The Bargainomics Lady 

Judy Woodward Bates

BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 19


“Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:4, NIV).


“I look in the mirror and see an old man, but I feel like the same young one inside.” That’s what my Daddy told me when he was in his seventies. Now that I’ve hit my 60s, I understand what he meant. Inside, I still feel like the same “me,” but the outside is drastically changing! Life truly is short and we don’t get a “do-over” on a single solitary day. The Bible reminds us over and over to remember this.


“For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14, NKJV).


“Teach us to realize the brevity of life…” (Psalm 90:12a, NLT).


“…my days are but a breath” (Job 7:16b, NASB).


“Remember how short my time is…” (Psalm 89:47a, AKJV).


“Human life is as short-lived as grass…” (Psalm 103:15a, God’s Word).


“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is” (Psalm 39:4, NLT).


I remember thinking about all this when, several years ago, I learned that an 18-year-old member of our family died in a car wreck, just months before her high school graduation and only weeks after learning she’d received a full scholarship to a Missouri university near her home. It’s impossible to make sense of such a tragedy, and yet it’s a very real reminder of what “a fleeting shadow” any person’s time is on this planet.


All of us should be prepared to be called home at any moment. And my prayer is that everyone reading this knows without a doubt that “home” is heaven. How does a person prepare for heaven? By accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and by then living out a life that exemplifies the reality of His Presence.


If you knew today was your last day on earth, how would you spend it? Live every day as if it was and you’ll make an enormous difference for the Kingdom.


“One day at a time – this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.” (Ida Scott Taylor)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 18

“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You” (Psalm 143:8a, NIV).


“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love…” How wonderful to wake up every day fully aware of how much God loves you! After all, what did Paul write to the church of Ephesus concerning the love of Jesus Christ? “…may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is” (Ephesians 3:18, NLT).


Christians shouldn’t wake up depressed or distressed; they should wake up knowing they are wrapped in God’s “unfailing love.” And how can we can be assured of this? By doing exactly what Psalm 143:8 says: by putting our trust in Him.


You hop into the shower and turn on the water. Do you first stand there worrying about whether or not the water will come on? Do you worry about whether or not the water will heat up? No, you do this every day. You know exactly what’s going to happen, and you don’t worry about it at all. Do you hop in your own car wondering whether or not the accelerator will work? Or the brakes? No, you don’t give it a thought – these things work.


So why have doubts about the One who is absolutely “unfailing”? Because you’re listening to the enemy instead of the voice of your Heavenly Father. Child of God, the Lord has placed His Holy Spirit within you. Listen to Him. He’s telling you how loved and valuable you are.


“To fall in love with God is the greatest of all romances; To seek Him, the greatest adventure; To find Him, the greatest human achievement” (Augustine).


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 17


“I pour out my complaints before Him and tell Him all my troubles” (Psalm 142:2, NLT).


Everyone complains at times; but why do we do it? We want someone to sympathize with or pity us or we want someone to help us with whatever the problem is. Unfortunately, some have developed such a habit of pouring out their complaints to any and all who are within earshot that people head for the hills whenever they see that habitual complainer coming.


A few days ago we looked at a passage about tears, and I said that we can cry until our eyes are dry, but unless we’re also crying out to Jesus, we’re only expressing distress – we’re not doing anything that can alleviate our misery. Likewise with complaining. Before we complain to everyone else about all our troubles, we need to tell them to the One who can do something about them.


And in most instances, Jesus is the only one who needs to know about our problem. In all instances, He should be the first one we tell our troubles to. I find it interesting that in two of the great old hymns of the faith, the writers were led to use the phrase “Jesus alone”:


“You’ve no other such a friend or brother; Tell it to Jesus alone.” (“Tell It to Jesus,” Edmund S. Lorenz, 1876)


“I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! I cannot bear my burdens alone; I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.” (“I Must Tell Jesus,” Elisha A. Hoffman, 1893)


Don’t dump your baggage on others until you’re first talked your troubles over with the Lord. Because when we leave our burdens with Him, we no longer carry them and no longer need to share them with anyone else.


Especially when it comes to very personal issues, pray fervently and remember yesterday’s caution about guarding your mouth and lips; you can’t “untell” what you share with another person, and not all people can or should be trusted with confidential information.


“If Christians spent as much time praying as grumbling, they would soon have nothing to grumble about.” (author unknown)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 16

“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, NIV).


In this passage, we see a prayer for double protection – for the “mouth” and also for the “lips.” Why both? It has to form in your mouth to get to your lips. The psalmist asks the Lord to “Set a guard over [his] mouth” so that evil thoughts are stopped before they get that far; and as a second line of defense, he asks for the Lord to “watch over the door of [his] lips” so that, should evil make it to his mouth, it won’t make it out his lips.


Wouldn’t we have a much sweeter world, home, workplace, school, and church if we would all start our day with this passage as our prayer? How many hurt feelings, disagreements, and problems would be prevented!


A person who fails to discipline his thought life is easily identifiable by what comes out of his mouth. As James 3:6b says of the tongue: “It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell” (God’s Word). Strong words, but true. A sweet-spirited person won’t have an evil tongue. A sweet-spirited person weighs his thoughts before allowing them into his mouth, let alone out his lips.


Which is precisely why Jesus said in Matthew 12:34b: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (NIV). Ever met someone who has something negative to say about everyone and every situation? Instead of becoming angry or confrontational with this sort of person, recognize him for what he is: an unhappy, negative-minded sourpuss who wants everyone else to be as miserable as he (or she) is; and pray for him. Because as much misery as he may bring to those around him, the misery within him is far, far greater.


The world is full of people ready and willing to offer words of criticism and unkindness. Pray the prayer of the psalmist and refuse to add to the negative messages already out there. Be a person who brings Good News.


“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3, NIV).


“How beautiful… are the feet of him who brings good news” (Isaiah 52:7a, World English Bible).


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 15

“Though the Lord is great, He cares for the humble, but He keeps His distance from the proud” (Psalm 138:6, NLT).


What does it mean to be “humble”? To be modest; not to be prideful or arrogant.


To be prideful or arrogant is to put on the air of or to believe oneself to be of superior importance. There’s no room for that kind of attitude in the Kingdom of God. After all, what did Jesus teach?


“Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last” (Luke 13:30, NIV). We don’t look at people the way Jesus does. The Bible plainly tells us that “God does not see as humans see. Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart” (I Samuel 16:7, God’s Word).


A genuine, humble attitude honors God and makes a person more like Jesus. Jesus came to us as the Suffering Servant, giving His life in love and service to others. He calls us to do likewise, reminding us in Luke 6:31 to “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (NASB). Obeying this command requires humility.


What about “the proud” ? Pride is a wall between a person and God. The Scripture says God “keeps His distance from the proud,” but don’t misunderstand this. God doesn’t distance Himself from the prideful; He simply doesn’t go where He isn’t welcome.


Can a person be truly saved and still be prideful? Only if they want to learn humility the hard way. My Bible tells me that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6b and I Peter 5:5b, NASB). And let’s not forget Proverbs 16:18: “Pride precedes a disaster, and an arrogant attitude precedes a fall” (God’s Word).


Pride, my friends, will hinder your relationship with God and with others. And sooner or later, it will get you into big trouble. Choose humility – it will draw you closer to Jesus.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 14

See how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1, God’s Word).


Do “brothers and sisters live together in harmony”? If you have kids at home, you know that isn’t happening! Which makes the first point of today’s passage: Why aren’t those siblings getting along? Because they’re kids.


Grownups, on the other hand, are supposed to be mature enough to get along. But do we? Whether we’re talking biological “brothers and sisters” or “brothers and sisters” in the faith, there are always infants in adult-sized bodies who want to hold onto every hurt and refuse to go along with anything that isn’t done the way they want it to be.


What do you do with people like this? Love them. Pray for them. And avoid them if that’s what it takes to keep “harmony.” As I’ve said many times, it takes two to argue; if one person is mature enough to walk away, there’s no one left to argue with.


Jesus taught in Luke 6:37b: “…forgive, and you will be forgiven” (ESV). No one can afford the terrible price of unforgiveness. If you are holding any kind of grudge against anyone, it’s time to let it go – your unforgiveness is a stumbling block to others and a hindrance to your own prayers.


You cannot harbor ill will and be an effective worker for the Kingdom. You can, however, do a great deal of work for the enemy. Determine in your heart, mind, and spirit to be a peacemaker and peacekeeper.


Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Jesus speaking, Matthew 5:9, King James Bible, Cambridge Edition).


“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
(St. Francis of Assisi)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 13

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:3-4a, NIV).


What God forgives, He forgets. How do I know this? His Word tells me: He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12, NLT). How far east can you go before you begin going west? How far west can you go before you begin going east? God’s Word clearly shows us that when Jesus Christ removes our sins, it is impossible to retrieve them – they are gone forever.


Matter of fact, you could bring them up yourself and all He’d have to say is, “What sin?” How do I know this is true? Hebrews 8:12: For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds, and I will never again remember their sins” (ISV). And this passage is a quote from a wonderful promise found in Jeremiah 31:31-34, where the Lord says: “I will make a new covenant” (verse 31).


That new covenant was written in the blood of the Lamb. At the Last Supper, Jesus took the cup and told His disciples, “…this is My blood of the new covenant that is being poured out for many people for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28, ISV).


That new covenant is in place because Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection means that He entered “…the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12b, NIV).


We who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have “eternal redemption” and have been given the right to “…keep on coming boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, ISV). We can bring our needs to Jesus anytime, anywhere. We have the awesome privilege of “coming boldly to the throne of grace” only because of the precious blood of Jesus.


If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness” (Psalm 130:3-4a, NIV). Aren’t you thankful!


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 12


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


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


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


Want a solid life? Put it fully in the hands of Jesus:


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


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


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


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


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 11

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


I couldn’t begin to count the number of tears I’ve cried over our son and his family (who have had no contact with us in over 12 years) and, no doubt, many of you could say the same thing about loved ones in your lives. Jesus understands our sorrow and He promises in His Word that “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!”


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


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


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


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


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 10


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


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


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


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


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


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 9


Back to that wandering sheep again. The shepherd, having left “the ninety-nine others” (Luke 15:4b, NLT) searched diligently until he found the lost sheep. Then what? “And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders” (Jesus speaking, Luke 15:5, NLT). He takes the weight and smell and dirt of that sheep upon himself and carries the frightened fur ball back to rejoin the rest of the flock.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 8


Yesterday we saw that sheep are smelly, dirty, vermin-infested, and dumber than a box of rocks. Did they have any redeeming qualities? One, which often appears to make them smarter than we are:


“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. …he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow…” (Jesus speaking, John 10:3b, 4b-5a, ESV).


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


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


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


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


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


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 7


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

What are you doing with your life to thank Him?


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 6


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


Kate had a little dog named Patches when she moved to her new neighborhood. Patches was a house pet, but he loved to be outside. Unfortunately, every time Kate let him out the door, he shot into the yard barking and howling with as much volume as a whole pack of bloodhounds. In no time, the nearest neighbor began complaining and Kate was left with a tough decision: get rid of her beloved Patches or figure out a way to stop his barking.


Enter the shock collar. Patches was fitted with a collar that zapped him with a small but very uncomfortable jolt of electricity every time he barked. The first time the collar shocked him, poor Patches ran around in circles trying to find what had caused the sudden discomfort. But a few hours later, he darted out the door and, having forgotten the previous lesson, let out a thunderous bellow, only to be zapped again by his collar.


Although I am in no way in favor of shock collars, I did observe two interesting things from Patches’ experience: (1) He figured out that the collar was the culprit. Patches learned that the presence of the collar meant he couldn’t bark without experiencing discomfort. (2) Patches also learned that getting to bark was worth tolerating a little zap of electricity. After less than a week, Patches started barking again – until Kate dialed up the collar to a higher shock level.

Mind you, I’m not comparing us with dogs, and I’m also thankful to say that the complaining neighbor moved away and Patches can now bark to his heart’s content without any shock collar. But my point is that we, like Patches, tend to follow the same learning curve:


(1) We get hurt by a bad experience and we decide not to do it again. Believers have the conviction of the Holy Spirit warning them away from wrong behaviors; when we listen, we avoid unnecessary pain.


(2) After a period of time, however, we decide, “That wasn’t so bad,” so we give the same experience another shot. Once again, the Holy Spirit urges us not to repeat our stupidity, but we ignore Him and once again suffer the consequences.


(3) But God, being the Greatest Father of All, loves His children too much to allow them to continue disobeying Him. If a mild reprimand doesn’t get our attention, He’ll use a stronger one.


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


“The man that believes will obey; failure to obey is convincing proof that there is no true faith present” (A. W. Tozer)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 5


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 4


“I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:16b, NIV).


A recent study indicates that less than ten percent of professing believers have ever read the entire Bible. And yet a few chapters a day would enable a person to read it in its entirety every single year. How badly are believers neglecting God’s Word?


There’s a correlating drop in age and Bible reading, according to another study. Among professing Christians, 59 percent old enough for me to classify as “super seniors” (the early end of what’s referred to as the “builder generation”) read their Bibles at least weekly. For the younger of that set – those born in the years closer to 1945 – the average declines to 43 percent. That figure drops to 39 percent in those born between 1946 and 1964 (“baby boomers”). And only 29 percent of those born between 1965 and 1982 (“gen x”) say that they read their Bibles at least weekly. The statistic continues to decline with the newest generation/s of adults (“gen y & z”).


If you were training to become a doctor (pre-med), how much do you think you could neglect your studies and ever make it into medical school? Or imagine being the doctor who finishes with the lowest grade average. Would you feel confident treating your patients? If your patients knew how close you came to flunking out, would they be thrilled to have you as their doctor?


Following in the footsteps of the Great Physician, Christians should be prepared to be lifesavers. They should be able to direct any person who asks them about their faith to key passages of Scripture such as John 3:16 and Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:13, and 10:9-10. When we, my sisters and brothers, hold Bibles in our hands, we are literally holding the Living Word. Make it your life’s goal to know Him more and share Him more.


According to the Baptist Bible Translators Institute (www.BaptistTranslators.com), there are at least 380 million people in nations or people groups around the world who have no Bibles. In America, we’re covered up in Bibles that are mostly collecting dust.


If we are to be doers of the Word, we must know the Word. And to know the Word, we have to read the Word. And we need to go beyond merely reading and actually study the Word.


Invest in a chronological Bible so you can understand the timeline as you go through the Scriptures. Invest in a study Bible with commentary alongside the passages. If your family’s next generation is going to find value in the Word of God, they must first see that it has value to you.


You’re teaching what you’re living. Show others that the Bible is an ageless, priceless treasure.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 3

We’re still looking at the judgment of believers. We’ve seen that each believer “…will be rewarded according to his own labor” (I Corinthians 3:8b, NIV). And we’ve seen that our reward will involve receiving crowns – see Revelation 4:10b-11a. But how is the heavenly value of our earthly works determined? First Corinthians 3:13-15 holds the answer:


“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames” (NLT).


There are a ton of opinions on exactly what this passage means; do your own study on this, please, but let me offer one thought about it: Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29 say “God is a consuming fire” (NIV). Seems to me it’s God Almighty who is the “consuming fire” that, instead of destroying the believer, cleanses and purifies him.


God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and told Judah: “I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities” (Isaiah 1:25b, NIV). When will the people of Judah or any individual be “thoroughly” pure? In heaven.


And who will do the judging and the purifying? See what Second Timothy 4:1b tells us: “Christ Jesus… will someday judge the living and the dead when He appears to set up His Kingdom” (NLT). And Romans 14:10: “…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (KJV).


We expend so much time on lesser things, none of which will survive the “consuming fire” who will examine and reward us in heaven. Consciously choose to focus your life on things of eternal value. The Kingdom is coming. Are you ready?


“Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things – things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him.” (Oswald Chambers)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 2

I want to begin with a look at four paragraphs of comments made by Dr. Charles Stanley concerning the judgment of believers:


“Believers will also stand before Jesus, at which time they’ll finally come to full comprehension of His extravagant grace.


In First Corinthians 4:5, Paul asserts that Jesus will disclose the motives hidden in believers’ hearts. Some people have gotten the misguided idea that all their sins will be displayed for everyone to see, but the Bible in no way supports that notion.


We’ll be standing in the holy Savior’s presence, grieving over how undeserving we are of His sacrifice. But the sorrow will last only a moment. On its heels comes the tremendous joy of having received forgiveness and lived a life pleasing to Him. Christ’s judgment is not a punishment; it is a reminder that we are pardoned. At last, we will fully realize the depth and breadth of His grace.


Believers need not cower or hang their heads during the judgment. Nor are we to repent – the time for that is past. We will stand before the Lord, clothed in Christ’s righteousness and forgiven of every single sin. And we will at last comprehend how great is the love of our God for us.”


I hope this clear image of the believers’ judgment thrills you as much as it does me. When we stand before the Lord, we will do so robed in the righteousness of Christ.


But don’t miss what else takes place at this judgment: each believer, as First Corinthians 3:8b teaches, “…will be rewarded according to his own labor.” Each of us will see the sum total of what his or her life has amounted to in service for Christ.


We saw yesterday where Paul spoke of the believers’ heavenly rewards: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (II Timothy 4:8, NIV). We’re going to receive crowns!


And what will we do with these crowns? Lay them at the feet of Jesus: “They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:10b-11a, NIV).


Is your earthly work doing any heavenly good? That’s the only thing you’ll have with which to show your thankfulness to Jesus for His amazing love and sacrifice.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR AUGUST 1


We’ve looked at the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming and we’ve seen that there are two different judgments: (1) the judgment of believers at the time of Christ’s Second Coming; and (2) the judgment of unbelievers after the resurrection of the unrighteous at the end of the millennial reign.


In case you didn’t check out the Scriptures I referenced yesterday, let’s take a look at a few of those. But first, concerning believers, it’s important to realize two things: (1) we get to heaven strictly because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ; and (2) we get rewarded in heaven based on what we have done as workers for the Kingdom: “My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Jesus speaking, Revelation 22:12b, NIV). And here are a couple more reminders of what we have to look forward to, not fear, about the judgment of believers:


Second Timothy 4:8: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (NIV).


Revelation 11:18b: “It is time to judge the dead and reward Your servants the prophets, as well as Your holy people, and all who fear Your name, from the least to the greatest” (NLT).


But when it comes to the judgment of unbelievers, we see an entirely different picture. Remember Hebrews 9:27 we read yesterday: “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (ESV). How many times is it “appointed for man to die”? Once – the second death is optional:

Revelation 20:14-15: “Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”


John 3:16 plainly tells us that “God so loved the world.” It isn’t God’s desire for a human being to end up in hell; that’s the choice a person has made when he has refused Christ’s free gift of salvation. Jesus, speaking in Matthew 25:41 (NLT) tells us the fate of those who reject Him; He also tells us who the fires of hell were intended for: “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’”


My prayer is that every person reading this knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that his final destination is heaven. If that’s true of you, please don’t waste your life on meaningless pursuits when you can be pointing people in the right direction.


“You can have all this world; just give me Jesus.” (Jeremy Camp, “Give Me Jesus”)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 31

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26a, NIV). Day Three and our final look at this passage. As we looked at over the past two days, this passage was partially fulfilled on the first Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem and “The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 21:9a, NIV).


Then we read where Jesus Himself says: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matthew 23:37, 39, NIV – see also Luke 13:34-35).


As I stated yesterday, I believe Jesus was referring to a future time that still hasn’t taken place. We looked at the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming, but we still haven’t seen when and where the people Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 23 and Luke 13 (see paragraph above) will see Him again and say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”


Judgment Day, folks. That’s what I believe Jesus was referring to. Hebrews 9:27 tells us: “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (ESV). We’re wading into some major deep theological waters here, but the Bible teaches that there are two separate judgments: (1) the judgment of believers at the time of Christ’s Second Coming – see Second Timothy 4:1, 8; First Corinthians 3:13; Matthew 25:19; Luke 19:15; and Revelation 11:18 (and we’ll elaborate on all this starting tomorrow); and (2) the judgment of unbelievers after the resurrection of the unrighteous at the end of the Millennial reign – see Revelation 20:11-15; Jude 1:14b-15; John 5:28-29; Matthew 12:36, 11:22, and 25:41; Second Peter 2:9; Romans 2:5; and Mark 9:43-48.


Revelation 1:7b tells us that, at Christ’s Second Coming, “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.” And on that day, as Philippians 2:10-11 declares, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Were the people living in Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday unaware of this passage? Nope. It’s prophecy straight out of the Old Testament. Take a look at Isaiah 45:22, 23b:


“Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. Before Me every knee will bow; by Me every tongue will swear.”


A day is coming when “those who pierced Him” – and every person who hasn’t entrusted Him as Lord and Savior shares that blame – will have no other option than to fall to their knees and cry out the truth, just as Jesus said: “I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


Confessing Jesus Christ as Lord is not optional, y’all; someday every person who has ever lived will do so. The “Savior” part? Now that’s optional; and that confession will determine where a person spends eternity.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 30


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26a, NIV). No, you’re not reading a re-run – we saw part of the fulfillment of this passage yesterday. I want to dig a little deeper today.


We saw that Jesus and His disciples had entered Jerusalem and “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 21:8-9a, NIV).


We also find two records of Jesus Himself speaking the very words of Psalm 118:26a. Luke’s Gospel puts them before Jesus’ Palm Sunday entrance into Jerusalem, while Matthew records them as having been spoken afterwards. Matthew’s sequence is more likely. Take a look at what Jesus said:


“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matthew 23:37, 39, NIV – see also Luke 13:34-35).


According to Matthew’s timeline, the people of Jerusalem had just seen Jesus; and they’d lined the streets calling out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” So why is Jesus saying that they won’t see Him again until they speak those very words? I believe He’s referring to a future time yet to occur.


We need to be careful not to confuse the Rapture with Christ’s Second Coming. In the Rapture (and not all Christians believe the same timeline or other aspects of this event), Jesus calls His church out of the world, meaning all living believers are physically and spiritually taken or “raptured” from earth, with the physical bodies of believers whose spirits/souls are already in heaven preceding (going ahead of) the living into heaven. He doesn’t set foot on Planet Earth when this takes place – see First Corinthians 15:51-53 and First Thessalonians 4:16-17.


However, His Second Coming is a different story; at that time Jesus will return WITH the church – believers will accompany Christ – as He defeats the antichrist and begins His millennial (1,000-year) reign.


Knowing these events are on the horizon, are you ready to meet Him? Tomorrow I’ll attempt to explain Jesus’ statement of “you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 29


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 118:26a, NIV). This seemingly small portion of a single Scripture passage is so deep that I want to camp out and build on it for a few days. Psalm 118:26 is most assuredly a Messianic prophecy, fulfilled partially in what occurred on what we refer to as Palm Sunday. We’ll start with a look at that:


A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 21:8-9a, NIV). This event is significant enough to be found recorded in all four Gospels – see Mark 11:8-9, Luke 19:36-38, and John 12:12-13.


What was about to happen? On Friday of that very week, Jesus would be betrayed, beaten beyond recognition, and sentenced to die. What were the people of Jerusalem calling out then? “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15). And the spokesmen for this pronouncement? “The chief priests,” also according to John 19:15.


Isn’t it incredible that the same crowds who were cheering Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Sunday were the people crying out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” on Friday? (Luke 23:21 – see also Matthew 27:22, Mark 15:15, and John 19:15).


Truth is, folks, people can turn on you in a heartbeat. If Jesus Himself experienced this, it should be no surprise that it can happen to you or me. And continuing with that cheery truth, if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it most likely will someday – I certainly have had the displeasure.


Which brings us back to our opening passage: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus definitely came “in the name of the Lord” – after all, He was and is God Incarnate. But how blessed was He to be so horribly abused and publicly humiliated? Let’s let Jesus’ own words answer that question:


“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 – see also Luke 6:22-23).


If you are spreading the Good News at home, at work, at school, wherever you are, then you, my friend, are BLESSED. Down here, you may not be seeing anything but grief for your effort, but believe the Lord Jesus when He says: “Great is your reward in heaven.” Keep on keeping on – God’s gonna bless you!


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 28


“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24, NLT).


As we’ve seen repeatedly and know from personal experience, Christians have problems just as the rest of the world has problems. The difference, of course, is that Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit as Comforter and Guide to help them through life’s difficulties.


So how come there are so many Christians spreading bad news rather than Good News? One of my former pastors says it’s caused by sitting. He says, “If you sit, you sour.” And I think he hit the nail on the proverbial head with that one.


When we aren’t working for the Kingdom of God, we aren’t attuned with God. And when we aren’t attuned with God, we’re attuned, instead, to all that’s going on around us. And we’re not just attuned – we’re absorbed in it and by it. Instead of living as Christ intended for believers to – ABOVE their circumstances – they’re living (and dare I say WALLOWING) in their situations.


Does this mean we’re to “rejoice and be glad” when we’re going through horrible illnesses, family problems, and other sorrows? No. And yes – I’ll get to the “yes” part in a minute.


We’re to acknowledge the problem, grieve over the problem, and most importantly, give the problem to God. We were not created to and are not equipped to carry burdens. Psalm 55:22 says: “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you.” First Peter 5:7 says: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (NLT). In other words, stop carrying those worries around like a flag of martyrdom.


Ladies and gentlemen, “This is the day the Lord has made.” We can make the best of it or we can make the worst of it. But whatever we choose, we don’t get a do-over. If you’re having a good day, “rejoice and be glad in it.” If you’re having a bad time, make sure you “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17, KJV) and ask God to give you the strength to recall His goodness, better times, better days, and “rejoice and be glad” for all He’s done and is going to do.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 27


“The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22, NLT).


What’s a cornerstone? “The chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed.” Today’s passage, of course, speaks of Jesus. This term, “cornerstone,” is so significant that we find it over and over throughout the Bible. Take a look at some of these passages:


“From Judah will come the cornerstone…” (Zechariah 10:4a, NIV).


“Then Jesus asked them, ‘Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone’” (Matthew 21:42a, NLT – also Mark 12:10 and Luke 20:17).


“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Peter speaking to Israel's religious leaders, Acts 4:11, ESV).


“…the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself” (Ephesians 2:20b, NLT).


The Kingdom of God is built upon Jesus Christ, the firm foundation by whom and through whom we have been redeemed. His death was for, as He said it in John 3:16, “the world.” Yet not all the world is or will be saved. Why? Many have rejected the Messiah. They don’t believe He’s God Incarnate and they don’t believe He’s “the way and the truth and the life” that “No one comes to the Father” (John 14:6a, NIV) without a saving faith in.


There’s head knowledge and there’s heart knowledge. Head knowledge will lead a person to admit Jesus is who He says He is, but the Bible clearly states, “Even the demons believe …and… tremble” (James 2:19b, NLT). Heart knowledge, on the other hand, leads a person to surrender their all to the Lordship of Him and lead a life that reflects His presence and guidance.


Have a heart? Give it to Jesus.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 26


“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free” (Psalm 118:5, NIV).


I don’t bring up our situation with our son and his family in order to garner pity from all of you; I simply bring it up as the greatest struggle Larry and I would be having were it not for the supernatural peace we walk in because we continually allow the Lord to carry this burden. (We haven’t heard from our son and daughter-in-law in over 12 years and have never met our two granddaughters.)


The psalmist in today’s passage tells us that whatever was going on in his life had him in agony: “In my anguish…” The dictionary defines “anguish” as “excruciating distress, suffering, or pain.” In other words, sorrow too deep to express in words. Ever been there? I know I have.


Yet even when I ran out of words to express my suffering, the Holy Spirit within me continued to cry out with me and for me to the Father. Romans 8:26b talks about this, saying, “…the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words” (God’s Word).


When you don’t know what to pray or how to pray, PRAY! What you can’t express; what you’re unsure how to pray about; the Holy Spirit knows. Just lay your life out before the Lord – literally and spiritually – and let Him do a work in you that will bring you peace IN and THROUGH your storm.


As I’ve said before, our situation with our son and daughter-in-law hasn’t change; but Jesus Christ heard my prayers and “He answered by setting me free.” Freedom in Christ isn’t necessarily the resolution of a problem, but the peace to endure it and the courage to use that sorrow to minister and relate to others.


Need peace? There’s only one place to get it. Get real with God. Pour your heart out. He will hear and answer.


“…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36, ESV).


“In the center of a hurricane there is absolute peace and quiet. There is no safer place than in the center of the will of God.”  (Corrie ten Boom)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 25

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15, NIV).


Death. Not the cheeriest of topics, is it? And yet, short of the Rapture, ain’t a one of us getting out of here alive, are we? But death’s not my topic; what I want to focus on today is our prayer lives. Hang with me, and I promise I’ll tie it in with this passage.


Hopefully you have a prayer list and you pray it daily and keep it updated. After all, if you can’t remember five items you need at the grocer’s unless you make a list, how can you possibly fulfill your commitment and obligation to pray for those in need? When a person asks you to pray for his need, don’t tell him you will unless you will. Better yet, be bold enough to stop then and there and say, “Let’s pray about that right now.” And afterwards, write down the prayer need and add it to your prayer list so you can continue to pray about it.


What fills our prayer lists and requests? Needs for healing; jobs; marital problems resolved – temporal things about which we should most assuredly pray; but what about spiritual needs? We’re much quicker to express concern for a friend, neighbor, or even family member who’s sick or out of work than for one who’s lost and headed for hell. Why? Because our focus is on the temporal rather than eternal.


No one wants to die. No one wants to lose a loved one. But the reality is, the number one cause of death is birth. In the big picture, even the longest lived life is, as James 4:14b words it, “…a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (NIV). When you’re 30 and you hear of a 60-year-old passing away, you foolishly think, “Well, they lived a long life.” But when YOU become the 60-year-old, you realize that you’re no more eager to check out of here than you were when you were 30.


Yet death, for the believer, is the doorway to heaven. It’s the transition from a life “full of trouble,” as we looked at yesterday (Job 14:1b, NLT) to an unending life with no problems whatsoever.


Yes, we should and do mourn the passing of those we love. But if they knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we cannot mourn their “loss” because there hasn’t been any – we know we’ll see them again and we know that they have lost nothing and gained everything. Remember today’s passage and think of the joyful reception they’ve received from their Heavenly Father.


“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, NASB).


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 24

“Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice” (Psalm 112:5, NIV).


Well and good if you can afford generosity, but not everybody’s in a position to lend freely, are they? True, but in the vast majority of cases, Americans in particular are positioned to do these things. Most simply refuse to do them.


My Aunt Frances was poor. She raised four kids almost entirely on her own and lived in a modest little house on an alleyway. She had no indoor bathroom. She had no car. She had very little of anything material. What she did have was a whole lot of faith.


Once a week Red the peddler’s pickup truck would roll down that alley loaded with fresh eggs, potatoes, apples, onions, and the like. And every week Aunt Frances would have at least a dollar ready to spend when Red got there. (She was a fabulous cook and walked to the schoolhouse where she worked in the lunchroom throughout the school year.) She could have put everything on that truck to good use. But so very often, what did she do? She had Red divide her purchase into four bags: one for herself, one for one daughter, one for another daughter, and one for me.


As hard-earned as was every penny she had, she wanted to share it with those of us who were just starting out our married lives, even though we weren’t struggling nearly as much as she was. Completely unintentionally – which is exactly how it works when you’re sold out to Jesus – she taught us the importance of sharing. And caring. And trusting the Lord to meet your own needs when you generously give away more than you can really even spare.


Take a look around you and see who you can bless today through your own generosity. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. I read somewhere about a man who walks around his city putting money in parking meters that are about to expire. He leaves an anonymous card on the windshield of the vehicle telling the driver that what he’s done is a small gesture to express Christ’s love.


We aren’t to be foolish in our generosity – I would no more give money to a drug addict or alcoholic than I would hand him crack cocaine or a bottle of liquor. Nor would I give money to a spendaholic who is already mismanaging enough money without me giving him more to work with. But there are plenty of people who should be and could be blessed every day by believers like me and you.


Our generosity should be both planned and spontaneous and done for the simple joy of showing kindness that reflects the love of Jesus into the life of another. Consciously look for ways to be generous today.


“We must trust as if it all depended on God and work as if it all depended on us.”  (Charles Spurgeon)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 23

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding” (Psalm 111:10a, NIV).


Literally translated, this passage says: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Jehovah; good discernment to the doers.”


The starting point for wisdom is “the fear of the Lord.” Fear in what sense? Reverent awe. My daddy was a wonderful Christian man, but I had a very healthy fear of him. I knew that disobeying him had consequences, and I eventually got old enough and wise enough to realize that his rules were for my good, not to put a damper on my fun.


Likewise with God. Every command is for our good. And obeying these commands saves a heap of needless heartache. As Job rightfully lamented, “How short is life, how full of trouble!” (Job 14:1b, NLT). That, my friends, is fact. And knowing that, why unnecessarily add more difficulties to our lives? Obeying the Word of God prevents this.


Obeying the Word of God is also solid proof that a person truly fears the Lord. Anybody can talk the talk, but the proof is in the walk – not just on Sundays; not just in public; but in what you do when the only one who sees you is God Himself.


“All who follow His precepts have good understanding.” I’ve met some immature Christians who are always trying to figure out what they can “get away” with. “Does the Bible really mean…?” “Does the Bible really say…?” I know of only one way to find out: read it and pray about it.


“Good understanding” isn’t intellectual smarts; it’s having and applying the wisdom of God (please read First Corinthians 1:30) as our daily guide.


Life is full of storms, and there’s only one Guide through and/or around them. Make sure He’s in charge – He will not be your co-pilot.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates

BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 22


“…He said He would destroy them – had not… His chosen one, stood in the breach before Him to keep His wrath from destroying them” (Psalm 106:23, NIV).


Over and over in the Old Testament we see people who are used as hints of the Coming Messiah. In today’s passage, the reference is to Moses, who “stood in the breach” and pled with the Lord not to destroy the complaining, disobedient Israelites. We who live today have the awesome privilege of living under the grace God poured out through His Son Jesus Christ.


That Son, the Only Son of God, “stood in the breach” so that God “would not destroy” us for our sins. Unlike Moses, though, Jesus Christ didn’t bring about a temporary reprieve, but a full pardon, paid for in His own precious blood.


You’ve heard it said that Jesus “stood in the gap” for us; but I want to examine a word that gives us a much clearer understand: the word “breach.” What’s a breach? It’s the violation of a law, trust, faith, or promise. The Israelites were chosen by God to be His holy (set apart, separate) people. They, in turn, committed themselves to follow and obey God as their Leader. And yet passage after passage shows the Israelites doing everything but living in obedience.


Unlike the Israelites, we know the rest of the story. We know the Messiah came. We know what He voluntarily endured to pay our sin-debt. We’ve read Old and New Testament examples of those who disobeyed God after committing their lives to Him – think of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10 and Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 – and we know the consequences of their sin.


And yet we still so often take our faith lightly. Ladies and gentlemen, how big a deal was what Jesus Christ did for me and you? When you’ve come up with an answer to that question, answer this next one: how big a deal should your obedience and faithfulness to Him be?


Guys and gals, if we’re going to reach the world for Jesus Christ, we’ve got to be genuinely sold out to His service. We can’t “play” at being Christians.


“In our faith we leave footprints to guide others” (Max Lucado). Who’s following your footsteps and where are you leading them?


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 21


“He saved them from the hand of the foe… But they soon forgot what He had done and did not wait for His counsel… So He gave them what they asked for…” (Psalm 106:10a, 13, 15a, NIV).


“He saved them from the hand of the foe… But they soon forgot what He had done…” Many of you, I’m sure, have heard the term “foxhole salvation.” Like a soldier pinned down by enemy fire, a person sometimes finds himself in a tight spot where he lifts up some sort of panic prayer like, “Lord, if you’ll just get me out of this, I’ll…” The promises range from never touching a drop of liquor again to becoming a missionary to the darkest continent. Problem is, though, the moment the problem dissipates, that person forgets all about the promise he made to a Holy All-Seeing God.


“…and did not wait for His counsel…” OK, so the Lord delivers him from a jam: a marital crisis or a dangerous situation. Then what? He learns to seek the Lord’s guidance before taking action or making decisions IF he sticks close to God – there’s that positioning again. And in so doing, he avoids a lot of unnecessary messes.


But when he falls back into his old ways, he lands in even more trouble because he “did not wait for His counsel.” Can a true believer make these kinds of mistakes? You better believe it. We either get into the habit of talking things over with God – that’s called prayer, folks – or we get into the habit of making decisions and taking actions without consulting Him.


Your Heavenly Father loves you enough to allow you to learn some very hard lessons if you choose to leave Him out of your decision-making process. Without listening to the voice of Wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30), you may end up like the people in today’s Psalm of whom it says: “He gave them what they asked for.” You may receive something you’ll regret for a lifetime.


Don’t just ask God for anything, whether it’s to help you get a job or marry the man or woman of your dreams, or whatever. TALK to Him; and then wait on His guidance.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 20

I love Psalm 103; I hope you’ll take the time to read the entire psalm – it’s packed with great promises. For starters, look at Verses 1-5:


“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (KJV).


This same passage in the New Living Translation (NLT): “Praise the Lord, my soul! Praise His holy name, all that is within me. Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good He has done: He is the one who forgives all your sins, the one who heals all your diseases, the one who rescues your life from the pit, the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion, the one who fills your life with blessings so that you become young again like an eagle.”


Are these great promises or what!?! God and God alone “is the one who forgives all your sins.” If you read on down, David reminds us in Verse 12 that “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (KJV).


He’s “the one who heals all your diseases.” No, everyone doesn’t receive earthly healing; but those who know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior receive forever healing and spend eternity in a place where “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4b, NLT).


If He’s your Lord and Savior, He’s the one who has rescued “your life from the pit” – and He’s the only one with the power to do this. And, hallelujah, He’s the one who crowns His children’s lives “with mercy and compassion” and fills our lives “with blessings!” Do we “become young again like an eagle”? Count on it: there will be no wrinkles in heaven!


Every day our Wonderful Father rains down blessings on His children. And those who have “room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10b, AKJV) get tanked up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s all about positioning, folks. It’s the bucket under the spout that gets the water. Stay close to Jesus and be blessed for His glory.


“Praise the Lord, my soul! Praise His holy name, all that is within me. Praise the Lord, my soul, and never forget all the good He has done.”


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 19

“He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas” (Psalm 102:17, NLT).


Or, as the God’s Word translation phrases this passage: “He will turn His attention to the prayers of those who have been abandoned. He will not despise their prayers.”


Many of you who have been reading these posts for a long time have heard me talk about our situation with our son. He and his wife severed our relationship over twelve years ago for no reason that has ever been explained. At that time our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our first grandchild.


You can imagine our excitement to know we would soon have a grandbaby to spoil! But this was when they stopped contacting us and refused all our attempts to communicate. This was when we cried out to the Lord as the truly “destitute” that Psalm 102:17 speaks of.


We didn’t get any immediate answers, but we did get inexplicable peace. Then some time later I shared a bit of this during a seminar. A month or so afterwards, I received an email from a lady who had attended that seminar. In it, she said, “I think I’ve found a picture of your grandbaby.” And she included a link to a website.


Sure enough, there was our little granddaughter, perched on her mom’s hip and looking so much like our son. We were so thankful; we fell on our knees praising the Lord for His goodness.


Fast forward a few months. This time we receive a phone call. This friend, who has known our son for years, said that he truly believed he had been divinely led to a luncheon where he met a coworker of our son. That coworker told our friend the name and birth date of our granddaughter.


Once again, God let us know that He had heard every prayer we’d ever prayed about our family. As soon as I got up – yes, I’d hit my knees again in thanksgiving – I went to my computer and looked up my granddaughter’s name. (Drum roll, please.) My son and daughter-in-law thought they had chosen some trendy name for their daughter, but we know God Almighty named that little girl. Her name comes from a Hebrew phrase that means “Jehovah has heard!”


Now ain’t God good! No, our family isn’t reunited. No, we’ve never met our beautiful granddaughters – at this point, there are now two girls, neither of which we’ve ever gotten to see. But God is still faithful! And He isn’t the holdup – our son and daughter-in-law are. Meanwhile, Larry and I are being bathed in love and comfort. And we are absolutely certain that, one day, our family will be together.


Feeling “destitute”? “Abandoned”? Cry out to Jesus. “He will turn His attention to…” your need.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 18

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones…” (Psalm 97:10a, NIV).


I’ve always loved mysteries. Growing up, I read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book ever written. I then discovered Agatha Christie and read all her whodunits starring great characters like the crime-solving spinster lady Miss Marple and the pompous little Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Through the years I watched shows like “The Avengers,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” and “Simon and Simon.”


But over time those kinds of shows drastically changed. A few years back a new crime show debuted and I watched it and liked it and became a regular viewer. It didn’t start out to be creepy and gory, but as it continued to air, it became more and more graphic. One night the content was so horrific that I felt a powerful stab of guilt in my chest. The Holy Spirit was asking me, “Why are you watching this?” The conviction was so overwhelming that I switched off the program and have never watched it again.


“Let those who love the Lord hate evil.” As Christians, we have no business viewing any “evil,” ungodly TV shows, movies, internet sites, books, or magazines. When friends send us questionable jokes, pics, and cartoons via messaging or email or by any other means, we need to politely ask them not to include us when they send that stuff out.


Ask the Lord if there’s anything you’re watching or doing that is promoting “evil.” But don’t ask until you’re willing to make the necessary changes, because He who “guards the lives of His faithful ones” will show you what you need to repent of and stop and will expect you to be obedient.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 17


“The righteous… will still bear fruit in old age, They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord…” (Psalm 92:12a, 14, 15a, NIV).


“Let the younger ones handle it; I’ve paid my dues.” Ever heard that one? Some older adults – and some not so old – think that, after having taught a Sunday School class; sang in the choir; worked on a committee; or served their church in some other capacity; that they’ve now earned the right to sit back on their laurels and watch the work of the Kingdom being done by others. Yet look at what the Bible says:


“The righteous… will still bear fruit in old age…” “Old” is a relative term. When you’re 20, 30 seems old. When you’re 30, 40 seems old. And on and on it goes. Point is, the person who is truly dedicated to Jesus Christ isn’t looking for a way to drop out of the work force – he or she is looking for ways to be of better and/or different use through the changing years.


Take, for example, a retired couple I’ll call the Trotmans. They bought a motor home and now close up their house and hit the road for six months out of the year moving from campground to campground teaching Bible studies. The other six months? They’re in their home church, working and fueling up for the next six months’ mission. These two are “…fresh and green” in their old age.


And my friends Becka and Mark. Their kids are now in their teens. Not only do these two volunteer at a food and distribution center for the needy, but their teens go with them – willingly! Why? Because they’ve grown up going. They’ve watched their parents and the other volunteers and seen the help the mission has been to those who come there. They love being a part of it, and I feel certain that, when these kids become parents themselves, they’ll teach this same kind of giving to their own children.


There is no end to the places where we have opportunities to reach out to the needy – on our own, as a church, as a family group, or through some other type of organization. There is no earthly retirement plan for those in the Heavenly Kingdom, but I can promise you this: the benefits of working for the Kingdom are truly out of this world.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 16

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NLT).


A blink ago I was shinnying up the tall straight trunk of a persimmon tree in my parents’ back yard. A few blinks later and I was holding my newborn son in my arms. And it seems like hardly any time had passed before I saw him driving off to college. Time, as the old saying goes, truly does fly!


Knowing this, why do we waste so much of it? We find hours a day to play online games, watch TV, and do all sorts of things that are of zero use to the Kingdom of God. We can read a romance or suspense novel a week, but we can’t manage to read a chapter of the Bible a day. Thank God, literally, for those rare few who have a daily time of prayer and Bible reading. These same people are the ones whose focus is OUTward rather than INward. These are the people who take seriously the task of “helping others” (I Peter 4:11). These are the ones who understand the truth of Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40: “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.”


How we need “to realize the brevity of life” so we will use our time more wisely! And how do we learn to use our time more wisely? By “grow[ing] in wisdom.” As First Corinthians 1:30 teaches us, it is our Lord “Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God…” If you’ve got Jesus, you’ve got Wisdom. Use it. Put your time to the highest possible use by sharing the Good News and ministering in His Name.


“You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.”  (Oliver Goldsmith )


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 15


“You spread out our sins before you – our secret sins – and you see them all” (Psalm 90:8, NLT).


The doorbell rings and a police officer stands before you, your son Robbie beside him, head hung low. “Evening, ma’am,” the officer says. “Your son had just started spray-painting graffiti on the side of the park pavilion when I spotted him. I ran his name and saw that he has no prior offenses, so I’m giving him a break and bringing him home instead of down to the precinct. I expect to see him at the park tomorrow morning cleaning that paint off.”


Embarrassed but grateful, you gush thanks to the officer. “He’ll be there, sir. I promise you that. And I can’t thank you enough for giving Robbie this chance to keep his record clean.”


There will never be a record at the police department, even though Robbie committed this crime. You, Robbie, and the police officer will always know what Robbie did and the tremendous mercy that was shown him. And if Robbie has a lick of sense, he’ll realize the second chance he’s been given and never ever do anything that foolish again.


One dimwitted law-breaking act. One very merciful police officer. One very grateful son. If you and Robbie can be so thankful for such a small act of mercy, how should we respond to the Merciful One who knows every single one of our dimwitted law-breaking acts and yet loves us, forgives us, and even chooses to forget the wrongs we confess?


We serve an awesome God – or at least, we’re supposed to be serving Him. Are you?


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 14


“Once for all, I have sworn by My holiness – and I will not lie to David – that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before Me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky” (Psalm 89:35-37, NIV).


David, a shepherd boy and the youngest of Jesse’s sons, was chosen as king. David, albeit human and imperfect, was representative of Christ, whose Kingdom and reign would “continue forever.”


Look at the correlations:


Jesus said in John 10:11a: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (NIV).


And in John 10:14: “I am the Good Shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me” (NLT).


What does Psalm 23 begin with? “The Lord is my Shepherd…” (KJV).


Think about David’s position in the family. The youngest had the least power and authority. But what does Jesus tell us about being last?


So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16, ESV).


“But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first” (Matthew 19:30, ISV).


Or here’s how it reads in the NLT: “But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”


Christ’s Kingdom isn’t built on or run by world standards. It’s built on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ and it’s run by His standards. Our mixed-up worldly thinking will have no place in God’s eternal Kingdom. God will set people in places of authority according to what He sees as He “looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7, ESV). Where will that put you?


Lastly, see the start of our opening verse: “Once for all…” Hallelujah! God sent His Son Jesus Christ as the Living Sacrifice for the sins of the world. We, all those who accept His free gift of salvation, are covered by the blood.


There are no insignificant words or phrases in the Bible. Study it; love it; share it.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 13

“…with my mouth I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations” (Psalm 89:1b, NIV).


How can one person make God’s “faithfulness known through all generations”? If you live out a Christ-like lifestyle and verbally share your faith, you’ll come in contact with people who are one or more generations older than you; people born in the same generation as you; and people born one or more generations after you. You have the opportunity to literally witness to as many as four or five generations and, if you share your faith the way my family has shared theirs, your witness will be carried on “through all generations” as those whose lives you touched continue to share the Good News about Jesus.


I never met my Great-Granddaddy Thompson, but I know he spent his life traveling the South and sharing the Gospel as a circuit-riding preacher. His daughter Ann was my paternal grandmother and she and my Papa lived out their faith in front of me. And even before I came into the world, they had taught their son Ellis by both word and deed. Ellis married and became my dad and he and my mom continued to teach the Gospel through their words and actions.


And all that teaching reached me. And every prayer that every one of those believers prayed touched my life. Great as my heritage of faith was, I realized I had to have my own faith. I couldn’t make it on my parents’ faith or my grandparents’ or even my great-grandparents’. I committed my life to Jesus Christ and love every opportunity I get to encourage others to do so, too.


As I’ve said many times, Jesus Christ is a PERSONAL Savior. He didn’t die to generically save the world. He died as the Door to Heaven for every single person who would accept His free gift of eternal life. And He died for each and every one of us BY NAME.


So if He died for you by name – just go ahead and put your own name right there – will you live for Him by Name?


For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ” (Romans 1:16a, NLT).


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 12


Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11, NIV).


I so love the phrase “an undivided heart.” What a great thing to ask God for! What a great thing to desire! Nowadays our minds – and subsequently, our hearts – get caught up in all sorts of worldly desires that draw our focus off God and our attention off our commitment to Him. O, how we need “undivided heart[s]!”


Stop right now and be completely honest with yourself and your Lord – after all, He’s already fully aware of everything that’s going on in that head and heart of yours. How much of your heart and mind are given completely over to pleasing Jesus Christ? If you’re like me, your answer isn’t one hundred percent.


But 100 is where I want to be; and I may be a long way from that mark, but that’s still my goal and I’m, albeit fallibly, doing the things I know I should to move in that direction. How about you?


I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, AKJV).


“…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1b, NLT).


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 11

One day in your courtyards is better than a thousand [anywhere else]. I would rather stand in the entrance to my God’s house than live inside wicked people’s homes” (Psalm 84:10, God’s Word).


Knowing this Scripture passage and its truth, why is it we professing believers get so wrapped up in achieving greatness by world standards rather than by God’s? We sporadically attend church; we don’t read our Bibles or pray regularly; in a serious test of Scripture knowledge against any Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, we’d be blown clear out of the water. And yet we work so hard to drive the right kind of car; live in the right kind of house in the right kind of neighborhood; and stay on a first-name basis with the right people.


“Right” by whose standards? Certainly not the Bible’s. Over and over Jesus was lambasted for hanging with the wrong people: “…the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors…” (Mark 2:16a, NASB). And to put the rest of the passage in more modern vernacular, the NLT says “…they asked His disciples, ‘Why does He eat with such scum?’”


Jesus didn’t check a person’s social standing before He reached out to him. He didn’t worry about what anyone said about who He befriended. Can you imagine the talk when He actually selected a former tax collector as one of His twelve closest disciples? Luke 5:28 tells us that the moment Jesus called to Him, Matthew (also known as Levi) “…got up, left everything and followed Him.”


What did Matthew leave? EVERYTHING. Was this what Jesus expected? You betcha. Look at His words in Luke 14:26: “If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple.”


Who are we to reach out to? Who should we invite into the Kingdom of God? In one of His wedding parables, Jesus makes the answer plain: “Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that My house may be filled” (Luke 14:23, ESV). We aren’t to merely hit the main thoroughfares – the elite, the well-known, the well-to-do – we’re to “Go out to the highways and hedges” – the backroads, the downtrodden, the unpopular, the unlovely. And we’re not only to invite, we are to COMPEL; urge; plead. It is imperative that lost people understand the urgency of the times.


Would you trade one day in heaven for a month of chauffeur-driven, mansion-living, servant-filled luxury? Examine your heart and make sure you’re not foolishly compromising your faith for any temporary earthly treasure.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 10


“But My people would not listen to Me… So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices” (Psalm 81:11a, 12, NIV).


God, as I’ve said many times, is a gentleman. He forces no one to believe in Him. He forces no believer to live for Him. Man is given the wonderful and terrifying privilege of choice.


So what does choice mean for the believer? Can a person who has genuinely received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior live as though Christ has no part in his life? According to the Bible, he can. Look at Paul’s words to the CHURCH in Rome: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him” (Romans 1:21a, NIV).


Humans sin; humans mess up; and our Creator knows this and forgives it as we confess it. But can a person renounce his salvation? Look at Hebrews 6:4-6a: For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened – those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come – and who then turn away from God” (NLT). Apparently, if it is possible to renounce one’s salvation, it’s IMpossible to regain it.


See what Jesus had to say in John 15a: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…” (NIV).


Big word, IF. Bigger word, REMAIN. My personal conclusion? What believer in his right mind would want to test God’s limits of patience? Salvation is a blood-bought contract, not a paper document to be scanned for loopholes. Live each day as if Jesus were coming back at any moment – because He is – and you’ll allow no time for sinful behavior or thinking.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 9


“You brought a vine out of Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it. Watch over this vine, the root Your right hand has planted, the Son You have raised up for Yourself. Let Your hand rest on the Man at Your right hand, the Son of Man You have raised up for Yourself” (Psalm 80:8, 14b,-15, 17, NIV).


The prophetic words of the Old Testament are amazing! Ask any Bible scholar how many prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and you’ll be astounded at the numbers you’ll hear: over 300.


For example, how did the Lord get a Jewish Messiah “out of Egypt”? Matthew 2 tells us that, when the “wise men” came in search of the Messiah, Herod ordered the death of all the Jewish male children under the age of 2 – see verse 16 – to insure that the one he thought of as a rival king would be destroyed. God, however, sent an angel to Joseph to warn him, So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt” (Matthew 2:14, NASB).


And what did Jesus call Himself in John 15a? “I am the true Vine” (NIV).


Later, in Luke 22:69, Jesus finally speaks at His mock trial before the religious leaders: “…from now on the Son of Man will be seated in the place of power at God’s right hand” (NLT).


John, in the great end time vision he was given, is told in Revelation 5:5b: “…behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…” (ESV).


Raised ONTO the cross and alive FROM the cross, Jesus had already told the people: And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Me” (John 12:32, AKJV).


There is so much more in these passages that these few words can make a dent in. Study your Bible. Recognize the deep riches within it and learn them until they become a part of you. When you truly realize God’s faithfulness through so many years and generations, you receive a much greater understanding of His love and faithfulness to you.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 8


Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them” (Psalm 76:11a, NIV).


You land your dream job and your new boss tells you, “Be here at 8am sharp.” What time do you show up? 9:30? No, you’re there well before starting time, ready to get to work and hoping to make a good impression.


Why are you so willing to comply with this man’s instructions? Because he holds the keys to your future. You realize the extreme importance of keeping this guy on your side; therefore, when you agree to show up at 8am, you’re there on or before time and you’re prepared to carry out the work you’ve committed to do.


The day you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior – and personal is the only kind of Lord and Savior He’s willing to be – you agreed to completely surrender your will to His; to serve Him with your whole being, which includes carrying out the Great Commission and being His hands and feet as you go about your daily life at home, work, church, during leisure time, and everywhere you find yourself.


In return for your commitment, Jesus Christ paid off your sin-debt in full through an indescribably horrific ordeal that included being nailed alive to a wooden cross that was dropped violently into the ground, jarring and further ripping the already mutilated flesh of His body. He then went home to glory to prepare a place for you to spend eternity with Him. And while He was at it, He placed Himself within you, His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to guide, strengthen, and encourage you every moment of every day. Jesus Christ is truly on the job 24/7.


How about you? How seriously are you living out the commitment you made to Jesus Christ? Do you need a bumper sticker or t-shirt for people to know you’re a Christian or can they tell it by your lifestyle?


Be faithful to God; He is eternally faithful to you.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 7


My life is an example to many, because You have been my strength and protection” (Psalm 71:7, NLT).


When anyone professes his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, his life becomes “an example to many.” Family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers all begin watching to see what kind of difference they can see in this person. Unfortunately, in some cases, people don’t see a consistent or lasting difference.


In the psalmist’s case, however, we see a life that has clearly been a positive influence on others. He has endured hardships and maintained a faithful witness because God was continually his “strength and protection.”


When a person lives with a daily focus on Jesus Christ, he’s consistent – in his walk, in his talk, and therefore, in his witness. Look at the passage again: this man knows that he has never been able to make it on his own; he’s entirely dependent on the Lord for “strength and protection.” And so are we.


God’s faithfulness in the psalmist’s life leads him to declare: “That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long” (Psalm 71:8).


Has God been good to you? Then “never stop praising” Him! “Declare [His] glory all day long!”


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 6


Psalm 66:16-20 is a great declaration of God’s goodness. Let’s look at it one verse at a time:


Verse 16 (NLT): “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me.” Have you ever spoken such words? God is awesome! What’s He done for you? Tell somebody!


Verse 17: “For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke.” Notice the psalmist isn’t merely whining or complaining or even merely asking for help; he’s also “praising” God as he makes his request to Him. How about you? When you cry out to the Lord, do you simply hit Him with a list of requests or do you praise Him for the countless good things He’s already done for you and has in store for you?


Verse 18: “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Here lies one of the biggest problems I believe there is in seeing our prayers answered. Sin separates us from God. Daily – and if need be, moment by moment – confession of our sins of omission and commission are imperative to finding favor with Him.


Verse 19: “But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.” Look back at verse 18. Why did God “listen”? Why did he pay “attention to” the psalmist’s prayer? Because he had “confessed the sin in [his] heart.” And so must we. There is no such thing as “little” sins. Sins are sins. Don’t get in the habit of labeling any of them “small” and then ignoring them.


Verse 20: “Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.” The writer concludes this psalm with both praise and awe – praise for the way God heard and answered his prayer and awe that, even before he had confessed his sins, God had not withdrawn “His unfailing love.”


God is such a good God. Has He blessed you? Tell others.


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35a, 38-39).


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 5


God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy” (Psalm 68:6a, NLT).


Single? Widowed? Feeling alone? If you’re a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ, you’re never alone! 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 that stand alongside you.


The second part of today’s passage reminds us that God “sets the prisoners free.” Can believers be “prisoners”? Most assuredly. Not only literally, but Christians can also get wrapped up in debt; in worry; in health issues; and in all sorts of sins and problems that keep them in bondage. Bondage is not a part of God’s plan. He wants His children to be “free” and He’s paid the price so that they can be.


So why the bondage? Being set “free” requires letting go of whatever is keeping you in bondage. Think of it this way: you’ve fallen over a cliff and you’re dangling from that one slender limb that juts from the side of the embankment. A hand reaches down and a voice calls out, “Take hold of my hand and I’ll pull you up.” Your rescuer can’t haul you to safety until you let go of the limb. And letting go requires one big important step: trust. Trust that your rescuer won’t let you fall. Trust that he’ll do exactly what he promised he’d do.


You and I have a Rescuer who is always ready to help us. But in order for Him to do so, we have to let go of whatever is keeping us where we are.


Is anything in your life holding you prisoner? Let go. Trust God to set you “free” from it. And when you do, you’ll discover the truth of the third part of today’s passage: He will fill you with “joy.”


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 4


“It is not an enemy who taunts me – I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me – I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you – my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God” (Psalm 55:12-14, NLT).


Some Bible scholars believe David wrote this passage concerning his son Absalom who turned against him. Some also believe it to be a prophetic word pointing to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Clearly, this passage shows the pain caused by the actions or words of a “close friend” or even family member.


Have you ever been hurt by someone close to you? I have. And, just as the psalm says, it was much harder to bear being insulted by a friend than by “an enemy.”


Notice that this “companion and close friend” was someone who worshiped with David. They had enjoyed “good fellowship… together.” How painful to be hurt by a fellow church member! How difficult to struggle with the question of why a professing believer would turn against you.


Faced with a situation like this, how should a Christian conduct himself? Just as David said to: “Give your burdens to the Lord, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall” (Psalm 55:22).


Don’t fight against; don’t bad-mouth; don’t do anything other than pray for those who have hurt you. God is a Father who will defend His children. Let Him “take care of you.”


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 3


Yesterday we looked at Psalm 50:5: “Gather to Me My consecrated ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice” (NIV). And we saw that the very first “sacrifice” a person makes AFTER he has put his faith in Christ is his own will. But what “sacrifice” is necessary BEFORE that? Psalm 51:17 holds the answer:


The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God” (NLT).


Our natural spirits are wild, rebellious, self-centered. And only complete commitment to Jesus Christ allows the Holy Spirit to take charge. Only God’s Holy Spirit can break our wild rebellious spirits. And this can only take place when a person turns to Him with “a broken and repentant heart.”


Too many churches have oversimplified salvation: you pray a prayer, and presto! You get a “relationship” with Jesus Christ. Fire insurance. A ticket out of hell.


Any of you who’ve been reading my devotionals for very long know that I’m not fond of the use of the word “relationship” when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ. I mean, I have a relationship with my mail lady. She’s nice. I know her when I see her. I speak to her if I’m outside when she stops at my mailbox. But I am in no way committed to my mail lady. The postal service can send a sub on the days she’s off or on vacation and, as long as my mail keeps being delivered, I’m a happy camper. I don’t need that particular mail lady; I just need someone who’ll get the job done and see that my mail shows up.


Too many people are merely looking for someone or something that’ll get the job done: meet their needs; meet their wants; solve their problems; keep them healthy. What they’re not looking for is someone who expects unconditional commitment.


Whether I’m in need or not, I’m committed to Jesus Christ. Whether I have problems or not, I’m committed to Jesus Christ. Whether I’m healthy or not, I’m committed to Jesus Christ. How about you?


Make sure you’ve made a commitment to Jesus Christ. He wants far more than a relationship.


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 2


“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, 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.


One of the greatest contemporary Christian artists ever, Keith Green, sang these lyrics:


I want to, I need to, be more like Jesus.
I want to, I need to, be more like Him.
Remember, there's no greater love
Than to lay down your life for a friend.


Is Jesus Christ your Friend? Have you laid down your life and taken up His?


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates


BIBLE PASSAGE FOR JULY 1


“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble” (Psalm 37:39, NIV).


No one likes going through difficulties, and yet we all know that every life includes rough spots. True enough, some of those spots are of our own making, but in so many instances, the problems we encounter are simply a part of living in a fallen world.


Troubles, as has often been said, either make us bitter or better. What determines that outcome? Our reliance on Jesus Christ. If we foolishly attempt to handle our problems in our own strength, we find ourselves overwhelmed, angry, frightened, hurt, and eventually bitter. We crumble under the weight of the burdens He never intended for us to carry.


But if we put our trust fully in Christ, we learn the truth of Psalm 37:39: He truly is our “…stronghold in time of trouble.” We can face life’s difficulties knowing our Burden-Bearer is WITH us and FOR us.


Jesus Christ is your God only if He’s first in your life. And if He’s first in your life, He’s the first one you turn to in the best or worst of times. Thank Him for the good moments; trust Him in the bad ones – and at ALL times.


“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1, NASB).


“Keep praying, but be thankful that God’s answers are wiser than your prayers!” (William Culbertson)


Copyright 2018

Judy Woodward Bates