Daily Devotionals

Week 13, Tuesday, Mark 14: 27-31

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:27-31

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

How confident are we of our relationships? Can we ever say with finality that we will never disappoint – or hurt – those closest to us? And how would it feel when that loved one knows that we will fall short when they need us most, and disappoint them? Jesus knew that all his disciples would desert him as he got closer to the Cross, and even told Peter that he (Peter) would deny him. And it did happen despite their refusal to agree with him. Two points: First, it is good to have self-esteem, but I believe that it is even better to live with a knowledge of our own weaknesses. We should accept the reality that in our sin-weakened humanness we are in danger of falling especially when we think we are at our strongest (in our own strength). Second, be encouraged that Jesus knows our every weakness (that’s why he predicts it to Peter). But he still sticks with us – never giving up on us!

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me what Paul learned – that when I know and accept that I am weak, that is when I am really strong…in You (2 Corinthians 12:10). You are, and have always promised me to be my strength. Forgive me for my foolishness when I trust in my own strength and abilities. True, it is you that have given them to me, but I unconsciously begin trusting in the gifts rather than the Giver. Thank you, that like you did Peter, you never give up on me, even when I fail and disappoint you – as long as I turn back to you. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 13, Monday, Mark 14:12-26

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 14:12-26

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

The Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion as it’s called in many churches, is one of the most meaningful acts of worship in Christianity. But there are two things about this passage that never grow “old” on me. The first is Jesus’ statement that one of his own disciples eating with him at this deeply significant Jewish meal – the Passover – would betray him (v.18). And then (Jesus) goes on to serve that betrayer the bread and wine (which would become the components of the Lord’s Supper) as well, as if to show that the betrayal did not change how much Jesus loved him. (Most probably the washing of the Disciples’ feet was also done at this same event, so Jesus washed the betrayer’s feet as well!) The second is when he gives the bread and the wine to those same disciples (betrayer included), and he says, “This is my body… This is my blood.” It was a complete giving of himself – for/to his disciples. Paul would later give deeper meaning to this: this was God giving His forgiveness, His righteousness to us – completely (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

Prayer: My Lord, what love is this that pays so dearly, that I, the guilty one may go free! Amazing love, O what sacrifice; the Son of God given for me. My debt He pays, and my death He dies. That I might live, that I might live … (from “Amazing Love” by Graham Kendrick).

May I never forget O loving Lord Jesus that you died for me even when you knew I would desert you, deny you, betray you. By giving your whole life for my sake, for each of humanity’s sake, you showed that you value each of us as you would yourself. My sin and brokenness made me worthless; your love made me priceless, a treasure. Thank you for your sacrifice, Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your all for me. I cannot live without you. May you always, only, be my life. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 12, Saturday, Mark 14:1-11

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 14:1-11

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

John identifies the woman as Mary (John 12:1-8), Martha’s and Lazarus’s brother. Nothing is mentioned as to a reason behind her deed. What is clear is that the alabaster jar (or vase) had very expensive perfume in it, and Mary broke it to anoint Jesus with it. The deed affected everyone in the room. Jesus received it as loving ministry done to him, an act of worship preparing him for the death he knew awaited him. (As an aside: this was a prophetic act similar to the wise men’s gift of myrrh months after Jesus’ birth, the very same substance used to anoint him after his death). Some disciples (and host) were repelled by what they called a waste and inappropriate act. And Mary? Anne Ortlund in her book Up with Worship says it best:

“Mary broke her vase. Broke it? How shocking. How controversial. Was everybody doing it? Was it a vase-breaking party? No, she just did it all by herself. What happened then? The obvious: all the contents were forever released. She could never hug her precious nard (perfume) to herself again…The way up is down! The Holy One lives among broken people. Christian, break your vase. Help your brothers and sisters break theirs…Then life will begin to mingle and flow around you and fill the whole church with the fragrance of Jesus…The nard fills the air. Beautiful! Take a deep breath.”

And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (v.3)

 

Prayer (written by Anne Ortlund from “Up with Worship”): Lord, break my strong will, my argumentativeness, my quickness to reach decisions ahead of others and always think I’m right, my desire to have my opinion always considered. I’m sure I’m obnoxious, Lord – maybe embarrassing to those closest to me. Forgive me, and help my fervent spirit be converted into just being fervent in loving you, fervent in joy, fervent in peace… Lord, break me. Thank you for doing it. Amen.

Listen to Anne Ortlund’s, Up with Worship

Nashville: B & H, 2001.


Read more...

Week 12, Friday, Mark 13:28-37

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 13:28-37

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

Children do this well – keeping watch for a parent to come home after a period of time. The parent’s return is anticipated and celebrated, all because of the love relationship between that parent and child. (The exception is when that parent makes such a habit of being away and shows no reciprocal yearning; their coming or going makes little difference!) Jesus wants his return (what we normally call “the second coming”) to be as anticipated. The only difference is that we will not know when. It will be a surprise, but is meant to be a pleasing and welcome surprise. Unless we are not prepared for him – then it will come as a shock! Jesus actually encourages us about being prepared. In the first place he lets us know that as a disciple he entrusts us with Kingdom responsibility that involves other souls. And secondly he gives us the wisdom (if we ask) to be able to see the signs of his coming that will, in turn encourage us to be faithful. The question is: how prepared are you?

 

Prayer: Your Word says that if anyone lacks wisdom they should ask in faith, and you will give it. I need your wisdom, Lord, to be able to see the times and where our world is heading. I know this is not to feel sorry for ourselves or find fault with the world. It is to feel excited about your coming back, so that we will be with the One that loves us more than anyone in all creation. It is also to move us to fulfil our responsibilities as your disciples to a world of lost and neglected souls – to care for them and bring them into your Kingdom. I’m learning to watch for you Lord Jesus; teach me to wait faithfully. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 12, Thursday, Mark 13:9-27

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 13:9-27

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

This is a passage that is either bypassed or explained away as something in the future that will not affect God’s people. But please pause at this reading. Understand that even now there are some places in the world that Christ-followers experience the catastrophic events and persecution that are mentioned. Go to www.persecution.com or www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution and you will read how real what Jesus said is happening even now. But Jesus also promises that he will come back to rescue those that are suffering for his name. It may not be immediate. And it may come after an anti-Jesus sentiment has risen to very high levels; but he will return. The question is whether adverse circumstances, unpopularity because of belief in Jesus, or danger will shake our faith, and our faithfulness to God’s Kingdom. How do we respond now?

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord, when I grumble about little discomforts and when I don’t get my way. The truth is that I enjoy a freedom to know you and worship you that I rarely take full advantage of. Help me to understand that there are sisters and brothers around the world that have given their lives to you, Jesus, and are paying a bitter price for it. I know that only you can and have given them the power to remain faithful, and therefore I pray that you will do so. Give me a desire to want your Kingdom to grow beginning at where I live – even if it costs me. I look forward to your return, Lord Jesus, but not before many in the world come to a saving knowledge of you. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 12, Wednesday, Mark 13:1-8

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 13:1-8

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

We humans tend to have an “edifice complex”, i.e. we love to put our faith in the grandeur of the architecture of our buildings, like churches, cathedrals, temples… The disciples were no different. Jesus wasn’t being a “party-pooper” when he prophesied the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem. On the one hand that really was going to happen, primarily because the Jewish nation gave more importance to the Temple than the God it stood for and was to be worshiped. But he was also pointing to the time when “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23). This destruction of the religious place would also happen because there would come a time when the world would reach such a stage of political, social and spiritual unrest that physical representations of religion like church buildings would no longer be so important. People instead needed to be looking for the transformation that God was going to bring about in individual lives, and in society. Where do we put our trust in? What do we look forward to God transforming?

 

Prayer: I love my buildings, Lord; my church, my house, my workplace… Maybe love them too much. They are, after all, given by you. And they are temporary; at best for a life-time. But you are eternal, O God our Creator. And you are doing something in our world to prepare us for that eternity. Help me to keep my eyes on what you are doing that prepares us for eternity instead of being satisfied with the immediate present. Yes, Lord, I realize that you want us to care for what you have entrusted to us. But you are going to “make all things new”. May I yearn for that with all my heart so that I will not get discouraged when I have to “let go” of those things that are “old”. May you be praised in all things. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 12, Tuesday, Mark 12:41-44

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 12:41-44

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

I love the fourth verse of the Christmas carol “In the Bleak Midwinter”: What can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; yet what I can, I give him: give my heart. The attitude is reflective of the widow’s – she gave with her whole heart. Jesus showed the disciples what really pleased the heart of God – it wasn’t the “bigness” of the gifts that are given to him. And usually they were either the surplus of one’s possessions, or a very small percentage of it – what one could “spare”. What Jesus saw was the actual “smallness” (in God’s eyes) of those huge amounts of money the rich gave; and the “bigness” of that widow’s almost negligible amount – because it just wasn’t her giving everything she had, she had given all of herself. I wonder, how will you give to God?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you remind me again and again that you did not keep back any of yourself; when you gave, you gave yourself completely, without holding back. How could you be sure that I was/am a “worthy investment”? But that didn’t matter to you, did it Lord? You gave yourself because you loved me, whether or not I would love you in return. Forgive me for my distracted, half-hearted worship. Lord, I give you my heart, soul, mind… everything, especially during difficult time. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 12, Monday, Mark 12:35-40

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 12:35-40

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion]

It is Jesus’ turn now to be the one who asks the questions of those so-called religious teachers. Did they really know and understand who this “Messiah” that they were expecting was? Did they really think him to be a human descendant of David, or was he somebody much, much more? I think we can understand what Jesus was trying to say in this way: The way we behave (act) as followers of Jesus is proportional to the way we actually perceive how great and awesome Jesus is. If our perception of Jesus is small then our behavior is likewise small minded. Like the religious teachers’ perception of the Messiah was small – they thought he would be a human descendant of David. They definitely didn’t believe he would be divine (as Jesus was). And so their behavior was likewise so much less than divine – they craved attention and took advantage of the weak; what earthly leaders often tend to do. The person who knows (and experiences) Jesus as He truly is – awesome, almighty, amazing – will behave in like manner. Their thoughts, desires, actions will be far higher and more meaningful than those religious teachers in Jesus’ day. In fact it is such people who are witnesses for Christ, and bring Him pleasure. How big is your perception of your Jesus?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for often perceiving you as no greater than a remarkable human. But you are much more than that. You are God; awesome, almighty, glorious. And you have given me the privilege of calling myself your child – a child of the King! I want to represent you in every way O Lord. Teach me to act worthy of my Parentage. I want my desires, thoughts, actions/behavior to show that I belong to a Great God – the God who loves unconditionally, who acts on behalf of the voice-less, who identifies Himself with the marginalized and out-caste, who forgives again, and again, and again… Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 11, Saturday, Mark 12:28-34

Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

Go to Mark 12:28-34

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

Reminder: There will be no daily devotion tomorrow, Sunday. Hopefully most of you will be in a House of Worship listening to God yourselves. Go prepared with open hearts, though!

 

What really is this “Great Commandment”? We know it as “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Jesus went on to say, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But he wasn’t asking us to make a priority list. We as humans love to “mechanize” our lives with check-lists and priorities so that we can check them off one at a time with a sense of satisfaction, “Done! Now for the next thing…” However Jesus did mean love God with… all of ourselves – our desires, thoughts, actions, relationships… So where does church, family, job, pleasure and all those wonderful things that He has given us fit in? And that’s just the point. I believe we are to love our God more than any of them (he once even said we need to “hate” our family, if we were to follow him – obviously an exaggeration/hyperbole; cf. Luke 14:26). Thus there would be times we would love our families as an expression of loving Him. There would be other times when our love for God’s people (church) would be that expression – even to the apparent detriment to our families. Jesus does not want us to compartmentalize our loves, our lives; instead our lives need to be grace-filled by his Love. How do I know when to love whom as an expression of my love of God? I believe it keeps changing (that’s how Grace works!); but I would think He would show that too. And some of it is obvious – like when I have to go to work, or when my child has a fever, or when there’s a fire in the neighbor’s house…

 

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for choosing the easy way and loving you with only that part of me that seems convenient. Your love was not partial. Thank you Jesus, that when Scripture says you loved us, you gave all of yourself for us, to us. May I do the same to you. Amen.

Listen to Song


Read more...

Week 11, Friday, Mark 12:18-27

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 12:18-27

[Please read and meditate on the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

The Sadducees, a Jewish religious sect that did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, came to Jesus with their trick question. What they described was known as Levirate marriage, where a son-less dead man’s family name would be carried on by his widow marrying his younger brother and having a son by him. The Sadducees theoretical question was meant to put Jesus in knots, but as usual Jesus didn’t just “floor” them, he went to the heart of their own problem of misunderstanding and disbelief. Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?” (v.24) But I think that’s true about many of our own questions, doubts, misgivings, impatience with God. Do we really know the Scriptures? Do we really know the power of God? If Scripture is all about God saying, “This is who I am – know about me; know me;” if through Scripture and circumstances God has been trying again and again to show us that He works His power on our behalf, for His children’s good… could it be that it is we who are deaf…and blind?

 

Prayer: Lord, have I been deaf to your voice, blind to your mighty acts of love? Your Word does say “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Why then do I question your love so often? Forgive me Jesus, if I have neglected your Word, and that neglect has let to ignorance. And that ignorance has led to deafness. It is even possible that that neglect has blinded me to your acts of love because I have been so taken up by the world. Forgive me, Lord. I know deep within me that every promise in your Word is true. Please teach me so that I can see past my own walls to your face of love. Amen.

 
 

Read more...