Daily Devotionals

 
 
 

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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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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.

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