Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 6, Friday, Mark 7:14-23

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 7:14-23

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

 

The essential nature of a person like true character and spirituality is on the inside, Jesus said. Whatever we do from and on the outside cannot change that essential nature. Thus “doing” the good and right things may give a good impression to people, but doesn’t show the real “you” which is on the inside. Jesus knows what is within all of us (John 2:24) and warns us of the effect of sin-scarring that is scary and horrible. Eventually what is inside will come out in our behavior one way or the other, and cause grief to ourselves and those around us. But that is not the only problem. Our human perception is “dull… (and we) don’t see…” (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4)! Only when we discover the reality of who we really are as Jesus has shown us can we truly open our lives to accept God’s grace that can change us within.

 

Prayer: Lord, I’m afraid to look into myself with your eyes. Because then I will discover how “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” I am (Revelation 3:17). But you love me too much, and you will not let me exist in a world of self-deception. You show me myself again and again through the eyes of those around me that truly love me. Like the Psalmist I’ve discovered I cannot hide from you. Come into my broken, dying inner self, Lord, I desperately need you. As that song says, “Change my heart oh God; make it ever true. Change my heart oh God; may I be like You.// You are the potter, I am the clay; mold me and make me, this is what I pray.” Amen.

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Week 6, Thursday, Mark 7:1-13

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 7:1-13

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

 

There is nothing wrong about religious symbols, rituals and traditions of themselves. However what Jesus found offensive was that those that deemed themselves religious had made them an “end” (or goal) of religion. Instead they were to be, at best, a means to a deeper experience of a relationship with God after you had begun one with Him. It is easy to deceive oneself into thinking that by “going through the motions” of doing religious activity that we can satisfy God, and our own consciences. Because this kind of activity cannot really change the heart and one’s attitudes towards another person. One who is greedy and selfish will in fact use religion to avoid their responsibility to even their own family! True devotion happens from the heart. Only a Christ-changed heart can worship God and willingly show God’s love, beginning with their own family.

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord, when I’ve used you (or your church) as an excuse to not give of myself to my family. But also forgive me for using them (my family) as an excuse for not giving you my best. I satisfy myself by doing “good” things and religious activity for you – giving just enough of my time, my energy, my possessions, my abilities – believing that’s my way of being devoted to you, being obedient to you. But you are really not interested in all of that, are you Lord? Thank you that when you showed your love to me you actually gave your all. Remind me that true love and devotion, whether it is for you or my family, is when I give my best, my all, willingly, from the heart. I want to love you, my Jesus, as you first loved me. Amen.

 

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Week 6, Wednesday, Mark 6:45-56

 Mark Devotions

by, Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 6:30-44

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

 

“Jesus made his disciples get into the boat… He saw (them) straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.” I am reminded again and again through Scripture and by experience that just because I am obedient to Jesus’ direction does not mean it will all be “smooth sailing.” There will be times of struggle for the obedient disciple. But that is no indication you (or Jesus) was wrong, or that He does not care for you, or you just need to grit your teeth and “soldier” on by yourself. Jesus, sees, cares, and comes to them in a most unique way – walking on water. It’s not about the miraculous-ness of the occurrence, but the uniqueness that is important. Look for Jesus to treat you as so unique, and so too your circumstance as unique, so that he gives a unique answer to that issue/problem. But more than that he seeks to reveal himself to you in a truly unique way that draws you closer to him.

 

Prayer: I sometimes wonder, Lord Jesus, if it really is you that set me on this path. Why else is it so difficult? Am I in “rough water” because of my own stubbornness? But then I am reminded of the many times you met opposition even as you were obedient to your Father’s will; in fact because you were obedient. Thank you for the reassurance that you see me in my trouble and agony. And thank you that you uniquely reveal yourself to me to show your power, your love. May I treasure every experience of your salvation (saving/rescuing/delivering) that finally takes me to my (our) destination. Amen.

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Week 6, Tuesday, Mark 6:30-44

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 6:14-29

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

 

Jesus feeding the 5000+ is the only miracle that is in all four Gospels. But did you notice that he chose to use someone’s meal as the raw material for his miracle? He could have spoken a word, and materialized food out of nothing, but he didn’t. He could have turned stones into bread (after all, Satan did give that suggestion to Jesus when he was hungry in the wilderness), yet he didn’t do that as well. Instead he chose to take the little food of a little boy (John 6:9) that was willingly offered to him, multiply it, and feed the crowd with that. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t expect us to wait to become something big in order to touch others’ lives through us. Jesus wants us to willingly offer what little we are and have to him. We willingly supply the “ordinary”; God adds His “extra”. The result is a miracle – extra ordinary.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus I often times feel so inadequate, so small, so useless. Then you remind me that it is not who I am, but whose I am that makes all the difference. Lord, I offer myself to you, with all my inadequacies. I know that I may not be all that much, but I open my life to you. Come in and fill me. Excite me with the knowledge and faith that “little becomes much when we put it in the Master’s hand.” I praise you that you still specialize in miracles. Make me your miracle for someone else today. Amen.

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Week 6, Monday, Mark 6:14-29

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 6: 7-13

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

 

King Herod Antipas was rotten through and through. He had lusted after his brother’s wife Herodias, and finally married her. He was power-hungry, loved pleasure and could not stand opposition. Opposing such people can become dangerous – and sometimes fatal, as was in John the Baptist’s case. Yet what is the follower of Christ to do? Are we meant to speak only of “spiritual things” (read as “things pertaining to heaven”)? John the Baptist was a prophet, and spoke out against the blatant immorality of a public figure. He did this without any self-interest, based solely on Scripture. In fact it was purely because of that that he was compared to Jesus. Being a follower of Christ should raise a prophetic indignation within us because Jesus was never satisfied with leaving things the way they existed; He came to transform them to what God wants them (and us) to be.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I know you want me to be filled with Your Presence – and that Presence is holy. You want me to be different from the rest of the world in my thinking, words and actions. Keep me from being so self-absorbed that I cannot see what goes against Your Kingdom standards. Give the courage and passion to take a stand for what You consider important, even if it is to my own disadvantage. I love you, Lord, and more than anything else I want You Jesus, to be known in this world. Amen.

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Week 5, Saturday, Mark 6:7-13

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 6: 7-13

[Please do read 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!

 

This is a side of Jesus that people don’t usually talk about. This is a Master that doesn’t indulge his disciples’ preferences, but sets a standard for lifestyle choices and social behavior for them to live up to. A disciple’s life, especially as they live in obedience to Jesus’ calling, was to be marked by simplicity, faith, and resoluteness. They were to learn to take rejection without being unduly effected by it, and move on. Jesus wants his disciples to never let anything distract them from the main thing in their lives – his Calling. We are to fulfill God’s Mission of Love to a world that needs to hear and experience the healing of wounds and the evil has been overcome.

 

Prayer: Thank you Lord, that it is you that chose me, and not the other way around. You picked me up from a life of sin and “put me on a Rock to stay” (Psalm 40:2). I know that there is much pain and evil in the world – indeed that’s the kind of life you saved me from. Therefore I am grateful for the privilege of your calling me to follow and be a disciple that witnesses to your Love and Power to a world in need. Help me to make that the main thing in my life, and not be distracted by anything else. Amen.

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Week 5, Friday, Mark 6:1-6

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 6:1-6

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

The truth of the expression “familiarity breeds contempt” is seen in the life of Jesus. Nazareth is where he grew up, which is exactly where people thought they knew all they needed to know about this “local boy” who grew up as a carpenter in a family they were so familiar with. It seemed impossible to them – and even offensive – that anything more could be thought of Jesus. And so they wouldn’t! Jesus was “amazed at their lack of faith,” which really meant that they didn’t have a deep enough relationship with Him to know and believe the Truth about Him, which is why very little of the divine was experienced in that town. I wonder if “familiarity breeds contempt” is true with the way we read scripture (some verses are so well known – Eg. John 3:16 – that we don’t let them speak any more to us), or the way we view people in our fellowship (“God couldn’t be speaking through so-and-so, I knew them since they were this high”), or even Jesus Himself (“He’s my Savior, so what more saving do I need?”).

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to know you more, and you claimed to be the Truth. Help me understand that your Truth grows in me only when I set aside my own pre-conceptions about you, and surrender to your revealing yourself to me in your own way. Show me how to look for you in what seems familiar so that I may see your Presence in Scripture, in your church (even if I’ve known mine for a 100 years), and in prayer & worship. Thank you that you really do want to show up in love and power in every circumstance of life; just give me the spiritual senses (faith) to recognize you when you do. Amen.

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Week 5, Thursday, Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 5:21-24

Go to Mark 5:35-43

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

All hope was lost. Jairus, with all his religion and authority thought that Jesus would come and heal his dying daughter before it was too late. Jesus agreed but then stopped to heal the woman with the hemorrhage. And in that delay the little girl died! It can be heart-breaking when you desperately needed something – a matter of life and death – clutched at a slim hope for relief, and then that hope is suddenly and completely snuffed out. And then Jesus says “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” It is at that point Jesus asks us, “Who do you believe is the real authority here – yourself, your circumstance, people’s opinions/reactions… or me?” Belief in God and the giving up of fear are linked. To the one who has learned to trust in Jesus, His love, His wisdom, His power – that person is also willing to give up their fear of what they themselves cannot change so that He (Jesus) can bring something beautiful out of it.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is when all seems lost: when the rest of the world says there is no hope – that is when I need you the most. I trust that you in your wisdom use everything that happens to me, your child, for your glory and my transformation. All I ask dear Lord, is that when everything seems dark, that you will let me hear your loving voice remind me, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” I know you love me. Holy Spirit, keep reminding me of your past faithfulness and reassure me of your Presence, and that will give me Peace. Amen.

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Week 5, Wednesday, Mark 5:24-34

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 5:24-34

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

 

“Daughter, your faith has healed you…be freed from your suffering.” Jesus spoke these words to a woman who had suffered 12 years from what was not only an ongoing physical ailment, but what also made her ritually unclean (which meant she would not have been allowed into the Temple for worship). In her desperation she had pushed through the crowd, touched Jesus’ outer garment, and was immediately healed. We know that it was the power that came out from Jesus that healed her, but that made her faith the all-important response to what was available to her through the person of Jesus. Jesus’ love is always there in its various forms – forgiveness, peace, healing – constantly being offered to us. Faith means that we respond to that love and reach out to “touch” Him; there is no telling what healing will take place, but we will be freed from the suffering that enslaves, to a relationship that makes us “daughter” (or “son”).

 

Prayer: Father, I am grateful that you give me a new identity, one of being your daughter, or son; all I needed to do was reach out and touch Jesus in desperation and begin a relationship with Him. You did not mind if I was sinful and messed up on the inside. You still took hold of me – all I needed was reach out to You… Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be among those that crowd You and even brush against You yet never really experience You. Instead may I never stop wanting You to flow into me, just like You flowed into that woman and changed her. Amen.

 

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Week 5, Tuesday, Mark Mark 5:1-20

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 5:1-20

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

Whether you believe in “evil/unclean spirits” or not, you can be sure that there is evil in the world. There are two kinds of evil, really. The one oppresses us, trying to pressurize/squeeze us from the outside until breathing becomes difficult. This is the Hitler kind of evil that is awful, and yet cannot steal your soul. But there is another kind of evil that works into the soul. This evil works inside transforming the person to becoming an ugly version of what God made that person to be. It may begin voluntarily (i.e. with the person’s consent), but eventually the evil takes over, so that the person becomes a slave of it. And that was what Jesus confronted. The man had so much of evil that had become a part of him that his very identity had changed, and he was an outcaste. But there are no outcastes to God’s powerful Love in Christ. And only He can do something about this kind of evil – even though He may use different means. Here Christ brings freedom to this man by just commanding the evil to leave. It seems so simple, almost unbelievable. But do we really believe that Jesus really does love the hopeless, the helpless that much, and possesses that kind of power that no evil can stand against?

 

Prayer: I am intimidated by evil, Father – it scares me. Forgive me for thinking that evil has more power than it actually has, and also for not believing that You truly are Almighty. Never let me forget that when You raised Jesus from the dead you conquered Evil’s most potent weapon – death, and the fear that goes with it. I will hide behind your Cross, Jesus, because I know that is where I gain my confidence. Give me the faith that is based on you, the Rock, O Christ, and I know that even “the gates of hell will not be able to stand against it!” Amen.

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