Daily Devotionals

 
 

Week 5, Monday, Mark 4:35-41

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 4:35-41

Was there a time when you thought you were doing just what God wanted you to do, and then everything went crazy? It felt as if you were all alone, and you wonder whether you had misread (or misheard) God, or maybe God didn’t care enough to show His presence. The disciples may have felt that way when their boat(s) was filling with water because of the storm. Jesus was with them, but he was so fast asleep (which showed even Jesus could get physically tired), it was just as bad as not being present. True, sometimes we do not “hear” correctly, and then we feel we are fending for ourselves. But not this time; it was Jesus who instructed them on this trip, and he was present. Could it be that our fears, or pre-occupation with our own abilities prevent us from noticing the Peace that He is, and that He can give us in times like these? Or maybe we need to understand that just because He is in “the boat” (or circumstance), that doesn’t mean that no problems will arise. He can and does calm the storms outside, but do we let His Peace rule within?

 

Prayer: God Almighty, it’s easy to trust you when the sun is shining and all is well. But you direct me in your “paths of righteousness” that can be challenging sometimes. When circumstances become difficult forgive me for thinking you didn’t care; for allowing my fears to overwhelm me. I know that you can and do calm the storms around me according to your plan and time. But come afresh into my heart and calm the storms within – I put my whole trust in you, my Jesus. May I know your Peace that passes all understanding and the truth of “…God will never lead you where the Grace of God cannot keep you.” Amen.

Song: Listen to Song

 
 
 
 

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Week 4, Saturday, Mark 4:26-34

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram

 

Go to Mark 4:26-34

[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!

 

Jesus then tells 2 parables on the nature of spiritual growth. Both of them are pictures of God’s grace (His undeserved, unconditional and powerful love) at work. They are to reassure and encourage the follower of Christ in their walk with Him. Both remind the hearer that all spiritual growth begins with God – it is always His initiative; all we do is respond in surrender and obedience. Then, with Him in control (after all, He is “King”), the first result is that He will grow us, His way: His methods, even His time (and that usually is unique to each of our relationships with Him). The second is that slowly, but surely that growth in us will affect those who need Him in some form of the other, just like the mustard plant becomes a source of refuge to birds, among other things. So, be encouraged; when God’s in charge of your life, you will grow in ways unimaginable!

 

Prayer: I am so grateful, Lord, that when you are in charge of my life, I don’t need to bother about the way I grow, and how much. I know you know me; you know my resistance to your working and are patient with me. You know what fears I have, and so you build me up with courage. I give my life to you afresh, my Lord: be my King. And grow me the way that brings you pleasure, and draws me closer to you. Amen

 
 

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Week 4, Friday, Mark 4:21-25

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 4:21-25

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

God is generous with His (spiritual) gifts to us, as well as the fruit that He wants to grow in us. Yet there is responsibility involved in both. When God works in us, giving and growing, it is not just for our own benefit. It’s like an apple tree trying to hide its apples within its trunk. [You know that is not possible, and is even a laughable.] Yet we humans do it. God in His grace sends His Holy Spirit into the believer so that Jesus Christ’s Presence is experienced and His Character is formed in us. But so often we would rather keep that to ourselves – or worse still not really believe that any of that has happened (or is happening). Jesus encourages us to let His Presence be revealed through our lives by word and works. The more we do, the more He fills us; the less we do, the more we allow Him to diminish in us.

 

Prayer: Thank you for your generosity, my Lord and Savior. You have given everything we need “for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). And yet I am not satisfied, and sometimes even unbelieving. I wish you would give me what I want, not realizing that you have given me all I need. Forgive me for not wanting to reveal the fruit that you want to bring forth from me – fruit that will refresh and sustain other lives. I hear your voice Lord that bids me to show your love, patience, kindness, joy, peace, and all the other fruit that you are growing in me. May your fruit overflow from me Lord Jesus, for your glory. Amen.

 
 

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Week 4, Thursday, Mark 4:1-8, 13-20 (part 2)

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Parable of the Sower

Go to Mark 4: 13-20

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

The seed that fell on the good soil produced a large harvest – many times that of the original. Jesus said that these were like people that opened themselves up to God’s working. They actively listened. This is the kind of listening that is intentional, focused, like a mother listening for the sound of her child and/or vice versa. On hearing the Word, they accepted (or gladly received) it. Like a thirsty traveler that drinks water after hours of being without it. [Luke 8:15 adds persevering after this.] And finally produces that huge crop. Amazingly this part belongs more to God, if we do the previous three. The reason for the plant is not to just grow, but also to produce fruit. Are you the “fruity” person that God made you to be, and Christ gave His life for?

 

Prayer: Lord, I want to bear fruit for you. Maybe I’ve been trying too hard on my own, but I don’t always see fruit in my life that other people want to enjoy. Forgive me for not being intentional in my listening to Your Word, or when I have not allowed Your Word to enter my life by obeying it consistently. Gracious Father, I will do that from now on. Bring a rich harvest through me. Amen.
 
 

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Week 4, Wednesday, Mark 4:1-8, 13-20 (part 1)

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Parable of the Sower

Mark 4: 13-20

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

The parable of the Sower/Seeds/Soil is a familiar one, and it is one that we have Jesus’ own interpretation of. We hear of the Word of God being sown in 4 different kinds of “soils”; being heard by 4 different kinds of people. The responses are varied, but the real result falls into 2 categories – the UN-fruitful (first 3 soils) and the fruitful (the last soil). The latter will be looked at tomorrow. The first kind of people are those that never take the Word (and God) seriously; they are those that have no intention of doing anything about what they hear (from the Word). The second are those who get sentimental/emotional when they feel God at work in their lives…but emotions/feelings fade, and so does God. The third start really well, but they haven’t really chosen to be separated from the world – they incorrectly think they can both indulge themselves/the world and have God’s presence in their lives. The result is lives that are unhappy and unfulfilled. Which kind of life are you?
 

Prayer: O Master Sower, I know that you have sown your Word many times in my heart. And yet I don’t always see the fruit of that Word in my life that brings you glory. Show me which kind of “soil” I am. Forgive me when there have been times I did not take You and Your Word seriously. Forgive me for times when I allowed my faith to be purely based on feeling, so when the feeling faded, so did you. Lord Jesus, I want to make you the sole focus of my life; let nothing distract me from you. I love you, Lord, because You loved me first. Amen.

Listen to Song


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Week 4, Tuesday, Mark 4:9-12

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 4:9-12

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

Jesus did much of his preaching in the form of parables, but they were not entirely unique to him. An example from the Old Testament is when the prophet Nathan confronted King David with his sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:1-6).  Parables were simple stories which easily connected to everyday life, yet their intent was to get across a deeper meaning without the hearer suspecting that they were somehow part of the story – until it was too late! Jesus used parables to draw people into the story of what God is doing in our everyday lives, and by identifying with either the characters in the story or the event (or both), he forces us to make the choice of whether we want to go along with what God is doing or go our own way. Parables were meant to make the hearer uncomfortable (because they always called for the hearer to return to God in some way), or else the hearer was not really listening. Do you listen?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I love your stories. Until I realize you were really talking about me. But keep making me feel uncomfortable Lord; then I know you love me, and there’s something in me you want to transform. I am not sure I understand all your stories, but please remind me that when I am truly listening to you there are some things you will make sure that I cannot possibly MIS-understand. Your Holy Spirit will see to that. Give me the courage, strength and will to be obedient to do what I do understand about Your will. I know that’s the only way to see You more clearly, and to hear You more distinctly. Amen.
 

 


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Week 4, Monday, Mark 3:31-35

Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 
[Please do read the passage before (or after) reading the devotion.]
Jesus did belong to a family; we know Mary was his mother, and he had younger siblings, although their father was Joseph. With Joseph most probably dead, Jesus was the oldest male in the family. So I’m sure they had good reason to want his attention. And yet once Jesus began his ministry he seems to treat them with no more importance than his followers. Instead he says to those around him, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (v.35). Jesus is not undermining family relationships. Instead he is saying 3 things: First, our relationship with God is to be more important than any other relationship. Secondly, doing what God wants is to supersede what anybody else wants. (This does not mean that we can use God as an excuse to not fulfill our obligations to family and others). Thirdly, our “spiritual family” should be as real and as important as our blood relatives, or even more. Have you “re-thought” your relationships the Jesus way?
Prayer: Loving God, I call you Father, and you graciously call me your child, when I begin a relationship based on faith with Jesus as my Savior. As I grow in this relationship, teach me to put You above anyone else in my life – after all isn’t it You who put them there? Help me understand that when I do Your will, I not only grow closer to you, I grow in my relationship with the ones I love and along with them You give me spiritual sisters and brothers that I can call my own. Thank you for making me a part of your very special family. Amen.
 

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Week 3, Saturday, Mark 3: 22-30

Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 3:22-30

[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!

 

It must take a very cynical mind to imagine that spiritual (or religious) authority is used only by evil persons for evil purposes. Because that was what Jesus was being accused of, by the religious leaders of his time. And we must be careful not to fall into the same trap whether it is Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any other religion. According to Jesus, real spiritual authority comes only from God through the Holy Spirit; and it was to overcome evil, which was what Jesus was doing. Resistance to such authority was really resisting God. And when we intentionally resist God, even God cannot/will not change that, because He has chosen to limit Himself in His love. He does this so that we creatures have the freedom to either choose Him…or reject Him.

 

Prayer: Gracious God, forgive me for so easily judging and condemning others either for their convictions or religious stance, because I think they are resisting You. But have I been resisting You as well by my plans, activities, thoughts, that intentionally (or UN-intentionally) exclude you? Lord Jesus, I realize that I live in a world of evil, and the only way I can do my part in resisting evil is to choose to surrender to You. Come Holy Spirit and fill my life with spiritual authority to overcome every kind of evil that surfaces at home, work, play, anywhere! Amen.


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Week 3, Friday, Mark 3:20-22

Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 3:20-22

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

 

Ever felt misunderstood – even by those closest to you? When those you love and respect thought that they could run your life better than you could? Jesus’ own family (with the exception of Mary, his mother) did exactly that to Jesus. Because he was so involved in what God was doing through him for people in need, there were times he and his disciples didn’t get time to eat. So, his family tried to “take over” his life. They even thought he was crazy to be so completely invested in people. Added to that the religious authorities accused him of being on the side of the devil because of his apparent authority over the forces of evil. But did that stop him, do you think?? [Check out how Peter (Acts 5:29) and Paul (Galatians 1:10) responded.]

 

Prayer: Lord, as I follow you and your ways, I see myself looking more and more different from the others around me. It makes me uncomfortable and I so often cave in to pressure, because I want to be liked. I don’t want to be rejected by being “different” even if it’s because of you. Forgive me for times when I have compromised, just to merge with the crowd. Gracious God, give me the strength, wisdom and courage to stand for the faith you have put in me, for the purpose you have called me to. And let me do it with humility and gentleness so that ultimately the world will see You glorified in me. Amen.

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Week 3, Thursday, Mark 3:13-19

Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 3:13-19

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

 

Jesus chooses (calls) 12 men from among those that followed him; they were to be his “sent out” ones (that’s what apostle meant). He chooses them for 3 reasons. First was that they had to just be with him. There’s no better way to know a person than to listen to them, see what they do, and how they do it. Maybe even participate in what they do. Without even knowing it, you even grow in a relationship with that person, especially if you are with them 24/7, like those 12 were. Are you consciously with Jesus 24/7, in (the) “Word”, prayer, thoughts, deed? Secondly, there would come a time when Jesus would send them to take his Word – somewhere (neighborhood, workplace, school, family), and to somebody (the discouraged, sad, hope-less, broken, purpose-less, hell-bound). Thirdly, they were to be intentional in their stand against every kind of evil, with His authority. The 12 are named; among them one that would choose to betray him, another to deny him, and all who would one day desert him. Jesus knew this; and yet he chose them.

 

Prayer: Loving God, thank you that it is you that has chosen me, and not the other way around. Because that means you did it knowing my inadequacies, weaknesses, and brokenness. And you chose me because you knew that the only real hope for me was to be with you. Lord Jesus, I want to be a disciple that you can trust with others’ brokenness and needs; I want to stand against the evil that shows up so regularly knowing that I have the authority as your disciple to do so. Remind me Lord, that when you send me anywhere and to anyone, not only will you bring change there, you change and grow me as well. Amen.

Listen to Song


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