January 12 | Daily Devotion

If you plan to read every verse of Scripture this year, use the Lectio Continua (continuous reading) passages. The Lectio Semi-continua (shorter reading) is an abbreviated selection of verses from the day’s passages. Lectio Divina (divine reading) is Pastor Lionel Young’s commentary on the daily readings. See the Resources page on the Lectio Divina website for additional study helps.

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina (meditation on the text)

“When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!’” ~Genesis 30:1

Jacob flees to the east, to the house of his uncle Laban, to avoid his brother Esau. He will never see his parents again, but God keeps His promise to bless him. It is through Jacob’s children that the nation of Israel is born, but this is no easy birth.

Jacob falls in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel, but is tricked by his manipulative uncle into marrying her sister, Leah, instead. He is eventually given Rachel’s hand in marriage, and so he has two wives on his hands. Jacob favors Rachel so “when the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, “ and she had four boys (Gen. 29:31). In a jealous snit, Rachel gave her servant girl to Jacob to bear children on her behalf. Bilhah bore two more boys. Leah tries a similar tactic when she is unable to have children for a time (Gen. 30:9). And so the story continues with details so sordid that they’re even inappropriate for daytime TV! All the while, Jacob is trying to out-scheme his scheming uncle Laban on the job. Israel is born out of this sorely dysfunctional family.

The failures and foibles of God’s people are not an encouragement to take a cavalier attitude toward sin. On the contrary, reading these soap operas of the past should remind us that there are painful consequences when people make unwise choices. However, there is an even more important lesson in this story. God is at work even in the messes we make.

If you have messed up (and who hasn’t), then don’t give up! Pray that God will forgive you for your failure, strengthen you to respond to the consequences with grit and grace, and take the mess you’ve made and do something incredible that will bless you and others. If there is anything that is clear from Jacob, Rachel, and Leah’s story, it is this: God doesn’t use (or bless) only perfect people. In fact, remember that motely crew of disciples Jesus called to follow Him? They turned the world upside down (Matt. 10).

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.