Daily Devotionals

Week 2, Friday, Mark 2:13-17

GO TO Mark 2:13-17

[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

Jesus calls yet another unlikely candidate to follow him as a disciple! While walking along he calls Levi (also called Matthew, and a Jew) who is doing his work as a tax collector. Jewish tax collectors were hated by their fellow (self-respecting) Jews because they were thought of as betrayers, doing a despised job for the enemy – the Romans. Matthew obeys, leaves his job, and begins his new life as a Jesus-follower by throwing a party with other (hated) tax collectors and Jewish law breakers as invitees, and Jesus as the chief guest. When the respected religious folks found fault with Jesus’ associations, Jesus made clear his intention – his coming to earth as a human was to identify with all those lonely, excluded, despised, overlooked, broken, “needy” folk. Who do you think you are? Someone who is satisfied with their religion? Or someone who is “needy”?

Prayer: Lord, do you really care for how lonely I am, how broken and needy I am inside of me? I put on a face that shows “I’m okay”, but so often I’m far from okay. But your Word reassures me that you not only want to associate with me, you even call me to be your follower. I don’t feel worthy, Lord. But since it is you calling, I will follow. Just keep reminding me that it is not because of anything to do with me that you want me follow, it is only because you love me! Amen.

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Week 2, Thursday, Mark 2:1-12

MARK DEVOTIONS

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

GO TO Mark 2:1-12

[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

The place was full, and there seemed no way the paralytic could get to Jesus. How wonderful to have four friends that were caring enough to make the effort, have the imagination, possibly incur the wrath and expenses from the house owners, and send him down through a hole in the roof so that he could meet Jesus! It is interesting, but Jesus sees their faith and does two things for the paralyzed man – forgives his sins (his spiritual need) and then heals him (his physical need). Please don’t think that Jesus is saying that our sickness is because of our sins. He recognizes the legitimacy of both needs, yet he knew that the spiritual need (that always involves forgiveness in some form or the other) is far more serious, and the consequences of not addressing them far more terrible than anything else. Do you know your spiritual need that he is waiting to heal?

 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the people in my life that have done everything possible to bring me to your presence so that you can touch me. Forgive me for being so ungrateful for their caring, so unmindful of their faith, and so resistant to your work of transformation in my life. Not only do I want to be “made whole”, I want to be a friend to someone else that needs you as well. So here I am: I open my life to your working, O Holy Spirit. Amen.

LISTEN TO SONG

 
 

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Week 2, Wednesday, Mark 1:40-45

MARK DEVOTIONS

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

 

GO TO Mark 1:40-45

[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

Leprosy (or any skin disease) was dreaded, with people having them being ostracized (excluded from) the community; it was even thought of as a sign of God’s punishment. So when the man begged Jesus for healing, he wanted more than to be well, he yearned to be accepted by his community; not live in isolation and disgrace. Notice three things that Jesus did: he showed his complete acceptance of the man even while he was diseased – he touched him (a scandalous act!). He assured the man he was willing to heal him (God’s assurance before He acts). He only then shows his power by actually healing the man (nothing is too small or impossible when God wills it). The man is healed! And all Jesus expects of him was to fulfil what was required of true worship – obedience. But does he do that?

 

Prayer: I praise and thank you Lord for being such a generous God. You give me more than I deserve and I have seen you doing the “impossible” in my own life, and in the lives of those around me. But forgive me for not recognizing you when you were indeed at work, or when I quickly forgot it, or when I just took it for granted. Forgive me that, like the healed man, I often am not obedient to worship you in obedience in the way you want me to – I want to respond to you in whatever way I feel like. Keep working in my life Lord. And will worship you your way (not mine), by being obedient to your leading. Amen.

Song: LISTEN TO SONG

 
 

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Week 2, Tuesday, Mark 1:35-39

MARK DEVOTIONS

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 1:35-39

[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

Jesus had spent a long day caring for and healing those in need. He must have been exhausted. Yet very early the next morning he wakes up, leaves the house and goes to spend time alone in prayer. I have noticed that both before and after times of great ministry Jesus would go alone to be in prayer. It was as if he couldn’t (and wouldn’t) do anything for God his Father unless it was with Him. We often think of prayer as important as food is to the body; but Jesus saw it as essential as breathing. And maybe it was because his relationship with the Father was so close, so intimate, that he wanted to pray, and didn’t just consider it a “duty.” It was like breathing…

 

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I see prayer as a chore, a weary task that you have forced on me. Maybe I don’t pray often because I’m not comfortable, it feels like a new language that takes too much effort to learn. Remind me Lord that just as a parent yearns for her child to learn to speak, and is therefore patient with her, so do you yearn for us to communicate with you – and you are patient, waiting for us to learn at our pace. Lord, I want to learn. I want to be that child that wants to speak your language, that of prayer, because I want to grow in my love for you Jesus. Amen.

LISTEN TO SONG 

 
 

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Week 2, Monday, Mark 1:29-34

MARK DEVOTIONS

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

 

Go to Mark 1:29-34

[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

Now we know that Peter was married. And he was a responsible son-in-law, after all he had his mother-in-law living with them! He must have loved her too because how else would Jesus have learned that she was ill “with a fever” in order for him to go to Peter’s home and heal her after a worship service? The passage tells us of how Jesus never “prioritized” healing on the basis of their seriousness. Every medical problem and malady was as important to him. Jesus did not go looking for people to heal, but everyone that came to him received a gift of grace (God’s undeserved love). Does He still give that “gift of grace” to everyone that comes to Him? Yes! I do not completely understand why everyone that comes asking is not healed. There are many who are, but there are many aren’t. But that has never stopped me from asking.

 

Prayer: Great and loving God, my heart aches for those who need your power of healing in their lives and some of them do not receive it as they have asked. I know you love us, Lord Jesus; the Cross will always remind me of that. So please help my un-understanding (and maybe lack of belief) in the times you act in ways that are different to mine. I love you Lord Jesus; keep me trusting in your love and in your power. I will keep asking, even if it seems like I sound like a child who wants his way with a loving Father. You do what you have to, because that’s what you are (a loving Father), and this is who I am (your child). Amen.

Song: LISTEN to SONG


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Week 1, Saturday, Mark 1:21-28

Bible Passage

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

 

Note: 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!

 

The Gospels record that Jesus never missed the opportunity to be in a House of Worship every Sabbath. And whenever asked he always taught, but always with a depth of understanding and humility that reflected his intimacy with the Father. But this time one of his hearers was a man tormented with evil. And Jesus immediately heals him. Whether or not you believe in evil spirits, you better believe that there are some whose lives are seduced and ruled by evil. They are not to be feared or despised, but instead we should have compassion on such people. Know that only a loving and powerful God can and wants to free them, and can give them a heart that responds to Him. But He wants to use you and me in this! Oh, by the way, did you notice where this event took place? A House of Worship! A reminder that we must be vigilant everywhere for the Evil one. We only need to be cautious, because he is already a defeated enemy!

 

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the assurance that evil cannot stand against you. But teach me to be faithful in my worship of you so that my strength is purely based on YOU! Yes, Lord, I am willing to stand in your strength, and as you did, against evil in whatever disguise it shows itself. Only give the eyes to recognize it, the courage to face it, and the faith to overcome it in your Name. Amen.

Song


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Week 1, Friday, Mark 1:14-20

Bible Passage

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

 

There is a note of urgency at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry – “The time has come…” He wastes no time in calling his first disciples. Strange choice, though. They were…fishermen? Sure, they were working men and some even doing well – how else can you explain having “hired men”? But how knowledgeable would simple fishermen be about God, His Kingdom, and calling others to be disciples as well? Yet Jesus calls them to follow Him. And the amazing thing is that they did! They just left everything to follow this man they knew little about, for a purpose that was rather puzzling – “to fish for people.” That’s obedience! And what followed changed their own destiny and that of the world.

 

Prayer: Lord, I wonder if I’ve got things backward. The world has taught me to first know, and then do. So I wait to grow in my knowledge of you in order to do what I think you want me to do. But you really want me to be obedient first, even if I don’t understand everything. And then you will show me more of yourself; I then grow in my knowledge of you because my relationship with you grows AS I FOLLOW you. I want to be your disciple Jesus. Let my song be, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back!” Amen.

Song


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Week 1, Thursday, Mark 1:12-13

Bible Passage

[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]

 

After that exhilarating experience of being anointed by the Holy Spirit, and his Identity and Purpose being validated by the very voice of God, Jesus is “sent” by this same Spirit…

If I had to play the game, “Now Complete the Story”, I would have said, “To do something big and fantastic for God.” Instead the Spirit “at once” sent Jesus out into the wilderness! There are no people in the wilderness to do things “fantastic for God.” And in the 40 long and lonely days there was only Satan doing what only he does best – tempt. There were wild animals, of course, and Matthew tells us (4:11) that the angels attended to him only in the end. Jesus shows us through his own life that God desires humility, surrender and obedience more than anything else. That’s true devotion, not running around “doing things for God.” That comes later, much later. And even then it really is “God doing things through us.” And in that obedience even Jesus learned that the only way to overcome temptation is – true devotion to God!

 

Prayer: Gracious God, forgive me for believing that all you want of me is to be your servant, doing things for you. You really want me to give more and more of myself to you, until there is nothing left in me but You. I try and battle temptation, but it is so often on my own – and I lose. Remind me, dear Lord, that emptying myself to you doesn’t make me weaker, but actually stronger. It is because only then You fill me up. Fill me up, Lord Jesus, I give myself to you. Amen.

Song


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Week 1, Wednesday, Mark 1:9-11

Bible Passage

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

Mark introduces Jesus quite suddenly simply as “from Nazarene.” We know from other sources that he was about 30, having lived an “ordinary” life as a carpenter (or mason, some feel). But now here he is, at Jordan waiting for his relative John the Baptist to baptize him. Baptism was a symbol, a mark, of one’s turning away from an old, anti-God way of life to identify as one of God’s redeemed* family. But Jesus didn’t need that; he hadn’t lived an antigod life. But yet he wanted to be identified with a creation that God was redeeming – ultimately being the price of redemption* himself. It is only then that the Father confirms Jesus’ own identity and purpose, through the giving of His Holy Spirit, and words of encouragement. Even Jesus needed the Spirit, and to hear how much he was valued!

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know where you came from, and who you are – the Son of God. Yet I often forget that when you walked this earth, you were like any one of us – fully human. You too needed to be obedient, needed to want what your Father wanted, needed the Holy Spirit, needed to know how much you are loved, that the Father had a purpose for you. O God, may your living Word reassure all of that to me as well – how much you love me, that you have a unique purpose for me. Because I really want what you want, Father; I need your Presence in my life even as I follow you…Amen.

 

* “redeem” (redemption, etc.) is when a relative buys you out of debt/slavery, when you yourself can do nothing about that debt/slavery. And God sees Himself as that relative!

Song


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Week 1, Tuesday: Mark 1:2-8

Bible Passage

(Please read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.)

 

At least 500 years after it was prophesied (in Isaiah 40:3) John the Baptist burst on the Judean landscape wearing clothes marked by their extreme simplicity (and even discomfort), eating a diet which was so strange and meager, even survival training offered more! But the point was that he came – as was prophesied – literally as a “sign-post.” He lived his life according to the purpose God had for him (500+ years in the making), with a message that was simple: “Who I am, what I do, what I say all point away from me to Someone else. I am no comparison to Him, and nothing I do even comes close to what He does/will do.” I wonder, in this self-promoting culture, do our lifestyles, our deeds, our words, point to Jesus?

 

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for not seeing myself as a sign-post that needs to point to you. Sometimes I don’t realize that sign-posts need to be simple, to simply be directional “→”. May my life (in the choices for myself, my clothes, my food, my plans, my deeds), and my words, all point a confused world to you, Jesus. Thank you for reminding me that even though the Message (=Good News=Jesus) is supremely important, the messenger (that’s me!) is important as well. Amen.
 
 
 

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