Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

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Week 7, Thursday, Mark 8:22-26

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:22-26

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

 

Here’s another miracle; Jesus heals a blind man. But notice a pattern: some (nameless) people bring the man to Jesus. They beg Jesus. They want him to touch him. Jesus first uses spit on the blind man’s eyes, then touches him. Are we people that bring others that are in need to Jesus – by word, by action, in prayer? How urgent is our plea to him for them? Do we really believe that all it takes is His touch to transform? The unique thing about this miracle though is that it took a second touch from Jesus for the man to fully see. I wonder, do we too need that “second touch” of Jesus to bring wholeness in our lives?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus I can become dangerously comfortable with knowing you just enough that enables me to see only partially. It’s safer, because I can deal with you in generalities. But you singled me out in my circumstance and showed your gentle touch of love in my life. Touch me again Lord, because with each touch you get clearer, and I get closer to you. And yes, with my new vision I can see Your Purpose for me, and see you clearly enough that I may follow you. Amen.

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Week 7, Wednesday, Mark 8:14-21

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 8:14-21

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

 

Jesus loved his disciples. That’s why he warned them against the self-righteous pride of the Pharisees, and the self-serving ambition of Herod. They can be dangerously deceptive attitudes because they are easier to notice in others and rarely in our selves. But the disciples didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say! It’s as if they saw him speaking, but “heard” something completely different and irrelevant. Do we disciples not hear Jesus either because we just don’t want to, or because we listen for only what we want to hear? Jesus asks them a series of questions which give three reasons why we either don’t hear him, or we consistently misunderstand him: First, our perceptions (how we see, hear, feel) are clouded; second, our hearts are hardened; third, we’ve not taken the trouble to remember the times we did see and understand Jesus. How is it with your hearing and understanding?

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I’m afraid. Is your silence not really silence but my inability to hear you; is my confusion because I am not able to understand you? I realize that my perceptions (hearing, seeing, feeling) can get clouded if I’m not using them correctly, or not using them at all when it comes to you. I allow the world and bitter circumstances to harden my heart even when you are willing to soften it – if I let you. Forgive me, Lord, also for the times I’ve let words and acts of your love and faithfulness slip from my heart and mind. In your love, break through my unconscious yet very real self-made hindrances that keep me from growing closer to you. I really do want to see you, hear you, understand you, love you. Amen.

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Week 7, Tuesday, Mark 8:1-13

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 
 

Go to Mark 8:1-13

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

 

Crowds followed Jesus even when he tried to get some “alone time” for himself, and with his disciples. Were they really faithful in their following? Were any of them around to speak up for him at the end? John says that they followed him mostly because of what they could get from him – healing, food, and inspirational words (cf. John 6:26; 7:31). Isn’t that true about us so often? And yet Jesus was never impatient with them. The word Mark uses is that he had “compassion” on them, and therefore consistently ministered to them, whatever their response! So once again, Jesus feeds this huge crowd of people with nothing but a few loaves of bread and some fish. This time there are 4000+ people. And again there is enough food and more, evidenced by the 7 basketfuls of leftovers. And all because of “compassion.” He hasn’t changed; that’s still the way he treats us.

 

Prayer: Thank you, my Lord Jesus, that you show your compassion to everyone that follows you; and it is never conditional. You love us and meet our deepest needs irrespective of how we treat you. Which is why I ask your forgiveness, Lord. I have not given you the love, gratitude and respect you desire as my response to your love. Even though I may not have said so consciously, I have often treated you as a benevolent Santa Claus who exists to only keep giving me things. But you still don’t stop loving me; you give enough and more, just like those miracles. In fact, without my asking, you came to meet my greatest need – and give me what I needed most – newness and life. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

 
 

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Week 7, Monday, Mark 7:31-37

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 7: 31-37

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

 

Jesus traveled with his disciples through a Gentile region near where he had healed the man with a legion of unclean/evil spirits (5:1-20). It is most probably because of that healing that some people brought him a man who couldn’t hear or speak for healing as well. I wonder if we would have the same kind of faith that makes us “beg” the Jesus we say we know, to bring transformation to one who dearly needs it! Jesus touched the man’s tongue (notice the “touch” again) with some of his saliva (saliva was thought to have healing abilities), and commanded “Be opened!” In the healing of the man’s hearing and speech, it’s almost as if Jesus wants us too to be able to hear… Him; wants us too to be able to speak… as He would (and not just speak about Him).

 

Prayer: Lord, I wonder if my inability to hear you, and speak as you would, is because I too need your intimate touch of healing. Thank you for giving me people (whether they are family or friends) who trust you enough to bring me to you (in prayer or physically) for your touch that can transform everything. I yearn to hear you, Lord, and speak your words. So touch me that I too may be amazed by your love and power once again. Amen.

 
 

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Week 6, Saturday, Mark 7:24-30

 Mark Devotions

by, Rev. Sunil Balasundaram
 

Go to Mark 7:24-30

[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!

 

A Greek (therefore non-Jewish) woman comes and asks Jesus to heal her daughter. Jesus at first seems to refuse, and his answer sounds shocking. How could Jesus sound so uncaring, even elitist? How would you like to be compared with a dog (even if it is a “lap dog”/pet) while someone that disdains you is compared to a privileged child? There are several explanations that theologians give. But could it just be that even Jesus, being completely human, was so focused on being the Messiah to the Jews first, that he believed that the “time had not yet come” (cf. John 2:4; 3:30; 8:20) for including the non-Jews into the family of God as yet? Whatever the reason, even Jesus was astounded and deeply moved by the woman’s response. She was honest about her desperation, and showed deep humility. She also completely trusted in Jesus’ power, compassion, inherent character and mission to seek and save the lost, the last, and the least. Do you also believe that? Jesus did heal the little girl, but I get the impression that this foreigner touched his heart.

 

Prayer: Lord, your Word has often reminded me that I really do need you in every part of my life, my family, my world. I know that is true in my mind. But I do not realize the urgency in my heart, Lord. I am not desperate enough, honest enough, and humble enough to want you to meet my deepest needs. But you want me to do so. Oh, how I yearn to show the faith of that woman who not only received what she needed, but gave you pleasure even in the way she showed that need. Draw me closer to you, my Jesus, even as I learn to put you first in my life. Amen.

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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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