Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

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Week 9, Tuesday, Mark 9:42-50

Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram 

 

Go to Mark 9:42-50

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

 

Jesus gives a curious contrast. First, on the one hand he warns how even one aspect of a person can bring ruin to that person if he/she does not control it. Much like an over-fondness for food can lead to the body’s over-all ill health. Jesus’ solution? Be harsh/stern in our self-discipline with respect to that one aspect. But it’s even more dangerous when one person in a Christian fellowship by ungodly attitudes and actions causes spiritual harm to another, especially when that other person is a “spiritual child”. It just goes to show how careful we must be when it comes to others’ faith and our own sense of righteousness: we can never be over-confident in ourselves, and always trust in God instead. Then second, on the other hand, Jesus reminds us that when it comes to being a godly influence, we can never do that alone – we need other godly people in some way. Just like one grain of salt brings very little taste; you need many ‘grains’ of salt together to do that.

 

Prayer: Lord, save me from myself, especially when I’m over-confident in my own sense of righteousness. I know I should take nothing for granted, because the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Not only can I cause myself spiritual harm, I can well cause it to others too. Help me too to depend completely on you, and on the other godly people you place me among, even as you use us together to influence others for your sake. May we as your ‘body’ be effective, fruitful and humble as you build your church. Amen.

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Week 9, Monday, Mark 9:38-41

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go To Mark 9: 38-41

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

 

Sometimes our spirit of competition can be the Church’s undoing. When the same work is being done with similar good results by someone else, we are to rejoice in it. Yes, they may differ with us in some ways, yet it is the same Jesus they serve, and it is He who seems to be given the glory. So why do we sometimes feel negatively about them? Jesus encouraged His disciples to find what is common with those that are also participating in Kingdom-building even if they belong to a different group and have a different way in perceiving Him, Jesus. A good way to relate with other Christians is reflected in a 300-year old saying: In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. Ultimately our primary witness is God’s Love in us!

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord for being either judgmental, or suspicious, or unaccepting of those I don’t agree with or don’t belong to “my group” – even when they too are Christians. Remind me Jesus that you didn’t need to accept me because of my sin, yet you not only accepted me when I fell upon your grace, you even made me your child and came to live in me. Thank you Lord! Now transform the way I see others, so that I see them through your eyes – either as a saved soul (and therefore a sister or brother), or one that you yearn to make your child. Amen.

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Week 8, Saturday, Mark 9:30-37

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 9:30-37

[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!

 

The disciples had just heard Jesus telling them about the sacrifice that he was about to make, something they couldn’t understand. And then they began arguing about who was the greatest among them. It was as if they had heard nothing of what he said. I wonder if Jesus ever said, “Don’t you ever understand what I’m telling you?” Or, “Why are you so preoccupied with authority, fame and greatness? Is that why you are following me?” Instead he patiently taught them about humility. If we really desire greatness from God’s perspective we should do as Jesus did, always putting the “other person” first/before us. More than that, we are to take on a life of serving every one of those “other persons.” It would reflect His love, His humility.

 

Prayer: Forgive me Lord, for putting myself first; for making people want to notice me for my faith and even the good things I do. And sometimes I even get jealous when another of your children is recognized, and I am not. You put others first in your life Lord Jesus while I wait for others to serve me. Forgive me. May I reflect your life of love and humility in the way I put others ahead of me. May your love cause me to serve others as if I was serving you. I humble myself before you Lord. Amen.

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Week 8, Friday, Mark 9:20-27

 Mark Devotionals

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

 

Go to Mark 9:20-27

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

 

Let’s spend a little more time in yesterday’s “valley” event, focusing on the afflicted boy’s father and Jesus. The boy’s affliction which often threatened to be fatal obviously spanned many years, years that would make any parent’s heart to despair. And then came news of hope – a healer in town! So the father begs Jesus to heal his son…if he can. In the subsequent exchange we learn a few things about belief. Firstly belief in God begins with the conviction that the outcome is completely dependent on God. Second is the question of whether I trust that this God cares enough and is capable of doing it. Third, do I know this God and personally want him to do it. Fourth, whatever the outcome, do I really want my experience of this loving God to grow because of/through it? The father’s answer (“I believe; help my unbelief!”) is less about any doubts or lack of faith he had; it is more about a yearning to grow in the knowledge and trust of the One who can change even the most dire situation. Jesus always answers that yearning – it’s a good one to have!

 

Prayer: I believe; help my unbelief! That’s a prayer I pray often Lord. I don’t doubt you exist; I believe that you have the power to move mountains. And yet I resist asking; what if it’s the wrong thing? I’m afraid to expect anything; what if I’m disappointed? Oh, how I want to know you in a way that takes away all resistance and fear! I want to know you as a much-loved child that deeply trusts his/her loving parent. Help me to experience that love both in receiving what I ask for and when I am denied, trusting that it’s for my own sake. Draw me close to you Lord, even when I falter. Because if I fall, I’d rather fall into your arms. Amen.

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Week 8, Thursday, Mark 9:14-29

 Mark Devotionals

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 9:14-29

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

 

As the 3 disciples and Jesus come down from the mountain after that fantastic spiritual experience of seeing and hearing God’s Presence, they are immediately confronted by the evil that was waiting for them in the valley. A boy tormented by evil and his father needed God’s grace to change their oppressive situation. It is always good to have “mountain-top” spiritual experiences where we feel or hear or see God in a thrilling way – maybe at a community meeting like worship or a conference, or maybe in private while studying Scripture and praying. But God doesn’t expect or want us to stay there. He expects us to descend to the “valley” where there is pain, suffering, and evil. He wants us to understand that however great our own personal spiritual experiences, there are people who struggle with the manifestations of evil, and He will place us among them to be a blessing to them! Because that’s the way Jesus can grow in us, and shine through us. Jesus touched the boy in the valley with God’s love and healing. What about us?

 

Prayer: God Almighty, I just love to be in your Presence and experience you – far from hustle, bustle and worries of the world. Thank you for meeting my need and giving me your grace that fills me with your love and peace. But I know I need to come down from my spiritual “mountain”. There is a valley full of pain and suffering, much like I had before I met you (or when I ignored you). Lord, work through me to bring your grace to the boy or girl or father or mother that yearns for your touch and experience your love as well. Amen.

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Week 8, Wednesday, Mark 9:2-13

 Mark Devotionals

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 9:2-13

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

 

It was an audio-visual treat, in real time, in real life – way before TV, 3-D, virtual reality had ever thrilled human imaginations. So you can’t blame Peter for what he said after the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah, and experienced Jesus being transformed right before their eyes to show a hint of what he really is in heaven. “…Let us put up three shelters/tents…” He wanted to immortalize the place and experience, and do it by memorializing Jesus along with Moses and Elijah. He got two things wrong which happens in our day too. First, we cannot keep holding on to one past divine place and experience; Jesus is constantly “on the move” and doing something new. Secondly, Jesus is not on the same level as good (and even great) people like Moses and Elijah. He is holy (which means distinct, special, set apart, different, to anything and everything else of creation). And we must relate to him not as an equal, but as Savior God.

 

Prayer: Lord, I love that hymn “what a friend we have in Jesus”, but I forget that I and no one else can really come close to you. Not even the best of us. It is because of your grace that you draw close to us; you give us access to your glorious Presence. Forgive me when I unconsciously put you “in a box” so that I can make you accessible and understandable the way I feel comfortable. Help me understand that the wonder of your love and majesty is that you are constantly moving onward and forward in this world. And even though you are the King of kings, you still love talking to, and using the likes of Moses, Elijah…and me. Amen.

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Week 8, Tuesday, Mark 8:35-9:1

 Mark Devotionals

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:35 – 9:1

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

 

It’s a question that we will need to answer sooner or later. What do I consider really, really important in life? What/Who takes the primary place in my life? Jesus and Scripture makes it very clear more than once that there was no place for more than one in a person’s soul – his/her very being. It’s either God or family (Luke 14:26); it’s either God or material/possessions (Luke 16:13); it’s either God or the world/pleasure (1 John 2:15-16); either God is our “treasure” or anything else/everything else is (Matthew 6:21). The sad part of it is that all the alternatives are what God gives us because He loves us! So, at every point Jesus asks that question, a fresh choice needs to be made every time. It’s those that have discovered that when they make the right choice – God – He gives us the alternative with added depth/beauty as well.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for so often choosing the gifts you give me over you, the Giver. I did not realize that when I consciously choose you, life does not diminish, but actually grows. I don’t want to forfeit my soul, Father, even for things that seem good, but actually take your place. Remind me again and again that “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). I want your life, Lord, that comes packaged with your love. Amen.

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Week 8, Monday, Mark 8:33-35

 Mark Devotions

by Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:33-35

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

 

Jesus obviously didn’t bother about opinion polls or popularity contests. And he wasn’t trying to enlarge his following either – in fact what he said would scare prospective disciples away! He used scary words/phrases like “deny (or relinquish hold of) self”, “cross” (sure to send shivers down hearers’ spines), “follow me” (i.e. go where Jesus goes and live just like he did; cf. Luke 9:58), and “losing one’s life” (how easy is that?). But Jesus was actually showing a new, satisfying way for us self-depending, self-ish humans to live. When it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, only total surrender, sacrifice, and faithfulness will bring us the life and joy that he promised. And the unique thing about all of it is that it requires only our giving him complete access to our lives for him to come in and make it happen!

 

 Prayer: Lord, you make being your disciple not easy. Following you is scary, because it seems that you ask too much for me to “give up.” Forgive me for secretly thinking that you are no fun! Keep reminding me that whatever you do in me, and ask of me is because you love me without limits, and you want what is best in my life. Help me understand that worldly “clutter” and selfish tendencies in my life leave no place for you to come in and cleanse me and fill me. All you ask is that I open myself completely to you. I know that means giving you complete control; but it also means that you will fill me with Resurrection power that will fill my life with compassion for others and a passion for you. Lord, I want to “see you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly”. Amen.

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Week 7, Saturday, Mark 8:31-33

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:31-33

[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!

 

After Peter’s amazing God-inspired confession that Jesus was indeed the Messiah (the anointed Deliverer), Jesus proceeded to clearly describe what would really happen to this Messiah. Popular expectations of Messiahship had to do with politics and power, which would have fit into Peter’s image of him. But Jesus’ Messiah was going to be a Suffering Servant – “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Peter and the rest of humanity find such a Messiah weak and useless, which is why he pulls Jesus aside to scold him for even talking about it. Jesus makes two observations. First, the Evil One can use even those closest to us to “trip” us. Second, unless we begin to see things from God’s perspective nothing of spiritual import will ever make sense to us.

 

Prayer: Loving Savior, I cannot bear to look at suffering. Whenever I look at it with my normal eyes all I see is pain. And I don’t want pain – not for me, not for those around me, not even for you. But your Spirit in me makes me see something completely different. I see that you had to go through it, or else I would never have been delivered from my own sin, my past, my pain. From a heaven-perspective I see there is no greater power than that of loving sacrifice. I know it hurt you, and when I do as you do it will hurt me as well. So give me the “mind of Christ” … to “do the things of God.” Amen.

 

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Week 7, Friday, Mark 8:27-30

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:27-30

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

 

“Who do you say I am?” That’s a strange question to ask someone who’s been with you constantly for three years. But before that Jesus does as opinion poll of his disciples as to what other people thought of him. Apparently there was talk about Jesus that made him fit in the prophetic line; what he did and how he did it fitted that profile. It is then that he asks this personal question of his disciples who had been with him about three years. Peter gave the right answer (and Matthew 16:17 tells us how), even if he doesn’t fully understand (as will be seen tomorrow). But the question is asked of us too. We think we know the answer: this is Jesus, my Savior. But is that enough? It wasn’t for Peter. It wasn’t for Paul as well; which is why he would write even after several years of knowing Him, “I want to know Christ…” (Philippians 3:10).

 

Prayer: Yes, I know you Jesus. You are my Savior; you are my Lord. But then I realize that I know almost nothing of your vast love and forgiveness, your majesty and holiness; I have only scratched the surface. I want to know, O Christ. I want to grow in this experience of who you within me and around me. I want to know your pain, your pleasure. “Oh, I want to know you more! Deep within my soul I want to know you. To feel your heart and know your mind, looking in your eyes stirs up within me, cries that say I want to know You…” Amen

 

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