The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

“Don’t see why not,” he smiles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

(Psalm 150, NLT).

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Another passage my pastor touched on last Sunday was Daniel 6:10: “But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God” (NLT).

Daniel, having heard about the new decree that made it illegal to pray to any “god” other than King Darius, Daniel “… knelt down …” and “… prayed three times a day, just as he had always done …” Even though the penalty for disobedience was death, as far as Daniel was concerned, nothing had changed.

Daniel held the same mindset as did Peter and the other apostles when they were told by the Jewish religious leaders to stop preaching about Jesus: “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29b).

Unless we get serious about our faith in Christ, we’re headed toward a godless world who is already critical and negative toward all things Christian. Is that going to stop you from serving the Lord, or will you, like Daniel, Peter, and the other apostles, obey God rather than any human authority”?

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17:5, NIV). Ask the Lord to do this for you.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath …” (Luke 4:16a, NLT).

No one ever poured more heart and work and love into 33 short years than did our Lord Jesus. And yet, guess what? Jesus never skipped church. As our passage today tells us, “… he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath …” Did you get that? “… as usual …” So should we.

I’m not going to debate the Saturday/Sunday issue as far as the Sabbath goes, but I will say that the traditional Jewish Sabbath was from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Most Christians chose Sunday as their Sabbath day because it was the day on which the Lord arose from the grave after his crucifixion. So if you’ve ever wondered about why there’s a difference, there’s your answer.

The important thing is to set aside a time of worship. If you can become bitter or angry or resentful over someone who doesn’t do that the same way you do, you’re the one with the problem. True Christians should embrace each other in love and set aside the differences.

The lake, the beach, or the golf course isn’t your place of worship. Your local church body is. And if you’re vacationing, don’t take a vacation from church. Find a church and worship with a body of believers. Larry and I have met some of the nicest folks as we’ve traveled. Remember, too, you’re showing your kids and grandkids that attending worship is a privilege important enough to keep up no matter where you are.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people bear Your name” (Daniel 9:19, BSB).

My pastor spoke on Daniel 9 last Sunday and, I believe, made a huge impact on everyone who heard his sermon. If we want to see our world looking to Jesus, we have to start with ourselves. We have to ask forgiveness: “O Lord, forgive!” It’s past time for dabbling at being a Christian. It’s time to say with Joshua, “… choose you this day whom ye will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15b, KJV).

According to a pre-Covid study reported in 2020 by “Now, just one in four Americans (25%) is a practicing Christian.” Meaning? “Practicing Christians identify as Christian, agree strongly that faith is very important in their lives and have attended church within the past month.” This survey was done, as I said, prior to Covid. The study went on to say: “In 2000, 45 percent of all those sampled qualified as practicing Christians. That share has consistently declined over the last 19 years.” From 45 percent to 25 percent "practicing Christians" in only 19 years.

Do your part to stop the decline. Go to church. Invite others. Pray for an awakening, and pray, as the refrain to a great old hymn says, “O Lord, send a revival! And let it begin in me.”

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“…we are not presenting our petitions before You because of our righteous acts, but because of Your great compassion” (Daniel 9:18b, BSB).

Have you ever stopped to simply think how incredible it is that the God of the Universe allows us to talk to him? And that he actually listens when we do? When Daniel prayed for Jerusalem, he spoke the words into today’s passage, and he said what we all need to be reminded of: “…we are not presenting our petitions before You because of our righteous acts, but because of Your great compassion.”

God owes us nothing. We owe him everything. And yet, despite our constant mess-ups, he keeps loving us and calling us his very own, as well as forgiving us when we confess our wrongdoing.

God’s compassion is beyond our comprehension. He loved us “While we were still sinners …” (Romans 5:8b). And that love was so immense that he, in the form of Christ Jesus, “… died for us” (Romans 5:8c).

If you consider yourself a Christian, it’s high time to get serious about your faith. This ol’ world is teetering on the brink of disaster, and the Only One who has the power to delay its demise is its Creator. Pray for greater faith. Pray for a bolder witness. Pray for God’s “great compassion” to be poured out on his children as we “… seek His face …” (Psalm 105:4b).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:6, NLT).

Paul begins by saying: Let your conversation be gracious …” Jesus never fussed at unbelievers. He simply loved them into his Kingdom. His harsh words were for those holier-than-thous who thought they were the be-all and end-all of the Jewish faith. We aren’t to talk down to, or look down on, anyone. We aren’t to pick fights or speak in ways that deliberately provoke people who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior. We aren’t to be argumentative, period. If you can calmly discuss differences, have at it. But don’t argue. Agree to disagree. Don’t cause a door of opportunity to be closed to you.

And may I add to anyone who is responsible for posting signs outside their church: please don’t post condemning or negative messages. As I’ve already stated, that’s not how Jesus reached out to unbelievers, and that’s not how we’re to do it, either. “If you think it’s hot here …,” a sign I’ve often seen during summer, is not inviting. It’s condemning. Be like Jesus. Love people into your church doors. If you’re part of church that posts negative signs, graciously speak up and ask that the sign be changed to a more positive message.

Our conversation should also be “attractive.” Consciously seek to bring the name of Jesus into your conversations, and do so in a way that builds him up and lets others know that he is loving, forgiving, and faithful.

Lastly, Paul says the reason our conversation should “be gracious and attractive” is so that we'll have “… the right response …” About what? Every opportunity we get to point another person to Jesus. Every opportunity we get to tell someone about the hope they can find in him. This world is searching for answers, and if you know Jesus, you have the Answer within you. Pray for opportunities to share him with others.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5, NLT).

Until you reach heaven, you’re going to have unbelievers around you. So what does Paul mean when he says we’re to “Live wisely among” them? Be consistent in your faith. Be kind to everyone. Yes, some unbelievers will intentionally seek to provoke you. Don’t take the bait. And don’t try to fit in, either. Be yourself, and make that the best example of a believer in Jesus Christ that you can possible make it.

Another way we can “Live wisely among those who are not believers …” is by praying for wisdom as to how to reach these people with the love of Jesus. Which brings us to the last part of today’s passage: “… make the most of every opportunity.” You may never have another opportunity to speak words of hope and comfort and encouragement to that person.

Years ago, I worked with a very athletic young man named Mark. Whenever he came into the office, he and I would chat and, many times, I would urge him to visit my church and check out the men’s basketball program. Eventually, he did, and the prayers and influence of the men in the program clearly had a profound effect on Mark’s life. We never had the opportunity to have another conversation, and only a few weeks later, he tragically fell from a building under construction. I truly believe Mark’s last breath on earth was followed by his first breath in heaven.

Life is unpredictable. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. And that’s exactly why it’s so important to “… make the most of every opportunity.”

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart” (Colossians 4:2, NLT).

Here’s a short verse with a lot of great lessons. First, Paul says we’re to devote ourselves to prayer. And look at First Thessalonians 4:19, which tells us we’re to “Pray without ceasing” (KJV). Meaning what? Become a cloistered nun or monk and do nothing but pray? No, not unless God specifically calls you to do that. But all believers are to train themselves to be constantly in a state of prayer. Yes, take time out to pray in a quiet, private setting, but also pray throughout the day as people and situations pop into your mind, heart, and spirit. The more you practice this, the more you’ll find yourself instinctively praying while you’re driving, cooking, working, cleaning house, or whatever.

Which brings us to “… with an alert mind.” Be aware of the needs around you, and be careful not to get into a routine of praying the same things over and over to the point you’re merely going through the motions. Be aware of the power of prayer. Be aware of the enemy’s desire to hinder both your prayers and the answers to your prayers. Pray like your own life or someone else’s depends on it, because either or both just might be that close to tragedy or danger.

Lastly, Paul says to pray with “… a thankful heart.” How dare we pour out our requests to our Lord and Savior without having the trust and gratitude to thank Him for what He’s already done, is doing, and is going to do on our behalves! Pray throughout the day, but also set aside a time for extended prayer, and make sure that’s more than a list of requests. Always include praise, confession, and thankfulness.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Yesterday we looked at Paul’s teachings concerning how wives were to behave. Today we’re taking a look at what he says about the husbands: Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly” (Colossians 3:19, NLT).

Two things to note first: Husbands are to love their wives. A person who truly loves you will look out for you, seek your best interest, make you a priority in their life. Sure, a lot of guys enjoy sports, but they’re not to love the sports – they’re to love their wives. Don’t put a hobby or a job ahead of your wife.

Secondly, husbands are never to treat their wives harshly. Don’t put your wife down. Don’t verbally abuse her. Don’t physically abuse her. Treat her with respect and dignity.

Couple today’s passage with what First Peter 3:7 has to teach us: “…husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.”

Did you get that, husbands? She is “your equal partner” in the eyes of God. And the last sentence in First Peter 3:7 sums it up: “Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.You cannot dishonor your wife and expect the Lord to honor your prayers. Seek to be a loving, respectful husband and man of God.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


A tough verse for a lot of us females is Colossians 3:18: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord” (NLT). Sounds like we’re to allow our husbands to boss us around like slaves, doesn’t it? But that’s not at all what this says. Look at the CEV translation: “A wife must put her husband first. This is her duty as a follower of the Lord.”

Wives aren’t to cower in fear of their husbands. But they’re also not to act as though a husband’s priority is to kowtow to his wife’s every whim. When God created Eve, He said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18b, KJV). The phrase “help meet” is understandable. It means an equal. Not a servant. Not a lesser version of a man. An equal.

Years ago we took a day trip with a couple we didn’t know very well. It was our first and last outing with them. We rode in the other couple’s car and the husband drove while the wife instructed him on every move, chose where we were to eat, “corrected” her husband’s lunch order to something she said he’d like better, and complained about his driving and most of the statements that came out of his mouth throughout our journey. When we arrived home, we were exhausted from biting our tongues and overwhelmed by the husband’s tolerance of his wife’s behavior. And from what you’ve just read, you have a good idea of what we thought of that woman.

Wife, your calling is to help and encourage your husband. Don’t belittle him; build him up – he’s not the one who looks bad when you tear him down. And don’t go off on him when you’re angry. Pray, wait until you calm down, and then try to talk about any point of disagreement. Proverbs 15:1b reminds us: “…harsh words make tempers flare” (NLT). Swallow your harsh words and seek to settle differences peaceably.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus …” (Colossians 3:17a, NIV).

We’ve been looking at verses from Colossians 3 for the past several days. I hope you’ll go back and look at the previous days if you haven’t already read them.

Larry used to play slow pitch softball. His team was really good and he played in a lot of major tournaments. At one, we were sitting on the bleachers eating a light snack before their next game when he spotted a guy he recognized from our former church. Larry hopped from the bleachers and started over to say hello.

But before Larry reached the guy, he heard the conversation. That guy was using some of the foulest language Larry had ever heard. Larry beat a hasty retreat back to the bleachers.

The guy we’d known from church was nothing like the guy Larry had seen at the ball field. And yet, what does our verse for today tell us? “… whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.” We’re aren’t to have a church face and a social face. We’re to be consistent. And we’re to respectfully and honorably represent our Savior.

Whether you’re at home, at work, or out in public, be the same person your pastor sees on Sunday. Never be the excuse someone uses for putting down Christians.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:15, NIV).

If you haven’t read the verses I posted the past three days, go back and check those out because this is the verse that follows those. And I plan to keep going with this passage.

Today’s passage is loaded! First, Paul says we are to “… let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” When it comes right down to it, the peace of God is the only real peace. Yes, we can experience peace when things are going along smoothly, but it takes the supernatural peace of the Savior to calm us and keep us unruffled when things aren’t going the way we’d hope. I guess the best way I can express my personal experience with God’s peace is that it’s the peace that makes it possible to cope in the toughest of times.

But Paul’s not through hammering on this peace thing. He says “… as members of one body you are called to live in peace.” Did you get that? “Called.” When you accepted Christ’s call to salvation, you became a member of His body, the church. And that, my friend, makes you “… called to live in peace.” A true believer won’t be constantly bickering. We are to be the peacemakers, not the troublemakers.

Lastly in this passage, Paul says, “… always be thankful.” No matter what sort of rough patch you may be hitting right now, if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have a home in heaven awaiting you. And that’s a heap to be thankful for.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:15, NIV).

If you haven’t read the verses I posted the past two days, go back and check those out because this is the verse that follows those. And I plan to keep going with this passage.

We English speakers lose so much in the translation of Bible passages. While we have one word for “love,” other languages have many, and in this instance, the word “love” is actually the word “agape,” meaning the all-encompassing love of God. We’re to wrap ourselves in that kind of love and attitude toward others.

And the result? It “binds us all together in perfect harmony.” How does that happen? When we seek to love as God loves, we put the welfare and feelings of other people ahead of ourselves. And that attitude, my friends, requires supernatural power, power we only receive through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

We humans are born selfish. We’re born with a sinful nature. And only rebirth through faith in Jesus Christ changes that. Have you been born again? If so, you have the capacity to love like Jesus. You have the capacity to maintain harmony with the people around you. But just like a 20-ounce glass, what it will hold and what you choose to put in it may be entirely different amounts. Sincerely pray to develop more Christ-like agape love. Sincerely pray to be a person who seeks harmony. The Holy Spirit will help you.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13, NIV).

If you didn’t read the verse I posted yesterday, go back and check it out because this is the verse that follows it. And I plan to keep going with this passage for at least another day or two.

As believers in Jesus Christ, our sin-debt has been paid by the One and Only Righteous and Holy God, Jesus Christ. And because of all He has forgiveness us, He expects us to “Bear with each other,” meaning, as the NLT words it, “Make allowances for each other’s faults.” As shocking as it may seem, we may have quirks or habits that are just as irritating as the ones we find so intolerable in other people. We need to cut those folks some slack, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll do the same for us.

Then there’s the biggie: “forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.” Notice Paul doesn’t say to forgive them after they’ve fallen at our feet and groveled. He doesn’t even say they’ve asked or deserve forgiveness. What he does say is, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

And how did the Lord forgive us? When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:6). He loved us enough to die for us before we even knew Him. He loved us knowing every sin we’d ever committed. And if He can forgive us like that, we need to work very hard at being more forgiving of others.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, NIV).

There’s so much we can learn from this one little verse. First of all, everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ’s free offer of salvation is one of “God’s chosen people.” Secondly, that status makes you “holy and dearly loved.” Which means, as a member of God’s family, you’re obligated to behave in a manner that honors your Father. And just how is that?

You have to wear the right clothing. You notice what people wear, don’t you? And we’re to be wearing that which identifies us as members of the body of Christ. We’re to wear “compassion,” caring about the needs of others through our presence, words, and deeds. And we’re to demonstrate “kindness,” which, like compassion, can only be shown by action.

We’re also to be humble (“humility”), not being puffed up about what we have or the good deeds we perform. Then there’s “gentleness,” a trait I need more of, and, I suspect some other folks do, too. And lastly, there’s that really tough one: “patience.” I don’t know about you, but that’s another hard one for me. Ask the Lord to help you develop the traits, or virtues (as the NIV labels them) you’re short on, because if we wear these like a garment, they’ll be the things people see when they see us. And that, in turn, will help them see and know the love of Jesus.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the Lord said to Moses, ‘Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.’ So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the Lord swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers – the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived. But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides” (Exodus 14:26-29, NLT).

Never doubt that God is still in the miracle business. We may not see literal waters parted for our deliverance, but His hand still works to deliver His people. Does He always? No, not when it comes to earthly deliverance. His way of doing things doesn’t always jive with the way we think things should be done or should turn out – read Isaiah 55:8. But still today He sometimes chooses to intervene in miraculous ways.

But what exactly constitutes a miracle? It’s far more than just the parting of the Red Sea. If you’ve never seen this news report, please take a moment to look at this brief video about a 92-year-old woman’s deliverance from a would-be mugger:

God is faithful and He loves you.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Mary and Elizabeth, the mothers of Jesus and John the Baptist, were related – see Luke 1:36. Jesus and John likely grew up spending time together. They were close. So when John the Baptist was imprisoned and subsequently beheaded, “John’s disciples … told Jesus what had happened” (Matthew 14:12, NLT).

Can you imagine the hurt Jesus felt? The very next verse gives us some idea: “As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone” (Matthew 14:13a). Jesus was in pain. He was going through a terrible time. So what happened? “…the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns” (Matthew 14:13b).

And Jesus told them he couldn’t deal with their problems right then because he was having too much of a struggle with his own, right? Wrong. “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them …” (Matthew 14:14a). Jesus set aside his own hurt in order to help others with theirs.

We all have our down times. We all have times when we simply want to be by ourselves. But sometimes, God places needs in front of us that take precedent over that need for alone time. And ministering to that need puts our focus on something besides our own problems. It eases our own hurt as we help to alleviate the pain someone else is experiencing.

Pray for a more compassionate spirit. This ol’ world needs a ton of it.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


In Matthew 20 we read about two blind men sitting beside the road to Jericho. When they heard Jesus passing by, they began to call to him. And the other people swarming around Jesus really showed their compassion, didn’t they? Turning toward the blind men, The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet” (Matthew 20:31a, NIV).

But how did Jesus respond? “Jesus had compassion on them” (Matthew 20:34a). And just as he had done with the leper we read about yesterday, Jesus did the unthinkable: he “touched their eyes” (Matthew 20:34b).

And then what happened? “Immediately they received their sight” (Matthew 20:34c). And they “followed him” (Matthew 20:34d).

Compassion is contagious. These men, realizing the great compassion Jesus had shown them, immediately became his followers. When I think of my pre-Jesus, sin-sick self, I am astounded at the compassion shown me by my loving Savior. How can I not, in turn, show compassion to others? And if Jesus has shown you compassion, you, too, are obligated to be compassionate toward others.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


A person with leprosy was shunned by all society. Matter of fact, it was against the law for a leper to mingle with non-lepers. But on this occasion, one leper had so much faith in Jesus’ willingness to help him that he … came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed” (Mark 1:40a, NLT). And how did Jesus respond?

“Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him” and “Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed” (Mark 1:41a, 42). Did Jesus need to touch that man in order to heal him? Certainly not. He healed the centurion’s servant without ever going near him – see Luke 7. So why did Jesus touch him? To show compassion. To show that he was a man whom Jesus loved. To the Savior, that man wasn’t a leper. He was simply a man who suffered from leprosy.

So what’s our takeaway from all this? We also aren’t to define people by their problems. He’s not a drunk. No, he’s a man with a drinking problem. She’s not a junkie. No, she’s a woman with a drug problem. When we consciously separate the person from the problem, it’s much easier to see them as Jesus sees them. And that makes them much easier to love as Jesus loves them.

Christian, compassion isn’t optional. It is evidence of your membership in the body of Christ.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


What is compassion? It’s being aware of another person’s distress or problem and wanting to do something about it. You can feel sorry for someone all day long, but until you do or say something to help that hurting person, you haven’t shown one ounce of compassion.

Jesus Christ’s compassion, his love for mankind, led him to the cross. He cared so much for sinful man that he was willing to pay the sin-debt we couldn’t pay for ourselves.

In just a quick scan of the Scriptures, I found 30 verses speaking of God’s compassion. One of those passages is when Jesus and his disciples arrived in the village of Nain and met a funeral procession for a widow’s son. Luke 7:13a tells us, “When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion” (NLT).

Did you get that? “… overflowed …” He didn’t merely pass by and say, “Oh, bless her heart.” His heart hurt because hers did. So he took action. He raised her son to life and “… gave him back to his mother” (Luke 7:15b).

If we’re following in the footsteps of Jesus, we’re going to have compassion. We’re going to grow in compassion. And, like Jesus, we’re going to perform acts of compassion. Who do you know who’s hurting? Who do you know who’s going through a rough patch? Go to them and show them compassion.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago…. don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us” (1 Corinthians 10:1, 10-11b, NLT).

Aren’t you glad we live in the age of grace! It’s not likely that any of us will be struck by the angel of death for complaining, but the fact remains that grumbling isn’t pleasing to God. It expresses dissatisfaction. It expresses a sour attitude. It expresses an unpleasant personality. And like yesterday’s worriers, grumblers are people most folks prefer to avoid.

Like worrying, grumbling can become a nasty habit. Listen to the words you speak. Are they critical? Are they ungrateful? If you’re a grumbler, ask the Lord to forgive you. Choose to speak words that bless others and transform you into a more pleasant person to spend time with.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 6:27, NIV).

Worrying is a nasty habit. Yes, we all have times when we worry, but some of us have become so accustomed to worrying that they’ve allowed it to become a part of their daily lifestyle. And guess what? Nobody likes being around someone who’s constantly worried.

More importantly, you can’t have your faith truly in Jesus Christ and then worry all the time. Worry comes from the enemy. How do I know this? Because it robs you of the joy that could be yours during the time you’re spending worrying.

If you’re a worrier, confess it to the Lord. Ask Him to take that nasty habit away from you. And every time that little worry bug starts nudging you, rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Life has enough difficulties without worrying about the what-ifs and the maybes.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy” (Leo Buscaglia).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


Life has a way of throwing us some real curves. And some days it seems like those “surprises” are more than we can handle. Which is why you and I need a Lifeline, whose name is Jesus.

When the apostle Peter, in faith, stepped out of the boat, he walked on water! But when he took his eyes off the Savior and looked at the storm around him, he began to sink. And what happened? “Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him” (Matthew 14:31a, NLT).

Our Lord can be depended on. Have faith. Trust Him to go with you and watch over you as you face life’s expected and unexpected challenges. He is faithful.

Copyright 2021

Judy Woodward Bates


We spend an awful lot of time trying to impress other people, don't we? But look what the word of God has to say: “Don’t worry about making a good impression” (Colossians 3:12b, Living Bible).

No matter whom we “catch up with” socially or financially, there will always be someone else ahead of us. And even if we achieved every success in these areas, this fulfillment would be a hollow victory at best.

As children of the Living God, we are to seek God above all else. We are to spend our time telling others about Him, living out a Christ-like lifestyle before them, and, like Jesus, “regard one another as more important than” ourselves (Philippians 2:3b, NASB).

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates


“... Mary has made the right choice ...” (Jesus speaking, Luke 10:42, HCSB). In Luke 10 we read about one of Jesus’ visits to the home of His friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  While Mary bustled around polishing silverware, putting together floral arrangements, and laying out placemats and place cards, Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to His teaching.

Martha, upset because she had been left to do all the work alone, interrupted the lesson, saying, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand” (verse 40). Stressed out over the little things, Martha failed to see the biggest thing of all: an opportunity to sit at the feet of the Master.

Most of the time, when we feel overwhelmed, we have options. I wish I knew who to credit with this wonderful quotation, but I believe these are great words to live by: “The reason most major goals are not achieved is that we spend our time doing second things first.” I have a feeling that, had Martha sat and listened, a Teacher radical enough to wash feet and allow women to learn from Him would have had no problem offering to help with the meal preparation.

Don’t miss out on what’s important by focusing on secondary issues.

Copyright 2021
Judy Woodward Bates