January 23 - Luke 18.1-17, Genesis 29.31-30.43 and Psalm 23
A Widow and a JudgeLuke 18 Jesus told his disciples a story about how they should keep on praying and never give up:
2In a town there was once a judge who didn't fear God or care about people. 3In that same town there was a widow who kept going to the judge and saying, "Make sure that I get fair treatment in court."
4For a while the judge refused to do anything. Finally, he said to himself, "Even though I don't fear God or care about people, 5I will help this widow because she keeps on bothering me. If I don't help her, she will wear me out."
6The Lord said:
Think about what that crooked judge said. 7Won't God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won't he be concerned for them? 8He will surely hurry and help them. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find on this earth anyone with faith?
A Pharisee and a Tax Collector9Jesus told a story to some people who thought they were better than others and who looked down on everyone else:
10Two men went into the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood over by himself and prayed, "God, I thank you that I am not greedy, dishonest, and unfaithful in marriage like other people. And I am really glad that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12I go without eating for two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all I earn."
13The tax collector stood off at a distance and did not think he was good enough even to look up toward heaven. He was so sorry for what he had done that he pounded his chest and prayed, "God, have pity on me! I am such a sinner."
14Then Jesus said, "When the two men went home, it was the tax collector and not the Pharisee who was pleasing to God. If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored."
Jesus Blesses Little Children
Genesis 29 31The LORD knew that Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah, and so he gave children to Leah, but not to Rachel. 32Leah gave birth to a son and named him Reuben, because she said, "The LORD has taken away my sorrow. Now my husband will love me more than he does Rachel." 33She had a second son and named him Simeon, because she said, "The LORD has heard that my husband doesn't love me." 34When Leah's third son was born, she said, "Now my husband will hold me close." So this son was named Levi. 35She had one more son and named him Judah, because she said, "I'll praise the LORD!"
Problems between Rachel and LeahGenesis 30 Rachel was very jealous of Leah for having children, and she said to Jacob, "I'll die if you don't give me some children!"
2But Jacob became upset with Rachel and answered, "Don't blame me! I'm not God."
3"Here, take my servant Bilhah," Rachel told him. "Have children by her, and I'll let them be born on my knees to show that they are mine."
4Then Rachel let Jacob marry Bilhah, 5and they had a son. 6Rachel named him Dan, because she said, "God has answered my prayers. He has judged me and given me a son." 7When Bilhah and Jacob had a second son, 8Rachel said, "I've struggled hard with my sister, and I've won!" So she named the boy Naphtali.
9When Leah realized she could not have any more children, she let Jacob marry her servant Zilpah, 10and they had a son. 11"I'm really lucky," Leah said, and she named the boy Gad. 12When they had another son, 13Leah exclaimed, "I'm happy now, and all the women will say how happy I am." So she named him Asher.
Love Flowers14During the time of the wheat harvest, Reuben found some love flowers and took them to his mother Leah. Rachel asked Leah for some of them, 15but Leah said, "It's bad enough that you stole my husband! Now you want my son's love flowers too."
"All right," Rachel answered. "Let me have the flowers, and you can sleep with Jacob tonight."
16That evening when Jacob came in from the fields, Leah told him, "You're sleeping with me tonight. I hired you with my son's love flowers."
They slept together that night, 17and God answered Leah's prayers by giving her a fifth son. 18Leah shouted, "God has rewarded me for letting Jacob marry my servant," and she named the boy Issachar.
19When Leah had another son, 20she exclaimed, "God has given me a wonderful gift, and my husband will praise me for giving him six sons." So she named the boy Zebulun. 21Later, Leah had a daughter and named her Dinah.
22-23Finally, God remembered Rachel--he answered her prayer by giving her a son. "God has taken away my disgrace," she said. 24"I'll name the boy Joseph, and I'll pray that the LORD will give me another son."
Jacob and Laban25After Joseph was born, Jacob said to Laban, "Release me from our agreement and let me return to my own country. 26You know how hard I've worked for you, so let me take my wives and children and leave."
27-28But Laban told him, "If you really are my friend, stay on, and I'll pay whatever you ask. I'm sure the LORD has blessed me because of you."
You've seen how hard I've worked for you, and you know how your flocks and herds have grown under my care. 30You didn't have much before I came, but the LORD has blessed everything I have ever done for you. Now it's time for me to start looking out for my own family.
31"How much do you want me to pay you?" Laban asked.
Then Jacob told him:
I don't want you to pay me anything. Just do one thing, and I'll take care of your sheep and goats. 32Let me go through your flocks and herds and take the sheep and goats that are either spotted or speckled and the black lambs. That's all you need to give me. 33In the future you can easily find out if I've been honest. Just look and see if my animals are either spotted or speckled, or if the lambs are black. If they aren't, they've been stolen from you.
34"I agree to that," was Laban's response. 35Before the end of the day, Laban had separated his spotted and speckled animals and the black lambs from the others and had put his sons in charge of them. 36Then Laban made Jacob keep the rest of the sheep and goats at a distance of three days' journey.
37Jacob cut branches from some poplar trees and from some almond and evergreen trees. He peeled off part of the bark and made the branches look spotted and speckled. 38Then he put the branches where the sheep and goats would see them while they were drinking from the water trough. The goats mated there 39in front of the branches, and their young were spotted and speckled.
40Some of the sheep that Jacob was keeping for Laban were already spotted. And when the others were ready to mate, he made sure that they faced in the direction of the spotted and black ones. In this way, Jacob built up a flock of sheep for himself and did not put them with the other sheep.
41When the stronger sheep were mating near the drinking place, Jacob made sure that the spotted branches were there. 42But he would not put out the branches when the weaker animals were mating. So Jacob got all of the healthy animals, and Laban got what was left. 43Jacob soon became rich and successful. He owned many sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys, as well as a lot of slaves.
1You, LORD, are my shepherd. I will never be in need.
2You let me rest in fields of green grass.
You lead me to streams of peaceful water,
3and you refresh my life.
You are true to your name,
and you lead me along the right paths.
4I may walk through valleys as dark as death,
but I won't be afraid.
You are with me,
and your shepherd's rod makes me feel safe.
5You treat me to a feast, while my enemies watch.
You honor me as your guest,
and you fill my cup until it overflows.
6Your kindness and love will always be with me
each day of my life,
and I will live forever in your house, LORD.
This reading is from The
Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American
Bible Society, 1995.
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