthew 26:39b, ISV). Philippians 2:8 states that “being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross” (AKJV).

Our Creator looked at His sin-sick creation, “count[ed] the cost,” and considered us worth it. Worth dying for. He didn’t come to earth and then start something He hadn’t fully thought through. He didn’t begin a work that He was unwilling to see to completion.

Jesus was fully aware of “the cost” and, amazingly, loved us enough to complete our redemption. The day He saved you, you began your work as a Kingdom builder. Carry it through to completion. No “cost” is too great when compared with what Jesus did to save you.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him, saying, ‘this man started to build and wasn’t able to finish’” (Jesus speaking, Luke 14:28-30, HCSB).

Jesus has never sugar-coated the fact that following Him comes at a price. Just prior to the parable above, He had told the crowds He was teaching: “If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27, NLT).

Our love for even the closest people in our lives should pale in comparison to our dedication and love for Jesus. Absolutely nothing is to take priority over Him. Why? Because the thing of most supreme value in a person’s life is his god, and Jesus Christ is the Only One who deserves that place of honor.

People often built towers in the middle of their vineyards, lookouts to keep an eye on the crops, and living quarters for the seasons when the landowner would reside there. In those days, you couldn’t depend on MasterCard or Visa to get you set up in your summer residence – you needed to know you had enough funds to complete the entire project. “Otherwise, after [you] laid the foundation and [could not] finish it, all the onlookers [would] begin to make fun of [you], saying, ‘this man [or woman] started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’”

The crowd Jesus was addressing could hear logic in His words that people today have become numb to: know if you’re willing to pay for it before you jump out there and buy it. There’s certainly a valuable lesson here concerning indebtedness, but that’s not really the point of what Jesus is saying. He’s saying, “When it comes to the work of the Kingdom, don’t start what you aren’t willing to finish.”

What do I mean? When I was a young adult, a dear friend said to me after I talked to her about my commitment to Jesus, “Don’t talk to me; show me.” Having seen the on-again, off-again “religious” experiences (which is, at best, all they were) of several of her family members, she didn’t hesitate to let me know that, to her, the proof of Christ in my life would be in my continuing to serve Him in the long haul.

The long haul is what it’s all about, folks. Anybody can be a consistent, faithful follower when the going is easy. But when the times get rough, those who have “calculate[d] (thought it through and understood) the cost” maintain and even grow in their trust of the Master.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“But godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6, NIV).

Paul had just finished cautioning Timothy about getting caught up with “controversies and quarrels” (I Timothy 6:4, NIV) and had warned him that those who stir up these hornets’ nests were people “of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth” so that they “think that godliness is a means to financial gain” (I Timothy 6:5, NIV).

And then he concludes with a truth beyond value: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

If only more believers would grasp this statement. No, there’s nothing wrong with having money, but think of those who are focused on making it: they’re never content. Made a million? Quick! Make another one. When our focus is on worldly gain rather than Godly or spiritual gain, you can’t get, as the Rolling Stones sang truthfully but grammatically incorrectly, no satisfaction.

Can you imagine what our churches would be like if every believer’s primary goal in this life was to seek after godliness? Why, not only would the churches be packed, they’d be overflowing!

The world is constantly watching the people of God’s Kingdom and wanting to know if there’s anything about us that makes us any different. And, sad but true, a lot of the time they see that professing believers are living no differently than the lost.

Why? Because we refuse to be content. We refuse to get our minds and eyes off the things of this world and onto the Kingdom. Let’s bring it down to the brass tacks here, okay? How much of your time this day have you already spent in discontentment? Did you drive to work? Did you grumble about what you were driving? How about the traffic? Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, how many things have already crossed your mind or left your lips that registered discontentment? For most of us, the list gets long in a hurry.

But it doesn’t have to. If we can, like Paul, choose “to be content in whatever circumstances” (Philippians 4:11, NASB) we find ourselves, how many people in your family would be stunned by the difference in your attitude? How many lost people in your family would begin to see there truly is transformation?

If you need to make that adjustment – I know I do, umpteen times a day – consider first asking God to forgive you for being such a sourpuss representative. Then apologize to your family – especially the lost ones – and tell them that Jesus has made all the difference in your life and that you’re sorry you’ve hidden His light beneath a bushel of grumbling.

And here’s where the rubber meets the road: ask them to hold you accountable. Ouch! Yes, some will use it to gleefully chastise you, but forget their intentions, hear what they have to say, and allow the Holy Spirit to keep cleansing, filling, and being your contentment. Your “great gain” will not only be in a more peaceful household – it may very well be in more souls in the Kingdom of Jesus.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Now he brought me back to the entrance to the Temple. I saw water pouring out from under the Temple porch to the east (the Temple faced east). The water poured from the south side of the Temple, south of the altar. He then took me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the gate complex on the east. The water was gushing from under the south front of the Temple. He walked to the east with a measuring tape and measured off fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet, leading me through water waist-deep. He measured off another fifteen hundred feet. By now it was a river over my head, water to swim in, water no one could possibly walk through” (Ezekiel 47:1-5, The Message).

“…leading me through water that was ankle-deep.”

“…leading me through water that was knee-deep.”

“…leading me through water waist-deep.”

“By now it was a river over my head, water to swim in, water no one could possibly walk through.”

People of God, I wish I could camp out for a solid week on this passage. Please spend some time reflecting on these five verses. And as you do, consider these thoughts: (1) Christ does the leading. And the longer and closer you follow, the deeper in love with Him you’ll become and the deeper your walk with Him will become. Think about it this way: how long can even a good swimmer keep swimming? Not long at all – days at best. When we’re over our heads deeply in love with the Savior, we realize we have to surrender to Him and to trust Him to do what we can’t do; to support us when we don’t have the strength to keep on. We have to reach the point where we know that we can’t do anything in our own strength and that we can do everything in His. (2) Even when life takes you to that which is overwhelming sorrows – “over [your] head” “no one could possibly walk through” – He’s leading. And He’s with you. And the God of the Impossible makes all things possible, including making it through those deepest darkest stormiest waters.

“He leadeth me, He leadeth me;
By His own hand, He leadeth me.
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

(words: Joseph H. Gilmore, 1862; music, William B. Bradley, 1864)

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’ Jesus responded, ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’ Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. ‘Who is this man?’ they asked. ‘Even the winds and waves obey Him!’” (Matthew 8:23-27, NLT).

“That evening, Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Let’s cross to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus along in a boat just as He was. Other boats were with Him. A violent windstorm came up. The waves were breaking into the boat so that it was quickly filling up. But He was sleeping on a cushion in the back of the boat. So they woke Him up and said to Him, ‘Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to die?’ Then He got up, ordered the wind to stop, and said to the sea, ‘Be still, absolutely still!’ The wind stopped blowing, and the sea became very calm. He asked them, ‘Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith yet?’ They were overcome with fear and asked each other, ‘Who is this man? Even the wind and the sea obey Him!’ (Mark 4:35-41, God’s Word).

This passage from Mark 4 is one of my favorites. In it Jesus tells His followers, “Let’s cross to the other side.” So here they go, obeying the Lord and what happens? Even with Jesus right there with them, they find themselves in a storm.

That’s life, folks. Even with Jesus with you, you sometimes find yourself in a storm. But the great thing is you’re not alone – He’s with you. And He’s even placed other believers around you who are going or have gone through tough experiences of their own and can now tell you how the Lord took care of them.

In today’s passage, we see Jesus calm the storm. Yet in John 6, Mark 6, and Matthew 14 we see Jesus coming to His followers THROUGH the storm. Sometimes our greatest troubles or sorrows are the times when Christ seems the nearest. Why is that? Because these are the times when we’ve given up dependence on all but Him.

Believers, we’re all headed for “the other side.” Trust Jesus to go with you and take you to your eternal destination.

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“Jesus called [His disciples] together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45, NLT).

“But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon His glorious throne” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 19:30, 28a).

Developing a servant mentality requires going against everything this world teaches. While commercials, articles, books, and many motivational speakers – including some so-called preachers – tell us we’re to be successful; have whatever we want; drive the best cars; live in the finest houses; and blow others out of the water with our accumulation of material possessions; Jesus said the exact opposite.

In many Native American cultures, it’s considered a disgrace to have more than any other of your family members, including very extended family. Likewise in Jesus’ teaching. We’re not to flaunt what we have. In fact, we aren’t to even accumulate stuff to the point of ridiculous abundance. Yes, meet your needs. Yes, fulfill a few wants. But stop obsessing on having more stuff and start looking at how you can live on less and do more for others; because until you start thinking like that, you aren’t like Jesus.

Having spoken in a lot of churches and attended seminary, I’ve become acquainted with a lot of pastors and I’ve learned that the truly great ones are the truly humble ones. They don’t let their “success” in the ministry turn them into religious snobs. They don’t use their success to pile up material wealth but to launch new ministries and quietly behind-the-scenes bless countless people.

If you’re struggling financially, hang in there; wisely manage what God’s entrusted to you; and trust Him to provide. If you’re doing well financially, be an equally wise manager and use that excess to help your brothers and sisters in the faith and to reach those who don’t yet know Jesus.

“But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.”

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


“It’s like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don’t want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch” (Jesus speaking, Mark 13:34-37, The Message).

After Jesus was crucified, He appeared to His disciples, blessed them and gave them the Great Commission. Afterwards, “He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19b, NIV). Jesus represented Himself as the “man who takes a trip” in the Mark 13 passage. Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh, returned to heaven and left His followers, His servants, “in charge, each assigned a task.”

The day you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior was the day you were called into service. And service, by the way, isn’t what you sit through on Sunday morning – it’s what you do with your life every day.

What did Jesus leave? Most translations say “home,” which is a poor translation of the actual word He used. A more appropriate wording would be “leaving His family.” The God-Man Jesus Christ left His family to return to His Father and to “go and prepare a place for [us] (John 14:3, NASB). And He left us, His family, “in charge” with specific assignments for each one of us.

He also commanded “the gatekeeper to stand watch.” Who is this referring to? Certainly to pastors and evangelists, but to all Christian leaders. The more we know, the more accountability we have to share the Good News and warn the lost that the time to repent is before Christ’s return.

“You don’t want him showing up unannounced,” do you? Your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbors and every person God places in your pathway needs to know that Jesus is coming back for His Bride, the church. Are you telling them?

Don’t be “asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates