January 23 - Luke 18.1-17, Genesis 29.31-30.43 and Psalm 23
The Parable of the Widow and the JudgeLuke 18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged. 2"In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. 3And there was a widow in that same town who kept coming to him and pleading for her rights, saying, 'Help me against my opponent!' 4For a long time the judge refused to act, but at last he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or respect people, 5yet because of all the trouble this widow is giving me, I will see to it that she gets her rights. If I don't, she will keep on coming and finally wear me out!'"
6And the Lord continued, "Listen to what that corrupt judge said. 7Now, will God not judge in favor of his own people who cry to him day and night for help? Will he be slow to help them? 8I tell you, he will judge in their favor and do it quickly. But will the Son of Man find faith on earth when he comes?"
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector9Jesus also told this parable to people who were sure of their own goodness and despised everybody else. 10"Once there were two men who went up to the Temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood apart by himself and prayed, 'I thank you, God, that I am not greedy, dishonest, or an adulterer, like everybody else. I thank you that I am not like that tax collector over there. 12I fast two days a week, and I give you one tenth of all my income.' 13But the tax collector stood at a distance and would not even raise his face to heaven, but beat on his breast and said, 'God, have pity on me, a sinner!' 14I tell you," said Jesus, "the tax collector, and not the Pharisee, was in the right with God when he went home. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great."
Jesus Blesses Little Children
The Children Born to JacobGenesis 29 31When the LORD saw that Leah was loved less than Rachel, he made it possible for her to have children, but Rachel remained childless. 32Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She said, "The LORD has seen my trouble, and now my husband will love me"; so she named him Reuben. 33She became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She said, "The LORD has given me this son also, because he heard that I was not loved"; so she named him Simeon. 34Once again she became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She said, "Now my husband will be bound more tightly to me, because I have borne him three sons"; so she named him Levi. 35Then she became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She said, "This time I will praise the LORD"; so she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children.
Genesis 30 But Rachel had not borne Jacob any children, and so she became jealous of her sister and said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I will die."
2Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, "I can't take the place of God. He is the one who keeps you from having children."
3She said, "Here is my slave Bilhah; sleep with her, so that she can have a child for me. In this way I can become a mother through her." 4So she gave Bilhah to her husband, and he had intercourse with her. 5Bilhah became pregnant and bore Jacob a son. 6Rachel said, "God has judged in my favor. He has heard my prayer and has given me a son"; so she named him Dan. 7Bilhah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a second son. 8Rachel said, "I have fought a hard fight with my sister, but I have won"; so she named him Naphtali.
9When Leah realized that she had stopped having children, she gave her slave Zilpah to Jacob as his wife. 10Then Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11Leah said, "I have been lucky"; so she named him Gad. 12Zilpah bore Jacob another son, 13and Leah said, "How happy I am! Now women will call me happy"; so she named him Asher.
14During the wheat harvest Reuben went into the fields and found mandrakes, which he brought to his mother Leah. Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes."
15Leah answered, "Isn't it enough that you have taken away my husband? Now you are even trying to take away my son's mandrakes."
Rachel said, "If you will give me your son's mandrakes, you can sleep with Jacob tonight."
16When Jacob came in from the fields in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, "You are going to sleep with me tonight, because I have paid for you with my son's mandrakes." So he had intercourse with her that night.
17God answered Leah's prayer, and she became pregnant and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18Leah said, "God has given me my reward, because I gave my slave to my husband"; so she named her son Issachar. 19Leah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a sixth son. 20She said, "God has given me a fine gift. Now my husband will accept me, because I have borne him six sons"; so she named him Zebulun. 21Later she bore a daughter, whom she named Dinah.
22Then God remembered Rachel; he answered her prayer and made it possible for her to have children. 23She became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She said, "God has taken away my disgrace by giving me a son. 24May the LORD give me another son"; so she named him Joseph.
Jacob's Bargain with Laban25After the birth of Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, "Let me go, so that I can return home. 26Give me my wives and children that I have earned by working for you, and I will leave. You know how well I have served you."
27Laban said to him, "Let me say this: I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you. 28Name your wages, and I will pay them."
29Jacob answered, "You know how I have worked for you and how your flocks have prospered under my care. 30The little you had before I came has grown enormously, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I went. Now it is time for me to look out for my own interests."
31"What shall I pay you?" Laban asked.
Jacob answered, "I don't want any wages. I will continue to take care of your flocks if you agree to this suggestion: 32Let me go through all your flocks today and take every black lamb and every spotted or speckled young goat. That is all the wages I want. 33In the future you can easily find out if I have been honest. When you come to check up on my wages, if I have any goat that isn't speckled or spotted or any sheep that isn't black, you will know that it has been stolen."
34Laban answered, "Agreed. We will do as you suggest." 35But that day Laban removed the male goats that had stripes or spots and all the females that were speckled and spotted or which had white on them; he also removed all the black sheep. He put his sons in charge of them, 36and then went away from Jacob with this flock as far as he could travel in three days. Jacob took care of the rest of Laban's flocks.
37Jacob got green branches of poplar, almond, and plane trees and stripped off some of the bark so that the branches had white stripes on them. 38He placed these branches in front of the flocks at their drinking troughs. He put them there, because the animals mated when they came to drink. 39So when the goats bred in front of the branches, they produced young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted.
40Jacob kept the sheep separate from the goats and made them face in the direction of the streaked and black animals of Laban's flock. In this way he built up his own flock and kept it apart from Laban's.
41When the healthy animals were mating, Jacob put the branches in front of them at the drinking troughs, so that they would breed among the branches. 42But he did not put the branches in front of the weak animals. Soon Laban had all the weak animals, and Jacob all the healthy ones. 43In this way Jacob became very wealthy. He had many flocks, slaves, camels, and donkeys.
The LORD Our ShepherdPsalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
2He lets me rest in fields of green grass
and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
3He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
as he has promised.
4Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid, LORD,
for you are with me.
Your shepherd's rod and staff protect me.
5You prepare a banquet for me,
where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
and fill my cup to the brim.
6I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
and your house will be my home as long as I live.
This reading is from The Holy
Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American
Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.
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